Sarah Roush

One of the facts of being a foster parent is the need for continuing education classes. It doesn’t matter if the classes are not particularly helpful to you – you need to rack up 40 hours. Occasionally, you come across one that makes you really sit up and take notice. Last week, I took a course entitled “Relating Current Ohio Opiate Epidemic Trends to Ohio Welfare Practice”.

I was expecting a dry lecture and a lot of technical terms that challenged me to stay awake. What I got was information that will haunt my sleep. It led me to do some additional digging for information and some sickening discoveries.

The discussion addressed primarily opioid addiction and the impact it has on children – specifically newborns. Here are some of the information I took away from the class:

Since 2015, there has been a 233% increase in deaths by overdose in the state of Ohio.

Out of 3,050 deaths by overdose in 2015, the leading contributors (or combination of) to death were:

Prescription Drugs — 59.9%

Heroine — 46.7%

Fentanyl — 37.9%

Cocaine — 22.5%

In 2013, there were 84 deaths contributed to Fentanyl. In 2015, there were 1,155. I can’t even imagine what those numbers will be at the end of 2018.

I also learned that Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine. It’s cheap and added to heroine to create a “higher high”. Carfentanil, which is also becoming an issue, is 10,000 times more potent than morphine. These two items alone create HUGE profits for drug dealers.

In 2003, there were 658 deaths designated as overdoses in Ohio. In 2015, there were 3,050. So many lives wasted, and families left devastated.

Our own county is estimated to have 1,117 female addicts of child bearing years. This is important since there is a 90% relapse rate for addicts in recovery without long term support. Addicts are not known for taking measures to prevent pregnancy or spread of disease.

A six-month report in 2017 on positive toxicology tests in newborns reported there were 2,344 in the state of Ohio. To put it in perspective — within two years – that is enough children to more than replace every single child in every single school in our county from preschool through senior year, all born with some sort of drug in their system. Every. Single. Child.

Every two years, 9,376 children going through withdrawal having possible learning delays, potential mental health issues and physical issues — 9,376 children who may never reach their full potential because their parents made poor choices. Now, are all these children going to be impaired their whole life? No. Many of them will be fully functional adults, but, there will be a huge need for physical, occupational, and speech therapies. Many will need help with emotional issues and the chemical imbalances in their brains. Leave those children to be cared for by the same adults who continually make poor lifestyle choices and we have a huge problem that our social services, and school systems cannot cope with, and, ultimately, our penal system as well.

I want every single person to think about this data, and, the fact that current numbers are probably even WORSE. Remember this when legislation regarding legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes comes up on the ballot. It is often the first slippery step on the tumble into addiction.

Addicts often leave children behind to be raised by grandparents, great-grandparents or, sometimes, strangers. Children Services are underfunded, overwhelmed and understaffed, dealing with a shortage of safe, welcoming homes for these children thrust into a bewildering storm of what is often “right now” homes. Children are often separated from siblings and all that is familiar. It is not the childhood that anyone paints in happy pictures. It’s time to wake up to this crisis and demand better — better accessibility to treatment, better resources for law enforcement to go after dealers, better support for our children and their caregivers, and ultimately, a better world for all of us. It’s time to wake up.

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