Herriman mother warns others about the danger of fentanyl after losing her son

Lee-Ann Luke gathers with two of her ten youngsters, 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 means of 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 stated. “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 occasions final week.

“I miss his hugs most of all as a result of he was like Mr. Bear Hug,” she instructed two of her youngsters, Ruth and Zane, as they kneeled at Troy’s gravestone.

“Troy was very outgoing and he may make associates with anyone of any age,” his mom stated. “He simply made everyone really feel like household, you realize?”

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 tablet, and it is stamped M-30 on it,” she described. Little did he know, that tiny tablet was laced with fentanyl, a particularly potent artificial opioid.

“He was having hassle respiration and he wasn’t actually coherent,” Luke stated.

By the point Troy Luke acquired to the hospital, it was too late.

“(They) instantly tried to resuscitate him and so they by no means may,” Lee-Ann Luke stated. “It was simply was past our comprehension.”

Troy handed away on Feb. 13, 2021.

Dr. Robert Mendenhall, a psychiatrist at Intermountain Dayspring Remedy and Restoration, says fentanyl is a thousand occasions stronger than oxycodone.

“Fentanyl is essentially the most potent opioid that we all know of,” he stated. “Micrograms price of fentanyl might be life-threatening.”

He urges individuals to solely take opioids prescribed by a doctor.

“Simply by no means take something that you do not know for certain the place it got here from,” he stated. “As a result of every little thing proper now has a very large threat of being laced with one thing else.”

Ruth Lee hugs her mother, Lee-Ann Luke, as she cries kneeling at the headstone of her son Troy Luke. He was 22 years old when he died last February after overdosing on what he thought was an oxycodone. His family learned after his passing that the pill he took had been laced with fentanyl.
Ruth Lee hugs her mom, Lee-Ann Luke, as she cries kneeling on the gravestone of her son Troy Luke. He was 22 years previous when he died final February after overdosing on what he thought was an oxycodone. His household realized after his passing that the tablet he took had been laced with fentanyl. (Picture: Josh Szymanik, KSL-TV)

Utah’s rising fentanyl disaster

“Since (Troy) handed away, the issue with fentanyl has simply exacerbated,” Luke stated.

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 stated 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 drugs and different narcotics similar to Percocet are adulterated with fentanyl and are extra prevalent than ever. Different medicine, 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 stated.

Mendenhall believes the fentanyl disaster can also be an unlucky byproduct of physicians tapering the variety of opioids they prescribe sufferers.

“Typically as we sort of decrease the opioid prescribing, there tends to be extra kind of illicit methods to get the medicine and so it is a type of kind of unintended penalties,” he defined.

He says geography additionally possible performs a task.

“We have been sort of an epicenter of quite a lot of drug trades, due to the I-80 and (Interstate) 15 that sort of come collectively,” he stated.

Although it is an issue rising at an ever-increasing price, Luke reminds individuals there are faces behind the numbers.

“I went by means of my telephone and located an image of Troy and I despatched it to the medical expert,” Luke recalled. “And I stated, ‘I would like 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.'”

Dr. Robert Mendenhall, a psychiatrist at Intermountain Dayspring Treatment and Recovery, says naloxone, an opioid-blocking medication, can save lives if administered quickly.
Dr. Robert Mendenhall, a psychiatrist at Intermountain Dayspring Remedy and Restoration, says naloxone, an opioid-blocking medicine, can save lives if administered shortly. (Picture: Kristin Murphy, Deseret Information)

Naloxone saves lives

“Fairly often with overdoses, they’re preventable,” Mendenhall stated. “Naloxone is a drugs 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 stated.

“Paramedics, firemen, policemen all carry Narcan kits,” she stated. 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 talents and encourages individuals to take a free course on tips on how to use naloxone. This course sponsored by the Salt Lake Group School 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 typical individual. Have you ever ever had a ache tablet in your home? You realize, that is what the Narcan package does,” she stated.

Mendenhall urges those that both are taking an opioid themselves or know of a beloved one taking an opioid to choose 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 simply carry round and have,” he stated.

Troy Luke died last year on Feb. 13, 2021, after overdosing on what he thought was oxycodone. His family learned after his passing that the pill he took had been laced with fentanyl.
Troy Luke died final 12 months on Feb. 13, 2021, after overdosing on what he thought was oxycodone. His household realized after his passing that the tablet he took had been laced with fentanyl. (Picture: Josh Szymanik, KSL-TV)

Trying again and searching for change

Luke misses her participating, clever and loving son daily.

“It is powerful, you realize, you consider all of the issues that you just 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 performed, who he may have affected,” she stated. “It is the place his path ought to have began, not the place it ought to have ended.”

Luke can also be an advocate for educating individuals about Utah’s Good Samaritan Regulation which protects those that provide care on the scene of an emergency in good religion from being held responsible for damages or penalties.

Mendenhall says although the info just isn’t but clear, he has seen lots of his personal sufferers want further assist by means of the pandemic.

“A variety of 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 stated. “I’ve had the next proportion of individuals which might be unstable, the next proportion of people who we’re needing to alter drugs for, (and) the next variety of individuals which might be having relapses on their medicine.”

He urges those that are struggling to hunt assist the correct method.

“Go to your physician, speak to them, inform them about your ache, inform them about your signs, inform them, you realize, if it is extra of a drug concern, as an alternative of a ache concern,” he stated. “There’s quite a lot of drugs, there’s quite a lot of therapies which might be very efficient to assist actually deal with each drug dependancy in addition to ache which might be a lot safer.”

Mendenhall urges individuals to achieve out to Utah 211 or the Utah Disaster Line in the event that they need assistance at 1-800-273-8255.

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