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Exploding drug abuse threatens Latvian orphans

By June 5, 2012

Latvia (MNN) — Drug abuse in Latvia has risen 600% since the fall of communism, according to Teen Challenge workers there. The problem only seems to be getting worse.

New Europe Online reported frightening findings from the new European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). The study surveyed several European countries, finding that fifteen of them have significantly higher abuse of inhalants than at the time of the last survey in 2007. The two nations with the largest rises in inhalant use are Croatia and Latvia.

Tiffany Taylor with Orphan Outreach says the epidemic of drug abuse in Latvia is a threat to all students, but one group is particularly at risk: orphan graduates.

"Orphans are so fragile. When they graduate, they have very little life skills, very little money, and they really just want to escape. Drugs are an easy, inexpensive way for them to escape the everyday harshness of their life," says Taylor.

Orphan Outreach partners with the Jelgava orphanage and the Day Center Program in Latvia. Taylor says in search of escape, many of the older kids have been using a sort of drug that causes hallucinations and is very addictive.

The staff and caregivers are working hard to help prevent and treat the problem, but it has been overwhelming for them.

Taylor notes, "The most important thing for our staff and caregivers is to work really hard with these kids to let them know that they have a heavenly Father, that their life is in their hands, and to help them turn away from the desire for the drugs."

This work requires much prayer. Pray for wisdom for the staff, and pray for orphan graduates to cling to Christ. Pray also that Orphan Outreach will find a Christian social worker to begin ministering to the kids and getting to know each one personally.

Your help is also coveted. You can get involved through prayer, child sponsorship, and even short term missions to Latvia.

"So many people are wanting to help orphans, and they think about orphans like sweet Little Orphan Annie and young children. But the orphans that really need our help are those older, tough kids that are facing life on the street, without a family's support, with little life skills."

To learn more about partnering with Orphan Outreach in Latvia, click here.

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