Who Will Care For My Children During Drug Rehab?
By Tiffney Yeager
One of the most common obstacles for prospective patients who want
is “What do I do with my children?”
For many individuals, particularly women, the uncertainty of childcare makes a difficult decision even more so.
Many parents know they need treatment, but the stigma of being a parent who leaves his/her children for potentially
weeks of drug rehab
is scary indeed. What will my significant other or family think? What about neighbors and
friends? How will my kids react? Will I risk losing my children to social services if I go to treatment? What
kind of parent am I if I am not here for my children?
Some drug rehab facilities
have child care available, although these facilities are limited in number. More often,
drug rehab facilities may have local resources that can assist with childcare, at least during weekday hours.
In some cases, one parent can care for the children while the other parent attends drug rehab. Other options
include talking to family or close friends. Often those people in our lives that love us are willing and able to
help if we only ask. Some families have used local day care facilities for daytime care and friends or relatives
have been able to care for the children after work and on weekends. Oftentimes, finding the right childcare, or
blend of childcare, involves a lot of creativity, but many patients do manage to successfully complete drug rehab
even if they are the primary caretaker for their children.
It is important to remember that although having another person care for your children in the short-term can be
stressful, the long-term effects of parenting when you are impaired can cause even more damage. Children are
very perceptive and they can often tell if their parent is using even when other adults cannot. Years ago, I
had a family therapy session
with a mother and her young child who was in foster care. The mother recently
completed chemical dependency treatment and we were working towards reintegration of the family. After the family
session, the child, who was about 5 years old, was in my office waiting for her foster parents and she commented
that her mother had been using. During our family session, I had looked for signs that the mother may have been
using and noticed none. Later that afternoon, I received a call from the family’s social worker who told me that
the mother had in fact tested positive for methamphetamines. Those people who are closest to you are often the
most perceptive regarding your use of substances and even if your use goes unnoticed by casual acquaintances,
your children and close family likely are aware of your substance use. In almost every case, one’s parenting
ability is negatively affected by substance use. Although many parents are sure that their substance use does not
affect their ability to parent, their children are often very aware of their parent’s substance use. Children can
often identify a multitude of ways that their parent is parenting differently when under the influence.
Continued use also increases the risk that children will lose a parent to drug related problems (car accidents,
falls, incarceration, overdose, etc.). The long term or permanent loss of a parent is much more traumatic than
living with friends or family while a parent attends drug rehab.
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