The Link between Drug Abuse and Children in Foster Care

While there are few statistics indicating the percentage of children entering foster care because of a parent’s drug addiction, anyone involved with the system knows it’s a large number. In fact, the median age of a child who is in the foster care system has gone down from 10.6 to 8 from 2005 to 2014. There are more infants in foster care, partially because the hospitals are required to notify the state child protective services if there is an indication of prenatal exposure to a substance.

Substances Involved for Parent Drug Abuse

The types of drugs involved for parents who have children placed in the system can vary widely from illegal opiates to prescription drugs to alcohol. A rise in heroin use and increase in the number of children in the foster system isn’t a coincidence. Heroin and other opiates create an addiction that is often difficult to overcome.

Many of these parents suffer from a mental illness as well, which makes treatment for the addiction even more difficult. The children may be removed due to neglect or even abuse. In other situations, the infant is addicted because of the mother’s use during pregnancy.

A Never-ending Cycle

Some of these parents get help through drug treatment programs which allows them to welcome their kids back home. Unfortunately, relapse is common, due in part to the normal stress of being a parent. If the parent doesn’t have the support they need, they often turn to drugs when they can’t deal with a problem or situation.

Another result of parents abusing drugs is that their kids often follow in their footsteps. It’s not uncommon for children in foster care to begin using the same drugs as their parents. Teens and even pre-teens often turn to drugs to numb the pain and other emotions of being in the foster care system.

If you or someone you love is a parent who is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, you need to seek out help. You can get the treatment you need so you can be the parent you want to be.