How The Opioid Crisis Affects Michigan’s Children, And Our Child Welfare System

Pile of pills in blister packs
Opioids, which includes many prescription medications, are having a staggering effect on Michigan’s children, and our child welfare system as a whole.

Every year in the United States, about 80 deaths are reported as a result of tornadoes. About 17 people are killed by hurricanes, and lightning causes an average of 55 fatalities annually. But when it comes to opioid abuse, the numbers are staggering. No less than 42,000 people lose their lives every year to opioid abuse in the US. Which is why the opioid crisis is exactly that – a crisis. And Michigan appears to be one of the largest hubs in that web of death.

How is the opioid crisis affecting Michigan?

The courts are clogged with opioid-related drug cases. Library staff all over Michigan are now receiving training on how to deal with someone during an overdose. And the news is filled with families whose lives will never be the same because of opioids. However, what seems to receive very little media attention is the issue of how the opioid crisis is affecting our child welfare programs, and our children. So what’s the deal?

What are the stats, and why do they matter?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 8.7 million children around the US have a parent who suffers from a substance use disorder. The result is that hundreds of thousands of children are neglected and abused because their parents struggle with drug abuse, and so they end up in the foster system. According to a Child Trends publication, more than a third of all child removals in Michigan are the direct result of drug abuse by parents.

Children themselves suffer because of opioid abuse

Once in foster care, children whose parents use drugs often face a unique set of challenges themselves. Infants born with drugs in their system face serious health complications, both early on and later in life. Trauma experienced by children because of their parent’s addictions often lead to educational failure and learning disabilities, health concerns like obesity and heart disease, and even substance use later on in their own lives.

So how do we fix this problem?

It’s an easy question to ask, but the answer is extremely complex, and incredibly hard. The truth is that people can only overcome drug abuse when they receive the kind of support they need to kick the habit and stay clean. If we want to change the direction Michigan is headed in, and reduce the number of kids in foster care, we have to be willing to dedicate the time and resources needed to help the families where addiction is a problem.

What we shouldn’t do is simply toss substance abusers in jail.

Incarcerated parents can’t care for their kids behind bars. They can’t learn new coping skills for stress, and develop better parenting skills while they’re in jail. And yet this still seems to be the approach we take. So if anyone from CPS accuses you of being a bad parent, or threatens to take your kids because you struggle with addiction, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 right now. Our experienced CPS defense attorneys are standing by to defend your parental rights.