A Nova Scotia mother is pleading with patients to lock up or dispose of narcotic medications properly after losing her teenage daughter to an accidental hydromorphone overdose last year.
Dale Jollota, who lives in Dartmouth, is encouraging people to check their medicine cabinets for any unused or expired medication — especially painkillers — in the hopes that people will dispose of them properly at 21 drug drop-off locations open throughout the province on Saturday.
- Click on the interactive map at the end of this article to find your nearest prescription disposal site
Saturday is National Prescription Drug Drop-off Day. It also falls on Mother’s Day weekend.
"This is my second Mother's Day without Olivia and it's very difficult because every year — for my birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas — she always gave me a handmade card, and it’s so hard to know that the card’s not going to come," said Jollota.
"It's hard to be a mom when your child's not here," she said. "It's not right and for such a preventable tragedy, these drugs should have never been on the street."
Olivia Jollota, 15, died just over a year ago after sharing two Dilaudid capsules provided by an 18-year-old friend.
Olivia's mother found the girl's body in her bed last April.
"I knew. I knew instantly. I just started to scream that she was dead. I was in a panic," Jollota recalled.
"Somehow I wound up on the floor outside my son's bedroom, screaming and screaming and trying to find a phone to call 911 because I just wanted somebody to help me. I just wanted somebody to fix her."
Jollota said autopsy results revealed her daughter had died of an acute hydromorphone intoxication, and no other drugs or alcohol were involved. She believes Olivia — an honours student — was not suicidal but was experimenting.
Halifax Regional Police are investigating the death.
Jollota describes her daughter Olivia as a Grade 9 student who got good grades and had an artistic side.
"She split two hydromorphone Dilaudid capsules. Her body just couldn't do it. She wasn't very big," Jollota told CBC News in an interview last month.
Overdoses from people getting high on painkillers keep adding up. There have been 357 deaths in Nova Scotia in the last five years.
"If it gets into the wrong hands, one pill could kill," said Spryfield pharmacist Sarah Opie.
She said her pharmacy will dispose of unused medications to help get them off the street.