The angst of litigation keeps couples with children together long after they probably should have divorced or sought custody modification. In most cases, this is legally, socially, and psychologically sound. This blog explores the common situations where one spouse becomes addicted to prescription drugs, but the other tries maintaining the status quo, eventually “hurts” the parent—and often the children—who he/she is trying to protect to keep the family intact.
The nightly news relays the war on codeine based drugs and the lawsuits against manufacturers. Often times spouses become addicted to these substances by virtue of an injury or surgery and not being able to “wean-off” the drug after leaving them to keep getting prescriptions, buy them from co-workers, or obtain such drugs through other illicit sources. When not available, this spouse may turn to other illegal drugs to avoid chronic pain or withdrawal.
While a spouse may assume and hope-against-hope this will change, addiction triggers powerful regions in the brain and this is unlikely to change without clinical intervention, perhaps in-patient treatment. Generally, this fails. And then some significant event occurs that puts the non-addicted spouse in legal jeopardy. For instance, the addicted spouse has an accident with the children and they are injured. This may trigger his or her arrest, and possibly a CPS investigation and/or CHINS proceeding.
There are numerous variations on how a drug-addicted-spouse puts the children at risk psychologically and physically. The non-addicted parent must act and should seek a consult with an attorney and discuss filing for legal separation or divorce and sole legal, physical custody and supervised parenting time. Such relief is available in paternity cases as well. Without doing so, it is entirely possible the spouse who is not addicted and does not act could be charged with neglect of a minor or have the children removed and made wards of the state.
Obviously, these are not the only potential negative outcomes, nor is such extreme action always necessary to be taken against the addicted spouse; but these actions are not uncommon either. A parent who fails to take action ultimately is allowing harm to the children and placing themselves at legal risk of not being able to remain the custodian of the children. Rarely does that situation best suit the best interests of the children during such a difficult time.
Fortunately, there is attorney-client privilege where you can discuss these issues without fear of disclosure. The General Assembly has provided attorneys and courts with numerous tools to craft a plan to protect the children and perhaps help the addicted spouse along the way. These are ordinarily complex plans and have some setbacks along the way, but awareness of prescription drug addiction is well known at this time. Lawyers, judges, and those involved in these systems have resources to help and are sympathetic to the situation, as most of the time the addicted spouse is where he or she is at because of a psychical injury or medical procedure and are not hardened criminals.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates handle all types of domestic and criminal case involving drug use, abuse, and possession throughout the state. This blog is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended as a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.