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Help for addiction need not result in loss of child custody

The opioid crisis in this country continues to threaten lives and jeopardize families. Parents seeking help for their opioid addiction are frequently confronted with the prospect of losing custody of their children. In actuality, this can deter a person from seeking help due to the fear of losing his or her child. New Jersey is a state that does not equate drug use with child abuse and so losing child custody is not necessarily a deterrent to seeking help.

When children are taken from their families for their protection, they are placed in the foster care system. In some instances, there is a possible benefit to allowing a child to remain with his or her parent while the parent struggles to gain recovery. The child/parent bond can be very strong and can serve as an incentive to a parent to stay clean and sober. It is known that the best place for a child, as long as the child is safe, is with a parent. Some states are working to allow children to join their parents in recovery as a way to aid the parent's recovery and lessen the chance of relapse.

States are also targeting the stigma of drug addiction. Rather than taking a 'what did you do' approach, they are looking at it from the angle of 'what happened to you.' Some addictions start as a result of a medical procedure and a legitimately prescribed pain medication. If a person can't get access to the pain medication and he or she is physically dependent, he or she may turn to heroin or other opioids.

It is becoming more and more accepted that opioid addiction is a disease. A parent should not necessarily lose custody of a child due to a disease. A person fighting to get clean and sober in New Jersey who is concerned about losing custody of a child may benefit from speaking with an experienced family law attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer can review the facts of the case and advise his or her client of the best path to pursue regarding child custody.

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