Protesters call for more services for addicted Islanders

Teresa Wright
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“People are dying – there’s no treatment here for people that are suffering with mental illness and addiction,” a mother told a crowd of supporters during a protest at Province House Tuesday.

Dianne Young organized the protest in an attempt to push lawmakers in P.E.I. into doing more to provide services for Islanders struggling with addictions.

Young’s son, Lennon Waterman, is believed to have taken his own life in November as a result of an addiction to prescription drugs.

“My son Lennon’s life was not in vain, I will not let him be forgotten,” Young said.

“It is my hope that by me sharing my story, other families may have a different outcome. It’s time to make a change, it’s time that the government took a stand and had the courage to do something about this disease.”

About 100 people gathered at Province House Tuesday evening, many holding signs with pleas for action and help.

‘Save our kids on P.E.I.,’ one sign read. ‘Recovery, not rhetoric,’ said another.

People with tragic stories of lost loved ones and of family members still struggling with their addictions spoke, explaining the painful ways they have learned more services are needed in P.E.I.

Bev Semple told of how her son, who became an intravenous drug user, found it easier to access methadone treatment in Alberta than in P.E.I.

“I’m so proud of him, and he’s even off the methadone now,” she said to cheers from the crowd.

“Please help our children.”

Greg MacKinnon spoke of his own personal struggles with addiction, but also from his experience in as a former youth addictions worker.

He said he believes the present treatment system is worse now than it was 25 years ago. At that time there was a rehabilitation program that began directly after detox, which is no longer the case.

“The system is so horribly broken,” he said.

“Thank god I got treated how I did when I did because if I had gone to treatment when I was using and they had said, ‘We’ll run you through detox for seven days and send you home for two weeks while you wait for treatment,’ I’d have died,” MacKinnon told the crowd.

“It’s such a stupid, ridiculous thing to tell an addict to go home and wait for help because they can’t. They’re addicts. It doesn’t work like that.”

Young and the other protesters are calling on government to open an in-patient addictions facility – one that would offer not only detox, but also after-care and rehabilitation.

The Opposition Tories have been calling for a youth addictions treatment facility for the last year, and MLA James Aylward reiterated this Tuesday evening.

Health Minister Doug Currie said he is committed to making inroads on the issue.

“We will and we need to be better,” he said.

Both he and Premier Robert Ghiz pointed to the fact the province’s chief mental health addictions officer, Dr. Rhonda Matters, is currently reviewing all services and issues related to this complex file.

But if she recommends a new addictions facility for P.E.I., Ghiz committed Tuesday evening in the legislature he will immediately move forward on it.

“I have sat down with people within our system, and they’ve said it's not the right way to go… they look at the overall size of the population, how many beds we would need, what we could do with collaboration and that’s the direction that we’ve taken thus far,” Ghiz said.

“If (Matters) comes back and says to us and says, ‘Yes, having a facility in Prince Edward Island will lead towards better outcomes… I will not hesitate. If we have to increase our deficit by another $3-5 million, I hope (the Opposition) will stand and applaud us, because I’ll do it tomorrow.”

 

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

 

 

 

 

 

Organizations: Province House

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Recent comments

  • Gina DeMont
    April 16, 2014 - 10:40

    @ David - And children brought up with good, stable, working, two parent homes don't get addicted to drugs?! Please. Mindful, hands on parenting can only go so far and when you are up against a powerful addiction like drugs, without the proper mental health care, chances of a proper recovery are reduced. Not everyone has enough money on PEI to send their addicted child discretely to Ontario to Homewood, or whereever it may be only to return back to the Island and get sick again because everyone else is still using or not able to get the help they need.

  • Blaine
    April 16, 2014 - 07:39

    @David:You do not have a clue about addicts & addiction.It is narrow minded people like you that make treatment more difficult to obtain.

  • Katherine
    April 15, 2014 - 22:25

    It's interesting that the government is hesitant to provide the funds for an addiction facility on PEI which has been needed there for decades. They should be looking at the costs that addictions and mental health cost in tax payers dollars and public funding. All of the costs for jail, hospitalizations, crimes and social assistance programs could be drastically lowered if only people struggling with addictions had somewhere to go if they really want to get clean. It costs far less to provide someone rehab in the long term than it does to allow their addiction to continue.

  • Sorry 4 your loss...But
    April 15, 2014 - 21:25

    Sorry for your loss,,however I don,t see many dealers in town with head locks on people forcing them to take drugs.When I was young drugs were all over the place and no one forced me.I guess I am sick of hearing the poor me,BS.Maybe these people need a good kick in the @#@. Grow up and get a set,if you are not happy with your life change it,too many people run too the doctor for a happy pill.

    • David
      April 16, 2014 - 02:53

      Nice...seems like everyone who is addicted to something feels like it is always someone's fault except their own. I have to wonder when kids get addicted to drugs just where the parents were. Maybe if the parents spent more time worrying about their kids and not themselves we would see less people addicted to drugs. Parents need to start acting like parents and dealing with their kids and properly raising them. Most of these addictions issues can be traced to bad parenting or broken marriages and broken homes. Maybe if parents started worrying about their kids more and less about themselves and what makes them happy we would have less addicts and less problems. For some reason when parents fail it is not their fault but that of society and the taxpayers should foot the bill to clean up their mess.

    • Parent
      April 16, 2014 - 05:54

      No one is forced to smoke cigarettes either or eat junk food, but no one would accept denying or making people wait for cancer treatment or insulin.... and no one expects these people to "prove they are serious" by waiting weeks to years for treatment. Lots and lots of people have been made addicts by their own doctors... what about them? And when you were young, opiates weren't all over PEI. It is people like you that absolutely guarantee that this problem will not go away.

    • Addiction is a disease
      April 16, 2014 - 06:15

      Addiction is a disease. You may not understand it because you don't bother to read about it but IT IS! Let's just entertain your idea of choice for a moment. You say they didn't have to buy from the drug dealers but they did. So I'm assuming your thinking that taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for their treatment. What a scary thing you are proposing. With the "Choice" model that you like, the following is a few things that we would not cover under health care because we chose to do the activities or became sick as a result of lifestyle choices: sports accidents, car accidents, Type 2 Diabetes, some cancers, any health problems related to obesity, heart disease, and the list goes on. I think you can see where I'm going here. A healthcare issue s a healthcare issue. Do you really want emergency rooms to try to evaluate whether your health problem was caused by a "choice" or not before they treat you!

    • To David
      April 16, 2014 - 07:05

      I'm so tired of hearing people saying that problem children come from broken marriages and broken homes. I raised my son alone and he has grown up to be a fine young man that I am so proud of. To Dianne - may your beloved son RIP.

  • Gaudet
    April 15, 2014 - 19:27

    Finally we are going to here from the Addiction/Mental Health Officer. All we get are reports and no action. I doubt that anything new will come out of what they have done so far. Why don't they talk to those in the system it seem very scripted with there response. I have heard nothing for months this is unacceptable.

  • BeentotheRally
    April 15, 2014 - 18:44

    And then Robert Ghiz and Doug Currie got up and told us that it was a government priority and that we needed to do better! Hurray.... problem solved! what a crock! They just conveniently forgot to mention that they needed to study the issue again!

  • I see SOB
    April 15, 2014 - 18:42

    What a pic of our esteemed leader. Arms folded like he wants to be somewhere else. Doing nothing. I have been sick of this guy for years and am pleased to hear more and more people express the same view. Anybody who has come handy him lately is amazed how much he is now believing his own b.s.

  • former addict
    April 15, 2014 - 18:32

    this was a great protest. i give props to diane for putting this on, and standing strong behind her son and the disease. i myself have struggled with addictions for about four years and it was the worst four years of my life and am so grateful today to be alive and sober. i couldnt even begin to imagine what its like to loose a child to this disease, however i have lost friends to the battle, and its not easy. i hope that this protest has helped in many ways, and that we start to see improvements in our system. it is greatly needed, and needs to happen before we see many other loved ones loose their battle.