Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)

WATCH: Moms Stop The Harm respond to opioid crisis

Someone asked her if she does the work for her son. McBain said: “No, actually. I do it for your son.”

After a minor back injury when he was 23, Jordan Miller’s family doctor prescribed him a highly-addictive opioid called Oxycontin – for months. When Miller realized he had become addicted to the medication he told his doctor, but instead of receiving help, he was given the boot. Two years later his addiction killed him.

So when young Elliot Eurchuk of Victoria died last week from an opioid overdose, his story hit close to home for Jordan’s mother Leslie McBain.

“Elliot was younger but it really doesn’t matter how old a child is, losing a child is the most tragic, and dramatic, and terrible thing a parent can ever experience,” said McBain.

There is a lot of overlap in the two stories. Two young men were prescribed opioids after they were injured. Both were given months worth of the highly-addictive drugs. Both parents’ requests for alternatives to the opioids were ignored, and both were pushed out of the decision-making in their child’s health care. The two young men sought the drugs elsewhere once the prescriptions ran out with no ongoing support and in the end both men died of an opioid overdose.

RELATED: Parents call for change to health laws after Oak Bay teen’s death

McBain has been advocating for change ever since she lost Jordan in 2014 in order to save others from going through the torture she faced. She co-founded the Moms Stop The Harm network which seeks to change drug policy to support and reduce harm to drug users. McBain also supports and shares information with other parents facing the same fate. She says she deals with about six deaths a week where parents or siblings gets in touch.

“People ask me if this brings up my own grief. It’s a hard job. Anyone who is on the front lines of this is heavily impacted,” said McBain.

Someone asked her once if she does the work for her son and McBain said: “No, actually. I do it for your son.”

Moms Stop The Harm has about 450 members across Canada, mostly in B.C. and Alberta. They talk to all levels of government in their campaign to stop drug-related deaths.

McBain commends the federal government for both the recent Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act – which allows people to call in an overdose and not be in jeopardy of being arrested for being around drugs – and also for creating greater access across the country to naloxone, the opioid reversal drug, calling it “literally, a life saver.”

Provincially, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions was created in 2017 to help address the opioid crisis, with Judy Darcy as minister.

“Judy Darcy is very consultative and she gets it. She sees what the problem is and she’s working really hard to make movement on that by developing the Overdose Emergency Response Centre and Community Action Teams in about 18 jurisdictions around BC to help deal with the crisis,” said McBain.

Working as a Family Engagement Lead with BC Centre on Substance Use, McBain has helped to roll out a document called Close to Home, advocating for, among other things, families to be included in treatment.

“We believe most families and most parents are the best toolbox for the health care provider. Who knows the child better than their parents?” said McBain.

While the group has seen some positive changes in the last three years in terms of policy, the crisis is not slowing down. Their work is more important now than ever.

“We just have to watch the coroner’s statistics from every province, every month. It is not slowing down. It is not stopping,” said McBain.

“In the last four years since my son died, I’ve done a rough count and there has been more than 7000 people that have died in Canada of drug overdose. That is a profound statistic. How is it that we can’t do anything more than what we are doing, and faster. It’s unbelievable.”

She believes the true number is even higher.

One of the biggest pushes Moms Stop The Harm is working to accomplish is the decriminalization of people who use and carry drugs. Criminalization of drugs brings on huge stigma, says McBain, and she believes by decriminalizing it, a lot of factors contributing to this crisis would be mitigated.

“Each of us needs to check in on our own stigmatized thoughts about drug use. We need to lose the stigma, and have drug addiction considered like any other heath issue and have the conversation around it,” said McBain.

The other advice McBain has is for drug users or youth determined to experiment with drugs: Never use alone.

“People who use alone are at great, great risk. That was the case for Elliot in Oak Bay who was by himself. If you are alone and there is an overdose, there is no chance,” said McBain.

“I have encouraged kids to see having naloxone as something they can do to save a life,” said McBain.

In the wake of Elliot Eurchuk’s death, Island Health is also reminding everyone to not use alone, and to have a naloxone kit and be trained to use it.

Island Health will be conducting a review of the care Elliot received when he was at Island Health facilities.

READ MORE: Parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription


 

keri.coles@oakbaynews.com

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

naloxoneopioid crisisoverdose

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)

Just Posted

The Lavington Community Association shared this image of the final support beam installed at Jeffers Park in 2020. (Lavington Community Association - Instagram)
COVID-19 halts plans to open Lavington ice rink

Skaters won’t be able to enjoy the newly erected roof at Jeffers Park this season

Deb White, carnival chairwoman, rode in on style Saturday during the parade. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Pandemic postpones parade, heart of Vernon Winter Carnival

Interior Health says no to one of B.C.’s only winter parades

An elementary school student misplaced their glucose monitoring device for diabetes and his family and teachers are hoping someone maybe picked it up. (Dexcom)
UPDATE: Vernon student’s missing medical device found

Receiver used to monitor diabetes believed left in snowbank at school

The revitalization of Polson Park is one of the many projects that come to council’s mind that could benefit from the Fortis BC Legacy Fund. (Debbie Gibson photo)
Vernon council considers use of $13M ‘legacy’

Fortis BC Legacy Fund to be discussed further in special meeting of council

Lindsay Palmateer, a Salmon Arm mother of six, succumbed to her injuries after a serious crash Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, south of Enderby. (Contributed)
‘She was everyone’s caretaker’: Salmon Arm mother of six remembered

GoFundMe campaign exceeds goal already for family involved in deadly crash near Enderby

Brett Forsythe battles it out in a game of singles pickleball on ice at Okanagan Training Rink Thursday, Jan. 7 in support of the Vernon Food Bank. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Pickleball play hits the ice in Okanagan

Rivals battle it out in support of the food bank

Penticton’s 7-Eleven is closed due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19, the company announced Jan. 15, 2021. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton 7-Eleven closed after employee tests positive for COVID-19

The store will re-open “on or before” Jan. 23

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

With a second case of COVID-19 confirmed at South Canoe Elementary, parents were advised Thursday, Jan. 14, that the school could be closed for a week or so. (Contributed)
Closure considered after four cases of COVID-19 identified at Salmon Arm school

South Canoe Elementary principal grateful for concern and support shown by public

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project is on track, despite COVID-19 and the recent provincial election. (Government of BC photo)
1 month closure planned for Highway 1 near Golden

This closure is expected from April 12 until May 14. Others are planned in the future.

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Megan Freedman’s music video for Perfect was shot at the Lindon House on Ethel Street. (Perfect - Megan Freedman)
Kelowna musician’s anti-bullying anthem receives international award

The music video was shot at Kelowna’s Lindon House

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

Most Read