After a deadly fentanyl overdose by an 18-year-old woman in Saskatoon over the weekend, a Saskatoon man who lost his 23-year-old son the same way is speaking out.
“I wasn’t surprised when I saw the woman died,” said Al Reisinger, who created a recovery house for drug addicts in his son Alex’s memory in October 2016.
“If anything, I’m surprised it’s not more in the news.”
Police linked fentanyl to three of five overdose calls officers handled between May 5-7, one of which killed the 18-year-old woman.
Fentanyl is an opioid drug several times more potent than morphine. Its principal legal use is as a painkiller for cancer patients.
“It doesn’t receive the attention it should because of the stigma around the drug,” Reisinger said, saying the drug is the number one killer in North America.
“When we see a story about fentanyl addictions, it’s usually on Hastings Street in Vancouver, which is stereotypical, but now we have lawyers dying from the drug and should take it more seriously.”
The father said Canada and other western countries should look to Portugal as an example for how to deal with opioid addictions.
The European nation decriminalized all drugs in 2001, treating possession of small amounts as a public health issue instead of criminal.
Reisinger said it’s helped eliminate the stigma of getting help for an addiction, leading to one of the lowest drug-related death rates in the world.
“They have large rehab facilities to work with people that way before it becomes a full-blown problem,” he said. “They only use the legal system as a last resort.”