Today’s Poll

Fentanyl crisis sparks awareness campaign

John Boivin Local Journalism Initiative
By John Boivin Local Journalism Initiative
June 9th, 2017

Parents at Nelson’s high school held a public meeting Wednesday in the L.V. Rogers gymnasium to raise awareness about the dangers of the drug fentanyl.

With nearly 500 deaths associated with the opioid already this year in B.C., the Parent’s Advisory Council at LVR decided it was time to talk openly about the issue in local schools.

“We want to make sure everyone is well informed so they can make positive decisions for themselves, to be there for their friends and community members,” says Tina Rubak, a member of the PAC.

While Rubak couldn’t say if there was fentanyl available in Nelson schools, she says forewarning parents and students was the best strategy. That’s why the PAC called for the public meeting on fentanyl.

“There’s a lot of myths out there, so we wanted to make sure we had all the information so we could keep our youth safe, kids in the community in general,” she says.

The meeting brought together health workers, Sgt. Nate Holt of the Nelson Police Department, parents, including Pat Dooley and youth to talk about prevention, treatment, and being prepared to deal with the crisis.

One of the main presenters was a local man who knows first-hand the dangers of fentanyl- and how easy it is to get addicted to the deadly drug.

A recovering addict himself, current coach of the Nelson Leafs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, Sean Dooley’s journey began with a hockey injury, and the painkillers subscribed to him by his doctor.

“My doctor was very aware and very honest with me about not taking too much or taking the wrong thing,” he says. “He was pretty on top of it and diligent, but at one point I started to seek it from other sources. I didn’t realize but I was addicted to it. It didn’t take much before I was a full-on drug addict.”

People may be taking the drug and not even realizing it, he says.

“I thought I was taking one painkiller, but what I was taking was fentanyl.”

Dooley says fentanyl could easily be in local schools, and students wouldn’t know it until it’s too late.

“Are kids at LVR taking fentanyl? It’s tough to say without actually being there and seeing them take it,” he says. “But from my own experience it’s definitely around, I could access it daily in our community.

“It’s taken lives in our community. It’s happening, and it’s happened to a few people I know. Lost their lives to fentanyl right here.”

Dooley says youth taking other recreational drugs could easily find themselves taking fentanyl-laced products, and overdosing.

“You don’t have to be a drug addict to be taking fentanyl,” he notes. “Maybe they’re taking something recreationally and it is actually fentanyl.

“We’re just trying to make them more aware and provide a little more info about it being out there and other drugs, and create some caution and awareness around it.”

Dooley says eventually he hit rock-bottom, but wanted to stop. With the help of a loving family and partner who supported him he was able to ask for help. And through the help of his employer, Selkirk Paving, he was able to get to a treatment centre and kick the habit.

Now on the long journey of recovery, Dooley wants to share his experience and bring a message of hope  to young people.  What does he really want to get across? That you aren’t alone.

“I had a mental illness, suffered from depression and anxiety,” he says. “There’s  a stigma… I was so worried everyone was going to judge me and everyone was going to think I was a bad person. I had so much guilt and shame.

“The biggest message I would want to convey to anyone- it’s a totally normal thing to go through something like that. It’s an illness like anything else. It’s okay to ask for help and there is help out there.”

Categories: Health

Other News Stories