Alberta mom Shawna Taylor lives with a daily fear that her 21-year-old daughter is going to die.
“It’s incredibly hard,” said Shawna on Sunday. “It’s an emotional roller-coaster. I go days if I don’t hear from Kenedee where I don’t know if she’s alive.”
Kenedee Taylor became addicted to fentanyl when she was 17. She spent a year in treatment but later stopped.
“She decided that she’s not ready for treatment,” Shawna said. “And I have learned over the past four years that you can’t force somebody to do something they are not ready to do.”
Shawna said there are support groups for people who have lost children from addictions but there are not many for those still living with the devastating experience — so she started her own group in Airdrie called Here Together.
“I wish more parents would reach out,” she said. “The stigma and shame and embarrassment is so incredible that I think that stops a lot of people.”
WATCH (Feb. 18, 2019): It’s an epidemic that has touched as many as one in five people across the country, but are there enough resources in place for loved ones affected by opioid addiction? Sarah Offin meets with two Calgary-area women trying to improve support for families on the front line of the opioid crisis.
She hopes that by providing a safe place for people to listen or talk, they can learn from her experiences and avoid placing blame.
“It’s not your fault and it’s not anything you could’ve done differently, in my opinion. I always go back to what I would’ve done and there’s no guarantee that would’ve changed anything,” Shawna said.
The first couple of meetings at the Airdrie library have been emotionally exhausting for Taylor, listening to the heartbreaking stories of other parents — but their responses keep Taylor going.
“One woman came up to me at the end and said, ‘I actually think you might be helping save my life.’ It becomes so overwhelming, especially if you don’t have other family members supporting you,” Shawna said.
Sunday marked the group’s first meeting in Calgary at the Highwood Community Centre and included training on how to administer the opioid antidote naloxone. Shawna hopes to go from monthly meetings to weekly ones in Calgary and Airdrie.
“I’m not going to change everyone’s minds,” Shawna said.
“People are going to look at me and say I’m a bad parent because my daughter uses substances, but it doesn’t bother me anymore because if anybody thinks they can judge me more than I judge myself, have at ‘er.”