“Children are the collateral damage of the nation’s opioid epidemic.”
It is no news that the nation is currently experiencing one of the deadliest drug epidemics since the crack-cocaine epidemic in the 1980’s. The opioid addiction is taking lives and ruining those it leaves behind. Prescription opioids are semi-synthetic medications that derive from the active opiate alkaloids found in the opium poppy. In their numerous formulations, they are prescribed to relieve various levels of pain. On a neurological level, prescription opioids work to dampen pain signals from the body, but the ensuing psychological effects, like euphoria and extreme relaxation, serve as the primary building blocks for the development of abuse and addiction.
This epidemic is not discriminating, it is affecting individuals of every socioeconomic background and race. No one is immune to the impact it is having on society, especially children. Children are becoming victims directly from the addiction themselves, and more frequently, indirectly through the destruction of their families. Parents begin to lose all sense of reality and forget that their children are fully reliant on them. The opioid addiction becomes so strong that many addicts begin to neglect their children. The addicts begin to reach such a point of desperation for a fix, that they will begin selling the food intended for their child, selling their toys, and even their children’s beds for money. In a particularly horrific case, an infant died of starvation due to the result of the parents dying of an opiate overdoes. In another fatal case, a mother suffocated her infant after falling asleep on top of the child while under the influence of opiates. This is the harsh reality that the nation is facing, leaving children to be the most vulnerable victims of this epidemic. They are the innocent future of our country. These children have been orphaned or left in the care of aging grandparents or their other siblings. Over three million children in America are being taken care of by someone other than their parents. In most households, grandparents and even great grandparents are taking the responsibility for their grandchildren, creating financial and sometimes health hardships for them.
This drug epidemic in particular is driving a dramatic increase in the number of children entering foster care, forcing many states to take urgent steps to care for neglected children. Specific states that are being highly effected by the opioid crisis are beginning to overwhelm state foster care programs. When a parent or in some cases both parents die of drug overdose or are arrested and jailed, children are placed into the custody of the state or with relatives. According to The Daily Caller, relatives of addicts, particularly grandparents, are having to adopt or care for their grandchildren at a high rate due to the crisis. It is upending the lives of countless children across the country. Children are directly affected by their environments due to this epidemic. They are often living in poor conditions, including homelessness, not attending school regularly, they experience malnutrition, abuse and neglect. In most cases these “opioid orphans” have witnessed overdoses or discovered their deceased mothers and fathers causing them to suffer from serious emotional trauma. Frequently the children also show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or develop learning and behavioral problems. Children are sometimes exposed to addiction before they come out of their mother’s womb. Newborns suffer from drug withdrawal, a condition called neonatal abstinence syndrome. This type of mental distress on a child should be addressed medically, but in metropolitan areas they face a waiting list of two or more months, and in rural areas there are little to no resources beyond their families. In the absence of adequate social services and counseling, these children are vulnerable to slipping into truancy, homelessness, or drug addiction themselves.
The Opioid Epidemic is affecting families all across the nation. Serenity Springs Recovery Center believes in a road to recovery through healing the mind, body, and spirit. If you or somebody you know if suffering from drug addiction or alcoholism, please contact Serenity Springs Recovery Center today, because it is worth it.