Police hope viral video of mother’s overdose in Family Dollar sheds light on opioid epidemic

A two-year-old dressed in pink “Frozen” pajamas wailed while standing in the toy aisle of a Family Dollar store in Lawrence as she tried to wake her mother, who was sprawled across the floor after an apparent drug overdose.

The toddler can be seen tugging on her mother’s arm and crying in video footage that went viral after the Lawrence Police Department released it earlier this week.

On Sunday morning, Lawrence Police officers and EMTs arrived at the store and administered the woman two doses of Narcan before she regained consciousness, said Lawrence Police Chief James Fitzpatrick. While looking for identification in her diaper bag, officers discovered “straws cut to three inches long” with “what looked like white drug residue,” he said.

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“I think for a lot of people, this is a heartbreaking video,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s shocking. You instinctively want to help the child — and the woman, for that matter.”

The woman, a 36-year-old from New Hampshire whose name has not been released, and her child were transported to a local hospital. Police alerted the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, and the child was taken into protective custody, according to Fitzpatrick.

The department is moving forward with criminal charges, and the woman is expected to appear in court in the coming weeks, he said.

Fitzpatrick said the department took possession of the video from a witness in the store and decided to release it Wednesday to raise awareness about the opioid epidemic.

“For some, their reaction is that [the video] shouldn’t be released or this is public shaming,” Fitzpatrick said, “but I think it’s more about showing the impact that this powerful drug has.”

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