As the opiate epidemic grows across the country, many people don't realize how children of addicts are also being affected. Obviously older teenagers can take care of themselves, but the growing trend of young infants and toddlers being affected directly by an opiate addict is rising. People need to realize that many opiate addicts are parents. If they overdose, or are abusing drugs, they are unable to provide for the safety and well being of their children. Though opiate abuse is a very selfish act, it doesn't only affect the user. It affects everyone around them including their friends, family, and most importantly children.
The number of children being left without parents due to either overdose or jail is growing along with the rise in opiate abuse. Child welfare experts are estimating that their cases which involve heroin or opiates has doubled in the past year. Many of their cases are linked directly with the parents use of opiates.
When opiate withdrawals kick in, addicts will do anything to get their next fix. What police are starting to see more of which is a major concern is parents using opiates while in their car. They are going through withdrawals so badly that they can't wait to get home to use. They are shooting up in their car and passing out and getting into car accidents while the children are in the car with them. This is putting everyone at risk...the addict, their children, and other people on the road.
Opiate addicts are also known for "nodding out" or passing out from using. Many addicts who use heroin do so intravenously. Not only is it not safe to have a parents passing out from drug use, but the possibility for their children to get in their drugs or needles can be live threatening. It's not uncommon for intravenous drug users to have blood-borne diseases. Leaving a dirty needle around for their child to step on or play with is just looking for trouble that could lead to deadly consequences.
Child welfare services are quick to remove children from addicts who neglect their children. If a single parent is arrested for drug possession it's very possible they could lose custody of their child. Once they lose their children they may feel guilty. The guilt from losing custody may cause them to use more drug to try and mask the pain. This just leads to a vicious cycle.
The problem has increased all over the US that that Ohio Gov. John Kasich recently launched the Child Welfare Opiate Engagement Project. Their goal is to help parents get off of the drugs, and become good parents. The idea is to decrease the number of children being removed from their parent's custody and being placed with other family or foster homes. Though it might be the safest for the child to be removed from their home and placed in foster care, it can be very traumatizing.
If you or someone you know is addicted to heroin or opiates, please seek out professional medical help immediately. Not only does your life depend on it, but realize that your children depend on you as well.