Jane McCormick lost her son, Jeffrey, last year due to illicit substance toxicity. (Submitted photo)

Jane McCormick lost her son, Jeffrey, last year due to illicit substance toxicity. (Submitted photo)

Parksville mother shares experience after losing son to toxic drug supply

Jeffrey McCormick died in October 2021

Jane McCormick is grieving the death of her son, Jeffrey, who died last year due to the toxicity of an illicit substance he inhaled.

According to the initial coroners report, it was a high level of fentanyl, with benzodiazepines mixed in.

“Jeffrey was a kind, caring person with a quiet demeanor,” McCormick wrote in an email to the PQB News. “He was well-liked in school and did some acting as a young teen. Jeff loved animals and showed his dog in obedience and conformation competitions.”

She said he started working in the construction trade immediately following high school. He was a strong-willed perfectionist who knew what he wanted out of life, but his alcohol addiction got in the way.

Life got complicated and stressful and he used other substances occasionally. He went to a treatment centre to get sober.

“We found out that one stint in treatment doesn’t usually work. It can take several times, with the costs exceedingly high,” McCormick said. “I don’t know exactly when Jeff started using opioids, but about four to five months after he got out of treatment.”

READ MORE: Forward Recovery Centre celebrates opening in downtown Parksville

Jeff had developed anxiety since he stopped drinking. McCormick saw first-hand how opioids can control a person.

“I decided what my son needed was more than ‘tough love’… Jeffrey needed help, support, acceptance and love,” she wrote.

He went to another treatment centre that specialized in opioid-use disorder. She noted Jeff was doing well in his recovery and thinking about the future. He was looking forward to being the father his children needed. After upgrading his tickets, Jeff got his job back with a powerline company. He flew home after his three-week shift in Thunder Bay.

Two days later, on Oct. 22, 2021, 35-year-old Jeffrey’s life ended.

“When Jeff had been actively using drugs, I thought that I was ready for that knock at the door,” McCormick wrote. “But nothing can prepare you when it comes. Two young children no longer have their father. My older son no longer has a brother. His father and I lost our younger son…our lives were all shattered that day…along with all the family and friends that cared about Jeff. Someone’s child, brother, sister, father…dies nearly every hour in this country from this crisis. We know what needs to be done…regulate the toxic illicit drugs, just like alcohol and cannabis. Safe supply, harm reduction, decriminalize to stop a generation from dying, so they can have a chance to recover. My son hated that he was addicted. He wanted to live a healthy life, to be a good father…toxic poison drugs took that chance away.”

McCormick recognized Overdose Awareness Month in August by participating in the Purple Chair campaign with a photo of Jeff on display at her workplace. She decided to go one step further to turn it into a local fundraiser for Forward House, which recently opened the Forward Recovery Centre in Parksville. The effort raised $1,700 for the centre through a client/employee donation campaign.

— NEWS Staff, submitted

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