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‘We never made it to tomorrow’: Squamish family mourns 15-year-old’s opioid overdose death

Squamish family calls for changes after daughter dies of opioid overdose
A Squamish family is calling for legal changes after their daughter's life was cut short by an overdose. Aaron McArthur tells us why they believe the system is failing families.

Steffanie Lawrence had just turned 15 when she succumbed to an opioid overdose last month.

The Squamish teen had battled an addiction that had her parents, Shaun Lawrence and Brenda Doherty, trying to help her at every turn.

Coverage of opioids on Globalnews.ca:

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Steffanie went to Lions Gate Hospital in January, in the throes of an addiction.

Her parents said she was discharged by herself and given a bus pass.

Doherty was begging her girl to come home, saying she would come down and pick her up.

“She said no mama, we’ll talk tomorrow,” Doherty told Global News.

“And we never made it to tomorrow.”

It’s not as though her parents didn’t try to help. They went as far as trying to involuntarily enroll her in a treatment program.

But time after time, hospital staff, the RCMP and the provincial government told them there was nothing they could do.

“People just ask why, why wasn’t there something else that could have been done?” Steffanie’s father Shaun told Global News.

READ MORE: How B.C.’s opioid crisis helped set a record for life-saving organ transplants

If Steffanie didn’t want to go into treatment, no one could make her.

Other jurisdictions, like Alberta, allow parents of young teens to step in and force them to undergo treatment.

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But that’s not the case in B.C., a province where the rights of the patient outweigh the rights of the parents.

Bernard Richard, B.C.’s representative for children and youth, said there’s a “very hotly debated issue around civil rights, and certainly when you talk to parents, as I have, the conclusion is that secure care is better than attending your child’s funeral.”