In December of 2016, a Pennsylvania couple died of an apparent opioid overdose. Days after their passing, police discovered the body of their infant child – a victim of starvation.
In the past 15 years, more than 300,000 U.S. residents have died from opioid overdoses – 33,000 in 2015 alone. Connecticut and New Hampshire saw increases in opioid-related deaths of 25.6% and 30.9% respectively from 2014-2015.
These numbers only begin to tell the story of the devastation these drugs have caused.
Among those paying a terrible price are the children whose parents struggle in addiction’s iron grip.
Often, these children are removed to foster care – and, in fact, national statistics show a significant jump in the number of new foster care cases in the U.S. in recent years. And this jump does not measure the number of children who are now in the care of relatives or family friends as a result of addiction. For every child in foster care – it is estimated that another 20 are receiving care outside the system. Grandparents, in particular, are increasingly carrying the burden of child care in these cases – often with little help. Federal law actually mandates that states first consider placing children with relatives in order to receive foster care and adoption assistance. In fact, grandparents are often the first — and best — choice when state and local caseworkers have to take a child out of a home and find someone else to take custody.
Further compounding the many challenges for these children is a reduction in state and federal funding for foster care as well as mental health and addiction care for their parents. In some states, a number of foster care children have had to actually sleep in state office buildings and other temporary shelters due to inadequate funding for actual foster care.
And despite talking a good game, the U.S. Congress failed to increase spending for mental health and addiction services in late 2016. The bipartisan bill designed to help states fund these services died in the U.S. Senate after passage in the House.
Adding insult to injury, repeal of the Affordable Care Act by Congress threatens to remove insurance coverage for as many as 20 million Americans who have gained access to mental health care and addiction services thanks to that Act.
The result will only mean more children at risk – part of a generation of young lives damaged by over-zealous physician prescribers of opioid drugs and their enablers the big drug companies.
If you or someone you know is trapped by addiction to drugs and/or alcohol in Connecticut or New Hampshire, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help. Our unique model of care is producing rates of recovery that are more that 300% above the national average. To learn more or to talk to one of our Recovery Specialists, visit www.awarerecoverycare.com.