The mother of a Victoria teen who died of an accidental overdose says her son’s addiction started with prescription drugs.
Elliot Eurchuk died Friday of an accidental overdose, his mother wrote in a Facebook post.
Rachel Staples said her family felt trapped by the medical system that didn’t give them a say in their son’s painkiller prescriptions.
“In 2017 Elliot had four surgical procedures,” she wrote. “Two for a fractured jaw that occurred in a soccer match and two shoulder reconstructions within four months of the jaw surgeries.
“Elliot was prescribed opioids around every surgery even though, as parents, we requested alternatives.”
Staples said Eurchuk returned to hospital in February where he was prescribed opioids to manage pain related to a severe infection.
Staples believes her son started buying street drugs, which were marketed as pharmaceutical-grade pills, in the five-month period between two surgeries, when he experienced chronic and acute pain.
They say they begged for alternatives, and for access to his medical records, but were told he was old enough to make his own medical decisions.
“Elliot, being 16, was given full autonomy by the health care system to make his treatment decisions while specifically having my husband and I excluded from this information … this policy needs to be changed. Parents need a say in their child’s health care. The rest of the story is textbook for this sad and preventable ending.”
In British Columbia, the Infants Act says children under 19 may consent to a medical treatment on their own under certain conditions: the health-care provider is sure the treatment is in the child’s best interest, and the child understands the potential risks and benefits.
It’s up to the health-care provider to assess and ensure the child’s understanding of the treatment.
“For those who really knew Elliot, you knew he would give the shirt off his back to help you,” Staples wrote. “As a sportsman he showed strong leadership abilities.”
— With files from The Canadian Press