You have likely heard a lot about the effects of opioid addiction in Washington State over the past few years. Less heard and discussed are the problems kids are having in schools as they struggle to learn while also dealing with substance use at home.
While many school districts across the country have addiction prevention measures in place to help kids steer clear of drugs, one often overlooked task schools face is trying to help children whose parents are addicted. This article examines how the opioid crisis is impacting some students in Snohomish.
Kids and Opioid Addiction in Washington State
“Across the region, educators and child-welfare workers report increased learning problems and behavioral outbursts from the kids of addicted parents. Research, too, suggests dire life-outcomes for these students. Yet the potential for school-based interventions has been, as yet, underutilized — even as public-health investigators say schools offer the most efficient hope for stemming a looming social crisis.”—Seattle Times
It is no secret that addiction leads to foster care, which can cause a host of behavioral and emotional difficulties in schools to which teachers must somehow respond. When kids deal with their parent’s opioid addiction in Washington State, they may withdraw, or conversely, act out in school. According to the Seattle Times, these kids may be excessively worried about parents that relapse, or even may even worry about where their next meal may come from.
An article in Current Drug Abuse Reviews suggests that not only are these kids more at risk for cognitive and behavioral disorders, but they are also more than twice as likely to have substance use disorder themselves, perpetuating a negative cycle across generations. Considering the stigma and danger associated with substance use, it is not the kind of legacy any parent wants to leave their children.
The social, emotional, and behavioral toll on children tied to opioid addiction in Washington State has been documented in children as young as two to three years old. These children are highly at-risk and should be targeted for additional service in schools to help them overcome these challenges.
Foster Care and Opioid Addiction in Washington State
The Seattle Times reports that emergency foster care is surging, with a spike occurring in the region since 2013. Many of these calls are so serious they require state intervention within 24-hours by a licensed social worker. Here are some sobering statistics:
- Between 2011 and 2017, Washington State responded to substance misuse cases almost 14,000 times, taking children from parents and abruptly placing them in foster care.
- 2016 saw another spike, up 16 percent from 2015.
- Drug-related removals now encompass over 38 percent of all state activities tied to foster care.
- Hospitals are reporting that more infants are being born addicted to substances like heroin or other drugs.
- Over 37 states are reporting the same problem.
Schools are complaining that there are more children acting out in school, up to and including violence against peers. These trends are forcing school administrators to respond in new ways to an influx of problems at a level not seen before.
Getting Help for Opioid Addiction in Washington State
Earlier this year, the state legislature passed a bill to provide another $1.7 million to provide for youth affected by opioid addiction in Washington State. While this may be a drop in the bucket, it provides Washington State educators with access to some new programs to help kids affected by opioid use at home. For more information on Washington State addiction treatment resources, contact us today.