Moms want feds to face facts
Petra schulz kisses a photo of her late son danny before carefully tucking it inside an envelope addressed to Prime minister Justin Trudeau.
schulz, co-founder of advocacy group moms stop the Harm, is organizing a campaign to flood the prime minister’s office with hundreds of photographs of victims of the opioid crisis to mark national addiction awareness Week.
“We want him to shed a tear for our kids and we think these photos can do it,” said schulz, whose son died in 2014. The 25-year-old edmonton chef had been seeking treatment, but relapsed and died after taking fentanyl. drug users are often more vulnerable to overdose or poisoning during a relapse, since tolerance can be reduced during a period of treatment or recovery.
schulz said danny died as a direct result of not having access to harm reduction measures like naloxone or a safe supply of medical-grade opioids.
“you get all this information, like, ‘tough love, don’t enable’, but nobody said, ‘your loved one has a high likelihood to relapse and they could overdose,’ ” schulz said.
“I would have wanted to know how I could keep him alive. There is no chance for people once they die.
“dead people don’t recover.” schulz was among a group of women who met Tuesday at a national conference on substance use and addiction in Calgary to share stories about their loved ones and to urge action from federal authorities in the face of a surge of opioid deaths across the country.
The women gathered around a table cluttered with photographs of smiling faces: images of sons, daughters and husbands taken in happier times, before an addiction to opioids tragically twisted the trajectory of their lives.
The women, from alberta, b.C. and ontario, are calling on the federal government to decriminalize possession of personal amounts of any drug, including such hard drugs as heroin. The approach is similar to what has been implemented in Portugal, where legislators have removed the application of criminal law on personal possession for limited amounts of all drugs, while offering more social supports.
“Without decriminalization, we can’t make it a medical issue and it is a medical issue,” said rosalind davis, who lost her husband to fentanyl after he developed a dependency on opioids, which began with a prescription to Percocet for a back injury. “It’s a medical and social issue and we need to be addressing it — you can’t do that when you’re criminalized for it.”
The women believe a lot of officials at the federal level understand the issues, but are unwilling to take the next step.
“They’re on board, yet they can’t go the extra step to decriminalization because (of) stigma, lack of will, lack of political courage, or fear of losing their jobs,” said Leslie mcbain, who lost her son Jordan to opioids in 2014.
From left, Rosalind Davis, Petra Schulz, Leslie McBain and Donna May have all lost loved ones to the opioid crisis. On Tuesday they were joining hundreds of families across Canada sending photos of their loved ones with messages to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, part of an effort to decriminalize drugs and turn substance abuse from a criminal issue to a health issue.