(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
In late 2016 we talked about a story that had flooded every social media outlet with angry comments and distraught families of addicts. An image had surfaced from East Liverpool, Ohio that showed a horrifying depiction of two parents overdosed in the front seat of a vehicle pulled over on the side of the road, with a child sitting strapped into a car seat in the back. People berated the parents, while demanding the child be taken from them. Others argued that the photo was insensitive to the suffering and helplessness of addiction. The event was used by news outlets everywhere as a focal point for the bigger conversation about the devastation of the opioid epidemic in America.
So while in this case there is no photo to be shared and ranted about, the story of one quick-thinking 5-year-old boy is still a startling dose of reality.
Kids in the Crossfire
This time the child in the story ending up being the only reason his parents are still alive. According to the reports in relation to the story, the young boy rescued his mom and dad who had overdosed on heroin. Around 5 a.m. on Thursday morning the child knocked on the door to his step-grandfather’s house in Middletown, Ohio. He had walked two blocks, barefoot. Initial reports state the little boy told the relative that his parents were dead.
The young child’s step-grandfather Kenneth Currey told reporters,
“When I walked up the steps and seen him laying in the bathroom floor and her in the hallway, I immediately called 911 because I knew what was up,”
While the step-grandfather was describing the incident to the 911 dispatchers, he tried to comfort the young boy. But it was not just the one child either. There was also the boy’s 3-month-old infant sister, who was still strapped into her car seat in the car outside. Likely, the little boy saved his little sister from a great deal of risk as well.
The station reported that when cops arrived, they found the parents lying unconscious on the floor. The young man, Lee Johnson, was given Narcan. Soon after the overdose antidote was administered, Johnson admitted to using heroin, according to the report. He was placed in cuffs and put into the back of a police cruiser.
The station stated that the mother, Chelsie Marshall, had to be rushed to a nearby hospital to be revived. She did not come back as easily. It took a total of 14 Narcan doses to revive Marshall.
Both parents are facing charges, including:
- 2 counts of endangering children (each)
- 1 count of disorderly conduct with heroin (each)
The children were brought to the Middletown Police Department. There the heroic young boy who saved not only his parents, but his little sister and himself, received a badge for his bravery. The two children have since been taken to live with other family members.
The step-grandfather Kenneth Currey said,
“I’m very proud of the boy, very proud of him, but it’s just, tragedy,”
The Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw knows very well that this situation could have indeed brought a much different result, and issued a wake-up call to the community.
“Parents, wake up,”
“People that are doing this, you’re not just hurting you, you’re hurting your families and your kids. I mean, this could’ve turned out really bad for two children that don’t deserve it.”
He isn’t wrong.
At the same time, we should also use instances like this as an opportunity to show how important it is that people get the treatment they need, and that families support one another in getting that help before it is too late. We should give those still using the hard truth, but at the same time we should show support and compassion, while encouraging family members to protect each other and try to help those who struggle.
Addiction is killing our families every day. We would like to offer you the FREE GIFT of a checklist to help decipher if you are helping or hurting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.
Click for FREE GIFT
What the step-grandfather said is absolutely true, this is indeed a tragedy. Parents of all ages die every day from drug overdose. Every day children are suffering along with their mothers and fathers in the grips of addiction, and every day some little kids lose their parents due to addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Probably one of the most disturbing articles I have written about my home state of Ohio is one I can’t ignore. Since the photo of the two parents overdose in a car with a child in the back seat first broke it has been covered by pretty much every national news entity. The images have flooded Facebook feeds and internet forums all day. The story has been emailed to me, messaged to me, even texted to me over and over again since the news was first published. Honestly, this image says a lot about what is really going on.
I’ve heard some people insisting the media is on some mission to shock us with these photos and the headlines it’s attached to, but this is the reality! People need to wake up! This is happening in every town, not just the City of East Liverpool, Ohio. This very same situation is reoccurring in rural counties and downtown areas across the nation. Something needs to change, and like I keep saying- we need to change it.
The difference here is that police officers decided to make a statement with the severity of this graphic picture; to tell the story that is happening to families everywhere with one heartbreaking and gut-wrenching hit to the soft spot of our society.
This is what we are doing to our children.
Not a Pretty Picture
The City of East Liverpool, Ohio took to Facebook to share two graphic photos taken by a police officer at the scene of a stop. The post on social media does note that making the photos public was a combined decision by the city administration, law director, and the police department.
In the image we can clearly see a couple that authorities described as overdosing on drugs in the front seat of a car. The mother’s body is hunched and folded over the center console in the front seat of the vehicle. Her face seems shrunken in and dead. The husband is buckled into the front seat, and has nodded out.
The photo is almost abstract. Like two images that obviously don’t belong have been pasted together. The parents in the front seat look as if any sign of color has been drained out of them- it is all so depressing it feels faded and lifeless… then right behind them, in a blue and green t-shirt with cartoon dinosaurs, sitting in what appears to be a car seat, is a 4 year old child. It is an unreal reality… a tragic and despairing truth.
The post that accompanied the pictures powerfully states:
“We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug. We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess. This child can’t speak for himself but we are hopeful his story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody.”
So far this post is being both praised and criticized. At one point it had been shared on Facebook more than 12,000 times, and that was a few hours ago. By now that number has undoubtedly skyrocketed.
The Police Report
The police report detailing this story is also posted on Facebook. In the report East Liverpool police officer Kevin Thompson reviewed that on September 7 he was responding to a report of a Ford Explorer with a West Virginia license plate “driving very erratic weaving back and forth” before an abrupt stop in the middle of the road behind a school bus in the process of letting children off. Inside the vehicle the officer found two adults:
The driver, identified as James Acord, was speaking unintelligibly. Acord’s head was bobbing up and down, and eventually became unconscious during the stop. But before passing out Acord told the officer he was taking his front seat passenger to the hospital. The officer had to remove the keys from the vehicle as Acord made a last attempt to drive away.
The passenger, identified as Rhonda Pasek, was completely unconscious and “turning blue” according to Thompson.
Inside the car, police found a “yellow folded up piece of paper” between Pasek’s legs. Inside the paper officers discovered a “small amount of a pink powdery substance.”
Then there is the piece of this picture that has the country in an uproar- the little boy in the backseat. The child is now identified as Pasek’s son.
Thompson called for an ambulance and the emergency personnel. Once emergency services arrived they were able to administer the opiate overdose antidote, Narcan to both adults. After regaining consciousness Acord and Pasek were transported to East Liverpool Hospital.
Acord was eventually charged with
He plead no contest and was sentenced to 180 days in jail for two of those charges, but the stopping in a roadway charge was dropped. He will also have a 3 year suspension on his license and a $475 fine.
Pasek was charged with:
- Endangering children
- Public intoxication
- Not wearing a seatbelt
She plead not guilty and is held on $150,000 bond until her next court date, which is next Thursday.
At this time the 4 year old child is with Columbiana County Children’s Services.
This picture is not pretty to look at. It brings an ache to my chest and a sting to my eyes. I could cry for this child, and for his family. For the millions of people out there today with family who are doing the same thing to themselves and their children. The driver could have killed them all in a freak accident. Now… imagine the horror if he would have nodded out at the wheel and struck that school bus as it let kids off! How many more children could have been hurt?
What We Need to See
Some are outraged at the lack of privacy for the family. Many have insisted it is wrong to punish the two adults AND the child with a life haunted by this photo. I get it, and I’m an advocate for compassion instead of stigma and exploitation. It is truly troubling to know how harshly people will be judged by the images of them found online. Yet, I think things like this are what we need to see sometimes. It is a fine line to walk, but in the end there is a reality to the image that only something so intimate could convey- this is what we need to see.
What we need to see is how this epidemic is destroying the thing that most of us hold sacred- our families. While many people are upset about the images, I understand the local officials motives. The Facebook post confronts this controversy head-on:
“We are well aware that some may be offended by these images and for that we are truly sorry, but it is time that the non drug using public sees what we are now dealing with on a daily basis. The poison known as heroin has taken a strong grip on many communities not just ours, the difference is we are willing to fight this problem until it’s gone and if that means we offend a few people along the way we are prepared to deal with that,”
We the addicts need to see this the dark and brutal truth. The sad and comatose body of an addicted mother dying only a few inches away from her child who is barely old enough to walk and talk on his own! We all need to see the truth of this disease. It is killing us, and it is putting everyone around us at risk- especially the ones we love most. We need to see the children and the communities we are hurting. This is the face of addiction as we often refuse to acknowledge it.
Addiction is killing our families every day. But there is help. Real recovery begins with a real foundation for a better future. We would like to offer you the FREE GIFT of a checklist to help decipher if you are helping or hurting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.
Click for FREE GIFT
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
For a long time there was the notion of ‘crack babies’ that started back in the 90’s. The term included infants born addicted to crack-cocaine with major birth defects and disabilities due to their parents being addicts. While that whole claim has been scientifically disputed, the number of babies that health officials have described as being born hooked on prescription painkillers, commonly referred to as neonatal abstinence syndrome, have reportedly rose to a record high at Lee County hospitals of Florida in 2014.
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
Babies exposed to opiate painkiller drugs in the womb can suffer painful withdrawals that frequently must be treated with morphine and the sedative phenobarbital. Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) could apply to any kind of narcotic drug exposure in the womb.
Common symptoms of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) include:
- Uncontrolled twitching
- Excessive and particularly high-pitched crying
- Problems feeding
- An inability to sleep
The long-term effects of NAS are not clearly understood at this time. Babies diagnosed with NAS are more likely to suffer serious medical complications, including early births and low birth weights, and often have to spend a month longer in the hospital to receive adequate care.
The Growing Concern
For a while there were hopes in Southwest Florida that the frequency of NAS would have finally stabilized, as they had statewide. Instead instances have jumped nearly 24% between 2013 and 2014, and a whopping 1,325% since 2005. That makes 114 babies, according to Lee Memorial Health System, born drug dependent.
- 2012 nearly 12 of every 1,000 babies born in Lee Memorial Health System hospitals showed signs of NAS
- 2014 was nearly 18 per 1,000- more than twice the state average
Dr. William Liu, who is the medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, stated:
“We knew it wasn’t getting less. But the numbers show us, quantitatively, that we’re actually seeing more.”
It was estimated that around half of the women delivering these babies had been using methadone, which is considered the safest option for pregnant women addicted to painkillers as part of a drug treatment program since quitting cold turkey actually increases the chance of miscarriage for a recovering addict mother.
Prescription medications such as oxycodone have gotten harder to find on the streets since crack downs on pill-mills and prescription drug restrictions, Southwest Florida addicts, much like addicts all over the country, have turned to illicit drugs such as heroin or the morphine-derivative known as Dilaudid.
According to Florida state records, neighboring counties such as Collier and Charlotte are far lower with NAS rates, and Dr. Liu said he’s unsure why Lee County is seeing more cases than other parts of Florida.
History of NAS
The Golisano Children’s Hospital established its program to identify cases of NAS back in 2002. 8 years later in 2010 an investigation found that NAS cases had risen 800% in the preceding years in Lee alone, and over-all had nearly tripled throughout Florida.
The Attorney General Pam Bondi launched a task force in 2013 to raise public awareness and to encourage hospitals to better screen for such cases. NAS was added to the list of mandatory reportable conditions in June 2014.
Department spokeswoman Natalie Spindle released a written statement Friday that said Florida public health officials are monitoring the problem and are addressing NAS prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also looked at Florida’s problem and noted in a report released in March that NAS cases have actually been increasing statewide for the last two decades. In the CDC study they found:
- Nearly 97% of the new mothers had used some sort of opiate or opiate-mimicking drugs.
- More than 96% were illicit drug users or using methadone as part of their drug treatment
- Their average age was 27
- Mostly non-Hispanic whites
- The infants averaged 26 days in the NICU after they were born
Dr. Jennifer Lind, a CDC epidemiologist and lead author of the report, stated that even though 90% of women had been drug screened at the hospital, only 10% were ever referred to get drug treatment. ONLY 10%! So why is it that people are turning a blind eye or even a deaf ear to this devastating issue?
This goes on to prove the point that more needs to be done as far as raising awareness about the dangers of drug use during pregnancy, and even more effort needs to be put into properly reporting these issues and getting these addicted mothers the treatment they desperately need.
While infants are innocent regarding their addictions, teens and adults should be held accountable for theirs, and addicted parents have to take the opportunity to take action if they want to change their lives, for them and their children. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Mother doesn’t always know best, especially if she is among the growing number of elderly, between the ages of 57 and 85, who is abusing drugs.
Let’s face it, when you think of drug addiction, you don’t think of the elderly but, the fact is, one quarter of prescription drugs sold in the U.S. are used by the elderly, often for problems such as chronic pain, insomnia, and anxiety. And the medications that are typically prescribed for such conditions – narcotic pain killers, sleeping pills and tranquillizers – are common medications of abuse.
Statistics of Elderly Drug Addiction
Approximately 80% of all senior citizens have at least one chronic health condition, and 50% have at least two chronic health conditions. Nine out of every ten senior citizens (between the ages of 57 to 85) use a combination of OTC medication, dietary supplements, and prescription drugs. About three in ten seniors use at least five prescriptions on a daily basis. Between 1997 and 2008, the rate of hospital admissions among the elderly for medication- and illicit drug- related conditions grew by 96% and, for people 85 and older, that number grew by 87%.
Findings show that, as people continue to age, they are more likely to use more prescription drugs as well as over-the-counter (OTC) medications than their younger counterparts. Elderly drug addiction can bring about several harmful and tragic consequences such as drug-induced delirium and dementia and elderly patients should undergo testing to see if their memory loss or mental confusion is due to medication rather than the early onset of Alzheimer’s. Elderly drug abuse can also mimic other problems that are typically common in older adults.
These findings clearly show that there is a relationship between substance abuse and mental illness and further validate the growing need to address the prevention of prescription misuse and abuse among the elderly population.
Why the Elderly
There are physical, psychological and social factors that lead to elderly drug addiction. The elderly may become dependent on drugs that were prescribed to deal with joint pain and arthritis, sleeping problems or injuries from falls. The elderly also tend to lose loved ones at a higher and faster rate and so dealing with grief and sadness, which can increase drug dependence. Another factor: being far from loved ones and family may also increase the risk of elderly drug abuse because they are lonely or bored. Also, keep in mind, addiction can affects anyone so age doesn’t matter. In fact, studies show that 15% of the population has an inclination toward addiction; the elderly have that same inclination.
Signs of Elderly Drug Addiction
The main sign that an elderly person might be addicted to a medication is if they are constantly thinking about it and worrying that they will not be able to function without it. Another common warning sign of elderly drug addiction is when they start taking their medication at different times and at different doses from what was prescribed to them.
Other Signs of Elderly Drug Addiction
- If they used to take 1 or 2 pills a day, and now they are taking 4 or 6 a day
- Their behavior or mood has changed; they are argumentative, withdrawn, and anxious
- They give excuses as to why they need the pills and get defensive when confronted
- They always have an emergency supply in their purse or pocket, just in case
- Have they ever been treated by a physician or hospital for excessive use of pills?
- They change/go to multiple doctors and/or pharmacies;
- They sneak or hide prescription pills
Elderly drug addiction is not something that should be overlooked or underestimated. Most of us when we think of drug abuse don’t usually think of our parents or grandparents but they can suffer too and if that is the case they also can benefit from the help provided by a drug abuse treatment center.
If you or your loved one is in need of treatment for alcohol or drug addiction please give us a call at 800-951-6135.