WATCH: A Vancouver woman who survived taking heroin laced with fentanyl speaks out to warn others about recreational drug use. Rumina Daya reports.
Last month, a Vancouver musician named Lynn took “one puff” of heroin at home with a roommate’s friend, fell asleep – and almost didn’t wake up.
“I fell asleep for 14-plus hours…luckily i got woken up because otherwise they would have had to amputate my leg if it went on any longer.”
When her roommate got home, Lynn was convulsing and suffered a seizure as soon as she was awoken. A trip to the hospital soon followed. Lynn was in a coma for two days, the ICU for eight more, and has only now begun walking again on her own.
“At first I had to slowly graduate from the bed, to holding onto things, to a wheelchair, to a walker, to a cane, to holding my friend, and eventually I was able to walk again,” she says.
“[I smoked] because I wanted to. I wasn’t scared. Because I didn’t take the issue seriously,” she says.
“It could happen to anyone. I’m [speaking] because I don’t want that to happen to anyone.”
In the first five months of 2015, there have been 54 overdose deaths in B.C. linked to fentanyl, according to the B.C. Coroners Service. Lynn says she’s a casual user, like many recent victims.
“Even though the Downtown Eastside experiences the most overdoses, that’s not where we’re seeing deaths in the Vancouvera area,” says Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, Medical Health Officer for Vancouver Coastal Health.
He says the people dying from overdoses linked to fentanyl are typically 28 to 40 years old and don’t inject drugs.
“The reality is these drugs are being used, they’re being used a lot, they’re being recreationally and socially by parts of society that we would never dream would, but it’s also developing into a serious problem, Michael Pond, a Vancouver psychotherapist who works with drug addicts.
WATCH: Government and law enforcement agencies are scrambling to try to end the rash of recent deaths linked to fentanyl. Rumina Daya has the details on what they are doing to try and save lives.
Because of its ability to be mixed with other drugs, people can take fentanyl – which can be up to 100 times more powerful than morphine – without realizing it.
“It doesn’t matter how you use, where you get it, where you are, what your intentions are, your status, your bank account,” says Lynn.
“There’s no illegal substance that’s a safe source, a reliable source…fentanyl is a way to get a cheaper high that is more addictive than heroin. It’s more addictive than anything. And it keeps people coming back. If we even care about ourselves in the slightest, we should try and avoid that path.”
It’s why Lynn, still walking with a limp, is speaking out.
“I’m terrified for my friends that I used to use with. I tag them on Facebook stories, begging them to stop, and they don’t. They don’t care. They just keep going,” she says.
“I thought I was untouchable, and I learned a huge lesson. I want the people watching to learn from my mistake. I’m here alive today to give them that.”