My friend Katie has been writing frequently about the scourge of addiction to prescription drugs since her son died of an overdose and beating in May. And now John and I have been witnessing this almost every day in our work.
Our practice is mostly appointed work–a conscious choice for several reasons, but that’s for another post. We do a lot of work for parents who have been charged in dependence and neglect cases, and John also acts as Guardian ad Litem for the children in such cases. Before you say, “Oh, how can you defend people who abuse their kids?” let me tell you that it’s not like what you imagine. Almost every parent we represent has one major problem which leads to the removal of their children–they are addicted to pain medication. These are people who love their children, who have never purposely hurt their children, who want to get their children back–which the system makes very difficult indeed. Perhaps all the money spent on foster care and attorneys and DCS workers in these cases would be better spent on treating the problem and helping maintain the families instead of tearing them apart? I don’t know, but I wonder.
Yesterday we got word that one of our clients, the father of four, died of an overdose. His children had been taken away from him for the second time because of drugs. I spoke with this man on the phone more than once. He loved his kids and was trying to do what he needed to do to get them back. Now he is gone.
One of the many dangers of these drugs is that they are so accessible. If you’ve had surgery recently chances are you have a few in your cabinet right now. My cat broke his leg this week, and the vet warned me to keep his painkillers in a safe place if anyone ever comes in my house who might have a prescription addiction problem. Can you imagine being so desperate that you would try to get high on cat medicine? I can’t, but growing numbers of people can–and it’s a problem that is not going away on its own.