Te police officer who entered Mikaya Feucht’s Ohio apartment found it littered with trash, dirty dishes and plastic milk jugs full of the opioid addict’s vomit.
He also found two toddlers, aged 3 and 2, who watched as the officer uncovered the track marks on their mother’s arms and looked in vain for any food to feed them.
That was three years ago. By the time Mikaya overdosed and died from the elephant tranquilizer carfentanil this summer, her sons were living with their grandparents. But the chaos of watching their mother descend into addiction will burden them for years. They were often hungry and dirty in her care, and spoke of being hit with a belt by her boyfriend, according to their grandparents.
At the funeral home before Mikaya, 24 years old, was cremated, her younger son, Reed, clung to her through the open casket. “And it wasn’t just a quick hug. It was heartbreaking,” says Chuck Curran, his grandfather.
Widespread abuse of powerful opioids has pushed U.S. overdose death rates to all-time highs. It has also traumatized tens of thousands of children. The number of youngsters in foster care in many states has soared, overwhelming social workers and courts. Hospitals that once saw few opioid-addicted newborns are now treating dozens a year.