Editor’s note: This story has been provided by the Delta Police as part of the End the Stigma Campaign that they along with the City of Delta, Tsawwassen First Nation, Fraser Health Authority and Delta School District have partnered on.
More than 2,200 people died of drug toxicity in 2021, and 19 of those individuals were Delta residents. This is a crisis that has touched many families, including that of a Delta Police officer.
Former Sgt. Kevin Jones, who retired in February 2022, last saw his daughter Sara in November 2017. She died of an Opiate overdose in January 2018, at age 28 leaving behind two young children.
Looking back now, he describes the ordeal his family experienced as that of having a total loss of control.
“As a police officer, I wasn’t prepared for how powerless I would feel in the face of what happened to Sara,” he says.
In her early twenties Sara sought medical assistance for endometriosis – an often painful condition. Her doctors prescribed her Oxycontin to deal with the pain, but after five years of prescriptions, and a range of doctors, her access to the opioid was cut off. Over time, opioid users need higher doses of the drug, as their bodies become accustomed to it. By the time her prescriptions were stopped, Jones describes her dosage as being high enough to kill a first time user.
“When her family doctor cut her off, Sara began doctor shopping to get access to painkillers, and increasingly feigned illness and made ER hospital visits in order to get new prescriptions,” said Jones.
After being cut off from legal access Sara started to access street drugs.
“This was the beginning of the end,” he said.
Sara left school – where she’d been studying to become a Licensed Practical Nurse. She also left her husband.
Sara never admitted that she was addicted to opioids.
“She’d say, my body needs them, but my mind doesn’t need them,” added Jones, recounting a conversation with Sara. “She’d justify herself, saying she didn’t look like a crack addict.
She was a beautiful girl. The drug just took over. It took over control of her life.”
He says there were very limited resources he or the family could turn to, to get help for Sara. And he thinks even if Sara had been open to entering a full-time recovery program that it might have taken a year or more, to wean Sara off drugs, and build enough supports in place to deal with the inevitable cravings that would continue to happen.
He’s speaking out now to contribute to the conversation about opioid use, drug toxicity and deaths.
“We need to talk about this issue more. Families are suffering,” he said.
The City of Delta, Tsawwassen First Nation, Delta Police Department, Fraser Health Authority and Delta School District are organizing a Community Forum the evening of April 13, to talk about the opioid crisis and how to reduce the stigma surrounding substance use. There will be exhibitors, speakers talking about their lived experience, and an opportunity for questions and answers. The forum will also include the opportunity to receive Naloxone training. Please go to Eventbrite for more information and register to attend. (Note registration is optional, but helps organizers with planning).