How to Step in When Drug Addiction Puts Kids at Risk
Many people don’t realize that their drug addiction has an impact on more than just their life. There are many times when children who live in a home with a drug addict are put at risk. There is always the possibility of the children coming into contact with drug paraphernalia or with the drugs themselves. This creates a dangerous situation for the children because they could become injured or ingest drugs, which could kill them.
Knowing a drug addict who has children living in their home puts you in a difficult situation. Most people don’t want to get someone in trouble with the law, but they always want to be sure that children who are put into this type of situation are as safe as they can be. The following guide walks you through a few tips that you can use to ensure that the children of a drug addict are as safe as they can be at all times.
Offer to Provide Help
If you are close with the person, talk to them about their addiction. Do not belittle them, tell them that you know that they have a problem and are willing to help them in every way that you can.
If you can, offer to watch their children while they go to rehab to get the help that they need. Many people don’t go to get help for their addiction because they don’t know what to do with their kids. If the person refuses to get help and thinks that they are providing a safe environment for their children, more severe steps may need to take place.
Document the Addiction
Whenever you get a chance, take a picture of the environment that the children are living in on a daily basis. Document drug use, drugs or drug paraphernalia that is being left around the house and the condition of the house. Being able to prove that the children are at risk will better your chances of being able to get them the help that they need.
Contact Your Local Child Protection Agency
In every state within the United States, there is a child protection agency in place that is designed to make sure that children are provided for and cared for properly. Any reports that are made to the agency are kept confidential so that you don't have the worry about the addict finding out that you reported them to the agency.
When filing a report of child abuse or neglect, you need to give specifics about the situation. You need to tell why you feel that the children are in danger or are not being taken care of properly. Provide them with any proof that you have. You will also need to provide specifics about the address of the residence, how many kids are living in the house and any names that you may know. If you don’t know the names of the people, the agent handling the case should be able to find it on their own.
Do Not Interfere
Once you have made a report to the child protection agency, you need to stay out of the situation as much as you can. If the addict gets a heads up that the agency is coming, there is a good chance that they will clean everything up temporarily and the agency will have no reason to get the kids out the dangerous situation. No one can take the children out of the environment based solely on what someone says.
Be Available to Help
If you are related to the addict, the agency may ask if the children can be placed with you for a short period of time. They want to provide parents with the opportunity to better themselves so that their children can be returned to them one day. They will provide the addict with a guideline that they need to follow in order to regain custody of their children. Try to be available to help the kids if you can.
They will more than likely need rides to classes, drug testing and perhaps even counseling. Once children are taken out of a home, many people end up delving even deeper into their addiction due to depression and sadness. Having support can provide the extra nudge they need to get help and overcome their addiction once and for all to ensure they and their children have the best life possible.
Don’t Wait to Report Emergencies
If you feel like a life or death situation arises, don’t be afraid to call the police. Police can get children out of a dangerous environment immediately whereas the child protection agency may take more time. If you see that the addict is using drugs in front of their kids, that the kids are left unattended or if you just feel that there is a chance that a child could be injured due to neglect or abuse, call the police right away. Be sure to let the police know that the person is an addict and more than likely on drugs so that they can go into the situation properly prepared.
You cannot be responsible for the decisions that others make. You can only be responsible for the decisions that you make and turning a blind eye to children who are in a dangerous situation because you are friends or are related to an addict is never a good decision. The safety and well-being of children should always be put first. If you try to reason with the person to go to a rehab center to get help for their addiction and they refuse, calling the authorities and forcing them to get help could save their life and better the lives of their children. It may seem a bit intrusive at first, but if you are reporting the situation with good intentions in mind, it is an intrusion worth making.
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