What Can Parents Do? A Review of State Laws Regarding Decision Making for Adolescent Drug Abuse and Mental Health Treatment

J Child Adolesc Subst Abuse. 2015;24(3):166-176. doi: 10.1080/1067828X.2013.777380.


This study examined US state laws regarding parental and adolescent decision-making for substance use and mental health inpatient and outpatient treatment. State statues for requiring parental consent favored mental health over drug abuse treatment and inpatient over outpatient modalities. Parental consent was sufficient in 53%-61% of the states for inpatient treatment, but only for 39% - 46% of the states for outpatient treatment. State laws favored the rights of minors to access drug treatment without parental consent, and to do so at a younger age than for mental health treatment. Implications for how these laws may impact parents seeking help for their children are discussed.

Keywords: consent; decision-making authority; state laws; treatment.