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Opioid Orphans in South Charleston, West Virginia

When we think of addicts we tend to think of foolish kids who haven’t yet found, or have lost, their way. But a good portion of adults who we wouldn’t think would become addicts, in some cases, are also addicts, and many are parents. In the U.S. in 2015, 33,091 people died of opioid overdoses. I don’t know how many are parents, but judging from how many children seem to be living as opioid orphans, there are quite a few. And in West Virginia, there are more than in other parts of the country. What happens to these kids?

When a parent dies – or is unable to take care of their child – kids often wind up going to grandparents, uncles, aunts and other family members. In fact, there are nearly 3 million grandparents in the U.S. raising their grandchildren. And about 20 percent of those are living below the poverty line and having a very tough time.

In 2016, there were 7 percent more grandparents raising their grandkids and the number of kids in the foster care system rose by 1 percent in 2013 and by 3.5 percent in 2014.

There are all kinds of reasons grandparents are raising grandchildren – military deployment of their mom or dad, and more women being in prison – but according to a story on PBS newshour, experts think it’s largely because of the opioid epidemic. They think things will continue to get worse if we don’t find a solution.

It’s also breaking the bank for a lot of grandparents. One grandmother I read about earned $7.50 an hour when she took in her infant grandchild. Now the boy is 11 years old and grandmother is standing in food lines and taking two buses to reach the food depository.

Children becoming orphans due to drugs is happening all over the country, but in West Virginia there are about 10 times as many opioid deaths than in the rest of the country. So not only are more parents dying, it’s also more difficult to find a family member who isn’t on drugs.

Sometimes there’s no grandmother to take care of the kids because grandma is also a heroin addict.

To change the situation, more people have to get off drugs. If there are fewer drugs in the environment, fewer people will be taking them.

West Virginia was saturated by opioids by the drug companies and distributors. Millions and millions of pills being shipped to tiny little towns or mom and pop pharmacies – far, far more than could ever be used if the entire population of the little town was taking them.

Unfortunately, even with all the profits they made, the drug companies aren’t cleaning things up. Amazing they can get away with it.

However, if you are on drugs, you can get off them through drug rehab. And if you know someone on drugs, you can help them get to rehab as well.

Again, if there aren’t as many people taking drugs there won’t be as many drugs around. And that might mean the different between someone you love being offered drugs and possibly saying yes, or living in an environment where drugs aren’t so popular and easily accessible.

Call us to find a good drug rehab program in your area.

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