America’s Opioid Crisis is Straining States’ Foster Care Systems

Foster care placements have increased for the fourth year in a row, in large part to parental drug abuse.

Also on the rise is the number of infants born addicted to drugs. The rate has quadrupled in the past 15 years, and because medical studies have shown these children to be at an increased risk for behavior problems and learning disabilities, their placement often requires a specially licensed foster home with caregivers that have received specific training. For states already struggling with a dearth of available homes, the strain can be overwhelming; babies often spend months in the hospital.

“They are not bonding with who is going to raise them,” Tina Persinger, director of Calhoun County’s Family Resource Network in West Virginia told Ozy. “It’s very dangerous, and very costly to the system.”

The roots of the opioid crisis began in the 1990s when powerful painkillers like OxyContin were heavily marketed toward doctors as a non-addictive panacea for pain conditions. They were prescribed widely and often, but patients became both addicted to and developed a tolerance for the medication, causing them to turn to heroin — and, of late, fentanyl — when their prescription ran out or they needed something stronger. The increased demand for heroin caused an increase in supply in the underground drug market, and soon heroin was both easier to obtain and less expensive than the original painkillers.

“No part of our society — not young or old, rich or poor, urban or rural — has been spared this plague of drug addiction and this horrible, horrible situation that’s taken place with opioids,” said Mr. Trump in his October emergency declaration. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates viable solutions to the opioid crisis, including telemedicine and naloxone distribution, will cost up to $78.5 billion.

So far, the Trump administration has allocated $57,000.

“This was an idea that I had, where if we can teach young people not to take drugs,” Trump said in his address, “it’s really, really easy not to take them.”

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