The increase in heroin use has led to a growing number of grandparents raising their grandchildren, according to The New York Times.
The parents of these children are dead, in jail, in rehab, or are otherwise unable to care for their own children.
The last time so many children were at risk because of their parents’ drug addiction was in the 1980s and 1990s, during the crack epidemic, the article notes.
An estimated 2.6 million grandparents were responsible for their grandchildren in 2014, up 8 percent from 2000, according to the census. The number of websites and Facebook pages for grandparents raising grandchildren because of parental drug addiction is growing. These sites, which draw tens of thousands of people, include The Addict’s Mom, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, The Parents of Drug Addicts and Before The Petals Fall.
The heroin epidemic, unlike the crack epidemic, has hit especially hard in white suburban and rural areas. Drug overdose death rates have increased among whites, while leveling off among blacks and Hispanics.
Grandparents take in their grandchildren after going through the exhausting and harrowing experience of dealing with their own children’s drug addiction.
Cindi and Todd Colburn, both 51, took over guardianship of their granddaughter Maleigha four years ago when she was 1, because of their daughter’s heroin addiction. “I am in recovery myself, so I believe that where there’s breath, there’s hope,” Cindi said. “But I also know I am not going to get my daughter clean, that she’s got to do it on her own. And she’s a chronic relapser. It’s more chaotic with her around. For me, it’s like having two children. The stress level is insane ... It’s hard when you realize that it’s your own child who has caused this mess.”