When you’re facing rock bottom, attending residential treatment becomes more than just an option – it’s critical to your survival and well-being. It can be frightening enough to take that first step even in the most ideal circumstances. When you are responsible for caring for loved ones, including children, ailing or aging parents, or even just a spouse, those feelings can quickly escalate.
Who will care for your children while you’re away? What will happen if you aren’t there to care for your parents?
We want you to know that these questions are valid. It’s normal to have concerns about the people you love and how they’ll be cared for your in your stead.
The good news is that there are programs and options to help you ensure your loved ones are cared for, no matter how dependent or independent on you they really are.
From where your children will stay to how you can financially afford childcare, this guide is for anyone who shares these concerns. With a little help, it’s possible for you to get the assistance you need while still ensuring your loved ones are safe.
Child Care Options While in Residential Treatment
As a parent, your number one goal is to take care of your children. Even when addiction drags you down and forces you to make difficult choices, you still strive to ensure your children are cared for and safe at all times.
Kids are resilient, and that means they can and will bounce back from experiencing addiction within the family if they have the right support. But that doesn’t mean you don’t urgently need help; they benefit far more from spending time with a stable, well-adjusted parent than a parent who cannot stay sober long-term.
For this and many other reasons, residential treatment has the power to change both of your lives for the better. Unfortunately, it also places you in a very perplexing position: who will provide childcare while you’re away? You have a few options:
- Have your spouse provide care. If you have a current or ex-spouse, talk to them about childcare provided you can trust them to have your best interests at heart. Often, spouses are more than happy to provide childcare while you are away because they care about you and want you to heal. Even exes can see the value in a parent getting sober and working on themselves!
- Ask your partner. If you aren’t married but are in a long-term relationship with someone who has a close relationship with your children and can be trusted with them, consider asking them for help. As with spouses and exes, often they’ll be happy to help out while you heal.
- Ask your parents. Kids love to spend time with grandma or grandpa, so if you have a good relationship with your parents, this can be a great option. You don’t need to sign over custody, either; it’s possible for mom and dad to care for your children even while you retain legal responsibility.
- Ask your sister or brother. If your parents are too busy, or they are unavailable, a brother or sister may be willing to chip in. As with all sources of childcare, you should ensure you feel comfortable with leaving your little ones under their responsibility. Never leave kids with a sibling who is also addicted.
- Ask your friends. If you have close friends who know your children, it may be worthwhile asking them if they can provide care. This is especially true if the individual has children of their own (because you know they have experience caring for little ones). If you take this route, be sure to discuss all elements of the experience – whether you will provide financial support, how long you’ll be gone, and who to contact in an emergency.
If you’ve exhausted your resources and everyone is saying no due to work and other responsibilities, know that all is not lost. Daycare and subsidized child care services may help you ensure your children are cared for without over-burdening the people you love. Don’t be afraid to ask if such services will help them change their mind.
Getting Help From Outside Sources
For a variety of reasons, some people just don’t have the same level of support from friends and family as others. Maybe you’re living in a new area and don’t know anyone, or maybe you were forced to flee a volatile family situation. Either way, there are outside sources who can help you manage child care concerns without needing to give up your little ones.
- Contact Safe Families for Children. Safe families is a volunteer-based organization that isn’t associated with child welfare or CPS. They arrange safe, vetted, non-governmental foster homes for your children while you are in residential treatment. Although SFC does partner with a number of churches and faith-based organizations, they are non-denominational. While you will need to sign forms to ensure your rights and responsibilities, the main benefit of SFC is that you do not have to sign over custody or go to court in order to access care. This can prevent costly court battles later on while still ensuring you get the help you need.
- Contact local churches. If you attend church or are faithful, it may be useful to get in touch with your pastor, minister, priest, or rabbi. Many of these organizations have in-house programs to provide support to parents in need, up to and including longer-term stays with local families.
- Request voluntary placement in foster care. This is almost always a last resort, but state foster care may be an option if you find yourself out of resources and hitting a dead end. Still, it is the better choice if your decision is to avoid treatment and potentially, permanently lose custody of your children once the courts catch up to you. If you choose this route, it is critical to work with a lawyer who can ensure your rights are respected.
Senior or Infirm Parents
People in active addiction who care for an elderly or infirm parent, aunt, grandparent, or cousin may still need to arrange care in order to go to treatment. The more dependent the parent, the greater the need for assistance and the more stressful the situation can feel.
As with childcare, there are options available to help you keep your parent or loved one safe. Respite care, provided by either your insurance provider or the state, if you are low income, can help ensure someone is present for either part or all of the day.
Adult day programs and short-term-stay homes may also be covered by your insurance, but you can also pay for them out of pocket if you have the funds.
Asking family members trusted neighbors, or even friends to look in your parent or loved one is also an option. For moderately capable individuals this may be enough intervention to ensure their safety while you are away.
The biggest takeaway here is that no matter how impossible it seems, there are always options to help you care for your loved ones. You don’t need to sacrifice your own need for residential treatment to remain loving or loyal. The people who care most about you also want what’s best for you – and that includes sober living.