United Hospital Fund Report Takes In-Depth Look at Hidden Impact of Opioid Epidemic on Children

Thursday, March 7, 2019

United Hospital Fund Report Takes In-Depth Look at Hidden Impact of Opioid Epidemic on Children 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK March 7, 2019—Opioid addiction is well-recognized as a national crisis, but the impact on children and adolescents whose parents or close family members are addicted has received little sustained attention. A far-reaching report released today by United Hospital Fund makes clear that the magnitude of the epidemic’s impact is much greater than realized--even if the opioid epidemic were stopped cold today, there would be damaging ripples far into the future.

While previous reports examined aspects of the impact on children, such as pregnant women who use drugs or the increased numbers of children who enter foster care, this is the first comprehensive look at the successive waves of loss and trauma experienced by newborns, young children, adolescents, and their families. It also looks at the needs of kinship caregivers, typically grandparents who often step in to care for these children. Potential remedies are proposed, and the report describes innovative programs around the nation that address these issues. 

Titled The Ripple Effect: The Impact of the Opioid Epidemic on Children and Families, the report draws on lessons learned from the HIV/AIDS and crack/cocaine epidemics, which, like the opioid crisis, were characterized by stigma and failures to provide needed services to children and families. And like those earlier crises, opioid addiction is leaving too many children in foster or kinship care, caring for younger siblings, and suffering from potentially long-term behavioral and physical health issues...

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