HEROIN AND OHIO’S ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE
Are grandparents, caregivers, neighbors, educators and relatives facing a real “zombie apocalypse”?
For years I have heard about a “Zombie Apocalypse.” I generally envisioned what the concept covered using my “knowledge” of zombies– gained from popular movies and television shows. The probability of a zombie apocalypse though seemed to be not even worth considering. However, as we have received more and more cases in our office involving the use of opioids and heroin, and as we have seen the effects upon families, and especially children as a consequence of the wide spread usage of these substances, I have begun to wonder whether we are, in fact, currently facing the zombie apocalypse.
Consider this about Huntington West Virginia, in a recent CNN article, (http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/16/health/huntington-heroin/), it was stated that “The figures reflect a startling reality about this Appalachian town of 49,000 on the banks of the Ohio River: One in four residents here is hooked on heroin or some other opioid, local health officials say. That’s a staggering 12,000 people dealing with opioid addiction, in a state with the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the nation.”
Also, in relation to my hometown, of Portsmouth, in Southern Ohio, a number of reports, including one in the Morning Journal (http://www.morningjournal.com/article/MJ/20161016/NEWS/161019596) have related that, “A recent report from the Children’s Defense Fund has found that Scioto County in south-central Ohio has the highest birth rate of drug-addicted babies in the state.” Going on, the study states that, “. . . for every 1,000 live births in Scioto County, 76 are born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, a condition caused by mothers who use drugs while pregnant. Symptoms of NAS include low birth weight, seizures, excessive crying and breathing problems. It can take a week and even months for an infant to fully recover.” (SEE ALSO: http://portsmouth-dailytimes.com/news/11101/scioto-leads-in-addicted-births).
We see photos and articles, (even from the United Kingdom) of Ohio people in cars, passed out behind the wheel, overdosed on heroin, with four year olds in the back seat (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3781814/Ohio-police-share-horrifying-photos-adults-passed-overdosing-car-toddler-backseat.html).
These people who are overdosing on heroin and opioids are being found in the street, on the sidewalks, in cars with children and in grocery stores. These addicts also are engaging in crimes to support their habits.
In our practice, we have had a large rise in people calling our office, regarding the abandonment of children (because of drug abuse); people telling others to take their children (because of drug abuse) and even the death of children (because of drug abuse). Are we facing a zombie apocalypse type of situation? Are these heroin addicted parents and others like zombies?
We really can’t just refer to this as a “crisis.” Wikipedia defines a Zombie as “. . . a fictional undead being created through the reanimation of a human corpse.” Wikipedia also talks in terms of zombies being created through “. . . science fictional methods such as radiation, mental diseases, viruses, scientific accidents, etc.” What about creation through overdoses of opioids and heroin in particular?
Wikipedia describes a “zombie apocalypse” in terms of, “. . . the breakdown of society as a result of an initial zombie outbreak that spreads” and goes on to state that, “In a zombie apocalypse, a widespread (usually global) rise of zombies hostile to human life engages in a general assault on civilization. Victims of zombies may become zombies themselves. This causes the outbreak to become an exponentially growing crisis. . . “
Wikipedia goes on to state that, “Possible causes for zombie behavior in a modern population can be attributed to viruses, bacteria or other phenomena that reduce the mental capacity of humans causing them to behave in a very primitive and destructive fashion.”
Again, can the cause of “zombie-like” behavior be from drugs? The answer, of course, is “yes.” In relation to a general “assault on civilization” can we say that these drug addicted people who are bringing babies into the world already addicted to heroin or taking babies into drug houses where the babies are exposed to drugs and die, or shooting up in cars with children in the back seat, are committing an assault on civilization (not to mention what they do, criminally to support their habits)? The answer is again, “Yes.”
Do we have an “exponentially growing crisis”? The answer is “yes.”
This crisis and general assault on civilization, coming from the use of these drugs, is directly affecting our children. Fortunately there are relatives (aunts/uncles) and parents (grandparents of the affected children) who step forward and attempt to rescue these children (the ones who live) or their siblings. Unfortunately, stepping forward and trying to rescue a child is often just the first step along a long, long, road through the legal system—a system designed to keep the child and the addicted parent(s) together. The system is set up so that it tries, as hard as possible, to re-unite the addicted parents and their children, but the problem is that if the children are returned to the parents, no one can be there to watch on a day to day, minute to minute basis to issue the safety and health of the child.
By the time the addictive and dangerous problems are usually discovered, in relation to the children of the heroin and drug addicts, the child has usually been subjected to a long period of being either underfed, uncared for, abused, or denied medical treatment for medical problems.
There is really no answer or “fix” for all of this at this time, However, this situation may necessitate new laws and rules so that the people trying to aid the endangered children can get quick, simple, easy and understandable access to the legal system to try to help these children.
All I can do, at this time, is thank all of the people who try to help these children. They are the parents, friends, grandparents, teachers and neighbors who are “trying” to rescue the children. Thank you.
William William L. Geary is a family lawyer who has been practicing since 1979. He is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, and also is a practicing member of the Ohio bar.