Manitoba

Brandon mom painting rocks to raise awareness for addictions and overdose death

A Brandon mother is hoping to raise awareness about addictions and overdose deaths by hiding painted rocks around the province.

Group plans to leave rocks around the province for people to find

Danielle Lalonde and a group of people from the support group she founded are painting and distributing commemorative rocks to raise awareness of overdose deaths and addictions. (Danielle Lalonde/Submitted )

A Brandon mother is hoping to raise awareness about addictions and overdose deaths by hiding painted rocks around the province.

Danielle Lalonde plans to paint one rock with the support group she founded's logo — representing each person whose death was officially attributed to an overdose.

According to preliminary statistics from the province, 62 deaths in 2018 have so far been attributed to opioid overdoses. 

However, the number could rise as toxicology results become available in more cases. 

"These families are suffering and there's a really good chance their loved ones didn't have an opportunity to go to treatment and there was nothing available to them," she told CBC News, adding that she believes many more overdose deaths go unreported.

"Compared to last year we really haven't really seen that many strides forward." 

Lack of resources

Lalonde, whose son has battled a serious methamphetamine addiction, founded the support group Westman Families of Addicts after trying to find help and resources for her own family and coming up empty.

She said the group now has more than 250 families. She is currently working with a small group of others to paint and distribute the stones around the region and throughout the rest of Manitoba.

She said painting each rock comes with a feeling of sadness and frustration and wants people who find them to stop and think.

"I want them to think that no one is immune," she said. "It can happen to anyone. No one is immune. It can happen anywhere, it can happen any time." 

Son in treatment

Lalonde said her son is now at a residential treatment centre in British Columbia receiving treatment for his addiction.

She said he spent almost three month in jail, where he detoxed and then asked to go treatment after being released. 

"It's a very very positive thing that he's there, but it's disappointing that we still don't have anything in Manitoba that we can access like that," she said. 

Danielle Lalonde started Westman Families of Addicts in 2017 after struggling to find resources for her own family. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

She hopes by leaving the rock she and the group are paint inspire people to use their own voices to either share their own story or call for action. 

"It's a really hard thing for people to put a brave face on and announce they have a loved one who is struggling with substance abuse," she said. 

About the Author

Riley Laychuk is CBC's reporter based in Brandon, covering rural Manitoba. Share your story ideas, tips and feedback: riley.laychuk@cbc.ca.

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