Mar 6, 2016 10:06 AM

Lawmakers consider changes to state law to help children of opioid-addicted parents

CONCORD - State lawmakers are considering legislation to better respond to the growing problem of children with opioid-addicted parents.

According to The Telegraph of Nashua, the bill was requested by the state Department of Health and Human Services and would expand the definition of "neglect" to include parental use of non-prescription opioids or evidence of opioid dependence.

"The purpose of this bill is first to protect the child, but also to intervene with families that demonstrate a substance abuse or misuse concern," said DHHS associate commissioner Mary Ann Cooney.

Among other things, it would authorize court-ordered drug testing in abuse and neglect cases and allow the state to put pressure on parents to get treatment.

The bill remains relatively narrow, addressing only opioids and not other substances like alcohol or marijuana. Advocates say it allows for the state to intervene on behalf of children before serious abuse or neglect may occur.

The bill, sponsored by four Democrats and five Republicans, is slated to go before the full Senate on March 10.

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