You go about daily life, wander from the kitchen to grab coffee, and back to the fridge for some foodstuffs to make the sandwich for your son’s lunch before he heads off to school. He is in grade 12, but having troubles.

Communication, though good in the past, has gotten worse over the high school years. You begin to lose contact on the what’s what of your son’s activities. You go to his room to wake him up: knock, knock, knock, in a gentle rhythm.

No answer, curious panic, you turn the knob, push gentle on the door, and peek in. He’s not there. You are worried, don’t know where he is or where he went last night. You hear a knock, knock, knock – solid, loud, authoritative, at your door.

A rhythm reminiscent of that which you knocked at your son’s door. You feel a sting of uncertainty and panic. You rush to the front door, peek through the eyehole as you press your face to the door.

It’s the RCMP. You open the door and get the news. Your child, your son, died from an opioid overdose the night before. This, of course, is a tale. But the theme of the experience is becoming a common death experience on the part of families across the country. Parents losing children.

Mothers do not want to have to deal with this anymore, as the public reaction is not swift. Some are mobilizing for the implementation of the only methodology with evidence behind it. That being harm reduction.

One mother is Tina Kavanagh, who’s son is David. He left rehabilitation in September of 2017. “I was really worried knowing he was out because fentanyl was introduced to Cambridge [Ont.] six months prior to him getting out of rehab.”

On October 12th of 2017, only two weeks after David left the halfway house in Kitchener, Ontario. Kavanagh received a call. His cousin’s wife had found David’s lifeless body at 6:15 am.

You see the thematic similarities. There was a syringe in David’s hand. Harm reduction is a needed methodology for the improvement of community health and to save individual lives like David.

Kavanagh suspects there was an injection of heroin laced with fentanyl that lead to the death of Death. Although, the toxicology report, at the time of the article, had not come out (Ibid.). Fentanyl is 100x more powerful than morphine.

The expected deaths from 2017 were 4,000 in 2017 alone. There was a plan of action launched in November of 2016 to help deal with the ongoing crisis through the territories and provinces of the country.

The number of opioid-related deaths was expected to hit at least 4,000 by the end of last year. In November, 2016, the federal government launched an action plan to address the far-reaching crisis with the provinces and territories.

In Wabana, Bell Island, Kavanagh and other mothers of intravenous drug users are gathering together to work for the benefit of the general public through “stocking an RV with clean needles and information on harm reduction, recovery options, rehab programs and drug counselling.”

Other women, such as Susan Boone, have undergone a similar tragedy with the almost overdose death of her 24-year-old daughter. Boone says, “Harm reduction is paramount. If they’re sick and dying of disease, they’re never going to get better.”

Another mother named Sheila Lahey has a son who is a drug user. She runs a needle exchange program out of her home. She, of course, gets support, which comes from the Safe Works Access Program, as well as a local activist named Brian Rees.

Rees takes a 4-hour trip to exchange dirty needles for the clean ones. About a dozen people use the service per day. Over 12,000 needles were collected and disposed – for the public good and deserving commendation – of, by the community of Wabana.

“I was shocked at how much they’re going through – how really bad this situation is,” Lahey said. Her own 33-year-old son went from full-time work as an electrician to heavily indebted and on social assistance based on a cocaine habit.

Wabana Mayor Gary Gosine lost a 35-year-old nephew from an overdose. The mayor is leading a grassroots harm reduction movement as well.

Kavanagh said, “As long as I keep myself busy with keeping David’s memory going, I’m okay…I just want to keep his memory alive.” That is at least a start, and definitely a driving heart behind the compassionate efforts of harm reduction.


Jones, L. (2018, January 16). Mothers band together for harm reduction. Retrieved from

Scott Jacobsen

Scott Jacobsen


Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping (lifting, mowing, and raking) and gardening (digging, planting, and weeding). He founded In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He is a Tobis Fellow (2016) at the University of California, Irvine’s (UCI) Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality (Ethics Center). He researches in the Learning Analytics Research Group, works as the Gordon Neighbourhood House Community Journalist/Blogger, researches and writes for the Marijuana Party of Canada, and is a contributor for The Voice Magazine. UCI Ethics Center awarded him with the distinction of Francisco Ayala Scholar (2014) for mentoring, presenting, researching, and writing. If you want to contact Scott, you may inquire or comment through e-mail:

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