Opioid Crisis Impact On Children Essay
200 words You are overseeing a study designed to examine the impact of the opioid crisis on children.
200 words What kind of evaluation would you budget for and why?]
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There are many consequences of the opioid crisis, one of which is the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV.
200 words Assess the impact of the opioid crisis on HIV infections.
200 words Who is affected and what are the long-term consequences?
200 words What policies are in place, if any, to remedy this problem? Opioid Crisis Impact On Children Essay
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Every day in communities across the country, courts are confronted with the devastating impact of the opioid crisis. From 2016 to 2017, more Americans died from drug overdoses than were killed in the decades-long Vietnam War.1 Most of these overdose deaths were from opioids.2 While the opioid crisis has influenced many spheres of society, opioid use disorders have a unique impact on families.3 A parent’s addiction not only affects his or her own life but destabilizes an entire family system.4 Children with an opioid-dependent parent are at risk of neglect, abuse, and instability.5 Inundated with opioid-related child welfare cases and custody disputes, family courts are faced with the at times daunting challenge of how to manage these complicated cases.6 Judges confront difficult questions. Is a child better off with a parent who repeatedly tests positive for opioids or in a foster care placement of unknown quality? To what extent, if any, should opioid-dependent mothers or fathers have supervised visitation with their children? If a parent is taking methadone, is he or she merely trading one addiction for another?7 Traditional family courts often lack the resources to address underlying substance use problems. Parents with an opioid use disorder may want help, but without treatment or support, they are frequently headed toward the permanent loss of custody of their children.8 This difficulty has resulted in a skyrocketing number of children in out-of-home placements.9 Yet there simply are not enough good placements for foster care to be an acceptable default solution.Opioid Crisis Impact On Children Essay
While opioid addiction is widely recognized as a national epidemic, one aspect of
the crisis has received little attention: the short- and long-term effects on children
and adolescents whose parents are addicted. An individual’s substance use disorder
(SUD) sends ripples through families and communities and ignoring these ripples
can cause long-lasting consequences. Children affected by familial SUD are at
increased risk of similar problems themselves, and kinship caregivers who often step
in to care for these children are also likely to have increased physical and mental
The opioid epidemic affects families in many ways. To begin to illuminate the
magnitude of the “ripple effect,” and the challenges facing family members,
United Hospital Fund hosted a two-day meeting of multidisciplinary researchers,
clinicians, and policymakers in October 2018. The agenda was focused on five main
populations: women of childbearing age; young children and their mothers; children
exposed to trauma; youth caregivers; and kinship caregivers. Opioid Crisis Impact On Children Essay
Though the multidisciplinary group did not attempt to reach consensus, participants
generally agreed on these four broad areas for action:
• Pervasive stigma, misunderstanding, and fear about SUD and treatment;
• Failure to make the ripple effect a public and political priority, which
exacerbates a shortage of family-centered treatment options and inadequate
funding for programs that work;
• Silos in government and service organizations that lead to lack of
communication, coordination, and collaboration, particularly about risk
assessment of children and reporting requirements;
• Missed opportunities to identify children at risk and provide them and their
families with essential support.
The need to address these problems is urgent. Some evidence-based programs
in place today are meeting the unique needs of these groups, and innovative
approaches are emerging, but the response to date has been inadequate. We need
to simultaneously generate more knowledge about what works for families, while
implementing best practices. The good news is that existing capabilities in agencies
and programs supporting children and families can be leveraged along with lessons
from prior public health crises—the HIV/AIDS and crack cocaine epidemics, in
particular—to formulate a response that helps children thrive and that preserves
families. Following is a quick summary of the action agenda categories, which are
detailed on pages 19 – 26 of this report: Opioid Crisis Impact On Children Essay
United Hospital Fund The Ripple Effect 2
Reduce stigma and misunderstanding of opioid use and treatment
• Promote the use of nonjudgmental, nonpunitive language.
• Develop educational programs on the nature of SUD and its treatment.
• Learn how stigma was reduced for other diseases, such as cancer and
• Create opportunities for people affected by the opioid epidemic to tell
Make investing in a response to the ripple effect a priority
• Encourage integrated services for parents and children.
• Increase the availability of family-based mental health services.
• Invest in evidence-based and promising prevention and intervention
programs that promote youth development.
• Provide technical assistance for implementation and evaluation.
• Quantify the magnitude of the ripple effect.
• Reduce geographic and racial/ethnic disparities in access to services.
Ensure that government and private agencies work as a team
• Establish a coordinated prenatal and postnatal care plan for women with
• Emulate and expand community-based, collaborative forums to address gaps
in helping families.
• Develop comprehensive state, city, or regional plans. Opioid Crisis Impact On Children Essay
Identify children at risk as early as possible
• Create protocols that help first responders identify children present at
potentially traumatic events and connect the child to trauma-informed care.
• Encourage schools to be trauma-informed.
• Support kinship caregivers in identifying and responding to signs of trauma
• Develop quantitative and qualitative research about youth caregivers.
United Hospital Fund The Ripple Effect 3
Above all, meeting participants stressed that there is reason for hope. In many
domains, we know what needs to be done—we just need to commit the resources
and mobilize public support to do it. This requires a concerted effort involving
many stakeholders, a willingness to confront tough problems, and an “all hands on
deck” approach at every level of society. Taking these actions will lead to meaningful
improvements not just for children affected by the opioid epidemic, but for those
facing all kinds of adversity.
United Hospital Fund The Ripple Effect 4
The United States is in the grip of an opioid crisis. Government policymakers,
health care providers, and community agencies are working to identify individuals
misusing opioids and enroll them in appropriate treatment programs. Concurrently,
law enforcement agencies are focused on controlling the supply of drugs fueling the
epidemic—not just prescription opioids but, increasingly, street drugs like heroin
and fentanyl. Opioid Crisis Impact On Children Essay
While these are important aims, they fail to address a serious and
long-lasting problem: the impact of the epidemic on the children and families of
people with a substance use disorder (SUD).2
The statistics on overdoses, deaths, and economic costs are stunning, but they do
not fully convey the human toll of the epidemic. (See Figure 1.)
Children and youth affected by familial SUD are at risk themselves for disrupted
lives, school problems, trauma-related anxiety, and potential use of the drugs that
caused the problems in the first place. Children are often hidden from view until a
crisis in the family (overdose, death, arrest, incarceration) occurs; even then, they
are seldom identified as needing help. The opioid epidemic is a multifactorial and
multigenerational problem, and the solutions must recognize all these complexities.
To provide a broad view of the widespread and costly impact of the opioid epidemic,
United Hospital Fund (UHF) convened a meeting on October 3-4, 2018, supported
by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, with the collaboration of the Milbank Memorial
Fund. The title of the meeting, “The Ripple Effect: Children and Kinship Caregivers
Affected by the Opioid Epidemic,” was intended to convey the far-reaching scope
of the problem. The goal of the meeting was to produce a high-level policy and
programmatic agenda to address the effect of the opioid crisis on women, children,
and families. This paper lays out that agenda. Opioid Crisis Impact On Children Essay
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