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OPINION: We need to talk about fentanyl in our community

Image Credit: Shutterstock
March 06, 2016 - 8:52 AM

I am writing this as I feel compelled to share my brother’s story of his overdose. As I search for answers to his senseless death I have met others who have lost family members in the last month to fentanyl overdoses in Kelowna. It only took me a short period of time to find these people and actually connect with them and share our stories to one another. Yet what I read in the media is that Kelowna RCMP are slow to acknowledge that Kelowna has a problem. 

My brother Shane Rose overdosed on Feb. 17. He remained on life support for three days completely unresponsive as family and friends stood steadfast at his side praying for a miracle. I struggled with sharing the details of Shane’s story as some how it feels like a secret we should be ashamed of – I am not ashamed.

He was a person – he was a husband, a father, a brother, and even a grandfather to 4 – he worked every day and was respected on the job site. His life was important and deserves more than to be swept under the carpet and to pretend that there is not a fentanyl problem in Kelowna.  

My brother had an addiction he could never seem to get help with because there is no free card to counselling or services. They like to say there is but it is tons of red tape and perseverance to get that help and most suffering with addiction don’t have the strength to make their way through the system and continue to be lost. Shane struggled on and off with a drug addiction and even with all the love, support and understanding from his family and friends we couldn't save him from this ugly addiction that has haunted him over the years.

I feel we can do more good by sharing his story than keeping it a secret.

Fentanyl is being found in the drugs being sold in Kelowna. My brother made a bad choice and paid the price with his life as his overdose contained large amounts of the lethal drug fentanyl. He did set out to buy heroin but the fact that it was laced with lethal amounts of fentanyl purposefully put in the drug – so much fentanyl that he didn’t stand a chance is hard to accept. I have to wonder did the person who sold the drugs to Shane give my brother any second thought as he watched Shane leave with what he had to know would most likely kill him? I struggle to understand how this is any different than a serial killer. 

You see these stories on the news and you never think it will be you or involve your family. Drug addiction is not just about those on the streets it lives in our family homes that are filled with tons of love. It steals the lives of those we love. If any good can come from keeping the word of this in the media and making people aware of what is out on the streets of Kelowna right now I will feel that something good has come from this. If that is at all possible.  

For the last two weeks my response to my friends and family as they checked on me was “I have no words…. I am heartbroken.” Today I am angry and frustrated that this has happened and I have found my words and I hope people listen and help to stop what is killing our loved ones.

— Melissa St Louis (Shane's sister)

Shane Rose overdosed on Feb. 17, 2016. He died three days later when he was taken off life support.
Shane Rose overdosed on Feb. 17, 2016. He died three days later when he was taken off life support.
Image Credit: Contributed

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