Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province continues to focus on reducing the number of teens dying as a result of the overdose crisis that’s gripped B.C. over the past few years.
Dix’s comments follow the death of a 16-year-old Oak Bay boy whose parents say he overdosed on street drugs after being prescribed opioids multiple times last year.
Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday. His parents, Rachel Staples and Brock Eurchuk, believe he took street drugs to help him sleep.
“I admire their courage in speaking out and expressing their frustrations but I think we have to take time to allow the evidence to come forward and be assessed independently,” Dix told Black Press Media Sunday.
|B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said that the province remains focused on reducing youth overdose deaths. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)|
The coroner and Island Health are investigating Elliot’s death.
Dix cited the NDP’s newly created Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, as well as $300 million in funding to help fight the overdose crisis that claimed more than 1,400 lives across the province last year.
The B.C. Coroners’ Services found that the number of overdose deaths among children 10-18 years old almost doubled in 2017, up to 23 from 12 in 2016.
That year was the first time overdose deaths in children under 19 reached double-digits; between 2008 and 2015, an average of four children died each year.
In a Facebook post, Elliot’s mom said that despite asking for alternative to opioids for the four surgeries Elliot underwent in 2017, doctors continued to prescribe them.
Staples said that Elliot was once again prescribed opioids earlier this year.
“Elliot was back in the hospital for three weeks in February with a severe infection where again opioids were used for pain management,” Staples wrote.
“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 change.”
A BC Centre on Substance Use report released earlier this month found that doctors often pushed parents and relatives of addiction patients away.
“Although families of all descriptions are an extremely valuable resource in a person’s addiction care and recovery, they are too often overlooked in substance use service planning,” the report said.