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Can You Check a Young Adult into Rehab?

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

January 25, 2023 (Originally Published)

December 15, 2023 (Last Updated)

Table of Contents

Across the United States, many young adults struggle with addictions to alcohol, prescription medications, and illicit drugs.

The most recent data from SAMHSA’s NSDUH 2021 (National Survey on Drug Use and Health) show that:

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  • 17.9 million young adults aged 18 to 15 reported lifetime use of illicit drugs. 12.7 million 18 to 25s reported past year drug use, and 8.5 million reported past month drug use.
  • Marijuana was by far the most common drug of abuse, accounting for 16.7 million of the 17.9 million 18 to 25s who reported lifetime drug use.
  • Among 18 to 25-year-olds in the United States, 8.5 million met the criteria for drug addiction or alcoholism in 2021.
  • 1.9 million 18 to 25s were addicted to both alcohol and drugs in the same year.

If you’re a parent wondering, “can you check a young adult into rehab”, you first need to establish the extent of the problem. This will help you to determine the most effective approach to treatment. 

Does Your Loved One Have an Addiction?

As a parent of a teen transitioning into young adulthood, it can be challenging to differentiate between behavior typical of this demographic and behaviors that might indicate a substance use disorder.

Familiarizing yourself with some of the most common signs of drug and alcohol abuse can help you to assess the scope of the problem. In most cases, physical signs of drug abuse will manifest first. These include:

  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Unusual smells on clothes or breath
  • Messy appearance
  • Frequently flushed cheeks
  • Burns on lips or fingers
  • Track marks on legs arms or legs
  • Frequent sickness
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Recurrent fatigue
  • Slurred speech
  • Nosebleeds
  • Sores around mouth
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Bruises or abrasions on skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Vomiting

These are some of the most common psychological signs of young adult substance abuse:

  • Hostility
  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Unwillingness to cooperate
  • Mood swings
  • Changes in personality
  • Depression
  • Social withdrawal
  • Sullenness
  • Reduced motivation
  • Silent, uncommunicative
  • Hostile, angry, uncooperative
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Secretiveness
  • Deceitfulness
  • Inability to focus
  • Hyperactivity

These are some of the most common behavioral signs of young adult substance abuse:

  • Breaks curfew
  • Absenteeism from school
  • Locks doors
  • Altered family relationships
  • Reduced interest in hobbies and everyday activities
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Secretive about their phone
  • Often makes excuses
  • Uses mints or chewing gum to mask breath
  • Often uses OTC preparations to reduce eye redness or nasal irritation
  • Has financial problems
  • Impaired coordination
  • Disrupted sleep patterns

Noticing a cluster of the above signs does not necessarily mean that a young adult has an addiction to drink or drugs. Addiction is a non-clinical term for substance use disorder. Substance use disorder is diagnosed according to criteria that are outlined in DSM-5-TR (the latest revision to the fifth edition of APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

Addiction is a chronic and progressive brain condition that will get worse if untreated. Even if a young adult has not yet developed an addiction, early intervention could prevent substance abuse from triggering problems in later life for your teen or young adult.

What to Do

Even when your child becomes a young adult, you still probably have more influence than you realize.

Trust your instincts if you suspect your son or daughter is abusing substances. Rather than attempting to have a single conversation about this issue, initiate on ongoing dialogue with your kids. You can also ask relevant questions about drink and drugs in normal conversation with your children – when sharing meals, for instance.

If more evidence starts cropping up that gives you cause for concern, ask direct questions with specific examples:

  • Have you been smoking marijuana” I can smell it on your clothes?
  • Do you use vapes? I have seen more than one empty vape in your room.
  • Are you sure you didn’t drink drive last night? I could smell alcohol on your breath this morning.”

If your dialogue with a young adult son or daughter confirms your suspicions that they have been abusing substances to the point of an addiction developing, what can you do to get them back on track?

Helping a Young Adult Get Treatment

Young adults can engage with addiction treatment in a variety of settings, including:

  • Outpatient programs: The most popular type of addiction treatment for young adults. A PHP (partial hospitalization program) is the most structured form of outpatient treatment. An IOP (intensive outpatient program) offers access to the same therapies with less time commitment required.
  • Inpatient programs: Young adults with severe addictions and co-occurring mental health disorders may benefit from an inpatient program, also known as residential rehab.
  • Virtual programs: Remote rehab programs allow young adults with busy academic or professional lives to connect with evidence-based treatment via videoconferencing software.

All addictions are unique and young adults can connect with treatment that fits the severity of their addiction and their personal circumstances.

Once you determine the severity of your child’s addiction and the most appropriate level of treatment intensity, formulate a shortlist of young adult rehabs. Keep the following questions in mind while comparing treatment facilities:

  1. What types of treatment are offered?
  2. Does the rehab have any specialties?
  3. How is treatment tailored to meet the needs of young adults?
  4. What does a typical day in rehab involve?
  5. How does the rehab prepare young adults for life after discharge?
  6. What amenities are in place?
  7. Do young adults get ongoing access to recovery and support groups?
  8. How much will treatment cost?
  9. Does the young adult rehab accept insurance?
  10. Is there a dual diagnosis treatment program available?

If you have a child who is under 18, you can take them to drug or alcohol rehab involuntarily. Things become more complicated with young adults aged over 18, though.

It is possible to force someone into rehab if the following conditions are satisfied:

  • The person has a diagnosable drug or alcohol addiction.
  • The addiction is so severe that they cannot meet their basic needs, and no other willing adult will help them.
  • They represent a danger to themselves or others having attempted, threatened, or inflicted harm.

Assuming these factors are in place, you could pursue emergency hospitalization or court-ordered rehab. Laws vary from state to state, so it is worth retaining legal counsel if you intend to force a young adult rehab.

Regardless of what it takes to connect your child with the addiction treatment we need, we offer evidence-based treatment programs customized to meet the needs of young adults

Young Adult Rehab at Renaissance Recovery

If you feel that the time is right for a young adult loved one to connect with professional treatment for an addiction or mental health disorder, choose Renaissance Recovery Center in Orange County.

Here at Renaissance, we offer a variety of outpatient programs to provide a flexible, affordable, and proven effective pathway to recovery. We offer the following evidence-based treatment programs for all types of addictions:

  • PHPs (partial hospitalization programs)
  • IOPs (intensive outpatient programs)
  • Virtual IOPs (remote rehab programs)

For young adults grappling with co-occurring disorders, our dual diagnosis treatment programs provide integrated care for addictions and mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, or ADHD.

Whatever level of treatment intensity is most suitable for your son or daughter, they can access the following treatments at Renaissance Recovery in Huntington Beach, CA:

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Psychotherapy (talk therapy)
  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapies

When a young adult completes their treatment program at Renaissance, they will leave equipped with an aftercare plan that includes access to our alumni program and a suite of relapse prevention strategies. When you are ready to connect a young adult in your life with the addiction treatment they need, call 866.330.9449.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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