Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Live Fast, Die Pretty

Another young sole lost forever, gone too soon due to a drug overdose. The newest victim in the city where I live was a teenage male barely sixteen years young. Although, the official autopsy report has not yet been completed, the local media is reporting that his death was caused by snorting powdered methadone. So say many of the deceased’s family and friends, including his mother and her boyfriend and many who attended the same party as the teen. Obviously, I feel for his loved ones loss. A tragedy of epic poportions that should never, ever have even happened, but it did…nothing can change this fact.

My daughter and I ended up getting into a bit of a fight over the whole ordeal too. She was too emotional that she wasn't quite prepared to actually listen to what I was trying to say. I told her that while I empathized - one of her best friends was close to the family and had to attend the funeral - I also said that good kids do not do some of the things that he had done, and good kids don't end up overdosing. When she heard this, she lost all sense of reason and nothing after that could even begin to help my position. Whatever...Unfortunately, no matter how hard it may be to hear this, it is true, very true.

Good kids do not get suspended three times while in Grade Eight nor do they get expelled from their first year of high school, expecially if they're attending the most liberal and lenient school in the district - believe me, same school my girls attended and the school and I butted heads numerous times over their laissez faire attitude towards their students and their behaviour. Good kids do not go to parties prepared to snort up whatever pile happens to be put in front of them. Good kids...I could go on but I'd like to think that my point has been made and understood.

I think as parents we want to believe that our children are good kids and because of this, end up excusing behaviour we probably shouldn't. It's a terrible way to learn a lesson, but maybe we can all take something away from this tragedy and turn it around. Maybe we need to police our teenagers much more strictly than we do currently. Maybe they'll hate us for this but maybe they'll thank us for saving their lives.

Teenager's Death Sounds Alarms
In most ways, he was just a normal teenager.

He got into a bit of trouble, but he was smart and loved, say the friends and family of **** ********, 16.

He called himself "Lightning," after the Disney Cars character Lightning McQueen, and his sense of humour never failed to light up the room.

Now ********'s light is extinguished, and his friend lucky to be alive, apparently after an experiment with a drug that has appeared suddenly on London streets, a drug far more lethal than many think.

Friends and family say ******** snorted a lethal line of methadone, and drug outreach workers have confirmed a supply of the dangerous powder has hit the streets.

"It is exceedingly lethal if you don't know what you are doing," said Henry Eastabrook, an outreach worker with the London InterCommunity Health Centre. "Word is, powdered methadone is on the street right now."

Perhaps because it is used by heroin and OxyContin addicts to kick their habits, methadone is seen as less dangerous than other drugs.

"I wouldn't think the average teenager is aware of how dangerous it is," said Dr. John Craven of Clinic 528, which uses methadone to help opioid addicts.

"Methadone is extremely dangerous, especially if you have never taken it before. It is far more dangerous than OxyContin."

******** died at a party he attended July 12.

According to several of his friends, one boy brought the lethal drug in a powdered form to the party. ******** and another boy snorted more than the others. All the kids started to feel sick and fell asleep - some of the symptoms of methadone overdose. When the other boys woke up, ******** was dead. The other boy who had snorted more than the rest was unconscious.

That boy ended up in hospital, on life support, but has since been discharged.

It's not clear if the boys knew exactly what they were snorting, and that kind of experimental approach by London's youth is alarming police and addiction workers.

"It used to be pot, magic mushrooms and acid," said Const. Carl Noel, a secondary school resource officer. "Now, there seems to be a popularity of illegal prescription medication, like OxyContin or Percocets. I don't think they understand the severity of taking those drugs. I think the stuff is available, someone says it's awesome and they try it."

Methadone had no business being in the hands of a 16-year-old boy in the first place, said ********'s grieving mother, ******** ********.

"How did kids get powdered methadone? Something needs to be done to stop this stuff from getting into the hands of kids," she said, tears streaming down her face as she spoke in her south London home this week.

"Kids experiment. But this methadone is very lethal, and 16-year-old kids don't know that."

Asked about an investigation into ********'s death, London police said the matter is in the hands of the coroner's office. Regional coroner Dr. Rick Mann would not comment.

Family members said Mann told them the cause of death won't be known for sure until toxicology tests are complete in several weeks.

But the family is convinced ******** snorted methadone and believe a crime has been committed.

"Someone got their hands on someone else's prescription and it leaked out and now my son is dead," ******** said.

Powdered methadone is so tightly controlled, pharmacists wondered aloud how it could have reached the streets.

"It comes hand-delivered to us," said one pharmacist.

Every bit must be accounted for, she said, adding there have been no thefts from her pharmacy.

"It is a very controlled drug," said London pharmacist Suresh Kommineni, adding there have been no thefts from his pharmacy.

Methadone is prescribed for pain relief or to help people get off other drugs.

It is dispensed in two forms - tablets provided by drug companies, which can be taken home, and the powder, which pharmacists mix into a liquid.

Methadone clinics provide the liquid form. Most people drink on site, but some are allowed to take the liquid home.

Some people sell the liquid for other drugs. But the liquid can't be boiled into powder and the tablets aren't much good ground down either, said pharmacists and addiction workers.

"If someone has methadone powder, it is either stolen or diverted from a doctor's office or pharmacy," Craven said.

Any form is dangerous, he hastened to add.

********'s boyfriend **** ******** said methadone users must be aware that the drug that helps them can kill another.

"To leave this around, you might as well have a loaded handgun on the table," said ********.

Many of ********'s family and friends used Facebook to discuss the need to educate others about the dangers of methadone.

"This is also for the kids that never got the privilege to know ****, to look up the dangers of methadone, and what it can do to you," said Londoner Steph Lefave in an e-mail interview.

"Spread the word. Everyone has their own **** ********. We lost ours. Hold onto yours. Protect yours."

Intelligent, Funny Teen Will Be Missed
The next time you see a bolt of lightning, remember **** *******.

That's what many across the city - and particularly in Old South - will do as they cling to memories of the 16-year-old boy who sometimes jokingly called himself Lightning ******** and who died suddenly last week after a night of partying.

The teen's parents wait for police or a coroner to confirm what they know - that their son died after snorting a powdered, prescription drug, methadone.

In the days after his drug overdose, nearly 1,000 people joined a Facebook page set up in ****'s memory, filling it with memories and general warnings against snorting methadone.

He didn't know it was methadone, said several friends. Someone brought it to the party. He thought it was crystal meth, say some. He thought it was Percocet, say others.

It doesn't matter, they insist. All that matters is **** is gone.

On the page, one friend recalled ****'s devastation on seeing a dog hit by a passing car, and recalled him sitting with the dog until its owner came looking for it.

Others wondered if he was responsible for the bolts of lightning seen over London since his death.

"He loved lightning," said his mom, Colleen Morton. "Called himself Lightning ********. He loved purple, he loved camping, smores. He was a clean freak."

Clinging to whatever she can remember, Morton said she still has an old Mother's Day card he gave her as a boy. It was filled with promises, and all of them involved cleaning.

"I don't remember him crying, ever," she said. "Does that make me a bad mom? I don't know, I guess it does."

She hasn't stopped crying during a two hour interview.

**** was smart. In and out of trouble since he was young, he won the Grade 8 math award at Princess Elizabeth public school, despite three suspensions that year.

He went to South secondary school for Grade 9, but ended up suspended and at the school board's U-Turn alternative education program before starting fresh at H.B. Beal last year. Within a few weeks, despite absences, he was excelling in academic math, she said.

"He could have been anything. A doctor, a lawyer, an astronaut. ... He could have invented things. I don't know, maybe this was his purpose in life," said Morton.

**** was closest with his dad, **** ********. The elder ******** told The Free Press he wanted to talk about his son, but wasn't ready yet.

"His dad's not doing so well whatsoever," said his on-and-off girlfriend of four years, **** ****.

**** still had ****'s skateboard this week. He rode it over to her house the last time they hung out.

"He was good at skateboarding. He was really gifted at a lot of things," she said. "Literally, he was the strongest, most positive person I knew and he did get suspended and stuff, but really he was polite and very respectful and he was just an amazing guy.

"Everybody loved him," she said, laughing for an instant as she recalled their first meeting. They were with a group of friends, going to watch Shrek 2 at the theatre.

"Right away, he started telling jokes. That's who he was," she said. "He'd tell you a joke, or do anything to make you smile in some way, and then you would just love him."

There is a lot of pain and guilt among those who love ****. Many contacted through Facebook wouldn't comment, afraid whoever brought the methadone to the party is racked with guilt.

Nobody wants to blame anybody for ****'s death. Boys said to be his closest friends didn't want to talk, but others did.

"Man that kid could make me laugh," said Steph Lefave, 22, in a Facebook conversation. "Although I did not have the privilege of knowing **** as long as I would have liked, I will tell you ... he did not judge. He did not boast, he didn't hold grudges."

His mom is gutted by regret.

"I regret letting him go to his friends so much on the weekends, thinking I had the rest of his life.

"I never pushed those issues. I wanted to let him be a teenager. Maybe if I had put a tighter chain on him."

She clings to the memory of their final conversation.

"He always said 'I love you' and I know my last words to him were 'I love you,' and his were 'I love you, mom.' "

The family is planning a public memorial party for **** next Wednesday night at Rouge nightclub.

1 comment:

Annette said...

Good kids don't do those things, but hurting kids do. The biggest disservice we can do to our kids is make excuses for poor behavior. If they are acting out there is more than likely a reason. Seek help!