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Opioid Abuse Impact on Children and Families

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Opioid addiction is on the rise, spreading like an epidemic. There are opioid rehabilitation options out there for the many Americans that find themselves addicted to prescription opioids, mostly pain medication. The CDC reports that, in 2017, over 70,000 deaths were caused by drug overdose. Out of these, nearly 70% were traced back to opioids.

While opioids include illegal drugs such as heroin, most addiction cases actually involve prescription opioids, especially pain medication. As the number of opioid addiction cases grows, the implications and consequences become more obvious. Of particular importance are those referring to the addicts’ family and, especially, children.

The Implications and Consequences of Opioid Addiction on Families and Children

More and more Americans start taking opioids to manage chronic and acute pain. The relief the drugs provide, coupled with their euphoric effects pave the path to abuse and addiction. Once they start on this path, many people neglect their responsibilities towards their loved ones.

For example, expecting women often continue to take opioids during pregnancy without realizing that their decision would negatively affect their unborn child. Aware that their doctor would advise them to quit opioids, many forego prenatal care.

NAS, or How Expecting Women Addicted to Opioids Deny Their Unborn Children the Chance to a Normal Life

While on opioids, expecting women neglect their nutrition, which hinders the baby’s nutrition and, implicitly, development. Moreover, children born to opioid-addicted mothers suffer from NAS (Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome). This condition is characterized by birth defects and severe opioid withdrawal symptoms that include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremor
  • Seizures
  • Restlessness
  • Pitched cries

The symptoms begin immediately after the child is born or within a few days from birth. They may last for up to six months. Treatment ranges from swaddling and restriction of environmental stimuli to medication with morphine or methadone.

In the long run, NAS may result in developmental delays, learning disabilities, bonding difficulties, etc. Given their delicate health and their parents’ inability to care for them, most of the children suffering from NAS will end up in foster care and lose whatever recovery chances they may have had.

Things do not look much better for adults either. Opioid addiction leads to SUD (Substance Use Disorder).

SUD, or How Opioid Addiction Destroys Lives and Families

Around 8 million underage children, most of them younger than six years old, live with one or more adults suffering from SUD. Their home environment is usually unstable. The children are exposed to experiences that encourage conflict, violence, fear, and secrecy.

Most of these children end up developing behavioral and emotional problems, or become the victims of addiction themselves. Children with a family history of drug use and who grow up with addicted parents are far more likely to abuse drugs themselves than children living in drug-free environments.

At the same time, SUD triples the risk for a parent to abuse their children physically or sexually. As if it were not enough, addicted parents are more preoccupied with their own needs and neglect their children. Their caregivers are often overwhelmed by worries, frustration, and anger, and they may take it all out on the children.

Young children whose parents are addicted to opioids often lack the opportunity to develop a healthy relationship with their parents. Older children may become the caregivers and partially fill in the void created by the parents’ addiction.

Children growing up without healthy attachment and proper care are vulnerable to stress and trauma. Many of them develop anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems. And not just children suffer from living with an opioid addict.

SUD sufferers often mistreat their partners. As their behavior alters, they lose their friends and break away from their relatives. Some get fired for going to work impaired while others lose their ability to focus, work, and stick to a preset schedule. Quite a few end up stealing from their loved ones or selling their possessions to fuel their addiction.

There is nothing more painful than seeing a loved one sliding on the path of addiction and not being able to help them. Parents, spouses, siblings, and children alike suffer with the addict and because of them. Luckily, there is a way out. The addict can recover and, with their recovery, all the pain and suffering will fade or, at least subside.

Find Out More About Opioid Rehabilitation Options Now!

Do you or a loved one battle opioid addiction? Do not let it destroy you and your loved ones’ life. Help is available and recovery is possible at Asheville Recovery Center! Fill in the contact form or call and schedule a FREE consultation to find out more about our opioid rehabilitation options.