Vancouver Island parents left grieving the death of their teen son say his unintentional overdose was one following years of being prescribed opioids while recovering from major surgeries.
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.
In a post to social media, Staples said her son’s death has come after “a very difficult past two years.”
Staples said that despite her and her husband’s requests to doctors for alternative pain remedies, Elliot was prescribed opioids for four major surgeries in 2017, including two for a fractured jaw and two shoulder reconstructions – all within four months time.
“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 changed,” Staples said.
“Parents need a say in their child’s health care.”
In 2016, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. rolled out new mandatory standards for prescribing opioids and other addictive drugs, replacing guidelines that acted more like recommendations for prescribing pain medications.
Doctors who don’t follow the guidelines can now face complaint hearings and disciplinary actions like fines and licence suspensions if reported to the college.
Doctors in B.C. also have access to a real-time database called PharmaNet, which tracks dispensed prescriptions in one central data system.
Black Press Media has put a request for comment into the college and Vancouver Island Health Authority.
Teen remembered for love of sports, humour
Staples said her son had a sharp wit, and humour far beyond his age.
She said he loved all kinds of sports from rugby to soccer to hiking, and was an avid reader.
“He greatly valued his friendships and approached friends with sincere consideration and genuine kindness,” she said.
Elliot had hopes of pursuing a career in medicine, with a love for chemistry.
“For those who really knew Elliot, you knew he would give the shirt off his back to help you,” she said. “We will all miss quirky, funny sporty Elliot.”
Resources are available for those affected by the trauma.
Kids Help Phone offers 24/7 counselling online at kidshelpphone.ca or by phone 1-800-668-6868.
The 24-hour Vancouver Island Crisis Line is an Island Health contracted service offers text 250-800-3806, online chat vicrisis.ca and phone services 1-888-494-3888.