The overdose death of 17-year-old Tyler Campbell sent shockwaves through Manotick.
Concerned parents from the small village south of Ottawa reached out to Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod and asked for help combating the growing problem of Fentanyl abuse among teens.
“One father asked me to get this (drug) off the streets and my first call after that was the police chief,” said MacLeod.
On Wednesday, MacLeod hosted a public information session about Fentanyl at the Manotick United Church.
Teens ingest, smoke, chew and even inhale the opioid painkiller, which comes in patch form.
“It’s not a long high, but it’s a very powerful high. Therein lies the addiction,” said Ottawa police drug unit Staff Sgt. Michael Laviolette.
Parents were advised to look for certain warning signs like burned tinfoil and needles kicking around their home.
Physical signs include extreme drowsiness, nodding off, constricted or pinpoint pupils and slurred speech, according to Dr. Melanie Willows, addictions specialist.
“Our young people are more likely to take an opioid than smoke a cigarette,” said Willows. “Opioids are very available, we see more people trying them.”
Willows said the majority of teens will get prescription drugs from their home or from a close friend or relative.
Police Staff Sgt. Kal Ghadban confirmed some teens in the Manotick area have resorted to theft to support their addiction. He also tied a spike in break and enters in Manotick in 2011 to Fentanyl abuse.
Joanne Campbell says she wishes she recognized these warning signs before Tyler became addicted.
She said Tyler was tired and often nodding off — money would also go missing from her wallet.
“I knew nothing about this drug at all,” said Joanne. “I was shocked, I think this (meeting) is very important because it will raise awareness to all the parents.”
Tyler’s father found him dead in his bed on Aug. 4.
“When I got the call saying he had passed away, I was like ‘what? Not my kid,’ ” Joanne said.
Denial is a common theme among parents, according to Ghadban.
“It took someone dying for people to realize maybe we should give this a little more effort than we have,” Ghadban said. “Nobody wants to say, “Look, my kid is a drug addict.’ ”