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Handling a Child Protective Services Case While Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol

Handling a Child Protective Services Case While Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol

In the challenging journey of parenthood, facing Child Protective Services (CPS) can be a daunting experience, especially while grappling with addiction to drugs or alcohol. This article aims to offer a compassionate and realistic guide for parents caught in this turbulent situation.

Our focus is not only on the legal aspects but also on the human side of this struggle—understanding the impact of addiction on family dynamics, the intricacies of CPS processes, and most importantly, the path towards healing and reunification. Here, we share insights and support to help parents navigate these complex waters with hope and resilience.

Addiction and CPS Cases: An Overview

Suppose you are a parent facing a CPS investigation due to an addiction to drugs or alcohol. If this applies to you, you need to know specific information as you start planning for yourself and your family. You probably understand that drug or alcohol addiction significantly impairs your parenting ability and child safety.

Your addiction severely weakens your decision-making skills, making you unfit to care for a child. If you disagree with this, it likely indicates a substance abuse problem.

Even occasional use of drugs or alcohol can, at the very least, limit your parenting ability or, at worst, completely erase it. You might think your addiction doesn’t affect your kids if you don’t use substances in front of them. However, as we will discuss, this belief is false and can harm you and your children.

Exposing Your Children to Risks Associated With Drugs and Alcohol

Perhaps the most common scenario where your child is put in harm’s way due to your addiction to drugs or alcohol is that you are impaired during the hours you are caring for your child. Suppose your child gets home from school, and you are in an altered state due to your addiction. In that case, you cannot possibly protect your child from dangers that include wandering away from your home, playing at home with dangerous items like household cleaners or electrical outlets, or using kitchen appliances for cooking meals when you are not able to.

You are who you hang around with. These were the wise words that my grandpa would tell me growing up. Please take a look at your life and the people who populate it. If you are a drug abuser, you will likely spend time with other drug abusers.

This is not a moral judgment or anything close to it. Instead, it is an observation that I feel prepared to make as a family law attorney. These drug abusers can present dangers in and of themselves if you bring them around your child and into your home.

Finally, the addict’s mind places supreme importance on getting high or drunk before taking care of their child or household. If you can hold down a job and earn an income, your earnings are likely spent first on acquiring your drug of choice, with any remaining money spent on necessities for your home and child. People with addictions tend to have impulse control problems as well. This means that if you do not watch out and seek help, your alcohol addiction could lead to an addiction to gambling and other destructive behaviors.

What Does a CPS Service Plan Look Like for a Parent With a Substance Addiction Problem?

Handling a Child Protective Services Case While Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol

Your service plan, if you have a substance addiction, won’t include potential future problems like relapse, other health issues, or necessary home accommodations. You should tell your CPS caseworker about any programs or support you need, so they can help set these up quickly.

You must ensure that you meet the state’s standards to keep your child safe and to return them to your home. Don’t assume your caseworker will help you extra, even if they speak kindly and seem helpful.

They will not, most likely. They are overworked and overburdened and cannot be expected to do the work for you. Take care of yourself and your child by speaking up about the help that you need.

How Drug and Alcohol Addiction Can Play a Role in Your Case

CPS caseworkers will make your addiction the focus of your investigation. For instance, parents abusing drugs or alcohol must agree to and undergo random drug tests, sometimes extending back six months. Your caseworker will discuss with you the impact of your addiction on your child and family. While this process might be uncomfortable, it serves as a crucial step in concentrating on the key elements of your case and reuniting with your child.

At the start of your case, a CPS caseworker will conduct an assessment with you. This assessment identifies what you need to improve to regain custody of your child from CPS’s temporary care. You will need to adhere to the assessment’s recommendations and commit to a clean and sober lifestyle.

Standard practice will involve supervised visitation until you demonstrate a sober lifestyle. CPS will avoid exposing your child to potential harm in an uncontrolled setting. Your caseworker will monitor these visitation sessions to evaluate your progress and decide how long you should participate in additional programs. If you arrive at a visitation session intoxicated or impaired, you risk losing time with your child and, possibly, your parental rights if CPS decides to terminate them.

Is It a Guarantee That Your Child Will Need to Reside Outside of Your Home While You Receive Treatment?

Handling a Child Protective Services Case While Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol

In most cases, yes. Your treatment type greatly influences this, but being away from home and physically struggling from abstaining from drugs or alcohol will impair your ability to parent. Unless a treatment facility in your county accommodates both you and your child, your child will likely stay with a relative or a foster family.

You should talk to your CPS caseworker about your options. You can only discover what’s available for someone in your situation by asking. Focus on yourself and your child during this period. Expect both mental and physical challenges and don’t assume you can complete your treatment quickly.

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