The Terrible Toll Drugs Take on Small Children

upset child left in a car

Drug use is hard on everyone, from the individual who can’t stop using them to their parents, siblings and close friends. But it might be harder on small children than anyone else. They have no protection if an intoxicated parents becomes unable to provide care for them. They can’t escape if the parent becomes violent or if there is some other danger. A new and sad tale of the loss of two small children makes this fact much too real.

In Fort Worth, Texas, temperatures were due to reach the mid-90s on May 26, 2017. Cynthia Marie Randolph was trying to get her children out of the car and into the house but they were being uncooperative. To teach her two-year-old daughter a lesson, she locked her and her one-year-old brother in the vehicle. Cynthia then went into the house, smoked marijuana and fell asleep for several hours. When she woke up, she found the children unresponsive in the vehicle. She was subsequently arrested for causing their deaths.

Was Cynthia addicted to marijuana? From the news reports, we can’t tell. It’s a little hard to imagine that any mother who was not already deadened from the heavy use of drugs could do such a thing to her children.

The National Poison Control Center

When someone is exposed to a poisonous substance, this is the national helpline that offers immediate and possibly life-saving advice. According to a story in the Washington Post, their phone rings every 45 minutes with a call about children who have been exposed to prescription opioids. 60% of these children were under five years of age. Teenagers—whose exposure may have been intentional—accounted for another 30% of these calls. Between January 2000 and December 2015, there were more than 188,000 of these calls.

Any exposure to opioids or strong stimulants could be deadly for a small child. Experimentation with these drugs can be just as deadly for a teen who has no idea what these drugs can do.

Drugs that Naturally Appeal to Small Children

There’s another, different way drugs are hard on children. Some vendors or drug dealers shape or color drugs into an appearance that is appealing to children. Like gummy bears or cookies infused with heavy doses of THC. Or the methamphetamine lollipops seized in June 2017 from a Houston home. Two people were arrested for mixing meth and candy and then forming the mixture into lollipops shaped like Batman or Star Wars figures. A small child’s body would unable to handle an adult dose of meth, no matter how it was shaped.

The Chaos of Addicted Parents

In Ohio, where heroin creates such catastrophic effects on adults, children struggle with chaotic homes, police raids, terrible neglect, abandonment, foster care and crippling trauma that makes success in school or life a struggle. The Chillicothe Gazette documented some of these tales in their 2017 coverage. They told the story of Caeley, whose home was raided five times, whose Christmas presents were purchased with drug money and then slowly sold off, and who was forced to become mom to her younger siblings.

This story also notes that an analysis of 40 drug overdose deaths in Ross County, Ohio found that these 40 deaths orphaned 65 children.

In one of the most heartbreaking incidents of this type, a seven-year-old girl living outside of Pittsburgh reported to the bus driver taking her home from school that she had been unable to rouse her parents since the previous day. The bus driver called police who determined that the child’s parents had overdosed. There were three other children in the home, aged 5, 3 and nine months. This little girl had gotten herself dressed and off to school that morning while her parents lay dead.

Preventing This Kind of Trauma

How can these tragic effects be prevented? There’s two obvious ways. Keep young people from ever starting to use drugs by making the harm that results from using drugs very clear. We provide helpful information for parents and caregivers here.

The other way is to find help for any person who is unable control their consumption of drugs or alcohol. This person needs an effective rehabilitation program that enables him to overcome his (or her) cravings and build the life skills he needs to make sober choices. Narconon has been offering this help for more than 50 years. Find out how the drug rehab program at Narconon Ojai can help someone you care about.


Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.