British Columbia THE FENTANYL FIX

Mother of drug-addicted daughter calls for changes amid fentanyl crisis

Linda Davidsen is asking for some legal access to her 20-year-old daughter during illicit drug epidemic

Richard Zussman - CBC News

February 03, 2017

Linda Davidsen stops by to drop off gift cards for her drug addicted daughter, Cheyenne Parent, at least once a week in an attempt to connect. (Mike McArthur/CBC News)

It is the phone call Linda Davidsen increasingly fears.

Ever since the opioid crisis began, Davidsen has worried the next time she picks up the phone it will be the police on the other end telling her her daughter, Cheyenne, has died from a drug overdose.

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"I'm waiting every weekend to find out if she's dead or not," says Davidsen. "I am hyper vigilant. Any time I hear about the escalation in the fentanyl issues, I am sleepless for days."

Davidsen said Cheyenne — now 20 — started using marijuana and alcohol when she was 12 or 13 and started using illicit drugs when she was 16. After Davidsen found drug paraphernalia in her house four years ago, she told her daughter to get out. 

Long waits from detox to rehab

Davidsen is speaking out because she is concerned about a lack of access to rehab facilities for teenagers in the Victoria area.

The Esquimalt mother tells the story of how Cheyenne entered detox twice before she turned 18. But after she got out of detox, she was told it was going to be two to three months to get into rehab.

During that wait, she started to use drugs again.

Linda Davidsen is asking the province to reduce wait time between when someone is in detox and when they can receive rehab. (Mike McArthur/CBC News)

Davidsen is asking the province to do more to close that wait period.

"Nobody will take you into rehab unless you have had some clean time. So it is like a vicious circle," said Davidsen.

"I think unless she gets the immediate help from detox to rehab and into a life skills program, I don't know, I don't want to say I am hopeless because I have to have hope."

In a statement, Health Minister Terry Lake says the province is focusing on bed creation, but, with advice from Dr. Perry Kendall, is also focusing on substitution treatment for people who need it.

"Having a child with mental health or substance use concerns is incredibly difficult — my heart goes out to families throughout B.C. that are dealing with the overdose crisis," Lake said.

"We recognize that substance use challenges are difficult and personal and we will continue to provide ongoing support for people as they go through the phases of addictions recovery and healing. 

Davidsen has very little contact with her daughter now. She stops by the building for former homeless, where Cheyenne lives, as often as she can, to drop off gift cards and try to catch a glimpse of her daughter.

Access to kids who are above the age of 16

Because Cheyenne is 20, Davidsen has no legal access to her daughter, which stopped when she turned 16.

Which means when she asks the staff at the building where Cheyenne lives for an update or calls police to see if they have had any interaction with her, Davidsen gets no answers. 

"For the parents, I think a liaison worker between the young adult and parent, because once she has gone fom youth to adult, all connections are gone because of confidentiality ... I think the parents should have some right to know," said Davidsen.

"If there was a liaison worker that could let me know she was in an OK state and I could get a coffee with her, I would love that or go out and buy her a new shirt."

Davidsen acknowledges her daughter's story isn't a simple one. Cheyenne has spent many years bouncing around on the streets of Vancouver and Victoria. Only now is she somewhat settled in housing that was created after Victoria's tent city became an issue.

Davidsen says another reason she is fighting so hard is for Cheyenne's four-year-old son, who she hopes can one day have a relationship with a clean and sober mother.

"He won't realize the importance or impacts of a mom. I think of him all the time and worry he is not going to have the benefits of her personality when she is healthy," said Davidsen. 

"She is a wonderful person. She is very living and very giving when she is healthy. When she is not, she is very selfish."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Richard Zussman
Reporter

Richard Zussman is the B.C. provincial affairs reporter for the CBC. Based in Victoria, Zussman covers primarily provincial, federal and municipal politics. Follow his tweets @richardzussman

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