America has an opioid crisis and it is taking a toll on our children.
I reported a story about a woman who delivered a baby in a Burger King bathroom while overdosing on heroin. The woman did not even know she was giving birth; instead, she told police she was having a miscarriage. Meanwhile, the innocent baby was in the toilet.
This broke my heart.
Growing up in a poverty-stricken community, I had many family members who were addicted to opioids. Their addiction affected me as a young child, as I was exposed to their behavior while they were high and the negative side effects that came along with it. I had family members that would steal from each other to have enough money to ensure they could get their next fix.
In high school, I was shocked to see many of my peers travel the same road of addiction, many of whom are still trekking.
America's opioid epidemic is ugly. And when it touches your community or the people that you love, you can’t help but avoid it and pray that it goes away.
Sadly, it’s not going anywhere. According to the CDC, drugs overdose deaths increased 21.4% from 2015 to 2016; according to the Department of Health and Human Services, 116 people die each day from opioid-related drug overdoses. Additionally, in 2012, every 25 minutes a baby was born suffering from opioid withdrawal.
This is an issue that needs to be combated from all fronts; every single American should be able to get behind the effort.
The most effective solution does not come from the government handing out thousands of needles or creating safe zones for people to shoot up; it comes from families and communities preemptively addressing the problem to prevent kids and teens from becoming addicted.
The Social Capital Project analyzed the data of overdoses showing that there is a significantly higher chance of an overdose when a person is single or has not gone to college.
The data reveals the catastrophe that results from the breakdown of the family unit.
The case of the woman giving birth to her child in a Burger King bathroom represents a shocking contrast to the husband and wife who delivered their baby together in a Chick-Fil-A bathroom due to an emergency situation. The latter family had no choice, as the mother went into labor at the restaurant while trying to drop her children off with family friends on her way to the hospital. Their little girl was welcomed into the world by two loving parents, while the baby in the former case was welcomed by a toilet and a mother too high to even know the child was alive.
America’s children deserve better.
Addicts should still be treated, but stopping addiction before it even happens is crucial. That preventative action not only saves the lives of those at-risk, but saves the children who are born into situations where they can’t escape the addiction.
The opioid crisis touches many American lives. Whether you know someone struggling with the problem or have the issue in your community, it affects you. It’s time for us to make a change — and that change starts with the family.