The domino effect of the opioid epidemic: Thousands of American kids are being forced into foster care due to parents’ addiction

According to a new study, the opioid crisis is now affecting children who are being dragged from their homes and into foster care because of parental neglect caused by addiction.

The study authors note that an addiction to prescription painkillers (e.g. oxycodone and morphine) is partly responsible for the sudden increase in deaths caused by overdose and health care costs. However, this will be the first study of its kind to look into the link between the opioid crisis and orphaned children. (Related: Opioids are killing thousands of Americans but alternative medicine backers say there has always been a better way to treat pain.)

Opioid addiction has claimed the lives of at least 65,000 Americans in 2016. The scientists from the University of South Florida College of Public Health (USF Health) studied data from 2012 to 2015. The information was submitted from Florida to the federal government’s Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System.

The data revealed that in 2015, at least two out of 1,000 children and teenagers were taken from their homes because of parental neglect. This indicated an alarming 129 percent increase compared to 2012.

As per the Florida Drug-Related Outcomes Surveillance and Tracking System, the number of opioids prescribed during the same time went up by nine percent. By 2012, doctors prescribed at least 72 prescriptions for every 100 residents.

According to the data, the rate went up to 81 prescriptions per 100 residents by 2015. The meant that the average was at least 71 prescriptions for 2012 to 2015. This meant that whenever six opioids were added per 100 individuals, the corresponding “removal rate” for parental neglect went up by a whopping 32 percent. At least 2,000 children were forced into foster care as the epidemic worsened.

Dr. Troy Quast from USF Health explained, “While the reported drop in opioid prescription rates over the last two years is encouraging…it appears illicit opioid use has more than offset the decrease.” He adds that experts must prioritize the affected children while trying to come up with solutions for opioid addiction.

Earlier studies concerning this matter determined that adolescents taken from their homes because of parental neglect are at higher risk of “juvenile delinquency, teen motherhood, mental and physical health problems, and adult criminality.”

A separate study has proven that the U.S. had the highest child mortality rate out of the 19 other industrialized nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The study from Johns Hopkins Hospital revealed that within a 50-year period (1961 to 2010), childhood mortality “progressively declined.”  The study results showed that from 2001 to 2010, children between 15 and 19 years old were at least 82 times more likely to die from gun homicide in the U.S. Another cause of death within the same age group was car accidents.

Dr. Quast concludes that based on his experience as a foster parent, the foster system often has a negative effect on children taken from their “opioid-dependent” parents. He adds that for this study, he wanted to delve into the factors behind the alarming spike in opioid addiction among parents.

Natural alternatives to painkillers

To curb potential opioid addiction, consider these natural alternatives to painkillers instead:

  • Turmeric – Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which is an antioxidant that helps protect the body from free radical molecules that can damage cells and tissue. It can also be used to treat indigestion, ulcers, psoriasis, and cancer.
  • Cloves – Cloves can be used to treat a wide range of conditions such as nausea and colds. They may also help relieve the pain associated with headaches, arthritic inflammation, and toothaches. Cloves can also be used as part of a topical pain reliever.
  • Heat and ice – Applying an ice pack can reduce swelling and inflammation shortly after a muscle, tendon, or ligament is strained. Once the inflammation has gone down, heat can help reduce the stiffness that comes with sprains and strains.

You can learn more about alternatives to painkillers and other natural cures at

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