Fentanyl meeting in Manotick.
Dennis Westwell speaks about the death of his 17-year-old grandson from an overdose of Fentanyl during a public meeting to discuss abuse of the drug. The emotional meeting was held in Manotick on Nov. 14.
MANOTICK - Try and try again.
People who are addicted to the drug Fentanyl may have to try rehab over and over again before they finally kick the powerful painkiller.
That’s not the message many people wanted to hear during a meeting at Manotick United Church on Nov. 14, but it’s reality according to a counsellor with Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services.
The meeting switched back and forth from cold, clinical facts about Fentanyl to emotional dialogue about the effect the powerful drug has had on local families. More than 50 people attended; many appeared to be the right age to have teenaged children.
Last August, 17-year-old Tyler Campbell of Manotick died of an overdose of Fentanyl. The public meeting was organized by MPP Lisa MacLeod, who invited Ottawa police officers, Dr. Melanie Willows of the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre and Rideauwood’s Amanda Neilson.
Experts on hand said Fentanyl abuse often pops up in small pockets, affecting one community while sparing others nearby. Manotick and the nearest high school – St. Mark – have been seriously affected by the drug’s use and the property crime that comes with it, as users steal to pay for their next drug purchase.
Fentanyl is a prescription pain killer that comes in patch form and is meant to be worn on the skin and absorbed slowly over a period of two or three days. Addicts remove the gel from inside the patch and either smoke or inject it, releasing all the potency of the drug in one quick burst.
Willows said many teens will experiment with drugs but an opiate like Fentanyl – which is much more potent than morphine – is much higher risk, in part because users can become addicted very quickly.
Willows and Neilson stressed that addiction can happen to anyone.
“You didn’t cause it,” Neilson told the audience. “You can’t control it.”
Neilson said parents of addicts can cope. She said fear and anger are natural responses to finding out a child is addicted to a drug, but parents must deal with those emotions and then move forward, getting professional help as needed.
She said education and understanding are key, “but it doesn’t have to happen all on your own.”
Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services can be reached at 613-724-4881 or at www.rideauwood.org.
One member of the audience said there isn’t enough support for families affected by Fentanyl addiction, adding that teens who have gone through rehab quickly return to using the drug.
“There will be another death,” she said. “I couldn’t care less about break and enters. The resources aren’t there. They’re not working.”
MacLeod said there appeared to be a consensus that another community meeting will be needed and she encouraged attendees to speak one-on-one with the experts on hand after the question-and-answer session.
Prior to the meeting, MacLeod said there has been a lot of interest in Fentanyl abuse in the community.
“Tonight is about bringing people together, getting the right people at the table,” she said.
Police officers at the meeting suggested people with prescriptions for Fentanyl dispose of used, surplus or expired patches properly. Drug stores will accept the return of any unused prescription medicines for proper disposal.