Opioid Crisis Affecting More Florida Children Than Ever

Written by Chloe Nicosia

The Many Faces of the Opioid Epidemic: Opioid Crisis Affecting More Florida Children Than Ever

The opioid crisis in the United States has many faces. Among the innocents affected by the abuse of opioids include children. This alarming trend has many health officials desperately trying to find a solution to the growing issues caused by the opioid epidemic in Florida.

Florida Opioid Statistics

According to the CWLA, the costs of the opioid crisis on the state of Florida in 2015 had reached $1,246,526,068.

Recently, the child welfare workers revealed some alarming Florida opioid statistics. In 2016, the state saw as many as 4,000 babies born to mothers suffering from opioid dependence. This is an increase of over 1,000 percent from just 10 years ago.

Since opioids use in mothers transfers the effects of the drug to their children while in the womb, the babies are born with an addiction to opioids – experiencing all of the difficult withdrawal symptoms that normally occur in opioid addictions.

Child welfare workers also said that around 38 percent of cases where children had to be removed from homes were as a result of substance abuse.

The number of Florida opioid deaths according to the 2015 Florida Department of Law Enforcement statistics was 3,896. This Florida opioid deaths statistic accounts for around 12 percent of the total deaths in the country for the year as a result of opioid abuse. Each day, around 14 people in Florida die from fatal opioid overdoses.

Child Removal

JoShanda Guerrier from the Department of Children and Families said that there has been a substantial increase in the number of children across all age groups that were removed from homes due to substance abuse.

Roughly 40 percent of the children who were removed from homes and placed into foster care were newborns. A further study in 2017 showed that of the 158 newborns removed from homes, 125 of them were removed from homes where a child had previously been removed.

Faye Johnson from the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition said that many of the mothers who are addicted to opioids do not even realize that they are pregnant because of their involvement with opioid abuse. This means that during the first few important trimesters, opioid abuse does not slow down at all.

Once they find out they are pregnant, they also try to hide it from those around them. Their reluctance to find treatment can be attributed to effects of an addiction (drug-seeking behavior) as well as the fear they have for being caught using opioids while pregnant.

What is Being Done About the Opioid Crisis in Florida?

According to Guerrier, the state has begun to send behavioral health specialists to accompany the child protective care investigations. The child welfare agency is also proposing that the state change their law on the requirement for removal of a child. Instead of the current “demonstrative harm” that is required to remove a child by law, they propose that they be allowed to act based on “prospective harm”. This is because of alarming statistics such as repeated removal of children from the same homes.

Family intensive treatment teams have also been made available to help families in the child welfare system. They are also working on ways to better address the issues faced by opioid-abusing pregnant women and their newborns.

The opioid crisis shows no signs of stopping any time soon. Private and government sectors continue to look for ways to fight the epidemic and help those in need.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.