Will You Lose Custody of Your Child If You Go to Rehab?

mother and child sitting outside

There are a lot of victims of addiction. One of them is the family relationship. The effects of substance use disorders are particularly hard to handle if there are children involved. However, when a parent with a substance use disorder tries to get help by entering drug rehab, that, too, can be difficult for kids because it typically means that the parent will be absent from the child’s life for a period of time.

How does going to rehab affect child custody? Does a stint in rehab mean that a parent will lose custody of their child? What should parents consider when entering rehab? Most importantly, why is getting addiction treatment beneficial for the whole family?

Drug Rehab For Parents

Parents who consider drug rehab might worry about what will happen to their children. While treatment can help parents make a better life for them and their kids, fears about what will happen while they are gone can be difficult to manage.

Addiction is a serious disease that must be dealt with by the person with the disorder. It is the fallout on the rest of the family that makes it especially difficult for parents. However, without rehab, other problematic aspects of your life may not improve.

While many people who enter treatment will have family support systems that can help take care of the children left behind, many others do not. This usually means there are legal ramifications related to foster care in cases of parental substance misuse. There are three legal areas under the law that may impact these cases.

Drug Rehab and Child Custody Laws

Livestrong article laid out three areas affected by substance misuse and drug rehab when there are children involved:

  • Visitation rights for the parent undergoing treatment
  • Legal custody of the children and foster care while the parent is in drug rehab
  • Parental rights, which may be temporarily or even permanently taken away when a mom or dad has a substance use disorder, whether the parent enters a drug rehab or not

A young girl hugging a woman


The courts generally look favorably on a parent that has the courage to enter drug rehab. When the courts become involved in such a case, they also look at the history of the substance use disorder on the family unit, the types of drugs consumed and other historical information. Whether a person loses custody of his or her child depends on the specific situation. If custody is lost, it may only be temporary. When the parent gets his or her life back on track, they can regain custody of their children.

If you deal with a substance use disorder, you likely know that your child may be experiencing negative effects. An effective way to improve the well-being of you and your child might be to reach out to a qualified, compassionate addiction treatment provider in your area. In addition to helping you regain control of your life, another benefit of drug rehab is that most facilities provide some sort of family therapy to help bring everyone back together to deal with the substance use disorder and heal as a unit.

Washington State addiction treatment resources are geared toward keeping families together while helping parents recover. If you or any of your loved ones experience a substance use disorder, you do not have to do it alone. Contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield today to speak confidentially with our professional, caring staff, who can assist you in understanding your treatment options.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.