Substance Misuse

Due to minor substance use, Jose’s baby daughter was taken away from him. Photo by Michael Kamber for the New York Times

New Beginnings

Many of us know a family who has struggled with drug or alcohol addiction—but for poor families, this struggle can mean separation. 30% of CFR families have faced substance abuse, but with steadfast support and appropriate treatment from CFR teams, most can recover and keep their families together.

Understanding the Problem

At first, some parents are hesitant to disclose their substance use to their CFR team, but once we establish a confidential and trusting relationship we can help clients with any degree of addiction. Not all clients are prepared to quit using immediately and may not believe they have a problem, as they may use alcohol or marijuana recreationally and infrequently. CFR social workers help parents identify the causes of their substance use and eliminate triggers in their daily life while our Parent Advocates help them understand what is expected of them and act as a positive role model in staying focused on recovery.

The Best Treatment

CFR connects clients to insurance and documentation so they can get the best and most appropriate services. For example, we advocate keeping clients with minor problems out of treatment programs where they might be exposed to those with more severe addictions. When parents with minor substance problems are capable of safely taking care of their children, we work to keep families intact and look to short-term treatment services that accommodate their work and child care schedules.

Parents who have serious problems may need more comprehensive programs, like month-long rehabilitation or residential treatment that can last more than a year. Entering any program, especially residential, can be a frightening experience. To help parents stay on track, social workers and Parent Advocates often accompany clients to intake on the first day. They stay in contact with parents for the duration of treatment, coaching them around their triggers, anticipating situations that might lead to relapse, and finding new programs if necessary.

Recovery & Reunification

CFR works to keep families together throughout the recovery process. We advocate for increased visitation so parents continue to be involved in their children’s lives, and when appropriate, we advocate for children to live at the residential program once their parents are stable, which serves a stepping stone to full reunification.

After the parent has recovered and is able to reunify their family, our teams continue to advocate for them in court and support them through everyday life. This can entail helping them find an apartment, engage in counseling services, and obtain steady employment. CFR’s team approach ensures that a parent’s chances of relapse are minimal so families can live safely and permanently together.