It’s been about nine months since her son died from an overdose, but Delburne’s Wendy Little still thinks about him every day.
Little’s son, Quinn Mason, died at the age of 23 in June 2020. He was living next door to his mother when she got a call saying something was wrong.
“I got there and I found my son, obviously deceased for some time. Even though he was deceased, I frantically tried to give him CPR. I don’t know if I could have reacted any other way. The rest is really just a blur,” she said.
“I have post-traumatic stress symptoms now living next door to where my son died. I struggle looking out my windows and going outside. I walked my son in a body bag from the house to a van, right in front of where I park every day. That’s my reality.
“Quinn was a wonderful kind, beautiful human being and he didn’t deserve to die that way.”
Little said she is a member of two different Facebook groups with many people who share similar stories.
“There are thousands of parents with the same story. The decline, the chaos and the trauma,” she said.
Recent statistics reported on the provincial government’s interactive substance use online dashboard show there were seven opioid-related deaths in Red Deer this past November.
Red Deer had 44 deaths through the first 11 months of 2020 in relation to opioids, which is up from 22 in 2019. There were 53 opioid-related deaths in the city in 2018, 30 in 2017 and 35 in 2016.
Across the province, there were 997 opioid-related deaths in the first 11 months of 2020, one and a half times the number from 2019.
Little said she feels “sick” knowing there are so many opioid-related deaths in Alberta.
“I’m actively working to find ways to advocate change,” she said.
“We need to push for things that aren’t conventional – thoughts or practices – with addiction. This isn’t the same kind of addiction that we’re used to treating. We need to press our governments to start looking at it differently because it’s growing.”
Addiction isn’t a new problem, but this crisis is, Little added.
“Opioids are a big problem and now they’re toxic. It’s robbed so much from my life,” she said.
Shortly after Mason’s death, Little launched an online fundraiser in honour of her son. The fundraiser raised more than $10,000 for the Safe Harbour Society’s medical-detox centre.
“I’ll never know if Quinn had gone there if it could have made a difference, I wish he had tried. He wasn’t ready,” she wrote on the fundraiser’s Facebook page.