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The Opioid Epidemic and It's Effect on Adoption and Foster Care

· Adoption Stories

By Gabe McAteer

A topic that has been dominating the news cycles recently has been America's increasing opioid problem. In case you didn’t know, the opioid epidemic was brought on by the skyrocketing number of opioid prescriptions. For example, in 1991 there were 76 million opioid prescriptions, that number rose to 259 million in 2012.

For years, public health officials have noticed the alarming growth in opioid drug abuse and its far-reaching impact on American citizens and their communities. The implications of the spike are far reaching, especially when it comes to children.

Going by The Numbers

According to Dr. John DeGarmo, who is the Director of the Foster Care Institute, “The opioid epidemic is the main reason for the alarming rise of children in foster care.”

In Vermont alone, over half of the children in foster care, under the age of six, came from families with parents who abused opioids. This is burdensome on the foster care system. After all, the goal for 55% of the children in foster care is to be placed back with their parents and/or caretakers.

However, for parents with opioid addictions being reunited with their children is much more challenging task. In fact, only a quarter of the children who come from drug addicted parents are placed back into their custody because of the associated risk factors for maltreatment from parents who are addicts.

Finding a Solution

The increasing number of opioid addictions, paired with the stagnate number of children being adopted, creates a systematic cycle that is hard to break. The solution to this problem is not to simply adopt more. That is a half measure. True change comes from changing the system and coming up with adequate medical treatment for people who suffer from opioid addictions.

Here is a link from the National Council for Adoption if you would like to learn more.

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