Pubdate: Mon, 27 Nov 2017
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Candice G. Ball
Page: 11

Let's Talk Drugs - Part 3 of a special 5-part series looking at the
impact of the opioid crisis


Tracy Sanderson understood opioid addiction. Her daughter Kelsie began
struggling with opioid addiction after she had a traumatic experience
being tasered by RCMP officers.

After drinking with some friends, Kelsie, who was 16 at the time,
stole her parents' truck. When Sanderson received a call from RCMP
officers, she said, "Keep my daughter overnight. She needs to learn a

She did not expect to pick up a different girl the next day.
"Something inside my daughter died that night," she said. That's when
Kelsie's descent into fentanyl addiction began.

Even though Sanderson knew all the signs and symptoms of opioid
addiction, she was oblivious to the transformation in her younger
daughter's life.

Alexandria (Alex) attended Lockport Junior High and Lord Selkirk
Comprehension High School, graduating with honours. She enrolled in
her first year at the University of Winnipeg with the goal of becoming
a social worker. She also held down a part-time job at Ikwe
Widdjiitiwin, a women's shelter.

When Alex rolled her car on December 18, 2013, her mother picked her
up and brought her home, relieved she didn't get hurt. The next
morning, Sanderson found her daughter dead with a piece of foil near
her face.

"She wasn't the kid who was supposed to die," Sanderson said
tearfully. "She was the most beautiful young girl. She was so proud of
her Metis heritage and wanted to make a difference in the lives of
Aboriginal and Metis women by becoming a social worker."

Sanderson later learned that she had gone to her dealers that night
with her boyfriend. Alex had planned on telling her mother about her
struggle with opioid addiction, but she wanted to hold off until after
her nephew's birthday.

She never did get the chance to tell her mother.

For years, Sanderson did not tell anyone how Alex died. It wasn't
until Kelsie achieved recovery that she could finally talk about what
happened to Alex.

Sanderson looked after Kelsie's son while her daughter spiralled
deeper into her addiction. Kelsie had tried outpatient and inpatient
treatment, including 28 days at the Addictions Foundation (AFM) of
Manitoba's River House, but she could not stay off opioids.

A doctor at AFM told Kelsie, "If you don't quit using, you have a
month left to live."

Sanderson refused to lose another daughter to opioid addiction, so she
and her husband, Art, decided to pay for Kelsie's treatment at Aurora
Recovery Centre.

Aurora Recovery Centre saved Kelsie's Life.

Aurora Recovery Centre (ARC), a world-class 45,000-square foot
treatment centre located in Gimli, offers 24-7 medical detox. The
private centre offers tailored withdrawal plans and a program of
recovery that addresses the physical, emotional and spiritual pain
involved in recovery.

Drawing on the strengths of cognitive behavioural, EMDR (Eye movement
desensitization and reprocessing and other therapies, 12-Step
programs, yoga, physical exercise, art therapy and customized,
culturally appropriate traditional and other spiritual practices, ARC
helps clients develop a solid foundation in drug-free living to
recovery for life.

"Around day 23, Kelsie was still being an asshole," Sanderson said.
"We had enough and said that we'd come pick her up. A counsellor asked
for a few more days and that's when the transformation occurred."

Kelsie took responsibility for her own recovery and she decided that
it was the path she wanted to be on. She was able to address the
trauma she experienced as a 16-year-old girl and she began to heal.

"When I picked Kelsie up at Aurora, it was like meeting my adult
daughter for the first time," Sanderson said. She has been drug-free
for more than a year now and she just had her second child.

Sanderson speaks openly about Alex's death now and she lobbies all
levels of government for more treatment centres that offer continuum
that is currently only available to those who can pay for private
treatment. "We shouldn't have to pay to keep our children alive," she

- ------------------------------------------------------------------



If you or a loved one needs help with an addiction, call the Manitoba
Addictions Hotline at 1-855-662-6605 or visit You
may also drop in to the River Point Centre, located at 146 Magnus
Avenue, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, Addictions Recovery Inc.,
Behavioural Health Foundation, Esther House, Health Sciences Centre
(Addiction Unit), Main Street Project, Native Addictions Council of
Manitoba, The Laurel Centre, Rosaire House Addiction Centre, The
Salvation Army (Anchorage Program), St. Raphael Wellness Centre,
Tamarack Recovery Centre and Two Ten Recovery. The partners range from
detox centres to evening, nonresidential, recovery-based programs.
Links to the resources can be found on


Opioid Deaths in Manitoba

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reports on substance overdose
deaths. Opioids have been a primary or contributing cause of death in
approximately half of these deaths annually: 2013: 87 out of 162
deaths (54%) 2014: 94 out of 175 deaths (54%) 2015: 85 out of 182
deaths (47%) 2016 (Jan-Jun): 63 out of 124 deaths (51%) Data also
shows an increase in overdose deaths where fentanyl, including the
analog carfentanil, is present.

Hospitalizations due to opioid poisoning (Apr 01, 2015- Mar 31, 2016):

Intensive care unit admissions due to suspected opioid poisoning
(Jan-jun 2016): 10 (Winnipeg Health Region only)

Naloxone kits distributed through the Take-home naloxone
program(2016): Manitoba (total): 250 Naloxone kits shipped from
provincial Materials Distribution Agency warehouse (Dec 29, 2016- Jan
27, 2017): 395

*Source: Epidemiology & Surveillance Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active 
Living, The Government of Manitoba Source:


If you or someone you care about is at risk of opioid overdose, you
may drop in to the Street Connections office at 496 Hargrave Street
(Main Floor) Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and ask to see
a nurse about the naloxone program. You will be trained to recognize
the signs of an overdose and how to give someone naloxone. You will
receive a free kit and the entire visit should take less than an hour.
Street Connections' website features an interactive that shows where
take-home naloxone kits can be accessed for free. Visit
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt