Lee-Ann Luke gathers with two of her ten kids, Ruth and Zane, on the gravestone of her youngest son, Troy Luke, who died of a fentanyl overdose on Feb. 13, 2021.
(Josh Szymanik, KSL-TV)
Estimated learn time: 6-7 minutes
HERRIMAN — Fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths have risen dramatically by the pandemic. One Herriman mom who misplaced her son is now pleading with others to pay attention to the hazard.
For Lee-Ann Luke, time stands nonetheless.
“It has been a 12 months now and it feels to us like yesterday,” she mentioned. “At 22 years previous, you do not plan on burying your son.”
Luke gathered with household on the grave of her son, Troy Luke, to recollect him a number of instances final week.
“I miss his hugs most of all as a result of he was like Mr. Bear Hug,” she informed two of her kids, Ruth and Zane, as they kneeled at Troy’s gravestone.
“Troy was very outgoing and he may make buddies with anyone of any age,” his mom mentioned. “He simply made everyone really feel like household, you recognize?”
Lee-Ann Luke says Troy, who was dwelling in St. George on the time, took what he thought was oxycodone final February.
“It is just a bit tiny blue capsule, and it is stamped M-30 on it,” she described. Little did he know, that tiny capsule was laced with fentanyl, a particularly potent artificial opioid.
“He was having hassle respiration and he wasn’t actually coherent,” Luke mentioned.
By the point Troy Luke obtained to the hospital, it was too late.
“(They) instantly tried to resuscitate him they usually by no means may,” Lee-Ann Luke mentioned. “It was simply was past our comprehension.”
Troy handed away on Feb. 13, 2021.
Dr. Robert Mendenhall, a psychiatrist at Intermountain Dayspring Therapy and Restoration, says fentanyl is a thousand instances stronger than oxycodone.
“Fentanyl is essentially the most potent opioid that we all know of,” he mentioned. “Micrograms price of fentanyl will be life-threatening.”
He urges folks to solely take opioids prescribed by a doctor.
“Simply by no means take something that you do not know for positive the place it got here from,” he mentioned. “As a result of every thing proper now has a very large danger of being laced with one thing else.”
Utah’s rising fentanyl disaster
“Since (Troy) handed away, the issue with fentanyl has simply exacerbated,” Luke mentioned.
Megan Broekemeier, opioid fatality analysis coordinator with the Utah Division of Well being, confirmed the rise. In 2019 fentanyl was concerned in solely 11% of overdose deaths in Utah. By 2020, it rose to 23%, and from January to October 2021 alone, that quantity outpaced all of 2020 at 29%.
She mentioned Utah has seen a 126% enhance within the variety of general opioid-related overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020.
Broekemeier attributes the rise, largely, to a change within the drug provide.
“Counterfeit oxycodone tablets and different narcotics similar to Percocet are adulterated with fentanyl and are extra prevalent than ever. Different medication, similar to heroin and methamphetamine are additionally being laced with fentanyl and launched to the drug provide in Utah and different western states. Sadly, many customers do not know this and ingest fentanyl unknowingly,” she mentioned.
Mendenhall believes the fentanyl disaster can be an unlucky byproduct of physicians tapering the variety of opioids they prescribe sufferers.
“Typically as we form of decrease the opioid prescribing, there tends to be extra kind of illicit methods to get the medication and so it is a kind of kind of unintended penalties,” he defined.
He says geography additionally doubtless performs a task.
“We have been form of an epicenter of quite a lot of drug trades, due to the I-80 and (Interstate) 15 that form of come collectively,” he mentioned.
Although it is an issue rising at an ever-increasing charge, Luke reminds folks there are faces behind the numbers.
“I went by my telephone and located an image of Troy and I despatched it to the medical expert,” Luke recalled. “And I mentioned, ‘I need you to know who my son is. I do not need him to be a tag on a physique bag. I do not need him to be one other case file.'”
Naloxone saves lives
“Fairly often with overdoses, they’re preventable,” Mendenhall mentioned. “Naloxone is a medicine that’s an opioid blocker that works very, in a short time.”
When taken promptly, naloxone can stop overdose deaths.
“They can provide you that naloxone whereas they’re ready for the ambulance to return and it very actually saves lives,” Luke mentioned.
“Paramedics, firemen, policemen all carry Narcan kits,” she mentioned. Narcan is the model title of a tool that delivers naloxone.
Because the passing of her son, Lee-Ann Luke has devoted her life to passing out as many naloxone kits as attainable. She believes everybody must be educated about its life-saving skills and encourages folks to take a free course on how one can use naloxone. This course sponsored by the Salt Lake Group Faculty and Utah Naloxone will ship those that attend a free injectable naloxone rescue package.
Naloxone kits are additionally accessible at a rising variety of Utah libraries.
“Consider your self as the common individual. Have you ever ever had a ache capsule in your own home? You already know, that is what the Narcan package does,” she mentioned.
Mendenhall urges those that both are taking an opioid themselves or know of a cherished one taking an opioid to select up a naloxone package at their native pharmacy. “As a result of very actually, it may save your life and it is not arduous to only carry round and have,” he mentioned.
Wanting again and searching for change
Luke misses her participating, clever and loving son day-after-day.
“It is powerful, you recognize, you consider all of the issues that you simply wished for him. That is what I consider most after we miss him is what may have been, what he may have had, what he may have accomplished, who he may have affected,” she mentioned. “It is the place his path ought to have began, not the place it ought to have ended.”
Luke can be an advocate for educating folks about Utah’s Good Samaritan Legislation which protects those that supply care on the scene of an emergency in good religion from being held chargeable for damages or penalties.
Mendenhall says although the information just isn’t but clear, he has seen a lot of his personal sufferers want further assist by the pandemic.
“Numerous the people who I deal with for dependancy, (and) lots of people that I deal with for psychological well being points, they’ve had a tougher time over the past couple of years,” he mentioned. “I’ve had the next share of individuals which can be unstable, the next share of people who we’re needing to alter medicines for, (and) the next variety of folks which can be having relapses on their medication.”
He urges those that are struggling to hunt assist the fitting method.
“Go to your physician, discuss to them, inform them about your ache, inform them about your signs, inform them, you recognize, if it is extra of a drug problem, as an alternative of a ache problem,” he mentioned. “There’s quite a lot of medicines, there’s quite a lot of therapies which can be very efficient to assist actually deal with each drug dependancy in addition to ache which can be a lot safer.”
Mendenhall urges folks to succeed in out to Utah 211 or the Utah Disaster Line in the event that they need assistance at 1-800-273-8255.