About 30% of Boone County CASA’s cases this year have come into care due to a parent’s drug use. If you were to count cases that came for other reasons, such as domestic violence or lack of supervision, in which drug use was later discovered as a presenting problem for the family that percentage would be even higher.
And it’s not just one, prevalent drug. Children have come in after witnessing their parents use cocaine, heroin, drink alcohol to the point of not being able to stand, synthetic marijuana, and others.
The issue is so prevalent that drugabuse.gov states that, “Every 25 minutes, 1 baby is born suffering from opiate withdrawal.” It also goes on to say, “About 1 in 9 youth or 11.4 percent of young people aged 12 to 25 used prescription drugs nonmedically within the past year.”
Babies who are born drug exposed tend to stay in the hospital 8x longer than healthy babies. They also can be harder babies to care for; premature, fussy, sensitive to food and stimuli due to their intoxication in utero. Sciencedirect.com confirms this when it states, “in utero drug exposure can have a severe impact not only on the development of the fetus, but also on the child during later stages of life. More than 75% of infants exposed to drugs have major medical problems as compared to 27% of unexposed infants. The cost of treating drug-affected infants was twice the cost of non-affected infants. Obstetrical complications including placental insufficiency, miscarriage, intrauterine death, and increased incidence of infectious and sexually-transmitted diseases are higher in the drug-abusing mother.”
Is it getting better? Not according to TIME Magazine which says, “The number of babies experiencing drug-related symptoms after birth has risen by 45% since 1995, according to data compiled by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.”
For older children who live in a house with a parent abusing drugs, their outcomes aren’t much brighter. At http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64258/ it says, “These data show that a parent’s alcohol problem can have cognitive, behavioral, psychosocial, and emotional consequences for children. Among the lifelong problems documented are impaired learning capacity; a propensity to develop a substance use disorder; adjustment problems, including increased rates of divorce, violence, and the need for control in relationships; and other mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and low self‐esteem.”
These are the laws that govern when drug abuse is child abuse in the state of Illinois, as listed on https://childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/drugexposed.pdf#page=2&view=Children Exposed to Illegal Drug Activity-
Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. Ch. 705, § 405/2-3(1)(c) (LexisNexis through 2012 Reg. Sess.) Those who are neglected include any newborn infant whose blood, urine, or meconium contains any amount of a controlled substance as defined in § 102(f) of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, or a metabolite of a controlled substance, with the exception of controlled substances or metabolites of such substances, the presence of which in the newborn infant is the result of medical treatment administered to the mother or the newborn infant.
Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. Ch. 325, § 5/3 (LexisNexis through 2012 Reg. Sess.) ‘Abused child’ means a child whose parent or immediate family member, or any person responsible for the child’s welfare, or any individual residing in the same home as the child, or a paramour of the child’s parent causes to be sold, transferred, distributed, or given to such child under age 18 a controlled substance, as defined by law, or in violation of the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act, except for controlled substances that are prescribed in accordance with the Illinois Controlled Substances Act and are dispensed to such child in a manner that substantially complies with the prescription. ‘Neglected child’ means any child who is not receiving the proper or necessary nourishment or medically indicated treatment, including food or care not provided solely on the basis of the present or anticipated mental or physical impairment as determined by a physician acting alone or in consultation with other physicians, or otherwise is not receiving the proper or necessary support or medical or other remedial care recognized under State law as necessary for a child’s well-being, or other care necessary for his or her well-being, including adequate food, clothing, and shelter; or who is abandoned by his or her parents or other person responsible for the child’s welfare without a proper plan of care; or who is a newborn infant whose blood, urine, or meconium contains any amount of a controlled substance as defined in the Illinois Controlled Substances Act or a metabolite thereof.
Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. Ch. 325, § 5/7.3b (LexisNexis through 2012 Reg. Sess.) All persons required to report may refer to the Department of Human Services any pregnant person in this State who is addicted as defined in the Alcoholism and Other Drug Abuse and Dependency Act. The Department of Human Services shall notify the local Infant Mortality Reduction Network service provider or department-funded prenatal care provider in the area in which the person resides. The service provider shall prepare a case management plan and assist the pregnant woman in obtaining counseling and treatment from a local substance abuse service provider licensed by the Department of Human Services or a licensed hospital that provides substance abuse treatment services. The local Infant Mortality Reduction Network service provider and department-funded prenatal care provider shall monitor the pregnant woman through the service program.
Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann., Ch. 720, § 646/50 (LexisNexis through 2012 Reg. Sess.) Methamphetamine-related child endangerment: • It is unlawful to engage in methamphetamine-related child endangerment. A person engages in methamphetamine-related child endangerment when the person knowingly endangers the life and health of a child by exposing or allowing exposure of the child to a methamphetamine-manufacturing environment. • A person who violates this paragraph is guilty of a Class 2 felony. Aggravated methamphetamine-related child endangerment: • It is unlawful to engage in aggravated methamphetamine-related child endangerment. A person engages in aggravated methamphetamine-related child endangerment when the person [commits methamphetamine-related child endangerment] and the child experiences death, great bodily harm, disability, or disfigurement as a result of the methamphetamine-related child endangerment. • A person who violates this paragraph is guilty of a Class X felony, subject to a term of imprisonment of not less than 6 years and not more than 30 years, and subject to a fine not to exceed $100,000.