Some of the tools used by some drug users to convert prescription narcotics to a liquid they can inject.
It’s a province-wide problem that is prompting a legislative committee to hit the road for input from Islanders.
Prescription drug use, abuse and addiction will be the fodder of discussion as the P.E.I. Legislature’s Standing Committee on Health, Social Development and Seniors visits three Island communities next week.
It’s the direct result of a motion made in the provincial legislature, which passed unanimously last spring, asking that the standing committee tackle the issue, says chairman Bush Dumville.
The committee will host meetings open to the public and media Tuesday in Charlottetown, Wednesday at the Loyalist Lakeview Resort in Summerside and Thursday at Red’s Corner outside of Montague.
“We want to get as many Islanders that wish to speak to this a chance to speak,” said Dumville. “We really want it to be province- wide. It is only fair. Too many times things are in Charlottetown. This affects all areas of the Island.”
Prescription drug use and abuse is a problem that has quickly escalated in recent years on Prince Edward Island.
A six-part series featured in this paper last fall highlighted the issue and the need for additional treatment. In that series, Health officials, the courts, police and a representative from a local parents’ support group spoke on the escalating prescription drug problem and its impact on the community.
Dumville said that Dr. Don Ling, medical director of the P.E.I Methadone Maintenance Treatment program, earlier this year made a presentation on the issue, saying there has been a “huge” increase in prescription drug abuse in the past couple of years.
“It’s turned out to be a really big problem,” said the committee chairman. “I have constituents calling in regards to their children and they are living in their home and pawning computers and household goods to get drugs. Financially, it’s hard. It is just terribly hard on the families.”
And the problem is far reaching, resulting in increased property crime, which, he added, “impacts everyone.”
When Dumville, a former police officer, was asked if the problem has reached epidemic proportions in this province, said: “Well, I am no expert but, from what we’re hearing from everybody, it is a very serious problem.”
He added, “Personally, and I’ve said this to the committee numerous times, we have to involve the community but we also have to involve all the different departments, whether it is Community Services, Health, police services and the courts. Maybe they are all working in silos and we have to bridge that gap and have a free exchange, a flow of information.”
He did say that there is quite a bit of interest in the meetings, noting that the Charlottetown session is almost full and the Summerside session is quickly filling up.
Once the sessions are complete, the information gathered will be reviewed and brought back to the legislative assembly.
“We will condense it into a report and the report will be presented to the legislative assembly in the fall,” said Dumville. “This report will be submitted to the legislature with recommendations.”
Those interested in making a presentation should contact the committee clerk by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; by fax at 368-5175; by phone at 1-877-314-5518; or by writing to: Standing Committee on Health, Social Development and Seniors, PO Box 2000, Charlottetown, P.E.I., C1A 7N8.
Dumville said for those worried about anonymity sessions can be arranged, by request, with the committee in private on the day of the meeting.
Sessions take place 2 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. each of the three days. For more information, visit assembly.pe.ca/addictions.