Please tell me I’m not the only one who finds slightly creepy the new program, introduced by Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families, which my colleague at the paper reported a couple weeks ago:
State officials are hoping a pilot program in New Britain juvenile court will help increase the number of families reunited after a parent’s substance abuse has led to a child being taken from the parent’s custody.
The Recovery Specialist Voluntary Program will give parents facing permanent separation from their children a chance to get them back.
It’s a voluntary program but if you don’t volunteer you’ll never see your kids again, get it? There’s also the question of what, exactly, qualifies as “substance abuse,” and I addressed that question in a column this week
“Substance” in this context refers to “anything intoxicating.” But how do you “abuse” such things? (Resist the temptation, here, to make tasteless jokes like “I always slap my alcohol around before I drink it.”) Where intoxicants are concerned, there’s two ways to be labeled an abuser.
One is to consume it in obviously harmful ways. If you regularly drink whiskey until you throw up and pass out, most people would agree that you have an “alcohol abuse” problem, and probably shouldn’t care for children when you’re in such bad shape yourself.
But under the right circumstances — or the wrong ones — an alcohol abuser can merely be “someone who drinks a glass of wine with dinner,” if that someone is younger than 21 (or a time traveler from Prohibition days). Any use of an intoxicating substance is deemed “abuse” when that substance is against the law.
I also spoke to DCF and asked for concrete examples of what might qualify one as a substance abuser. The answer’s certain to warm the cockles of any libertarian hearts, so by all means read about it here