A couple who runs a volunteer addictions treatment service in Conception Bay North say they are not surprised that used hypodermic needles are turning up in public places.
Jeff and Tammy Bourne, who run U-Turn Drop-in Centre in Carbonear, said intravenous drug use has become an epidemic in the area. They estimate about a dozen addicts drop into the centre on average each day. But the two say Thursdays and Fridays are busier because that's when the centre holds evening meetings.
Earlier this week, Bay Roberts Mayor Phillip Wood announced that the discovery of discarded needles prompted the temporary closure of the town's two-week-old skate park. Months earlier, similar drug paraphernalia was found at the Bay Arena.
The Bournes said the most common hard drugs are still OxyContin and cocaine, but that there are signs of heroin becoming a more popular drug of choice.
"It's pretty much as common as smoking a joint probably 10 or 20 years ago — even 10 year ago," Tammy Bourne said.
On top of the escalating number of drug users, Jeff Bourne said that friends and family are reluctant to believe what’s happening,
"I find smaller communities — I guess the stigma attached to addictions — a lot of family members don't want to let it known that their child or loved one probably got an addiction issue, right?" he said.
Surveillance cameras have been mounted outside the rink in Bay Roberts to deter public drug use. Mayor Wood said the town plans to do the same at the skate park.