Ask an Expert: Should I Get My Addict Daughter Arrested?

By Jay Westbrook 02/19/15

Today's question is on whether the prison addiction treatment program is good enough to get your daughter arrested for.


I have been reluctant to write this but now need to. Our son died from a heroin overdose four years ago and it crushed us. I still don't sleep well. Last month we discovered that our daughter is now using methamphetamines and appears on the way to real trouble. We are beside ourselves. The fear and already sense of loss and confusion are terrible. It is more than double grief over both children. My husband is a mess as well and going between anger and sorrow. We just don't know what to do. A cousin suggested we have her arrested since she is not talking about recovery because there is supposedly a decent prison program. Any wisdom here would be greatly appreciated. -  Judith


Jay Westbrook:  It sounds as though you have been dealt more than your share of suffering, and I can’t imagine how painful the loss of your son and this situation with your daughter must be. I strongly urge you to contact theGrief Recovery Institute (800/334-7606800/334-7606) for assistance with the grief over the death of your son; their tools are among the most effective, accessible, and rapid in addressing grief.

I cannot tell, from your question, how old your daughter is, i.e., whether or not she is a minor. If she is a minor, you may well be able to place her in an adolescent treatment program, even if she doesn’t want to go. You can Google “Adolescent Treatment Programs” or you might contact either Visions Adolescent Treatment Center (866/889-3665866/889-3665) or Sovereign Health Adolescent Program (866/348-4818866/348-4818) and they should be able to help.

If your daughter is no longer a minor, your situation is made more difficult, as you cannot force her into a treatment program. The dynamics of her using may (or may not) have ties to her brother’s death, and therefore, a skilled interventionist could well be invaluable in helping move her to a willingness to enter treatment. Again, you can Google “interventionists” or, as I said in a previous article, “If the volume of the [Google] search results seems overwhelming, you might consider using either Stasie Kardashian or Ed Storti. There was a recent interview with Stasie (The Other Kardashian - Stasie, The Interventionist)  in this publication, and Ed Storti is spoken of in that article.  Whether you use them or not, you will probably find great value in reading everything on their websites.”

As for your cousin’s suggestion that you have your daughter arrested so she can access the prison [drug] program, there are multiple considerations. First, you have no way of assuring that she will actually be arrested, or convicted, or sentenced to a facility that has a drug program, or that she will enter that program. Second, there is always access to drugs behind bars, so an arrest brings no guarantees that she will become drug free. Third, prisons are violent, and if something were to happen to her, my guess is that you would blame yourself, in part. Fourth, you would alienate her from an important source of support – you.  And, finally, if her using is related to her brother’s death, she may be too fragile to do very well in prison, and would be unlikely to receive the comprehensive treatment she may require to really recover, treatment she is far more likely to receive in a non-prison treatment program. I hope this has helped, and please let us know the outcome.



G Jay Westbrook, M.S-Gerontology., R.N, is a multiple award-winning clinician (Nurse of the Year), Visiting Faculty Scholar at Harvard Medical School, speaker and author who specializes in both substance abuse recovery and End-of-Life care and is an expert in Grief Recovery©. He has both consulted to and served as a clinician in multiple treatment centers and hospitals, guiding clients through their grief, and working with them and their families on healing broken relationships. His lectures to physicians and nurses include trainings in When Your Patient is a Substance Abuser: Currently or Historically. He can be reached at [email protected].    Full Bio.

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