There are so many different angles one can evaluate the opioid crisis through. All these different lenses are both moving and telling in their own way, however, one lense that is often forgotten about is that of the children of people struggling with substance abuse.
According to a report done in October of 2019 by CBS: “The opioid crisis is forcing more kids into the foster system,” more and more kids are being placed into a temporary home. The complexity of the situation cannot be overstated: this does not mean there is no love in these kid/ parent relationships, but it also does not imply that the parent is fit to take care of their kid.
In the report, the sister of a father abusing drugs speaks out. “‘I know he loves them. It’s hard to explain that kind of love because if you really, really loved your children you would do everything in your power to get off the drugs’” (Reynolds 2019).
The statement above is truly heartbreaking. There is no simple response to the situation at hand. In a perfect world, the kids would love to stay with their parents and live a normal life. However, when substance abuse is the only staple in a home, the home is not sufficient for a child to develop and grow. In his article, Reynolds interviews a child in foster care due to the opioid crisis in Ohio. “‘My life wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t live here. I’d probably end up just like my parents,’ he said… ‘I love my parents to death but I’m doing a lot better than I would have ever been doing if I was still my parents. That’s how I look at it’” (Reynolds 2019).
This child is not alone. According to a report by NPR, “the number of cases of children entering the foster care system due to parental drug use has more than doubled since 2000” (Neilson 2019). These statistics are so troubling, but once again, there are many different lenses to look through.
Are the children experiencing a more stable home life and lifestyle in foster care? In most cases, yes. Are these children deprived of a healthy relationship with, arguably, the most influential people in their lives? Once again, most likely, yes.
Neilson, Susie. “More Kids Are Getting Placed In Foster Care Because Of Parents' Drug Use.” NPR, NPR, 15 July 2019, www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/07/15/741790195/more-kids-are-getting-placed-in-foster-care-because-of-parents-drug-use.
Reynolds, Dean. “The Opioid Crisis Is Forcing More Kids into the Foster System.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 21 Oct. 2019, www.cbsnews.com/news/the-opioid-crisis-is-forcing-more-kids-into-the-foster-system-2019-10-21/.