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Child Protective Services & Addiction

Dealing with addiction and have issues with CPS? Let’s talk about your treatment options. Free and confidential. 

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Understanding the Case Process of CPS and Addiction Related Cases

Many parents with substance abuse problems lose their children to Child Protective Services (CPS), the Department of Children and Families, or the Department of Social Services, depending on what state you reside in. Once in recovery, parents often want to get custody back, and most are allowed to do so. These parents must prove that they are fit for the job and that their parenting is in the child’s best interest.

Children are the most vulnerable individuals who are affected by substance abuse. When guardians struggle with substance abuse, children are often neglected, abused, and subject to traumatic experiences. Traumatic experiences make them more prone to mental and physical illness and develop unhealthy coping mechanisms and future substance abuse.

A new Harvard study reveals that it is three times more likely that these kids will be abused and four times as likely to be neglected. Additionally, research in the last decade shows significant neurobiological consequences to early stress and maltreatment. Differences in brain development, correlated with psychological and physical health issues, were found in people who experienced excessive stress in childhood.

Learn about why state child protective service departments like CPS takes kids away, the correlation between childhood trauma and substance abuse, as well as how to regain custody of your child in sobriety.

Jump to the Questions You Need Answered

What are the best ways to get custody back after a case has been opened?

When parent(s) are faced with an open CPS investigation or case, the best way to regain custody after drug use is to comply with a child protective services case manager’s requests. 

An open CPS case due to your drug use can often feel like the end of the world. 

The truth is, it is only the end of the world if the parent(s) make no effort to comply. 

If the parent struggles with drug and/or alcohol addiction, complying may be impossible without intervention.

Here are some of the best ways to regain custody after drug use

  • Spend time in a drug and alcohol rehab – complete the program and turn in your certificate of completion to the caseworker.
  • Comply with ALL drug testing requirements – don’t miss any at all.
  • Ensure that your home environment is safe and ready for your children.
  • Maintain employment or show proof that you can support yourself and your children.
  • The main goal is to overcome your addiction and create a safe, healthy, and stable environment for your children. Regaining custody after drugs is possible.

The sooner you begin carrying out this plan, the better. We can help you do just this and connect you with a short or long-term drug rehab program. 

Some inpatient or outpatient programs can get you on the road to recovery. 

Getting help sends a message of willingness to be a better parent. 

It’s time to be the amazing parent you were meant to be.

Danielle's Story - "I almost went to prison and lost my son"

Danielle almost lost her son and ended up in prison. In her real life story of addiction, she shares how she found help after contacting us and getting the treatment she needed. Now Danielle lives with and takes care of her son.

Ned help navigating this situation?

Give us a call to speak with an addiction professional.

Why were my children taken from my care?

It is highly likely that someone close to you was concerned enough to call CPS. It can be tempting to assume this was done with malicious intent. However, if addiction is truly present, it was likely done out of true concern.

Addiction is a physical and psychological disorder; the addicted brain is crippled by dependence so that healthy decisions and prioritization are virtually impossible. Sadly, parents are not immune to addiction, and the children of addicted parents are at high risk for neglect, abuse, and trauma.

Parents addicted to substances usually struggle financially, making it difficult to care for their children. Children may not get enough food to eat or proper clothing. They may suffer in the extreme cold and heat or be without clean water if utilities are shut off.

Many children are left alone, unsupervised, while their parents are intoxicated or out obtaining more drugs or alcohol. Any young child is in danger when unsupervised, as children don’t know to take certain precautions or are incapable of doing so. They are vulnerable to injury, illness, as well as the abuse of ill-intentioned adults.

Traumatic experiences are common for these children in the form of scary or stressful situations and direct abuse. A child may see a parent unresponsive or convulsing from an overdose. Parents under the influence or withdrawing can have a hard time caring for themselves. Parents may hurt or mistreat kids when intoxicated or experiencing mood fluctuation, mental disclarity, or psychosis of withdrawal.

Will CPS Give My Children Back? What’s the Process Like?

Child Protective Services (CPS) intervenes in many cases of parental drug use every year. Remember, custody rights are always based on what is in the child’s best interest. While it is preferred to keep children with parents, or at least in the family, parental rights are often removed for perpetual substance abuse issues.

When children are removed from custody due to drug use, the law demands an attempt to reunite parent and child at least once. In many cases, if the parent doesn’t rectify the problem quickly (usually about a year), rights are removed again. Sadly, children are separated from their parents often due to substance abuse.

Sometimes this happens after arrests or drug charges, sometimes because of reported abuse or negligence. Whatever the reason, it is always sad to see families split up. CPS attempts to work with many families, with the main goal of keeping parents and children together. The highest priority, though, is always to ensure the safety and well-being of the child.

Visitation and unsupervised parenting time are prohibited once a parent is discovered to be abusing drugs or alcohol. After this point, a parent must prove that treatment for substance abuse is completed and they have sustained abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

Substance Abuse Affects Each Family Member Differently

PTSD Continues the Cycle of Addiction From Generation to Generation

Post Traumatic Stress from living in an environment influenced by substance abuse increases the likelihood that of the child will abuse alcohol and drugs when older.

What is CPS Trying to Protect My Children From?

Children who grow up around substance abuse often develop unhealthy coping mechanisms, one of which is abusing substances themselves. Children learn from their parents how to behave, how to deal with stress, appropriate relationship boundaries, and so on.

If parents often use substances to cope with stress or uncomfortable feelings, their children learn this. Not all children of addicted parents will come to abuse substances, but it is a common narrative.

There are many reasons for this, though, beyond simply learning the behavior. As these children are more likely to experience trauma, neglect, and abuse, they have the utmost need for coping skills to process these challenging experiences. Unfortunately, if their parents are in active addiction, it is unlikely that they develop healthy coping skills.

It is probable that these children will use Alcohol or drugs early in life. With little to no healthy coping skills, many of them will use substances out of desperation to deal with their trauma.

Unfortunately, when trauma is processed improperly in this way, it is likely to create Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that PTSD is a common underlying cause of addiction.

How Does Addiction Affect Children Across America? 

When a person decides that calling cps for drug use is the best option, it is usually out of genuine concern. Here are the statistics to help you understand the widespread problem of drug-related neglect and abuse.

These are the cases that CPS caseworkers deal with daily. 

Reports of Abuse and Neglect

Child Abuse Victims in Foster Care

Deaths Related to Child Abuse and Neglect

Rates of Sexual Abuse and Child Sex Trafficking

Child Abuse is Widespread and Leads Children to Have Difficult Lives

Substance Abuse Affects Each Family Member Differently

parent holding their childs hand to represent the relationship between parent and child

Domestic Abuse and Drug and Alcohol Addiction

One parent is more likely to inflict physical, verbal, and psychological abuse on the other if drugs and alcohol are involved. Learn about how domestic abuse and drug addiction.

The Guide to Child and Teen Drug Addiction 

It is not just the adults that suffer from drug and alcohol addiction, but also the children. A child or teen who grows up in a household exposed to drugs is more likely to develop an addiction. Here’s what you need to know.

Is Drug Rehab Worth it?

Are you concerned that you may have to go to rehab? Do you want to ensure that it’s worth the time and trouble? We created a guide to answer one of the most important questions. Is rehab worth it?

Are Drug Rehab Centers Free? 

It is not just the adults that suffer from drug and alcohol addiction, but also the children. A child or teen who grows up in a household exposed to drugs is more likely to develop an addiction. Here’s what you need to know.

What Happens After Rehab?

Understanding how life continues on after rehab is essential. While it looks different for many people, you should always have an aftercare plan that fits with your unique situation.


What Happens After Rehab?

Understanding how life continues on after rehab is essential. While it looks different for many people, you should always have an aftercare plan that fits with your unique situation.

Can CPS Force Me to Go to Rehab?

You must first understand that child protective services cannot force you to do anything against your will. However, your caseworker will certainly place certain expectations and criteria for reunification with your children. The criteria that they may set is that you must complete a treatment program of some sort. However, there are many different types of treatment programs that you can take to regain custody of your child. Some of these are outpatient programs, and others are inpatient treatment programs. The key is to be realistic. If you’re suffering from an intense addiction to a very hard drug, then inpatient rehab may be the best option for you. Caseworkers are looking for the initiative on your part. What does that mean? It means that they are looking to see an active effort on your part to address your substance abuse issues. So, can CPS make you go to rehab? Yes, but they do so in an indirect way. Remember, it’s highly likely that if you do not comply with the plan, they will not allow reunification with your children. Another extremely important thing is ensuring that you fully detox to provide evidence that you are not using. Drug testing is often a requirement when it comes to open CPS cases for drug or alcohol abuse.

How Outpatient Programs Can Help You Start the Journey of Recovery

Inpatient drug and alcohol treatment isn’t an option for everyone. For some, outpatient treatment is a better option. Going to an outpatient program can help you with CPS’s requirements for reunification. More importantly, programs can help you on the path to a new life in recovery.

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Can CPS Take Your Child for Drinking?

Parents who consume alcohol frequently sometimes assume no danger in having their child(ren) removed from the home because alcohol is legal. The truth is that CPS can take your children from you if you are excessively drinking and putting your children in situations of abuse and neglect.

Studies show that parents who abuse alcohol are prone to impulsive behavior, anger problems, and depression. The same attributes are also commonly observed in children of alcoholics.

CPS will remove children from the home if they determine that the child is being neglected or abused. In these cases, alcohol abuse is treated the same as any other substance abuse issue. CPS may require parents to complete a rehab program.

It can seem unfair that CPS can take your children from drinking, but there’s something to consider. Often, the children of alcoholics are subjected to the angry and abusive behavior of parent(s) who drink. 

If it isn’t anger, then it is often neglect. Even high functioning alcoholics who don’t display any of this must face the physical consequences of drinking. The consequences of drinking may also be traumatic for children to witness.

It is easy for many of these children and teens to start drinking at a young age, which increases their own likelihood of developing an addiction.

What Type of Things Do Children With Addicted Parents Endure?

The situation isn’t very different for the children of people who abuse drugs. Behavior patterns may vary depending on the drug, though impulsive behavior and mood fluctuation are consistent in all addiction. Many children are abandoned by their parents that are caught up in their active addiction. They would leave their children with relatives or neighbors for days to binge on drugs or alcohol. A parent who is taking Heroin, for example, may be more neglectful, sleeping most of the time, unreliable when it comes to taking or picking up their children from school. Someone addicted to Meth may experience psychosis that results in violent or scary behavior that can cause trauma. This trauma can be from physical abuse or witnessing domestic abuse. Drug use is normalized to many of these children, as they observe it at home from a young age. Because of this, they are more likely to try drugs that other kids wouldn’t dream of, and at a younger age.
girl looking sad
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How Do I Make a Plan to Get My Children Back?

Getting custody back once sober requires dedication and perseverance. Don’t give up hope, though. Getting custody of your kids back is possible if you put in the effort and time. First, get some legal advice; you may qualify for free legal aid.

To regain custody, you must prove to the court that you: have completed some form of addiction treatment, are actively sustaining recovery, and are not using Alcohol or drugs currently.

Based on the severity of your case and whether you were arrested or not, the time it takes to do this can vary. For some, it may take years, while it could be a matter of months for others. There are many things you can do to help the process along.

Stay involved in the recovery community by going to regular meetings and other events. Attend counseling sessions or take a class on parenting. Keep a consistent job and maintain your financial responsibilities. Keep your home in a condition that would be suitable for a child: clean and safe.

Make sure you document everything you do. Save every form or report, and document every step, even if it seems small. With the right perseverance, you will be reunited before you know it.

How Can I Get Help for Addiction Now?

We understand how difficult it can be to be in a situation where CPS is intervening, taking, or wanting to take your children. We have helped patients get through situations like this and have witnessed the mothers and fathers in evidence-based treatment programs reunite with their children after meeting the requirements of CPS.

If you are in a situation where you are being investigated by CPS or have had your children taken, we can help you. We can provide you with resources. Treatment programs that will admit you and communicate with CPS during your stay. A drug and alcohol rehab will be by your side through the entire CPS case process and be in contact directly with CPS case managers, giving them updates on your progress status. Staff can accompany you to any court dates or hearings and ensure that you have all the support you need.

Proving your willingness to do the right thing for your children is very important. The healing journey starts today. Let us help you take back control of your life.

If you are being investigated by CPS, DCF, or DSS time is critical. Get the help you need now and be the parent you were meant to be. Call us now at (888) 906-0952

Achieving Your Version of Success May Look Like a United Family

addiction is a family disease

Call now for addiction help; let’s make success a reality.

Social Services are Named Differently Depending on State

  • Child Protective Services (CPS)
  • Department of Social Services (DSS)
  • Department of Children and Families (DCF)
  • Department of Youth and Addiction (DYFS)

While the names of these organizations may vary depending on your state, their mission is the same. They must ensure the safety and well-being of children. Addiction can cause a tremendous amount of dysfunction, which, more often than not, places children directly in harm’s way.

Parents who are being investigated by social services for drug or alcohol us are likely to feel fearful and unsure of what to do. Dealing with social services can be confusing. Read on to learn more about what to do in these situations and how to gain your parental rights back in full.

Patricia Sullivan, MD MPH

Patricia Sullivan, MD MPH

Dr. Patricia Sullivan is a medical doctor with over 35 years of experience. Her passion is helping others achieve wellness and good health in recovery from addiction.

Our Sources of Information

Lander, L., Howsare, J., & Byrne, M. (2013). The impact of substance use disorders on families and children: from theory to practice. Social work in public health, 28(3-4), 194-205.

Child maltreatment & neglect statistics. (2021, June 22). American SPCC. (2019). Substance Abuse Treatment for Persons With Child Abuse and Neglect Issues | SAMHSA Publications. [online] Available at:[Accessed 15 Feb. 2019].

When it Comes to Getting Your Children Back, Reliable Resources Matter

We understand just how important it is to use reputable sources when educating about getting treatment for addictions and how to refrain from relapse in their journey through recovery. To get control of this disease, you must build a strong foundation of knowledge from the beginning. Therefore, we have crafted all our information, statistics, treatment modalities, and practices on reliable resources.

Below are the sources we used to develop the content on our website and all written materials. We will continue to provide you with reputable, up-to-date, relevant, and relevant sources.

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