One of the greatest tragedies of the opioid epidemic is how it devastates families.
The most recent numbers, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), show that 115 people die every day from opioid overdose in the US. Out of the tens of thousands of people losing their lives to opioids each year, a large number of them leave behind children. Some health officials call kids who have lost their parents to the ongoing crisis “opioid orphans”. And recent data shows how the impact of the epidemic on the foster care system has been staggering.
In many cases, a child may be removed from their birth parents custody if a court determines them unfit due to their drug use, or a child may lose their parents forever to overdose. All around the country, this has become a growing problem. Experts believe the opioid and heroin addiction epidemic has severely impacted the rising number of children orphaned or essentially abandoned by their parents.
Opioid Orphans: Surviving an Outbreak
All over the country, there are opioid orphans living with family members after losing their parents. The Department of Health and Human Services states that in 2016:
- Approximately 92,000 children were removed from their homes because at least one parent had an issue with substance abuse
- 34% of cases with children removed from the home were related to substance abuse
According to other recent reports:
- 2.7 million grandparents and other relatives are raising opioid orphans all across America
- Children 3-5 years old have the highest rates of living with their grandparents
- 642,000 3-5 year-olds live with both grandparents
- 660,000 3-5 year-olds live with their grandmothers
- 114,000 3-5 year-olds live with their grandfathers
It is hard to solidify the exact figures connecting the heroin epidemic to the overall increase in children being cared for by someone other than their parents. However, there are many signs that indicate there is a very real connection between these two issues.
For example, according to Kentucky Youth Advocates, the state has:
- The highest rate of “kinship care” in the country
- Estimated 68,000 children there live with a grandparent or blood relative
- 8,200 are in foster care
Meanwhile, Kentucky also has an opioid-overdose death rate of 23.6 per 100,000 people. That is nearly double the national opioid overdose death rate.
Sadly, in many cases, the children do not have a family to take them in, at which point they become part of an already strained foster care system.
In both rural and urban areas, the opioid epidemic is reported to have created an outbreak of abandoned and orphaned children. In Ohio, one of the states hit the worst by the opioid crisis:
- 14% increase in children in agency custody in 5 years
- Approximately 14,000 children in agency custody in 2017
Ohio’s Attorney General, Mike DeWine, states:
“We think about 50% of the kids who are in foster care in Ohio are there because one or both parents are in fact drug addicts.”
West Virginia has seen similar spikes in the last few years. According to West Virginia’s Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR):
- 24% increase in children in foster care between 2012 and 2016
- 5,182 children in foster care in 2016
- 6,399 children were in foster care in 2017
It is difficult to give an exact number of how many of these cases are directly due to substance abuse. However, officials who have worked with the West Virginia DHHR have suggested that anywhere between 50% and 90% of new foster care cases were related to substance abuse.
Between 2011 and 2015, 14 states saw the number of children in the foster care system spike by more than a quarter. According to the advocacy group Children’s Rights, kids in many states, including Texas and Oregon, have been forced to sleep in state buildings because there were not enough foster homes for them all.
Looking at the data, it is truly heartbreaking to imagine how many thousands of opioid orphans are living every day not knowing when or where they will ever have a home.
Opioid Orphans: Examining the Impact
How can we measure the impact of parental addiction on children?
Some teens slowly watch as their normal life is torn apart by drugs, while other kids grow up experiencing horrific trauma and abuse. Many opioid orphans watch their parents try to get clean for years; while others are forced to watch their parents die of an overdose, not knowing why or how to help.
Then there are the opioid orphans who are themselves born addicted. Recent data suggests that every 15 minutes, a baby is born substance-exposed. This year almost 50,000 of these children will enter the foster care system, more than ever before. Many children born with prenatal exposure to opioids and other drugs have to fight from the moment they are born. And once they enter into the foster system, their lives often become another battle.
There is no set standard for examining the impact of a parent’s addiction on children. On one hand, there are thousands of healthy infants who eventually end up in safe and loving foster homes until their birth parents can get help. Meanwhile, other children are so devastated by a parent’s addiction that they develop their own problems with drugs or alcohol. Some kids find themselves stuck in a cycle of foster family after foster family or end up living in a group home. While it is often a better place than living with addicted parents, group homes can be strained by overcrowding and limited resources.
Sadly, so many opioid orphans struggle to cope with the loss of their parent or being taken from their homes. These children often grapple with issues like feelings of abandonment and anxiety. They can end up suffering academically, socially, mentally and emotionally due to their experiences with an addicted parent.
Opioid Orphans: Healing a Generation
One thing we can say with certainty is this generation has a larger population of opioid orphans than America has ever seen. More and more children have lost their parents to overdose, been abandoned by their parent for drugs, or been taken from their family because of substance abuse in the home. So how will these kids grow up? Despite having loving grandparents and relatives, or compassionate foster families, what will be the long-term outcome of kids who lose their mothers and fathers to opioids?
Officials believe that there needs to be more support and better regulation for the foster care system. Many believe there should be giving more financial support to institutions dealing with opioid orphans and other foster children. Some officials also insist there should be better legislation to protect the rights of the children affected by the loss of a parent.
Of course, a huge part of helping children impacted by opioids is to help heal their families. A crucial component of healing this generation of opioid orphans is to help put their families back together. This means giving their parents an opportunity to get the help they need.
No child should have to grow up without parents who love them.
There should be more services that assist foster care providers, grandparents and other relatives with giving these children a better quality of life. And likewise, there should be expanded access to holistic addiction treatment for the parents. Because people with addiction also deserve to have a better quality of life.
This almost means making families part of the recovery process. Healing those who suffer and reuniting families should always be a priority in the battle against addiction.
Palm Partners Recovery Center believes in reuniting loved ones and help families heal. Recovery from addiction is about working together to ensure that people who have suffered have a chance at a better future. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
New legislation being pushed to empower EMTs may soon change the way first responders in California help patient get care while trying to ease the overcrowding of emergency rooms. A bill as proposed will allow paramedics to bring a patient to sobering centers and mental health clinics, instead of taking them to the ER. So should EMTs take patients to these alternative facilities to receive more specific forms of care?
Giving EMTs Options
When dealing with a situation, law enforcement personnel are permitted to transport individuals who are intoxicated or experiencing a mental health crisis to sobering centers or mental health clinics if deemed appropriate. Sometimes this is the best place for a patient, depending on the specific circumstances. However, under current state law in California, Emergency Medical Technicians (or EMTs) and paramedics must bring patients to the emergency room.
Some argue that requiring EMTs and paramedics to transport these patients to the ER is not only contributing to overcrowding in emergency rooms but also it is often not the best place for them. Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn is one of many who believes this is a “common sense” option for EMTs. Hahn states,
“The bottom line is that if people like you and I can take an individual to a sobering center or a mental health urgent care center, why can’t a highly trained medical professional do the same?”
Supervisor Janice Hahn has sponsored the new bill, hoping to give EMTs more options that better serve the individual. Hahn states,
“Our mental health urgent care centers and the sobering center at Skid Row were designed to provide humane, compassionate care, tailored to meet the needs of their patients,”
In cases involving law enforcement, this option allows police to choose specialized facilities instead of booking people in jail. This allows for people who may be dealing with alcohol, drugs or mental health issues to sober up and receive on-the-spot treatment without facing charges. According to Hahn, California paramedics and EMTs have their hands tied, and it is impacting hospitals and individuals.
Assembly Bill 1795
The new legislation is Assembly Bill 1795. This proposal would allow local emergency medical services agencies to lay out plans for transporting patients to:
- Designated behavioral health facilities
- Sobering centers that meet specific standards
Keep in mind, these patients will have to meet specific criteria in order to qualify. The bills recently amended language also states:
The bill would authorize a city, county, or city and county to designate, and contract with, a sobering center to receive patients, and would establish sobering center standards.
However, the bills current language also states that patients can instruct EMTs to take them to the emergency room and that it does not authorize them to initiate an involuntary detention of the patient.
This legislation also has support from Assemblyman Mike Gipson. He wrote an op-ed in February for the Compton Herald to support the measure. Gipson states,
“No one will deny that our emergency rooms are drastically over-crowded. Although they may be well-equipped to handle trauma, disasters or emergency physical health conditions—they are not as well-equipped to serve patients who have mental health care needs or substance abuse problems.”
Recently, Hahn herself planned a trip to Sacramento to advocate for the bill. And she isn’t the only one getting behind it. The bill is also co-sponsored by:
- Los Angeles County
- California Hospital Association
- California Ambulance Association
Another supporter of the proposal is Mitch Katz, the director of the county’s Department of Health Services. Katz points out that not only could this give EMTs the power to take patients to a more suitable facility, but that these options can also be much less expensive than taking patients to an emergency room.
While hospitals, EMTs and paramedics are a crucial part of saving lives in cases of overdose and other emergencies, when it comes to getting people a means to effective treatment unique to their needs, there are better options. Giving EMTs a resource to offer substance abuse and mental health treatment options could make a huge difference in the fight against addiction. Anything that connects people with effective treatment is an important step in the right direction.
We want to hear what you think- should EMTs take patients to sobering centers and/or mental health clinics?
Communities in many other parts of the country have begun to work on better ways to connect people struggling with substance abuse or mental health conditions with specialized treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
As a recovered alcoholic and drug addict it is a truly gratifying experience to work in the field of addiction treatment, and even more so to work for the company that helped save my life. Palm Healthcare Company is a truly unique organization that is committed to compassionate and effective treatment, and there is no telling how many lives have been positively and permanently impacted because of what they (or should I say WE) do. It is an amazing thing to be a part of, and a worthy cause to work for.
That is a crucial part of addiction treatment and recovery; work. The real work is for those trying to recover.
One thing I notice about some clients these days in addiction treatment is less of a willingness to do that work. When I was getting treatment everyone seemed desperate to do anything that would make a difference in their lives. Yet these days I see some people who act as if the program is supposed to do the work for you.
Is our current addiction treatment culture somehow convincing people they don’t have to do the work for real change? How can we work together to change it?
On to the Next One
The culture surrounding addiction treatment and recovery has changed. Breaking the stigma surrounding addiction is a critical step in helping more people get the help they need. Expanding availability is amazing and we should all work toward making even more treatment options available. It could help save thousands of the people who die every year from overdose and drug-related issues.
However, it also seems some have the idea that they will always be able to find some treatment program, legitimate or not, willing to take them. This shift toward people thinking they can just keep hitting restart has almost watered down the opportunity or having a fresh start in the first place.
This might be comforting to some people; the idea that if they don’t like one program they have options. But ultimately what people have to understand is that a treatment program can only be effective if you participate in it. You can go to a dozen different programs and still get very little value if you do not show up and try to engage in the recovery process.
We can complain about the “revolving door” metaphor all we want, but if people aren’t going to take steps toward something better, they are volunteering for more of the same.
Sadly, some people still think there is always the next place. This is part of the reason programs that put an emphasis on relapse prevention and aftercare are so important. Continued accountability can help people maintain their progress without having a nonchalant attitude about the process.
What if you never make it to the next place? Regardless, why wouldn’t you want to make this place the last place?
Of course, both sides of the culture have to take steps. Public officials, treatment providers, and advocacy groups should continue working together to better enforce regulations for treatment, eliminating criminal operators and protecting client rights.
Taking it Serious
This point actually goes hand in hand with the first. As more people are exposed to more resources they might take the availability of new opportunities for granted.
In an industry obstructed by shady operators, people can also become jaded. If you have sought treatment with programs that provide little to no real resources or solutions you might stop taking addiction treatment seriously, even if you get a great opportunity with a reputable and innovative program.
If you don’t take the treatment seriously you probably won’t take your recovery seriously, either.
Of course no one is naïve enough to say the opioid epidemic and overdose rates aren’t serious. But if we know how bad it is; if we see the devastation caused in our own lives or those we love, why don’t we appreciate that gift of desperation and commit to doing the work? Has the addiction treatment client culture taught people that it doesn’t really matter? Do clients think recovery isn’t that serious once you get past the withdrawals or the troubles you get caught up in while using or drinking?
These are valid and sometimes difficult hurdles, but many still say that is the easy part. The rest of the work comes with committing to a treatment plan and following through.
Getting Back to Gratitude
I think this may be the core concept. The culture change within the recovery community is in many ways constructive, but it also has taken some of the raw truth out of the situation for some people.
I think we should try to get true gratitude back into the culture of addiction treatment. We should be grateful that we have more resources than ever, with more professionals working to revolutionize recovery. Let us be grateful that on a national level the world is starting to have greater respect and understanding for those suffering from addiction. We should be grateful for the opportunity to get help when we finally get it because a lot of people never do.
But to the client that contributes to the recovery culture- always remember that true gratitude takes action.
If you say you are grateful to be in treatment, take your treatment seriously and participate. If you are grateful for an opportunity, don’t waste it because you think you can bank on another one right around the corner. So if you want something different, do something different instead of thinking you need to go somewhere different.
And let us all be grateful that there are more opportunities for people to find a solution that could save their life.
Cultivate Better Culture
As holistic treatment providers, Palm Partners Recovery Center will continue working to support recovery professionals within the Palm Healthcare Company organization and within our industry; to strive for better services and to unite against illegitimate operators.
But we as alcoholic or addicted individuals in recovery also need to be willing to put in some work. For anyone like me, who spent years abusing substances to the point it felt like my life depended on it, it is going to take some real work to get better.
If we as individuals want to advocate for recovery, let us advocate that people do the work. Let us appreciate the value of mental health care. Let us appreciate the value of addiction education and cognitive behavioral therapy. We can cultivate a better culture for ourselves; as clients and as providers.
WE means all of us. It means the healthcare providers, the individuals in recovery who have been lucky enough to get this far and the addicts and alcoholics out there still suffering. Addiction treatment works; recovery works… if WE do.
I punch that clock every day. I’m grateful for this work, so I do it. But WE can do more.
As a culture, we have the power to transformed and elevate the lives of millions of people everywhere through recovery from drugs and alcohol. It takes work. If you are ready to take that step and work for a better future, Palm Partners wants to help. Please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on September 5th it would be allocating more than $28.6 million in funding to assist dozens of states, not to mention the District of Columbia, with overcoming the issues they face concerning opioid abuse, addiction, overdose and opioid related death. Many states are still struggling to make headway in the uphill battle. Thanks to the CDC fighting opioids with such a large contribution people in these areas have a better chance of gaining access to crucial resources.
It All Adds Up
The Omnibus Appropriations Bill in 2017 added funding for fighting the opioid epidemic with a $103 million dollar contribution. Combined with this new money from the CDC there will be even more support for things such as:
Addiction prevention programs
Drug monitoring programs
Improved toxicology testing for medical examiners/coroners
This isn’t the first time this year the CDC has dropped a big sum into the opioid outbreak.
Just a few months back in July the CDC fighting opioids led to a $12 million pledge to state overdose prevention efforts. This contribution was made as part of the plan from the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) in response to the nationwide opioid epidemic.
Who Gets the Money?
So which states are receiving funding through this latest pledge, and why? This money is being distributed out to various states that participate in the CDC’s Overdose Prevention in States Program (OPiS). The OPiS program includes 3 unique programs designed for prevention efforts:
Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention for States (PfS)
This program will provide $19.3 million in funding to 27 states to expand various of their prevention programs, which also use community outreach.
Data-Driven Prevention Initiative (DDPI)
$4.6 million will go through DDPI to 12 states and Washington, D.C. for similar programs. Other states getting funds through the DDPI include:
Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance (ESOOS)
Across the country around $4.7 million will go to medical examiners and coroners in 32 states and D.C. to track and prevent overdoses. The top 5 states on the list of highest rates of overdose death will receive funding, which includes:
-as well as-
How is CDC Fighting Opioids?
Not only is the OPiS program a big portion of the plan to fight opioids from the DHHS, but there are 4 other key components to these efforts.
Naloxone expansion programs
Improving public health data related to opioid crisis
Advancing practices for pain management
Greater research and support on addiction and pain
DHHS Secretary Tom Price states that the funding expansion was made possible through legislation signed by the Trump administration earlier this year. He insists it is an important part of committing help to states combating opioid addiction and overdose.
Many are hopeful that this will be the beginning of a trend for allocating funds toward more resources for CDC fighting opioids and the damage they cause across America. Advocates are still hopeful to receive more support, but for now there is at least some hope that something is being done. As far as each individual, recovery begins with taking advantage of any opportunity in front of you to do better. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Introduction by: Justin Mckibben
We have shared some excellent stories of Palm Partners Alumni who have done some amazing things. Recently I had the privilege of speaking with one of our Palm Partners Alumni, Jeff Salinas. We spoke about how his recovery has helped him achieve some incredible things in the last few years. Jeff attended treatment with Palm Partners back in 2015. Ever since getting his second chance he has been on an inspiring journey to an astonishing transformation. Today, we are all so proud to share his story.
When I reached out to Jeff, it was in regards to the Indialantic Boardwalk Triathlon he is set to compete in this weekend. After connecting on Facebook, I sent Jeff a message asking if he would be interested in sharing his story with our blog on Palm Healthcare Company’s website, so we could share it with the world! Jeff replied that he had been writing quite a few things about his transformation that we would like to share. He told me he would happily help us spread his “ongoing recovery stories as a beacon of hope for others still continuing with the struggles of any addictive behavior”.
In one message Jeff offered up an awesome story he wrote about the power of healing through yoga. As a yoga teacher with Palm Partners, I was elated to hear someone talking about the physically and mentally restorative practice of yoga. I thoroughly enjoyed this writing, and I surely hope someone else will too. Here is what Jeff has to say:
“The Wound is the Place Where the Light Enters You”
April 14, 2016
How Yoga Saved My Life.
It was a little over a year ago as I was wallowing away in despair in a detox center for treatment. I mean, you can only do so much in there. After I had enough in my room trying to read or watch tv, I decided to wander around the cafeteria. Hmmm.. The bulletin board. Blah… Blah… For lunch..blah.. Blah… For dinner… Hmmm.. Yoga.. later this evening. I signed up for it right away.
I for one had a huge amount of anxiety while in detox. Nonstop pacing, walking aimlessly around the center, like I said one can only do so much, so you can see the anticipation I had when I found out they were having a Yoga Class in there. And there she was, her presence alone can calm a crying baby, pretty much what I was in there. As I helped her lay out the mats and prep the library/sitting/TV room, I asked her if she was in recovery. She said 21 years.
Throughout that moment in practice, that hour and some minutes I was taken to a different place. You want to know where that was? I was taken to me, in my present moment, my breath, my physical posture. I was in me. For so F’n long I escaped me every waking moment I had either that was alcohol/chemically induced or complete utter destruction of self through physical fitness. But that calm and serene moment, I felt, well, I felt me; completely whole and organic, Non-GMO what have you.
From then on I continue the practice of Yoga, as it truly has a mystical and magical way of healing. By no way at all am I cured from my addiction, I am simply aware that a next drink for me will definitely be the kiss of death. So I continue to do what has been working for me, as well as to engage myself to forego the ultimate endurance challenge; The Ironman Race as I now train for this level headed and clear with with acknowledgment to my body learned through the practice of Yoga. On another note which explains my nightly yoga picture post in my Tri-shorts apparel.
So, this was my #Transformation #Throwback
May you all have peace within yourselves and find the solace that’s needed through our struggles in whatever they may be.
To follow up on what Jeff has written, the integration of the mind, body and spirit through yoga is one way holistic healing changes lives, and sometimes even saves them.
Mindfulness and meditation are a powerful forms of holistic treatment for people struggling with substance use disorder or addiction, and even the most basic meditation techniques can have a significant influence to ease severe pain, reduce anxiety and other symptoms of depression, and even improve heart health. Yoga and transformational breath work help to promote self-awareness, and align the body and the mind with a new healthy pattern. The philosophy of yoga speaks a lot about self-study, discipline and compassion. Yoga also teaches people how to let go and seek love and connection. The power of yoga cannot be overstated.
Thanks again to Jeff for spreading some empowering and enlightening truth with us. We look forward to more insights into your adventures.
We are happy to cheer for our Palm Partners Alumni, and excited to share the message Jeff shared with us about the power of yoga and the importance of finding peace and setting your own path in recovery. Real recovery is possible. Drugs and alcohol do not have to keep you from the life you dream of having. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135