Pubdate: Sat, 25 Nov 2017
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Candice G. Ball

Let's Talk Drugs: Part 1 of a special 5-part series looking at the
impact of the opioid crisis


As a power-lifter who could bench 340 pounds, a talented guitar
player, and a driven young man with a strong work ethic who bought his
own house at the age of 18, Jessie Kolb defied the stereotype of a
fentanyl addict.

If there's one thing his parents, Arlene Last-Kolb and John Kolb, have
learned about opioid addiction is that it can happen to anyone and all
the preconceived notions some people have about opioid addiction just
perpetuate the stigma.

"If it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone," said Last-Kolb who
knew next to nothing about fentanyl when her son accidentally
overdosed on July 18, 2014, at the age of 24.

Since her son's death, Last- Kolb has become a tireless advocate to
raise awareness about opioid addiction and to lobby all levels of
government for better treatment options.

She believes her son would be alive today if he knew about naloxone.
Naloxone is a medication that revers-es overdose caused by opi-oids.
"If he knew about it, he would have had it with him."

Naloxone is now readily available. Street Connections' website shows
places where take-home-naloxone kits can be accessed for free.

Prescription for Weight- Lifting Injury Opened Door to

Jessie's addiction began following a weight-lifting injury for which
he received a prescription for Percocet. Last-Kolb believes that
Jessie's speech impediment, and the trauma he experienced in the
school systems as a result, may have predisposed her son to addiction.

As a toddler, Jessie had a difficult time learning language. His
parents took him to the Child Development Clinic at Children's
Hospital, where he learned signed language and received speech therapy.

Last-Kolb said that if there were one thing she would do differently,
she would have kept Jessie out of the school system. "He was bullied
about his speech," she said.

Even though Jessie completed his coursework early and did well in
school, Last-Kolb did not think the school system was healthy for her
son. She did volunteer at his school but she believes he would have
done better with homeschooling.

In 2013, Jessie overdosed on Percocet (a pain medication composed of
oxycodone and acetaminophen) and Valium and had to stay in a medically
induced coma to heal his lungs.

During his stay at hospitals, the family learned about the stigma
surrounding opioid overdose. At one hospital, Jessie told his mother
that the way he was treated wasn't right.
Last-Kolb stayed at
his bedside and got the impression she was not welcome until he got
transferred to another hospital where they had a good experience in
the ICU.

"One male nurse treated my son like gold. He brought me down a
comfortable chair and a heated blanket," she said. "No matter what you
do as a nurse or doctor, leave your judgment at home. We had a nurse
who did and it made all the difference."

Jessie did stay clean for one year, but his parents learned that a
friend gave him an "oxy" that ended up being fentanyl and he became
hooked. "It was his birthday and someone brought him something he
shouldn't have," she said.

"He was at a house in St. James and he was not with friends," In the
end, when Jessie had a fatal overdose. his father said. "All we know
for certain is that he never came home."

The Good Samaritan Act

Although Jessie's parents will never know what happened the night he
died, they do know that if The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act had
been in effect the night their son overdosed, he might have lived.

John Kolb said the police told the family that the people Jessie was
with had "cleaned house" and got rid of their phones. They eventually
went to a neighbour's house to borrow a phone and call the police. By
that time, Jessie had not been breathing for 30 minutes.

Since Jessie's death, the federal government passed an Act that
provides some legal protection for individuals who seek emergency help
during an overdose. The act can protect you from charges for
possession of a controlled substance and breach of conditions
regarding simple possession.

The act, which became law on May 4, 2017, protects the person who
seeks help and protects anyone else who is at the scene when help arrives.

The act won't bring Jessie back, but the family takes comfort in the
fact that another family may not experience the tragic loss of a child.

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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
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MAP posted-by: Matt