It Is Not Just the Addicted Who Suffer
Repercussions are felt beyond the addicted individuals. It extends to children, the elderly and to places you would not normally think would be impacted like rural areas.
Children of all ages have to live with the consequences of addiction despite not being the ones addicted. Addicted parents neglect their children in favor of getting high on opioids. Eventually it reaches a climax with the children being sent off to foster care. Between 2012 and 2016, the number of kids being sent to foster care has risen by 10%. Not only was the amount of kids being sent to foster care increasing, but it’s been found that in places with high cases of substance abuse, child welfare cases, such as abuse and neglect, rise. These cases have long-lasting effects on children. Often children of addicts follow the same road. They have a higher rate of addiction and other troubles, such as crime, in their life. Parents will even use their children to fund their addiction. In one case in New Hampshire a doctor recounted how one of her young patients was prescribed 200 tablets of the opioid hydromorphone (Dilaudid) from four different doctors over four weeks. Dr. Julie Kim suspects the boy’s mother was using some of those tablets.
The elderly are impacted as well, especially in places you wouldn’t think like rural areas. Grandparents take on the responsibility for care of young addicts or for their grandchildren left homeless by the addicted parents.
Rural areas because they are older and poorer in general feel the brunt of addiction as the crisis ripples through the economy, public safety areas, and criminal justice systems that are already taxed in these areas. Jobs are lost in areas that desperately need them in these rural areas.
We need to focus more attention not only on the addicted but on who and where they interacting to have an impact on this problem.