The Cost of the Opioid Crisis on West Virginia Grandparents
The national opioid epidemic has taken a harsh and unexpected toll on older adults with grown children — especially in West Virginia, where the overdose rate is higher than it is in any other state. When these grown children can no longer parent effectively because of their addiction to heroin, painkillers or other opiates, many West Virginia grandparents have stepped up to care for their grandchildren to keep them out of the foster care system or from being neglected by their parents.
When grandparents become the primary caregivers of their grandchildren, they are faced with challenges that did not exist when they raised their own kids, from financial hardship and lack of living space to legal battles with parents. Grandparents may have to upend their lives and retirement plans in order to provide their grandchildren with full-time care and basic needs as well as the many added costs that come providing for school-age children. Many older adults who are already retired may find themselves struggling to stretch their Social Security income, life savings or pension plans to make ends meet even before taking on the care of their grandkids. Because addiction can take many years to beat, parents may be unable to take over the care of their kids before those children come of age, further draining the grandparents’ resources.
A number of West Virginia grandparents have found solace and understanding in support groups of people facing similar struggles. In these groups, members share advice, stories and insight into topics such as seeking public or private financial assistance, petitioning for legal guardianship, informing prescribing physicians about their children’s addiction, finding treatment facilities, and helping children to navigate West Virginia’s drug court program. Having professional legal support in addition to reliable emotional support can provide much-needed help.
At Calwell Luce diTrapano PLLC in Charleston, West Virginia, we have seen the pain that opioid addiction has brought upon so many members of our community. We are sensitive to the issues that grandparents face and can offer compassionate and reliable legal counsel. Furthermore, if a negligent doctor or pharmaceutical company is involved in facilitating an addiction, we can seek to hold them accountable through legal action. If you need legal assistance from an informed attorney, we urge you to call us at 304.400.6558 or contact us online.