Child custody and substance abuse by parents are directly interlinked topics and should be of great concern for everyone.  The number of children affected by parental substance abuse in the United States and across the world is on the increase and that is scary.

When a parent abuses drugs or alcohol they can put their children at risk in a number of ways.  Whole books have been written on the subject of the dangers of substance abuse to people and the children in their care.

In this article, I am not so much focusing on the dangers to children when a parent or parents engage in substance abuse, but rather the impacts that substance abuse can have on child custody.

New federal data was released today showing that the number of children in foster care in the U.S. has increased for the third year in a row.  One of the major reasons for the increase was increased and worsening substance abuse by parents.

This annual report that comes from the Department of Health and Human Services detailed an increase of 427,910 children in foster care as of September 30, 2015 compared to 414,429 the year before.

The report shows that the number of children in foster care rose in nearly three quarters of all states, and the highest increases were in Florida, Indiana, Georgia, Arizona and Minnesota.

In trying to explain the increase, HHS noted substance abuse by parents as a primary factor in 32.2 percent of the cases in 2015 where a child was removed from the home.  This is extremely alarming.

Substance abuse is something that affects many of us either directly or indirectly across the world.  Treatment and prevention must become a more major focus in communities around the world because of the impacts it has on all of us.

If you are a single parent it is extremely important to understand the risk you are taking by engaging in substance abuse, not just for you but for your children as well.  In some cases it only takes on incident to find yourself in a situation where losing custody of your child(ren) is a real prospect.

Once you lose custody of your children due to substance abuse, getting your children back in your home can be a very long and tedious process.  It stands to reason that if there are concerns of substance abuse, those concerns must be fully laid to rest before you can be viewed as a suitable parent again.

This article is not about judging anyone.  It is about awareness and making sure that anyone who reads this is aware of the very real risk of losing custody of their child(ren) if they engage in substance abuse.

If you are reading this article right now and have a substance abuse problem, please do not wait to reach out to get help.  There are so many resources out there that you can start getting the help you need 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

It is so important not to be afraid to seek out help because of concerns about coming forward and being truthful.  The parents who find themselves in trouble and losing their children are the ones who wait until something bad happens before trying to change things.

Groups like alcoholics anonymous and narcotics anonymous are just two examples of groups that you can get involved with right now and not need to worry one bit about how that could impact the custody of your child(ren).

Another great resource that will help you find assistance and treatment local to you is the SAMHSA website.  SAMHSA stands for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and “is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.”

If you or someone you know, whether you are a parent or not, is in need of substance abuse help or treatment please seek help.  Click one of the links above for a great starting point or do your own research.

It is so important for parents to understand that substance abuse is not worth the risk of losing your children.  It’s also not worth the risk of the possible harm it does to you, your children or others around you.

I know first hand the damage that substance abuse can cause, especially as it relates to custody matters.  In every single case that I have had personal knowledge or involvement with, the parent who was the substance abuser fell into deep depression because of the impact it had on their life, their children’s life and their relationship with their children.

That being said, the grip that addiction can have on a person is very real.  Only you can seek the necessary treatment to overcome it though.  Do it now.  If not for you, then for your beautiful children.  Both they and you deserve it.  You will be so grateful you overcame this dreadful disease.