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Parents’ Opioid Abuse Forces Children Into Foster Care

  • Katrina
  • 11 Jun 2020
  •   Comments Off on Parents’ Opioid Abuse Forces Children Into Foster Care

Amid the opioid crisis in the United States, even innocent children are paying the price for their parents’ opioid abuse. Deprived of the love and care of their parents, children of parents dependent on substances, have a tough life ahead. A recent study, published in the journal Health Affairs, established a link between the opioid epidemic and children in foster care. It stated that owing to parental neglect, or homelessness, when one of the parents succumbed to an overdose, children had to be adopted either by their grandparents or by foster cares, which are already overcrowded.

Lead author Troy Quast, an associate professor at the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health said, “There are many negative aspects to the opioid crisis, but its effect on children is arguably one of the worst.” The study found that in 2015, at least two out of every 1,000 children in Florida had to be removed from their homes because of parental negligence. This was 129 percent more than what it was in 2012. The authors also identified an increase of 9 percent in opioid prescriptions between 2012 and 2015.

The researchers collected and analyzed data pertaining to the number of opioid prescriptions written and the number of children removed from their homes between 2012 and 2015. They found that the high opioid prescription rates contributed to parental drug abuse and hence parental neglect, which was in proportion to the high rates of child removal in Florida, especially in counties with white residents. However, the authors did not include important data pertaining to heroin use, which might have also contributed to parental neglect and drug overdose. 

Parental disregard might comprise multiple factors like failure to provide health care, failure to provide enough food, clothing or shelter and even age-appropriate monitoring. Additionally, parental drug abuse and emotional abuse could also be considered as parental neglect costing nearly $40 million a year to the state.  Further, this figure did not include the cost of physical or psychological care required by such children because of the desertion.

Children Face Negative Outcomes

Children, who are removed from their homes, have a bleak future as they might have to face negative outcomes in terms of education. Additionally, they are more prone to run-ins with the law. Wendy Ellis, a public health expert at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., said that Florida was not the only state grappling with this problem.

She further added that though grandparents took up the children, they were living on fixed incomes and it got difficult for them to feed so many mouths. According to Ellis, a multi-pronged approach is indispensable to fight this crisis including investigating the underlying issues like why more and more people are using prescription opioids and what can be done to recede their use.

Topical Analgesics Can Curb Opioid Addiction, Finds Study

Opioid addiction is one of the most chronic issues taking a toll on the lives of people in the United States. While a lot has already been done to fight against the above-mentioned menace, a new study conducted by the research firm Clarity Science highlighted that topical analgesics could play an effective role in dealing with opioid addiction among chronic pain patients.

According to the study, published in the journal Postgraduate Medicine, approximately half of patients who have prescribed a topical analgesic after taking opioid painkillers quit taking opioids within the next six months. Along with this, around three in 10 patients stopped taking any pain medication at all.

Unlike oral analgesics that cause severe side effects, topical analgesics ensure the same relief with minimal consequences. With the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States flagging new warnings every now and then against painkillers, topical analgesics have steadily become a safer alternative for treating pain. The findings of the study corroborate the clinical outcomes of topical analgesics.

Key Findings Of The Study

A subset of cases was used as a sample from novel research for Optimizing Patient Experience and Response to Topical Analgesics (OPERA).  At the beginning of the study, these patients took opioids to find relief from chronic pain. Later, topical analgesics will be prescribed to help people manage their pain. While the patients continued taking their dosages, they were reassessed after three months and six months, respectively.

During the study, nearly 121 people have completed the three-month follow-up and baseline assessment. and It was found that around 49 percent of the participants had discontinued taking opioids by the time of the follow-up and approximately 31 percent were no more using any sort of pain medications. At the end, a drop of 65 percent was witnessed in the number of patients using two or more pain medications simultaneously.

Among 27 patients in the six-month follow-up group, around 56 percent stopped using opioids at the beginning of the sixth month and around 30 percent stopped taking any pain medications. The proportion of patients using concurrent medications also dropped by 74 percent. Apart from these, even the severity of pain reduced in both groups. There were minimal side effects caused due to topical analgesics that were found in less than 2 percent of the patients.

According to Jeffrey Gudin, MD, the lead investigator of the study, “The results were indeed a pleasant surprise. As a practicing pain management specialist, I can tell you the topical analgesics at least can minimize opioid requirements, but at best we see results similar to the study whereby patients can discontinue opioids completely.”

Topical Analgesic Not So Commonly Accepted

Topical analgesics are not commonly accepted by the masses due to insufficient scientific evidence on their role in the management of chronic pain. With the concentration on decreasing the number of people being prescribed the drug opioid, other accessible treatment choices like topical analgesics must be considered to permit proper therapy and supervision of pain. But, one more difficulty would be convincing victims that they can hope on topical analgesics.

In order to convince patients to use topical analgesics, medical practitioners must explain to them about alternative medications that are comparatively safer and less risky than other options available.  They need to be adequately counseled about the benefits and repercussions to instill confidence in them about such medications.

Dealing With Prescription Drug Abuse

Children are the future of any nation. They are innocent and impressionable. As adults, it is our responsibility to act responsibly and keep them miles away from addiction and its perils like negative health outcomes, homelessness, legal battles, etc.

A major percentage of the American population is reeling under the harmful effects of prescription drugs, including pain relievers and stimulants. If you know anyone battling an addiction to opioids, contact the Florida Prescription Addiction Helpline for immediate help regarding prescription drug rehab centers in Florida. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 802- 231- 1018 or chat online to know more about prescription drug rehabilitation in Florida

Last Update : June 25, 2021


Can you leave the rehabilitation center?

You can leave the rehab any time, no one will compel you to stay at the rehab. However, dedication and continued treatment are required to fight addiction and achieve a sober life.

What are the Stages of Addiction?

There are various stages of addictions. The initial stage is the functioning individual with the addiction. The most common scenario is they have a job and their relationships are intact, but their health is depleting slowly because of their dependence.

What are narcotics and why people get it?

Narcotic analgesics (painkillers) are drugs that can reduce pain, cause numbness and/ or induce a state of unconsciousness. They have the tendency to cause tolerance and addiction

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