Arlene Howe (left) and Pam Turgeon, both mothers of overdose victims with the photo they are in as part of the efforts to combat the escalating overdose problem. (Mark Brett - Western News)

Arlene Howe (left) and Pam Turgeon, both mothers of overdose victims with the photo they are in as part of the efforts to combat the escalating overdose problem. (Mark Brett - Western News)

Mothers of overdose victims speak out in Penticton

The mothers of two men who overdosed were special guests at International Overdose Awareness Day

Two Kelowna women spoke first hand to the nightmare of addiction and overdose – both having lost their adult sons to the escalating opioid crisis.

Arlene Howe, 64, and Pam Turgeon, 56, both members of the Moms Stop the Harm organization, were special guests at the Penticton International Overdose Awareness Day Friday in the parking lot of the Penticton RCMP detachment.

READ MORE: Gathering planned for International Overdose Awareness Day Friday in Penticton

“We’re here to honour our children who died from an overdose, to create awareness in our community to stop the stigma, the shame and to encourage harm-reduction strategy,” said, Howe, whose son Steven was 32 when he overdosed on a combination of drugs in 2015 when he was working on an oil rig in Alberta. “We need to appeal in a compassionate way, to show people we’re all in this together and it can happen to anybody.”

Turgeon lost her son, Ryan, the following year. He worked in the oil and gas industry internationally before coming home after suffering a mental breakdown.

He attempted recovery but wound up getting involved with drugs and one night used fentanyl-laced cocaine.

READ MORE: On Overdose Awareness Day think about the families

Turgeon found her son, who was 32, “cold and unresponsive.” It was his father’s birthday.

“We really want the public to know that our children were someone they had an addition but it was a disease just like every other disease there is,” said Turgeon. “We need to treat people with dignity and not strip them of their humanity.

“Eleven people a day are dying in B.C. and it’s got to stop.”


 

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Arlene Howe and Pam Turgeon wear t-shirts with photos of their sons who died of overdoses at the International Overdose Awareness Day event at the Penticton RCMP detachment Friday. (Mark Brett - Western News)

Arlene Howe and Pam Turgeon wear t-shirts with photos of their sons who died of overdoses at the International Overdose Awareness Day event at the Penticton RCMP detachment Friday. (Mark Brett - Western News)