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How Ohio's Welfare System Is Affected By Opiate and Drug Addiction

Opiate addiction changes peoples lives dramatically. It can take a very loving and stable home and destroy it quickly. Parents who take great care of their children become mentally sick with their addiction and their priorities change. Someone who once had everything going for them and had the perfect family can lose it all when addicted to opiates. Opiates deplete natural chemicals in the brain and when the drug is absent for some time, the addict becomes lethargic, irritable and extremely depressed. This causes many addicts to do erratic things to kill their sickness including committing crimes. If you are constantly sick and have a hard time getting out of bed because you are going through withdrawals, you will miss a lot of work and could easily lose your job. Not to mention when you have no energy, watching and being there for your children is not your number one priority and the children are greatly affected by this.

7 out of 10 infants younger than one years old placed into Ohio foster care have parents with a substance abuse problem, and that's a problem Ohio's leaders haven't adequately tackled yet. Parents using heroin, cocaine or both comprise more than 25 percent of child welfare cases, compared with 15 percent five years ago. The number of cases involving heroin users has grown faster than cocaine users, according to a group of state officials and child welfare experts that compiled recommended changes for the legislature and administration. Substance abuse was the No. 1 reason children younger than 1 were removed from their homes in Ohio. Addiction is one of the top three reasons for all children younger than 11, according to a review of fiscal 2013 data.

It is no surprise that addiction is causing parents to lose their children. Ohio taxpayers are footing the bill for the growing epidemic. As the numbers of heroin users climb, the number of children being placed in foster homes climbs as well. Taxpayers are paying a bill of approximately $45 million for the opiate epidemic plaguing Ohio.

The cases also take more time to resolve and use much more resources than the cases that do not have anything to do with drugs. Half of the children placed in foster care were reunited with their families within four months when drugs weren't involved. That number rises to nine months for children whose parents use cocaine or heroin, according to the report.

"There has been a tremendous influx of children coming into care," said Scott Britton, assistant director of the Public Children Services Association of Ohio. Parents are addicted and next of kin have similar addictions, making it difficult to place children anywhere but foster care, he said.

It will continue to be difficult to handle the welfare situation in the state of Ohio. As the epidemic continues to steam roll through every community and taking victims each day, children are the ones who suffer the most and that in itself is devastating.

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