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The Opioid Epidemic is Affecting the Nation’s Youngest and Most Innocent

The nation’s opioid epidemic is affecting everyone, and we mean everyone – even those not yet born. An increasing number of children today are born into families and environments that revolve around an addiction to opioids. These children often grow up in horrible living conditions while being raised by opioid addicted parents. Many later suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result.

This is not an issue to be taken lightly, and while it may sound disturbing to many, it is an unfortunate reality that we now face as a nation - a reality we need to address and help solve.

With an increasing number of parents becoming addicted to opioids, many more children are being placed into the foster care system, or raised by other friends and family members. We are quickly beginning to see a whole generation of heroin orphans emerge in the United States. In Western Virginia, the number of children in foster care increased by 24% between 2012 and 2016 (West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources). Opioids are the main cause of a 19% increase in children placed with relatives or foster homes since 2010 in Ohio. And, Vermont may have seen the largest rise in children entering the custody of the child protection system, at 40% between 2013-2016 (Vermont Department for Children and Families).

The current opioid epidemic is leading to a dangerous and deadly cycle for the next generation, who are now at greater risk of abusing these drugs too.

We have a responsibility as a nation to ensure that our innocent children do not become victim to this deadly epidemic, the same way we have a responsibility to educate and treat those that are currently in the throes of addiction.

If you or someone you love needs help and support for an addiction, Spectrum Health Systems and the New England Recovery Center are here 24/7. Our individualized services provide the support you need, when you need it. Learn more on our website or call us at (800) 366-7732 for inpatient services and (800) 464-9555 extension 1161 for outpatient treatment.

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