Prescription medication 'drug of choice' for recreational use, says Mountie

Eric McCarthy
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Corporal Andy Cook, RCMP drug enforcement officer in Prince County, chats with pharmacists Amanda Shea, center, and Naomi Campbell following their panel presentation on the dangers in prescription drug abuse.

WOODSTOCK — An RCMP drug enforcement officer for Prince County told a group of parents recently prescription drugs are the drug of choice across P.E.I.

“Seventy five per cent of my work in Prince County has to do with prescription drugs,” Cpl. Andy Cook told a recent drug information meeting for parents, organized by West Prince Catholic Women’s Leagues.

Most of those drugs start out as legal prescriptions, Cook said.

Sometimes, though, it is a matter of “professional liars” obtaining prescriptions for ailments that don’t really exist, or patients who sell part of their prescriptions. Some drugs are stolen from medicine cabinets. Cook said criminals have even been known to break into homes of people who have died while their funerals are going on to steal their cancer drugs.

A panel, that also included local pharmacists Amanda Shea and Naomi Campbell, shared their concerns of prescription drug abuse — taking drugs that were not prescribed, or in different dosages or combinations.

When abused, Campbell advised, prescription drugs are as dangerous as street drugs. They are also highly addictive and users can develop a physical dependence, which makes it difficult to stop using.

That dependency, Cook said, leads to all sorts of criminal activity including shoplifting and robberies to support the addiction.

“It physically takes hold of you,” Cook said in describing abusers’ need for their drug. “I’ve seen some of these people coming down off of this and it is pitiful; it’s a horrible thing to see. They’ve seen it, too, and they don’t want to be like that, so they will do whatever they have to.”

He told of organized shoplifting groups in Summerside and Charlottetown.

“I’ve seen it on text messages that we’ve seized from drug traffickers, people taking orders as to what everybody wants when they go ‘shopping,’ as they call it in the text messages. They go out and they steal these things, then they sell them to their drug dealer so they can get some beads or percs (Percocets), or whatever it happens to be that day.”

The pharmacists and RCMP officer spoke to junior and senior high school students earlier in the day.

Cook said the message he tries to impress on youth is they don’t know what they’re getting.

“Do you think there’s any quality control in an illegal drug lab? I can tell you, there’s not, because I’ve investigated many of them.”

He said 12 people died in Alberta and British Columbia last year after taking what they thought was ecstasy. It was really a drug called PMMA.

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Prince, Summerside, Charlottetown Alberta British Columbia

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Recent comments

  • Ned
    December 28, 2013 - 01:08


  • Ned
    December 28, 2013 - 01:04


  • candrayo
    December 27, 2013 - 09:54

    Between prescribed medication AND our food values….I don't know where this generation will be at in 10 years…but it SCARES the HELL out of ME thinking about it!!! What is even scarier is we have a guy at the top with a doctor for a wife…and he is CLUELESS….that has to tell you something!

    December 27, 2013 - 09:18

    Bill I agree, stay away from those junkies unless you want to listen to them whine and complain that they are coming down all the time.

  • Bill
    December 27, 2013 - 07:48

    The issue with the pill problem is the fact that doctors are far too willing to push pain killer drugs, I realize that they are attempting to relieve pain, but there has to be a line somewhere. Certain medications should only be prescribed to make a dying person comfortable, once hooked some people will take very drastic measures to get their next fix. If people think heroin is in bigger cities, they are wrong. Dilaudid is pretty much the same drug. Stay away from them people, the withdrawals last ridiculously long and harsh.

  • w kennedy
    December 26, 2013 - 15:25

    In order to get high kids up north took to what was available . So problems started up they knew no better than sniffing glue and gasoline this will cause physical damage. I went as far as telling a doctor I would rather not have painkillers . They actually gave me a prescription for one anyway and I didn't find out until a coworker looked at it and informed me. Crack also is a problem users of this garage hooch avoid they will lie and steal. That said I am a weed only person it is a plant and not some man made chemical

    • blah
      December 26, 2013 - 22:58

      Only natural, hey w kennedy? Well, opium happens to be natural, too. Ever heard of the poppy? Another little bit of curiosity for you. There exists in our body endogenous cannibanoids, recently having been found to play a role in the diminishing of increased levels of cortisol in response to stress. There also exists in our body endogenous opioids, linked to pain managementment, immune system function and as more and more studies are beginning to reveal, emotional well being. Now, if these things exist in our bodies, surely there must be a reason for it, no? Some endorphins, there are many inside of our bodies, are quite strikingly similar to morphine. Also, if they exist in our bodies, surely they must play an integral role and it only stands to reason that if there is a system within our bodies, things can go wrong with it. Studies have been done with strong evidence linking some forms of chronic, refractory depression to a deficiency of endorphins with some pretty compelling findings. Where does the harm really come? This very article points to the problem, prohibitive cost. I used the word prohibitive intentionally, as it is accurate in more ways than one. Only natural, huh.