'WHAT IS GOING ON AND WHY AREN'T WE TALKING ABOUT IT?'
KAMLOOPS - A local mother who recently lost her son to a fatal overdose after he ingested fentanyl is hoping that by speaking out about the lethal drug being in the city she can help prevent more fatal overdoses.
Sandra Tully knew her son Ryan Pinneo, 22, struggled with an oxycontin addiction, but says coroner’s disclosed to her the last drug he took was a fatal amount of fentanyl — a drug 100 times stronger than heroin — which she suspects was added to the pills he regularly purchased from his dealer.
“He said that Ryan had a lethal dose of fentanyl in his system. So the fentanyl alone would have killed him,” she says. “It’s only been three weeks since he passed so those drugs are probably still on the street. People are probably still taking them."
Tully says after finding her son in his room, she found pills, which she says were turned over to RCMP and will be tested at a centre in Ottawa.
“In my mind, there’s absolutely no doubt (they were laced.) In the way these pills are made or manufactured, one pill will have a lethal dose, while the next pill beside it will only have a grain of it. These aren’t chemists that are making this. There’s no regulation. So you really don’t know who you’re buying from, who they got them from, who manufactured them. It’s a crapshoot."
What adds to Tully’s frustration are her concerns around a lack of communication about the drug and that it takes a death to spark a dialogue.
“What is going on and why aren’t we talking about it?” she says. “A friend of mine texted me… another man passed away a week after Ryan. I just don’t get it. I’m sure that ASK Wellness is frustrated. I’ve listened to reports of the school district drug and alcohol counsellors saying it’s not an issue and it’s not on their radar — well, it should be. I’ve listened to people from Interior Health say ‘we’re not seeing it; it’s not happening here’. They’re not making it to the emergency room; they’re dying in their homes. Of course you’re not seeing it."
Ryan Pinneo, 22, died from a fentanyl overdose in Kamloops three weeks ago.
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Tully, still overcome by grief, says she feels it’s up to her to ‘shout it from the rooftops’ that fentanyl is present in Kamloops and hopes her message can prevent another death.
“I locked my front door that night. I thought my kids were safe and they weren’t,” she says. “It’s horrible, but we have to do something as a community. I’m not an activist. I just know I lost my son to this terrible thing."
The mother says she knows her son was struggling with addiction, but was ready to move forward in life and discussed buying a car, or going back to school.
“He was funny, caring. He was probably more sensitive than people realize. We would be out in the backyard or driving somewhere. For a 22-year-old guy he would notice something beautiful outdoors and he would comment on it. He just saw that kind of stuff. Those are the things I’m really going to miss,” she says. "In my heart, I know this kid was on the flip side (of his addiction). "
Community social workers and doctors have spoken up in recent months about a lack of drug testing across the country. Those experiencing an opiate overdose in a hospital setting are given the same treatment, but there’s no testing on what drugs the patient took. The B.C. Coroners Service has tracked fatal overdoses from the drug.
Interior Health and Kamloops RCMP have not issued any alerts on the presence of fentanyl in the city.
RELATED READING: Tracking drug overdoses needs improvement to curb the 'fentanyl crisis': Kamloops doctor
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