The Real Victims of the Opioid Epidemic


Children are entering state and foster care systems at an alarming rate, recent studies show, especially in states hit hardest by opioid addiction, such as West Virginia. In this state alone, the foster population has increased by 42% since 2014.

What’s even more alarming is between the years 2000 and 2010 there was a steady DECLINE in this trend. The reversal of this statistic correlates directly with the INCREASE in opioid related deaths that began in 2010. A study from the federal Department of Health and Human Services released in March, shows a nationwide increase in foster care populations of 10% from 2012 to 2016 which is attributed to the number of overdose deaths of parents.

The children that are entering care are staying longer, too. And they are younger. Resources are being stretched to cope with this steadily rising demand.

Although most of you are aware the US is amid an addiction epidemic, I’m not sure the long-term effects of this are truly understood by anyone. How will this all play out? We’re starting to see some of the signs, but what does that mean for these children down the road?

Another notable feature about this crisis is that it’s effects are not exclusive to an age, ethnicity, or income group. Literally all walks of life are afflicted by this unfortunate trend. And while more money is being dumped in foster care facilities, personnel, and even rehabilitation centers, one scratches their head and wonders…what’s it going to take?

Yes, the children need to be cared for and their parents rehabilitated. Filling up jail cells with addicts doesn’t do much except put more strain on an already overburdened system. But we must also look deeper. What’s the real reason why the US prescribes and uses an alarmingly higher number of opioids than any other country in the world, and to such a degree that our future generation is now being severely impacted?

I encourage you to look at the big picture and see for yourself what’s going on. Come up with your own opinion of why this problem exists, and what can be done to help. After all, with children in foster care and drug-addicted parents, the future looks very bleak for everyone concerned. And at this point, who isn’t concerned?


Joe Kertis

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Joe has worked at Narconon New Life Retreat for the past seven years, since his relocation to Louisiana. As the Intake Supervisor, he helps families and individuals through a very difficult time and take their first steps to a new, drug-free life. Get in touch with Joe on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.