The opioid epidemic has impacted millions here in the U.S. The issue is particularly acute in the South, which has the highest rate of opioid prescription and addiction in the country. Using census data from 2012 to 2016, researchers also found that the states with the highest prescription rates for opioids were also the states with the highest percentage of grandparents over the age of 30 who were raising grandchildren.
The states with highest rates were: Mississippi (2.9% of grandparents), Arkansas (2.2), Louisiana (2.2), Alabama (2.2), and Kentucky (2.1). Colorado, on the other hand, has a rate below 1.3, which is below the national average of 1.4.
These numbers paint a grim analysis of the devastating impact that these drugs are having upon families, whether it is Alabama or Colorado. Some driving factors for the connection were that parents with opioid addiction problems were often in rehabilitation programs, incarcerated or not able to bear the responsibility of raising children. This correlation also means that grandparents are not only taking in grandchildren; they are the primary caregiver or guardian.
A difficult challenge at any age
Any parent who sees their child struggle with addiction has likely endured more than their fair share of heartbreak. However, addiction is a disease that can be particularly difficult for the child of an addict unless a grandparent or foster parent intervenes. Those here in Colorado who have grandchildren in danger should speak with an attorney with a background in family law to discuss such options as guardianship or adoption. These legal professionals can help with the paperwork and other legal details to ensure that the grandparent can provide the child with a safe and loving environment.