Pubdate: Wed, 10 Oct 2012
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2012 The Record
Author: Frances Barrick


WATERLOO - A Georgetown mother who lost her only child to drug
addiction urged people at a forum Wednesday to lobby hard to increase
the availability of a life-saving drug that prevents fatal overdoses.

Betty-Lou Kristy told about 100 people attending a forum on overdose
prevention that her son, Pete Beattie, would be alive today if he had
been given a drug named naloxone - the generic form of the brand-name
drug Narcan - which is essentially an antidote used only by doctors
and paramedics to revive people from an opioid overdose.

"Pete did not have to die," Kristy said. "Naloxone would have saved
his life."

Kristy wants naloxone to be readily available in Ontario, including in
the homes of both users and addicts of opiates. This would empower
people to recognize and intervene in an overdose instead of another
case of "finding your kid dead in their beds syndrome," she said.

Only Ottawa and Toronto have programs where a medical directive is
issued allowing trained people - other than doctors and paramedics -
to dispense Narcan, said Michael Parkinson of the Crime Prevention
Council of Waterloo Region, which hosted the forum.

The training takes about 30 minutes and a Narcan kit costs

"The holdup here is having a prescriber come on board in Waterloo
Region" to train people, Parkinson said.

Dr. Liana Nolan, the region's medical officer of health, said she's
open to exploring Narcan.

She said a committee of the public health unit will meet this month to
discuss harm-reduction programming in the region and Narcan will be on
the agenda.

Nolan said the bigger question is whether Narcan should become as
readily available as EpiPens, a medical device that is used to provide
a measured dose of epinephrine to treat acute allergic reactions or
anaphylactic shock. It is available over-the-counter at drug stores.

Accidental overdoses are the third leading cause of death in

Kristy told the story of her son to bring a human face to

"My late son was not just an addict =C2=85 His addiction and overdose dea
should not define him =C2=85 he was so much more than that."

Her son's addiction to OxyContin began after his doctor prescribed it
for gastrointestinal problems. The pills not only took care of his
physical pain, but also alleviated his emotional and mental pain, said
Kristy, adding that Pete suffered from depression and anxiety.

Pete began double-doctoring to get more. When that failed, he bought
the drug illegally on the streets, she said.

Kristy said she tried to get help for her son but to no avail. Pete
started having hallucinations and attempted suicide several times.

After a suicide attempt in 2001, he was admitted to a psychiatric ward
where, two days before Christmas, he died of an overdose of
psychiatric drugs and OxyContin, which he got from his roommate. He
was 25.

Kristy said the stigma of drug addiction is the biggest barrier to
harm reduction and preventing overdose deaths.

The answer, she said, is education, awareness and widespread
availability of Narcan.

"Had either of these harm-reduction options been available for my late
son, I know unequivocally that he would be standing here in front of
you today," Kristy said.
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