Pharmacists in Newfoundland and Labrador say the provincial government needs to address the issue of treating drug addiction, which they say is becoming a growing problem.

Stephen Reid, executive director of the Pharmacists' Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, said an increase in the number of robberies at pharmacies can be linked back to addiction.

Reid said alarm bells have been going off for him since robbers looking for drugs doused two pharmacy clerks with gasoline and threatened to set them in fire in 2011.

'We [the province] don't want to talk about it, and we really do need to talk about it because unfortunately one day somebody is going to get hurt or killed.'- Stephen Reid, executive director of the province's pharmacists' association

"The frustration is that we constantly see, almost on a weekly basis, these stories of people breaking into pharmacies, into convenience stores and into gas stations and either getting money or stealing drugs, and the problem is that there is an addiction problem in this province that has not been addressed," he said.

Reid said he knows of one pharmacist who had a gun pointed to her head, and he fears it's just a matter of time before someone from the public gets caught in the middle.

"People have been hurt — we have several pharmacists who have gone through post-traumatic stress disorder right now," said Reid.

Provincial identity crisis

"It's a problem that exists but we [the province] don't want to talk about it, and we really do need to talk about it because unfortunately one day somebody is going to get hurt or killed."

Reid said with a provincial election approaching, and a Progressive Conservative leadership convention going on, he's surprised and disappointed politicians haven't made addressing addiction a bigger talking point.

According to Reid, a reluctance to talk about the issue of addiction is linked to a general will to avoid acknowledging a changing dynamic in the province.

"I think the biggest challenge here is that Newfoundland and Labrador is not used to these problems that sort of, I guess they conflict with the old image of what Newfoundland and Labrador is," he said.

"The reality is that these addiction problems that are coming into the province now, it's forcing Newfoundland and Labrador to start to look at how we're going to deal with a problem that is not going to go away any time soon."