I am worried about my son’s court ordered treatment.

Readers Question Readers Question: (Name changed for privacy)
Stanton Peele Response by: Dr. Stanton Peele
Posted on September 12th, 2008 - Last updated: October 2nd, 2023
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Dear Stanton,

I may be wrong, but I think the place my son is in might not be one of the best. First of all, he’s there by court order so one can only hope for the best. Second, when my wife and I went to see him during visiting hours on Sunday, we were told that his visiting privilege had been cut. If the family unit is that important to recovery, that punishment makes no sense to me. What are your feelings?



Well, Al, you don’t tell me enough to judge the program thoroughly, but I will say that you cannot trust adolescent substance abuse programs to operate in your and your child’s best interests.

That is, you have an interest and an obligation to review his treatment and progress to your own satisfaction.

Treatment centers often claim they are treating a disease medically.

But in a medical setting where a member of your family is receiving treatment for any disease, you are allowed to visit, to question those providing the care, to inquire about prognosis, and to examine and monitor for yourself how your relative is doing.

Why is chemical dependence treatment different? It is a disease for insurance purposes, but follows none of the requirements of informed consent that are now legally established policy with regard to all regular medical treatment providers. You might ask, what are they afraid of?

Whether or not your son is in treatment because it was court-ordered, you must make an appointment to see the director of the treatment center, to ask to speak to those providing care, to find out what their diagnosis and treatment plan is, and to ask how he is progressing and what they feel his prognosis is. Is he in treatment indefinitely, or for a time period? How was this time period decided? You should ask the treatment provider to summarize this material in writing.

You should examine the material to see whether you feel it seems sensible and in your son’s best interests. You should consult with an additional provider (a family physician, a psychologist, a psychiatrist) that you have confidence in. If your feelings are bad, you should consult with an attorney.

You should certainly have asked why his visitation privileges were suspended and how this fits in with his treatment. Your wife should not have left without this information. Is this a prison or a care provider for someone who needs help? You do not sacrifice the love and concern of a parent when a person enters treatment. Rather, you need to operate with these things in a heightened state.

Best regards, Stanton



Thank you for your quick response. The answer to your question: “Is this a prison or a care provider for someone who needs help” is, I think a combination of both. After the visitation problem my son was upset and mouthing off. That night he went through a window and escaped. He refuses to go back and would prefer to go to jail. I only spent one night in jail and about three nights in a hospital, but I would chose hospital any day if I had the choice. With that information I believe it more closely resembles a prison than a health care facility.

Now the problem is my son faces escape charges if he doesn’t return to the hospital today. The past two years have been the worst of my life. I guess that’s why I’m bothering you. Sorry.



Terrible things happen to us — often through the province of our families. Often these things are worse than they appear and can be remedied. To have the best chance to do so usually requires trying to think through the options carefully and rationally.

Well, I guess your son didn’t like hospital treatment! Can you intervene to find a treatment (as opposed to prison) alternative that is acceptable to both the state and your son?

My best wishes are with you, and if my few paltry ideas can help in any way, feel free to contact me!

Best, S

Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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