Police share shocking overdose photo of couple with 4-year-old

  • 10/09/2016
Couple in East Liverpool, Ohio overdosed in front of their 4-year-old child
Couple in East Liverpool, Ohio overdosed in front of their 4-year-old child

A police department in the US has shared shocking photos of a couple overdosed in front of their child to highlight the city's drug problems.

On Thursday night (local time), an off-duty officer in East Liverpool, Ohio saw a vehicle driving erratically and almost hit a school bus with children.

The officer grabbed the keys out of the ignition before the driver passed out in front of him - then he saw the child in the back seat.

They're just two of the countless victims of addiction to opioids such as heroin, morphine, fentanyl and codeine which has reached the proportions of a full-scale epidemic in recent years in the US.

In Ohio, which has been among the states hardest hit by the opioid scourge, there were 3000 unintentional drug overdoses last year, at an average of eight per day.

"I mean this is a major issue. It's an epidemic. It's everywhere. And you've got people that are dying. We had two overdoses last night. It's just nonstop," says Chief John Lane of the East Liverpool Police.

They say that's why they posted that now infamous picture to their Facebook page - to make an impact.

"This was not a decision made willy nilly. We discussed this. We talked to the prosecutors upstairs got their opinions on that. We went with the administration upstairs, the mayor and the safety services director were all involved in this decision," says Chief Lane.

Most news outlets are blurring the child's face to try to protect his identity - police say that misses the point.

"If you blur out that kid's face, you lose the impact of it, and that's what it needs. It will force the issue and get help, cause that's what needs to happen," says Chief Lane.

Some mental health professionals disagree.

"The fact that that young child's face was not blurred, that is a moment in time of his childhood that will be forever frozen for everyone in the world to see on the internet from here going forward," says Kathie Chafee of Columbiana County Mental Health.

She says that pictures like these aren't effective in curbing behaviour.

"Stigma, a lot of times, adds to the shame people with addictions have and it keeps them from seeking help. You know people don't want to admit they have a problem," says Ms Chafee.

Instead, she says police should take a softer, more traditional approach.

"I think the police department should carry [opiate antidote] Narcan,"

"I think when people are revived they should be given information about where to go for help."

The driver of the car featured in the shocking photo was later charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, endangering children, and slowing or stopping in a road.

Newshub. / CBS