• Howard Davidson has been actively involved with the legal aspects of child protection for over thirty-five years. He has directed the ABA Center on Children and the Law since its 1978 establishment. The Center provides extensive training, technical assistance, consulting, and publications for lawyers, child welfare agencies, juvenile (dependency) courts, and programs that provide legal representation in these cases. He served as chair of the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect and is a founding board member of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He has authored many legal articles on child maltreatment. In the 1970s, he spent five years as a legal services attorney exclusively representing children in juvenile court, and he created the Children's Law Project at Greater Boston Legal Services, one of the country's first children's law centers.



This article first summarizes key data on the scope of teen substance abuse and the lack of teen access to needed treatment services. It then describes how and why attorneys may be helpful to parents who discover their teen's drug or alcohol problem and seek advice and counsel about the legal implications of various actions that can or may be taken. The article explores such issues as parents finding illegal drugs in the house or on their teen's person, various modalities of treatment and how family members are involved, how parents might secure residential evaluations for their youth without the necessity of juvenile court involvement (and why this is important), concerns about placing youth in unlicensed residential treatment facilities, health insurance coverage issues, home drug testing, and how past American Bar Association (ABA) policy on youth drug and alcohol abuse is being followed up with a new ABA project to aid parents of substance-abusing teenagers and their families.