Adriana Falcon had fought hard to get her life back together.
But the destructive pull of drugs and alcohol proved too much for the 15-year-old teen, who died Monday of a heroin overdose, leaving family and friends devastated.
“This was always our biggest ongoing fear,” said dad Rick Falcon, 42, on Tuesday.
On Monday, Vancouver police urged drug users to use Insite, the supervised-injection site, after two deaths, including Adriana’s, related to bad heroin.
But Falcon insists Insite isn’t enough. He wants legislation that allows parents to get a court order to place drug-addicted kids in mandatory treatment programs, similar to Alberta.
“What do you do if your 14-year-old kid goes out and decides to do what they want?” he said. “What I learned over the year is, you cannot do a hell of a lot.”
Falcon, 42, said Adriana was sexually assaulted July 2012 at a White Rock beach party. The family reported the incident to police, but the investigation went nowhere, said Falcon.
His bubbly daughter who loved cheerleading, anime and fairies disappeared. Adriana began skipping counselling sessions, cutting class and drinking herself to the point of passing out. Counsellors called it numbing, said Falcon.
“She didn’t want to deal with it. She was drinking so heavily she literally didn’t want to feel anything,” he said.
Falcon, who had custody of Adriana and her younger sister, began getting phone calls from police. Adriana was found unconscious at a bus stop, on a bench, a house in Sechelt. She started using pot, then meth. Break-ins, petty theft and shoplifting incidents followed.
He tried tough love, once even using a sofa to bar the front door so she doesn’t go out. He tried reasoning with her.
“You’re not a cat,” he told her once. “You can’t keep on doing this. You don’t have nine lives. When you’re gambling your life away, what about your family?”
When an officer suggested Falcon get her away from her bad influences, Falcon moved his family from White Rock to Victoria. In total, Falcon estimates he had filed more than 100 missing person’s reports for Adriana.
In B.C. the only way to put youth into mandatory treatment programs would be as part of a court sentence or under the Mental Health Act. Falcon, with the help of police, tried both routes.
A police officer put together a shoplifting and cab-and-dash charge against Adriana, which resulted in a court-ordered curfew. Adriana followed it for a while, but slid back to her old ways.
Falcon also got her committed under the act at the peak of her meth addiction because she was becoming a danger to herself and her family. Adriana later got herself decertified.
“We went through every agency you can think of to get her help,” he said. “Everyone tried to help but can only do so much. Everyone said the same thing: All the programs are voluntary.”
In a statement, the Ministry of Children and Family Development said: “It is widely agreed that voluntary services, such as detox, residential treatment ... are the most effective means of addressing addiction issues.”
In July, Adriana, who had been living in a group home, returned home to Victoria. For a while, she seemed better. She wanted to take dance classes, look for a part-time job and planned to go back to school.
But on Aug. 17, Falcon woke up to find Adriana had snuck out of the house. In an email, she told him she was going back to the Lower Mainland: “I just want to see my friends. I’m sorry.”
Adriana had begun to use drugs again, said Falcon.
On Monday evening Falcon got the phone call he had been dreading. He arrived in Vancouver Tuesday to help make plans for Adriana’s memorial service.
“I can’t say I didn’t see this coming,” he said. “But after all her progress in the month-and-a-half ... she decides to go, and there’s nothing I can do.”
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