By Dan Walton
November 24, 2017
"I wish I had been more knowledgeable. If that had been the case we would have sought out a qualified veterans PTSD program instead of shuffling around with psychiatrists here in the Okanagan.”
Jill McCullum holds up photos of her son after telling the heartbreaking story about him fighting PTSD and drug addiction. (Dan Walton photo)Remembrance Day 2017 was the first year that local military mom Jill McCullum attended the ceremony since losing her son Nick Stevens.
After returning from the war in Afghanistan around four years ago, Stevens had developed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and then an opioid addiction. He tried taking several paths towards recovery and had the full support of his family, but an overdose took his life in March.
“I don’t care if people know Nick had a drug issue that he finally succumbed to,” McCullum said. “Kids don’t just wake up one morning and decide to become an addict.”
While Stevens was facing the demons that come with PTSD, he was prescribed opioids as a solution only to the side effects – depression, anxiety and a sleep disorder. So at a time when he was coping with deeply painful memories, he was given access to an extremely powerful drug.
By 2015, “He fully grasped that he was masking his issues with drugs.”
“They were all handsome young men who are missed by loved ones,” she said. “I had no idea until one day I saw these names on his leg and I asked who’s that? And he told me. If I knew then what I know now I would have asked him to talk about it; I would have been a concerned individual. But I was naive, I didn’t know the depth he’d plummeted.”
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