“This drug is pervasive,” says Reverend Shelagh MacKinnon of Fentanyl. “At the Orchard, we are seeing clients die in relapses. It’s affecting people across the spectrum. A sixteen year old recently died in Starbucks of a Fentanyl overdose. How much worse can it get? We need to be talking about it.”
British Columbia declared a public health emergency on the drug in April, after more than 200 overdose deaths in three months. Bowen Islanders are concerned and have been approaching MacKinnon to talk about it. This is the impetus behind an upcoming public meeting hosted by the Orchard Recovery Center (where MacKinnon is a spiritual advisor) at Collins Hall on Fentanyl.
Lorinda Strang, the executive director and co-founder of The Orchard, says that this meeting will cover topics such as how to talk to your kids, and where to go for help.
“This meeting is happening just following Recovery Day BC, which is taking place in New Westminster on Saturday,” says Strang. “The focus of Recovery Day is offering people hope, and we want to give the same message: people can and do recover. We want to make sure that people know where they can find the appropriate resources.”
Strang said that roughly five years ago The Orchard started finding Fentanyl regularly in people’s systems during the drug testing required upon entry into the facility.
“We had to test for it because it Fentanyl reacts with one of the other drugs we use to help people get off heroine. People would not mention Fentanyl when we’d ask them about their top three substances of concern and they’d be completely shocked to hear they had taken it,” says Strang. “But it is being mixed with everything: heroin, cocaine, cannabis… People are a little more aware of that now.”
She says that The Orchard has also seen people who have been prescribed Fentanyl for a broken bone, and become addicted very quickly.
“Before long they are manipulating doctors in order to get more of it,” Strang says. “People need to take responsibility for that, and not blame the doctor. Things are changing now with more awareness and doctors offering more warnings before prescribing the drug.”
She adds that when talking to their kids, parents must be real and honest about the fact that when they are partying and using drugs recreationally, they are playing Russian roulette.
Monday evening’s 6:30 pm meeting at Collins Hall will feature Lorinda Strang along with Dr. Launette Reib from the Orchard and RCMP Cpl. Paulo Arreaga.
© Copyright 2017 Bowen Island Undercurrent