It’s not difficult to see. The opioid crisis and its effect on children has been severe.
The opioid crisis has claimed more than 300,000 lives since 2002, and with a potential repeal or deconstruction of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and budget cuts to states’ mental health, child welfare, and addiction treatment services, experts warn it’s going to get much worse before it gets better.
While overdose deaths continue to rise, claiming scores of young people between the ages of 18 and 35, it’s the children who may be faring the worst. Here are some of the ways the opioid crisis is affecting children.
A Strain on the Foster Care System
The opioid crisis has produced a generation of children who are born addicted and parentless. These opioid orphans are often raised by their grandparents or by the state, and many end up with mental health and substance abuse problems of their own down the road. In Maine, more than 1,800 children were in foster care in 2016, a 45 percent increase since 2011. Sixty percent of the children in Ohio’s system are opioid orphans. It’s the same story across the country: All 50 states are struggling with finding a place for children abandoned, orphaned, or otherwise victimized by opioid addiction.
As the opioid crisis has worsened, the foster care system has become taxed. State budgets are stretched to the limit, social workers are overloaded with cases, and there aren’t enough people willing to foster these children. In Texas, dozens of children have been put to bed in state offices and other temporary shelters due to the high demand and low availability of foster homes.
An Increase in Teen Suicide
The opioid crisis may be affecting teen suicide rates as well. A recent study of 300 children admitted to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital with suicidal behavior in 2016 found that an overwhelming number of the children came from a poor area of town with a high rate of opioid overdoses. The researchers noted that the people dying of overdoses are often the parents of the children attempting suicide.
Additionally, opioid addiction causes massive dysfunction in the home, and this has an important effect on children’s mental health. Other opioid crisis statistics show that the increase in child suicide corresponds to the worsening of the opioid crisis. Since 2007, the suicide rate among children ages 10 to 14 has doubled, and suicide is now the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 24.
Neglect, Abuse, and Other Trauma
With addiction comes deep dysfunction in the household. Frightening experiences and chaos in the home take a toll on children’s mental health, and so do abuse and neglect. This type of childhood trauma is closely aligned with substance abuse problems later in life. Opioid crisis statistics show that children whose parents have a substance use disorder are more than twice as likely as their counterparts to develop one themselves down the road.
Abuse, neglect, and other trauma lead to unhealthy coping behaviors, such as withdrawing or acting out. Behavioral and academic problems may plague a child of addiction, and a parent’s addiction can result in mental health issues like depression and anxiety down the road.
Getting Help for an Opioid Use Disorder
If you or someone you love is addicted to opioids, it’s never too late to end the addiction once and for all. White Sands Tampa can help you or a loved one kick a painkiller or heroin addiction for the long-term. Through treatment, you’ll work to repair your relationships, find purpose and meaning in life apart from drugs, and restore your wellbeing and quality of life.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.