Pubdate: Tue, 08 Aug 2017
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Kevin Connor
Page: 3


Recovering addict Leila Attar says she was scared sober after a
fentanyl overdose nearly killed her in 2016.

The 19-year-old Ottawa teen unwittingly took pills thinking they were
percocets last November.

"I had taken too much in the past, but I'd never been so far gone. I
had the feeling I was so close to death," Attar said.

Five weeks ago, Attar - with her Canada 150 Youth Pass on Via Rail -
started a cross-country tour to learn more about the opioid crisis by
visiting treatment centres and inner-city drug sites.

"I want to share my struggles and learn about the diversity of others
battling the crisis. I have struggles with mental health and
addiction, but so do people all around me," she said. "I wanted to get
some insight into why this was happening."

During her travels, Attar met a couple whose 19-year-old daughter - a
university student - had overdosed and a father in law enforcement who
had lost his teenage son to opioid addiction.

"It's not just marginalized kids, it can happen to anyone's child.
It's not just a junkie issue. It's all over," she said.

Attar added the way to reach kids is by changing the educational

"The fear-based system doesn't work. Parents have to have
conversations with their kids and let them know they aren't going to
get in trouble. It's not going to work for every kid but it will work
for some," Attar said.

Attar said her drug use started with marijuana when she was 15.
Suffering from bullying and depression, she had left home at 16 and
graduated to other party drugs.

At the time of her overdose, she had no intension of taking pills that
were laced with fentanyl which she got from her regular dealer.

"You think they are your friend, but they are just selling to you
because they want your money and that is all your life is worth. It
almost killed me," said Attar, adding a hugely important step is to
get more naloxone - a fentanyl antidote - on the streets.
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