It was September 2016 and Paula Lowen’s world was turned upside-down when her 28-year-old son Paul, died after overdosing on cocaine laced with fentanyl.
On Friday, Lowen shared the story of how her son died and how his loss has forever changed her life for the first time publicly during an International Overdose Awareness Day event, which took place at Maffeo Sutton Park.
“Imagine waking up every morning … and having your first thought be the loss of your precious loved one,” Lowen told a crowd of roughly 100 people.
Lowen explained that Paul and his friends did cocaine one night in Kelowna. While all of them ended up in the hospital, it was her son who didn’t come out alive.
“Paul played hockey, rugby, lacrosse, he went the gym almost daily,” Lowen said. “He loved and cherished his body. So, why he would introduce a foreign substance into his body is a mystery to me.”
According to the B.C. Coroners Service, there have been 878 illicit drug overdose deaths across the province this year, compared to last year when there were 1,422. Nanaimo, according to the coroners service, has had roughly 20 illicit drug overdose deaths this year and had 51 last year.
Friday’s event, which was designed to raise awareness about the opioid crisis and share stories of those who lost loved ones from overdosing, included representatives from AIDS Vancouver Island, who offered to teach people how to administer naloxone kits, and SOLID Outreach, a non-profit organization supporting displaced and drug addicted individuals. There were also volunteers from Volunteer Nanaimo handing out flowers made from pipe cleaners.
“They are suppose to represent life and creation in the face of addiction and they are meant to serve as a reminder of this day, International Overdose Awareness Day,” said Jayden Jung, a youth volunteer handing out the flowers.
Gather at the Lions Pavilion at Maffeo Sutton Park. We have guest speakers Dr. Paul Hasselback and more.