Time For Rehab?

Harmony and her husband have 15-year-old son who's been doing drugs. They're looking into some residential treatment, but their insurance won't cover all of it. What do they do?

QUESTION: Harmony in Wyoming and her husband have four kids and are getting out of debt. Their oldest son is 15 and has been doing drugs. They’re looking into some residential treatment, but their insurance won’t cover all of it. What do they do? Dave says if he were in Harmony’s shoes, he would try some other things first.

ANSWER: The problem with the rehab community is it’s a really imperfect process. It has a whole lot to do with him. There is no correlation between what you pay and the success level. There are expensive programs that have great track records, and there are expensive programs that are just expensive. I’m not a mental health professional. I don’t do drug rehabs with people, but I certainly have been in and around the counseling community for a couple of decades, and you begin to observe some things with a reasonable level of wisdom.

If I were sitting in your shoes and I couldn’t seem to get anywhere with him myself, would I spend $66,000 as the first attempt to fix this? No, I wouldn’t. That would not be my first choice. There are lots of programs out there that are a tenth of that price that have very good success levels. None of them work if he doesn’t. It doesn’t matter what you spend if he doesn’t decide that he’s going to embrace the process.

I think you’ve got some more research to do, and it’s not about whether or not you’d spend money to save your kid. The answer is always yes. The trick is to not get caught up in the feeling of helplessness in this situation and then let your sense of nobility for your son overshadow the use of wisdom in the process. You need to visit and look at and go to and talk to and interview 15 different teen programs within your budget that you can afford to do. They’re out there. If you don’t have the skillset to turn this by yourself, then yeah, you do need some help. The other thing you might look into is family counseling to give you guys some tools to fight this because you didn’t tell me he’s doing crack. You told me he’s doing pot. That’s one step to the right of drinking a beer, and some pretty strong discipline from Dad could probably go a long way in this case.