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The end of innocence – Lakefield family speaks out after son dies from a drug overdose

“I Loved him so much, his whole family loved him so much” says Wendy Carson through her tears. The love of his family alone wasn’t enough to save 21 year old Keagen Carson-Schiberras from the depths of drug addiction.

Keagen’s childhood was full of family, fun and love, Wendy says. “He had a heart of gold for his family and his animals. He loved his grandpa, his great grandpa, they would talk about the war all the time.” He was really close to his poppa and his nanny” He was a great baseball player, playing on rep teams, loved punk rock music, he played the guitar and loved skateboarding. The Lakefield family would spend the summer in Marmora so Keagen could skateboard with his brother.  He took his mom to Rock Fest one year instead of going with friends. They were very close.

Keagen at 3 years old

Wendy says her son started smoking pot when he was 11 years old, although she didn’t know it at the time. When he was 13 she caught him snorting her lorazepam.

It was the end of the innocence for them both.

It was the first inkling she had that something was wrong and it set the family on an eight year journey to get him help. Help that never came, Wendy says. “I was terrified. I work as a Corrections Officer at a youth centre and I went and talked to the psychologist there and all she said was whatever you do, don’t kick him out”  According to Wendy the psychologist gave her a book on the topic and that was it.

Keagen a few weeks before he died

When Keagen was 14 he started doing pills, taking hydromorphone and selling it at school. Wendy has no idea where he got the pills. By the time he was 17 he was skipping school and using cocaine. Realizing he had a problem Keagen went to his mom for help. ” He said mom, I don’t know what to do.” Wendy says she called the Children’s Aid Society and the Police asking for help. She says police told her once he got into the justice system he would get help. The CAS told her to keep calling police.

Wendy got her son into a youth rehab facility but says they weren’t equipped to deal with his level of addiction. “He wasn’t even there a week when we got a phone call that his drug problem was too complex for them to deal with and we had to come and get him”

That’s when Keagen started using heroin and trying to kill himself Wendy says. “He was so ashamed and embarrassed that he didn’t want to live”

Sometime around Easter, 2017 Keagen overdosed and paramedics revived him with Narcan, an antidote to opioid overdose. Wendy says the hospital told her he wasn’t a danger to himself or others and they released him.  The next day he overdosed again and once again he was sent home from the hospital. “They said he’s not really suicidal, he’s just an addict.”  About a week later he began hallucinating, thinking people were following him and Wendy says he jumped out of her car and ran into the field. She called police who took him to the hospital yet again. This time the doctors told her something she had never been told before. ” The doctor said we can keep him while he goes through detox, no doctor had ever said that to me before, all the times we had been there”

At first, Keagen wouldn’t stay but when the family refused to take him home he agreed to try detox. “He said I’m done with this, I don’t want to lose my family” Wendy says he completed a total of 9 days detox, went off of Facebook and stayed close to his family. “He turned back into the old Keagen. He was loving with his family, his animals, he went camping with us, just like how he used to be.”

He was clean for 72 days.

All the while, Keagen was on a waiting list for rehab. “It took them three weeks just to get the paperwork done for rehab. Then he finally got on the list and they said it would be 40-60 days before a spot opened up” says Wendy.  Keagan was going for counselling at Forecast Addiction Services, once every two weeks, while he was on the wait list. Something that Wendy says is woefully inadequate, although she doesn’t blame staff there.

She found a rehab in Brooklin, Ontario where Keagen could have immediately began receiving treatment but it cost $20,000. Wendy, like most people didn’t have that kind of money.

On June 7th, 2017 Keagen’s grandparents found him high. “He was so high, I have never seen him so high. He was scratching and bleeding, he was so upset with himself” Wendy says. “I told him we will just phone the detox in the morning and start again” He promised his mother he didn’t have any more heroin.

That wasn’t true.

Keagen went to bed Thursday night at the home of a family friend named Michelle and never woke up. ” I phoned my dad and said keagen is at Michelle’s and he isn’t moving can you go?” Keagan’s grandpa did CPR on him until his wife told him to stop, his body was cold.

When Wendy arrived at the home, police, forensics, and paramedics were already there. She says they were blocking his room “I was screaming at them, you are letting me in and I pushed passed them.” she says. “I just put his arm around me and I cried. I tried to wake him up but he wouldn’t wake up” Wendy tells Kawartha 411 through her tears.

“I would like people to know that kids are dying. I don’t blame Keagen for the heroin addiction he had, I don’t blame him for dying. He got hooked on something he couldn’t get off of”

Addiciton to opioid drugs such as hydromorphone have risen dramatically over the past few years. A recent study by researchers at the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network found 638 people died in 2013 from opioid overdoses — a rate of about one death for every 20,000 residents in the province. Coroners’ reports show almost 13 per cent of those overdose deaths were suicides. The researchers also found there were 3,200 opioid related emergency department visits in Ontario in 2014 resulting in about half of those patients being admitted to hospital. Officials told the Canadian Press that “These findings highlight the massive societal toll of opioid-related morbidity and mortality,” said co-author Dr. David Juurlink, head of pharmacology and toxicology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

Keagen’s best friend, Jade Wallace and Keagen’s aunt started a Facebook page called Keagen’s Movement to raise awareness of the issue and fight for better access to services. The page says “It saddens me that Keagen did not get the chance to receive the help he very much deserved. The wait lists are not working they are not saving lives, TREATMENT is! Treatment needs to be more readily available to those who seek it! We need more or bigger facilities more staff and to make this happen we need to come together and fight for more government funding for these things, we need to be heard. Let’s stand together and make @keagensmovement happen!” If they can save just one child it will be worth it according to Wendy. Here is a link to the page: https://www.facebook.com/keagensmovement/

Wendy says they will be getting in touch with MPP Jeff Leal and other local politicians.

She also says she is worried about the impending legalization of marihuana. She says anyone who thinks pot isn’t a gateway drug is sorely mistaken. ” That’s a joke, you can’t tell me that it didn’t start him off on the wrong track.”

We have reached out to Jeff Leal and Fourcast for comment and have not yet heard back. We will update this story as information becomes available.

Keagen will be laid to rest on Friday at Hendren Funeral Home in Lakefield. All of the money donated in his name will be given to Fourcast Addiction Services. Click here for more information: http://hendrenfuneralhome.com/tribute/details/2716/Keagen-Carson-Sciberras/condolences.html#event-top

 

 

 

 

 

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Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for sharing Keagans story. I am a Mom of 5 sons. Aged 20 to 9. Yes we have the have talks, yes we try and intervene. Sadly when they believe they are adults, what they have been taught and learnt they do remember, they just don’t believe it could happen to them. From parent to parent I truly hurt for your loss, from parent to parent, I will have my sons read this. I deeply thank you for sharing this and may the world glow lighter because of you and because of Your Son. No words can I express for the passing of Keagan. May he be at peace. And may you continue to be his voice. Much love.

  2. The Government is trying to curb opiates
    Usage.recently they made a law where anyone who takes opiates even for chronic pain has been reduced to half the amount they are allowed to have now daily.im so sorry for your loss God Bless Keagen.
    You are right we need to have much more treatment centers for addiction to opiates
    So people can be treated right away !!
    Plus centers that people that are poor are given treatment for free! This should have happened years ago since this opiate epidemic started.If they had this your son
    Would have gotten the help he needed sooner.Hopefully this new law will help
    Deterring people from using opiates
    Unless you really need them for severe
    Chronic pain!

    • First off I want to say I cant imagine your pain and frustration,Im sorry just doesnt cover it. I am speaking as someone who suffers chronic pain with severe disc degeneration and spinal stenosis. I am awaiting surgery that will happen in 10 weeks. I am also the mother of an addict. In refference to the comment above, the goverment is cutting back and making it much more difficult for people who need it to get. Which I dont believe is helping anyone. I now sign an agreement that says I personally take all the medication I am given, and must submit to random drug tests,to make sure I am. Which I completely understand and appreciate, its a great policy. The problem is that the doctors still dont want to give it to me for fear I become addicted and they are held responsible. They finally are but I have been in severe pain for months and have been left to suffer. After the cons are explained to me I should be responsible for my own actions. From previous back surgery and pain meds,I know when you take as directed for pain you dont get high. You may become chemically dependant like many other medications and will be taken of gradually. That being said there definitly needs to be more treatment centers, long term treatment,councilling. From my what I have learned there have been many cut backs over recent years for this type of treatment, any type of medical treatment really. Its an uncomfortable topic and most dont care until it directly affects them. They must have decreased prescription narcotics being sold on the street. This is great, but there are still those who have already become addicted, what are they to do? Go to treatment? Maybe in 2 or 3 months. Seek medical or emotional support through drs, hospitals, police? They have no resourses, no where to send you, and most not educated on addiction and just dont understand. So they will look for drugs elsewhere probably ending up with something just as bad if not worse. We need more treatment more resourses. How heart breaking someone looks for help and cant find it. I thank God my daughter found help, I lived in fear for years.I tried to get her councelling. Treatment was a 2 month wait. She found help in an anonymous program and today she has been clean for 4 years. I am so grateful this epidemic didnt get my daughter. Thank you so much for talking about it, for sharing your story. This is how change begins.

  3. I commend this family for speaking out
    If more people shared there story instead of hiding it
    I believe change would happen
    It would not be ignored as easily

  4. I’m very sorry for your loss. The strength it took to write this
    I agree with the legislation but what does young Justin know he was brought up in that age group. May god be with you at this terrible time in your lives. Do keep strong as best you can.

  5. So very sorry for your loss. Thank you for your courage in sharing Keagans story, I know it is helping. May he rest in peace.

  6. I too lost a 22 year old son to opioid addiction. I know exactly how you feel and I know the struggle. My deepest condolences.

  7. I give you credit Wendy for sharing Keegan’s story….No one should have to bury their child…But for what ever the reason Keegan must have felt that his time here on earth was over…May this handsome young man RIP…And for you Wendy and your family may your hearts heal somewhat in time for your loss..

  8. I also lost my son to addiction it has been 4 years I know what you are going through. there is not a day that I don’t think about him and what a dirty disease this is. Sorry for your lost he is at peace now .

  9. I am so sorry for the loss of your son.
    I am also sad that as well as Marijuana may have started off the cycle, it’s also the people he got it from. They will start with weed then introduce other drugs and work their way up to where an addiction is so strong that people can’t get off the drugs. Drug dealers need to be found and need to be taken off the streets. This is also a #1 priority. As long as these guys/girls are out there dealing the addictions will be hard to break. Fentanyl is a bad, bad drug that many are dying from rather quickly.
    Agreed there needs to be many more treatment centres for people with addictions. Jail is not the place to put people. For the police to say that once he gets in the system he can get help. In some cases that may be true but it’s still a waiting process. We have many drug issues in the jail system. It’s not a healthy environment for people with addictions to get help. There is always someone there that will sell their meds to someone with an addiction or other inmates will say they’re their friend and hook them up on the outside. They don’t get structured help in Jails and our government needs to start opening facilities that treats the addiction properly. Jail is not the place for that.

    Again, sorry for the loss of your son….May he fly with angels <3

  10. My condolences to you, The thing is he died from heroin, a there are a lot of new drugs out there now you dont know what is in the stuff you buy on the street. Its sad that maybe kids want to party an buy that junk an then may not wake up from it.
    No one should have to bury their child. I deal with depression suicidal thoughts but if it gets too bad I do try and get help I admit it is hard to find the help a person needs sometimes

  11. Wow look at all these poor mothers losing their children to this terrible drug. Something needs to be done ASAP. I have a son who is 13, l pray he never goes through this. Sorry for your loss. Keep talking to help others and maybe getting this off the street.

  12. My deepest condolences to your family. Our family has endured ten years of the same experience with crack and fentanyl. There was no help…most days I would steel myself before checking in on my daughter knowing I might find her lifeless. There would be times I would leave her thinking later in the day I would get a phone call. Many late nights , calls from emergency, police and on and on…my family doctor told me that I needed to let her go, it would be my health or hers, she was 14. She is now 27 and still alive but everyday is a battle, but she’s still alive. She’s been to hell and back and she’s still fighting with our support. My heart crys for you and your family, this should never have had to happen.

  13. As a mother of Five children, and grandmother of ten, first and foremost I want to offer my deepest sympathies and condolences! Having a 21 year old daughter I cannot imagine the pain you are going through, and have gone through!! I think it, meaning “DRUG ADDICTION”, or “ALCOHOLISM” is a mother’s deepest fear!! Then when you are faced with such a problem, who has $20, $30, or $40 thousand kicking around for a 6-8 week stay, that gives you no guarantee of working?? I think it’s time that the govt stops allowing free reign on other monies, and starts putting it to better use!!
    My heart ❤️ and prayers go out to you and your family, how braves you are for speaking out…GOOD FOR YOU!!! I lost a cousin to heroin overdose, it was very sad for the whole family!!!

  14. Thank you for sharing his story. God rest his soul. Sorry he couldn’t get help to kick the habit. Hope his story can save another young person’s life.

  15. It’s a truly sad ending to a tragic story. And… sadly my 15 year old daughter is starting on this deadly path. We are a split family and my house rules were too strict… like go to school, be polite, clean your room & bathroom, and other house hold chores…
    We had social media rules too… I paid for the phone and knew how bad & dangerous social media is for teens today so it was my prerogative to check in with her from time to time…all these rules became fights… she eventually left my house and moved in with her mother who hadn’t seen her in two years and was so ill equipped to deal with today’s teenager. Sure there’s more to the story but I’d be here all day writing…

    Shorty after the move, she started skipping class, changed her friends (which were good kids)… next thing you know… she’s suspended for being high in class, arrested for breaking and entering people’s cars looking for cash or things to pawn, taking off from her mothers, being completely disrespectful to all who come to her side. Now she’s not even passing grade 10, hates school, hates her situation and wants to switch schools to be with her new friends who by the way are running in and out of problems with the police etc… her new friends post on instagram pics of booze, drugs, stacks of money and always sex…

    My ex calls the police, they say call CAS, CAS says call the police, the school can’t really do anything… it really doesn’t sound like there is a enough funding and support for teens on this path despite the overwhelming numbers of teens and families needing it.

  16. So very sad. These children are our future. If we do not get control over drugs and the access our children have to them. We might as well say goodbye to our society. We need a better understanding to why they feel the need to push their brains to the no mindedness. We the adults need to fix it. Something is missing from our education system.. Schools are suppose to help children be prepared for society and how to survive as young adults and to succeed. Why are the children so lost that they feel this need to turn the control of their lives to drugs? So very sad.

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