How Opioids Are Killing Our Children

What Are Opioids?

America is in an unprecedented state of emergency because of the number of Americans hooked on drugs.

Here are the names of these killer substances:

These drugs are called opioids. They are pain relievers that create a feeling of euphoria and are highly addictive. They come in tablets, capsules or liquid and are a natural derivative of opium, from the poppy and Heroin. These are now synthetically replicated in the laboratory, into drugs such as Fentanyl, which is 100 times stronger and more addictive than any of the originals. The body begins to crave more and more to satisfy the ‘good feeling.’  Continued use and abuse “can”* lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms.” 1

*(comment:  in the writer’s considered opinion, the word should unequivocally be “will”)

Recently, the FDA approved a new opioid, Dsuva, called a super opioid. It contains 30 micrograms of a synthetic opioid painkiller known as sufentanil, which is 5 to 10 times more potent than fentanyl, and 1,000 times more potent than morphine to give immediate relief from pain that ordinary opioids will take longer to take effect.  

We Are In An “Opioid Crisis.”

In 2016 alone, more than 42,000 people in the United States died from overdosing on these drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in a January 2018 report says that “every day, more than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids.”  Another 2.1 million people became addicted to these painkillers. The drug’s lethalness comes from the way they affect the brain and other parts of the body. They are, after all, some of the best painkillers known. They mimic a natural compound in your brain— with addictive and dangerous impacts.   

How Does This Affect Children?

The statistics usually emphasize the number of deaths and the attendant costs, but doesn’t announce the real damage done. Yes, lives are important, but the living are more important, especially if they have to live with addiction, or live with an addict. It impacts the extended family, and can cause damage in a ripple effect to family members not there. It affects every aspect of liveliness and society, some regions more than others.

What about the little children having no choice but to try to survive in sometimes unspeakable conditions and circumstances? The impact on our little ones involved is undoubtedly the worst of all consequences, superseding death and the outrageous cost in money. They are our future.

Nationwide Facts

  •  8.7 million children nationwide have a parent who suffers from a substance use disorder.
  •  85.4% of people suffering from drug dependence or abuse go untreated.
  • Every 19 minutes a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal, which can mean:
  • 270,000 + children were placed in foster care in 2016
  • Nearly 1 in 5 were infants
  • In more than 1/3 of these placements, parental substance use was a factor, second to neglect.
  • Lifelong impact:
  • Children dealing with traumatic experiences can face social, emotional, physical and mental health challenges that last for the rest of their lives.
  • Left unaddressed, early childhood adversity can lead to school failure, risky behaviors like alcohol and drug use, and increased chance of health conditions like obesity and heart disease.

States Impacted

While every state has been damaged, some have been harder hit than others, particularly those in the Appalachian region.  West Virginia has been dealt a mortal blow. Here are the facts:

  • In 2013, West Virginia providers wrote 110 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons (2.08 million prescriptions). In the same year, the average U.S. rate was 70 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons (IMS Health, 2016).
  • Babies Born Addicted to Drugs Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). A fancy term for children born with addiction. Between 2007 and 2013, NAS rates in West Virginia significantly increased from 7.7 to 33.4 cases per 1,000 live births per year. 4
  • The average across the 28 states included in the 2013 analysis was 6.0 cases per 1,000 births. Between 2014 and 2016 the rate of NAS in West Virginia rose further to 37 cases per 1,000 live births. In 2013, the southeastern region of the state had the highest NAS rate of 48.76 cases per 1,000 live births.
  • West Virginia has the nation's highest rates of overdose deaths and new hepatitis C and hepatitis B infections as well as HIV infections.
  • Over 40 percent of the children are in foster care or are being raised by grandparents. There is no aspect of life that is untouched by the opioid epidemic.
  • 87% of people in West Virginia suffering from drug dependence or abuse go untreated.
  • 4,581 West Virginia Children were placed in foster care in 2016
  • 16% were infants. In 47% of these placements, parental substance use was a factor.

These Helpless Children Are The Children Of All Of Us

This article is how opioids are killing our children, and you may say that your children and family are not impacted. But looking at America as a whole, those children so awfully damaged are our children, whether we really know it or not. We in America are not disparate unconnected units of population. We are one unit, as if the country is a human body, we are all affected if part of the body is damaged grievously. And America is grievously injured. It is not unlike having been shot up terribly in a battle, with every part being hit, and some as in West Virginia, with wounds bad enough to prove fatal to the organism.


It is our responsibility to help in any way that we can. Find someone you can help. If you live in the Appalachian area, just call the sate and find out what you can do to help. If you live elsewhere, you can start a fund drive, like “GoFundMe” or some other specific means to help. You can make a difference!

Work Cited:

  • Bethany Brookshire, Mar 27, 2018.