Born addicted: A two-month-old boy needs treatment in a clinic in Charleston, West Virginia.
In West Virginia, thousands of people are addicted to painkillers, including many parents. Even the state cannot adequately look after their children.
Theo’s childhood in West Virginia would have been dreary enough without the odyssey of several foster families. He was addicted to opioids at birth seven years ago. Like hundreds of thousands of residents of the poor Appalachian state in the southeastern United States, a hotbed of the opioid epidemic, Theo’s mother had taken painkillers such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and fentanyl during pregnancy. And although her son suffered from withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, overactive reflexes and sleep problems in the first months of life, the youth welfare office left him with his parents.
It was only after a few years that the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHR) decided to give Theo to foster parents. The children’s aid organization A Better Childhood later counted at least twelve families who took in the boy and usually gave it back after a short time. The seven-year-old now lives in a home outside of West Virginia.