Deadly drugs laced with fentanyl are covering the Midstate. So what’s being done to protect the youngest victims who are sometimes silent and overlooked?
A Nashville man says addictions can impact generations.
At 20-years-old, Orlando Andrews realized he was struggling with an addiction. At 25, he could feel alcohol taking over, with street drugs coming into the picture around 29.
“I was using and I was going to work every day,” Andrews said. “I was carrying a job running a call center. I was doing things that a lot of people don’t equate with being able to do while you’re a high-functioning addict.”
Orlando’s first time seeing alcohol abuse was inside his family home. Childhood photos sometimes followed by painful memories of facing his father’s alcohol codependency.
“I want people to know that children are dealing with different levels of disfunction when it comes to drugs and alcohol,” Andrews said.
It’s a statement Lawyer and Child Welfare Law Specialist Stacy Odeneal can testify to.
“I represent, on average, one child a week under the age of five that tests positive for methamphetamine,” Odeneal said. “There was a case I had probably 18 months ago where an 8-year-old tested positive for methamphetamine, cocaine, a heroin substance, and marijuana.”
Which is why Odeneal supports a recent expansion of Tennessee’s laws to protect drug endangered children. As of July 1, there are greater penalties against parents who knowingly expose children to controlled substances and other dangerous drugs—including fentanyl, a synthetic opioid similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more powerful.
“I think it’s necessary that that expansion occur because we’re seeing a lot of tainted drugs come in,” Odeneal said. “It will also trigger some interventions that can help parents become safe and appropriate parents for their children.”
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