Drug Alcohol Addiction Treatment If I have Children

Addiction and Child Custody: What Will Happen to My Kids If I Can’t Get Sober?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

In Fresno, California, there is a strong likelihood that children will be assigned as dependent child of the court if they are in a dangerous situation because of a parent’s drug or alcohol use/abuse or addiction.

Does that scare you? If you are a parent of a young child, and you have a  drug or alcohol addiction … it should.

Children and other family members are always negatively affected when one or more parent has a substance abuse problem. The removal of children from the home will depend on the type of illegal drug activities and how different states address child custody in light of illegal drug use. According to ChildWelfare.gov, 34 states directly address in their criminal statutes the issue of exposing children to illegal drug activity.

Parents that enter the court system with a drug addiction in the Central Valley, CA, will likely have to complete a drug rehabilitation program. Depending on the situation, a parent can lose complete custody of children and sometimes those under 18 years of age may have to enter foster care. The courts will decide if your parental rights will be taken away permanently or temporarily, and they will likely present options to address any illegal drug use within the home.

Will Drug Treatment Help With Child Custody Battles?

The justice system is built to give preference to keeping families together. But, in the case of crimes committed by one or more parents with an addiction problem, the courts or a third-party mediator will make a custody ruling in the best interest of the children. The parent’s moral fitness, the home environment, and the parent’s history of drug abuse are all taken into account.

Another scenario does exists. When one parent is addicted, the other may receive sole legal and physical custody of the child while the addicted parent may be given child visitation rights. In all cases, when one or more parent is actively addicted to drugs, the legal system has the right to consider them unfit to physically and mentally take care of children. Any request for custody will have to address the parent’s willingness to enter drug treatment and prove they are remaining clean and sober. 

What Happens When a Parent Does Not Get Help?

The courts will not look favorable on a parent that refuses to address their dependency on drugs or alcohol. They would rather place a child in foster care than submit the child to a parent that may be extremely loving, but is unable to provide the necessary financial, physical, and mental attention that children require. A temporary loss of custody can become permanent if a parent refuses to get the help they need. The reality is—you may lose your children if the court deems the home unsafe. Supervised visitations may be the only connection between a child and a parent that does not enter a drug rehab program.

 What Addiction Treatment Options Are Given in Fresno California? 

If the drug addiction and custody battle are in connection with a criminal allegation, the courts will generally deliver a penalty for the crime in addition to parenting restrictions.

The factors that determine what will happen depend upon the state, the judge, and your circumstances. It is not uncommon for the courts to order the person to go through a proven and successful completion of drug addiction therapy as a requirement for keeping parental custody of children. This may include one, all, or a combination of the following:

  • 3-7 day medical detox
  • Inpatient drug treatment up to 3 months
  • Intensive outpatient drug program
  • 12-step meetings
  • obtaining a sober coach
  • individual or group counseling

While temporary care for children can be arranged during a short stay while detoxing, the court must consider who will care for your children when you enter inpatient drug or alcohol treatment. It is possible for temporary care to be given to a close family member or a clean and sober spouse. But if these options are not available, the courts must consider foster care or other temporary living institutions for children. Another option is for the parent and children to remain in the home while attending a mandatory, intensive outpatient treatment program.

What is Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)? 

Very few rehab centers allow people to bring children into the facility. Depending on the severity of the addiction, an initial detoxification from drugs and alcohol under clinical supervision may be necessary. Afterwards, many parents may be given the choice to attend intensive outpatient drug treatment, so they can remain in the home as they also learn to live sober. IOPs are typically up to 8 hours per day, 5 days a week with mandatory 12-step meetings on the weekends.

Recovering individuals will learn about the disease of addiction, how to develop a sober support system, how to handle life problems without using, and most importantly—how to avoid the triggers that may cause a relapse. Living clean and sober while attending an outpatient program can be the answer to remaining within the home and keeping custody of your children.

If you have a safe home environment, supportive family and friends, or you are unable to completely stop working, then an intensive outpatient program can be an excellent option for recovery from drug addiction. Contact First Steps Recovery to learn more about our IOP drug treatment and our online drug treatment resources that can help you stay sober and keep your children within the home.

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