According to countless studies, research reports, crime statistics, surveys, and autopsy reports, the United States is experiencing its worst ever addiction epidemic. This epidemic is by and large led by opioids, with opiate drugs like heroin and prescription pain relievers being the forerunners and the “big ticket items” in today’s addiction catastrophe.
When so many people are addicted to drugs and alcohol, it should come as no surprise that many children are being raised by one or more addicts for parents. However, this information is not made that broadly known, as Americans are usually too busy focusing their attention on the addicts themselves that they sometimes don’t pay attention to those immediately affected by those addicts.
However, the sheer prevalence of children being raised by addicts is irrefutable. In 2014, there were more than ten million Americans who reported non-medical use of opiate pharmaceuticals, abuse of heroin, or both in tandem. The following year, over thirty-thousand people died from opiate drug overdoses. With over ten million addicted and the most common age range of those addicted being between 24 and 54, it goes without saying that many addicts are also parents of young kids and teens.
According to CRC Health, when mom or dad drinks or does drugs, the whole family suffers, and in a big way too. Approximately twelve percent of children in the U.S. lived with at least one parent who was dependent on drugs or alcohol in 2016, and the statistic will likely worsen for 2017 when the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration finishes compiling their information. Listed below we can see several factors that occur when today’s youth are exposed to addiction:
A full-on societal change will need to occur to bring this problem down. We can’t continue to live in a society where parents abuse drugs and alcohol and then neglect their children. This problem has skyrocketed since 2010, with opiates and alcohol almost always being the major culprits.
The honest answer is that there is no one, single answer to fix the problem. It is only with extensive and repeated efforts that actual change will be able to occur, and it is only with ongoing dedication to multiple recovery campaigns that parents and kids will get the help and care that they deserve. This has to be a focus of prevention, education, rehabilitation, and legal action if necessary.
Prevention and education must be a priority for all communities to ensure that parents don’t fall prey to addiction in the first place. Rehabilitation has to be made available for parents who do slip into addiction. Unfortunately, legal action must be more effective and available to help children grow up in a nurturing and loving family if all else fails to help their biological parents get clean. We have a long and difficult road ahead of us to fully address this problem, but it is a road that we need to walk and we need to start walking it now.