If you have had the opportunity to be with CASA for very long or had a chance to look through many of our cases that judges have appointed CASA to, then you realize the amount of cases involving addiction. It could be alcohol or a myriad of other drugs with heroin and opiates seeming to lead the way. In fact, Judge Denise Brown of Recovery Court in Louisville, Kentucky says at least 90% of cases involving child abuse and neglect center on drugs and addiction.
So many of the children we serve are living with foster families or relatives because they had to be removed from their homes. Their parents were not able to appropriately care for them because of their chemical dependencies. This removal is another traumatic event to add to the childrens’ already heavy histories.
Fortunately, there are many services available to addicted parents, but it is a mighty mountain to climb when combatting addiction. It is important to educate yourself about what reliance on substances means when advocating for children in these circumstances. Learn and understand that it is not just a matter of will power when it comes to this complex and often tragic subject. Look for information and learn about what the parents are experiencing as addicts and how to assist the children on your case, while keeping court orders in mind.
Here are several ways to empower children to heal when faced with a home of addiction:
Remember, it only takes one caring, stable adult to make a difference for children.
Let the child know you care and that they are not alone. Let him/her know there are safe people who can help.
Help foster an attitude of gratitude. Point out something special the child does and let them hear you say thank you.
Read the kit for kids booklet (It Feels So Bad) and let children know addiction is not their fault.
Be silly….often children from addicted homes are serious. Laughter is the best medicine!
Be understanding and centered and help them understand people make mistakes and are still wonderful.
Listen, give them your undivided attention and ask questions.
Enjoy each other and do something you both enjoy.
Remind children that when it comes to their parents’ addiction….
They did not cause it; they can not control it; They can not cure it BUT they can help take care of themselves by communicating their feelings, making healthy choices and celebrating themselves!