A grim reality associated with fentanyl abuse and addiction in the United States is found in the fact that the drug can become a proverbial family affair in a number of different ways. These include:

  • Health issues caused by fentanyl contamination and exposure
  • Accidental fentanyl overdose involving children
  • Neglect of children by fentanyl abusing parents
  • Abuse of children by fentanyl abusing parents
  • Homelessness

Signs a Child Has Been Exposed To Fentanyl

There are a number of telltale signs that a child may have been exposed to fentanyl. You do need to bear in mind that some of these signs can be indicative of other issues as well. When one or more than one of these signs is demonstrated, medical assistance must be obtained immediately:

  • Noticeable mood changes
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Severe stomachache
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Fainting
  • Seizure
  • Slow breathing 
  • Shallow breathing
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of coordination
  • Severe dizziness
  • Twitching muscles
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe vomiting
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Explained fever
  • Unusual agitation

Health Issues Caused by Fentanyl Contamination and Exposure

There are a number of health issues associated with fentanyl contamination and exposure. Children tend to be more susceptible to these health conditions, ailments, and issues because they are physically, mentally, and emotionally developing. These more commonplace health issues that can arise from exposure to fentanyl include:

  • Severe gastrointestinal problems, including bowel obstruction and perforation
  • Weakened immune system
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Paranoia
  • Social withdrawal
  • Lack of motivation
  • Delusions and personality changes

There are also potentially fatal consequences that can exist when children are exposed to fentanyl. Each and every year, children die because of exposure to fentanyl used by their parents. These include:

  • Respiratory distress
  • Coma
  • Death

It’s important to note that a significant number of children who witness their parents using fentanyl will become users of this drug themselves. This creates a truly vicious cycle that leads to the death of parents and children alike with alarming frequency. 

Accidental Fentanyl Overdose Involving Children 

Another way in which children can be harmed by parents who use fentanyl is suffering an overdose because of accidental contact with the drug. For example, if an adult with children in the household is pressing pills from fentanyl powder, the site can fairly easily become contaminated with fentanyl residue. 

Fentanyl is a highly potent drug. Fentanyl is up to 100-times stronger than morphine. It is approximately 50-times stronger than heroin. Even skin contact with a small (very small) amount of fentanyl can have an adverse health impact, especially with children.

If children are exposed to fentanyl residue for more than a very limited period of time, they can end up having serious health issues. There have also been situations in which children exposed to fentanyl residue have overdosed on the drug. There are cases in which children exposed to fentanyl residue died as a result of a fentanyl overdose. 

Neglect of Children by Fentanyl Abusing Parents

Another way in which children are harmed by fentanyl using, abusing, or addicted parents is because of neglect. As will be discussed in a bit more detail in a moment, when a person becomes a fentanyl user, abuser, or addict, the drug becomes the focus of that individual’s life. Even crucial responsibilities like caring for children take a backseat to finding and using this highly addictive drug.

Neglect of children by fentanyl users, abusers, and addicts manifests itself in a number of ways:

  • Lack of nutrition
  • Absence from school
  • Lack of appropriate healthcare
  • Lack of suitable clothing
  • Persistent inattention to the needs of children

Abuse of Children by Fentanyl Abusing Parents

As a result of the emotional and psychological effect using fentanyl can have on a person, another way in which children are harmed by parents who use and abuse or are addicted to this drug is abuse. The abuse of children by parents who use or are addicted to fentanyl comes in all forms. These include physical abuse, emotional abuse, and psychological abuse. Sadly, there are many children who are seriously injured each year by parents addicted to fentanyl. 


When people become addicted to mind-altering substances, those drugs ultimately become the very center of their lives. Their drugs of choice dominate everything else, including making a living and caring for their families. Time and again, a primary reason why a considerable percentage of people end up without suitable housing, end up homeless, is because of drug addiction. Moreover, in this day and age, the types of drugs that result in people ending up living on the streets are opioids. And, with alarming frequency, the opioid drug that routinely is at the bottom of an opioid addiction is fentanyl.

Because of the addiction of parents to fentanyl and other opioids, thousands of children are making their homes on the street, including in unsafe tent cities in communities throughout California and across the United States.