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Drugs and your teen: What to expect if they get caught

Substance abuse can impact people regardless of age. It's particularly common for young adults to try drugs due to peer pressure and their own adventurous nature. The harsh reality is that even a young person trying drugs for the very first time could end up with drug charges against them for possession or impairment.

Juvenile offenders are in a particularly unique situation, because they're young enough that alternatives to prison could help them. Juvenile offenders need to go through special programs to help them instead of making the situation worse. That's where alternative penalties come in.

Every juvenile offender needs special treatment

Teens and young adults are at a precarious time in their lives. They need support, not punishment, if they are to improve. That's why juvenile offenders are typically screened for drug abuse and mental health disorders. Identifying these issues and treating them is more effective than simply placing a juvenile offender in prison.

Alternative penalties may be more helpful in cases where a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol. For example, if a person is simply put into prison, they may go through withdrawal and not have any support system in place. As a result, they could easily return to drugs or alcohol after getting out of prison, which could turn into charges and penalties down the road.

Instead of doing that, more courts are turning to substance abuse treatment. Substance abuse treatment guarantees that the individual will have medical care when coming off drugs or when reducing their alcohol intake. Additionally, abuse treatments make sure that anyone who goes through treatment has a plan for support in the future. If they feel like returning to drugs or alcohol, they'll have a support system of medical providers, family, friends and others who can help them avoid making that mistake again.

What should you do if you or your child is accused of drug- or alcohol-related crimes?

If you are accused of drug- or alcohol-related crimes in Illinois, you should contact your attorney before your police interview. Make sure you stay as quiet as possible about the situation until you have guidance from your attorney. Your attorney will give you more information on alternative penalties and what can be done for any juvenile who makes the mistake of using drugs or alcohol and getting caught. The right help can make a major difference in the outcome of your case.

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Drugs and your teen: What to expect if they get caught | Jim Ryan & Associates