Young Children Find Their Mother, Grandmother Overdosing On Heroin

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Police are investigating after a grandmother and mother fell unconscious from heroin overdoses while they were watching children in Pittsburgh.

A 10-year-old boy and his 4-year-old sister found their mother and grandmother unresponsive on the floor of the living room in their home June 22. The boy ran across the street to call 9-11 after he could not wake them up. Police arrested 32-year-old Kristin Garrett and 72-year-old Janet Garrett on charges of of endangering the welfare of children, PIX 11 News reported Saturday.

Authorities said the children had been left unsupervised by the mother and grandmother for at least a half hour. The children reportedly tried yelling and shaking their mother and grandmother awake before calling the police.

“Those poor babies,” Nicole Myers, a neighbor, told PIX 11 News. “It’s a shame and how are those babies going to grow up when they don’t have anybody to look up to?”

It took three injections of the overdose reversal drug Narcan from first responders to pull the pair back to consciousness. The children are now in the custody of their father, who told police he is afraid to leave his home for work due to Kristen and Janet Garrett’s addictions. He told investigators they regularly abuse heroin together.

Many children in similar circumstances are forced into foster care to escape the addiction of their guardian. Social services in almost every state across the country are experiencing increases in children needing foster care, and officials are nearing a breaking point.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in 2015 that roughly 428,000 kids were in foster care, and note that number has likely experienced a significant increase due to skyrocketing drug abuse rates in 2016. Drug addiction is now the second leading cause for removal from parental custody, following child neglect, which social workers note is often exacerbated by drug use in the home.

A staggering 85,937 children entered foster care due to parental drug use in the U.S. in 2015, according to data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System.

Experts are not optimistic the drug crisis will slow anytime soon. The New York Times recently combed through data from state health departments and county medical examiners and coroners, predicting there were between 59,000 and 65,000 drug deaths in 2016.

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