Small towns across America are feeling the crunch financially, unable to keep up with the strain it’s putting on resources. A group of attorneys from 41 states have banded together to launch a probe into the drug companies that may have had a role in creating it. It’s even driving down life expectancy in the U.S. It’s an opioid epidemic, and it is affecting everyone, especially this country’s most vulnerable citizens – its children.

On Thursday, October 26, 2017, the President declared a national public health emergency for the opioid epidemic in the U.S. The declaration fell short of the national emergency that many in the addiction treatment industry had hoped for, as well as what the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis had recommended. What the declaration will do is accelerate temporary appointments of specialized personnel to address the epidemic, work with the DEA to expand access for certain groups of patients to telemedicine, and provide new flexibilities within HIV/AIDS programs. But will it be enough to help these small towns and the children left behind by the epidemic’s victims?

Within the U.S. alone, there was an astounding 33,000 deaths from opiate abuse in 2015. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there’s been a 2.8-fold increase in the total number of opiate-related deaths from 2002 to 2015. From heroin alone, the death toll was nearing 14,000 in 2015 and climbing, with a 5.2-fold increase since 2002.

These opioid addiction statistics may seem a bit chilling, but even more chilling is how this epidemic is affecting the innocent children who suffer in silence.

Orphaned by Overdose

With this high rate of overdose, which is often accidental, impressionable young children are acting witnesses to this devastation firsthand. In September 2017, the Orlando Sentinel reported on a case where three small children were found strapped in the back seat of a car for more than 3 hours. Their mother slumped outside the car, their father collapsed in the bushes nearby. Both overdosed and were cold to the touch. With numerous cases of children being orphaned by overdose, the opiate epidemic is putting a strain on resources, as the emotional scars grow ever deeper.

Foster Care

Casualties of the opiate epidemic are pouring into foster care. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 14 states saw more than a quarter rise in the number of children filing into foster care from 2011 to 2015. In some states, like Texas, Florida, Oregon, and others, children had to sleep in state buildings because there was no room for them in foster care homes, according to the advocacy group Children’s Rights. The year 2015 saw 30,000 more kids in state custody than there were in 2012, a shocking 8% rise.

To add fuel to the fire, there’s been a 16% drop in the amount of federal funding allocated for the support of these children between 2004 and 2014. Children are winding up in foster care either due to the death of their parents from overdose or the inability of their parents to provide a safe, stable home for them due to drug abuse.

The Reality of the Opioid / Opiate Epidemic

Florida is seeing a massive increase in accidental overdoses due to the synthetic opioid fentanyl, with approximately 7 in 100,000 people dying from fentanyl overdoses statewide in 2016. This is a 100% spike from 2015. For Caucasians, the most widely impacted group, the death toll from opiates has surpassed that from gunshots or car wreck fatalities in Florida.

Ohio has one of the highest drug overdose rates in the U.S. During 2015 alone, 1 in 9 heroin fatalities in the U.S. were in Ohio.

These deaths come with a high price. And this price is paid by the children.

Protecting Children During the Opiate Epidemic

If someone you know is struggling with opioid dependence or addiction, encourage them to get help now. You might just save a life. Cornerstone has a strong focus on the family by keeping loved ones fully informed throughout treatment, and some even participate in therapy when recommended by the therapist. Family Night meetings, which are open to the public, are held twice a month to support loved ones throughout the healing process.

If you’re looking for a compassionate opiate addiction treatment center that sees the wonderful person behind the ravages of addiction, contact us today. Our caring and supportive therapists, nurses, and medical doctors are here to help empower you during this opiate epidemic.