Substance abuse impacts millions of families every year. If you are a parent who is is struggling with addiction, your child may be one out of approximately 8.7 million under the age of 17 who has at least one parent with a substance abuse disorder in the United States. The fact that you have a drug problem does not mean you do not love your child. It can be a reason for concern when it comes to child custody though.

Disputes over child custody are often difficult. If you are facing a custody battle and you have a history of addiction, it is natural to worry. At the same time, a judge will not automatically terminate your custody rights simply because you have an SUD. Courts consider multiple factors.

How the court looks at substance abuse in child custody cases

How are you handling your addiction? Judges will take substance abuse into consideration, but they will be paying attention to how an SUD impacts the child. If it negatively affects your ability to parent or you put your child in danger, this can cause you to lose custody rights. On the other hand, it can make a difference if you are actively participating in a drug rehabilitation program while keeping your child healthy and safe.

When the law considers substance abuse to be child abuse

The law considers child abuse to be the maltreatment and/or neglect of children. Because drugs can completely alter a person’s state of mind, it is possible for parents to lose their best judgment when under the influence. The court could consider drug use to be child abuse if it led a parent to neglect his or her child’s needs.

What addicted parents can do to move forward

While this may be the most trying time of your life, it does not have to be the end of your relationship with your child. Resources such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Hotline can provide help to parents who need it. Stay positive and keep focused on recovery.