Among parental substance use disorders, opioid use disorders are increasingly common as a result of the opioid epidemic. Children and youth affected by familial opioid use disorders are more likely to experience child maltreatment and neglect. They are also more likely to witness familial overdoses, thus creating often-undiagnosed trauma reactions and a need for therapeutic intervention. While Federal and State responses have expanded in recent years in order to address the growing opioid epidemic, child welfare agencies remain the frontline response for children and youth affected by the crisis. As a result, child welfare professionals must understand the intersecting challenges presented by the opioid epidemic and involvement with child welfare. Below, find resources about the effect of the opioid crisis on child welfare agencies, including the specific ways in which the epidemic affects child and family well-being, and the services and treatments proven most effective in addressing opioid use disorders.
Child Trauma and Opioid Use: Policy Implications (PDF - 451 KB)
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (2018)
Discusses how witnessing opioid-related deaths may affect children’s mental and physical health across the lifespan. This article also addresses the policy implications and recommends services and resources to help children and families affected by opioid use.
Essential Information About the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorders
National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare
Reviews several validated treatment protocols that combine medications, counseling, and relapse prevention in order to address opioid use disorders.
Overview of State Legislation to Increase Access to Treatment for Opioid Overdose
National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (2015)
Provides information about State-level legislation regarding the provision of opioid overdose treatment.
The Ripple Effect: The Impact of the Opioid Epidemic on Children and Families
Brundage & Levine (2019)
Milbank Memorial Fund
Describes the long-term effects of the opioid crisis on child development and family preservation services. The report also makes recommendations as to how child welfare agencies and professionals can address this issue and lessen the impact of the opioid epidemic.
State and National Opioid Fact Sheets
American Academy of Pediatrics (2020)
Compiles national and State-specific information about how the opioid crisis has short- and long-term consequences for child well-being. The factsheets also offer State and Federal policy solutions.