Three weeks ago Adriana Londono received the worst phone call a parent could imagine — her 12-year-old daughter was dead.
“I just ran to the bathroom and cried and screamed, it was probably the worst moment of my whole life,” Londono said.
Allayah Thomas, who went by Ally, started experimenting with drugs last fall at just 11 years old. Her family says it escalated until she was using meth and heroin.
The Grade 6 Saanich student overdosed three times ending up at Victoria General Hospital, but her fourth overdose, at a friend’s house in Langford on April 14, proved fatal.
“She grew up too fast and I’m really sorry for that, I feel very guilty that I wasn’t there to help her or that I wasn’t the best mentor or the best mom,” Londono said.
Londono herself has struggled for years with mental health and substance use issues. She said she’s been to the hospital numerous times seeking help but has always been sent home. She said it was the same story when she and other family members tried to get help for Allayah.
“I feel like she needed to go into a long-term rehab facility but they didn’t make any for people her age, it’s wrong, because now she died and she’s only 12, they could have helped her I believe,” Londono said.
Ally’s grandparents, who she lived with, say all that the Grade 6 student was ever offered was counselling, which the young girl refused.
CHEK’s Rob Shaw explains what the province is saying about Ally’s story, and what it’s doing to curb youth overdoses.
B.C.’s Children and Youth Representative says most substance use treatment services are designed for older children and teens but there’s no question more is needed.
“So it’s a wake-up call for us to think developmentally how would we work with these young people? And 12-year-olds shouldn’t be with 16-year-olds either,” she said. “There are significant gaps in the province, we’ve been identifying them for a number of years.”
Charlesworth said involuntary treatment should be available only as a last resort.
“The reality is detention and involuntary treatment is an important part of a whole array of options, but in the absence of having better voluntary options, I really am reluctant to kind of go right to involuntary treatment,” she said.
Adriana Londono says her little girl was failed by everyone, including her.
“If i was able to be there for her, if I had the help, and she had the help I think she would be here right now,” she said.
She says she’d like everyone to be aware of how toxic the drug supply is right now and she’s encouraging parents to keep open communication with their kids.
“Every kid should not be afraid to tell their parents what they’ve done, they shouldn’t be in fear of being punished, they should be in fear of dying is what I think is important.”