Staff at a methadone treatment clinic in Halifax say their waiting list has reached record levels with more than 300 names on the list.
"I would say we're probably looking at about 12,000 people in the province of Nova Scotia that have opiate addiction," said Cindy MacIsaac, the executive director of Direction 180.
"We're only seeing the tip of the iceberg."
Dozens of clients come to Direction 180 every day for a dose of methadone, a drug used to help control the withdrawal symptoms from opiates.
MacIsaac told CBC News the more than 300 people on the waiting list need help soon.
"They're in need. They've already identified things that are going downhill," she said.
"We have some people that have waited four years because we've missed that opportunity and we can only admit based on the risk."
Candace Millen, who waited three years before she got in to Direction 180, said she hit rock bottom four years ago and decided she needed to get clean.
"When you're down to nothing, you start thinking that your life could be a lot better than what it is," she said.
"You do anything you can and you go the extra mile to find what you need to get yourself the help."
Addiction started 10 years ago
Millen's addiction started with Tylenol, then Percocet. She said her boyfriend eventually showed her how to shoot Dilaudid directly into her veins.
She lived that life for 10 years.
"A typical day for me was, wake up and the first thing I had to do was my painkiller," Millen told CBC News.
"Then get something to eat and four hours later, go again. Four hours later, go again. Every four hours until bedtime."
MacIsaac said given her knowledge about people with opiate addictions, she's not surprised when she hears about violent, drug-related crimes in the city.
She said more policing isn't the answer and the gun violence won't go away until the issue of addiction is addressed.
"There's aggression, there's violence, there's abuse, there's poverty," said MacIsaac.
"You factor in all those situations and guns are being fired and it's concerning."
Millen, who has been clean now for four months, said she's started to remember how she felt a decade ago — before she became an addict.
"I feel young again. I feel 100 per cent better. And my life is back to the way it used to be before I started all of this," she said.