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  • Writer's pictureBill Phelan

Don't wait to get help for addiction

Parents who suffer from Substance Use Disorder (SUD), including alcohol abuse, should not lose hope when it comes to custody and visitation issues being addressed in Family Court.

You should not delay getting help with SUD just because you are going through a divorce or custody battle.

While untreated substance use disorder is certainly an issue courts consider when determining whether an individual parent can have regular visits with their children or even custody, in my experience judges have great empathy for people who struggle with SUD provided they have a sincere desire to get better. Most judges understand the disease, including the challenges of relapse, and more importantly that the disease can be treated, often resulting in parents who become very capable and reliable caregivers to their children.

If you suffer from SUD do not lose HOPE and be patient.

Relationships with your children are lifelong. Judges, for the most part, are assigned to a case for its duration and become familiar with the parties and know when someone is trying to get better. First things first: ask for help!

Help comes in the way of treatment and getting solid advice from an attorney who understands SUD and what those afflicted with the disease are going through.

If you have a history of SUD or are struggling with SUD now, you may need to regain the trust of both the courts and your loved ones. But it is possible to show that you are a capable and reliable caregiver to your children despite your struggles. I have seen this happen in many cases. Concentrate on your recovery and getting yourself right and everything else will work out in time.

Mental Health America estimates that 483,000 people in Massachusetts struggle with SUD. If you are one of them, don’t delay in getting the help you need.

If you are unsure of where to go for help, Massachusetts has a network of Community Behavioral Health Centers that offer a wide range of mental health and substance use treatment programs. You can access care 24/7 through The Behavioral Health Help Line. Call or Text: 833-773-2445 or contact them via Web Chat:


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