The idea of rehab for mothers with children is fraught with worry and downright fear. Some people are put off going to rehab because they believe their children will be taken away and their precious lives will be negatively affected. The opposite is true. You’ll be giving your child their mother back. The struggle your child has to go through as they deal with having an addict for a parent is far more detrimental to them in the long term.
Children learn from what they see. So, to give them the best chance of a successful, drug-free future, getting into an alcohol or drug treatment center is imperative. Another fact you may not be aware of is that taking responsibility for your recovery makes you less likely to lose custody of your children.
You should also bear in mind that addiction is a progressive disease, so the longer you leave it, the worse your situation could get. There are circumstances in which severe substance disorders are causing significant problems in your life where the state could temporarily remove your children. The more serious you are about healing and the faster you act, the better chance you and your family have of a loving, happy life together.
Can a Mother Lose Custody For Substance Abuse?
Yes, a mother can lose custody of a child for substance abuse, whether that substance is drugs or alcohol.
First, you need to understand that children are prioritized in every case. While your fear of losing your child is justified and perfectly normal, you also need to do what is best for them. Anxiety over old-fashioned notions of foster care and strong emotions towards your family are common concerns. At the same time, you need to accept that addictive behavior is incredibly damaging to a child. Sometimes what is best for them might be staying with family or in care.
Addiction is a problem in the US, and 47 states have taken steps to protect children against the impact of parental substance abuse. Addiction doesn’t make you a bad person or even a bad parent. The court places a priority on keeping children with their parents unless the individual is deemed unable to take care of them. In this case, you have to accept that the decision has been made as a last resort and is for the benefit of all of you.
Addiction is a disease that requires professional treatment. When left to fester and develop, it can only do damage to you and your family. The good news is that even if you have lost custody of your child as a result of addiction, there are steps you can take to heal and get them back.
Drug Addiction and Child Custody
The courts generally look favorably on people who make the effort to go into a treatment program. If you come into contact with the law with regards to drug or alcohol addiction, it’s usually for the following reasons:
- Getting arrested as a result of drug or alcohol-related issues
- Failing a drug test at a custody hearing during divorce or separation
- Getting a positive result on a drug test after the DCFS files a report of neglect or maltreatment.
Exposing your child to unlawful activity and impairing your ability to take care of your children because of substances are the main reasons behind addiction-related custody loss. If the above issues haven’t yet affected you but you still have a problem, it’s strongly recommended that you seek help before it becomes a legal matter. In these cases, we recommend attending inpatient rehab and leaving your children with close loved ones for the duration of your stay.
How to Explain Addiction to Your Child
Explain That They Will See You Again
Even if your kids are teenagers and seem indifferent to many aspects of family life, they are still children and need your reassurance. Ensure they understand that you are not permanently gone and that your illness is treatable. If you have a return date set already, mark it on a calendar so they can count down. This also gives them a visual reminder that you’re returning, which can be incredibly comforting for a young mind.
Make It Clear That This Isn’t Their Fault
The way young minds see the world puts them at the center of everything. This is particularly pertinent with regard to fault and blame. When things go wrong, children can’t help but see themselves as the cause. Even if your little one seems calm and understanding, they are a child, and their psychology works just like any other kid. Explain to them that this is an external illness and doctors, nurses and counselors know how to help you heal.
Manage Your Emotions in Their Presence
It’s not advisable to have the conversation about going to rehab until you’re 100% certain that you can do it without losing control of your emotions. Seeing you frightened, upset or tearful can be extremely distressing for a child. You set their expectations of the world around them, and to see you in an emotional state can significantly affect their mental health, now and in the future. It may be a good idea to have another close family member with you during this conversation.
Don’t Confide in Them; Be a Parent
You mustn’t use your child as an emotional crutch or unload your problems onto them. Children make excellent listeners, and the more you expect them to be your confidante, the more they’ll provide this service. You might not see the negative impact of this for years to come, but it’s one of the unhealthiest things you can do as a parent. No matter what you’re going through, you are the adult and you know best.
Regaining Custody After Inpatient Treatment
Court-Ordered Drug Testing
If you have previously lost all of your parental rights and are looking to get them back, there are several steps you will have to take. Demonstrating that you have completed a substance abuse treatment program is your number one priority.
Usually, you’ll be court-ordered to undergo a drug test to prove you’re not still using substances. You’ll be closely supervised and in most cases be required to take regular drug tests to prove that you can give your children your undivided care and attention.
What Else Contributes to the Court’s Decision?
The law can vary significantly between states, so be sure you educate yourself on exactly what the law expects from you in your area. Some of the most commonly considered factors include:
- The type of substance being abused. For example, if you’re struggling with methamphetamine addiction, you’ll need to go through more to get your children back because of the high risk of harm from this substance.
- The severity and length of the addiction are thought to be of high importance, too. If you’ve recently developed what could be considered a milder addiction, you’ll be seen as less of a risk than someone who has been enduring a severe physical dependence for a prolonged amount of time.
- Relapse and previous failed attempts at rehabilitation are also taken into consideration, with people who have been through the system several times having the most difficult task ahead of them.