'This is the hardest thing in the world. We did not see this coming.'

Archie

Archie MacIsaac-Vacon was a bright kid with many friends. The 19-year-old, who grew up in Cape Breton, was working a summer job at a factory in the West Island. He was due to study engineering at Concordia in the fall… but he won’t be there.

In late June, MacIsaac-Vacon went downtown with friends. He was found around 2 a.m. in a bathroom at a bar on St-Laurent. His family suspects that he died of an accidental fentanyl overdose. 

His mother, Charlene Vacon, has decided to speak out about her son, and the risks of of taking recreational drugs. She is a paramedic who currently works in an Ottawa-area hospital, and she also witnessed the dangers of fentanyl while working in Alberta for a spell. 

'This is the hardest thing in the world. We did not see this coming. We are still asking ourselves, how did this happen?' Vacon told Andrew Carter this week. 'Archie was the son that everyone wanted.' 

Fentanyl is a very powerful opioid pain reliever, used in hospitals. But Canadian authorities have been warning the public for years that the country's illegal drug supply has been tained by fentanyl and other similar opioids; it's a cheap way to up the effect of drugs. And as fentanyl is hard to detect, dealers and users are unlikely to be aware of its presence. 

Vacon said that she wishes bars would carry kits that can test for the presence of fentanyl in recreational drugs. You can purchase the kits in stores and online, but they are not always accurate. 

Charlene wrote about her son in a post on LinkedIn... you can read it here.

 

Hear Andrew's conversation with Charlene Vacon: 

 

If you think someone has overdosed, call 9-1-1 immediately for assistance. Naloxone can be used to reverse the effects of the drug, but it can wear off between 20 to 90 minutes later. Earlier this summer, Montreal firefighters announced they would start to carry Naloxone kits. 

For more information about fentanyl, including what you can to test for the drug and how to help someone who is possibly overdosing, visit this page from the federal government for further information.  

Charlene's conversation with Andrew will re-air on Andrew Carter Weekends, Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.