An Ohio police department shared photos of a couple in the front seat of their car, passed out from a heroin overdose, while a child sits in the back seat, The New York Daily News is reporting.
The photos were shared on the Facebook page of the city East Liverpool, Ohio. The police say they posted the pictures in order to “show the other side of this horrible drug,” pointing out the the child in the back seat “can’t speak for himself.”
“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 how did the photos of the heroin-overdosed adults and the innocent child come about?
East Liverpool police officer Kevin Thompson says that he observed a Ford Explorer with Virginia license plates driving behind a school bus. The driver appeared to lose control of the vehicle, and it drifted in an angle. Thompson pulled the car over.
Once he got to the vehicle, Thompson tried to talk to the driver, later identified as 47-year-old James Acord. Thomson says Acord’s pupils were the size of pin points – a sure sign of heroin overdose – and his speech was unintelligible. In the passenger seat next to him was 50-year-old Rhonda Pasek, also passed out on heroin. The unidentified four-year-old child, whom Pasek said was her son, was in the back seat and was OK, but for being in a vehicle with two passed-out adults in it.
Thompson says Acord tried to drive away, but was too incapacitated to pull it off. Thompson reached into the vehicle, shut it off, and took the keys away.
On questioning, Acord allegedly stated that he was taking Pasek to the hospital.
Thompson called paramedics, who were able to revive the adults with Narcan – a drug that can be useful in treating overdoses. The adults were then taken into police custody and charged with endangering a child, not wearing a seat belt, and public intoxication. The four-year-old boy was placed in the care of Columbiana County Children’s Services.
America is in the midst of a heroin epidemic, according to The Week. Drug overdoses are the number one cause of accidental death in the nation, even ahead of automobile crashes, and the problem would be even worse were it not for advances in medicine used to treat overdoses.
The effects of the heroin epidemic are felt the most in rural communities, particularly in poverty-stricken areas around Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia.
According to a September 2015 report in The Economist, part of the problem lies with doctors over-prescribing opioid painkillers, getting patients hooked.
“The heroin epidemic in the Midwest is closely linked to the rampant opiate epidemic. As doctors prescribed opioid painkillers such as OxyContin more and more liberally, their abuse grew… Three-quarters of heroin addicts used to take prescription drugs and switched to heroin, which is cheaper and more easily available on the black market.”
Back in Ohio, the East Liverpool believe that showing photos of adults passed out from heroin may be offensive to some readers, but they believe it’s necessary to draw attention to the human cost of the epidemic.
“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.”
Do you believe the East Liverpool, Ohio police were right to publicly share photos of adults passed out from a heroin overdose?
[Image courtesy of City of East Liverpool]