Grieving mother continues campaign to improve P.E.I.s addiction, mental health services

Jim Day
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Dianne Young of Charlottetown is growing impatient with government to make needed improvements to better help Islanders with addictions and mental health issues. Young’s son took his life last year after a long battle drugs and mental illness.

Dianne Young of Charlottetown looking to form committee comprised of people that are like minded for holistic approach to addictions

This is no idle cause.

Dianne Young of Charlottetown has chomped into the task of promoting the need to improve both mental health services and addiction services in P.E.I. with the bite and tenacity of a pit bull terrier.

The motivation could not be stronger. Young is fiercely determined to push for changes that may spare others from the years of harm addiction wrought on her 29-year-old son Lennon Waterman before the young man chose to end his life by leaping into the North River last November.

She has gone public with her story of loss.

She has rallied support for her campaign, organizing a well-attended protest in mid-April to urge lawmakers in the province to do more to provide services for Islanders struggling with addictions and facing poor mental health.

She even earned a recent meeting with Health Minister Doug Currie and Dr. Rhonda Matters, the chief mental health and addictions officer for the province.

Now she is looking to form a committee comprised of “people that are like minded as far as the holistic approach of addictions and recovery, instead of medicine (like) putting people on methadone.’’

A homeopathic doctor and a former addictions worker are among the potential members of her desired committee.

Whatever form and direction the committee takes — or any other action Young pursues — the woman is not going to turn her back on what she views as a big problem in need of immediate, sizable action.

“I’m the kind of person when I put my mind to doing something, I do it,’’ she said.

“I’m not quite sure where it’s going to go, but it’s going somewhere because I’m feeling like I’ve started this and I’m feeling like I have to continue with it.’’

Young and many others have been criticizing the Ghiz government for dragging its heels on a huge problem that is causing great harm and costing lives.

In late April, Currie answered the call to action — at least in words.

The health minister declared the time for talk and study on addictions is over. He plans to release a list of recommendations from Matters and promptly act upon them.

The chief mental health and addictions officer has spent several months meeting with frontline staff and stakeholders in an effort to get a good grasp of the issues that surround addictions and mental health in P.E.I.

Young is eager to see just what the province is willing and able to put in place. She is also skeptical.

“The way I’m thinking now is anytime I’ve ever had any hope in the government, I was disappointed,’’ she said.

She fears the province will pump money into sending Islanders to places like the Portage Residential Centre in New Brunswick rather than building a facility here that is capable of providing long-term treatment.

“I’m just a little worried that they’re not going to do anything here on P.E.I. - that they are going to put their money into other provinces and think that that is going to fix the problem,’’ said Young.

“We want to keep them (government) on their friggin’ toes.’’

Organizations: Portage Residential Centre

Geographic location: P.E.I.s, Charlottetown, North River New Brunswick

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Recent comments

  • well
    May 27, 2014 - 22:52

    Well we got to blame someone .... NO one can get recovery unless they want it.... This has been the norm for many many years... I loss family to addiction, but I do not blame anyone. Lots of help out there, self help programs, every day and nite.... We all walk a line between sanity and insanity... Some of us make it ... Some don't ....I never was in favor of the blame game... Anyone who wants recovery bad enough, can get clean.

  • Hope
    May 27, 2014 - 09:51

    It is important to make sure we do not judge the choice of treatment. Addiction is a difficult disease to treat.we need to embrace all treatment options in order to get this epidemic under control .most importantly support our loved ones in recovery with whatever treatment they decide is best for them.

    • Hopeful
      May 29, 2014 - 12:53

      O.k, wait? to not judge the choice of treatment,is like not blaming the addict for their actions while active in addictions. I certainly agree stand by your oved ones during recovery, but I have to agree with "well" a bit here, and this comes from someone who has suffered, and has lost a parent from addictions. We need to stop the blame, the province could offer top notch unlimited access to numerous roots of recovery, and some addicts will not be willing to accept it, because they are not ready. By everyone on this island blaming government for addictions, we are taking it away from the addict themselves, which any addict will tell you, if they can blame someone else they will, and blame to an addict is an excuse to continue. I certainly think that there at least should be enough beds and medical personell to work with the ones who WANT help. I don't think methadone is an option after in care treatement. A bit of hope of a future would be more benefitial to them. Getting meds off the streets would be a big plus, and that includes monitoring scrips from doctors. Alot of the time these people are getting hooked on meds their doctor prescribed rather then get to the root of their pain or issue. Mental health issues, i see it daily, people are over prescribed meds, oh your sad.. here take this! It's not right! It's a vicious circle; people get hooked on methadone, it is a drug, and just a safer way of doing them. It's like telling the addict they will always be dependant, just won't commit crimes to get it; because the government is supplying it. I would much rather that 5 bucks per person go into a secondary rehab facility. I also think law needs to be tougher on crimes associated with drugs; alot of these people go to jail, and aren't banging needles in there; but get out and are right back into it; becuase they choose not to be. Trust me people I have suffered and seen many suffer. Ya'll need to wake up and realize we are curing an addictions with another substance! It's insanity! And while we are on the topic; can we please start pee testing welfar recipients; they are sucking the bank dry, there are far too many jobs on the job bank for people to be sitting at the park with their kids every day all day; smoking their brains out... collecting free money! Lets make it manditory for them to take jobs as opposed to the people who at least work seasonally and pay in! End rant!

  • recovered addict
    May 27, 2014 - 09:42

    Methadone saved my life. I was a very hard core IV drug addict. I was in advanced stages of addiction as I was at the point of being homeless and begging and stealing to support my addiction. I was desperate for help. It was very difficult to survive everyday living like that. I was admitted into treatment center thirty two times and im only 30 yrs old. I was ready to take my life when I finally got the call to get on the methadone program. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. Yes it is still a drug but at the time my body really needed that drug. Without it, the withdrawals are awful. With methadone I could start to rebuild my life, I didnt have to find ways to steal hundreds of dollars every day just to keep the sickness away. I would go to the pharmacy everyday, get a dose of methadone that I would drink there that would only cost me $5 per day. The methadone wasn't getting me "high" , it just kept me from getting sick. Because of methadone I was able to become part of society again, I became honest and trustworthy again, my family welcomed me back. I am working now everyday and have a place to live. Life is a lot better now. I only wish I didnt have to wait on a waiting list four years before I got on methadone. If I got on it sooner maybe I wouldn't have made the mess of my life that I did, maybe I wouldn't have a criminal record, maybe I wouldn't have hep c, maybe I wouldn't have gone bankrupt and lost my marriage, home and my children. Its hard to start again with all those losses.There is a lot of guilt and remorse for the things I gave up for drugs and the thing I did for them. Methadone is the only thing that kept me well enough to try and start again. It is the only thing that worked for many opiate addicts I know. Im not saying other treatments wont work but I would hope that Dianne would reconsider supporting the methadone program if she wants to help save lives as I know it saved mine! I used methadone for two years then was slowly weaned off by my doctor. I am now clean for 26 months . It works!

    • B
      May 27, 2014 - 10:56

      Thanks for sharing your story. I'm sorry it took so long and you lost so much before you were able to get better. Keep on keeping on!

    • phil
      May 28, 2014 - 05:16

      Why did you make the decision to do iv drugs in the first place? That 5$/day methadone would likely have cost the province a lot more, what amends have you made to start paying back the taxpayers? What about money you outright stole? I would like to know how much these "sick" people cost the province a year, between treatment cheep methadone, assaults and b&e's.

  • Dianne Young
    May 27, 2014 - 08:55

    I want to make clear that I do think methadone has a purpose in the first steps of getting the person off pills. If people want to stay on methadone that's up to them if that's what recovery is for them that is their right. I think that if people want to get off methadone and be free on all drugs that is their right as well. That being said I don't see that is talked about. All I am saying is we need long tern treatment here, people can support me or not It's none of my business what people think of me. I am following what is in my heart and trying to change things that were not there for my son. Mental health and addiction have to work together to make this change that's the big thing.

    • Quiet Observer
      May 27, 2014 - 09:54

      Dianne, thank you for the clarification. I agree that methadone is a step to recovery and not an end all in itself. Methadone, as was used in my family member case, got them off the opiates and all the crime that went with that, which we are all too familiar with, and got them stable and functioning in society again. They were then weened off the methadone slowly over several months. It works. I do not agree with people being on methadone for indeterminate periods of time as they are not recovering (in my mind), they are just switching addictions. I wish you luck and support you 100%!

  • Quiet Observer
    May 27, 2014 - 07:09

    While I support her endeavours to get out government to start to pay attention to this problem, I do not think I can support her not supporting the use of methadone. From personal experience with a family member, I can say that the methadone program does work.

  • Parent
    May 27, 2014 - 07:09

    Dianne, You have every right to be concerned about the PEI Gov't's plans regarding this issue. They have delayed and delayed and studied and studied and in the mean time, more addictions have developed and worse addictions for those already there. I met with Doug Currie too. All he wants is this issue off his back... before the next election. Any government that would allow a million dollars to go unspent in a province that an addiction problem the like we have, simply does not care about addictions or mental health. Anyone who votes for this party is voting for a group of people who a) thinks it is quite okay to deny treatment of a medically proven disease and b) has not the common sense to figure out that providing treatment saves money and c) is so arrogant that it ignores advice from police, doctors, judges, parents and addicts themselves... they know it all and yet, they do nothing.

    • wow
      May 27, 2014 - 12:36

      Wow, how uneducated are we! depending on methadone for the rest of our life to live normally is a dependancy; regardless of the whether it's snorted, injected or drank, a dependency to something to numb a feeling or alter your normal though is a dependancy, ie an addiction. I certainly think that methadone should be used in temporary situations for withdrawl, but should not be administered in out care facility! What needs to be done is we need better in care services to addicts, longer in treatement care, aid in getting them back on their feet, give them something to look forward to, like life skills training and job search assistance. NOT letting them out knowing they can get a "safe" drug weekly. I have suffered myself with addictions, and have lost an immediate family member to script abuse (which I'll add when the Liberal Governemnt wasn't in place... so stop blaming particular parties), addictions has been an ongoing issue for years and years; no government seems to want to step up to the place and implement a solution! Good on you Dianne! But please people don't forget; addicts have to want the treatement! No disrespect, but 30 times in treatement, and the only thing that worked was a substitute drug! I'm glad you got off it, because I know people who have been on methadone for 10 + years, and have the gall to get their chip next to the person who has actually been CLEAN!