Au’Driana Cohen, a one-year-old toddler from Pennsylvania, met her untimely demise early in August 2017, and the autopsy report from the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office affirmed this Wednesday that her death was the result of an accidental exposure to carfentanil. It is a drug so potent that 2 milligrams of the substance is enough to knock out an adult African elephant, the largest land mammal in extant today.
Her parents claimed Cohen was being looked after by a babysitter at the time of her overdose. Although her death is considered an accident and no charges have been filed against anyone, Mike Manko, the spokesman of Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, described the case as an active investigation. As the details around the death of this little girl remains unclear, it is quite tragic to note that she would have celebrated her second birthday this week.
Synthetic opioids to spike overdose deaths in coming years
Carfentanil is marketed as a powerful tranquilizer for large animals, such as elephants and moose. However, illicitly manufactured carfentanil, a drug 10,000 times more potent than morphine, is commonly mixed with heroin and other dangerous street drugs. Moreover, it is frequently used as a substitute of heroin.
Since exposure to even a trace amount of carfentanil can potentially result in a deadly overdose or death, the zoo staff and veterinarians wear a protective apparatus, closely resembling a hazmat suit before working with the drug.
In the light of the increasing numbers of overdose and deaths due to opioids, President Donald Trump on Thursday declared the opioid crisis as a national public health emergency to stem the scourge of drug addiction from root.
Lately, synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil have further compounded the ongoing opioid crisis by giving a tough time to testing police, laboratories and medical examiners across the U.S. They have been termed as the deadliest drugs in the American history.
Rise in accidental drug poisoning among toddlers
The opioid crisis that began before the turn of the century has now become a ubiquitous challenge that has brought all strata of the American society under its fold. In fact, an increasing number of children and adolescents have become victims of prescription medications. A 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics provided a deeper insight into this morbid phenomenon.
Julie R. Gaither, a researcher at Yale, and her colleagues examined around 13,052 national hospital discharge records of children aged one and 19 who were hospitalized for drug poisoning between 1997 and 2012. During the same period, 176 children hospitalized succumbed to opioid poisoning. The alarming results of the study are as follows:
- The highest rate of rise in drug poisonings was among the youngest children that were accidental in nature. However, the rise in drug poisoning among teenagers aged 15 to 19 was primarily due to the attempt to inflict intentional self-harm and injuries.
- The rate of painkiller overdose rose more than two-fold among children aged one and four between 1997 and 2012.
- The increase in opioid poisoning among adolescents aged 15 to 19 was attributed to heroin.
The researchers suggested that most children consumed pain pills believing that they were sweets or candies. They emphasized on the need for implementing tamper-resistant packaging as in the medications with childproof safety caps. They argued that this would not only reduce a child’s access to prescription drugs but also help in lowering the number of prescription drugs that make their way into the black market.
Drug abuse leads to torment and death
The risk of accidental exposure to opioids among children is a serious challenge across different households that has now become a reality. Unlocked medicine cabinets, medications stored in places accessible to toddlers can lead to unintentional opioid poisoning among children.
If you or your loved one is battling drug addiction, it is imperative to seek help. Sovereign Health understands the plight of someone who is unable to discontinue the use of harmful substances despite being aware of their negative impact on his or her life. Our customized drug rehab centers specialize in delivering evidence-based intervention plans. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-683-9756 or chat online to know more about the drug addiction treatment center near you.