Kreed Kleinkopf
December 6, 2019

Can a Minor Get Drug Rehab Without Parents Knowing?

Confidentiality has always been a key component of rehabilitative services.  The HIPAA law (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, signed by Bill Clinton in 1996), guarantees medical privacy, even for minors in many cases.  But does it apply to rehabilitation for minors?  Can a minor receive substance abuse rehabilitation without their parents finding out?

The short answer?  Maybe.  By HIPAA, minors are allowed to make their own informed consent decisions about health care without parental supervision, guidance, or involvement.  However, there is a statute in HIPAA that states each state may make their own decisions and enact their own rules.  This has led to a dizzying patchwork of regulations and rules from state to state.

Below is a table that identifies each state’s specific action toward both drug treatment and mental health treatment.

State Drug Treatment Mental Health Treatment
Inpatient Outpatient Inpatient Outpatient
Alabama Minor Minor Minor (≥ 14) Minor (≥ 14)
Alaska No Specific Law No Specific Law No Specific Law No Specific Law
Arizona Either (≥12) Either (≥12) Parent Parent
Arkansas No Specific Law No Specific Law No Specific Law No Specific Law
California Either (≥12) Either (≥12) Minor (≥12) Minor (≥ 12)
Colorado Minor Minor Minor (≥15) Minor (≥ 15)
Connecticut Either Either Either(≥14)a Minor
Delaware Parent Either (≥14) Parent Parent
DC Minor Minor Parent Minor
Florida Either Minor Parent Minor (≥ 13)
Georgia Either (≥12) b Minor Parent Either (≥ 12)
Hawaii Minor Minor Parent Minor
Idaho Either Either Either (≥14)a Either
Illinois Minor (≥12) Minor (≥12) Either (≥ 16)a Minor (≥ 12)
Indiana Minor Minor Minor Minor
Iowa Either Either Minor/Bothc Minord
Kansas Minor Minor Either (≥14) Either (≥ 14)
Kentucky Either Minor Minor (≥ 16) Minor (≥ 16)
Louisiana Minor Minor Minor Minor
Maine Bothb Minor Minor Minor
Maryland Either Minor Either (≥ 16) Either (≥ 16)
Massachusetts Minor (≥ 12) Minor (≥ 12) Either (≥ 16)a Either (≥ 16)
Michigan Either (≥ 14)f Either (≥ 14) Either (≥ 14) Minor (≥ 14)
Minnesota Minor (≥ 16) Minor(≥ 16) Minor (≥ 16) Minor (≥ 16)
Mississippi Parent Minor (≥ 15) Parent No Specific Law
Missouri Either Either Parent Parent
Montana Minor Minor Either (≥ 16) Either (≥ 16)
Nebraska Either Either Either Either
Nevada Minor Minor Parent Parent
New Hampshire Minor (≥ 12) Minor (≥ 12) Either Either
New Jersey Minor Minor Parent Parent
New Mexico Minor(≥ 14) Minor (≥ 14) Minor (≥ 14) Minor (≥ 14)
New York Either Either Either (≥ 16) Either
North Carolina Parent Minor Parent Minor
North Dakota Minor (≥ 14) Minor (≥ 14) Parent Parent
Ohio Minor Minor Parent Minor (≥ 14)
Oklahoma Minor (≥ 16) Minor Minor (≥ 16) No Specific Law
Oregon Minora Minor (≥ 14) Parent Minor (≥ 14)
Pennsylvania Either Either Either (≥ 14) Either (≥ 14)
Rhode Island Either Either Both Both
South Carolina Minor (≥ 16) Minor (≥ 16) Minor (≥ 16) Minor (≥ 16)
South Dakota Either Either Both (≥ 16) Both (≥ 16)
Tennessee Either (≥ 16) Either(≥ 16) Minor (≥ 16) Minor (≥ 16)
Texas Either (≥ 16) Either (≥ 16) Either (≥ 16) No Specific Law
Utah Parent Parent NoSpecific Law No Specific Law
Vermont Minor (≥ 12) Minor (≥ 12) Minor (≥ 14) Minor (≥ 14)
Virginia Both (≥ 14) Minor Both (≥ 14) Minor
Washington Parent Minor (≥ 13) Minor (≥ 13) Minor (≥ 13)
West Virginia Minor Minor Both (≥ 12) Both (≥ 12)
Wisconsin Parent Either (≥ 12) b Both (≥ 14)g Both (≥ 14)
Wyoming No Specific Law No Specific Law No Specific Law No Specific Law

Note. Parent = Parental consent only required; Minor = Minor consent only required; Either = Either parental or minor consent; Both = Both parental and minor consent required; No Law Found = No specific law was found addressing that particular form of treatment. If a state specified an age at which a minor was considered mature, it is indicated in parentheses after the type of consent required.

Also Read: Choosing the Right Teen Drug Rehab Center


Again, a wildly varying and confusing array of laws.  Let’s break them down to understand what’s being said here.

We have two columns.  One labeled “Drug Treatment” and the other “Mental Health Treatment”.  Let’s analyze the state of Virginia.

In Virginia, inpatient therapy (rehab) for addiction-related issues requires both the consent of the parent and the child (as long as the child is above 14) are required.  The same applies to inpatient therapy with the minor being at or above the age of 14.

However, outpatient therapy for both substance abuse and mental health issues remains solely the domain of the child in question.  There is no consent or notification of the parent or guardian required.

In the state of Rhode Island, the minor or guardian may send the minor to rehab (there is no age floor).  However, to send the minor to mental health treatment of any kind) requires the consent of both the guardian and the minor.

In New Hampshire, only the minor can decide to go to rehab.  Both the minor and the guardian may make the decision to go to mental health, be it, inpatient or outpatient.

In Utah, the parent has exclusive rights over the minor with regard to drug and alcohol rehabilitation.  However, there is no actual law on the books regarding mental health aid; it is presumed that the minor may attend without parental supervision or guidance.

For the sake of ease of use, I have divided the entire US into two basic categories - Private and Non-Private.

Private states include all states listing minors as being the sole decision-maker under both fields (inpatient and outpatient) of drug rehabilitation.  Most of them have separate rules regarding mental health.  Please refer to the table above, if you have any questions.



These are the states of Alabama (over the age of 14), Arizona, (over the age of 12), , Colorado (over the age of 15), Connecticut, Florida, Washington DC, Georgia (over the age of 12), Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois (over the age of 12), Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts (over the age of 12), Michigan (over the age of 14), Minnesota (over the age of 16), Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire (over the age of 12), New Jersey, New Mexico (over the age of 14), New York, South Dakota (over the age of 14), North Dakota (over the age of 14), Ohio, Oklahoma (over the age of 16), Oregon (over the age of 14), Pennsylvania, South Carolina (over the age of 16), South Dakota, Tennessee (over the age of 16), Texas (over the age of 16), and finally Vermont (over the age of 12).  These states are all private for minors seeking rehab.

Rhode Island and Maine are fringe cases. They require parental consent unless the doctor evaluates that informing the parents about the rehab activity would terribly harm the recovery process.

Delaware requires parental consent for inpatient, but not outpatient care.  Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin all require parental permission for inpatient treatment.

Alaska and Wyoming do not have specific laws on the books, and so, therefore, should refer to following federal HIPAA law on the subject.


Unfortunately, this law and its state applications are only the tip of the iceberg.  There are still more considerations. For example, if there is a charge or a bill associated with the services, the guardian may discover what has transpired.  Correspondence, phone calls, & other methods of communication may be intercepted and used to pressure or otherwise identify the minor.

The best advice is to consult a doctor or addiction recovery professional and follow their advice. Though the framework for an independent addiction recovery journey is there, it differs greatly from state to state and in each circumstance


What factors determine whether a minor can access drug rehab without parental consent?

The factors determining whether a minor can access drug rehab without parental consent vary depending on the laws and regulations of the specific jurisdiction. In some cases, minors maybe able to access drug rehab without parental consent if they meet certain criteria, such as demonstrating maturity or being emancipated. Additionally, the severity of the addiction and the potential risks to the minor's health and safety may also influence whether they can access treatment without parental consent. However, it's important to note that laws regarding minors' access to drug rehab without parental consent can vary widely, so it's advisable to consult legal counsel or a qualified healthcare professional for guidance specific to the individual's situation and location.

Is it possible for a minor to seek drug rehab without their parents' know ledge or consent?

In some cases, it is possible for a minor to seek drug rehab without their parents' knowledge or consent, depending on the laws and regulations of the specific jurisdiction. Some states have laws that allow minors to consent to certain medical treatments, including drug rehab, without parental involvement if they meet certain criteria, such as demonstrating maturity or being emancipated. Additionally, confidentiality laws may protect minors' privacy rights in seeking healthcare services, including drug rehab. However, it's essential to consider the individual circumstances and seek guidance from legal counsel or a qualified healthcare professional to navigate this complex issue effectively and ensure the minor's safety and well-being.

Wha t are some alternative options for minors who are unable to access drug rehab without parental consent?

For minors who are unable to access drug rehab without parental consent, there are alternative options available to seek support and assistance. One option is to reach out to trusted adults, such as teachers, school counselors, or other family members who may be able to provide guidance and assistance in accessing resources for treatment. Additionally, support groups or hotlines specifically designed for adolescents struggling with substance abuse can offer confidential support and guidance, connecting them with resources and treatment options that may be available without parental consent. Seeking counseling or therapy from a qualified mental health professional can also provide valuable support and assistance in managing substance abuse issues, even if parental consent is required. Ultimately, the key is to explore all available options and seek support from trusted individuals or organizations to address the minor's needs and ensure they receive the help they require.

Where can minors and their parents find more information and support regarding drug
rehab options and confidentiality issues?

Minors and their parents can find more information and support regarding drug rehab options and confidentiality issues from various sources. One option is to consult with healthcare professionals, such as pediatricians, counselors, or addiction specialists, who can provide guidance and resources tailored to the individual's needs. Additionally, reputable organizations and websites dedicated to substance abuse treatment, such as the Substance Abuse andMental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) or the National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA), offer valuable information and resources for minors and their parents. Local community health centers, schools, or mental health clinics may also provide support and assistance in navigating drug rehab options and confidentiality issues. It's essential to seek information from reliable sources and consider consulting legal counsel or advocacy organizations specializing in minors' rights and healthcare confidentiality to ensure a comprehensive understanding of available options and rights.

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