Pubdate: Tue, 29 Dec 2015
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2015 Times Colonist
Author: Richard Watts
Page: A3


A Colwood man shattered by the overdose death of his daughter is
turning to social media with a holiday season message for drug
dealers: Please stop.

"Two days prior to Christmas and our grandson's birthday [Dec. 25th] =C2=85

you took our daughter and our grandchildren's mother away from us and
left heartbreak and oh so many tears in her place," Fred Lang wrote on

"My wife and I call upon your compassion, sympathy and understanding
and ask that you cease selling street drugs =C2=85 at least at this time 
in order that other families are not subjected to the grief we
continue to experience."

Lang's stepdaughter, Debbie Porter, 49, was found dead on the
living-room floor of her Langford home Dec. 23. Her family is
convinced her death was related to drugs, possibly fentanyl.

It's one of at least eight Greater Victoria deaths in the past week
that the B.C. Coroners Service says is likely linked to illicit-drug
use. Many of the deaths are believed to be connected to fentanyl, an
illegal synthetic opiate more toxic and powerful than morphine or heroin.

In response to the spate of overdoses, police, public health and
social agencies have issued warnings to drug users: Know your source.
Start with a small amount first. Don't do drugs alone.

Lang, 74, said after the shock of Porter's death, the family learned
from news reports that her case was not an isolated one.

"We realized it wasn't just Debbie," he said in an interview Monday.
"There were all these other parents and other families."

So Lang and his family decided to reach out to the dealers. "At first
glance, it doesn't seem like what I did could ever work," said Lang.
"But what if it did and what if it saved just one life?

"That's why we put it on Facebook."

A toxicology report in Porter's case is expected Wednesday, but Lang
said he and his family believe it will only confirm what they already
know. Debbie died a drug addict's death, likely from something
unexpectedly strong.

Porter had been using hard drugs since her 20s, and was alone when she
died, Lang said.

"She knew what she was doing," he said. "This had nothing to do with
how she administered the drug. It had to do with the drug she was

Lang, a retired civil servant and union official, said his daughter
struggled most of her life, not just with drugs, but also with bipolar
disorder. Porter has three grown children, two sons and a daughter.

As a father and recovering alcoholic himself, now sober for 35 years,
Lang had warned his children about the dangers of alcohol and drugs.

He and his wife sent Porter to rehab treatment on Vancouver Island and
on the mainland, but it never seemed to work.

"Debbie hated what she was doing with the drugs but she couldn't
stop," said Lang.

But there is one thing the drugs couldn't destroy, he said: Porter was
a beautiful woman with a generous spirit and a good heart.

At the time of her death, she was preparing to open her home to street
people for Christmas supper. She had bought presents and arranged them
under her tree.

"If you formed a mental picture of her standing there, and separated
out the drug use and put it aside, what you would be left with is
somebody who is kind and thoughtful," said Lang.

"These are not just 'druggies.' They are people."
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