Brandon Jansen was a regular teenager from Coquitlam.
His mother Michelle described him as “full of life, a huge personality, always smiling.”
Brandon’s life changed when he casually experimented with drugs laced with fentanyl at a party with other teenagers.
“Once you try fentanyl, whether you know you’re taking fentanyl or not, it blasts your brain,” Michelle said.
“He was drug sick, he was out his mind,” Michelle added. “It takes over. I lost my son. That wasn’t my son.”
Michelle knew she had to get her son into rehab. The window of recovery for an addict is small and the wait-lists for a government-funded beds are long so she found the money for private care.
She said she spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to fight his addiction, but it wasn’t enough. Brandon died from the drug in a private facility in March.
This family has been hit hard by the deadly drug twice. Her younger son’s girlfriend, 16-year-old Gwynn Staddon, overdosed on fentanyl and was found dead in a Starbucks washroom in Port Moody last month.
Staddon was on a wait-list to get into rehab and may have gotten in had B.C. Premier Christy Clark kept her promise of extra beds.
“They promised as part of their election platform to add 500 new beds. They have not done that,” NDP addictions critic Sue Hammell said.
According to the NDP, Clark’s government has only come up with 220 extra rehab beds, meaning they need to add 280 beds by 2017 to meet their promise.
“As far as I’m concerned there’s blood on her hands,” Michelle said. “The government has labeled fentanyl as a health-care crisis, as an epidemic. Only just five weeks ago, approximately, the premier announces a task force, that’s not good enough.”
“If the premier thinks I’m going away, she’s sadly mistaken,” Michelle added. “I am not going to sit back and let innocent children keep dying because government officials are not doing enough.”
In a statement to Global News, Kristy Anderson of the Ministry of Health said:
“This is not a simple problem – there is no silver bullet solution…To imply, however, that we are not responding or taking action is simply untrue…we have committed to opening 500 substance use beds and we stand by that commitment – we will reach that goal in 2017.”
Michelle Jansen told Global News she received a call from the coroner’s service telling her that an inquest will be launched into her son’s death. They said they chose him because he is a prime example of an average teenager who died from a fentanyl addiction. Michelle said the inquest will begin in January.
– With files from Sonia Deol