AKRON, Ohio - For the second time in less than a week, a one-year-old has overdosed on an opioid in Akron, and police say he’s the fourth child to overdose since the beginning of the year.
“This is just a tragedy,” said police Lt. Rick Edwards. “We had a 2-year-old a 6-year-old and now this is the second one-year-old in a week.”
An Akron mother told police that her little boy was playing in the yard Tuesday night with his 5 and 7-year-old sisters on Raymond St. when the tot began acting strange, staggering and fading in and out of consciousness.
The 27-year-old mom rushed her son to Akron Children’s Hospital where doctors revived him with the opiate antidote Naloxone or NARCAN.
“It’s hard to tell at this point; it’s under investigation how the baby got the opiate into his system and where it came from,” said Lt. Edwards.
Just a couple of days ago, another one-year-old was also exposed to a suspected opiate on Gale Street, but he did not survive.
His mother was taken into custody on unrelated charges and is also being investigated by police.
Dr. Doug Smith, Medical Director at the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services Board says the current opiates being sold on the street are far more deadly than those used in the past, because they are cut with the powerful opioids fentanyl and carfentanil.
“A grain of salt is enough to kill a human,” said Dr. Smith. “Imagine how little it takes for an infant or toddler.”
The residue on a “baggie” or just touching a used needle can be enough to kill a small child, said Dr. Smith as he met with the Summit County Opiate Task Force Wednesday night.
Ohio has been labeled ground zero for the opiate epidemic and Summit County has been hit especially hard.
Dr. Smith says about 300 people died in 2016 and 2400 were revived using NARCAN in Summit County, and those numbers are expected to rise in 2017.
He says education and prevention is the key to saving lives especially the children of addicts.
“Everything else becomes secondary to need for the substance,” said Dr. Smith. “So toddlers and infants are not cared for in the same way.”
Akron police, who are responding to multiple overdose calls per day, are also now pleading with users.
“It’s gotten to the point where we understand it’s an epidemic but if you’re not going to rehab or to help yourself at least be responsible," said Lt. Edwards. “You know the residue that you’re leaving behind, the wrappers you’re leaving behind, the paraphernalia you’re leaving behind, please put it in a place where the children don’t have access to it.”
For more on the Summit County Opiate Task Force, click here.