A Mother’s Struggle: If severe addicts don’t want help, should the law allow forced treatment to try to save their lives?

published on July 8, 2018 by Lori Culbert in https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/a-mothers-struggle-if-severe-addicts-dont-want-help-should-the-law-allow-forced-treatment-to-try-to-save-their-lives

Christian DeSousa has just entered a treatment centre in B.C.’s Interior after a horrendous eight-year journey with drugs that led him to the streets, hospitals and jails — and, his mother feared, would have ended at the morgue.

Because for the last three years of Christian’s downward spiral, overdose deaths have risen sharply in B.C., caused by fentanyl being laced into street drugs.

“Having a child who is addicted to opioids, or any drugs because everything is being laced with fentanyl, is one of the scariest things I think I could ever face. I wake up wondering if this is going to be the day I am going to get a call (from the coroner),” Nicola DeSousa said during an emotional interview. “No call during the night is a good night.”

So, she’s grateful that Christian, now 23, is finally admitted to an abstinence-based, nine-month treatment facility, and hopes to one day have her impressionable, football-playing son back.

But she is also angry.

DeSousa, who trained as a nurse, says she battled with schools, outreach groups, courts, hospitals and politicians over the past eight years in a fruitless effort to get help for her son.

There are simply not enough affordable and instantly-available services such as detox houses and recovery programs. And a lack of early intervention allowed Christian’s addiction to worsen, so that when it was full-blown DeSousa lacked the legal power to force him into the treatment she thought he desperately needed.

“My message is that we need help… Our system is very, very broken,” said the Surrey mom.

“(My son) is not capable of making lucid and rational decisions for his health, well-being or his life. There should be some type of resource for us as parents to be able to step in and forcibly put our kids in rehabilitation or hospital care.”

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