Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Let's turn this thing around! 

We have a serious drug problem on this Island! As a province, we should be doing everything we can to combat addiction, including expanding our treatment options to incorporate modern, scientifically proven approaches along with the traditional ones. I’ve had enough of individuals, families, and communities being devastated by this disease – a disease that is treatable. How about you?

So, why aren’t we adequately treating it? Good question!

The biggest barrier is funding. The Province needs to step up and make the investment in addiction treatment. Research suggests that for every $1 spent on treatment, $12 is saved in other areas including health and justice. That sounds like a good investment to me. Any investor would put money into something that would yield a 12:1 return. Why won’t our government?

To be fair, our government has made some investment in treatment programs, albeit small. Some of the programs already in place work for some people, which is wonderful! I am always so pleased to hear about a success story. However, they are few and far between because what is being offered to the majority of individuals seeking help is not enough OR there are long waiting lists so Islanders cannot access the services in a timely manner (timing is everything with addiction treatment). Overall, and for many reasons, we are failing. Our increase in IV drug use, the increase in cases of Hep-C from IV drug use, as well as having the highest crime rate per capita in Eastern Canada are all good indicators of this failure. Please see my previous post for more information on these increases.

It is heartbreaking to see so many people, especially our youth, caught up in addiction. It is heartbreaking to hear of so many young people contracting Hepatitis-C, and it is heartbreaking to see an increase in crime in our communities. It is not too late to turn things around but we have to put the pressure on government in order for them to act on this epidemic. Call your MLA and talk about it. You have to CARE enough to do something.

If you don’t give a darn about addicts, perhaps you care about your community and sense of safety. Maybe that will be your motivation to do something. You may be one of those people who say “throw them in jail for a long time” thinking that is the solution. Well, it isn’t. Locking someone up with no treatment for their addiction is not solving the problem. They will get out eventually and still have all the same issues only worse because they are further hindered by a criminal record.

As a responsible citizen, I do believe that if you do the crime, you do the time. We can’t have people committing crimes with no consequences. However, there needs to be treatment offered as part of the rehabilitation process. The more logical approach to crime is to have treatment available BEFORE a crime even takes place. Less crime means fewer victims. That would be nice!

We never know what the future holds. You may not be directly impacted by addiction today but you could be down the road with a child, grandchild, niece, nephew, etc. becoming addicted. Addiction knows no boundaries. Let me tell you, when/if it does happen to your loved one, you’ll wish that you did something earlier to ensure the necessary help would be there. There is no scarier feeling than having your loved one sick with something that could easily kill them. As if that isn’t bad enough, finding out that there is not enough help available and that we have a system full of gaps is downright devastating.

As a province, we need to expand our offerings and our resources so that we can find something that works for each person. Because we are all unique individuals, whether you have an addiction or not, one size does not fit all with anything in this world and that includes addiction treatment.

Let’s take a stand for our fellow Islanders and for ourselves as well as future generations by demanding more of our government in this area. This is a disease that is treatable. That is the positive part. We can turn this thing around with a little investment of money and compassion.



  1. Again Rose well written, please tell us what to do.. I have already written to my MLA to Mr. Myers etc. Many discussions with Addictions Services at PCH and Mount Hebert . I might as
    well be talking to the wall. Spoke to Police Officers , teachers,
    friends and I still feel very helpless. I am a "Doer " type person
    but I don't know what else to do to help to have our voices heard
    etc. I feel very small in this big problem. What should we do???

    1. I hear you! It does feel like we're talking to walls. Very frustrating. Keep on talking. Addiction flourishes in the face of silence. We cannot stop talking. The more we talk, the more people understand the extent of this problem. To take it a step further, and only if you are comfortable, you can also go to the media. You can request that your story be anonymous. Or, you can use your name if you are comfortable. Also, you can start a blog. It is an easy thing to do and you can decided whether or not to use your own name. It is up to you. Here is the link to a blog that another Island mom started. She chose not to use her real name. This allows her to talk about the day to day life with an addict in order to give readers an idea of what it is like and how painful it is. I chose to use my real name because I was going public with it and wanted people to see that it can happen to any family. In order to protect the privacy of my loved one, I do not discuss his daily struggles. My blog is more about informing with a little information about my loved ones and our journey as a family. If you want to talk more offline, I can be reached at Thanks for speaking out!

  2. Hi Rose,

    I met with Doug Currie in June. He assured me that something was going to happen soon that would provide methadone and/or suboxone for anyone who needed it and that the announcement would be made before Fall. I followed up with a letter to him yesterday, inquiring as to when this announcement would be made. His response was "Our announcement is being finalized and will expand access re methdone and suboxzone and other improvements.I look forward to bringing these improvements to support families and individuals with there treatment.I appreciate your note.The details are being finalized for our ability to make the investments needed.To be honest I am and had to work hard at
    getting the additional resourses to make these improvements happen."

    I so hope that something happens soon as the lack of attention that this government has given this serious problem is causing so many so much pain. The money is being spent in all the wrong places. I know of a young man who was in detox 6 times since January but couldn't get methadone. Sadly, he is now Hep C positive and ironically he will moved to the top of the methadone list. If he had gotten that right after detox in January, things could have been much different.

    I agree that we need to keep the pressure on this government to do something quickly and if you have ideas that I can help with, please let me know. Every parent on PEI should be concerned. It is too important to just sit back and do nothing.

    1. Thank you for your efforts. Keep on talking. We can never give up. And, yes, every parent - and every Islander - should be concerned. This affects us all.

  3. For anyone asking what to do, I would suggest that you approach the province to not lose an amazing opportunity to take over the Addictions Research Centre in Montague. This Centre was funded by the federal government but was cut by the federal budget in 2012. Just like all the other federal government cuts in the past year and a half, the specialists in addictions assessment, program development and research will lose their jobs. The work being done at the Centre is scheduled to end for good in March 2014, and the building will be sold. The province has first 'dibs' on buying it. Why wouldn't the PEI government take it over and make it a provincially-focused resource for Islanders with mental health and addictions? If I knew the people to talk to, that is what I would be advocating for. What does PEI need most? A strategy for starters. This should be a major part of the strategy. A made-in-PEI strategy, based on the most up to date evidence, with people who have years of experience working on the issue of addictions and mental health. Or are they going to let it go, just like they did with the addictions medical specialists...we know this won't be solved overnight, and it's going to take a lot of people with specialized skills working together in this province to get this right for our loved ones. It is such an amazing resource, do we want to see it turned into the Montague town hall? What a waste that would be for PEI.

    1. It certainly was disheartening to have the federal government close the Addictions Centre down, especially in the midst of a prescription drug crisis across Canada. You could try talking to Health Minister Doug Currie about your idea, which is a good one!


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