In the wake of her son’s sudden death, Jessica Michalofsky is running a marathon daily until B.C.’s government changes the way they approach safe supply.
“It took only five weeks of exposure to the black market drug supply for him to die,” Michalofsky told CHEK News.
Michalofsky’s son Aubrey was only 25 when he died on Aug. 30. He’d just graduated from Selkirk College’s Law and Justice program where he’d won two awards. He had dreams of doing a Masters’s degree in Social Work.
Aubrey had also been struggling with substance use. He’d been on a methadone program for two years, but living in rural Winlaw in the West Kootenays, the closest clinic was 50 kilometres away and proved to be a barrier.
“I moved him to the Kootenays ironically because I thought it would be safer for him there. He has family there. Actually, it wasn’t safer,” said Michalofsky. “Getting to and from Nelson, he was out of school, didn’t have a lot of money, and so transportation was a major issue…I would say that directly contributed to his death.'”
Michalofsky says her son used speed or methamphetamines initially as a “curious teenager,” then recently returned to the drug to keep up in class.
“When he was in school he returned to speed to help him cope with finals, with exams, with staying up all night to study. So that’s the irony is that he was doing drugs to have what he thought was a normal lifestyle,” said Michalofsky. “He was trying to be careful, but there was no way to be careful because the drug he was taking was a loaded gun.”
Michalofsky says if Aubrey could have found a safer supply of drugs, he would have used it.
“Aubrey was my only son. I don’t I don’t know. It’s like I don’t have a future now,” said Michalofsky.
On Monday Michalofsky began to run 42.2 kilometres every day. She’s circling the Ministry of Health and Addictions building in Victoria, calling on the government to change how they approach safe supply.
“It’s like we want people to straighten up and lead their lives but we only want people to get clean and sober on our terms and I think that’s clearly not working,” said Michalofsky. “If you’re going to give people to take advantage of treatment, they have to be alive.”
Between January and August this year, nearly 1,500 people in B.C. died due to the toxic drug supply. In the past 10 years, 12,047 British Columbians people have died due to illicit drug toxicity.
Jessica says the current practice of providing users not their drug of choice, but alternative drugs via prescription and calling it ‘safe supply’ is a misnomer by the province, and isn’t meeting users’ needs.
“If we’re continuing to have this many deaths 7 years into a publicly declared opioid crisis, a year and two months after the announcement of ‘safe supply’ we have a problem,” said Michalofsky. “We have a broken system if we’re losing this many people per year. I mean I’m a teacher, if a massive percentage of my students didn’t pass every year, I’d be fired.”
For now, Michalofsky says she’ll walk until her “legs fall off,” or government makes a change.
She’s determined her heartbreak could change the outcome for others.
“I wish I could have been there to give him naloxone, I wish I wish I wish. I had plans to meet him later that afternoon. I had plans to pick him up for vacation,” said Michalofsky.
“He certainly had no plans to die that day.”
A previous version of this article stated there have been 1,500 illicit toxic drug deaths since 2012. That figure is for 2022 alone so far from January to August. In the past 10 years, 12,047 British Columbians people have died due to illicit drug toxicity. CHEK News regrets the error.