Addiction and Substance Abuse are never really a good idea. Nevertheless, it is prevalent during any crisis. A pandemic and forced isolation are as good of an excuse as any…”We are all going to die anyway,; we might as well enjoy it.”, “ Who do they think they are?”; They can’t tell me what to do”; “Thank God, the liquor stores are considered essential.” These are among the many rationalizations and justifications that addicts, alcoholics and substance abusers make to continue the use of their drug or drugs of choice. Sometimes, the addiction is more apparent when the ability to hide and sneak the intoxicants is limited. Failure at relationships and parenting are often more flagrant and obvious in the midst of crisis. Sometimes the opposite is true and a partner or parent is engaged in all sorts of endangering practices and behaviors that they disregard the additional risks of bringing a deadly virus back into the home. Frequently, alcohol or drugs, or their absence, can induce an already angry person to react with more volatile responses. Incidents of violence and child abuse tend to increase after the initial or immediate crisis has passed and the family begins to settle into a new pattern or routine. Occasionally the risk is so great that the failure to act greatly increases the danger. The Courts are still open to handle emergencies and essential matters. Clinical interventions work because they raise the bottom of the identified patient and present the substance abuser with a choice between the pain of the known and the fear of the unknown. When the fear of the unknown becomes less than the pain of the known, people often become willing to try sobriety and treatment.
At Connolly and Shireman our skilled family lawyers know how to use the law to construct legal interventions with strikingly similar results. People who engage in substance abuse and addiction get to continue using because the people in their lives have given them cover, provided excuses and have allowed them to escape accountability for their conduct. By focusing the litigation on the facts that a substance abuser desperately wants to avoid and by seeking relief on the core issues affecting the family, most addicts will choose an alternative solution rather than face the unknown accountability that could be imposed by a Judge. Our expert team of family lawyers know the ins and outs of addiction and recovery and how to design litigation techniques to achieve more effective resolutions.
If substance abusers stay isolated, it is harder to stay in recovery. Marvin Seppala, the Medical Officer at Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation states that “Addiction is a disease of isolation.” When inpatient and outpatient programs are either restricting or not accepting patients, addiction can flourish, and COVID-19 can bring good cover. This pandemic is leading to increased anxiety, and higher anxiety can lead to increased using or relapse in a prior user. When outpatient treatment becomes virtual and it is coupled with social distancing, professionals see this as a harbinger of trouble ahead. Addicts are much more susceptible during this pandemic. According to the Earnest Research Study published by the New York Times, alcohol sales are up 25 % nationally. There are reasons that Liquor Stores are considered essential. Aside from personal choice arguments, in a pandemic, some public policy officials do not want hospital rooms taken up by patients improperly detoxing. Florida, Ohio and New York have seen increases in overdose calls and overdose deaths since March of this year. According to NIDA at the National Institute of Health, COVID-19 attacks the lungs. This makes smokers of tobacco and marijuana or vaping products as well as opioid and methamphetamine users particularly susceptible because of the effects these drugs have on the respiratory and pulmonary health.
Bill Connolly has adapted clinical intervention strategies to family law litigation for over thirty (30) years. He has pioneered progressive access and possession schedules and stair-stepped court orders that are tied to objective measurements or metrics that allow the parties involved to deal with critical family and personal issues in effective and humane ways. He has taught these skills to judges, attorneys and mental health professionals across Texas for many years. By allowing parents who are focused on recovery from addiction, a carefully crafted court order can become self-effectuating and progress from supervised access and possession to a Standard Possession Order, and in some cases, a return to primary conservatorship. The effectiveness of these orders depends on accountability, some objective third party assistance and a return to restrictions upon relapse.
Prior to becoming a lawyer, Les Shiremen was a social worker and licensed chemical dependency counselor with a wealth of clinical background experience in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, addiction and recovery. His work experience has included work in prisons, psychiatric hospitals, the Council on Recovery and the Harris County Family Drug Court.
Nicole Kuenstle has worked with substance abuse treatment professionals and treatment organizations and has brought a fresh perspective to the firm’s innovative legal intervention strategies on addiction. She worked at the Central Office of Alcoholics Anonymous for several years.
If you or someone you know or love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction issues and it is apparent that some legal intervention may be necessary, the attorneys at Connolly and Shireman can serve your needs. Even during a crisis, our courts are open to handle emergencies and cases where parties and children are being put in danger. Our firm is strong, active and entirely open even though most of us are working remotely.
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- Unforeseen Family Law Consequences for First Responders from a Pandemic - April 28, 2020