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How parental substance abuse can affect a custody case

There's no denying that Central Texas has been hit hard by the methamphetamine and opiate drug crisis, just as most other areas of the country have been. Substance abuse of all kinds, including alcoholism, rips families apart, with the most vulnerable population of all being its collateral damage - the children of the addicts. As such, it's important to understand how parents with substance abuse problems can face uphill battles concerning the custody of their children.

The elephant in the room

Like it or not, addicts still face social stigmas for their substance abuse problems. This can make it especially difficult for them to face their addictions head-on in rehab, as they may feel like admitting they have a problem paints them in the worst possible parental light. But tip-toeing around the issue, or outright denying that there is a problem, is not going to get them any closer to resolution.

The big problem here is that there just is no way to disguise a full-blown addiction for very long. While many people remain functional addicts for decades, it's a thin veneer over the teeming chaos of raging addiction. If someone - the authorities, employers, concerned family members, estranged exes in custody battles - scratch the surface of the addict's facade, the roiling dysfunction will be revealed to all.

First, seek treatment

It is difficult for any Texas family law attorney to successfully petition the court for child custody rights for an addicted or alcoholic client who is not in rehab and/or recovery. In fact, losing custody of one's children is often the flashpoint of an addict's descent into the bottomless pit of addiction. It doesn't have to be that way, however.

Next, seek legal assistance to establish or regain custody

Alternatively, the act of seeking help for an unmanageable substance abuse problem indicates self-awareness and personal responsibility. Your attorney can, and should, use your willingness to squarely address your problems as a positive effort the court should consider in your favor. The court is bound to make custody decisions based on a child's best interests, and it's hard to argue that a sober, humble parent who has turned his or her life around should not be involved in a child's life.

Don't spend your children's precious childhood mired in the haze of addiction, looking on from afar. Take the bull by the horns, get sober and fight for your c ustodial rights.

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