Saving Children by Treating Parents’ Addictions
When someone is grappling with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, all areas of his or her life can be severely impacted in a negative manner. For many, this includes the loss of custody of their children, which can work to further perpetuate a continued, deadly cycle of substance abuse.
In some cases, pregnant mothers will go to deliver their babies and then test positive for opioids or other dangerous substances such as prescription drugs, marijuana, alcohol, and so on. More often than not, those newborn babies are taken out of their mother’s custody and placed into foster care because of the presence of dangerous substances within the mother’s system at the time of birth. In other cases, friends, family, community members, coworkers, and more might report a parent who is clearly abusing substances to Child Protective Services in an effort to ensure the overall safety of the child who is in that parent’s custody.
Sadly, however, while it might seem like a better option for children of addicted parents to be away from them during their active addiction, extreme damage can be done to both the child and the parent when this separation occurs. On the other side of the coin, keeping a child in the presence of a parent who is struggling with substance abuse or addiction can be catastrophic and potentially even deadly. For years, many families have been torn apart or destroyed because of addiction, however a court in California is working to eliminate these travesties on both sides.
The Early Intervention Family Drug Court in Sacramento County
The Early Intervention Family Drug Court was collaboratively established by Sacramento County’s Department of Health and Human Services division of Behavioral Health Services and Child Protective Services in 2011. Since then, this program is conducted in a court room in the area that works to help rehabilitate parents who are grappling with substance abuse and/or addiction.
Before removing children from a parent’s custody, the Early Intervention Family Drug Court (which can be volunteered for by willing participants) will work with said parent to help him or her put a stop to his or her addiction once and for all. This includes participation in a six-month long program that requires participants to attend group meetings almost on a daily basis, complete random drug tests, and partake in parenting classes. In some cases, participants will go to inpatient rehab, where they will be provided with services such as medication-assisted treatment when appropriate. For those who stay in their home, they will be visited one to two times per week by their social worker.
Throughout the country, programs such as these are not readily available. Up until recently, most lawmakers have be clouded by the stigma that is addiction, preventing them from being able to see it as a clinical disease that requires treatment as opposed to punishment. This vantage point has kept programs such as the Early Intervention Family Drug Court out of many states, working against a problem that could be solved with a more appropriate approach. Now, however, while it is still slow to gain steam, many parts of the country are working to treat those with addiction as opposed to throwing them behind bars, fining them, or taking away their parental rights.
Benefits to a Comprehensive Treatment Approach
When someone is addicted to a toxic substance such as an opioid painkiller or alcohol, they need more than just a week-long stint in a detox center to get back on their feet. Addiction is a pervasive disease that affects every corner of one’s mind, body, and soul. Someone who does not obtain care will be unable to function to the best of his or her capacity, if at all.
Obtaining comprehensive care, which can include services such as, but not limited to, detox, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, group therapy, individual therapy, and aftercare, can allow an individual to effectively get to the root of his or her addiction and begin addressing it in a manner that lets him or her develop full-fledged recovery. Placing an individual in jail for possession of a controlled substance, or fining someone for using in a public place will do nothing but perpetuate the condition itself.
In this case, where children are involved, an approach such as this is critical to not only the parent’s wellbeing, but the wellbeing of the children, too. Studies show that those children who are raised by parents who are actively addicted to substances are more likely to partake in substance abuse as they get older. Additionally, experiencing issues such as neglect, abuse, and childhood trauma that stems from a parent’s substance abuse can predispose a child to use in the future. However, by making available programming that has to power to effectively heal an addicted parent, these risks can be dramatically reduced, if not prevented altogether.
At Azure Acres, we offer the comprehensive care that allows individuals to live happy, healthy lives with their families and loved ones. If you or someone you care for is struggling with an addiction, please reach out to us right now. We are here to help you.