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C33. The Opioid Crisis and the Effect on Children and Families

C33. The Opioid Crisis and the Effect on Children and Families

Learner category:

  • Intermediate Level

Learning objectives:

  • Participants will be able to describe the effects of the opioid crisis on children and families
  • Participants will be able to explore the role that nurses have to care for families affected by opioid use disorders


The US is in the midst of a sweeping opioid epidemic that affects members of the entire family across the continuum. One in four children has parents with an opioid use disorder. Eight million children in the U.S. live in households with at least one parent with a substance use disorder. The majority of these children were under the age of 5. The incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome has tripled. There has been a 10 % increase in foster care placements since 2012 due to removals from home. More than 26% of grandparents were responsible for grandchildren in 2015. Typically, adults are assessed, treated, and counseled. Children and families are not usually seen as a multi-faceted unit. Children growing up in homes with a parent with opioid use disorders are at an increased risk for a multitude of psychosocial complications. It is important to include all members of the family embracing the child’s voice and perspective in assessing family needs and services. Because opioid use impacts the entire family, nurses must be able to recognize signs of opioid misuse and become familiar with risk assessment and warning signs of opioid use disorders (OUD) in all family members. Diagnosis, treatment, and recovery should have a parent-child component, inclusive of services for children to help prevent mental health complications and future OUD.


Suzan Blacher
Phd, MSN, RN, CARN Drexel University

Dr. Blacher is an Assistant Professor in the RN-BSN program at Drexel University. She is a certified addictions nurse. Her clinical experience includes medical detoxification and tobacco cessation services for adults and outpatient adolescents. Suzan received her PhD from Barry University, her MSN from Drexel University, and her BSN from Barry University. She has been a member of IntNSA for over 15 years and has served on the boards of IntNSA and the Addiction Nursing Certification Board (ANCB). She is a past president of ANCB. Suzan is also a member of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International, and the American Nurses Association. Her areas of interest are the education of nurses toward substance use disorders and stigmatization of persons with the disease of addiction. Dr. Blacher has presented at many national and international conferences.

Comments (5)


    Suzan thank you for your presentation !! It was great !! Stay Well

  2. Dennis Hagarty

    Thank you Suzan. Hope you are doing well. This is a timely topic for the entire healthcare system. The children are so vulnerable. The statistics are overwhelming relating to this population. Good presentation.

  3. Rosemary Smentkowski

    Great way to start the conversation!
    Desperate need to continue and build on this topic, many futures depend on it!

  4. Virginia Coletti

    very timely and a very important message to get out to the community for continued work.

  5. Rachel Shuster, BSN, RN, CARN, CAAP

    Thank you for your presentation!

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