On the First Coast, the number of heroin-related deaths has more than doubled in a year. Overdoses in the Jacksonville community are on the rise and more opioid-related cases are hitting our dependency courts.
WJCT coordinated an area-wide forum on the contributing factors in the rise of opioid use and its impact on the Jacksonville community with its panel discussion, “Community Thread: The Opioid Epidemic.” The May 19 episode of First Coast Connect previewed the hard-hitting topic, set to air later that night. Guardian ad Litem’s supervising attorney, Christine Meyer, joined Melissa Ross in the conversation about how the opioid epidemic hurts not just the users, but our area children as well.
The Rise of Opioid Use
Statistically, the 4th Circuit Guardian ad Litem program has seen a rise in opioid-related cases for children in the dependency system. More parents are struggling with opioid abuse and more children are being born addicted to the drug. According to the Duval County Health Department, emergency responders have had to administer the anti-overdose drug Naxolone as much in the first four months of 2016 as they did in all of the previous year. Heroin-related hospital visits are following a similar trend.
For children born with addictions, there exists obvious withdrawal and health complications. Further governmental restrictions for children in the dependency system can create additional issues for the hospitalized infants, such as limited physical contact during those critical first days.
Guardian ad Litem child advocate volunteers fight for the best interests of children in the Duval, Nassau and Clay County court systems. More volunteers are needed to help combat the rising need for a voice for our First Coast children. Click below to hear about what you can do to fight for our children in this opioid epidemic.
Press play to listen to Christine Meyer’s appearance on the May 19 show. (If the audio does not load properly, you can stream the interview directly from the WJCT First Coast Connect page.