Older adults are not immune to the opioid epidemic – not by a long shot. Many find themselves raising grandchildren or caring for adult children in addiction. Others are victimized for their assets and medications. Still others are themselves addicted to increasingly powerful narcotics used for pain management.
North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM), which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, recently hosted a workshop in Thomasville to educate senior adult church leaders about the epidemic and the many ways that seniors can be affected. The workshop was presented by Matty Ponce-de-Leon, pastor of Arlington First Baptist Church in Jonesville.
Ponce-de-Leon began his presentation by showing a family portrait of him and his wife Alexis with their three children – “the family I almost threw away.” He then shared about his early exposure to drugs before coming to Christ while a resident of Your Father’s House Halfway House in 2006. Ponce-de-Leon now serves on the board of directors for Your Father’s House Ministry.
Ponce-de-Leon shared alarming statistics for North Carolina. Our state ranks on the edge of the highest per capita prescribing areas in the country. Nationwide in 2017, there were 58.7 opioid prescriptions written per 100 people. In North Carolina, 72 opioid prescriptions were written for every 100 individuals.
Just one of the many ways the epidemic affects older adults is that many seniors are raising their grandchildren for parents who are in treatment, in addiction, in jail, or in their graves from an overdose. In 2018, 7.8 percent of all of North Carolina’s children were living with their grandparents who, in many cases, are jeopardizing their financial security in order to keep grandchildren out of foster care. Among grandparents’ many sacrifices is the loss of simply “being a grandparent” as they assume the authoritarian role of a parent. Many grandparents have the additional challenge of raising grandchildren born with conditions such as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).
NAS is associated with poor and deteriorating school performance and is caused when a baby withdraws from certain drugs exposed to in the womb.
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Source: Biblical Recorder