Kids become innocent victims of opiate epidemic

For at least the third time since the opiate epidemic began spiraling out of control locally, a Trumbull County baby had to be revived earlier this month after overdosing on opiates.

Every day we hear that opiate addiction is a disease. We hear that many people have developed a dependence on heroin and other opiates stemming from their reliance on legally prescribed pain medication. We hear that often these people have a physiological gene that leads to dependency, and of course, all these things are true.

But none of those things excuse carelessness or stupidity involved when a child — in this case an 8-month-old girl who was too young to even walk — is somehow able to ingest a powerful narcotic.

The most recent case to which I’m referring involved 8-month-old D’Iarra Williams of the Warren Heights Apartments.

Police were called there earlier this month by the baby’s frantic mother who told dispatchers she laid her baby down because she appeared to be tired. But when she checked on her, she was turning blue.

Of course it’s any mother’s worst nightmare, and as anyone would expect, she was crying and hysterical when she called 911.

Even Warren Police Detective Nick Carney, who responded, said he never thought about the possibility that drugs may have played a part in the situation.

Why would he?

More and more, officers are finding themselves in this situation. In fact, just a few days after this whole scene unfolded, Warren experienced a 24-hour period when more than a dozen people overdosed. At least five people died of suspected overdoses in the first seven days of March.

April Caraway, executive director of the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board, said she worries about the first responders and the hospital personnel who find themselves “reviving people day after day. The trauma is causing symptoms of post-traumatic stress in first responders across the state.”.

That’s what happened in the case of the Warren baby.

When this baby was taken to Trumbull Memorial Hospital, health care workers couldn’t determine whether the baby was reacting to an overdose. She was transferred to Akron Children’s Hospital’s main campus, where the baby was placed on a Narcan drip for six hours, a treatment that is unfathomable for such a tiny child.

During all this, it seems only reasonable that the parents could have — should have — told police, ambulance crews, health care workers, anyone that there was at least a possibility that the child had gotten into opiate drugs. They didn’t. To me, that is even more unfathomable.

Sadly, the case is eerily similar to one a year ago in which 21-month-old Danae Davis needed three separate doses of Narcan, and 9-month-old Cayden Perry needed two doses of the opiate antidote to stabilize their conditions after each ate heroin.

Their mother, Carlisa Davis, 19, was convicted of two counts of child endangering and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

So how did it get this bad, especially when help is available?

“There are wait lists at most of the detox centers right now, which means that many people are getting help after being revived with Naloxone,” Caraway said recently. “Even though there may be a wait list, people can still get help by contacting the Coleman Access Center at 330-392-1100 and they will do an assessment and help people find a program.”

That tells me there simply is no excuse for allowing a child to come into harm’s way because of an adult’s addiction.

In each of these cases, adults must be accountable. Innocent victims must be protected, and certainly there is no victim more innocent nor more dependent on reasonable and responsible adults than an 8-month old baby.