Opioid drug abuse is being referred to as an epidemic in America. Opioids are a powerful class of drugs that include some prescription pain-relieving medications. Some synthetic illicit drugs like heroin also fit into this classification of drugs. Recent statistics indicate that the number of those affected by opioid addiction increase by almost 500% between 2010 and our current time. Unfortunately, this growing problem has left America’s foster care system struggling to pick up the pieces and support those affected by this pervasive issue. How does opioid drug abuse affect foster care in America? What happens to babies born addicted to such drugs? What is needed to reverse this dangerous trend? The following information will address these questions in more detail.
The growing trend of opioid use in America also affects expectant mothers. In fact, use of these medications and illicit drugs during pregnancy is on the rise. Unfortunately, mothers who use these types of drugs during their pregnancy often give birth to babies that are already experiencing signs of addiction. Recent statistics show that approximately every half hour a baby is born that displays signs of an opioid addiction. Referred to clinically as neonatal abstinence syndrome, these babies go through severe symptoms associated with withdrawal from these drugs. How does this impact foster care in the United States?
Mothers who are using illicit drugs usually have their child removed from their care following birth. These babies are then placed in foster homes for a period of time. The increased use of opioid medications during pregnancy has resulted in a huge influx of babies into foster care, leading to this system to become overburdened and taxed. In fact, some statistics indicate that over 85,000 children went into foster care due to parental drug abuse in the year 2015 alone.
To contrast these current trends and how they relate to foster care, all we have to do is look back a couple of decades. Just two decades ago, the most common cause for children ending up in foster care was parental abuse. In our current time, parental drug abuse has overtaken this as one of the main reasons that newborns and their siblings end up in foster care.
Addiction and Withdrawal in Babies
Babies born addicted to these powerful substances experience many distressful symptoms, such as the following:
- Difficulty maintaining body temperature
- Excessive irritability
- Difficulty feeding properly
- Breathing difficulties
These are just a few of the physical symptoms these babies experience. They often must spend a considerable amount of time in the hospital before they can even get a placement in the care of a foster family.
Foster Care System Struggling Under Weight of Drug Addiction
Foster care in America relies heavily on the hard work of dedicated social workers. Social workers desire to protect the rights of innocent children. These social workers have been placed under a tremendous amount of strain to keep up with the growing number of children affected by parental drug abuse. Additionally, many states have had their foster care budgets stretched to the max in an effort to accommodate these children’s needs. Finally, there is a problem placing such a large number of children in proper foster care settings as there simply aren’t enough families willing to take them in.
Reversing the Trend of Addiction
Overcoming addiction can seem like an overwhelming or even impossible hurdle to mount. Through support, education, and proper resources, millions of people have been able to overcome these issues. If you or someone you love is dealing with drug addiction, please don’t despair. You can overcome your opioid addiction by seeking treatment at a reputable drug rehabilitation center like Ocean Hills Recovery.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.