What is ReClaimWV?
West Virginia’s students are suffering from the fallout of the substance abuse epidemic that is engulfing the state’s adults. The trauma these children are experiencing affects not only their ability to learn but their entire lives.
Violent and erratic behavior—most likely a response to toxic stress—is increasing in frequency, duration, and intensity, especially among younger children.
ReClaimWV is the West Virginia Department of Education’s program to support and collaborate with local education agencies, schools, communities, and families to address the social-emotional, physical, behavioral, and mental health needs of our students.
Rationale: West Virginia’s students are suffering from the fallout of the Opioid Epidemic that is engulfing the state’s adults. The trauma these children are experiencing at home is affecting not only their ability to learn but their entire lives. Violent and erratic behavior — most likely a response to toxic stress — is increasing in frequency, duration, and intensity, especially among younger children. In today’s classrooms, teachers and administrators are having to address students’ most basic physical, social-emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs before they can provide classroom instruction, putting additional burdens on educators and staff already stretched to capacity.
- 57.8 people per 100,000 died from drug-related overdose deaths in West Virginia (WV) in 2017, the highest rate in the United States.
- 6,938 children in West Virginia were placed in foster care as of March 2019. Parental substance abuse was a factor in 82% of those placements.
- 33 out of every 1,000 infants were born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in 2013; many of these children entered kindergarten in the fall of 2018; 50.6 out of every 1,000 infants were born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in 2017.
- The Opioid Epidemic costs the state’s economy $8.8 billion a year (12 percent of GPD)- the largest share of GPD among states– for health care and substance abuse treatment, criminal justice costs, lost work productivity, and burden of fatal overdoses.
- More than 40,000* children live with grandparents or other relatives.
- 10.6% of all children under age 18
- 34,806 of these children live with grandparents
- 21.5% of those grandparents live in poverty
- West Virginia ranked 14th in the nation for suicide rates at 18.4 per 100,000 people compared to the national average of 13.8.
- The second leading cause of death among individuals ages 15-34 in WV is suicide.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health in childhood means reaching developmental and emotional milestones and learning healthy social skills and how to cope when there are problems. Mentally healthy children have a positive quality of life and can function well at home, in school, and in their communities. Mental disorders among children are described as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, which cause distress and problems getting through the day.
What is Trauma?
Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or threatening and that can have lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and physical, social, emotional well-being.
What is the difference between substance use disorder (SUD) and addiction?
According to the fifth edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)—a diagnostic manual for clinicians that contains descriptions and symptoms of all mental disorders classified by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), there are three sub-classifications of SUD: mild, moderate, and severe.
Addiction refers to substance use disorders (SUD) at the severe end of the spectrum and is characterized by a person’s inability to control the impulse to use drugs even when there are negative consequences. These behavioral changes are also accompanied by changes in brain function, especially in the brain’s natural inhibition and reward centers.
Individuals start using drugs for various reasons, which can lead to addiction and permanent changes to the brain related to judgment, decision-making, learning, memory, and behavior control.
Although drug use and addiction can happen at any time during a person’s life, drug use typically starts in adolescence, a period when the first signs of mental illness commonly appear.
Misusing prescription drugs such as opioids, sedatives, tranquilizers, and stimulants, can lead to addiction. If you take a medicine in a way that is different from what the doctor prescribed, it is called prescription drug abuse. Examples include:
- Taking a medicine that was prescribed for someone else
- Taking a larger dose than you are supposed to
- Taking the medicine in a different way than you are supposed to. This might be crushing tablets and then snorting or injecting them.
- Using the medicine for another purpose, such as getting high
Many individuals who develop substance use disorders (SUD) are also diagnosed with mental disorders, and vice versa.
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse
The family remains the primary source of attachment, nurturing, and socialization for humans in our current society. Each family and each family member is uniquely affected by the individual using substances including but not limited to having unmet developmental needs, impaired attachment, economic hardship, legal problems, emotional distress, and sometimes violence being perpetrated against him or her. For children, there is also an increased risk of developing a SUD themselves.