According to the Institute for Family Studies, over half of all cases of children being removed from their home by a child protective service agency are due to a parent having a drug or alcohol addiction. The main reason for children being taken away from their addicted parents is because they are suffering from severe neglect that puts them at risk of malnutrition or other health and safety issues.
While heartbreaking, the situation can be prevented by getting addicted parents treatment at an inpatient rehab center. That way, they can take the steps needed to improve their own mental and physical health so they can focus on regaining and keeping custody of their children.
Will You Lose Custody Of Your Child If You Go To An Inpatient Rehab Center?
Going to an inpatient rehab center without being ordered by the court to do so generally won’t cause an addicted person to lose custody of their children. This is true as long as the children have a safe and healthy place to stay while the parent is in treatment.
Children who are left alone or in a dangerous environment that doesn’t offer proper supervision can be removed if the situation is reported to a child protective agency. The situation is different if a court is forced to order a parent into rehab. Court-ordered rehab for parents may occur in part because children are suffering due to their parent’s addiction issues.
How Child Custody Is Affected By Substance Abuse
Child custody issues often depend on the type of substance that a parent is addicted to, how long they have been addicted to the substance, and how many times they have relapsed. For example, a parent who is struggling with an alcohol use disorder will not be seen in the same light as a parent who has an addiction to methamphetamine.
Methamphetamine can cause hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, violent actions, and other serious symptoms that make it impossible for a person to be able to care for themselves or their children. Alcohol addictions, while serious, don’t tend to present as many dangers unless a person has been in and out of the court system for years because they keep relapsing.
Child Custody Laws By State
Each state has its own set of child custody laws that designate the proper procedures for regaining child custody once it has been lost because of addiction issues.
In order to find them, it is usually best to talk to a child custody attorney. It is also possible to research them by looking up the state statutes on each state’s website. Child custody laws are usually listed under the family code section.
Possible Custody Outcomes For Parents In Inpatient Rehab Programs
Most people think that the only two possible outcomes for parents who need to go to an inpatient rehab is that they either permanently lose their children or they get to keep them. Some agencies are more than willing to offer some type of middle ground wherein the children stay in a foster care home until the parent is discharged from the facility.
If children are taken away for a longer period of time, custody can sometimes be regained if a parent is able to prove that they have a steady job, clean home, and several months of sobriety. Of course, part of regaining custody after addiction treatment often includes regular visits from a child protective agency official to ensure that the addicted parent hasn’t relapsed.
Factors That Affect Child Custody
Most child custody and inpatient rehab outcomes are dependent on a parent’s willingness to take the necessary steps to get sober and work on providing a better life for their children.
There are other factors that can affect it, too. For example, a child who suffered severe neglect or abuse that resulted in them experiencing permanent health issues will most likely not be returned to a parent because of the serious safety hazard that it would present to them.
This might include the child being left alone for several days or weeks at a time, physical or sexual assault, or starvation that resulted in developmental issues.
Court-Ordered Drug Testing In Child Custody Cases
To ensure that a parent has every intention of staying sober, it is common for courts to order regular drug and alcohol testing. The way that it usually works is through a color system. Each person is given a color.
Then, a random color is decided for the day. If it happens to be their color, they must immediately offer a urine sample in front of a designated law enforcement official. This ensures that no one can cheat on the test.
What Happens When Both Parents Struggle With Addiction?
If both parents struggle with an addiction, their children often have no one reliable they can turn to for care and protection. In circumstances like this, courts will often check to see if there are any close family members that can take over the responsibilities.
If not, the children are placed into a foster care home until at least one of the parents is able to prove they are responsible enough to take the children back. Of course, the court often places restrictions on the situation, such as preventing the other addicted parent from having extensive visitation rights until they can get sober, too.
Inpatient Rehab For Parents
Inpatient rehab for parents is similar to other types of inpatient programs. The main difference is that addicted parents are often offered parenting classes, anger management classes, and extra social services, like housing assistance, to help ensure they have a better chance of getting their children back.
Depending on the rehab center they attend, they may receive other types of helpful services, such as budgeting classes, employment training, and educational support to help them get their GED.
Inpatient Rehab Programs
It is often best for addicted individuals to begin treatment in an inpatient rehab program because this will allow them to safely detoxify from drugs and alcohol while under the supervision of specially trained medical staff.
Attempting to detoxify alone can be dangerous to a person’s health because of the withdrawal symptoms that can occur with certain drugs. After an inpatient program is completed, most addicted individuals can step down to an intensive outpatient program or a standard outpatient program.
Do Rehab Centers Allow Children To Stay While The Parent Is In Treatment?
There are numerous rehab centers in the United States that allow children to stay with their parents while they are in a rehab program. Usually, the facilities are for women only, and the children who are allowed to stay with them have to be 10 years old or younger.
Children who are older than this can stay with short-term foster care families unless the addiction treatment center has a children’s residential home they can stay in while their parents work through the child custody and inpatient rehab process.
How To Regain Custody After Inpatient Addiction Treatment
The first step to regaining custody after addiction treatment is to stay sober after being discharged. This may require going to regular therapy sessions, aftercare programs, and calling on peer-support networks.
If a parent doesn’t stay sober, this can cause them to fail a drug and alcohol test, which means they will not be able to prove that they are capable of functioning as a fit parent.
The next step is to follow through with all court-ordered appointments, such as meetings with a probation officer or child protective agency official. Finally, it is necessary for an addicted individual to find gainful employment and safe housing that is suitable for their children to live in.
Inpatient Treatment Options For Parents Struggling With Addiction
Luckily, there are numerous inpatient treatment options for parents who are struggling with an addiction. The type of facility that a person can be admitted to depends on the substance they are addicted to and whether they have any other mental health issues.
It is often helpful for addicted parents to speak to an addiction treatment specialist if they need help finding a rehab center that fits their individual needs. For more information on child custody during addiction treatment, or to find an inpatient rehab center for parents, contact us today.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine — Drug-Addicted Mothers’ Parenting and Their Children’s Development
- U.S. National Library of Medicine — The Development of Children of Drug Addicts
- Institute for Family Studies — Drug-Addicted Mothers and Child Well-Being
- The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law — Predictors of Custody and Visitation Decisions by a Family Court Clinic