Amid the opioid crisis in the United States, even innocent children are paying the price for their parents’ opioid misuse. Deprived of the love and care of their parents, children of parents dependent on substances, have a tough life ahead. A recent study, published in the journal Health Affairs, established a link between the opioid epidemic and children in foster care. It stated that owing to parental neglect, or homelessness, when one of the parents succumbed to an overdose, children had to be adopted either by their grandparents or by foster cares, which are already overcrowded.
Lead author Troy Quast, an associate professor at the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health said, “There are many negative aspects to the opioid crisis, but its effect on children is arguably one of the worst.” The study found that in 2015, at least two out of every 1,000 children in Florida had to be removed from their homes because of parental negligence. This was 129 percent more than what it was in 2012. The authors also identified an increase of 9 percent in opioid prescriptions between 2012 and 2015.
The researchers collected and analyzed data pertaining to the number of opioid prescriptions written and the number of children removed from their homes between 2012 and 2015. They found that the high opioid prescription rates contributed to parental drug abuse and hence parental neglect, which was in proportion to the high rates of child removal in Florida, especially in counties with white residents. However, the authors did not include an important data pertaining to heroin use, which might have also contributed to parental neglect and drug overdose. They found that for every 6.7 opioid prescriptions written per 100 people, there was a 32 percent higher rate of child removal owing to parental neglect.
Parental disregard might comprise multiple factors like failure to provide health care, failure to provide enough food, clothing or shelter and even age-appropriate monitoring. Additionally, parental drug abuse and emotional abuse could also be considered as parental neglect costing nearly $40 million a year to the state. Further, this figure did not include the cost of physical or psychological care required by such children because of the desertion.
Children face negative outcomes
Children, who are removed from their homes, have a bleak future as they might have to face negative outcomes in terms of education. Additionally, they are more prone to run-ins with the law. Wendy Ellis, a public health expert at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., said that Florida was not the only state grappling with this problem.
She further added that though grandparents took up the children, they were living on fixed incomes and it got difficult for them to feed so many mouths. According to Ellis, a multi-pronged approach is indispensable to fight this crisis including investigating the underlying issues like why more and more people are using prescription opioids and what can be done to recede their use.
Dealing with prescription drug abuse
Children are the future of any nation. They are innocent and impressionable. As adults, it is our responsibility to act responsibily and keep them miles away from addiction and its perils like negative health outcomes, homelessness, legal battles, etc.
A major percentage of the American population is reeling under the harmful effects of prescription drugs, including pain relievers and stimulants. If you know anyone battling an addiction to opioids, contact the Florida Prescription Addiction Helpline for immediate help regarding prescription drug rehab centers in Florida. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-292-3211 or chat online to know more about prescription drug rehabilitation in Florida.