My biggest fear related to the opioid crisis? The next generation.

WSJ Children of Opioid CrisisRead WSJ: The Children of the Opioid Crisis

The school year had just begun, it was early in the morning.  I vividly recall responding to the home of this particular overdose victim.  She was unconscious in the bathtub, the shower raining down as if that would help save her life.  Her father, frantically directing us toward the bathroom.  Her son had forgotten about his now soggy breakfast cereal on the living room coffee table as cartoons played on the television.  The boy was terrified.  I couldn’t help but wonder what was going through his young mind as we walked by with all of our equipment.

The naloxone did its job… this time.

Six weeks later, give or take a few days.  It was early in the morning.  The address we were responding to seemed familiar.  As the EMS crews entered the still well-kept home, we knew exactly how to find the bathroom.  We knew our patient would be soaking wet.  There was one significant difference.  The boy was visibly angry.  We were in his way.  My medics were inadvertently blocking his view of the early morning cartoons.  While jockeying for an unobstructed view, he slammed his spoon down in frustration causing milk to splatter.  I notice another another difference.  This young boys face had become callous.

I can’t imagine what had transpired in such a short period of time.

The naloxone did its job… again.

2 Comments

  1. I have been teaching Drug Free Workplace for over 10 years, the statistics on opioid prescriptions graphed along side overdoses, explains a lot. I wonder if you graph number of children put in foster care would this horrible trend match.

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    1. Tina, I called Warren County Children Services today to confirm some information that I recently learned. This is shocking to me- but there are (only) approximately 45-50 qualified and eligible foster families for our entire county at any given time. Compare this to the approximately 250 children currently in protective custody; there is clearly an immediate need and rather large gap. The county provides a stipend of $20 per day, per child, and covers all medical expenses for the child(ren) in foster care. By law, a child can remain in the foster system for only two years. In the case of an active opioid addition, the reality is reunification is therefore unlikely. Keep in mind; children are only placed in the foster system when there are no other viable options within the child’s immediate and extended family.

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