Trusted Content

What Should I Do With My Kids While I’m In Rehab?

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

March 11, 2019

Many individuals who suffer from addiction refuse to seek treatment because they are fearful of what will happen to their children while they are in treatment. Many rehabs, however, allow parents to bring children to treatment with them and even provide daycare and parenting classes to help make the transition to sobriety easier and less stressful.

It’s a question many parents are forced to ask, and there’s no easy answer. Most people suffering from addiction want their family to be together, and some refuse to seek treatment for this exact reason. Women, in particular, worry that their kids will be taken away from them as soon as they admit to being substance-dependent, but this is not always the case. There are several options for addicts who are also parents, and while they all take work, they can help a scattered family become whole again.

Asking Others For Help

One option is to ask those around you for help. This is not always as easy as it sounds. Some people have no family to turn to, or the family they do have, are unreliable. Some assume they have to have a spouse or a parent to look after their children, which isn’t the case. Remember, this is not intended to be a long-term situation. If there is no grandparent available, ask an aunt, uncle, cousin, or trusted family friend. A neighbor may be willing to help out, or even a teacher from school.

Often people are afraid to reach out, but doing so can often provide surprisingly positive results. This can be flexible, too—some families use day care when a child is not at school, enter outpatient care, or have a relative take on evening and weekend duty so the parent with the addiction can seek help and go to an inpatient facility.

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Taking Your Kids With You

Another option for parents entering rehab is to take their children with them. This idea is gaining popularity in many communities, as it helps keep the family unit together and provides assistance to the addict at the same time. The services at such facilities vary widely. Some have a commune-type approach, where the entire family works together for the benefit of the community and receives care.

In other situations, a group home approach is emphasized, and pregnant addicts learn to care for their infants and themselves at the same time. There are live-in establishments that focus on a certain demographic or religion, and those that are more far-reaching. Some do not allow children, but condone supervised visits instead. These family-friendly places fill a hole in the system, but their availability changes from state to state. Certain states allow only children under five years of age, others do not allow any at all, and institutions on tribal reservations have their own individual rules.

Taking Care Of Your Kids, Is Just As Important As Taking Care Of YOU

No matter what option a parent struggling with addiction chooses, communication with the children involved is key. Kids can generally tell when there is a problem in a family, and they should be reassured that the addictive behavior is not their fault. It can be hard on a child to have a parent to leave for several weeks or months…but how much harder would it be to lose that parent to substance dependency forever?

If you have children and are interested in finding rehabilitation centers, but don’t know where to begin, please contact us at We can help you customize your search to find the plan that best suits your needs and those of your family.

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