The death of a 2-year-old boy in Kentucky after accidentally overdosing on fentanyl has exposed the danger of too much money in the hands of drug addicts. The child’s mother Lauren Ashley Baker is facing charges of murder after she left her bag open after consuming the drug. She had received a $1,200 stimulus check.
The boy died after he found the open bag containing fentanyl after his mother passed out after overdosing on the fatal drug, authorities said. The incident has brought home the danger of too much money getting into the hands of addicts and substance abusers. The stimulus checks have been an easy source of money for addicts during the first two years of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
Successive stimulus checks have ensured that such addicts always had cash in their hands. That coupled with long periods of confinement in their homes has led to people overdosing and dying in unprecedented numbers.
Baker faces charges of murder, importing fentanyl, and also trafficking in a controlled substance. A fire crew and police rushed to the home in Ludlow and found the child unresponsive. It had even stopped breathing by then. He had suffered a respiratory arrest. Responders rushed him to a hospital in Cincinnati where doctors pronounced him dead on arrival.
Later investigation found that the child had been alone at home with Lauren Baker, the 33-year-old mother of the child. Baker has admitted to using stimulus check money to buy fentanyl in Cincinnati. Police reports indicate that she used the stimulus check money of $1,200 to buy the drug, which she took back to Ludlow and shared with two others.
Baker said that she fell asleep after taking a dose of fentanyl. She said that when she woke up she found that the contents of her purse had been emptied by the child, and he was lying unconscious beside her, not breathing. She and the child’s father called 911.
Rob Sanders, the commonwealth attorney said that even though the child did consume the fentanyl, he could not confirm if he had eaten it. He said that even touching the dangerous drug could be fatal for a two-year-old.
The case of Ashley Baker has highlighted the danger posed by handing over comparatively large sums to addicts, alcoholics, and substance abusers.
Experts Warn Drug Overdoses And Stimulus Checks Are Linked
There has been concern among health experts and people in general about how some people may be spending their stimulus money. The bigger the amount, the greater the chance that addicts will misuse it. There is every chance that they will take it to the limit and that really will raise the chance of them losing their lives, say people who help such substance abusers.
The influx of large sums of money into the hands of addicts has exacerbated the situation to a large extent. The number of deaths due to overdoses has reached record levels since the stimulus check payments began. Add to it the mental pressure of being confined for weeks due to the shutdown, and you have a potential for disaster.
Workers attached to addiction centers have reported an alarming increase in overdoses that began after the first round of stimulus checks worth $1,200. These centers were working round the clock during those months, handing out clean syringes even as the second stimulus check payment loomed.
Experts warn that excess funds can feed all kinds of vice, and drug addicts are the most susceptible during a national emergency such as a pandemic. A Wallet Hub survey alarmingly revealed that almost 24, million Americans will buy more drugs, tobacco, or alcohol with the federal stimulus check payments.
While there is no large-scale study to determine the extent to which such stimulus checks directly lead to the excessive use of drugs. But ground realities indicate that drug-related fatalities and cases of overdoses show a sharp spike with a rise in unemployment and stimulus check payments.
And this is something that people familiar with addiction have faced firsthand. People who are on addiction programs say that they realize what addiction can do and what easy money, such as stimulus checks, can do for people already addicted to hard drugs.
Ohio AG Study Finds That Link Between Stimulus Checks And Opioid Overdose And Deaths
Just in the twelve months starting May 2019, there have been 81,000 deaths due to overdose. This could be recorded as the highest number of deaths from an overdose during 12 months.
Realizing the enormity of the problem, the federal government included $4 billion for the treatment and rehabilitation of substance abuse and mental disorders in the latest round of stimulus checks.
The Ohio State Attorney General has said that there is a connection between stimulus check payments and drug overdose and related deaths.
In the initial days of the pandemic, the government even assembled a team to look into stimulus checks after the pandemic began and its connection with deaths from opioid overdoses.
Data from the Dept. of Health in the state showed a causal connection between stimulus checks sent out to help people who were suffering financially in the initial months of the pandemic, and deaths due to an overdose of opioid substances. It hit a record in Ohio during that period.
The Attorney General said that there was a definite connection between the payments and the alarming rise seen in overdose deaths.
The wide distribution of stimulus checks reveals that such wide-ranging measures lead to a broad impact. And some of the impacts of such stimulus checks are unintended. He said that this was a case of what he said was the “law of unintended consequences.”
While not trying to blame the administration for the mess, he said that facts were true and should not be given political colors or ignored. It should be a wake-up call to find a way out of the mess and arrive at ways to get better.
A study was initiated to find a definitive link between the COVID-19 stimulus checks and the spike in opioid deaths during this period.