Victoria drug overdose victim's father blames drug dealers

The father of one of Victoria's presumed overdose victims says drug dealers, not drug users, should be blamed for a recent spate of suspected overdose deaths in the city.

'To the drug dealers: please, please, stop,' says Debbie Porter's father, Fred Lang

Fred Lang says his daughter was seeking treatment for bipolar disorder and drug addiction before she recently died of a presumed overdose. (CBC)

The father of one of Victoria's presumed overdose victims says drug dealers, not drug users, should be blamed for a recent spate of suspected overdose deaths in the capital city.

Fred Lang's daughter, Debbie Porter, was found dead on Dec. 22 in a Langford, B.C., apartment she rented. She had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was a frequent drug user.

Debbie Porter is one of eight people who have recently died of a suspected drug overdose in the Greater Victoria Area. (CBC)

But Lang says Porter was seeking treatment, and it's those distributing the drugs who should be blamed.

"It wasn't her administrating the drugs herself that killed her, it was the drug itself," Lang said. "The only way I can respond to that is to the drug dealers: please, please, stop."

8 deaths in 10 days

Porter is one of eight people who are suspected to have died of an overdose in Metro Victoria in the last 10 days.

Two unidentified people died in separate incidents in one home, and Brad Paul was found dead in his tent at a homeless camp in the city.

Residents of Victoria's homeless camp erected a small memorial for a man found dead in his tent after a suspected overdose in December 2015. (CBC)

Toxicology reports are only back in one case, but health officials believe the powerful opioid painkiller fentanyl has been mixed in with existing street drugs, making them more potent and putting drug users at greater risk of an overdose.

The rash of deaths have led to calls of supervised injection sites being established in Victoria.

"I do know that if we had the services available to [drug users] they wouldn't be dead, they would be with us right now," said supervised injection site advocate Darrin Murphy.

Fentanyl alerts like this one have been posted by health officials in the Greater Victoria and Vancouver areas. (CBC)

The federal government, which oversees supervised injection site Insite in Vancouver, responded to the calls by indicating it's in favour of the service — a contrast to the previous Conservative government, which opposed Insite.

"Our government believes in evidence-based decision making. When properly established and managed, supervised consumption sites have the potential to reduce the harms associated with drug abuse on individual users and communities," said federal Health Minister Jane Philpott in a written statement.

It may be too late for Lang and his family. But he said he hopes speaking out and putting a human face on an overdose death may help to save other lives.

With files from Richard Zussman


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