My son’s death offers lessons for ending the overdose epidemic

published on August 31, 2017 by Leslie McBain in Globe and Mail

Leslie McBain is the founder of Moms Stop the Harm, a network of parents who have lost children to drug harms, and provides guidance to the BC Centre on Substance Use as their family engagement lead.

On Feb. 4, 2014, my only child died – alone – of an accidental overdose.

Jordan’s death was a shock. It still is. Looking back, with the benefit of hindsight, I can connect the dots that led our happy, outgoing child to become addicted to opioids. Each of those dots represents an opportunity missed, a lesson to be learned. It’s time those lessons be applied.

Today, Jordan’s experience – and ours as parents – is, sadly and unnecessarily, a common one. At the time, however, we were lost in the uncertainty of how to help our son.

Jordan was a happy baby, inquisitive and active. His early years were full of travel, adventure, joy, friendships and family. Once he started school, he was happy and social. He loved his teachers. He was funny and popular, becoming a leader of his peers. But the first troubling signs emerged. His antics disrupted the classroom, his reading skills were below average and he was not a team player. At home, he had occasional brief rages that consisted of yelling in intense frustration over a seemingly insignificant thing.

Come high school, Jordan began partying with his friends. It was typical behaviour except for the excessive amount of pot and alcohol he and his friends consumed. We did our best to talk to him about his substance use, and about the dangers of addiction. By age 19, he was an alcoholic and a cigarette smoker. He was also using cocaine.

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