Julie Kelley sends a kiss to her late son Brad Lloyd during Overdose Awareness Day at the Kelowna sails Monday, Aug. 31. (Contributed)

Grieving Okanagan mom raises overdose awareness

Son trusted his dealer, but didn’t know there was fentanyl in his cocaine

When Julie Kelley had done everything she could to help her son with his addiction, the only thing left was for her to beg him to be safe.

“I even said to Bradley, you really need to be careful. He said: ‘It’s OK mom, I know where I get my stuff from, he’s a good guy.’”

Bradley Lloyd, a W.L. Seaton grad, died on June 30, 2020, from recreational cocaine laced with a lethal dose of fentanyl.

The 37-year-old trusted his source, but as his mom says: “It wasn’t Bradley who was trusting, it was his addiction.”

He had just seen his two young daughters in Kelowna days earlier and was beaming with life just by being with them. But the children, his mom, his friends, even himself, didn’t know their time together would end so soon.

“Addiction is addiction. It’s a disease and they don’t set out to die on that day they just set out to get high,” said Kelley, who honoured her son at the Overdose Awareness Day, light up at the Kelowna sails Monday, Aug. 31.

International Overdose Awareness Day.
In memory of my dear son Bradley. You were kind, loving, generous and beautiful…

Posted by Julie Kelley on Monday, August 31, 2020

What she doesn’t understand is why drug dealers are killing off their customers by lacing fentanyl into drugs.

“It’s out there and it’s just taking so many young people’s lives,” said Kelley.

“Drugs aren’t like they used to be back in the day.”

And the statistics prove it, with overdose rates rising rapidly.

In June, 175 British Columbians died of overdoses, surpassing the previous May record of 170 deaths.

That brought the six-month total of deaths in 2020 to 728, compared to 543 during the same time period in 2019.

Seventy-two per cent of the deaths this year have involved street-level fentanyl, a powerful opioid.

READ MORE: Vernon overdoses spike among COVID-19 pandemic

The grief-stricken mother knows how hard it is for those suffering from addiction as well as their families.

“We tried, all of us: his friends, his brothers, his sister, his late father, my new husband but it was too strong,” she said of ‘the demon.’

All they were left to do is be there for him and show him, love.

“There’s a fine line because you don’t want to be codependent, but you don’t want to see them struggle because they’re your kid.”

They had watched him lose everything: his home, his wife, his children, even himself to the addiction.

“There is a way out, and I cannot even tell you the number of times that Bradley got clean and sober.

“Then something would happen, and he didn’t want to feel it so he would numb it with drugs or alcohol.”

She knows how hard it is to fight that addiction, so for those who fall victim, she just begs them to be safe.

“If you have to use, don’t use alone, get it tested.”

But really, the only way to be safe, is abstinence, said Kelley.

Because it only takes one bad batch to not only end a life but shatter so many more.

“The pain stops for them, but it certainly doesn’t stop for us.”

READ MORE: B.C. paramedics responded to a record-breaking 2,700 overdose calls in July


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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Julie Kelley, with her son Bradley Lloyd, who died of an overdose on June 30, 2020, is raising overdose awareness. (Submitted Photo)

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