Foster care rates are more than doubling in parts of Oregon where drug addiction persists. 

The rates of children entering the foster care system in Douglas County and the rest of southern Oregon are skyrocketing, despite similar rates plummeting across the state. The above charts represent the total number of children in care every quarter since 2006. Every year, a new group of children enter the system, adding to the number of children who are still in foster care.

The number of children who have entered the child welfare system in Douglas County alone has increased from 41 children in 2013 to 204 children so far this year. That’s a 398 percent increase in less than five years. For Lisa Hubbard, the clinical director at Adapt, parental drug addiction "has everything to do with it."

The Interstate 5 freeway serves as the main artery for drug traffickers and dealers who have connections to methamphetamine and opioid supplies in Mexico. Oregon counties located along the freeway, from the southwest to northwest regions, are designated high-intensity drug trafficking areas by law enforcement agencies.

Methamphetamine has been a problem in Oregon for several years and continues to increase in use. The opioid epidemic is just now reaching the same levels as methamphetamine, but it poses greater risks. For one, opioid addiction is harder to kick; the withdrawal symptoms are more physical and can be life-threatening. Overdosing on opioids can also be more deadly. About three Oregonians die every week from prescription opioid overdose, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

Heavily forested southern Oregon counties are made up of small rural towns. There are several nonprofits and medical agencies providing drug treatment services, but most of them are concentrated in larger cities like Roseburg and Medford. People fighting drug addiction in smaller satellite towns need a car to get help. Nonprofit workers say transportation is a significant barrier for rural residents fighting drug addiction.

As a result, southern Oregon — including Jackson, Josephine and Douglas counties — has the highest rate of drug arrests related to methamphetamine and opioid possession.

Opioid addicts have to keep using to prevent themselves from getting physically sick or possibly dying. When getting high becomes a necessity, other parts of their lives — their jobs, their homes, their children — fall by the wayside.

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Reporter April Ehrlich can be reached on Twitter @AprilEhrlich or by email at

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I read these comments because i feel like those who have an opinion and need to share them must also know a little bit about the topic they are commenting on. I disagree that parents with addiction issues put their drug use above their children. There is a whole medical side to addiction that has absolutely zero to do with how much love a parent has for their child. The truth is that once a person becomes an addict, (and it doesn't have to be drugs, it could be sugar, shopping, gambling, etc.), their ability to consciously choose to make healthy choices is damaged and not functioning normal. Addiction has nothing to do with love. The short film, " Pleasure Unwoven" explains the disease concept of addiction and how the disease impacts the brain very well. Maybe viewing this film would educate those who obviously do not understand how these parents struggle every moment while in their active addiction. These children deserve to have their parents and family members in their lives. Taking these kids away permanently and adopting them out is only best when a parent refuses to seek treatment for their disease. What best serves the entire community is helping addicts get treatment and teaching addicts how to live a life of recovery. Most importantly I believe that families need to be preserved not torn apart.


It would nice to see the children of drug addicts get a nice and permanent home thru adoption. I believe the parents forfeit all rights to their children when they put drug use above them (the children). Don't understand why people don't use birth control. That is unless they are getting pregnant on purpose. And that brings up a whole other subject - welfare based on the number of kids you have.

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