Opioid Crisis

What are Opioids?

According to the National Institute of Health, “opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others. These drugs are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain. Opioid pain relievers are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but because they produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, they can be misused (taken in a different way or in a larger quantity than prescribed, or taken without a doctor’s prescription). Regular use—even as prescribed by a doctor—can lead to dependence and, when misused, opioid pain relievers can lead to overdose incidents and deaths.”Abuse of Prescription (Rx) Drugs Affects Young Adults Most | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

The Impact of the Opioid Crisis on Delaware County’s Children

Children are the silent victims of an opioid crisis that is tearing families apart and helping fuel an 8 percent growth in the nationwide foster system since 2012, reversing earlier progress. In Indiana, substance abuse and other factors are ballooning the foster population by double-digit numbers, putting a significant strain on the court and child welfare systems.

CASA volunteers provide much-needed relief to our overburdened court system while ensuring that a child affected by parental opioid abuse does not have to face the future alone. Our highly trained volunteers often have a caseload of one—one child or group of siblings—which allows them to devote the personal attention necessary to truly understand the circumstances and find the best solution possible for each child.

A recent nationwide survey of CASA programs puts the opioid crisis in perspective: 85 percent of all programs see opioid abuse as affecting the children and families they serve. In Delaware County that number is over 95%. And across programs that collect referral data during the first half of 2017 report that 64 percent of all the children they serve are impacted by parental opioid abuse.

CASA programs are critical in the fight against opioid abuse and provide a significant return-on-investment for Delaware County as we deal with this crisis. However, new volunteers are desperately needed.  Currently we have almost 400 children in Delaware County waiting for a Court Appointed Special Advocate to walk beside them as they wait and hope their parents will overcome their addiction.  If you aren’t able to volunteer, you can support us by donating money or telling others about the need.

Be a voice for a child. They have no voice. This is what attracted me to the CASA program and keeps me engaged with it. There are few things that I have done in my life that have been this rewarding. It is also one the hardest things I’ve done in life. I’ve heard things that I wish I could erase from my memory. I’ve met children facing challenges that seem insurmountable, and some of them have broken my heart.

Other times, there is joy. This is what happens when children move from a life of neglect and/or abuse to a life of safety and security where they can thrive. This is what I call, my “CASA paycheck.”

It has also helped me become a better person. I have become more compassionate toward others. I have learned what my strengths are, as well as my shortcomings. It has helped me to become stronger. However, at the end of the day, my reward is the smiles of those kids and knowing that, in some way, I have helped a child become who God intended. My greatest joy is seeing them smile and knowing they are safe.

–Lynne Cooper

“If you are a person who wants to be the reason that there is now a smile on a child’s face, then this is where you need to be. Being a CASA allows you the opportunity to have a positive impact on the life of a child who needs someone to step up and speak on their behalf. I would not change being a CASA for anything.”
–Steve Cook

“Being a CASA is a very rewarding, extremely important volunteer position!  Home visits may initially feel out of your comfort zone.  Speaking in court may seem intimidating.  Writing reports can be a little daunting at times. But at the end of the day, as a CASA you have made a huge positive difference in the life of a child!”

–Amy M.

Resource Links