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Handling a Child Protective Services case while addicted to drugs or alcohol

If you are a parent who is facing a CPS investigation due to an addiction to drugs or alcohol there is specific information you should be aware of as you begin to map out a plan for yourself and your family. You are likely aware that your ability to parent and keep your child safe while addicted to drugs or alcohol is significantly impaired. Your own decision-making skills are severely impaired due to your addiction and you cannot be expected to care for a child in that condition. If you find yourself disagreeing with that statement that should be an indication that you absolutely have a substance abuse problem.

Even if you are not habitual, everyday user of drugs or alcohol it could still be (and likely is) true that your ability to parent your child is constrained at the very least and at worst is completely eradicated. You may be telling yourself that because you never “use” in front of your children that your addiction has no effect on your kids. As we are about to discuss, however, this is not true at all and that line of thought can be extremely harmful to 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 by your being impaired during the hours that you caring for your child. If your child gets home from school and you are in an altered state due to your addiction then 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 to cook 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. Take a look at your life and the people who populate it. If you are a drug abuser then it is likely that you spend time with other drug abusers.

This is not a moral judgment or anything close to it. Rather, it is an observation that I as a family law attorney feel prepared to make. 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 is one that places supreme importance on getting high or drunk before taking care of their child or their household. If you are able to 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?

The service plan for a parent like yourself with a substance addiction problem will not take into account problems that you may experience in the future (like relapsing after being sober, other health issues or accommodations needed at home based on these issues). Whatever programs or support that you believe that you need should be communicated to your CPS caseworker so that he or she can work with you to get these set up as soon as possible.

At the end of the day, it is your responsibility to make sure that you meet the standards that our state has set forth as far as your ability to keep your child safe and to have him or her returned to your home. Do not assume that just because your caseworker speaks sweetly to you and has seemed helpful that he or she will go out of their way to help you.

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

Speaking of those CPS caseworkers, these folks will be making sure that the addiction that you have is front and center in your investigation. For example, parents who are drug or alcohol abusers will need to consent to and allow for random drug tests that can often date back for six months. Your caseworker will act as a counselor in talking to you about the effects of your addiction on your child and your family at large. This will not be fun but will be a way for you to hopefully focus in on what is most important in your case. To get your child home with you this is a necessary step.

At the beginning of your case, a caseworker from CPS will meet with you and go over an assessment that is designed to help you learn what you need to focus on in order to win back your child from the temporary custody of CPS. Whatever recommendations come out of that assessment will be your marching orders for the duration of your case. It will be expected that you honor those commitments to living a clean and sober life.

Finally, supervised visitation will be the norm until proven that you can lead that sober life. CPS will not allow you to put your child into harm’s way by exposing him or her to you in an uncontrolled environment. Your caseworker will use the supervised visitation sessions as an opportunity to look at the progress you are making and to determine how much longer you need to be involved in the supplemental programs. If you arrive at a visitation session intoxicated or in an altered state it can cost you time with your child and possibly even your parental rights if CPS were to make a motion to terminate your parental rights.

Is it a guarantee that your child will need to reside outside of your home while you receive treatment?

In all likelihood, yes. Obviously, a lot depends on the type of treatment you are scheduled to receive but if you will be out of the house a great deal and will be suffering physically because of your abstaining from drugs or alcohol you will not be in a great position to parent your child during this time. Unless there is availability in the county where you live for you and your child to reside at a drug treatment facility together it is likely that your child will reside with a relative of yours or a foster family.

Either way, speak to your CPS caseworker about what options are available to you. You never know until you ask what is actually available for a person in your position. Overall, use this time to focus on yourself and your child. Expect setbacks- mentally and physically- and do not assume that you will be able to complete your coursework as quickly as you would like.

It takes time but the reward can be the return of your child and the end of the CPS investigation. Your pride should not be a primary concern of yours. Accept the help, complete the courses and report back to CPS. Your child will thank you.

Questions about your CPS investigation? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC work with families like yours on CPS cases with great regularity. We have advocated for parents who find themselves in a wide array of positions in regard to CPS and do so with the intent to always give our clients a chance to prove themselves worthy of the quick return of their child to their care. To learn more about our office and the services we provide please contact us today. We offer free of charge consultations with a licensed family law attorney six days a week.


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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas CPS defense Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding CPS, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX CPS defense Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our CPS defense lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles CPS defense cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County


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