David Sheff, a journalist and author, knows this all too well. His son Nic, 27, struggled for years with a methamphetamine addiction, having first experimented with drugs and alcohol at age 11. Nic's addiction took him to emergency rooms and crack houses, and brought his parents to the breaking point.
Sheff took a much tougher approach with his son than Brockovoich, telling Nic he would only talk to him or give him money if he was willing to get help.
"When it became clear to me that if he didn't get into treatment he was going to die, everything I did was about trying to get him in some place where he could be helped," Sheff said. "It was hell because I always worried about living to regret that decision because it would lead him to some catastrophe he would never recover from."
Although not the first option parents should consider, Sack said Sheff's tactic is sometimes necessary.
"It's very hard to move them emotionally when their best friend is their crack pipe, so the emotional strategies frequently fail," Sack said.
Both the Sheff and Brockovich families are in much better places now.
The Brockoviches stayed on top of all of Elizabeth's spending -- only giving her $20 a week, down from $500. They also made Elizabeth bring home receipts and checked her change. Elizabeth says the approach helped save her life.
"I started to get serious when I saw that (my mother) was," Elizabeth said.
As for Nic, after multiple stints in rehab, he is two years sober. "If I had had any other option besides having to get into treatment, I would have kept using," Nic said.
Tough love from loving parents helped bring their children back from the brink.
David and Nic Sheff have both written memoirs about their family's ordeal:
To find out more about where to get help with addiction, check:
HBO has joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to provide resources and information about addiction.
Visit NOT.org for 10 questions you should ask any treatment program you are considering to sending an adolescent.