KAMLOOPS — A Kamloops mother is speaking out reacting to the alarming numbers from the BC Coroner's Service on illicit drug overdoses in this province. Over 1400 British Columbians died in 2016. Two years ago, Sandra Tully found her 22 year old son dead in their home. He had ingested an OxyContin pill, unaware it was laced with fentanyl.
They are the faces of unimaginable loss, a snapshot of the devastating opiod epidemic sweeping right across the country.
"Two years feels like yesterday, I live it everyday, I cry everyday, I might cry today," says Sandra Tully.
For Sandra Tully the heartache never goes away. January 2016 her son Ryan Pinneo took an OxyContin pill, unaware it was laced with fentanyl. The young 22 year old star athlete's life coming to an abrupt end. His face, now a part of Moms Stop the Harm campaign and one of thousands in a troubling trend of overdose deaths in BC.
"As a society, we are not aware of how prevelant it is, I think that no one can say for sure that the neighbour isn't using a substance, or the guy who delivers your amazon isn't usine a substance, people keep it in secret."
BC has become ground zero for unintentional poising deaths. 2017 reflecting the most tragic year yet with 1,422 people dying from illicit drug overdoses, the powerful opiod fentanyl often mixed with heroin, cocaine and meth. The victim, clueless of the lethal combination.
"The data shows up that 90% of the people dying ......in the prime of their life."
The focus now for health officials is reducing the stigma. An anti stigma campaign launched this week by the Canucks, just one integral way of reducing fatalities.
"Stigma was certainly a part of Ryan's, he didn't want to disclose to people that he was struggling, I think somehow illicit drug use goes from social to dependent and people don't know what to do with that," says Tully.
The death toll 43% higher than 2016. And while overdose deaths in Kamloops went from 44 to 39 last year, the trend is chilling. Sandra Tully says decriminalizing drug use is a much needed step.
"Portugal has done it, Norway has done it, in this crisis there is no other out, it's just how long and how bad do we have to wait until this happens."
The epidemic is no longer confined to the streets. Young and old from all walks of life, dying. Sandra Tully knows the tragic consequences and says it's not worth the risk. Nobody should have to bury a child.
"I still quietly in my own head think really? how did that happen, what happened? how did I get here, how do I not have my oldest son," says Tully.
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