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    soccermom's Avatar
    soccermom Posts: 6, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Jul 7, 2006, 09:09 PM
    Sister addicted to prescription pain pills, how do I save her kids
    I was hoping that someone would be able to help me w/ getting some info... Is anyone familiar w/ the "marchment act"? My sister has had an opiate addiction for over 3 years now, my mother and I tried an intervention w/ her and was able to get her in to tx for detox. We now believe that she is using again and has been for quite a while. She has 2 children, one of them is 11 and decided to live with my mother for now but she also has a 3 yr old. She has been in several car accidents (none serious) over the past few months, in my opinion due to being so high that she can't keep her eyes open. I honestly believe that her children are in danger each day they are left in her care . I have made a report to DCF but because these pills are prescribed to her she is able to pass the tox screen. From what I hear the marchment act is our only option right now. Does anyone have any info on this or is there another approach we can to try? We are hoping to get something moving soon before she goes into a rage and takes her son away. Please help us we are desperate to help my niece and nephew, my sister is in complete denial and will not admit to using. What can we do??
    valinors_sorrow's Avatar
    valinors_sorrow Posts: 2,927, Reputation: 653
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    #2

    Jul 8, 2006, 11:24 AM
    In Florida, the Marchman Act allows for a person to be involuntarily held for 72 hours much like the Baker Act. While the Baker Act is about mental illness, the Marchman Act is about substance abuse. There are specific requirements that need to be met in order to qualify for using it on a family member. These laws differ from state to state; some don't have provisions at all. You don't mention where you live so you may need to do a web search for your state.

    Here is the link to the State of Florida, Department of Children and Family Services, Marchman Act: http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/mentalhea...an/index.shtml

    A 72 hour hold is not much in the face of addiction and it sounds like you've already arranged for your sister to experience the three-day trip into detox. But so many people come out of detox and use immediately. The really hard thing your family is up against about your sister being helped is this --- if she is in the US, this is a country of rights. Addiction is considered an illness. So if she doesn't want to seek help, she can't be forced to beyond the 72 hour deal. From the legal standpoint, its rather like if she turned up with cancer and wanted to forgo chemo-therapy treatments, it would be well within her rights. This is why everyone says that for the alcoholic/addict they must want to seek help. They mean it.

    What you can do is learn all you can about how to deal with an addicted family member and a great source for that is Narc-Anon or if your area doesn't have that, Al-Anon. They have been in your shoes and know what works and doesn't work.

    Now about those kids, that is entirely a different story and if you can make a credible case for child neglect or endangerment with DCF, then they can remove the kids from her. But if your sister is jumping through all the right hoops for them, then the situation sadly may need to hit a lower bottom, as we say in the recovery industry. If I were you, I would have a long talk with someone at DCF about what it specifically takes and then do NOT hesitate to take action when you see it as profitable for providing protection for those kids.

    I wish there was happier news I could give you, but know that so long as your sister is alive there is still hope she'll hit a bottom. If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask them here. Thank you for posting.
    fredg's Avatar
    fredg Posts: 4,928, Reputation: 674
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    #3

    Jul 9, 2006, 06:47 AM
    Hi, soccermom,
    Your previous answer is excellent.
    There is one thing for sure:
    Your sister will not stick with any kind of "getting off" drugs, until something really bad happens to her; being in denial is normal for drugs and alcohol abuse. Even with a disaster happening to her, it isn't always a guarantee that she will seek more help, and stick with it.
    Another suggestion is Social Services. Do you have any local Social Services, or Child Services? If so, talk with them. They can also make suggestions, possibly do an investigation, reporting their findings to a Court.
    This will take Court action to resolve. I do wish you the best, and good luck.
    soccermom's Avatar
    soccermom Posts: 6, Reputation: 1
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    #4

    Jul 9, 2006, 11:01 AM
    I have contacted (DCF) Dept Of Chldren and Families. The pretty much blew me off, they did do an invesagation but told her they were coming so she was able to prepare herself and home. They did a drug test but gave her 72 hours to do and not that it matters anyway because her problem is to "prescription" drugs so, if at the time of the test, she presented a prescption bottle w/ her name on the label and Dr's name, she would have tested positive for opiates but passed the screening because it is prescribed. I spoke w/ the DCF investagator and his supervisor, the supervisor told "WE CAN'T REMOVE EVERY CHILD FROM A HOME W/ PARENTS WHO USE DRUGS, THERE IS JUST NOWHERE TO PUT THEM ALL" I thought that was pretty heartless. I live in lee county Florida, we recently had a 13 year old little girl in the city that we live call in to DCF for help, she was being sexually abused by her step-father and begged to be removed from the home. A week later it came out in the news... after the little girl was raped and murdered by her step-dad, when she asked the worker to help her she said "sorry there is nothing we can do for you at this time." I just feel so helpless, even though my sister has been in rehab for her addiction there is nothing that can be done, w/ the new HIPPA laws in place nobody but my sister can get ahold of the records from the rehab to prove the addiction! She's never going to tell the Dr's or DCF so now it's my word against hers, my hands are tied!
    What can I do to help her kids??
    valinors_sorrow's Avatar
    valinors_sorrow Posts: 2,927, Reputation: 653
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    #5

    Jul 9, 2006, 11:20 AM
    I know how frustrating it is - the inability for the system to protect when it should is pretty appaulling. Pray, if you are the prayerful type, and make sure the children know you offer safe shelter to them. Remind them you are only one phone call away and that any pay phone can be used to make a collect call you will gladly accept. That is about all that can be done.

    I am sorry.
    J_9's Avatar
    J_9 Posts: 40,299, Reputation: 5646
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    #6

    Jul 10, 2006, 12:10 PM
    This is about getting hold of the records. If you can afford an attorney to fight for the children, the attorney can subpoena the records. Even with the HIPPA laws the records must be submitted if you are in a court proceeding.

    You may want to check with a family law attorney to see if he/she can give you any recommendations.
    soccermom's Avatar
    soccermom Posts: 6, Reputation: 1
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    #7

    Jul 10, 2006, 07:15 PM
    Thank you, I have already contacted an attorney, we have a family law attorney on retainer already, we have used him with previous family court matters (my husbands ex) I left a message on Friday but haven't heard anything back yet. That is the only bad thing w/ this guy he is hard to get a hold of but very good at what he does... I had already planned on having him or asking him to subpoena the records from the rehab and the records from the physcian that has been prescribing the meds... It's not the dr's fault, she didn't tell him, obviously because she didn't want to burn that bridge. I contacted that dr myself on Friday and told the nurse that she has an addiction to Opiates and has been to rehab for detox, but is still having this dr write scripts for her. The nurse said that she was going tobe sending a letter to my sister dismissing her from the practice.
    Well, it sounds like I have already done everything I can, I just have to try again to get a hold of our attorney... kind of dissapointing, I came to this site hoping that someone would know of another/faster way, It sounds like the Marchment Act is the ONLY way...
    Thank you all for your advice.
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    talaniman Posts: 54,321, Reputation: 10854
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    #8

    Jul 11, 2006, 04:33 AM
    I wish there was an easier faster way of people getting help. There are no short-cuts! I just have to say getting in touch with AL-ANON will help you to know what it is You will face and maybe how to deal with it! These are good people with the same problems you have. I wish you luck and please keep us posted.
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    sunshinesas Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
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    #9

    Jul 23, 2006, 04:31 PM
    Soccermom-I feel your pain. I too have a crack addicted sister and I am at my wits end to help the kids. CPS also failed, I have called three times and I got the same "parents being drug addict isn't against the law and if it were where would we put all the kids". It is such a horrendous situation and I have no answers. I am in GA, she is in MD so unless I hire a PI I can't get the evidence needed to report her and get an investigation started. Mean while the kids are the ones suffering. Just so you know, you are not alone, I share the pain. If I get any concrete info on how to get the kids away I will let you know. God bless and pray for the kids. Sue
    soccermom's Avatar
    soccermom Posts: 6, Reputation: 1
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    #10

    Jul 23, 2006, 05:32 PM
    Thank you so much.. I had chills reading your post, I don't know why but for some reason it does help to know that I am not alone! It is extremely frustrating knowing that there is nothing I/we can do! My sister has been battling the addiction to pain pills for 3 and half years. It all started after her daughter was born ill (due to my sister having Diabetes). My niece had to be dilivered 4 weeks early because my sister was becoming more ill, they felt that if they didn't deliver it would be harmful to both of them. My niece had to stay in NICU for 4 weeks, so my sister became very depressed! She says that's when she discovered the "high" from pain pills (prescription given after birth, for cramps and pain from Tubal). She started to abuse them and went down hill from there. My nephew, 8 at the time, was basically left responsible for feeding himself and taking care of his sister because by the time my niece had come home all my sister wanted to do was get high, then when she didn't have any pills she wouldn't/couldn't get out of bed. I offerd my sister anything and everything I was able, I made call after call, found a support group, I even went w/ her to the meeting so that she woudn't feel uncomfortable. She only went to a couple of meetings then decided "they weren't for her" all the meetings did was make her think about pills and want them even more. My mother and I finally had an intervention and talked her in to going to rehab voluntarily rather than us getting a court order and doing the admission ourselves. I think that was a mistake, if I could do it over I would not have talked to her first, if we had gotten a court order we would have custody over her and her kids while she was ordered by a judge to attend rehab and NA w/ random tox screens. Ohh well, like they say.. hind sight is always 20/20.
    I wish you lots of luck and strength! The hardest thing for me is to not let it consume my life, unfortunately I have not had much luck w/ that... still working on it.
    Again good luck to you, I hope your sister is able to find the inner strength and ability to get threw this.
    Carri
    sunshinesas's Avatar
    sunshinesas Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
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    #11

    Jul 24, 2006, 02:32 AM
    Carri-I also try not to let this consume me but I am not doing a very good job at it either.
    My sister, a twin, fled here in December for a new life. It only lasted until Jan, when I pushed her to go into rehab, she packed the kids and went right back. I had sold her mobile home out of foreclosure by then to save my moms credit. They lived in a hotel for over a month, currently in a nasty 2 bedroom roach and drug invested apartment. We lost our brother Jan 1 from a life long drug battle but evidently she couldn't or can't see that eventually it will kill her too. I visited MD 2 weeks ago and felt like I was living a lie. I kept my mouth shut in order to see the kids but she hasn't changed, she just works harder to cover it all up. I have known 2 instances in the last month where she has become more abusive with the kids but can't get anyone else to turn her in. The school turned her in 2 years ago for beating my niece but closed the investigation without doing anything and my poor niece had to go back and live in hell so now my niece won't say anything out of fear. The adults that are supposed to protect them have let them down. Its crazy and makes us crazy. I keep my emails, notes, and all paperwork so if anything ever happens I can at least say I tried. These children all suffer from learning problems (most could be blamed on the situation at home) among other emotional issues and I have no idea what she has said or threatened them with I only know they won't say a word no matter how bad it gets, makes me think if CPS did go see them that nothing will be done because the kids are too scared to say what is really going on. I am currently looking into the Marchment Act but not sure if MD uses it but then again it only places a 72 hour hold on them to be evaluated, nothing is promised after that. I can't seem to get through to CPS and the police tell me to go to them as well. It is all very depressing and disturbing. When the kids were here in less than 2 weeks time they flourished, relaxed, smiled more. It wasn't easy having them and my 2 crammed in a three bedroom house but the did wonderfully and in the end did not want to leave but she gave them no choice. I guess all we can do is keep trying and hope we get them before they are totally ruined. Best of luck to you too. Sue
    valinors_sorrow's Avatar
    valinors_sorrow Posts: 2,927, Reputation: 653
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    #12

    Jul 24, 2006, 04:07 AM
    It may be a good idea to lovingly suggest to your respective sisters as they slide down the slippery slope of addiction, that if they ever need it you'll care for their kids. Simply plant that idea as gently and as nonjudgementally as you can and given enough time, it may work. It is a burden to the addicted parent to have to care for kids and in this way-- as crazy as it sounds-- you can use the disease to work in your favour. It also may work that, once your sisters have no one else to care for, then they can care for themselves. Hitting bottom is easier alone, But I have to caution you both, this is a low bottom kind of suggestion I am making to you both that requires that you see the disease as a disease. A great place to be helped in your burdens and reinforced with accurate information about the disease is Al-Anon (about families of alcoholics) or if your area has it better still, Narc-Anon (about families of addicts).
    sunshinesas's Avatar
    sunshinesas Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
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    #13

    Jul 26, 2006, 02:31 AM
    I tried that one already but she acts like they are her possessions and she is mother of the year in her eyes. "They are all I have, they are mine and no one will take them" attitude. Or better yet "I have done nothing wrong, I love them" just one of her other replies. They are in danger but she has their mouths locked up by either threats of someone taking them away or by physical threats, I highly doubt that CPS could get them to talk without it taking a long long time. The kids don't trust, she has been investigate once and because of that my niece will never turn her in, not after she had to live with them and be tormented for turning them in, CPS did nothing. By the way this is a 9 year old I am talking about. The kids know how to reach us if they need help but my sister will see to it that it never happens. She has only called about two times since Jan and the kids talk but she makes sure to hear every word. I think she has them on guard with me as well. In her crack addicted coma her life is so perfect and all is OK. If only I could get her arrested and get the kids some counselling. I haven't given up in my heart but I sure haven't had any luck getting them out and at this rate unless she gets arrested for drug use or worse, its not going to happen. I just hope when and if it does it isn't to late to turn the kids lives around.
    valinors_sorrow's Avatar
    valinors_sorrow Posts: 2,927, Reputation: 653
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    #14

    Jul 26, 2006, 06:48 PM
    Perhaps it was just too soon to offer? It is hard to wait for a bottom to happen or something to give, I know. Meanwhile you have the right intentions about her kids so that is good. Please, for your sake and hers, try to keep your heart hard about the disease but still soft about your sister... she didn't really ask for this, as difficult as that may be for you to see just now. No one in their right mind thinks "Oh, gee, if I do this, this and this, I'll get to end up a crack addict like I always wanted!" Somewhere along the way she became sick, and it may have been long before the crack showed on the scene too. I'm sure you've heard the one about "its the drugs talking now, not your sister". Your real sister is still there, buried though she may be at the moment. Its best to hold cautious, reality based hope (so you don't get hurt any more than you have) with well informed and well placed compassion (so she doesn't get hurt any more than she has). Does that make sense? I hope so but if there are questions, please feel free to ask them here. Thank you.
    admartin's Avatar
    admartin Posts: 7, Reputation: 0
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    #15

    Jul 27, 2006, 10:44 AM
    Been in your same situation but the difference was it was a best friend of mine. We tried everything the only thing that worked was getting child protective services involved. Her 2 kids went to her ex-husband and she went into a detox unit (child protective services put her in there and she has been clean for two years now. She has her kids back and she has thanked us over and over for helping her.
    valinors_sorrow's Avatar
    valinors_sorrow Posts: 2,927, Reputation: 653
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    #16

    Jul 27, 2006, 01:00 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by admartin
    Been in your same situation but the difference was it was a best friend of mine. we tried everything the only thing that worked was getting child protective services involved. her 2 kids went to her ex-husband and she went into a detox unit (child protective services put her in there and she has been clean for two years now. she has her kids back and she has thanked us over and over for helping her.
    I am always bolstered when hearing happy news like that -- thank you for sharing it. Unfortunately the policies covering child endangerment vary wildly from state to state and some are amazingly lax when it comes to offering protection services, which can be soooo frustrating for the family members watching it. I can tell you that Florida's Department of Children & Families is a well-known joke here, a tragic joke.
    J_9's Avatar
    J_9 Posts: 40,299, Reputation: 5646
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    #17

    Sep 9, 2006, 02:09 PM
    Is this why you let the 16 year old live with her? To supervise? Carebear, you have put your son in a very volitile situation!
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    Carebear Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #18

    Sep 9, 2006, 02:39 PM
    I did not let my son live there. I have tried to bring him home. In Canada parents have no say in where their children live if they choose to move out because they don't like your rules. I also have the issue of the safety of my other child when he is at home.
    valinors_sorrow's Avatar
    valinors_sorrow Posts: 2,927, Reputation: 653
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    #19

    Sep 9, 2006, 04:55 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Carebear
    I have a similar issue with my sister. She is an alcoholic. She has had a serious car accident about a year ago. Thankfully her kids were not with her. Her 3 yr old is often left to play unsupervised so she can sleep off her hangover. Social services have already removed her kids from her home once. I too struggle with how much to try to help her kids without taking away her responsibility and enabling her. Does anyone know of any Canadian laws that might help us get her some help? So far we have been told that there is nothing we can do without her consent.
    I still contend that anyone who sees minors being placed at risk as a direct result of an impaired parent, regardless of the nature of the impairment, has an obligation to call and report the situation to whatever department of children's welfare exists in your community. To do less than that is to become part and parcel of the abuse the children are experiencing. Addiction knows no boundaries in who it hurts, if you let it.

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