Windsor mother shares the strain of son's opioid addiction

Cheryl Bondy said her 26-year-old son is addicted to opioids and has shown signs of mental illness. So far, finding help has been a struggle.

Cheryl Bondy said her 26 year-old son not getting help for his mental illness and drug addiction

Cheryl Bondy is frustrated that her son is not getting the mental help he needs. (By Dale Molnar/CBC News Windsor)

A Windsor woman is fearful her son will die in the street if he doesn't get the mental health and addiction treatment he needs, but finding help has been a struggle so far.

Cheryl Bondy said her 26-year-old son is hooked on opioids and started showing signs of mental illness about a year ago.

"He's been beat up. He's been through a lot," she explained. "He was seeing a lot of weird things. He would look at me and say, 'I see devils in your eyes and you're not my real mother.'"

Bondy said her son, whose name is not being used to protect his identity, has been through the mental health ward at Windsor Regional Hospital several times only to be sent home. 

She fears taking care of him because his drug addiction could lead to violent tendencies.

"What are we going to do with him?" Bondy asked. "We're trying to stay back because we're not professionals, but the professionals aren't really there to help us, so our hands are tied."

Tough time finding help

The family has tried to use the services of Hotel Dieu-Grace Healthcare's Transitional Stability Centre, but Bondy said the centre required the name of a family doctor before her son could be seen so he couldn't be helped.

Manager of integrated mental health services Patricia Thomas, said the centre on Ouellette Avenue refers people to different services depending on their needs. 

A heat map shows the density of opioid-related emergency department visits in Windsor and Leamington based on patient's postal codes (Windsor-Essex County Health Unit)

Despite Bondy's experience, clients can just walk in without any referrals or family doctors and be given help, she added.

"We encourage them to walk in. No appointments necessary. We're open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday," said Thomas.

But, she admits, some people can "fall through the cracks" while waiting for services.

"If there's a wait list for services and if they're not following through themselves with services it may look like they've fallen between the cracks," she explained.

Thomas urged patients to return to the centre for help if they aren't being helped by the agencies they've been directed to.

Bondy, who has taken time off work because of depression, said her son's struggle has put strain on the entire family, but their difficulties don't compare to the fears she has for his future.

"My greatest fear is, he's going to be dead. Either he's going to commit suicide, or freeze out in the cold," she said. "He's been through so much."