Tag Archives: addiction

Keeping siblings together

Guest post by Neighbor to Family’s Director of Donor Relations, Karen Chrapek. Neighbor To Family is a national child welfare agency that provides sibling foster care and prevention programs for abused and neglected children. Florida offices are located in Daytona Beach and Jacksonville. 

In 2010, four adorable siblings aged 5, 7, 9 and 10 and their mom addicted to prescription drugs came to Neighbor To Family’s FIRST program to keep the children out of foster care. Despite the intense in-house services delivered to help the family, the mom’s battle against her drug abuse was not immediately won. We felt it was unsafe for the children to remain in her custody and so they were placed into a Neighbor To Family foster home. We succeeded in keeping the siblings together when they entered foster care. This placement minimized the trauma that the siblings felt from being separated from their mother.

Mom then entered Haven Recovery and successfully completed a six-month residential program for addiction treatment.  Now clean from drugs, the mom received housing assistance from Haven Recovery and was able to have her own home. Neighbor To Family’s foster caregiver continued to mentor the mom. She was even chosen as the speaker for our Siblings of the Year event in 2011 as an example of our program’s success.

The children have been reunited with their mom and have been living with her for the past four months. She continues to utilize all the Neighbor To Family services including the help of staff, her case manager, family advocate and other supports.  Neighbor To Family continues to strengthen this mom’s parenting skills and supports so that the children can be reunified permanently in the next two months.

If you are already involved in Neighbor To Family in some capacity, WE THANK YOU! We really are healing families – one sibling group at a time. If you are interested in supporting our agency, please callKaren Chrapekat 386-523-1440.

Site Visit: Salvation Army Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Program

DCF Secretary David Wilkins talks about his recent visit to the Salvation Army Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Program in Panama City

DCF Secretary David WilkinsThey told me about a woman who thought she was “going crazy.” Her husband would move furniture around in their house while she was out volunteering. When she returned and asked about the new arrangement, he would tell her the furniture had always been like that. It was a control tactic. Her husband was never physical, but the name-calling and mind games were getting worse. They had been married for 46 years.

The woman came to the Salvation Army Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Program not because she thought she was the victim of domestic abuse, but because she was worried she was actually losing her grip on reality. Her counselors at the program said that during therapy it was like a light bulb lit up and the blinders came off. She realized she had lost her identity; she didn’t have a sense of who she was anymore. What her husband was doing was wrong and she didn’t have to take it. She eventually left the marriage and moved in with her son.

The Safe House at the Salvation Army Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Program

I heard many stories about victims and survivors when I visited the program’s Safe House recently. The statistics they told me were eye-opening. In 2008, they helped 850 women a year. Now they serve 1,200. In 2008, 60 kids were in the Safe House at some point. In the past year, more than 110 have stayed there.

I also heard about a woman who was into heavy drinking with her husband. He became abusive. A series of events left them addicted to drugs and without a home – literally eating out of trash cans. He was still beating her. She was in and out of domestic violence shelters for awhile, but eventually her husband beat her very badly and ended up doing time in jail. This time she came to the program and started rehab at Bethel Village. She also comes to the program’s counseling services. She is clean, sober, employed and safe.

Domestic violence comes in all shapes and sizes. It does not discriminate based on race, gender, location or household income.  I heard of another woman who was living in an upper class neighborhood in the area. She was married to a wealthy doctor who also beat her. She wanted to leave, but he had put all of the family’s debt in her name. If she had left on her own she would have been drowning in debt with no means to support herself. The program helped give her resources like free food, shelter and counseling so she could get out.

I was pleased to see the great work going on at the program and am inspired by these survivors. DCF and the program work closely together to ensure batterers are held accountable for their behavior. Batterers’ actions place their partners, children, family and friends in danger.

If you or a loved one may be a victim of domestic violence, please call the Hotline immediately: 1-800-500-1119. You are not alone and we are here to help you.


We must protect Florida’s newborn babies from drug addiction

Guest post by William Liu, M.D., corporate medical director of Pediatrix Medical Group of Florida, Inc. and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit medical director of The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida

From 2005 to 2010, Lee County hospitals have seen a 700 percent increase in the number of babies born with a drug addiction.  Statewide, based upon data from the Agency for Health Care Administration, this problem has increased by about 430 percent in the same time period.

When a baby is born addicted to drugs, the child goes through withdrawal similar to how an adult going through rehabilitation would. Withdrawal in babies can include uncontrollable crying, inability to sleep or eat normally, throwing up, diarrhea, sweating, breathing problems, and in severe cases, seizures. This should not be the way for a human being to enter the world. Watching a newborn go through withdrawal is absolutely heartbreaking.

However, once a woman who is dependent on narcotics becomes pregnant they should not try to stop taking the medication, whether prescribed legally or taken illegally. If the mother tries to go through withdrawal while pregnant, the baby in the womb is at risk for active withdrawal, leading to poor development, early delivery or even death.  Instead, a controlled treatment program is suggested, with methadone presently considered the most effective drug for pregnant mothers who are addicted to pain killers.  To avoid this complication, it is extremely important that women are drug-free or have a pregnancy plan BEFORE they get pregnant.

Prescription drugs are a growing concern and it appears that the increase in babies born addicted to drugs is directly related to an increase in prescription drug abuse.

Today, unlike the cocaine epidemic of the 1970s and 80s, pain killers are legal and legitimately prescribed for pain relief.  While there are mothers with a history of addiction and doctor shopping, there are also mothers who claim surprise, shock and dismay, unaware and uninformed of the potential consequences of their treatments, having acquired their prescriptions legally and under the trusting care of a doctor.

The great majority of physicians are dedicated to the betterment of their patients, doing their best to balance many factors to achieve the best possible outcomes.  However, the art of medicine utilizes a complex decision tree, weighing risk and benefit on many levels.

State and national awareness is indeed increasing, but the problem still exists – and is growing. I urge women of child-bearing age who are currently on prescription pain medication, illegally or legally, to talk to their doctor about a pregnancy plan, just in case. No baby should have to experience the pain of drug addiction or withdrawal, especially during their first days of life. 


For information about substance abuse and mental health facilities in your area, visit our online searchable directory.