With the spread of the opioid epidemic and other drug use, children are increasingly removed from unsafe homes and placed into foster care. In a 1999 report, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stated that studies showed that between one-third and two-thirds of child maltreatment cases were affected by substance use to some degree. Some children are exposed to physical or verbal abuse as a result of their parent’s addiction. Many substances can make people anxious, aggressive, angry, and paranoid, and children are unfortunately an easy target for these emotions.
Even if they are not abused, children of addicted parents still tend to be neglected. Parents who spend all of their time and money doing, buying, or finding money for drugs aren’t going to be at home reading to their kids or taking them to afterschool activities. Addicts are more likely to be unemployed, leading to an unstable housing situation. Drug use can also lead to incarceration, at which point a child of a single parent will be forced to find other guardians.
Some people might argue that children are better off with their own parents unless circumstances are particularly terrible, but the fact is that it’s very harmful for them to be in this sort of environment while in this early formative stage. Children of addicts are more like to have poor cognitive, social, and emotional development, depression, anxiety, and other mental health symptoms, physical and health issues, and their own substance use problems. 47 States and the District of Columbia have child protection laws that address some aspect of parental substance use.
Perhaps even worse than having to go into foster care in the first place – whether a child’s parents were substance abusers, died, or were deemed unfit for some other reason – is getting placed in a home and then discovering that the foster parents have drug problems. This is unfortunately more common than we’d like to think. For one thing, there tend to be more children in foster care, and more of a need for foster parents, in poor and/or rural areas, which are also the areas where drug use tends to be more rampant. While many foster parents are wonderful, genuinely caring people, the sad truth is that some of them are only in it for the money. A foster parent receives a stipend for child care, which can vary by state and according to the specific needs of the child. In California, the amount can be between $657-$820 a month per child. There are also tax benefits as a result of being able to claim a foster child as a dependent. This money is meant to be used for child care – food, clothing, etc. – but the disingenuous may use it to purchase drugs.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.