Addicted Parents Get Their Fix, Even With Children Watching

Sep 28, 2016 · 374 comments
Rebecca Hewitt (Heading To France)
There is a noticeable difference in the underlying tone of this article compared to how we refer to drug use in the inner cities. The tone of sympathy is clear where we sense nothing but disgust when it is young people using drugs in the ghettos. Here it seems the focus is "there is a societal problem and we need to address it" where one feels a sense of "oh well, that's what they do in the ghetto". It is a societal problem, indeed, but perhaps now it is devastating white communities we will go after meaningful solutions?
Emily Snow Csontos (Davis, Ca)
"It perpetuates the shame and stigma of the disease.”
I disagree. Sharing the video is what society needs in order to see the crisis plaguing our nation.
Thomas Busse (San Francisco)
This paper reported how the crack epidemic wasn't born out in statistics. This paper reported on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. This paper advocated for tighter FDA and legal restrictions on prescription drugs and then things only got worse.

Perhaps we should report on data instead of anecdotes, assumptions, suppositions, and judgements.
Micah (New York)
As long as we've been here, there has been addiction to one degree or another. When alcohol was the most popular intoxicant, there were public outcries about alcoholism; now, the intoxicant of choice is this stuff which kills much more suddenly and unpredictably than alcohol (but I don't think any less frequently). There is but one treatment that has worked over the entirety of human existence: total abstinence, one day at a time. About 8000 days ago I know a guy who learned that lesson well. Since then, a billion dollar treatment industry has arisen; libraries of books have been printed; thousands of fingers have been pointed and NOTHING HAS CHANGED by way of effective public policy. The solution is perfectly simple; meth biscuits; suboxone; rehabs upon rehabs -- not the answer. Plug. In. Jug. (adapt to drug of choice).
PMR (Capitola, CA)
The child's witnessing of her mother's overdose is a trauma. Without loving intervention, she is destined to experience extreme emotional disruptions as she develops. She will experience intense fear from not having her caregiver available to keep her safe, or provide her the love that all human children unequivocally need to survive. She'll begin to feel guilt that on some level the overdose was her fault, because what other reason can a child fathom for their caregiver being unavailable? Over time, the guilt will develop shame, and she'll begin to feel that she is bad at her core. She won't know what to do with these feelings, and to cope with them, she'll likely develop an addiction of her own. This grim prognosis of her aftermath isn't an educated guess on my part; it's a natural consequence of being traumatized without resilience.

One solution to healing the roots of our nationwide opioid epidemic lies in the Timbo methodology ( a program that uses yoga/mindfulness to teach women to pay attention to body sensations, and to make connections between the sensations and their emotions. With that awareness and a compassionate, non-judgmental space to share those feelings, women become empowered to be with their feelings and act on them in healthy ways, rather than seeking to suppress them with a substance, whether it be alcohol, opioids, food, sex, shopping, or any other infinite way to "zone out" and put distance between themselves and unbearable emotion.
Alvin C (VA)
I really would like to get a clearer answer what responsibility irresponsible MDs bear in the current crisis. Do MDs need greater guidance in prescribing opioids? I don't mean to blame or castigate the profession, but maybe this is a learning moment.
Ivy (Chicago)
According to the DEA, there are more deaths from drug overdoses than there are from guns. Another statistic cites that 80% of non-suicide gun deaths result from the drug trade (gangs, etc).

The DEA says most drugs come over the border.

Then why are so many who are in favor of gun control opposed to tighter border security where the flow of drugs would be much better contained? Those who claim concern about drug overdoses cannot ignore our porous borders.

Gun control advocates say if one less death results from no guns on the street it's worth it. But yet ignore the drug trade as it relates to gun violence.

The typical violent criminal that makes it to the front page of the Chicago Tribune, (a real accomplishment considering the thousands of shootings we have each year that don't get reported) has a rap sheet with dozens of arrests. In other words, the "justice" system here is a total joke. Time in prison? More like a revolving door.

There are those who don't care if we flood the country with drugs and love porous borders.

Who might those people be?

One guess: crooked politicians who rake in a tremendous amount graft from the drug trade, don't believe putting thugs in jails and then blame all those guns as though the triggers magically pull themselves.

You don't have a lovely suburbanite OD-ing in her expensive home without some blood having been shed somewhere along the way.

Less overdoses begin with less drugs. Border control. Why not?
Martin (France)
less overdoses come from more education, better jobs, à more caring society that helps people to pick themselves up before they fall too far. All things that many of the harsher commentators on this board would appreciate if they hit a hard moment in life.
SD (Rochester)
I've never heard a single person say that "We need weaker border security". That's a total strawman.

I *have* heard many people say that the way we're currently pursuing the "war on drugs" (i.e., focusing on imprisoning individual users, rather than treating them) is hugely costly and ineffective, which is objectively true.

Reducing the US demand for drugs is the most logical way to reduce the flow of drugs into the country. And the primary way you do that is with expanded and more effective treatment options, better access to health care and social services, etc.

Sure, we need border security, but focusing *only* on that is a great way to waste more money.
eld (nyc)
I found it heartbreaking that someone stood by and recorded that without in some way trying to comfort the child. Poverty and despair go hand in hand. Good for those of you who can smugly sit on your Internet with lights and food in your fridge and judge this mother. She and that child, deserves our help.
Mrs. S (New Jersey)
There shouldn't be any second chances for parents who put their children's lives at risk. You don't get to continuously destroy a child's life because you're a hopeless addict. Frankly, I would have scooped that child up to comfort her and let fate take care of the mother. That little girl would be far better off without a mother like that. There are so many families, including my own, who would be more than happy to raise her.
Lillibet (Philadelphia)
For more than 50 years we have been subjected to drug scares by the government and media. In the 60s it was heroin, marijuana and psychedelics; in the 70s it was cocaine; in the 80s and 90s it was crack; in the 2000s it was meth; now it's perscription opioids. What is the point of these articles and these hysterics? Do they fix anything? Do they stop the health crisis? Do they address the underlying problems that cause the drug abuse in the first place? Let me answer that for you: NO. Instead of taking the opportunity to increase addiction and detox centers and increase the number of counselors and medical staff, and ensure that drug users can access treatment no matter what their financial status is, we throw them into jail and whine about how weak and parasitic they are. More lives ruined by the aftermath than the drugs that led up to it. After 50 years we have figured out absolutely nothing, except how to keep the police and prisons in business, and how to ensure a permanent underclass for the rest of us to feel superior to. You can keep all your exposes and articles. They don't matter in the slightest.
Claudio Cappuccino (Milan, Italy)
If today's America has this kind of opioid problem, she must face up to reality and find a way to legalise opioids. To restrict opioid prescribing can only damage pain patients, while all those who want to take opioids will turn to the black market. There is a tragically ironic aspect in the opioid problem. As a famous medical textbook repeated in several consecutive editions, "Opioids themselves are surprisingly nontoxic even when used in substantial daily doses for many years." (Cecil textbook of medicine , 20th ed. 1996, p. 52), and there are records of continuous (legal) morphine use for over 60 years without any bodily or mental damage (e.g. W.C. Cutting. Stanford Med Bull 1942, 1:39-41). The problem with black market opioids is the high risk of infections and above all, lethal overdose for occasional users who do not understand well what they are doing. If opioids are increasingly seen by so many people as an escape to a precarious island of inner peace, we only have two solutions: either identifying, addressing and removing the social and personal conditions that cause such an urge to escape, or legalise the drugs that relieve this suffering.
M (K)
I find the numerous comments about separating the mother from the daughter appalling. Anybody who has a child will understand that its not only about the mother feeling for her daughter. Its also about the daughter never feeling the same way with anybody but her own mom. They need each other.

The woman clearly has problems - but who doesn't ? She deserves a chance (maybe many) and some serious help. Above all she and the kid deserve our sympathy - not judgement.

We have become such a twisted "twitter" generation with a perpetual feed of instant gratification, that we seem to have forgotten our humanity somewhere along the way.

Any chance we could fix ourselves along the way to helping this young woman and her kid ?
DesertRose (Phoenix, Arizona)
Absolutely heartbreaking.
jules (california)
“The story began the morning of Sept. 18, when Ms. McGowen, 36, of Salem, N.H., was driving around with a friend and sniffing fentanyl, she later told WBZ-TV in Boston.“

Ok she's addicted, but this makes it very difficult to feel empathy. It's also hard to swallow Ms. Cavanagh's statement “It perpetuates the shame and stigma of the disease.”

What is wrong with shame and stigma? They often act as motivators for change.
SD (Rochester)
Actually, lots of people with a better understanding of addiction do find it possible to feel empathy and compassion for people experiencing it. Maybe some education and further reading is in order.
Douglas Spier (Kaneohe, Hawaii)
Drug addicts overdosing is not the problem; its the solution. Evolution does not favor stupidity.
SD (Rochester)
Well, that's an unnecessarily cruel and inhuman thing to say. These are human beings we're talking about. (And it doesn't even make logical sense in an "evolutionary" way, since many addicts already have children).

Could you really look a child in the eye and tell them it's a good thing that their parent died? Someone whom they very likely loved, despite their flaws?

These are serious issues. Snarky comments to the effect that "they're going to kill themselves anyway" are not remotely helpful or constructive.
Peter (New York)
This is one of the saddest epidemics in America. Sad for the addicts and particularly depressing for the children. Opioid addiction on the scale being reported over the past decade is a frightening harbinger of the downfall of our nation. One must ask what kind of society we live in and accept where the escape from joblessness, broken families, and poor relationships is the slow form of suicide that is the daily drug fueled haze of addicts. One wonders if the number of addicts nationwide would drop if we subscribed to different values and different understandings about the meaning of success. One wonders if the American dream and myth of the land of opportunity has vanished.
SD (Rochester)
The "American dream" has always been more myth than reality, and there have always been many people in the US who didn't get much in the way of opportunities.

There was never a magic time when substance abuse and addiction didn't exist here-- you just didn't hear about it as much in Ye Olden Days, because it was considered a shameful secret that wasn't spoken of outside the family.
rmlane (Baltimore)
Its interesting when the money runs out so do the drugs.
Its also interesting that if you supply free destroy the market.
No market, no more drugs.
This is not new. Alcoholic parents have always done this. Ask their kids.
Larry (Michigan)
The mother does not deserve our pity and this is not in any way heartbreaking. The jails are full of people who were found with illegal drugs. They have received mandatory sentences. The child is the one who deserves our pity. In a way this is not terrible. This has probably happened over and over in the child's home. Now the child can be taken out of the home and perhaps given a decent life. The mother must be put in jail. Removal of mandatory sentencing was not changed by the Senate. There is no reason that this woman should not be prosecuted and placed in jail for the next twenty years. She should not be pitied.
jules (california)
Yes the jails are full of such people, which is a ridiculous way to handle drug use. Time for the Portugal model.
SD (Rochester)
"The jails are full of people who were found with illegal drugs. They have received mandatory sentences"

Yes, and that policy has been a human and financial disaster.

Even if you can't find it in your heart to feel compassion for people struggling with addiction, I'd hope (as a taxpayer) you could at least see what a *colossal* waste of money it is.
j-rock (Toronto, Canada)
It's amazing how many people remain committed to failed policies in spite of vast amounts of data, and countless examples of different ideas that work in other places. "The War on Drugs" has failed miserably for at least the past 40 years. So your solution is to double down on it? How does putting non-violent drug addicts in prison help anyone? It's cruel, expensive and unnecessary. Do you advocate locking up drunks as well?

No one in the throes of an active drug addiction should have physical or legal custody of a child. I feel most people would agree with that. But if someone can get healthy, and put their life back together, then why shouldn't they be encouraged to become a productive member of society, which includes being a parent, as opposed to being left to rot behind bars?
BIg Brother's Big Brother (on this page monitoring your behavior)

the focus should be on recovery / abstinence


many 'experts' try and escalate this problem to include job / money / etc. / etc.

the fact is, most of the world's poor are NOT addicted

and never will be

it has everything to do with culture and boredom

get into recovery, and be tough, and stay the course

there is no other way

Here (There)
What bothers me is that in an era when we are moving towards the legalization of marijuana--and rightly so!-- we are getting a full court press from government and media about opioids and painkillers. I don't question there is a problem, but I'm not sure the answer includes, as has been detailed on the pages of this site, denying medical hospital patients painkillers and hoping them "adjust" to chronic pain.

My idea of a just and compassionate society doesn't include leaving people in pain.
violetsmart (New Mexico)
Don Winslow, a noted specialist on the subject says that the legalization of marihuana resulted in the drug cartel's loss of money, so they are making fentanyl and cutting it with heroin, which is much, much stronger than heroin. There is the reason for the overdose epidemic.
Catta (ottawa)
I don't like the sanctimonious tone of many of these writers. You've all got the answers so then fix it.
Molly Ciliberti (Seattle)
As a nurse I view this problem from a different angle. Yes, people have always used substances to get high. What is different now is that people are using drugs to escape reality. We need to uncover the root cause of this negative response to reality. A large group of people are trying to escape reality and are willing to take serious risk to do so, that is the mark of despair.
Sir Chasm (NYC)
Or we could legalize Mother Nature's non-addictive opioid, so these kids can grow up with un-addicted parents.
Geoffrey B. Thornton (Washington, DC)
Call the drug of choice opiate and the user gets rehab. Call the same drug heroin and the user gets jail.

Apparently, DC, Philly, Detroit is crawling with heroin users desperate to be taught a lesson with a prison sentence. But, those in Maine are brilliant, simply, changed the name to opiate and the get a big hug and rehab! Who knew staying out of prison was so easy.
Vicki Barr (Earth)
There have always been terrible, horrible parents. What we need to do is:

a) provide free birth control, morning after pills and abortion - no questions asked - starting in middle school to every girl/woman in the United States, and remove more kids from their bio-parents at birth. There is no way to fix the abused, neglected offspring of some addicted 22-year-old with three other kids and four baby daddies once that offspring gets to school age. It's too late. We need to prevent her from bearing kids in the first place.

b) accept the fact that wanting to alter consciousness is natural, not evil (even some animals are known to gnaw on plants and bugs that make them high) and stop making people do it furtively and illegally. If socialites can sip their single malt and cabernet, why shouldn't others be able to smoke a little weed or take a Valium to relax at night?

Criminalizing the need to escape everyday stress and strain -- but only some means, mainly those that poor and black people use -- has solved nothing. We need to fund more research into less harmful, less addictive drugs that can salve the natural urge without wreaking havoc.
s einstein (Jerusalem)
Their are children of "substance user" parents; one or both parents. Of illegal "drugs,'" misuse of medicinals, alcoholic beverages , tobacco smokers, obese; each with their own witnessing, memories, traumas as well as a range of researched shorter and longer term consequences in daily living, both as children as well as in later life. Unintended as well as unexpected consequences. And there are children-ours- witnesses as well as targets of physical, psychological , sexual and "religious" violence by their parents as well as by other family members and neighborly adults.Videos? Articles in the NYT? And there are parents, globally, who are political leaders , and influential stakeholders, who see, hear, are aware of,
the daily experiences of harmed, and dying children in known as well as unknown "conflicted regions" of the world? Where are the videos about their efforts to make a much needed difference? What have they, as individuals and as a group, with power, done to prevent, minimize, as well as to engage the many whom they represent, to join in and a "War for Well Being"? This article is dramatic and well written in an ongoing culture, in the age of information dissemination, which enables us to turn the page, perhaps turn to another social media, maintain our being complacent as we tut, tut, or not.Who can we turn to in our shameless environments to learn how to express human outrage in a way that fuels and creates needed changes?oo
susan m (OR)
I have been sober in Alcoholics Anonymous for many years. About 15 years ago, I began to see once sober alcoholics lose their sobriety and often their lives to pain medications. Doctors were prescribing them so freely, ignoring the potential for addiction of many of their clients. I heard sad story after sad story of ruined sobriety, ruined lives. This problem, obvious years ago, has only grown and spread, perpetuated to a great degree by the medical and dental communities at the expense of their patients. Now the horse is long out of the barn, and the media is finally waking up to the scourge. This is a home grown problem. Americans exposed other Americans to these harmful drugs. It is a travesty.
td (NYC)
These people should have their parental rights terminated immediately.
Really (Boston, MA)
I agree - I posted on a NYT article a couple of years ago that it is child abuse for a child to be in the care of a parent in active addiction and I was attacked by posters who urged me to "spend time with people with addiction" to get a better perspective on it.

My (ex) partner of 10 years was a heroin addict and he was incredibly selfish and abusive to me, so I am well aware of how addicts in active addiction negatively impact those around them. I feel so sorry for children in these situations. It's abuse.
SD (Rochester)
So we can have millions of kids languishing and waiting for foster/ adoptive parents, instead of just tens of thousands... great plan.
magicisnotreal (earth)
I knew a young mother of a toddler who smoked pot in front of him all the time. One day she told me she was pregnant and the conversation moved on to her telling me she did hallucinogenics on a regular basis. To be sure I heard correctly I asked if she meant she did them while pregnant which she confirmed by telling me she had done some a few days previous and had plans to do some more that weekend, she knew she was 3 months along at the time she used.
I called child services to report this as it seemed very unfair to the foetus she had every intention of keeping. I was subjected to a lecture about how drug users can be good mothers too by a girl who sounded like she was no more than 18 herself. She wouldn't even consider the reported use of serious drugs and berated me as if I had done something wrong by trying to protect this foetus.
rachelkibbe (NY, NY)
Anyone saying that this woman needs punishment over help is doing a disgusting dis-service to all humans and their families in this position. People can get better. BUT ADDICTION IS NOT A 'moral' failing. It is in fact a medical issue and not a choice. Whether you want to call it a disease or not, is up to you, but study after study after study says, this woman's brain tells her she needs these drugs, much like any other reflex. Until people can stop shaming, and start figuring out out how to help these people, they should really just stay in their lanes. The fact that they had to SEARCH for a detox bed is case in point - the system is broken and the cards are stacked against this child and her mother. Detoxing from a drug alone and without medical assistance can be fatal. Then most addicts are sent to 12 step treatments which have been proven to have alarmingly low success rates. There are many other, better and scientifically proven methods to helping addicts, used in countries other than the US mostly - none of which include shaming, 12-steps, incarceration, and permanently ripping children from parents. To the commenters shaming this woman -shaming a drug addict is like beating a dog for misbehaving. They know what they are doing is wrong but they can't help it. All the commenters BLAMING drug addicts are part of the problem and are really as good as killers.
I'm not really impressed with all these stories of how it's Big Pharma's fault (though I despise them).

As the child of an alcoholic, and as someone treated earlier in my life for chronic, hormonally-influenced chemical-imbalance depression, I am extremely careful about medications. As in, I don't take any. When I had an accident this year, spraining an ankle, fracturing my foot and lacerating my forehead, I insisted only on adequate numbing of my forehead before they sewed it up. I did not request any pain meds during my overnight stay in the ER. I was strongly advised not to leave the hospital without pain meds, and I insisted they monitor the first dose before releasing me. I took the prescription only once a day, instead of the every-six-hours dosage--and only just before going to sleep. I had one instance of being frantic with pain and taking one pill one afternoon.

For the rest I accepted that a fractured foot would hurt. Later on I managed considerable muscle and tendon pain with aspirin.

You do, actually, in fact, as overly-reviled Nancy Reagan truthfully said, learn to just say "no." People who cannot make good choices have been dying from avoidable causes since before we started climbing down from those trees.

Another brutal truth--the best response to this tsunami of overdosing might well be to not revive them in the first place. We have limited resources. Put them towards the children first. Then towards those who really want to quit.
Chris (19130)
The fact that researchers have actually observed discrete differences in neuron flows and synapses when comparing the brains of "addicts" to "non-addicts" be damned. As long as we ignore a highly-educated and licensed doctor's written direction, we'll all be OK. Thanks Nancy!
Science's understanding of everything seems to change every decade or so. Yes--there are differences in brain wiring.

And yes--a craving is an undeniable fact. How one responds to that craving is an individual's choice. You can be obsessed with the desire for a drink or a fix--yet never take the second step of acquiring and consuming it.

We cannot solve every human being's problems for him or her, with limited resources--even if we stopped wasting money on useless wars and endless committees on education, etc. etc. Even in the most advanced European societies, choices must be made.

All those 12-step programs? They substitute one addiction for another, and reinforce a sort of religious fervor about sobriety rather than a recognition that self-control is something necessary to cultivate. This insistence that the addict is the powerless victim of disease hasn't helped very many people longterm.

We can want something very very badly, and still forswear it, if our own wellbeing and that of those who love us is meaningful.
Melinda (Just off Main Street)
"I was livid that people were sharing that video,” said Maureen Cavanagh, President of Magnolia New Beginnings. It perpetuates the shame and stigma of the disease.”


As a mom of 3, I'm floored by how little accountability there is by a 36 year old mom who neglects and endangers her young toddler. If this mom doesn't want people to see her in such a state, maybe she should get her act together.

Meanwhile, judges should not grant custody of children back to drug-abusing parents until they've been clean for 2-3 years and had some parental training.

And, by the way, cancer is a disease, drug abuse is not a disease. It's a self-inflicted addiction.

These addicts need tougher legal consequences.

Why didn't anyone scoop up this little girl and comfort her? Just incredibly sad.
Chris (19130)
It's not important to put yourself in the situation, envisioning yourself at your absolute lowest point, and waking to find yourself a Facebook video pariah and without custody of the sole thing that barely kept you ticking. I'm a father who has made some less than perfect choices (not at this level, but nonetheless), and I believe there needs to be a period of reform and recovery before obtaining custody. However, the fact that you are self-righteously advocating minimum penalties for people who have already met their nadir and had tens of thousands witness the moment leads me to believe that perhaps you should have thought twice about reproduction, and perpetuating such uncompassionate and inhumane ideals in our young.
Tony P (Boston, MA)
A Canadian friend of mine was addicted to heroin in his late 20's. After losing everything but his life he entered treatment - in Canada, land of socialist medicine. 9 months later he exited and has remained drug free for almost 30 years. In the Massachusetts case a group of recovered addicts had to scour contacts across 2 states "because there's no help whatsoever" until they finally were able to obtain a detox bed for a week followed by 28 days at a treatment facility. 28 days is better than nothing but it doesn't approach 9 months of hard, intensive recovery work. In the US we are not committed to helping addicts truly help themselves.
Jane Beard (Churchton MD)
What most shocked me in that video was that no one went to help the girl. As the sister of two addicts, I get that the adult needed help. BUT the one who needed instant help was that little girl.
left coast finch (L.A.)
"Anxious for Ms. McGowen to receive medical help, Ms. Carter took a hospital in Massachusetts, where people in New Hampshire often turn because their own state provides so few resources."

"Live Free or Die" indeed! The NYTimes needs to next do a story on these red states that proudly wave their conservative, anti-tax flags but then offload their problems onto the rest of us in blue states.

I have compassion for those in need but if they vote in conservatives who won't fund their needs, what gives them the right to turn to progressives to solve their problems?
Tim Lum (Back from the 10th Century)
Not Health, Family, Personal Well-Being or God matters to an addict who needs a fix. Welcome to the world of addiction and the face of this "victimless crime". Now that the opiate problem has affected middle Americans, the push is to have treatment and legalization and administer to this as a public health crisis. As long as the crisis affects the sons and daughters and grandchildren of the suburbia. Cool. Maybe the rest of our medicated society will take some responsibility for the over prescription of Oxycontin and all those Help me with my lumbago, bad mood, need to take the edge off wonder drugs which every addict will claim he or she needs. Who should fear the Mexican drug cartels or that "World Wide War on Terror Dope," when we all support the unregulated and open prescription of our own legal opiates. With Marijuana being legalized and the price dropping out from under the children of Mom and Pop MJ growers, the Cartels are moving to heroin production to feed this ready made population of opiate addicts. Heroin was developed by the Bayer Company who also named this miracle drug as a cure for morphine addiction. How's that working out for you?
Anne Ney (Saint Petersburg FL)
The most horrific thing about this video is that the child was filmed instead of comforted. As a mother, a sister, an educator, and a military veteran with considerable leadership experience, every cell in my body understands Rule One is to ignore the perpetrator and attend to the wronged party. In leadership language, "You get what you stroke." Imagine a society where victims of all kinds might be given the coverage, care, financial assistance, etc. ad nauseum that we currently spend on abusers of all kinds.
susan (manhattan)
I'm sorry but I have no sympathy for this woman. She's nothing more than a selfish junkie who had no business having children. No one will convince me that all of these drug users became addicted because they had physical pain. I was given a pain killer prescription after I had wrist surgery. I was give a prescription for 30 pills. That alone astounded me. I took one pill and became violently ill. I threw the rest of the pills in the garbage. I suffered thru the pain and when it got bad I took one Advil. Maybe I have become not caring about all of these drug users because I grew up in a family of alcoholics. Someone should take this woman's child away from her for good. Or mark my words, this child might become a new generation of junkies in her family. My sympathies lie with this child...not her mother.
Cat (Western MA)
Its all well and good to sit here in the comfy confines of the New York Times comments section and pass judgement, but there is a whole history behind this epidemic tied up in big pharma and the medical profession providing prescription pain killers nearly on demand and the minimization of addiction risk associated with these medications. When the epidemic started to become apparent, government stepped in and tightened controls but it was too late - leading to many addicted people turning elsewhere for a fix because the pain killers they were addicted to were no longer easily and legally accessible and detox options were few and far between. This epidemic has been caused by much more than addict irresponsibility.

To support my claim, when I was caring for my elderly mother who underwent bilateral mastectomies for breast cancer, the doctors were literally shoving prescriptions for these incredibly powerful painkillers at her. I ripped them up and made them write scripts for something less powerful and less addicting and her discomfort was well managed with those and she did just fine. Now magnify that problem all over the country and you start to see one of the root causes of this terrible epidemic.

This is a public health crisis. It requires an appropriate public health response.
Jim (Long Island)
Interesting that we now have a drug "crisis" when it involves large numbers of white users. In the past when cheap crack flooded black neighborhoods there little official concern about the effects on the families of users.
Avshalom (Washington height)
People who are addicted to opiates, cocaine, or amphetamines should not be allowed to have kids. Cannabis is encouraged, since it helps curb opiates addiction ( see Colorado for statistics, ever since legalization, overdoses have been reduced).
Barbara (Virginia)
It struck me as odd that an employee was more interested in filming the event rather than comforting the child. However, another fact stood out as well, that it is no longer unusual to see people passing out in public from drug related causes. Maybe they have been instructed to document events in order to avoid being accused of having made the situation worse by failing to respond in a timely or appropriate manner, and to show that they did not do anything to cause the injury. I have a reservoir of sympathy for addicts, but at least in my experience, they do tend to blame the world and others around them for their problems.
Northpamet (New York)
The money spent on the horrific and ineffectual phony "war on drugs" should be spent on treatment and education. As a huge bonus, training as drug counselors would give employment to people of many educational levels in communities across this country.
If we really think drugs are a problem, the only way to tackle it is through reducing demand. Reducing supply clearly does not work.
Kathy (San Francisco)
The children of alcohol abusers have been experiencing this for hundreds of years. Our society's tolerance for the substance in question is the only difference I can see. Alcohol's toll must be in the many millions worldwide, if you count the car crashes, assaults, and early deaths caused by its overuse.
I am the child of an alcoholic, and this scene reminded me of many, many incidences from my childhood. But alcohol was/is acceptable? There was no intervention, and there was many moments that were beyond negligent. I have been in a car driven by a drunk many times. Anyway, my relationship with my mother deteriorated and was never resolved, and she died relatively young (59), without her achieving sobriety.
TMK (New York, NY)
At this rate, the top 1% will soon be people who don't drink, don't do drugs, don't drop-out, don't over-eat, don't oversweet, don't overspend, don't shoot, don't painkill, don't break-up, don't Facebook, don't Instagram, don't Uber, don't Airbnb.

The American Dream is getting a lot easier folks. Just don't do it.
Mark Schaeffer (Somewhere on Planet Earth)
Absolutely not. My wife, a brilliant mental health researcher and practitioner, did an exercise where she showed what happens to three people, two men and one woman, across class, caught for DUI in the US. One is a rich White male, another is a middle class White female and third is a poor Black male. The rich guy gets to use his wealth to pay off his fines and/or keep his license and/or have his sentence commuted. He can also afford to get to work by paying for a cab for six months, or hire a chauffeur. He may even get to do work from home if he has enough authority in his company, or get his employees to drive him to work for meetings and conferences. Nobody will know, and if some do they will turn it into a cocktail party joke. In fact rich drunks are always shown as funny, fun and eccentric (or even brilliant) in movies and TV series.

The poor guy, with just one DUI, could lose his job, his family, his few hundred dollars of savings and his future reputation...become depressed, forlorn and end up on the street: homeless and drinking more.

The woman will be gossiped about, judged harshly and unfairly only because she is a woman and may end up having marital problems, work problems and reputation problems.

You economic status in the US affects the way people see you, treat you, help you and work with you (even on your problems). Want to know how may famous Hollywood celebrities show off their alcohol and drug problems...and still make money?
Greg Shenaut (California)
Two thoughts: as for helping the unconscious woman, what kind of help could anyone have provided beyond calling 911? If the video is a decent indicator, the paramedics arrived quickly and saved her life.

As for addiction: if this kind of disaster happened every time someone used an addictive substance, I don't think we'd have much of an addiction problem. Instead, what happens is either pleasure or at least absence of discomfort, neither of which seem disastrous. It's so easy to think, “just one more time, probably nothing bad will happen”, with any kind of addictive substance or practice. It's sort of a loophole in the human mind's ability to control human behavior.
Thank you Katherine Seelye for your excellent reportage on this ongoing crisis in America. Your job is an important one and I look forward to reading your work.
Chris Tucker (Port Angeles Wa)
Don't do drugs. Duh. Not even once. Be responsible.
Stuck in Cali (los angeles)
It should be this simple-junkies should not have kids. I am tired of states caring more for family unification then the safety of kid. That child should be put up for adoption, to have a clean slate, and a chance for a future. Nobody in the mothers/father family should be allowed near thekid.
SD (Rochester)
A very simplistic answer. FYI, not that many people are rushing to adopt older kids or those with disabilities. There are thousands waiting right now, all over the country.

Many foster parents are great, but unfortunately some are not so great. Kids who are removed from the home can end up in a worse situation sometimes.

The child's well-being has to be the top priority, obviously, but there *are* situations where parents do get clean-- with treatment and long-term support-- and it's in the child's best interest for the family to stay intact. Unfortunately, many areas (especially rural ones) don't have the resources to provide that kind of support for the family.
CA (Los Angeles, CA)
The same should be said for akcoholics, eh. Lock em up! Oh wait - we would have to lock up 15 % of Americans. Alcohol is linked to half of suicides and car accident fatalities. Oh, and don't forget the huge number of assaults, murders and child abuse done in the context of alcohol use. Lock em up!!
Nick Wadhams (Washington DC)
That no one would think to comfort that child is heartbreaking.
Tembrach.. (Connecticut)
It is truly disturbing that this child is only two years old, and being forced to deal with this issue.. Which means that within in the past three years, Ms McGownen became pregnant while suffering from heroin addiction, or become an addict soon after.
If the former case, she should not never had become pregnant. If the latter case, she should have prioritized the child's welfare about all else - including drug experimentation.
Lady_lawyer (Alaska)
Once my initial post-op pain lessened last week from major foot surgery, I became Spartan with the prescribed painkillers -- only 2 OxyContin pills at night to help me sleep without pain. There was no "high" attached to the pills, and no feeling of intoxication or bliss; I just slept better. After three nights of usage, my mental state changed: I was paranoid, anxious and out of control. I didn't connect my craziness to the pills but the young people around me did and demanded I turn them over. When I stopped taking the pills, my pain level hit the sky; I would have been happy to cut off my foot so I could sleep or sit or breathe. For me, 6 pills was enough for my body to get hooked.
Newsflash: Aspirin works pretty well for pain. You need to use the highest safe dose in the beginning, i.e. 3 tablets of 325 mg. strength. You need to take vitamin C with it, to enhance its pain-relieving properties and reduce its toxicity to the stomach.

That high initial dose helps knock out inflammation which contributes to pain.

You can choose whether or how much to use that opioid or opioid-like prescription the doctor gives you for pain. You can take the smallest dose you need to knock out agony, and accept some moderate pain.

If you think nothing should ever hurt, physically or emotionally, and everything must be anesthetized, you're not a good candidate for survival. This is a brutal statement but true. The agony of cancer in the bones is not the same as the real but manageable pain of a broken foot or leg.

Chronic pain likely has a complex cause and needs to be treated holistically.

Simply put--don't get addicted in the first place. If you do, and you don't have an overwhelming drive to get clean, no treatment will help you permanently.
SD (Rochester)
Treatment facilities for addiction are few and far between, and they're particularly difficult to access for parents of a young child. (Most parents with full-time responsibility for children can't just disappear for a month to take part in an inpatient program).

There's a huge need for treatment programs that can accommodate parents-- either inpatient facilities where children can stay with their parents, or outpatient/ community-based treatment where addicts can still maintain their family responsibilities. The existing provisions are woefully inadequate, and lead to more sad situations like this.

(Also, the vast majority of treatment programs don't accept pregnant women who want to get clean, because of liability and insurance issues. That's a whole 'nother issue in itself).
Jess (CT)
Maybe it is time for a "Misuse of Drugs Act" like in Singapore. It says that: "The possession, consumption, manufacturing, import, export, or trafficking of these and other controlled drugs in any amount are illegal. Persons caught with less than the Mandatory Death Penalty amounts of these controlled substances face penalties ranging from caning (up to 24 strokes) to life in prison. Including cannabis if presumed intent is "trafficking".
But No! No way! It would be unconstitutional and against human rights... right?

But, can the US make a law similar to that? Especially applied to traffickers...

Some things you nip it in the bud...
Shawn Bayer (Manhattan)
Gee, aren't we proud we are the most powerful nation in the world.

Able to kill terrorists half a world away while sitting in comfortable air conditioned command centers.

But not able to see that our citizens have child care, excellent education and a sane drug policy where addiction is treated as a medical, not a criminal, problem.
Ana (Minnesota)
Well said.
Pat (Harlem)
I can't help seeing that now that opioid abuse is affecting increasing numbers of whites, it's an epidemic, it's a crisis (which it is), and there are shouts for detox programs etc, more availability of naloxone, insurance coverage for detox programs. But when crack/cocaine was destroying black communities, they were locked up, maligned. No offer of detox programs etc. Blacks were viewed as criminals, where in this current crisis most of the blame is being passed on to doctors and drug companies and not the abusers themselves. Is there any wonder black people are so mad? When for years they've tried to point out the injustice they face in almost every aspect of life only to have people say that they they're pulling the 'race card' and not taking responsibility. I am sorry for these people affected by opioid abuse but I hope it helps them understand what black people have experienced. But it likely won't
david x (new haven ct)
How much has Big Pharma spent in pushing these drugs? When they were introduced, were the dangers of addiction and death made clear or minimized by the pharmaceutical industry?

Pain medication is needed by many people, but controls aren't as hard has they're made out to be.
Patients should sign a form allowing surprise urine tests and pill counts. This provides a method to know that the right person is taking (not selling) the right amount of the medication.

The pharmaceutical industry profit motive caused this epidemic. And it's not the only drug epidemic in our nation.
Jonr (Brooklyn)
This may sound crazy but I'm thinking this tragic epidemic in predominantly white areas is created more by rampant boredom than poverty. The corporatization of our lives and the dominance of the Internet has allowed people to withdraw from social contact which leads to a sense of alienation and hopelessness. The one thing most white folks have is money frequently from the government. We as Americans need to resist the temptation to stay home and get involved more with our communities where we can get love and support.
blackmamba (IL)
When black parents were addicted to opioids they were demonized and stereotyped as immoral, ignorant, lazy and violent criminal monsters worthy of mass prison incarceration. While white addict parents are objects of sympathy, empathy and pity worthy of compassionate social health and medical services

To prevent white parent opioid addicts from suffering and dying from drug overdose or not properly taking care of their kids they should be arrested and prosecuted and sent to prison just like black people. White illegal drug abuse is growing.
KMW (New York City)
Recently a repeat interview with the actor Carroll O'Connor told of the heartache and pain his son suffered due to drug addiction. The son committed suicide and Mr. O'Connor fought successfully to put the drug dealer behind bars. He watched in total despair as his son drifted further into drug addiction and felt helpless. He thought of the things he should have done but of course drug addicts are very cunning and clever.

This is so tragic and upsetting to think that a young mother would expose her young daughter to the danger and abuse of drugs. I do not want to sound judgmental but this is extremely selfish and self centered. I would say to young people stay off drugs and this too shall pass. This is no way to solve problems and you are destroying innocent lives in the process. Seek professional help or talk to a trusted friend or clergy member. There are better avenues to use to solve your problems. Tomorrow is a new day.
KenoInStereo (Western Hemisphere)
When are we going to start holding some of these doctors accountable for this epidemic!? This epidemic is the direct result of doctors needlessly prescribing pain meds to people who don't really need them! Americans have been suckered into taking a pill for every little thing for decades. Just turn the TV on! "Ask your doctor if Prescription Drug X is right for you!". What ever happened to offering REAL health care instead of just pushing pills? The doctors push the pills, the patient gets hooked, the doctors stop prescribing the pills, then the patient turns to heroin or getting opioids illegally. It starts with the doctors! One good class action law suit against some of these doctors and hospitals that prescribe unnecessary pain pills, and this opioid epidemic would CEASE!
Cat (Western MA)
Add to that the pharmaceutical companies that grossly misrepresented the addiction danger of these medications - even to the medical profession - and you've got the picture in a nutshell. There have always been drug users and addicts among us - but the scope of this epidemic has direct roots in misrepresentation and over-prescription.
TPS_Reports (Phoenix, AZ)
And we should sue Circle-K for creating alcoholics because they sell alcohol? People have free will. This mother decided to prioritize her drug addiction over her child. End of story. Let's stop blaming doctors.
nycmom (New York, NY)
I watched the video of the collapsed mother in Massachusetts, and I wish I hadn't. The mother needs help and should be evaluated to determine if she can retain custody (what if she had lost consciousness while driving, or holding her child?). But what has left me feeling sick and dark is the sheer inhumanity of the individuals filming the scene without comforting that poor baby, and without touching, talking and trying to reach the mother.

Absolutely disgusting. Heartless, soulless. That child's heartbreaking cries and fear while adults stood mere feet away, filming her with their phone. One of the worst things I've ever seen.
Floramac (Maine)
I had the same reaction.
CW (Virginia)
thank you - glad I opted not to view it.
Cheryl (Yorktown)
Recording the scene was a good idea, Sometimes you need to hit someone over the head with the evidence of their problem before they perceive it. Memory is short, denial pretty strong.
But standing there leaving the helpless little girl in distress is cruel and unfeeling. Who does this? Who doesn't go over and check to see if the mother is breathing?
M. McCarthy (S F Bay Area)
A shocking tale. And what about the person who prescribed these? Consider this: during a PT session I heard a young person who was being treated for sciatica say that her pain had gone as she was taking Vicodin, Valium and another prescription drug that I had not heard of. My former physician spouse was horrified when I related this.
Both of us have had sciatica and many of you have also but it is totally inappropriate to prescribe opiates mixed with Valium for this. My orthopedist never would. And she drove herself to the appointment , scary.
We have to ask ourselves why this is happening here and not in other similar societies.
Floyd (Pompeii)
As the father of a two year old daughter, watching that video made me cry. Not for the mother. For that poor child. And all the while, some clerk at a dollar store is too busy filming the whole thing while this young girl is overwrought with fear and sadness that her mommy is not responsive. What the what is going on, people?
What a heartbreaking video. Why did no one step forward and comfort the little girl?

I don't know what the solution is, but I believe more medical research into drug addiction is needed. I was prescribed Vicodin several times (after giving birth, breaking bones, etc.) and I never understood why anyone got addicted to it. If you are in pain, you need it; if you aren't, then you don't. But I suspect addicts' bodies are wired differently from mine.
Vickie (San Francisco/Columbus)
"As she was shopping in the toy aisle...." There have been many lengthy investigative reports on heroin use in all areas of the country. Most reports are accompanied by pictures. Families, we read, are struggling financially. Yet pictures show rooms overflowing with toys probably bought as an apology. Kids don't want toys. They want a parent that reads to them, who provides a safe secure environment, who sends them off to school with a full belly and a hug. They don't want a life filled with strangers going in and out the family home....a life where they worry if or when they will be fed, or if or when they will be required to "parent" a toddler just a year or two younger than them. "As she shopped in the toy aisle..." Those poor kids.
Just a brief stroll through today's Washington Post and I encountered at least half-a-dozen news features about the horrific abuse and sometimes murder of very young children. In most cases the families were already known to social services. In several cases children had been removed and then returned to the parents who continued to abuse and finally to murder them. Black families, white families, multi-ethnic families.

Another story described the arrest of a Hispanic father for punching his wife who had just given birth, then smacking the head of his newborn daughter before fleeing the hospital. He was mad because his wife's breast was visible to the doctors as she nursed her newborn. What chances do you give this infant for making it safely to adulthood?

I don't know how much alcohol and drugs are part of these stories, but I give it pretty high odds.

You can wring your hands over the sad sad moms, and how deficient we are in compassion for addicts--or you can save the kids first and let the parents get in line for any leftover resources.

Do you think this was the first time that toddler was sobbing because of something her mother did--or did not do? The looming tragedy for that little girls is the potential of being returned to a supposedly remorseful and clean Ms. McGowen.

Want to cry? Look up the story of Tracey Maye and baby Tess Maye. All these years later and I still can't forget it. Everyone tried to help the mom there too.
SD (Rochester)
I'm an attorney with some experience in family law, and I've worked on (e.g.) guardianship cases where a parent had a substance abuse issue and a grandparent became the child's legal guardian.

Removing a child from a parent often has long-term psychological and emotional consequences, regardless of what kind of problems the parent has. It's not something to do lightly. Foster care and adoption have their own set of issues as well, and (unfortunately) kind and caring foster parents are not always available for every child. Especially older kids and those with disabilities.

That's why it's so important to evaluate each case individually, and that's why family court judges have a "best interests of the child" standard. It is horrible when mistakes happen, and there are certainly situations where it's obvious that kids need to be removed from the home for their own safety. But it's often a difficult call, where foster care placement might be worse.
SD: Look--I agree with you. The reality is that for most kids of addict parents, there's no good place to go. The grandparents weren't successful at raising their own healthy child, and aunts and uncles may be not much healthier than the addicted parent. Sometimes the people who seem to make a career of adopting special needs kids are driven by some sort of fundamentalist lunacy that harms kids even more.

But over and over again, we read these terrible stories of children returned to parents who went through the required steps, were certified as "fit" by well-meaning social workers, and then, a year or two later, we have a dead or horrifically abused child.

But I'd say, with limited resources wherever we look, the kids have top priority. Invest in giving foster parents every possible resource so they can actually make a home for these children. Give adoptive parents the same stipends as foster parents, because the child's needs don't end when adoption is finalized. Many people who'd be willing to permanently adopt don't have the money for ongoing therapy those children will need.

Maybe it's essential that abusing parents are never regarded as "graduating" from or "successfully completing" mandated drug-treatment and parenting programs. Part of getting their kids back should be the understanding that they will always need to be monitored and provided with constant therapeutic support. That's cheaper in the long run, even if the up-front sticker price hurts.
APS (Olympia WA)
"The Lawrence police estimate that children are now present in perhaps 10 percent of the drug calls to which they respond."

Failure of sex education/contraceptive distribution?
Ellen McCormick (Nashua NH)
" from the first, ecstatic rush of a drink or drug, to “falling in love” with the sensation, to the realization that the pleasure has turned to pain and the frequent use into a compulsive, obsessive hunger for a chemical fix. Through the candid testimony of people who have been there, Portrait of Addiction leaves little doubt that addiction can happen to anyone. For any who have not encountered addiction before, the hour is a frank and absorbing introduction. And for any who have wrestled with addiction, it is a discovery that they are not alone and that recovery is possible."
Do you really want to know why people become addicted? Watch this absorbing documentary from Bill Moyers:
Justine (Peru)
Addiction is a chronic disease. When are we going to start treating people with substance use disorders with compassion and empathy and effective wraparound treatment and recovery support, as we treat people with cancer? As a society, our beliefs about people struggling with addiction are medieval, based on damaging myths, folk tales, and misinformation. These cruel judgements only perpetuate the damage to our society and families, as we shame, blame, and dismiss people who are struggling with a chronic disease. The mothers of Magnolia New Beginnings are heroes. Will take all of us losing a loved one to a substance use disorder before we change our ways and invest in effective prevention and recovery support programs?

Regarding addiction as a chronic disease, see:
TPS_Reports (Phoenix, AZ)
Well for one thing, people with cancer didn't choose to get cancer. And then make that choice over and over and over again.
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
Therapy is more effective once a person has hit rock bottom.
E. Giraud (Salt Lake City, Utah)
"When are we going to start treating people with substance use disorder..." When it stops becoming a threat to everyone's public safety. Most cancer victims don't turn to crime to cure their disease, stage home invasions, imperil the safety of others. I agree that addicts (yes, addicts, not those with a "disorder") need help, but help only helps if they truly want to get clean. As long as the public safety of all law-abiding citizens is jeopardized by drug users and their suppliers, we all get to have a say in shaping the narrative regarding empathy or judgement.
Seems to Me (Clinton Township, Michigan)
Tragedies abound, yet the greatest tragedy is not even mentioned in this article, that being that once a person falls victim to opioid addiction (true addiction as opposed to chemical dependency), within a year of abstinence, relapse occurs in roughly 90% of addicted individuals. Within 5 years, relapse or death by overdose is the rule in nearly all affected individuals. There are some fortunate souls that successfully remain abstinent after that point, a notable example being Philip Seymour Hoffman, but even he succumbed to his disease some 3 decades after last reported use. The only acceptable and MEDICALLY known treatment for the disease of opioid addiction is replacement therapy/methadone treatment (taking methadone for life), yet there is so much unwarranted stigma attached to it, few seek it, and Federal Regulations are so onerous that they demoralize and discourage those willing to accept such treatment. Changing the laws that govern this treatment would go a long ways towards saving lives.

Desperate families who are seeking abstinence treatment for loved ones with this disease would be wise to save their money and sanity. Abstinence does not work long-term, the evidence is overwhelming and any evidence to the contrary seemingly does not exist.
scrappy (Noho)
The absolute, racist hypocrisy of this just tears away at me. Of course we should be treating addiction as an illness. But how do we then turn back the clock to remedy the minority communities we've been gradually destroying for decades by treating it as a crime?
Deus02 (Toronto)
America has 4 percent of the worlds population, yet, consumes over 40 percent of drugs. Other than a societal/cultural issue in America and why this is happening, it ultimately is a serious health issue that must be dealt with as such.
Where health is looked upon strictly as a profit center, I doubt anything can be done to turn this around.
Kyzl Orda (Washington, DC)
We the voters need to get serious about detox programs and proper treatment for adicts, as well as a jobs program - too many are falling desperate because they can't find work.

This woman should also sue for what will result in her being discriminated for job consideration. People have pegged her and condemned her never to be allowed to change. Everyone deserves better. Wait until it is *your* child and see how you cope with the brutish comments and zero understanding and sense of 'you have it coming to you'
surgres (New York)
I am horrified and dismayed that thought leaders in our society, including President Obama, Lena Dunham, and other limousine liberals, bragged about their drug use and dismiss people who fight against addiction.
If you want to know why addictions are rising and more children are suffering, just look at the liberals who promote drug culture and downplay personal responsibility.
tab (Boston)
How about we look at the healthcare industry that pushes synthetic opioids onto patients who then turn to cheaper heroin when their script runs out and they have become addictive?
Seems to Me (Clinton Township, Michigan)
Categorizing President Obama's "drug" use (cannabis) with the massively destructive substances of opioids, cocaine, alcohol and nicotine is comparing oranges to cinder blocks. Cannabis is by far the least addictive illicit substance -- and I am being generous in using the word addictive -- that one can use. Therefore, what is terrible are not limousine liberals who downplay drug use, but in point of fact stalwart Republicans who have chosen to treat a disease like a crime and incarcerated MILLIONS of your fellow countrymen by compounding their suffering by labeling them felons for life. The onus of responsibility falls squarely on the Republican party's attitude towards drugs, not your President's.
Floramac (Maine)
Personal responsibility plays some part in addiction, but the fact is that a lot of people use certain drugs casually, usually in their youth, and go on to have productive, successful lives. I teach at a community college so I have had students who are recovering heroin addicts. Every single one of them started with some form of opioid painkillers which were legally prescribed to either them or a family member. I've taught two young women who were given opioids by older boyfriends and then moved on to heroin when the supply ran out.
Gloria (nyc)
Addicts are human beings who have made mistakes in their lives (who among us has not?) and who are suffering. We need public policy in all states and localities address it, we need to support the police, EMS and hospitals who are the front lines of this epidemic, we need to decriminalize drugs and most of all, we need compassion, empathy and love for addicts. Framing this as a personal, moral failure by the addict obscures the profound societal causes of their addiction in the first place.
EinT (Tampa)
Decriminalizing drugs will make them more easily obtainable. How will making dangerous drugs easier to obtain help to curb the rise of addiction?

Remember, drugs aren't dangerous because they're illegal, they're illegal because they are dangerous.
Cat (Western MA)
Some of the most dangerous and highly addictive drugs in the world are perfectly legal. All you need is a prescription.
T (Ca)
I hope this mother gets clean.
How utterly tragic.
Kenneth Anderson (New York)
20 years ago the Swiss had an opioid problem this big--they cured it with free methadone and heroin assisted treatment. Why is methadone practically unavailable in the US???
Sarah (New York, NY)
Portugal also had a big problem they were able to manage in the same way as the Swiss. Ours is a culture of blame, hate and ignorance, so will most liklely never will work here.
EinT (Tampa)
They haven't exactly cured it and a nation of 8 million white people isn't really an accurate comparison.
left coast finch (L.A.)
Religion, especially the rabid evangelical variety, is the number one reason why the US doesn't use these proven techniques. We've allowed religion to completely overtake science, policy, and more with its primitive morality and punitive measures that see addiction as moral failure rather than illness. I can't tell you how many times I've heard Christians tell addicts to "get saved" and go to church as the answer. I grew up in that environment and the dripping disdain and visceral hatred of such "sinners" was absolutely real, blatant, and ludicrous. Then there was the creepy all-encompassing obsession with "pre-marital sex" and the resultant medieval policies on birth control and abortion with which we're still dealing.

By taking the Moral Majority seriously in 1980 and handing them "the keys to the kingdom", the Republican Party is totally responsible for why we're still in the Dark Ages of addiction and mental health. The sooner we forcibly remove the American evangelical taliban from policy and medical discussions, the sooner we can employ the health policy successes of a secular and science-based Europe.
It's heartbreaking watching the video but this is no doubt the best thing that could have happened to this family.

This woman and her friend were DRIVING high on a drug 100 times stronger than heroin. We should all be overjoyed that the girl is alive and the mother is in treatment.

No one should ever drive with this drug in their system--especially not with children in the car.
Barbarika (Wisconsin)
Can someone overlay the map of overdose with population and unemployment rate of high school educated. It might explain anomalies like New York's low overdose rate.
Abbott Hall (Westfield, NJ)
And let's not forget that American soldiers have been deployed to safeguard poppy fields in Afghanistan which is where this heroin is coming from. This has been going on since Viet Nam when the CIA owned Air America was transporting heroin produced by the indigenous tribesmen, straight through Iran Contra and now in Asia. If the government wanted to stop the drug epidemic it would end. But, unfortunately, there are too many black ops around the world that need untraceable cash.
Easy Goer (Louisiana)
I can't believe what morons the people filming are for not ATTEMPTING to revive her. I know a lot about opiates. Usage, addiction & (finally) recovery is something I am very familiar with. From age 17 through 31, I experimented, then occasionally used, & ultimately, became heavily addicted to Dilaudid, an extremely potent opiate. Fortunately, in 1985, I went to detox & 30 days of inpatient treatment. I really wanted to be clean. I absorbed everything, like a sponge. Now (30+ years later), most of my close friends from that era of my life are long dead; the very few remaining are, if truly fortunate, clean; usually through AA or NA; or, in prison. Watching the heartbreaking video from the Family Dollar store, I feel the anger towards people who preferred filming the woman dying (or dead), rather than them attempting to revive her. Idiots! Their ignorance is mind boggling. The man who came in & began to slap her was on the right track, but he stopped. So much more could have EASILY been done, & may have SAVED HER LIFE. Simple things, like slapping, pouring ice on her & giving CPR. Currently, there are small tubes that contain Narcan. It reverses the effect of opiates. You spray it into the person's nostril, then help them to breathe. The US has the most opiate addicts on the planet, primarily from RX's. The most common gateway drug to heroin use is alcohol; 2nd opiates; 3rd marijuana. For decades marijuana was 2nd, until recently. The mass public is ignorant to this epidemic.
rudolf (new york)
Addicted Parents, Guns for All, Numerous Killings Black-on-Black, Police Shooting Innocent Blacks, Buffoon Trump Running For President, America The Beautiful.
Jon (NM)
In China you get one chance at rehab (paid for by the government since China is a communist dictatorship). If you fall off the wagon afterward you will be shot. In fact, in most Asian countries trafficking hard drugs is a death penalty offense (and of course, it fool-proof since no one would ever plant drugs on another person to get even, would they?).

On the other hand, Portugal decriminalized hard drugs in 2003, and they have reduced their expenditures on jails, and have not seen an increase in drug addiction. But it's not a satisfying picture for those who work and don't take drugs to know they are supporting drug addicts:
EinT (Tampa)
When you make something that is a crime no longer a crime, of course jail expenditures will go down. Expenditures would go to $0 is we did away with all laws.
SD (Rochester)
As taxpayers, it should be even less satisfying for us to spend millions of dollars warehousing addicts in prison. (Without treatment or long-term support, of course, so that they have the same problems when they're inevitably released).

I know where I'd rather spend my money.
carlA (NEW YORK)
And how is that working in China and other Asian countries? Automatic execution for drug offenses?
Because if it worked there would no longer be any drug users or traffickers there. Therefore it does not work.
Why are drugs a crime anyway? Legalize and control it, end of problem. But there are too many making money off illegal trade in drugs.
This will never change unless the medieval approach is banished and drug addiction revealed to be what it is:
An illness.
This woman's drug reaction occurred in a Dollar Store. It is below Walmart in it's financial pecking order or demographic. How many people reading this have ever stepped into a Dollar Store? I am only guessing not many. The truth is that the population who shops here regularly experience not so savory daily lives. Just another day in Poorville. They see this happening around them so often it is normal. The rest of the country doesn't, so it doesn't exist. Or if it does, as it is today on the pages of the NYT, it is sobering. Truth is that drug use affects us all. And it exists in every community. Look around. Our entire nation has this same problem and it is only going to get worse. We have to demand better mental health services and more rehab facilities. It took a volunteer, connected group of 100's to find a bed for this woman who wanted one. Bad insurance so you die instead.
Where's the humanity in that?
Durham MD (South)
I go to Dollar Stores all the time. Now, I imagine, the difference between me and the poorer demographic is how many necessities and what type of purchases we make there- for example, I am probably buying something like gift wrap, or a cheap toy to distract my kid on an airplane, whereas others may be buying a week's worth of groceries- but I think it's ridiculous to assume an upper middle class person has more likely than not never set foot in a Dollar Store.
Floramac (Maine)
Some of us were brought up to value frugality no matter how much we made, taught to save money and to understand that our self worth doesn't derive from how much money we splash around so yes, some of us shop at the dollar store. I also grew up poor enough myself to understand that a significant number of people in this country struggle to afford even the dollar store. Greed is not good. It never. We are experiencing a very bad hangover in this country right now because of the equivalent of a drunken spending spree on all the wrong things.
gw (Phila., PA)
This tragic development is as much an indictment of the pharmaceutical companies who irresponsibly promote and market opiates to doctors and the public as it is of our broken health care system generally, which is driven more by profiteering than outcome-based delivery. So it's no wonder that many are prescribed relatively cheap pain pills that are addictive and sent home after a brief office visit instead of say, to physical therapy as may be appropriate, which is more expensive and time consuming, but may be more effective and actually cheaper in the long run, and certainly safer for the patient.

The free market, sensibly regulated, is a wonderful thing, but given the rampant inflation we've seen in the health care market that far exceeds the national average decade after decade, it's obvious even to this non-economist that free market forces are not working here, and neither are the regulations currently in place that you'd hope would prohibit or discourage the over prescribing of such powerfully addictive opiates. Clearly as well, the FDA as presently funded and administered is not getting the job done.

This epidemic, not to mention the recent Mylan and Turing scandals involving shameless price gouging, speaks volumes about our failing health care economy.
sdh (u.s.)
I think there ought to be studies done examining why some people make the choice to use drugs and others do not. It has much more to do with unhappiness/depression/malaise/joblessness and all of that. Some people, when they feel terrible, decide to seek a therapist; others decide to find a drug dealer. This is regardless of socio-economics. I know people who have suffered terribly in their life and never once considered drugs as a response; I know others whose life was never that terrible but who ruined it anyway with hard drugs. I accept that addiction is a disease, but you can't get addicted if you never try the addictive substance in the first place. I'd like to know what causes some people to make the choice - a conscious choice! - to try something known to be harmful and even deadly, and others to abstain.
SD (Rochester)
"This is regardless of socio-economics."

Access to mental health services (i.e., the ability to actually see a therapist and get the treatment you need) is *heavily* dependent on income and insurance coverage in this country. You really can't just set aside socioeconomic factors.

If you don't have decent insurance or can't afford to pay for counseling out of pocket, there typically aren't a lot of options.

Access is also heavily dependent on geography-- rural areas typically don't have many providers (especially ones who accept Medicaid), and many states don't prioritize investment in mental health care. It's very common to have to wait weeks or months for an available inpatient bed in a mental health/ substance abuse facility, *if* you can afford it in the first place.
Floramac (Maine)
It's a good question. A friend of mine, a doctor who runs a clinic for the working poor and treats a lot of addicts, says addiction is genetic but how much scientific evidence exists to prove that I don't know.
Cat (Western MA)
And you really believe all these people made a "choice" to do these drugs. That completely eliminates those who unwittingly became addicted to prescribed pain killers given to them by physicians for pain management, and then lost the legal avenue to feed their addiction. This represents a huge number of addicts in this current epidemic.
Mary Melcher (Arizona)
The amount of time and resources this country devotes to this madness is breathtaking. Meanwhile the children of these people have no chance at all. Society needs to prevent these people from more producing children for them to destroy.
Ryan Bingham (Up there)
You don't even want to know the meth problem.
dc (nj)
I think posting a video really was the right decision. It's important to see the real story and video captures it in a way words cannot. The reaction of commenters confirms that capturing on video was the right thing to do. Otherwise, little action would be taken and this issue will be continually swept under the rug, depriving help for more children.

Kudos to the one that captured the moment. This is something we as a society need to face and acknowledge. We cannot live in a bubble of censorship and happiness, but see the real world.
China August (New York)
The strongest military in the world, most powerful nation in the world , the most advanced economy in the history of the world, the inventors and developers of the internet and the nation that transformed communications and commercial transactions and it can't stop the drug trade within its borders or prevent the massive importation of drugs into its borders.

Why is the media so hesitant to add this increase in heroin addiction as a legacy of the Obama administration?

Why no *investigative* journalism into the contributions of the drug trade to political campaigns?
mark (Anchorage, AK)
That is not a very informed statement to lay the opioid crisis at the Obama administration's feet. The previous Bush administration entered into a war against the Taliban in Afghanistan very understrengthed due to the disastrous Iraq war. This led to an explosion of opiod production as US forces took control from Taliban controlled areas where poppy production had been tightly controlled. NOW 15 years later, this epidemic is in full swing here and you blame the Obama administration, even with the Party of NO in control of Congress? Disingenuous at best!
T (Ca)
It is no more Obama's fault than it is W's fault or Clinton's or HW's.

We need to frame the problem outside partisanship and solve it.
Cat (Western MA)
What an absurd statement.
Julie L. (Bayside, NY)
We need to create more organizations, better yet, build a system to help young children who have been victimized by the irresponsibility and abandonment their parents brought upon them. There needs to be concrete protocols on how to help these children both physically and mentally.

"Sadly, the police said, the opioid epidemic in New England and elsewhere has reached such proportions that it is no longer a shock to see drug users collapse in public." So what has been done to possibly help or prevent these tragic happenings? Since "it's no longer a shock..." is it being regarded as a non-serious issue?

We are talking about CHILDREN who are being exposed to ILLEGAL DRUGS in the safe vicinity of their home. They are almost FORCED to watch as their parents consume drugs. So how would that affect them as they grow older?
It is more likely a person will become a drug addict if they have been exposed to it as a child. For these children to grow up in these conditions, they will not have the right mental stability or a correct vision of the world.

I think it's crucial to take this matter more seriously and create infrastructures or implement protocols or have a systems in foster homes where children like these can receive the help they need to renew their vision and reconstruct the life they are going to be living. Children are what makes our future right? It's necessary to invest time and money on this to make our future right.
Ryan Bingham (Up there)
How can any parent do that?
Student (New York, NY)
Julie, I respectfully disagree. We don't need more services for children, we need to help their parents. Per the article, this is becoming an increasingly common problem. No child oriented program or service is going to be enough for these kids. We must start with help, treatment and prevention for the adults/parents.
Foster care is not the answer. Locking up more drug users/suppliers is not the answer. We really need to invest in prevention and treatment.
And, I don't think that the legality of a substance is as meaningful as the impact that it has. Alcohol is legal in most places, yet the effects on abusers and their families are often devastating.
Treatment works only when people want to get clean.

Addicts are cunning. They know how to manipulate everyone around them. They bankrupt their families and still die in the bathroom where now-impoverished mom has to find them in the end.

But let's recognize that many of today's addicts were likely born damaged because of parental use of alcohol or drugs, and poor pre-conception and prenatal nutrition and care. Recently, young elite educated women reacted with fury to the CDC recommendation that anyone of childbearing age not on birth control should refrain from alcohol. We have books written by such women, "proving" that a little wine throughout pregnancy won't hurt. And that it's all the woman's choice, anyway.

No. If you damage your children, you are entirely deserving of shame, scorn and contempt. We'll be paying for your kids forever.

I grew up in an abusive alcoholic home. In my early twenties, my best friend was a black drug dealer--and he was in fact a very good friend.

I learned to choose better. If I had not, I would have been culpable for my own fate.

There's no level of deleterious substance use that is safe in our reproductive years. That includes that expensive glass of wine as well as that snort of fentanyl. Until we recognize that, we'll continue to precondition people to use, abuse, and destroy the next generation.
AB (Maryland)
White privilege even permeates the drug overdose epidemic. We see one or two images of white parents splayed out on the floor of Walmart or slumped in cars, but, oh, the concern, the sympathy. At the same time, overdoses in my state exceeded 1200 in 2015 and will be worse in 2016. Yet, it's barely covered in the media. Some rural communities are seeing hundreds of overdoses on the same weekend, and the only way you know about it is word of mouth. There is such duplicity in always presenting pathologies in the white community as rare to nonexistent.
Really (Boston, MA)
Not sure what your comment is saying - on the one hand you seem upset that this story is reaching an audience that my express sympathy for the white addicted parent, but you also cite that there is not coverage of overdoses in rural communities? Do you mean that there's a lack of coverage of overdoses in rural communities because those communities are non-white or because they are rural communities?

I don't think it's helpful to to generalize about the "white community" because, at least to me, economic differences are very significant.

As far as covering overdoses in regions that are mostly non-white, see the comment below by Denise of Atlanta who notes that the media tends to portray addicts with black and brown faces.
AB (Maryland)
I'm saying that the media have been slow to report on white addiction. And when they do it's from a sympathetic lens. You know what I'm saying, so please don't pretend otherwise.
Really (Boston, MA)
@AB - did you read the NYT feature on Dasani and her family in NYC? The story was very sympathetic to her drug addict parents and their ten (TEN!) children they weren't supporting.
Joseph (albany)
The map indicates that New York (all areas) has one of the lowest death rates in the nation. Any theories?
MissHunter (NYC)
I'm in New York and am active in the recovery community.

My guess for the lower death rates are in agreement with another poster, it's likely a combination of higher education, better access to healthcare (due to population density) and quicker emergency response time (administration of opiod-blockers, etc) also due to population density.

However, let's also note Phillip Seymour Hoffman died of an overdose in NYC not for lacking financial or healthcare resources, mostly because he was unlucky.
Julie (NYC)
MissHunter, I think your guess makes sense with regard to NYC, but what Joseph is pointing out is that the map shows a relatively low rate of overdose deaths for all of New York State. Since much of the state is rural, with a fairly low population density and - compared to NYC - less access to high-quality health care and much longer emergency response times, the reasons for the low death rate due to drug overdoses remain open for speculation.
Mike (NJ)
This is was the story of my life from 1-11. I was in the with them getting the money for the drugs (robbery, stealing, scams whatever else), acquiring the drugs, and doing the drugs.

I'm not sure what the answer is for helping the parents, my parents never found it and died when I was 15. I do know that the children involved in this need help. The amount of emotional trauma experienced when exposed to that environment almost can't be expressed and it lasts a life time without therapy. I'm 28 and just now realized I have issues that need to be dealt with.

These children need help and family, friends, and schools cannot turn a blind eye to these things out of convenience or just refusing to believe that someone they know is an addict. Otherwise the cycle will continue.
factumpactum (New York)
"The amount of emotional trauma experienced when exposed to that environment almost can't be expressed and it lasts a life time without therapy."

Guess what It lasts even with therapy.

I wish you the best, and am so sorry you had to go through this.
Hilary (LA)
I'm so sorry Mike. That is very sad to read and I commend you for building the life it sounds like you have -- with different choices from the ones you saw. That is tragic what your parents did to you and to your childhood. These kids need to be removed from their families-- we can't expect kids to be the glue to these damaged adults and their poor choices.
Force6Delta (NY)
This, and all our other problems are caused by gutless, bought-and-paid-for, greedy politicians - especially the President, Cabinet, Congress - and their pathetic excuses and policies that favor the rich at the monumental expense of the poor, whom neither they, nor the disgusting executives in business, do NOT care about. The public is to blame for being so lazy, selfish, naive, and cowardly, for allowing these corrupt politicians and executives get away with this destruction of our country by doing nothing to stop it, when they have the power to make it stop. All any of you do is talk, write your idiotic books that do nothing, give sophomoric speeches that say what is already known, etc., ad nauseam - uncaring cowards, one and all.
Roberta (Newport News)
Did you watch the video of the child crying? Why would someone film this and not pick up the little girl and try to comfort her? What is happening in our society that we would rather film something than come to the aid of a child. I'm not sure who is more disreputable: the drug-addled mother or the cold-hearted "film-maker." What a society we are creating for these helpless children ...
Whitney (Santa Monica)
What is gutting to see is when the poor little girl picks up the toy off the floor in an attempt to self soothe. How terrifying. Some kids have the worst luck and you just wonder the sort of damage that does to their developing brains and nervous systems. But let's keep the family together! no way shoudl we take her form her "mother" and give her a shot at a new life. instead we wring our hands, give mom help for her "disease" and slam the door on that child and the countless others who dont have enough love, security, food to eat or care. Mom loves fentanyl more than her child but that child should live in limbo until her mom can deal with her addiction. that seems like a brilliant policy. Children of the damned.
Bill (New York)
This is only going to get worse until this country comes to it's senses and favors treatment over incarceration. In the beginning the war on drugs was tantamount to a war on minorities who bore,and still bear the brunt of law enforcement and civil forfeiture. Now the problems associated with drug use are spreading to the middle class and more affluent communities. ALL drugs should be made legal and regulated. Prohibition proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that if people want to ingest a substance no law will stop them. Once again we have created a new class of criminal enterprise that has exported untold billions out of this country and imported millions of tons of drugs into the US. This often makes me wonder if those in power who pass these Draconian drug laws are profiting from the drug market themselves. We need to seriously address real treatment and the reasons people feel compelled to destroy not only themselves but those who love and need them in their lives or we are done. This stupid war on drugs has become a war against ourselves.
H. Munro (western u.s.)
How is this crisis not a national security issue? I can think of a dozen conspiracy theories that tie the opioid saturation to serious attempts to weaken our country. Setting those aside, assuming no nefarious intent (which I admit in the day of putin's meddling is difficult) the end result, the effect of this social disruption is we are losing more than one generation to drugs. Surely we can wrap our heads around this issue. This is another example of necessary government function, and where tax money does, and should, go. So, unless Mike Lee (and Donald Trump want to figure this out themselves, or think the Koch brothers are going to save the day in the public interest, we need and deserve to see some real government action.
Scot (K)
Foster care and adoption cost money, and in both their are huge shortages of adoptive and foster parents. Especially for older children, poor children, minorities and in areas where drug abuse is rampant they are already overwhelmed. I don't know why ppl seem to think that's some kind of black box answer that's going to solve every kids problems. Most kids linger in foster care for years. Most kids never get adopted except by other family members. Plus the foster care systems in America have pretty dismal results. Helping parents overcome their addiction when possible, get treatment and support are the best thing we can do for those kids. Of course were going to need to take some kids into custody in acute cases, but I don't think that's a realistic long term solution to an opiate epidemic.
Tom (Philadelphia)
This story is becoming just like the wave of drug-panic journalism from the early 80s. You could take, say, one of the innumerable Time magazine covers on the "crack epidemic" (which they kept doing, because every time they put crack on the cover, they sold more copies), and substitute "opioid epidemic" and it would almost be the same story.

The weakness of the journalism then, just like now, is that it was shallow and largely reflected the view of police agencies and drug-abuse professionals who had (and still have) a vested interest in hyping the problem and trying to foster panic. The result was a whole bunch of War on Drugs type policies that only made the problem worse while incarcerating millions of Americans, most of them young black men and women.

The real the story is not nearly as exciting as the drug-panic story. Addiction to opium based substances (and lots of other substances) has been around for centuries and it's going to be around centuries from now. You'd never know it from the stories, but the majority of heroin users do survive and eventually get better. These poor children whose parents are drug addicts will, in most cases, grow up to live fairly normal lives -- just like we now know the crack babies did. Stigmatizing these children by branding them victims for life doesn't help them.

Yes of course substance abuse is a serious problem but it deserves thoughtful attention -- not panic.
Stacy (Manhattan)
When my second child was born in the mid-1990s - toward the end of the crack epidemic - she had to spend a week in the neonatal intensive care unit of a large teaching hospital here in NYC due to a (fortunately temporary) problem. She was a normal-sized baby in a sea of babies - about 15 - so tiny you could have fit some of them on your pinky. In the week we were there, no one visited most of these babies. Aside from the nurses and the doctors no one touched them or talked to them. Virtually all were in some stage of withdrawal. Their little limbs would writhe and their faces contort. Several, including the one in the incubator right next to us, kept dying and the nurses would stroll over and revive the child and rearrange the many tubes and wires stuck into it. The first couple of times this happened I freaked out. But eventually I just put my back to the glass and focused on my own baby. I eventually learned that there was a whole other room down the hall with babies in even worse shape.

Maybe these kids all turned out just fine. Somehow I doubt it.
SD (Rochester)
@ Stacy-

There have been a number of medical journal articles in the last few years on this issue, and they concluded that the purported health effects of crack on newborns were severely overblown in the '80s. The scientific evidence simply didn't support the media hype. (There are quite a few articles on PubMed, if you're inclined to look).

Many studies have also noted that it's essentially impossible to tease out which newborn health problems are related to prenatal drug use, vs. problems that are related to more general issues of poverty. Things like stress, poor nutrition, lack of access to prenatal care, etc., can result in problems like prematurity and low birth weight. In other words, a baby could end up in the NICU simply because their mother was poor, regardless of whether or not she used drugs.

Heavy prenatal alcohol use is the one thing that has the most scientific evidence of harm to newborns (and that's perfectly legal to use).
Stacy (Manhattan)
What is the matter with the adults in that store who couldn't be bothered to pick up the little girl and comfort her? Has this whole country lost its collective mind? They just stand there with their cameras doing nothing. Then the "friend" comes along, brushes the child aside, and takes the cell phone out of the mother's purse. Everyone is so consumed with their gadgets they are oblivious to the human situation. And I won't even comment on a 38-year old mother who spends her day driving around sniffing fentanyl with a toddler in tow. I realize that once people are addicted they are in its clutches. But they knowingly take that first step, and second, and third. Why?
tank black (columbia, sc)
So, showing the video is wrong because it embarrasses the mother, yet the video made her decide to get help? I'm usually on the side of not publicly embarrassing people, but sometimes an addict needs to see themselves through other people's eyes.
Pauline Yoshihashi (Los Angeles, CA)
To those complaining about the public "shaming" of the mother, I'd say that the daughter's needs must be a priority here.
Yes, addiction is a monster of a disease. However, the mother will only be able to get clean when she takes responsibility for her addiction. Recovery is a lifelong journey and a daily commitment--like loving your family.
If the video shocks the woman into taking those crucial first steps toward recovery, it gives her daughter a fighting chance to grow up with a sober, loving mother. For both of them, I'm praying that's the case.
Elias (US)
It is interesting and worrisome that after the US invaded Afghanistan this problem was exacerbated. When the Taliban ruled they banned opium. Today Afghanistan produces almost 90% of the worlds opium. I guess the pictures of US soldiers guarding poppy crops were true.
David (Short Hills, NJ)
If you believe that cutting off one source of supply, even if it's the largest source, is going to solve this problem, then you do not understand addiction.
Funny thing about drug treatment costs. Google the use of intravenous vitamin C in treating acute withdrawal. Mainstream respected addiction specialists scorned the idea until challenged to test it. Cheap and effective.

As with everything else in this country, addiction treatment is a lucrative business.

Shame is inexpensive, though. Thank God that bystander took that video, regardless of motive. Of course, it's not as though Ms. McGowen had no previous clue that what she was doing to her daughter was shameful. She wasn't a 15-year-old.

Stop clasping your hands in agony about suffering addicts and take a look at the fruits of their refusal to make good choices. You can spot the obviously damaged children. But the ones with subtle brain miswiring that no physical test can yet measure also have poor impulse control, learning deficits that others blame on failure to work hard enough, and lifelong lousy judgment skills. They're in and out of the criminal justice system and it was never truly their fault, they can't choose better. If their addict parents suffer from the same deficits, recognize that, understand they can't be turned into responsible caregivers no matter what you spent.
PogoWasRight (florida)
It is too bad that so many people have too much power regarding how to effectively control opioid use. And too little memory of what happened when ALCOHOL was banned. A complete failure, but our governments still feel that they can do no wrong. But usually do. Just watch, America! The Feds will ban opioids and deliver no help to the people who need that help. The one thing the Federals COULD do to help very large numbers is to permit use and ownership of Maijuana
Denise (Atlanta, GA)
I am a black American so conflicted about this. I can remember reading story upon story about "urban decay" due to drug use during the crack epidemic. Yet, only occasionally do stories about white drug addicts pop up, usually due to their overwhelming presence on social media. It seems that the media has been trying to "hide" this heroin epidemic among "underprivileged" white America, just like they did the crystal meth one of not long ago.

What ties all of these epidemics is the despair that people feel and society's idea that they are disposable and not worth caring about because they are poor, had babies out of wedlock, etc. For a long time the media has shown the face of poverty as a black or brown one, when in fact the clear majority of the poor in this country are white and they are forgotten, except when their behavior causes some societal alarm. They do not fit into the narrative that most white Americans like to believe of themselves: that they are just, good, successful, and above reproach. That they are not teenage mothers, do not apply for WIC or Medicaid or use food stamps, and they certainly do not shoot up in front of their children.

Mandy McGowen had the courage to look at that video of herself and see what she had become. I wonder when will white Americans likewise have the courage to look at themselves, past and present, with an unvarnished eye. It's beginning to seem like our country's survival depends on it.
Ptooie (Boston)
I don't like the idea of making life easier for single mothers, black or white. Time and again, life has shown that a two parent family of a mother and a father is better. We should be strengthening the family, not undermining it. If you want to live for free, perhaps we can think of a suitably uncomfortable place where we can support those truly in need--something like an all-woman boarding school for wayward mothers. None of them would want to go there, and they would avoid having multiple children out of wedlock, or with loser dads.
AB (Maryland)
Let us hope that your comment goes viral. I, too, live in a state that has a horrific overdose problem and a growing homelessness problem in white rural areas (because parents are throwing their kids out of the house, forcing them to live in the woods). Yet the media and the communities collude to hide everything. There may be a solitary story here and there about programs to help the addicted or meetings to deal with homelessness, but usually these are sympathetic and humane approaches. Still black men clog our prisons charged with nonviolent drug offenses. The double-standard is disturbing. And the point is to continue the myth of global black pathology and the myth of the purity and goodness of the white race.
mykgee (NYny)
You are so right Denise. I am white and yet share the same conflicts as you. Where was the outrage when black communities were destroyed by drug use and drug trafficking? Now we see a white child crying and going through foster care, and we all gasp at the lack of affordable treatment facilities. This is not a new problem, but this is a problem that is affecting a whiter demography, so all a sudden it is a health issue. I do feel terrible for this young woman and her daughter, but what about all the black children that go through foster care? This of course does not stop me from thinking that we need to help ALL families, no matter their background, with drug addiction. But I find the double standard just sickening.
Paul (White Plains)
This is sick stuff. And it will get sicker as Democrats, liberals and progressives increasingly legalize all sorts of drugs in their twisted attempt to control the spread of addiction. The answer is to incarcerate any and all drug dealers and users. Compassion and unlimited treatment have proven to be a total failure.
Alex (Ohio)
Complete ignorance. We've been trying to lock up all the users and dealers for over 40 years. It doesn't work. The war on drugs is a failure and always has been. Until we start treating drug addiction as a social and mental health problem rather than a criminal one and start addressing the root causes of addiction things will only get worse.
Michelle (Florida)
You obviously have never had an issue with is not a choice.i believe everyone is wired differently.people who abuse drugs, while making poor and selfish choices, are missing sonething. In many cases they can overcome addiction, of course only if they really want it.i speak from experience. There are not enough programs made available to people unless they are wealthy and its just another thing in this world that revolves around sad no one picked up the child.the person filming should be ashamed.
Dlud (New York City)
So we should let the drug lords roar and enhance treatment for addiction instead? Do we let lions roam outside their habitats and open more hospitals for the humans they attack? This is crazy.
Stop using phrases like "opioid epidemic." Zika infections are an epidemic. People die in Ebola epidemics though they try their damnedest not to get sick.

We sure hate to suggest, in this country, that anyone has personal responsibility for the choices they make. If you choose to endanger your children--before or after their birth--by using harmful substances, you are a rotten human being.

And it's not just a class thing, of course. Our modern young elite female crowd reacted ferociously to the CDC recommendation that any woman of childbearing age who wasn't on effective birth control should limit alcohol consumption.

As an ex-Noo Yawkuh, I grew up on tragic NY Times feature articles on the lives of children destroyed by their drug-addicted mothers, often in cycles of entering foster care, being sent back to their "clean" parent-education-class graduate mothers, and then either back to foster care or dead.

As the child of an alcoholic, abusive home, I know what it's like to make bad early choices and by the grace of God survive them. But you really only deserve a few chances to get smarter. Your kids deserve stable homes. If we need to start building orphanages again--based on modern understanding of what children need to thrive--then let's begin. People who really want to get clean will do so. The others will suck every dollar out of the system, and still continue to use.
Bob in NM (Los Alamos NM)
Interesting that her name is anything but Hispanic. I have relatives that live in a neighboring town that are always badmouthing the Puerto Ricans that live in Lawrence. This article points out that the problem is far more universal.
Ptooie (Boston)
Yes, but that doesn't change the nature of the problem or the best solution.
Michjas (Phoenix)
Like crack addicts, opioid addicts steal, endanger children and other family members, offer sex in payment of drugs, commit all kinds of acts of fraud, ignore their financial obligations, and secure illegal guns. These are the harmless drug users who don't belong in prison according to many. Social services are weak for crack users, and the burden generally falls on the families. I don't know the comparative statistics for opioids. But anyone who thinks that these addicts are best serviced in communities without services or where the addict regularly denies services is living in dreamland. To protect the community against those who are addicted and engage in ongoing crime to support their habits, jail is often the only practical solution. If all those poor people in Rikers were released, they would wreak havoc on those around them. That's the Times plan for their rehabilitation.
ann (Seattle)
Decades ago, factories were located in cities, where they employed many Black people. Then the factories re-located to the outer suburbs, leaving inner-city Blacks without work. Some turned to illegal drugs to make a living or to escape the stress of having to live without an income.

Now that Bill Clinton and his successors have signed Free Trade bills, manufacturers have moved factories abroad, leaving many working class whites without work. Some have turned to illegal drugs.

Free Trade has helped foreign countries, to the detriment of American workers and their families. Instead of spending time in working class communities across the country to learn how Free Trade has been impacting lives, the Clintons have been soliciting donations from countries (who seek to influence American foreign policy) to help other foreign countries. The Clintons’ primary concern is helping foreign countries. Hillary Clinton might be good at directing the Peace Corps. Until the last few weeks, she had not shown any particular interest in ordinary Americans. I do not think she realizes how losing their jobs has left many with nowhere to turn. Drugs help them relieve the stress.
Ben Wegner (Chicago)
What if the mother passed out do to a seizure or diabetic shock? Would there be such public horror and indignation? Progress will be made when people can discuss their opiate use as openly as their other medical conditions. In the meantime:

We need more detox beds. We need more methadone clinics. We also need to legalize and normalize safe injection facilities. That will reduce the harm (e.g. public overdoses) while people addicted to drugs enter the long, cyclical process of recovery.

Any positive change.
Ptooie (Boston)
You are comparing someone who is injured in an accident not of their own making with a person who negligently endangers their life and then asks that we respect their judgment and behavior.
Student (New York, NY)
Per Hillary Clinton, “The True Measure of Society is how we treat children”. Well, we are failing. We are failing because we have it backwards. Focusing on kids via education, etc. is pointless because, in the end, we need people to have enough security and hope to parent well. America always has it backwards. We are always focused on the destination but invest nothing in the journey. Ends without means. Let's declare a War. War on this. War on that. All attempts at quick fixes, never addressing the cause. Lock people up. Shame them. Shoot them. This we will pay for. Healthcare , social services, we ain't paying for that. And so we treat our children...
GregA (Woodstock, IL)
If punishment such as incarceration were the solution for addiction, we wouldn't see addicts and alcoholics going back to using after release, sometimes on their way to whatever home they might have left. Addiction is inherently resistant to punishment. Just consider the physical and psychological beating and all the loss addiction itself delivers to the addict and you'll that locking someone up only delays the use of what addicts crave most: escape from how they feel about themselves.

It's not that "treatment" in doesn't work. It has more to do with the quality and effectiveness of treatment programs. Some programs are highly effective. Some are abysmal failures. Even in the better programs, what works for a single middle aged male may not be effective for a young mother. It often comes down to funding and the mindset of the treatment professionals.

Should we pay for more prisons, or invest in proven treatment models. I vote for the latter, because when treatment does work, it solves the root cause of the problem rather than just warehousing the addict to use another day.
Michael (Brookline)
"Are there no prisons?"
"Plenty of prisons..."
"And the Union workhouses." demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"
"Both very busy, sir..."
"Those who are badly off must go there."
"Many can't go there; and many would rather die."
"If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

-Charles Dickens

Seems apropos for the many comments here, which are more like the employee who started filming rather than comfort the little girl.

Our country has truly lost its way.
Terry McKenna (Dover, N.J.)
surely it is about time to provide addicts with safe drugs with controlled dosages. and with clean needles.

so much drug policy starts with tough love - time to recognize that legal drugs, provided by US sources that are not tied to crime, will do much to bring these folks closer to recovery. for one thing, the users will be removed from drug dealers and for one more - they can get a safer high.

addiction is terrible, but overdoses are final.
Kaleberg (port angeles, wa)
What struck me was a point ignored by most of the commenters: the woman had to turn to Massachusetts because New Hampshire, so proud of its anti-tax traditions, offers nothing in the way of help. For years, Massachusetts has had to carry the freight of its right wing sponge of a neighbor. It's the economic engine of the region, providing jobs, financing, and education. NH is happy to benefit from "Taxachusetts," all the while smugly refusing to do its part. Live free or die, as long as your liberal neighbor pays your tab.
Durham MD (South)
Hey, at least they have cheap booze in New Hampshire- right?
alex (brooklyn)
Just wondering where all the heroin is coming from? Mexico? I am no Trump supporter but at least he has called attention to this problem.
R.P. (Whitehouse, NJ)
In reading the comments below, it seems that not even the danger to young children can stem the unconditional sympathy that Times readers have for drug users. According to them it's the fault of the state, it's because our taxes are too low; it's because treatment is so expensive - come up with any reason, so long as you don't "stigmatize" the person who stuck the needle in their arm to begin with (at the point of a gun, apparently).
mpound (USA)
It's disappointing to see the teaser for this article on the front page of the NYT use the phrase "opioid epidemic", falsely implying to readers that this story is about prescription drug abuse instead of heroin addiction. Don't be lumping street drugs like heroin in with necessary and legally prescribed pain medication with the notion that they both need to be "controlled" by government action. That's the goal of the Drug Enforcement Administration, which has launched a nasty campaign against pain medication (and the folks who need it) as a centerpiece of their bureaucratic empire building. Why is the NYT falling for that?
Pete (Fort Lauderdale)
Get ready for more of the same , as the income discrepancy will undoubtedly get worse if Republicans own all three branches of the federal government leaving the middle and lower classes to fight for the scraps.
jkj (pennsylvania USA)
AND this is exactly why we need to ban and keep illegal ALL drugs including so called medical marijuana pot! It's why it is called DOPE! We have enough stupid people on the face of the earth, just look at those deplorables who vote and support Republican'ts, and we don't need or want any more stupid people. Only those who want drugs legalized including so called medical marijuana, are those who don't want to get busted or get shot by the authorities. Just look at the druggie guy and his wife in NC last week or Baltimore or Reading PA or Philly or druggie Michael Brown in Ferguson. Compare a sober person's place which is clean to a druggie place which is a dump. Tell me, again why drugs should be legal including pot?! Bust them all and keep it illegal!
Jake Schrader (New York City)
There is now some fairly robust data suggesting that in states where medical marijuana is legal, opiate use - and deaths from opiates - declines meaningfully.

"A University of Michigan study (2016) found that patients who used medical cannabis to control chronic pain reported a 64-percent decrease in their use of Vicodin, OxyContin, and other prescription opioids. (Another 2016 study, published in Israel, found a smaller, but still significant 44-percent drop in opioid use among cannabis users.) The potential for sector disruption is substantial: in states where medical marijuana is legal, researchers found that the average physician wrote 12 percent, or roughly 3,600, fewer painkiller prescriptions for Medicare D patients than in states where cannabis was still prohibited, according to a 2016 University of Georgia study."
Paul Dezendorf (Asheville NC)
And at the same time, marijuana legalization increases and alcoholism is commonplace.
Amy (<br/>)
I couldn't finish the video. The toddler was in such distress and so scared and NO ONE WAS COMFORTING HER. But, it seems that people can take videos and talk amongst themselves while all this is going on. That speaks to me as much as the poor mom on the floor does.
Margo (Atlanta)
It would appear that the priority was removing the cell phone - with the contact list likely including her "supplier".
How do people get like this?
hen3ry (New York)
How does charging Ms. McGowen with child endangerment help her to get clean? And why, even if she has New Hampshire Medicaid, can't another state accept it and treat her? What's more important here: her recovery or her insurance? Do we want her child to go through the rounds of foster parents, reunification with her birth mother, and foster parents again if her mother can't stay clean because of inadequate treatment and follow up? Is it better for all concerned to stigmatize the drug user, deny them care, and set them up for failure again? Yes, it may take more than one shot at detox to get clean but unless they get help they can't even start to clean up.

How many lives are affected when a parent overdoses in front of their child? What are the long term effects of seeing or experiencing parents getting high or being high on a child's life? If we truly care about our citizens we would stop pretending that drug addictions are criminal and treat them like medical problems. We would not tell people they have to fail before they are eligible for an in patient program and we would provide better follow up and services to keep them away from drugs. We don't because we prefer to punish drug addicts if they are parents or members of a minority. Punishment doesn't end the problem. That's not to say that they should retain custody of their child but that they should be given a chance to clean up no matter what they've done.
Greg Lara (Brewster, NY)
Charging her with child endangerment helps her child get help. Get it? Of course her recovery is important, both for herself and her child. But it would be a crime to allow her to keep her child before she's free from her addictions.
SD (Rochester)
@ Greg Lara--

Children can be placed in foster care without any criminal charges being filed against the parents. Family court matters are typically civil proceedings. And addicts can be treated, rather than sent to prison.

Routing an addict through the criminal justice system is the least logical way to help them and their families. It's far more sensible to provide the addicted parent with treatment and support. Addiction issues are rarely addressed in prison, and having an incarcerated parent takes a toll on children, too.
milabuddy (California)
I'm sorry but what is wrong with people that their first reaction when someone passes out and their toddler is screaming and freaking out is to whip out their cell phone and film it, rather than to pick up the child and comfort her, or to try to help the woman? That poor child was let down twice - first by her mother, and second by the strangers who had no compassion to help her.
hen3ry (New York)
In America if you touch a child that isn't yours you can leave yourself open to all sorts of accusations. That said, someone should have tried to comfort the child and remove her from the area. Putting the video out on social media is wrong and whoever did it ought to consider how they'd feel if someone filmed them being sick in public and shared it.
KMW (New York City)
I am not condoning what the Family Dollar employee did, but maybe videoing this mother's blacking out due to her drug addiction will prevent someone else from starting and taking drugs. This sad behavior would certainly scare the heck out of me from using illegal drugs. The sad thing is that her daughter is the unwitting victim of her mother's abuse. God help both mother and child but especially the child. The mother is extremely selfish to participate in this wanton behavior and put her child at risk. I do not mean to sound heartles but the mother needs to think of someone else rather than her own self-centered life.
EdgeNinja (Queens)
Had that store employee not recorded that video, that story wouldn't have even been news.
Sorry. The "shame and humiliation" that the activist mother decried are apparently the reason Ms. McGowen finally decided to get help.

Not the fact that she had a young vulnerable child. But the fact that millions, perhaps, have now seen what a lousy mother she is.

I'm an ex-Noo Yawkuh, and I had a rough childhood, and as a very young woman, my best friend was a low-level drug dealer. I was also on very effective birth control. By the time I finally had a planned-for child, I was in more mature years.

Please interview the caregivers--kinship or non-related adopters of children affected by drug-using parents. Detox beds and in-patient long- or short-term facilities won't help them, ever. Their brains have been permanently miswired, and they, too, will spend lives intersecting with the criminal justice system and often bearing the next generation of children with miswired brains.

I know all about self-medicating for anger and despair. I also know about choices. If Ms. McGowen, at 36 and with a toddler, needed public shaming to want to get clean, the state should choose to give her daughter a chance at a better life and never let Ms. McGowen get her back.
JimBob (Los Angeles)
Our government -- that's supposed to be us, people -- has decided that makers of a product can't be held responsible for the damage caused by that product. It started with guns, and has been extended to protect the drug companies who know that far more of their product is being made and sold than is being prescribed by doctors. More sanctioned corporate welfare, and let the American public die if need be, for those profits.
Slann (CA)
What will it take for people to understand that drug use and abuse is a health issue, not a criminal issue? Our "war on drugs" might sound like a catchy name, but it's been an utter failure (and insanely expensive, both in lives as well as dollars.
We need to look at Portugal's successful shift from criminalization to putting resources into health services. It has worked! They began this shift in 2002.
How many stories have you seen or heard about this successful strategy? Probably none, as it doesn't play into this country's horribly failed policies.
Our society is crumbling form drug use and abuse, while we do, essentially, nothing. Our citizens are victims in need of health service assistance, but our money has gone to militarizing the police, spending huge sums on the DEA (failed expenditures), and our lawmakers don't have any answers, as they keep trying the same old failed ideas. What will it take?
CaptainDave (New York)
Looking at the 2014 map, it strikes me that New York State is a veritable oasis in the sad desert of overdoses. Every state around it is yellow and orange and NYS is mostly blue. There's a story there and I'd sure like to read it.
SD (Rochester)
I've been very curious about that as well. I wonder if NYS has tighter controls on the prescription of opiates, compared with neighboring states. That would be an interesting follow-up article.
H (B)
That poor little kid! I haven't seen the video, but I wish somebody had picked up the poor baby to give some comfort.
CT Resident (Waterbury, CT)
I am a 65 year-old male IT specialist sitting here at my desk with tears streaming down my face.

What have we come to in this country? How and when will we find the means to fix this?
Jeff (Greensboro)
Opiate addiction is one of the scariest things out there...if any college students are reading this, never ever ever do opiates. Just don't. I have seen opiate addicts, both heroin and pills, and it is just not even close to worth it. Smoke marijuana and call it a day.
Guapo Rey (BWI)
My son in law, an ambulance paramedic in inner city Chelsea, MA, reports administering narcan, and emergency room trips twice per day, for the same user.

He is very compassionate, personally and professionally. But he finds himself growing increasingly frustrated and disaffected on this job. It is a real struggle for him, not to mention his secondary concerns for his own safety. He gives it another couple years.

Two days ago he was called out to an OD only to see one of his own EMT's on the sidewalk. It's all opioids, no meth.
Crossing Over (In The Air)
I'm tired of seeing good people and sorely needed resources being directed to junkies that have no respect for those who help them nor themselves.

What kind of a mother takes drugs in front of a toddler, I ask you???

Don't make excuses for her, that's just a liberal knee-jerk reaction making it OK for her to act the way she does, it's not OK. It's taking one thing and calling it another.

She's not a junkie, drug addict, no, she's simply an adult who has made some bad
PrairieFlax (On the AT)
Why did not one of the witnesses try to help the child? The dhame belongs on them, not the mother.
Guapo Rey (BWI)
True, but it is the mother who is responsible. And we need to get away from assigning blame. Gets us nowhere.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
The main pain these drugs work on is the agony of thinking.
Iver Thompson (Pasadena, CA)
How is this any different than coming into the living room and finding your dad passed out drunk on the couch? This has been going on for years, only now kids can record it on their phone.
Dlud (New York City)
So now we have not only "dad passed out drunk on the couch" but mom lying over-dosed on the floor, and that's to be expected? This is the kind of attitude that creates such a reprehensible state of adolescent irresponsibility among so-called adults.
susan m (OR)
Yes that is true, but pain medications have brought addiction to people through the doctors office, or the dental clinic. Alcoholism is alive and well in the country, but pain meds have added another dimension to the problem.
Colenso (Cairns)
'Intensive inpatient treatment with medical support can cost $30,000 a month.'

Tell me now. How does that compare to the cost of keeping an African American crack addict in prison?
Zander1948 (upstateny)
My sister, who died in 2006 at the age of 51 from leukemia, after having wracked her body with drug abuse for nearly four decades, often "used" in front of her kids. I also believe that she took drugs when she was pregnant with all three of them. As a result, all of them have severe learning disabilities, and I am now dealing with her eldest, who, at nearly 35 years old, cannot hold a job, and, although she doesn't use drugs, cannot do simple math and cannot read. I have to read things out loud to her. She lives with me because she would be homeless otherwise. She has a part-time job, but that doesn't cover her bills. She is poor--and it's expensive to be poor. So now she lives with two old people--us. This video in New Hampshire (ironically, my sister lived in NH) could have been of my sister and her kids. We have no idea what they witnessed. So this has even longer-term ramifications than even this video demonstrates. While I have some empathy for Ms. McGowen, I am even more concerned for her child. In my experience, the courts want to return the children to the mother, no matter what, and they believe the mother when she purports to be "clean." My sister could have won an Academy Award. As she always told me, "I'm very good at what I do," and she convinced judge after judge to return those poor kids--who will never recover from what they saw when their mother did drugs--to her.

What a tragedy, on so many levels.
Guapo Rey (BWI)
Unfortunately, there are not enough foster homes or families to take in all the damaged kids. Good on you for taking in her niece.
NYHUGUENOT (Charlotte, NC)
"Unfortunately, there are not enough foster homes or families to take in all the damaged kids."

There will never be enough homes because the social service agencies make it too difficult for the average person to qualify. One person smoking is enough to do it. The system is set up to qualify the people who use foster homing as a business. I have a family member who had as many as 10 children. The income was enough to expand her home to create what more like a boarding house. She did a good job with the "permanent" kids but was constantly pressed to take in the overnight or weekend intakes who disrupted the routine. Her days were spent hauling kids to psychologists and specialists because these kids had problems. Sadly they influenced her own children who have problems of their own as adults. The daughter has been married three times.
A quiet household with two people who have never had legal issues, raised children who graduated with summa cum laude be degrees can't ever ever be considered. If you go to church on Wednesday and Sunday you have to leave them at home because you can't influence them that way but you can't leave them at home alone.
There are people who'd like to help out a child or two but find the hassles with government overwhelming.
Thomas Green (Texas)
May you have the strength to continue the support. My prayers are with you.
Samson151 (Los Angeles CA)
I keep seeing articles that refer to the cost of treatment as $30K, but it needn't be. In most areas that I've seen, especially rural ones where housing is usually cheaper, you can provide inpatient care for under a tenth of that figure. One nonprofit I visited offered intensive outpatient services (reimbursed by medicaid or insurance) with a safe and very affordable community housing environment, where after an initial month or so, residents could go out and work. It just takes initiative within the community and the cooperation of state and local government. The $30K programs can be left to the folks who can afford them. From what I've seen, the longterm results are comparable, regardless of cost.
lisalin (new york)
Detox does not require a formal treatment center. Often, they are just places to make more connections. If you want to quit, find a chaperone and check this out. I'm not selling anything, the tips can be done without buying anything.
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
The non-profits that run the $30K programs need the money to pay their executive staffs.
Paul (Phoenix, AZ)
White men 25-54 are dropping out of the labor force by double digit percentages, a fact lost on conservatives who want to reflexively blame Obama's policies for the decline in labor force participation.

These men are becoming the new welfare class in this country, living on SSDI and food stamps, refusing to relocate from their hamlets and hollows to a large city as close as 100 miles away where there are better opportunities.

Donald Trump is their touchstone, giving justification to their cult of victimization. According to Trump it is everyone elses fault; illegal Mexicans, Hillary trade deals, Chinese currency manipulation, that these men are where they are.

Strung out on opiates and booze, these people has replaced the archetype Cadillac with ammo and tattoos as the new symbol of public assistance waste.
Marie Gunnerson (Boston)
It's quite simple. I've seen it addicts, it doesn't need to be an opioid alcohol is just fine, simply don't care about anything else than their next fix. Morality, family, money, job, life, home, property, personal confidence and pride, none of it, any of it. All of it is expendable in getting the next fix.
Ruben Kincaid (Brooklyn)
This country has a national health crisis that should be attacked. It killed Prince, it brought this woman to the floor of a discount store.

Tragic that this woman is fighting such a horrible addiction, and despicable behavior on the part of the person who made the video. Live Free or Die.
Meredith Link (Albuquerque)
As a country, we will never be able to deal with this epidemic without National Health Insurance or when members of Congress finally allow their constituents to "enjoy" the health care policy that they themselves are enrolled in which, of course, all if us are paying for.
Jane (New Jersey)
Unfortunately, many addicts in the active phase of their addiction, before the consequences catch up with them -or before they start to recognize their disordered lives as a consequence of their addiction - or care about those consequences, - look at their drugs as the best thing that ever happened to them, and are eager to share this wonderful discovery with their children.
I wish I knew what the answer was. I wish someone knew what the answer was.
Phyllis (New York state)
It is not necessary to call something a disease to make it less likely that others would heap abuse and vitriol on this poor woman. She does not deserve shame and abuse no matter her "transgressions". She is a human being who has gotten sidetracked from the best life has to offer. It is so disheartening to hear people suggest she be locked up, how terrible she is, et cetera. I am 70 years old and am what would always be known as a "straight arrow" but I know that along with my good character are also in my heart very dark areas. I acknowledge this and have worked on it my entire life. Cultural circumstances also made this easier for me. People who do not acknowledge that old saying, "there but for the grace of God, go I" are people who do not look inside themselves but rather enjoy blasting other people's "sins" so they can feel better about themselves. This is not to say that society should not take away (temporarily, hopefully) the children for safety. That is a different matter. I am talking about the inner attitudes and heart toward our fellow human beings which needs to become sympathy for their failings and actions to help them.
For Real Tho (OH)
The remnants of crack still be seen daily in the African American community. Young people who's parents used the drug are now battling mental illness and developmental issues yet are lumped together as THUGS. They were traumatized in their homes seeing parents not only addicted but then sentenced to life in prison which forced these kids into the foster care/grandparent/anybody want a check system. People being shot in front of their eye's. Addicts running naked in the streets. Children being sold for a rock. These are now the children that take up the million plus bed's in jail's across this country. These young victims are now grown and shooting up the S side of Chicago. This was not mainly because of addiction but availability. This new epidemic is about availability as well. White American's (mainly) are dying daily because Oxycontin (which is basically synthetic Heroin) was readily available to them by doctor's all across this country. While horrific for White America, African American's should be thankful that we have been viewed by many in the medical community, as having higher pain tolerances, a thicker layer of skin making us more resistant to pain or that we are simply just trying to cop dope. "NO you cant have any med's you dont need them" Look's like it may be a good thing. We could not live through another generation of chemical warfare in our communities.
ghost867 (NY)
A shame that the Times (and most American media for that matter) paid so little attention to the heroin epidemic of the '70s-'80s and crack epidemic of the '80-'90s when the addicts were primarily impoverished people of color. I guess our society was too busy throwing them in jail to understand they had a chemical dependency and needed help.

Meanwhile in Portugal, effectively all drugs are decriminalized and they treat addiction as a public health issue, not a crime. Guess what? Addiction rates have dropped as a result. 45 years into our "War on Drugs", the epidemic has now hit White America (and often times, middle and upper-middle class suburbia). Clearly this is working, though /sarcasm
Steven McCain (New York)
Heroin, Cocaine and Crack Cocaine ravaged the communities of color for decades and little thought was given to it. Now that it has escaped the boundaries of the neighborhoods of the others we call it an epidemic. Addiction has always been a disease that we should have treated not criminalized. We do not lock people up for having Diabetes but we do lock them up for being addicted to drugs. Drug addiction can be treated if we really wanted to. Maybe it’s time for us to stop saying it can’t happen here and realize that it is happening everywhere. I doubt if many people wake up and say this is a good day to become a drug addict. .
Andrew (NYC)
A "disease" maybe, a public health crises definitely, a failure of an individual's self control undeniably and failure to own up to one's own duty and responsibility as a human being and parent criminally.
Babel (new Jersey)
What a traumatic experience for that child. My first instinct would be to call 911 and then comfort the child. The mother should be required to watch this video to see the impact her addiction is having on her infant. Once again there are a cast of villains who are at the route cause of this epidemic. Doctors for the prescription overuse of painkillers and the large pharmasoticals
Tiffany (Saint Paul)
What a draconian society we live in.

Shame drug users, deny them healthcare, take them to jail for using drugs, put their children into the foster care system or into adoption, get angry about having to pay taxes to feed these children, and then cut welfare and food programs.

We have a heroin epidemic? We throw our hands in the air and then have the audacity to say "how did we get here?"
Maryann (Philadelphia, PA)
There are better ways to confront people with their addictions than publicly shaming them and being more interested in videotaping them than comforting their child or trying to revive them. What a heartless world that woman lives in.
Daniel (Ithaca)
The man who never touches a drug in his life would be called lame and told that he didn't truly live. The man who comes back from the brink and sobers up to live a fulfilling life is hailed as a hero and a role model. Let us work on making treatment far far more available and affordable. But let us also end this idea in society that drug use is downright desirable until that instant that it isn't.
Anne (Idaho)
I don't think anyone who totally avoids drugs hears the message that they are lame and haven't truly lived.
"But no one could find an available detox bed." And there you have it. Detox beds in Massachusetts are all but unavailable and I'm sure they are completely unavailable in New Hampshire. This unconscionable situation leaves Ms. McGowen trying to kick a Fentanyl addiction all on her own -- while she's being evicted, etc. Good luck with that, as they say.

There are some encouraging signs, at least in Massachusetts, where opiate overdoses have become a daily occurance across the state. There doubtless will be more beds available, the political will is certainly there from the Governor on down, but until that becomes reality God help that little girl.
Blerb (MA)
You get what you (don't) pay for. New Hampshire, state without income or sales taxes, has so few services, not just in this area, but in all human services. They also have the highest tuition for their state university. But taxes are bad, right?
Elizabeth (Roslyn, New York)
It is inspiring to read about Magnolia New Beginnings. Thanks to these compassionate women Ms. McGowen can begin a life of recovery from drug addiction. It is unfortunate to say the least that only those with money have a pathway to recovery if they choose. Ms. Cavanagh and her group are angels who are stepping in where society fails. Addiction is a very serious disease that affects families. Sobriety is possible only with long term treatment. It can happen and families can recover but that first helping hand is crucial.
Dlud (New York City)
Addiction may be a disease, but the contagion comes from weak societal values.
Naples (Avalon CA)
The root of this problem is economic. The last time I took a train through Lawrence I passed nothing but half-century-old abandoned mills and factories. New England began losing manufacturing first, before other regions. There are pockets of poverty scattered all through its suburbs. Perhaps nowhere in this country is income inequality higher than in Connecticut. Fitting this scene takes place in a "Dollar Store."

And what of the drug industry? We need a hard look at community economics here, and we need Big Pharma to stop pushing their highly addictive opiods for every cut finger. These are drugs that permanently alter the brain, and patients turn to cheaper, illegal sources when the cost of Big Pharma's meds overwhelms. It seems to me the medical establishment prescribes opiods freely, except to the dying. I had to beg for painkillers for my mother when she lay slowly passing away for days. Why should this all be.

One commenter here said the East is striking back for the opium wars. I would suggest Big Pharma is our new East India Tea Company.

We need a minimum living stipend paid for by taxing investment income of all kinds—dividends and carried interest. There is too much hopelessness in this wealthy land.
Craig Mason (Spokane, WA)
The "war on drugs" remains the greater evil (e.g., 30,000 killed by drug gangs in Mexico alone in 2012) than the self-inflicted pain and death of drug users. Prohibition is the greater evil.

I have many friends who have competently used cocaine, heroin, LSD, etc. all their lives. They are responsible, hard-working people who do not lose themselves to the "demon drug" any more than most people lost their lives to the "demon rum." (Yes, lack of opportunity does make embrace of "addiction" a more likely choice, but it remains a choice.)

In a free society, we should let people do what they wish, as long as they don't harm others. Once people have chosen to leave responsible life, they are a "cost" to us if they fail to care for their children, or if they steal to buy drugs. At this point paternalism would be appropriate. Not before. I would leave intervention to charity, but case-by-case legal prohibition with treatment can be appropriate public paternalism. Otherwise, take children from the addicts, sterilize them, and let them continue their chosen lifestyle unto prison or death.

In an imperfect world, self-inflicted harm is the lesser evil, to avoid the massive over-incarceration of drug users, while violent gangs make war over drug production and market share. Violence and police counter-violence is the greater evil.

Articles like this one try to incite "moral panic" to buttress Prohibition. Prohibition remains a greater evil in a world of hard choices.
Karen (New York, NY)
This little girl wants only one thing; her own mother, healthy, alive, and able to give her daughter the loving care they both want her to have. The mother has taken the crucial step of asking for and accepting help to try to make that happen. Stop bashing her, please - you are making the problem worse, not better. I hope Ms. McGowen will recover her health and be able to be the parent her daughter deserves. She has a tough journey ahead of her; let's be kind and wish her Godspeed.
Bella (The City Different)
After a vacation we took from NM to OR and 4400 miles of rural roads along the way, we were shocked at the poverty and despair we saw. There is no hope for so many people in small town after small town in America. The American dream does not exist for millions of people. The drug epidemic is caused by having no hope as the world passes you by. Our politicians live nowhere near this reality as they promise to bring back jobs. Jobs are not coming back to these communities no matter what Hillary or Donald promise. The drug crisis is a byproduct of this desperation.
AB (Maryland)
So why are these people supporting Trump and blaming Mexican immigrants and black people for their plight?
Dlud (New York City)
The drug crisis is a result of a society run amock in its priorities, and the media are the forerunners, preoccupied with convincing readers/viewerw that the country's priorities are, transgender bathrooms and trashy show business personalities. Does Ms. McGowen have parents, siblings, any community ties? Not likely for people living in the shallow, amorphous value system offered by our culture and our social media. It can only get worse.
JenD (NJ)
I don't think we can blame the entire opioid/heroin addiction problem on poverty and lack of hope. I have had too many patients -- middle-class people, who sent their kids to college -- sit and cry in my office as they tell me about their addicted son or daughter. This is a very complex problem and no doubt poverty and hopelessness play a role for some. But not for all.
impatient (Boston)
that poor child. she needs to be made available to a loving, adoptive home asap. I wish the mother well. it will be a hard road for her, but let's focus on the child. She should never be in that situation again. Never.
Jeannine (Yonkers)
They should have comforted the child instead of being so busy filming a tragedy. This isn't a silly dog shame photo on the internet. Justice should be done and children should be cared for, but public shaming is a disturbing practice. We don't put people in stocks anymore.
Irene (Vermont)
But it seems that watching the video and feeling extreme shame is what made the mother get serious about treatment. And maybe the video's widespread viewing will cause others to seek treatment because they never want to be in that position.
Maybe the stocks were not such a bad idea.
FunkyIrishman (Ireland)
When a story like this is brought to light ( actually in print ) there are too easy reactions to be flippant and sarcastic.

~ Well these are white people and black people would be put in jail.
~ The police release all information on these things, but not shootings.

The bottom line is that drugs is a tragedy that rips apart all corners of society.

As soon as we come to grips with that fact, then we cal all begin to heal. We need to treat this as a disease that can affect everyone and show compassion, no matter the skin color or station in life. We need to try an all of the above approach and not just lock up people. ( especially minorities or the impoverished )

We need to show humanity or the problem will only get worse.
Liz (Raleigh)
Filming the scene and not helping the child is brutish -- but on the other hand, if the film had not been shared on Facebook, the mother may not have gotten help with getting into detox.
MsPea (Seattle)
So, filming the degradation and humiliation of another human being has been transformed into a humanitarian act? Thanks for explaining that.
joe taxpayer (Florida)
First, maybe if this problem were framed correctly, people would understand what is going on. This is not opioids like most people think of the (coming from poppies) but synthetics and analogs coming from China and India. It's just an extension of the problem that began with "spice" then "bath salts" and now fentanyl. A quick check of the internet show I and get a gram with delivered for $70 out of Hungary.
I guess the still "remember" how effective the opium wars were and now they are doing it to us.
Julie (NYC)
Joe: At this point in our national opioid crisis, I doubt "most people" think of poppies when they think of opioids. In any case, Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid originally developed and manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Western company; and Western pharmaceutical companies still manufacture and distribute a lot of the Fentanyl that winds up on the street.
J L. S. (Alexandria Virginia)
So just where are the HHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy in all this?

Still issuing proclamations, fact sheets, and flyers? Handing over responsibility for concerted action to address prescription medication and heroin addiction/overdose to the Department of Agriculture?
Shirl Herbert (Sanibel, FL)
As is so common in our country, at a time when even the worst condemnations and rude intrusive comments are posted everywhere and accepted as a new everyday norm, I feel just plain sad. I am a retired social worker and I have worked with families affected by addictions of all kinds. There are no easy answers. Putting children in foster care is not the solution. Children do not forget they have a parent(s) that left them behind. Good foster care and adoptive parents are few and far between. More often than not, a child in this situation has needs that are far beyond what most people are capable of giving. We do have a system that often fails everyone. But to think that the solution is one that you can offer freely without having the understanding or knowledge is nothing more than a judgment put out there in indignation and anger. Not for this child or any other but out of disgust for a mother and horrible situation you know nothing about.
amanda113 (NY)
I know. We may hate these addicts, but their children love them as mom and dad.
Mitzi (Oregon)
The foster system really needs revamping most places....Kids need to be away from addict parents who abuse and neglect them....Meth is the worst. The horrible situation is for the CHILD who has no power to do anything....the addict could choose change. Why have kids if you are addicted?....Abortion is legal
Saoirse (Leesburg, Virginia)
What do we get from Congress and the FDA? Those of us in true, intense chronic pain get our medication cancelled. (In 20 years, I never gave away or lost a single pill.) Obviously, drugs are being diverted somewhere, but I don't know where.

I don't care how people get drugs illegally. If they choose to ruin their lives, that's their choice. They should not have custody of children.

Congress, with it's usual lack of coherent thought, passed laws about opiates that are simply stupid. I wrote to one of my Senators and received an answer telling me not to worry. He knew what was best for me and would handle it the way he saw fit. I'd like to put his gonads in a vice and offer him a couple aspirin and a cup of tea (no gin). After a year, he might understand constant pain.

Maybe if Congress stops writing bills they don't understand, or most often, letting lobbyists write those bills, things will work better.

Opiates are metabolized differently in patients with chronic pain. There is no "high." Pain is not gone, but eased so we don't yelp when we move or move wrong.

My pain doctor went nuts one day and after his tantrum, said he was changing me to Suboxone. There was no rational reason for any change. After 20 years, I weaned myself off a significant dose of morphine in less than two weeks. No vomiting, no misery. That's been 10 months. I have no cravings, just pain.

Find where drugs are being diverted and deal with those leaks.

Please treat folks in constant pain.
NYHUGUENOT (Charlotte, NC)
The only changes to my medications were the fault of my insurance company which over two years eliminated a drug that had worked for years without increasing the dosage just so they could reduce their costs . In fact today I am paying five times more in copay than they pay for the prescription.
My pain management clinic refuses to allow anyone to have more than 60 mg of Oxycontin. When they switched me to Morphine it had to go to 30 mg to equal the Oxycontin. The effects are not equal. But coupled with the Percocet I used because Oxycontin doesn't work the 12 hours promised by the manufacturer I was getting 120 pills a month. The practice also has a policy that no one gets more than 90 pills a month no matter what combination is being used. So now it's all Morphine and increased pain means nothing to either them or the insurance company.
Like the writer above me I couldn't care less about these people who are abusing drugs when it starts affecting my care.
paying attention (Blairstown, NJ)
Good point about pain, but claiming that people "choose to ruin their lives" is ignorant.
NYHUGUENOT (Charlotte, NC)
No one forces drugs on other people. They CHOOSE to use drugs.
Alexis C. (Michigan)
My biological father was a drug addict who eventually died (to no one's surprise) when he overdosed on fentanyl. I am thankful that my mom and stepdad (my "real dad") gave me a safe, normal, healthy childhood.

And while my father never did manage to choose his children over drugs (there are at least five of us, from four different mothers), he never exposed me to it, thank God.
MsPea (Seattle)
The smug, self-righteous people who turn on their phones to film these events show absolutely no consideration for the humanity of either the adults or the children they film. They ignore the cries of the terrified baby that is standing right in front of them so they can continue to record what may be the lowest point in another person's life. The addicts can be treated, learn to put their lives back together and go on, but the people who film these events for the entertainment of others are very likely irredeemable.
Mitzi (Oregon)
I think it was a store employee and maybe it was more about insurance matters from their perspective. That it got's ok, perhaps it will be helpful in the long run...The young woman told a friend she wanted to die--which I theorize is the wish of most addicts to fentanyl--worse than heroin...This is educational....not entertainment to me
Springtime (Boston)
White addicts with young children are really struggling. They deserve compassion and not just the knee jerk defensive reaction that many non-whites seem to have... that they do not deserve support (because "we have suffered so much, now it's their turn"). Compassion needs to flow in all directions. Although people assume that it is "easier" to be a white drug addict who is not automatically incarcerated, this is not true. The outcomes are very poor for people trying to deal with a serious drug addiction from the outside. They get very little financial or emotional support and end up relying on their family for sustenance. It may be noble, but it is not easy.
Zander1948 (upstateny)
Only white addicts, Springtime? What is up with that? My sister had access to high-level, so-called "effective," long-term drug treatment programs. She had excellent insurance. She blew them all. Thousands--if not hundreds of thousands--of dollars were invested into her recovery, and it never lasted. Ever. And he kids witnessed her using time and time again. She had a fourth child, whom the "Live Free or Die" state took away from her. I have no idea where that child is, but I wish her all the best. She will have a better life without a drug addict for a mother.
Shaka (New England)
Zaander1948, did you not find it in your heart to take in your sister's 4th baby? An innocent baby, nonetheless?

You have no idea where the child is but wish her the best??? Unbelievable. That says a lot about you, too.
Belinda (Cairns Australia)
Sad sign of the times that it seemed more important to capture the moment rather than at least soothe a distressed child. It is time to legalise personal use of pot, in regards to opioids, and other drugs with high addictions, it should be legalised within a healthcare setting with the view of rehabilitation. How much has the "War on Drugs" cost, has there been any marked reduction in use, how much has it cost taxpayers to incarcerate those who use or commit crime to feed an addiction. If what has not worked wholesale since the 70's isn't working now, time to try another approach
Alexis C. (Michigan)
When a character from "Breaking Bad" exhibited more compassion in a similar situation ... that's heartrending.
Freedom Furgle (WV)
If there's one issue I wish would get more play during this election cycle, it's the issue of drug addiction. I live in WV where heroin has taken a huge toll - possibly every family I know has a story. Including mine.
I'm not really sure why the issue hasn't made any headway. Addiction strikes both left and right, young and old, rich and poor. Voters, in other words. Maybe the reason is because it is such a complicated issue and both candidates have a tacit agreement to avoid it. Or maybe people just don't care. Regardless, it's a real problem. Every bit as real as terrorism or immigration gun violence or anything else politicians spend their days discussing how to "solve".
j (nj)
Because it is often a state problem. You need to increase tax revenue to fund more treatment beds and treatment options for addicts. This costs money. You also need to have more methadone treatment centers for recovering heroin addicts within easy driving distance. These are not federal issues. It does mean electing men and women who are progressive and acknowledge the drug problem and ways to combat it in your state. Electing people who want to cut taxes/medical spending is not the way to get there, nor is a punitive approach. Neither has worked in the past and it won't in the future. Change starts with you, Freedom Furgle.
Freedom Furgle (WV)
Just for the record, I meant to add an "or" between immigration and gun violence.
Freedom Furgle (WV)
J, I agree with everything you just said. And I do realize your larger point.
I'd like to add that I can't help but think there are ways to cut down on the use of illegal drugs that we simply haven't explored. Punishing countries that allow the manufacture and export of "synthetic highs"; a broad-based national educational program for kids offering real alternatives to those most at risk of falling prey to addiction; and simply acknowledging that the best defense against drug addiction is purpose in life - whether that be work, family, religion, charity, or anything else.
JScic (Soho)
I'm unable to wrap my head around the need to film and publish a video of this woman's worst day on earth. As mentioned there was no assistance offered to either the crying , terrified child. No attempt at first aid for the mother. And yet the employee and the employers stand close enough to record what could have been the death of this woman.
That's shameful and barbaric. I hope that the mother is able to pull herself out of the cycle of addiction. I hope the innocence victim, the baby, never views the recording.
The shame this mother feels should be shared by the monster that released the video.
KiruDub (Sol system)
Cameras have always been a shield that somehow separates the person doing the recording to the reality of the situation. Now that everyone has one on their phones, you see people recording the best and the worst of what they see around them.

To the point that they'd rather film a horrible tragedy than help those in suffering.

Apathy, narcissism and voyeurism rolled into one neat little device! What's NOT to love?
Crossing Over (In The Air)
I doubt it was her worst day
Adam (CT)
Very presumptuous. Why are you sure it was her worst day on Earth? And why are you sure this mother feels any shame? You seem very generous but a little naive.
Sally (Greenwich Village, Ny.)
We aren't going to stop this epidemic through criminal laws, that is already proven. There is a need to legalize most illegal drugs in the USA and sell them through state certified dispensaries. These illegal agricultural products (the feed stock) then need to be only allowed to be grown in the USA, processed in the USA and taxed heavily. However the price of newly legal drugs has to be below the "street" price.
The funds that flow from the tax revenue need to be directed into addiction health services and facilities. The customers will have to register with identification to get the drugs. The benefits are numerous.
We have to get the criminality out of drug addiction, huge savings on the court and prison system. We need to have our addicts be able to come forward without the threat of prison, out into the open. At least they have a chance. The addiction counselors and facilities will rapidly be over whelmed with customers, so we need to train more addiction specialists. Most of the will come from recovered addicts, who at least will now have jobs and something more to lose.
This also will end the flow of drug money to the narco-terrorist organizations around the world, like the Taliban. So we will have less of our military killed and wounded by funds provided by our addicts.
Just think of Einstein's theory of insanity and then apply it to our "war on drugs". It's time to change our failed drug policies.
Dave T (Chicago)
"Overwhelmed with customers"? - Nonsense. In Chicago there are already numerous free publicly supported rehab centers (Gateway, Haymarket, Lutheran Social etc.) in addition to the fancier joints that also accept a large number of non-paying patients to maintain their non-profit status, yet the problem still exists. People wrongly assume that addicts want to change - perhaps one in a hundred does, and rehab can only help those that want to recover - i.e. one must choose to get well. Please explain how available lower priced drugs will help people make that choice - it will instead only send many addicts to an earlier grave. It sounds cruel, but making the unacceptable behavior more difficult and painful for the addict can often force change driven by desperation, anything else is called 'enabling'.
Apparently functional (CA)
Couldn't agree more, on all of it.

My brother died of addiction, after losing his job/wife/house. He wasn't lazy or stupid; he didn't get addicted on purpose. He was mentally ill, and he died of it.

I'd add to your response: this country throws money at pretty people who make movies and play games for us to watch. I wish we'd throw a small fraction of those billions toward helping the mentally ill, who suffer so much.
Dr. Lisa (Hudson Valley, NY)
It is fascinating to see much of the reaction to white heroin addicts ("Oh my goodness, they need treatment! Get them to a hospital!") when compared with the reaction to African-Americans involved in the crack cocaine epidemic not that long ago ("Send them to jail! Lock them up and throw away the key!"). Granted, it may just be the passage of time that has changed the reaction and not the skin color of those involved, but I kinda doubt it.
Mark Rogow (Texas)
(Not Mark) I've seen this comment a lot, but I don't think it's correct. I remember when meth was the scourge and not heroin. A lot of white drug addicts were committing crimes and I remember everybody wanted them in jail. I think the difference with the heroin epidemic is that the drug is so cheap fewer addicts seem to be caught committing criminal acts for it (I say 'caught'). No meth labs, etc. Instead, they are OD-ing everywhere, children in tow. I'm against the war-on-drugs, but I also don't believe children should be left with parents who do drugs. Adoption would be better for that little girl in the video.
ari silvasti (arizona)
It's called evolving as a society. We tried punishment, it didn't work. Lets try something else now and not make it a black and white thing like everything is categorized.
alex (brooklyn)
However, whether or not the addicts are committing robbers or muggings to get their fix also is probably also being factored into the equation.
AJ (Montpelier, VT)
Ms. McGowen was feeling humiliated, embarrassed and deeply regretful, Ms. Carter said, and might have been on the brink of an intentional overdose.

Oh boo hoo! She should have been feeling humiliated and embarrassed and most likely was only deeply regretful because the episode got caught on video.

Drug addict parents should have their children taken away from them permanently. Instead, in the current system, the children, for the rest of their lives, have to deal not only with the consequences of their addict parents but the consequences of a society that coddles those addicts instead of using common sense. If these people chose to ruin their own lives, so be it, but they should not be allowed to ruin the lives of their children too. As for reviving these people with Narcan after an overdose, my question is why? Most of these people are revived and using again within a matter of hours. If they want to kill themselves, why are we so intent on stopping them from doing so?
GSL (Columbus)
Nice to see you willing to display for public consumption not only your ignorance but complete lack of compassion for your fellow human being. You should spend, oh, maybe 30 minutes and quadruple your insight into the nature, extent, etiology and solutions to this epidemic. (For one thing, the vast majority of the root cause blame can be laid at the feet of the pharmaceutical industry that was complicit with the medical industry to flood the country with dangerous addictive opiate pain killers. Bet your completely clueless about that.) "Let them all die" does not reflect an enlightened mentality - and, by the way, that has been tried and hasn't worked very well so far, judging by the graphic showing the spread of the epidemic. It's coming for a family member or friend near you.
JMN (New York City)
Fully agree. Let them suffer the consequences of their stupidity. Let's stop feeling sorry for these people. Either they get treatment, by force if necessary, or they die. And definitely, children must be removed from their care immediately
Maria H. (Boston MA)
Ms. McGowan is a horrible mom who should be facing jail time...instead we are treated to a litany of excuses and told she has a "disease"....lots of people rally to help her find treatment and in the meantime to control the narrative and make sure we view her sympathetically...we all know that if this were LaShonda from the 'hood it would be a totally different tiresome...
GSL (Columbus)
This problem is best viewed by ignoring any particular case or anecdotal evidence focusing on individual situations, and by looking at the graphic of the spread of this public health epidemic. We are not in a position to deem one person's addiction as understandable, or sympathetic, and the rest as the consequence of "poor judgment". This epidemic is spreading despite failed efforts thus far to control itself, and it isn't going to burn itself out. It is coming for a family member or close friend to all of us soon, whatever the permutations or profile of the addict. Let's get past the moralizing and demonizing and address this for what it is: a national crisis.
Apparently functional (CA)
I'm going to assume you're not a completely heartless person, but simply really, really ignorant. If that's the case, you might try talking to recovering addicts about their experience or reading some of the many well-researched books on addiction.
Sleepless in Brooklyn (Brooklyn)
I would love the NYTimes, or some other media outlet, to compare these current stories about the heroin epidemic with the ones that were published at the height of the crack epidemic. No one was talking about addiction as a disease then. No one was saying it was heartbreaking.
Griffin (Iowa)
I'm curious: Ms. Cavanaugh said releasing the video of a passed out mom and distraught toddler stigmatized the disease of addiction. The video also got help for the woman, who would likely be detoxing the hard way in a jail cell without the video's circulation. The situation could have been even worse, as what if the mother had passed out while driving home? Hard truths, yes, but hidden problems are ignored problems.
NYHUGUENOT (Charlotte, NC)
Diseases are caused by bacteria or viruses or invasive cells.
Which of them causes drug addiction?
Where is the gene that requires us to have a requirement to intake drugs?
Geoffrey B. Thornton (Washington, DC)
Whites use opioids, African Americans use heroin. Heroin gets you put in jail, opoids get you put in rehab.

Whites use powder cocaine, African Americans use crack cocaine. Powder cocaine will get you probation, crack will get you five years mandatory minimum.

If you think it isn't about race, then you aren't paying attention.
Jane (New Jersey)
Our so-called justice system is all about race. The consequences of addiction are color blind.
Ken (Connecticut)
Agreed. African Americans are still being punished more severely for addiction, so the calls of "Oh it is wrong to punish these moms because African Americans were treated unfairly" ring hollow when the system continues its unequal treatment. Throw the book at them until white voters cry out and push for true fairness in sentencing and treatment regardless of race.
alex (brooklyn)
I was robbed by a crack addict in the 80's. I have not been so criminalized by someone on cocaine. There is a difference.
Dee (Missouri)
This is certainly tragic and puts a humanistic perspective on this drug epidemic. With that said, I cannot help to reflect on the crack epidemic of the 1980's and the very less than humanistic perspective on the users and their children. Perhaps it was because of the violence that ensured or maybe because the face of the crack user were primarily black and brown users and not white as with the current crisis. In any event, the ramification of mass incarceration and draconian drug laws and responses are still being felt decades later.
Reader (New York, NY)
No excuse for these parents. Take away their kids. They can't even take care of themselves. Its tiring to continually hear of people using addiction as a sickness, you don't get to that point without at least trying first. Sure, pharmaceutical companies play a role, but the parents also shoulder a lot of the responsibility. It is in the best interest of the child to get as far away from them as possible.
Julie (NYC)
I agree that it's often in the best interests of children to remove them from their parents, but it's only the "best" of several bad options. If you've ever met a young child who's been taken away from a substance-abusing parent - or even from a parent who physically abused or neglected the child - you'll understand that this is hardly a complete or humane solution. These children often have a desperate longing to be reunited with the parent, no matter how awful the parent's behavior, and may themselves develop serious psychological and substance abuse problems as a result of feeling (rightly or wrongly) that they've been torn away from the person who means the most to them. It can be heartrending.
Reader (New York, NY)
Actually I do. My cousin is adopted. He was taken away from his drug addicted mother. Sure he has a few issues, but it's much better than the alternative, and he knows it.
Geoffrey B. Thornton (Washington, DC)
Heroin use is a felony, but punishment is dependent upon the user. In NYC, Philly, Detroit or other urban areas, it's jail. In Maine, a rural white state it's rehab.

Jails are filled with non-violent drug users, they now have arrest records and upon release may be prevented from getting employed.

If whites went to jail for the same offense African Americans go to jail, there would be millions more whites in jail.
Mark Rogow (Texas)
(Not Mark) Certainly if they lived in the cities you listed. Perhaps it's geography and not race? Poor rural counties and states don't have the resources to jail ever non-violent offender, so they don't. Maybe the cities you listed should try that? The war-on-drugs (tm) is such a huge, resounding failure and yet the government continues to push it. It needs to end.
Frederick DerDritte (Florida)
The family that dopes together, stays together.
ron clark (long beach, ny)
The entire US needs to very much increase the numbers, staffing,capacity and funding of addiction treatment facilities in all states NOW! That would be for the 15% of Americans who are dependent on opioids, alcohol, cannabis, benzodiazepines and/or other addictive drugs.
Congress must act and fund. These drugs are increasingly a threat to public health and safety. Waiting will only allow the problems to get worse for our society
Marathonwoman (Surry, Maine)
Sorry, but the big takeaway from this story for me is the fact that someone's sees a toddler wailing over the limp body of her mother, and their first impulse is to film it, rather than comfort the child.
Shannon (Ottawa)
Not to mention allow her to be robbed.
Felix Leone (US)
The filming of the scene is the only thing that might - MIGHT- get that child or the mother help. Just like filming the scene is the only thing that might end the culture of police brutality against black people in America. People gotta see the brutal truth. How many times did that baby go uncomforted in the privacy of their home? How many thousands of children cry over their parents' passed out bodies?

My concern is that incidents like this will spur a privatized "rehab" industry, to parallel the privatized prison industry (aptly called out by Sam in NY), and the private charter schools, which all too commonly fail miserably to perform what used to be functions performed by our government, yet still at taxpayer expense.

(How ironic that Amy Winehouse's lyric "I don't wanna go to rehab" was a #1 hit, months before she died. It says a lot about the mentality of our culture. We glorify drug use and then we're shocked and horrified about what really happens to children at the hands of addicts. It was the people of Albuquerque who made CANDY to look like Walter White's famous blue crystal meth, and then are aghast at what parents on meth did to a 10-year-old girl last month. We need to stop glamorizing drug use. And improve the economy.)
Marathonwoman (Surry, Maine)
Sorry, but someone stepping in to comfort this baby wh=ould not have diluted the horror of this video.
CK (Rye)
First of all it's obscene that some store employee or anyone would take advantage of a toddler in order to generate product for social media. The child suffered trauma when it should have been comforted away from the scene of injury to it's mother.


To the point it's about time people dropped the PC nonsense attitude that opiate addiction is anything other than seriously ruinous of lives, and permanent. People who call for legalization of heroin and opiates are simply clueless. That a mother would be passed out next to her crying infant is absolutely par for the dope course. No level of intervention of "treatment" will ever "cure" more than a trifling % of dope addicts.

Some of the clearest and best data on the subject developed into a large volume written in the 70s "The Consumers Union Report - Licit and Illicit Drugs by Edward M. Brecher." It is thankfully available in total online. I suggest dabblers and PC liberals who think dope addiction read the section on heroin and it's associated substances. One an addict always and addict:
djc (ny)
Science has come a long way since ‘the 1970s’.

Apparently your view of social science policy has not.

Back in the 90s in Graduate School public policy courses we researched howthe death of Len Bias on a basket call court in front of millions of Americans changed the perception for the negative of white affluent America.
The cry to “Do Something” regardless of the social implications resulted in some of the worst legislation passed on issues of drugs.
What will the next cry to “Do something!” result in
Mac (chicago, IL)
The legislative response by Massachusetts to drug abuse seems to be to punish those who legitimately need pain medication while recovering from surgery:®ion=EndOfArticle&pgtype=article.

7 days is hardly time for a senior citizen to have healed from an injury.

As with gun control advocates, the response to illegal use tends to impose restrictions on legal use without really addressing the problem of illegal use.
Lori Frederick (Fredericksburg Va)
These addictions stories are heartbreaking. But what I found maddening was the fact that a dollar store employee took the time to video a collapsed addict and her traumatized child instead of helping. One could justify a lawsuit against the dollar store for not providing good Samaritan aid during a life-threatening event. Are we as a society this bad?
jbg (ny,ny)
Yes, we are that bad... and a perfect example of just how far we've fallen into the gutter, is the unfathomable idea that one of our two candidates for president is Donald Trump.
Shannon (Ottawa)
They let someone steal her cellphone. And walk away. Nobody is a good person here.
Mary Ann Phillips Cv (Libertyville)
And, apparently, videotaped someone going through her purse and taking her phone. Seriously?
Tom (Fl Retired Junk Man)
This is as sad a situation as could occur.

Where is this heroin coming from, we all know, it's from the broken borders that surround our country. The crime, drugs and mayhem we have allowed to pollute our country are entering through the criminal gangs we have allowed to develope here.

When the Soviet Union ended we welcomed every criminal element coming from that area of the world.

The Chinese are sending their gangs and developing their own shenanigans.

Mexico continues to send us their worst. Day after day.

How many politicians have promised us security and not delivered? Too many.

Now we are going to welcome another 100,000 non-veted Syrians and other mixed killers from other places. Idiocy.

Opiod use must be tackled NOW. Addicts children must be removed. Addicts must be given tough measures to help them heal and rebound, or no more contact with their children.

But give them something, let them smoke pot. But no opioids.
Dan (Mill River, MA)
There is plenty of blame to go around but pointing the finger outwards is the wrong direction. What is it about our nation, culture, subcultures, government, economy or whatever that creates such a yearning for drugs. If there were not such strong demand, and the ability to pay for it, there would be no supply. Drugs, guns and obesity are out three biggest public health problems. Our twisted values preclude solving these problems. Until we care more about our fellow citizens than we care about the rights of business to do whatever they want these problems will remain. Its possible - look at the huge success reducing smoking and related illnesses. It is we who are causing this problem, not the long list of "others" about whom you seem to know so little and disdain so much.
comeonman (Las Cruces)
You know, when you started to drug test everyone in this country, you pretty much dug graves for all of these people to use drugs, heroin, that are mostly undetectable in drug testing. When you created the Mega-Pharma Corporate power houses you buried them.
Since the dawn of time, people have looked to "drugs" whether it was alcohol or other to have a good time. If you are one of those rare people who don't use any of the drugs available to us in the US, then YOU DO NOT GET TO CHIME IN. And if you take a double or a beer/glass of wine when you get home then you are drug user and can chime in all you want.
We must let science tell us, even though sometimes obvious, what drugs to stay away from. The absolute worst drug.....ALCOHOL. Those addicted to alcohol suffer more than any other group. Alcohol and benzos are the most devastating to get off of- with alcohol you could die within 72 hours as your organs can start shutting down, DT's of course, and delirium would make you incoherent before death. Cocaine, heroin, amphetamine all have significantly less harmful withdrawals. Pot or cannabis is not even a mention in this category. All though there will be many who will lie about it's effects.
Why all the subterfuge? Ask the DEA. Ask the US government why you didn't know this from elementary school on. They "refuse" to test cannabis because it has no side effects, compared to all of the other drugs being consumed by Americans, and the end result of testing would be legalization.
Madelyn (NY)
One of the saddest facts of this already deeply disturbing story is the fact that the mother's New Hampshire Medicaid insurance was not accepted in Massachusetts.
Edward Behrens (Middletown, NY)
The sub-story here is the "gentleman" who stepped over Ms. McGowen's body, ignored the child, and then grabbed her cellphone and left. It is obvious that he was protecting his own skin, as that cellphone may have incriminating evidence.
Mary (wilmington del)
No doubt all these addicts love their children. They may even be doing their best in raising them but when are we going to acknowledge that the real victims here are the children that never asked to be put on the planet. Addiction is a very sad thing but the children of addiction and by inference, neglectful parenting, are going to suffer mightily if we as a society don't get real about this issue.
Shaming and stigma of the addict are not the most important factor. Reality of the child's life is. Becoming an addict may not be a choice, having a child is.
Larry D (New York City)
The world is so stressful these days, one only has to watch a Presidential Debate to want to numb the pain of life. It's more than just access to Opiates, its the times we are living in and finding ways to cope. Narcotics Anonymous, Yoga, Meditation are just a few ways people might find hope, and coping mechanisms that are healthier than a needle in an arm. We each do our best each day, I pray for the people like this woman to find her way back to sobriety.
clairek (Philadelphia)
Just as shocking are the bystanders ignoring the child. Yes, they called the ambulance, but just stood there and watched that child wail without offering any comfort- agonizing to watch.
factumpactum (New York)
I'm with you. As a parent and former first responder, I would have done my best to aid both child and mother. That said, if someone hadn't filmed this we never would be having the important discussion the film/article provoked.
Dan (Mill River, MA)
What's going on in NY State? It appears that statewide opioid deaths are much lower that nearby New England. Anybody know?
michaelannb (Springfield MA)
Why is addiction, which is a huge public health crisis, being treated as a criminal justice crisis? Who benefits from this system? Why are we not shifting dollars from law enforcement to treatment? We need to decriminalize possession of narcotics and heed the call of every public health professional who understands the scope of this tragedy: Treatment on Demand! It may be that as a society we are still unable to acknowledge the root causes of addiction but we can at least take those actions that make sense, because they way we treat addiction right now IS criminal.
Mark Rogow (Texas)
(Not Mark) I agree with ending the war-on-drugs and banning incarceration for drug use, however, I do not agree with 'treatment on demand'. Most addicts take multiple efforts to conquer their addiction. Some never do. This is a voluntary thing here, no one forces anyone to take drugs, I don't want tax money used to help them. Their kids need to be removed and put up for adoption immediately.
factumpactum (New York)
Given the low rate of success of drug treatment, I wouldn't risk putting this two-year old's life into chaos of the foster care system. She should be placed in an adoptive home as soon as possible. This mother put her child's life at risk, and this surely wasn't the first time. Nor was the risk limited to her state of unconsciousness in the store. How did they get to the store? Driving? This woman put herself, her child, and other drivers/pedestrians at risk as well. Her need for drugs surpasses anything else in her life. In my view, her putting her child at risk multiple times means she doesn't deserve the right to parent her child. Painful, but the child's chance at a stable and responsible family matters more.
Sandra (Long Island)
The law doesn't allow for immediately placing this child in an adoptive home. Family law is a system of parental order to "free" a child for adoption, you have to give the parent an opportunity to prove that they can parent adequately. In New York, I think the time frame is one year. Also, your recommendation is based on the assumption that there are enough adoptive homes available.

This is a horrible problem with no easy solutions...
saintsavory (<br/>)
Why is this a NY Times pick? We know nothing about the mother's drug use history, or how well she has typically been caring for her child. We do know that children often do terribly in foster care, and that it is not legal to terminate a parent's legal rights without 15 months of "reasonable efforts" to support reunification, because safely returning home is in children's best interest.

The article's final paragraph is snide about the mother's chances: "...the child is being placed in foster care, not up for adoption, on the theory that Ms. McGowen would someday be well enough to get her back." That makes it sound atypical for kids not to be put up for adoption within days of a parent ODing, which is not at all true. I don't understand the tone of that sentence, nor the sensational headline, nor why the NY Times would consider it a "best comment" to advocate breaking the law and rushing to break up families.
Roy (Florida)
While I agree in theory, it actually takes a lot of time and red tape to terminate a parents rights and have a kid adopted so "don't put her in foster care" isn't really an option - especially if there isn't someone readily available to adopt her. If she's lucky there's a responsible relative that will take her in, but it might end up putting her in a situation that's just as bad or worse... This is just an ugly situation no matter how it's dissected, though.
Sara G. (New York, NY)
Curious that police departments are quick and seemingly eager to release videos of overdosed parents, but refuse to release videos of police shootings.
Sally (Greenwich Village, Ny.)
Sara that is apples and oranges. The overdosed parents/people don't require an investigation that will be interpreted by thousands of people. The facts lay where they are. Apparently you don't care about this story.
Sara G. (New York, NY)
I'm not so sure they're apples and oranges. Both types of videos show a possible crime (murder and/or unnecessary use of force and possible illegal drug use and child endangerment), both are released to the public via thousands of media outlets – which are indeed “interpreted by thousands of people” - and both require police investigations which may lead to court appearances and criminal charges.

And I’m not commenting on the story itself – which is obviously very sad and disturbing – I’m commenting on the different actions of the police. One action (refusing to release police shooting videos) is self-serving - and it’s in stark contrast to the police quickly and eagerly releasing videos of people who aren’t the victims of a police shooting.
The Average American (NC)
Let's legalize it. Might as well, everything else will soon be legal. Let people do whatever they want.
MM (New York)
Yes, that is the answer. So, if people are high on drugs and operating a car or something else they could hurt and kill other innocent people in an accident. Sometimes I am staggered by the way many Americans think, but most of the time I am not. No wonder this country is in trouble.
Mac (chicago, IL)
Yes, and, should we let them die of their overdoses too? Is it possible to become addicted to these drugs without making the conscience decision to indulge in a practice that is harmful to one's health? In the case of legal prescription drugs, how does one get addicted without making the decision to exceed the maximum daily dose of the prescription?

What I have experienced is an increased tolerance to prescription opiates, so that they become less effective at pain relief at the maximum prescribed dose. This can hardly lead to addiction unless one chooses to exceed the prescribed dose. if one does, who's fault is it: the doctor's, the drug company's, society's or, perhaps, is it the users fault?
rechargerthedog (new york city)
A more intelligent response, The Average American, would be let's decriminalize it, offer safe havens, treatment, harm reduction.
CA (Los Angeles, CA)
There is a severe shortage of doctors trained to provide buprenorphine to opioid addicts (I am a buprenorphine provider myself). Buprenorphine maintenance treatment is very effective and safe; studies show it reduces overdose deaths and spread of HIV and Hepatitis C. 12 step programs are extremely ineffective for opioid addicts. Federal and state funding needs to be devoted to increasing access to buprenorphine. I spend 2 days a week at a clinic in a city in the Hudson Valley ravaged by heroin, and there is a waiting list to see me. I wonder how many on that list will overdose and die before they get an appointment.
Saoirse (Leesburg, Virginia)
Study history.

Recently, we've gotten an untold number of people addicted to methadone. That's great. Methadone withdrawal is long and ugly.

Now we're going to try Suboxone?

You are, I hope, familiar with heroin. It was invented by Bayer AG many years ago and seen as a miracle drug to cure morphine addiction. How did that work?

Trading one addiction for another is not rational medical care. How many times must we ride this merry-go-round before we figure out this simple fact?

I've seen newborns addicted to methadone. It's hell. The infant has to be switched to morphine, then carefully withdrawn. I don't want to think about withdrawing a newborn off Suboxone.

Withdrawal from true opiates can be nasty, but the half-life of opiates is fairly short. The addict gets very sick, but death is unusual and it's over soon. There are non-opiates that can ease the worst of withdrawal. That's not true with methadone, and who knows what the deal is with Suboxone.

Stop this nonsense. Trading one addiction for another (one the drug companies profit from) is not rational medical care.
MM (New York)
Is this the America that Hillary Clinton is referring to when she says "America is already great."? This country has so many problems it is staggering. Maybe 1/4 of the country is doing well and will have to foot the bill to take care of the rest. Look out America, things are only going to get worse.
smath (NJ)
Oh please! The drug crisis is Hillary's fault then? I guess she was correct in saying she wd get blamed for just about everything.

What about the right's favorite mantra "personal responsibility?" Oh no, it's all Hill's fault.


Ps hoping ms. McGowen gets better and that Her little girl is safe and well.

Also, New Hampshire "live free or die" ... They must take that seriously to have seemingly minimal treatment options for those who need help.
Garak (Tampa, FL)
When people say "Make America Great Again" they mean the America of the 1970s, when drug abuse was concentrated in minority neighborhoods. Out of sight of whites, out of mind.
Laura (Georgia)
Well, Trump not paying any taxes isn't helping. He is taking resources away from communities by not doing so. America is great, but we do have our problems. Don't blame this on Hillary Clinton.
AES (Oregon)
I have a dear friend whose restful retirement years have been stolen by her son's opiate addiction. She is now raising two small grandchildren and overseeing her son's treatment. I try to remind myself that people can make horrible mistakes and learn to make better decisions with the right support and treatment. But I am so angry at what his unthinking and selfish behavior has done to my friend. I, myself, think the public shaming may have a place, because I don't agree that this is a disease. This is at the beginning a choice that eventually claims the user in an unrelenting grip. Perhaps real images of real users will give a push to others who have yet to make that first bad choice.
Dl (Ny)
I have experience with the reverse problem...a prescription pain med. addicted Grandma now on suboxone after years and years of feeling no pain. Her mood now is very low and she is angry and quarrelsome. While she was seeking all the pain meds over the years from Doctor to Doctor, I suspect she was also treating her underlying depression...high as a kite..driving her children all over upper middle class northern New Jersey. I have the same amount of respect for her I have for the mother passed out at the dollar store...NONE. Really, less than none because she hid her addiction behind 'it has been prescribed for me by my doctor' when in reality she couldn't wait to get high every day. It was a career for her.
Andrew Lee (San Francisco)
I echo your anger and your sorrow for your friend. But the 'just say no' campaigns - yeah - those don't work so well. And whether or not you view this as a disease, it does follow the same vectors as disease - from spread to treatment. As a disease, it's treatable and we can eradicate the disease. Conversly, as a contemptable scourge, with offenders simply sent to prison, we can't just will it away.
rechargerthedog (new york city)
You shoot up once or twice as a dumb 15-year-old--sometimes that's all it takes--then see if you can make the "choice" to stop.
So very tired of hearing people make place easy blame on the victims--addicts and those who love them--of this scourge.
Other than big pharm and low-level dealers, it's no one's fault.
Wolfran (SC)
Why not speak of a "heroin" epidemic rather than use the term "opioid epidemic",. The latter conflates the legal use of prescription pain medication with street drugs. While this is consistent with this paper's strange war on prescription pain medication, it does give your readership a fair assessment of the problem.
Jeremiah (New York)
Wolfran - You pose a good question; like you I am an advocate of clear language in the media. In this case, I don't think the Times is trying to confuse or deceive. I think "opioid epidemic" is used because many people are addicted to the opioid prescription pain killers you mention. So there is a big problem with people that are not using street drugs; for that problem, "opioid epidemic" seems like a suitable name. In addition, some of those people also - or subsequently - abuse street drugs like heroin. This is due in part to the fact that the prescription opioids and heroin are related chemically (they're all in the opioid family), so the body and brain react to them somewhat similarly. When a person loses access to one type of opioid to which they're addicted, perhaps a painkiller, they are prone to substituting another, perhaps heroin. So looking across the two problems, which are interrelated, it seems like "opioid epidemic" is a suitable term.
Carolyn (Westchester County, NY)
Many addicts start with a legal prescription to opioid painkillers
Tom C (Charleston SC)
Visit any treatment center in South Carolina. Almost all the heroin addiction now starts with pain killers. Easy access to painkillers IS the problem.
Sam (NY)
A moving story. But, why aren't these mothers and boyfriends put in jail? Wait, they are white. Also, it is not the right thing to do. But, what about the large black prison black population convicted for possessing weed? Wait, the prison/judicial complex has to make a profit.
CA (Los Angeles, CA)
Nonesense. I have many white patients who are opioid addicts and who have been arrested and jailed - some on multiple occasions
Sally (Greenwich Village, Ny.)
If you have a capability of not seeing the world through racist lenses you might actually come up with some solutions to problems.
Paul (Brooklyn, NY)
Unless it is an enormous amount (Possession with intent to sell) NO ONE is going to jail for marijuana regardless of race.
Andrew Lee (San Francisco)
Many seek help at "hospital(s) in Massachusetts, where people in New Hampshire often turn because their own state provides so few resources."

And here we are. Low taxes = low services or the expectation that someone else should bear the burden, because LOW TAXES! The disparity in state outcomes around education, healthcare, and incarceration could be considered a violation of basic constitutional expectations that all men are created equal. Or we need to amend that precious document to more accurately read, "Dependent on gender, race, parents' socio-economic status, and state of birth, all men are created equal. Ye might consider your options in one of those states that values positive outcomes for its citizens."

Just sad...
Joanna Gilbert (Wellesley, MA)
These stories are tragic.
You have to just love NH, though. "Live Free or Die" and gosh don't pay taxes because we all know that smart people avoid paying taxes. No taxes equals no services so just head on down south to MA where the people of Taxachuesetts will take care of you because we have some semblance of humanity left. MA exists just to help out you out the people of NH with hospitals, jobs etc.
Really (Boston, MA)
An issue that has come up in recent years here in Massachusetts is how overwhelmed the Department of Children and Families is that would take custody of children whose parents were jailed.
Mark Rogow (Texas)
(Not Mark) I don't get that idea that my tax money should go to an addict. They take multiple times to try and quit, many never do. Why should I be responsible for that? Did I force them to start using?
See also