Fentanyl Overdoses Among Children in California and Beyond

child overdoses fentanyl bcoming common california

In May 2022, a three-year-old child died from fentanyl ingestion in a home in San Luis Obispo.  Like many California overdoses, it took months to conduct a full medical examination. Police now say they have enough information on the child’s death to charge the mother criminally. Authorities have announced they plan to charge the child’s mother, 30-year-old Jennifer Mae Niemann, with reckless endangerment.

Fentanyl Overdose Incidents Among Children Becoming Common

On May 4, 2022, police responded to a phone call about a child that was turning blue and not breathing. Emergency personnel arrived and found the unresponsive child. EMTs from the fire department began lifesaving efforts and took the child to the hospital. However, all lifesaving efforts failed. He was pronounced dead later in the day. Toxicology results later showed the child had died from a fentanyl overdose.

Ms. Niemann, the child’s mother, was apparently careless with fentanyl, and due to her actions, the child got ahold of it, resulting in his death. So far, the police have not explained how the child got ahold of the fentanyl. It will likely come up at trial.

Drug overdose deaths involving children aren’t rare. They happen nationwide. They are almost always accidental. States as far away as Kansas had record overdoses for minors in 2020, with 16 teen deaths. Last September, a mother in Iowa was charged with murder when her 22-month-old child died of an overdose.

Ms. Niemann, the mother whose child died in her care in San Luis Obispo, is being held in county jail on four criminal charges. She is being charged with “child endangerment with great bodily injury, enhancement for causing great bodily injury during a commission of a felony, possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) and possession of a controlled substance (fentanyl).”  Her bail has been set at half a million dollars.

Fentanyl Is a Deadly Drug

Fentanyl is one of the most potent pain medications in the medical industry. Yet it’s becoming more commonly used as a pain medication, party drug, or adulterant. Many people who ingest fentanyl don’t know that they’re taking it. Fentanyl has become a common adulterant among street drugs, especially drugs sold through anonymous apps. Fentanyl in California has been found in a myriad of drugs seized by police, including cocaine and Molly.

People have accidentally overdosed on fentanyl when they thought they were taking Molly, cocaine, and club drugs. For people who don’t use opioids, this can cause trouble breathing and can make their heart stop. Over 100,000 people died from opioid use disorder in 2021. The majority of these overdoses involved fentanyl. Many of them may have had fentanyl as a contaminant.

People who use opioids are at high risk for overdoses. Fentanyl is a potent drug and can cause significant withdrawal symptoms that make going “cold turkey” nearly impossible. A clinical detox, and treatment, including Medication-Assisted Treatment can help with these issues when a person first gets sober.

Getting Help, And Sober Housing

If you or somebody you love is addicted to fentanyl or other opioids, help is available. Treatment and detox can help you reclaim your life, and sober housing can give you stability.

Many people who go to drug detox and treatment choose sober housing as the next step in recovery. We offer safety, security, and community for you as you begin your journey in recovery. Give us a call at 760-216-2077 to learn more about our programs.

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