Police and public health agencies say they are seeing more and more deadly drugs on our streets. Powerful prescriptions that are being diverted and sold to addicts on the street and it’s having fatal consequences. Tonight, a mother who lost her son to fentanyl is speaking out in hopes of helping others.
Cyndy Taylor has a very personal reason for volunteering at bible school at New Hope Church in Niagara: “I wanted to give back to other kids because if they are coming to something like this, the impact faith could have on their life, maybe they won’t go down the road my son did.”
Her son, Joel La France was just 31-years old when he died of an overdose of fentanyl: “He had been an addict for a number of years and had quit for two months and then he got the urges and went to some friends, they melted the patch down and made it into a liquid form and then injected him with it.”
Fentanyl is a powerful prescription narcotic painkiller. It’s used in a patch form and is delivered over a 72-hour period. When people inject, ingest or inhale it, it can be toxic.
On Thursday, the regional coroner announced a spike in the number of drug overdoses in the last few weeks. Some users on the street are linking it to a powerful mix of heroin and fentanyl. Officials say mixing anything with fentanl can be a deadly mistake. Holly Raymond is with St. Joseph’s Healthcare: “One of the really scary things about the bad dose is that often there’s very few signs and often people end up with a very low respiratory rate and death can come very quickly.”
At least three people have died of overdoses in the last week in Hamilton alone. The coroner can’t confirm if fentanyl or heroin played a role. But police say they are seeing more fentanyl on the streets and most people who are abusing it don’t know the dangers: “One of the reasons fentanyl is so deadly is because of its potency and how strong it is. Fentanyl is approximately 80 percent stronger than morphine and up to 100 times stronger than other opioids such as oxycontin and heroin.
Cyndy Taylor wants stiffer penalties for people caught selling their prescriptions: “It was a prescription. He should not have been able to get someone else’s prescription. I don’t think it’s right.”
The Hamilton Opioid Working Group is looking at a fentanyl exchange program to stop people from selling them. People would have to bring back the used patches to get another one.
Cyndy also wants better treatment for youth with addictions. She says she tried to get her son help when he was younger but there was nothing available.
There is an antidote for opioid overdose being distributed by Hamilton Public Health.