Since 2000, the number of children being placed in foster care because their parents use drugs has more than doubled, according to new research by JAMA Pediatrics.
“It just really hurts when the two people that are supposed to love you and care about you can't really do that because they have a disease,” Brittany Hines, who knows that statistic firsthand, said. “I remember calling hospitals and jails and praying to God that she was in the hospital or in jail instead of just out using drugs and leaving us again,” she recalled. Her parents were both addicts. She lived with six families before she turned 18, when she got custody of her younger brother.
“I did not ever want to be split up from my brothers or sisters. I was fearful they would be taken away,” she said, calling many of her childhood memories traumatic.
The CEO of Cumberland Heights Jay Crosson said they’ve watched this trend with their own eyes. “It's a consequence of untreated addiction,” he explained. “We see grandparents raising their own grandkids a lot.”
He said the alarming rise of kids in foster care is largely due to the opioid crisis, and more broadly an addiction crisis. “There's an overall increase in acceptance of drug use overall by people.”
“Every patient that we see wants to be a good dad and a good mom. The insanity of this disease is that despite knowing these consequences that are out there they still can't stop,” Crosson added.
“I never ever once doubted that my mom and dad loved me,” Hines said. She is a mother herself now, a role she’s taken on since she was a child. One of her sisters is still in her custody and now, her brother's daughter. She works full time at an addiction treatment center
“Drug addicts are not bad people they're just really sick,” she said. “My dad may not have been able to make it or get sober, but I hope somebody else's dad is able to get sober and they're able to get their dad back or their mom back.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, you can go to cumberlandheights.org.