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Daniel Pollack, left, and Julia Sands, right. Daniel Pollack, left, and Julia Sands, right.

The persistent use of drugs and alcohol can lead to many health and mental health impairments. In particular, the incidence of co-occurring chronic substance abuse and child abuse/neglect and its effects on the ability to parent have been well documented. Consequently, among many other grounds for terminating parental rights, chronic substance abuse is one. What then is the legal definition of chronic substance abuse such that it can result in the termination of parental rights? If “chronic substance abuse” is not sufficiently defined, how can it be invoked? For instance, if a parent’s urine analysis (UA) occasionally tests positive for alcohol or drugs, is that “chronic”? Out of 10 UAs, how many positive results must there be to satisfy the definition?

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