Prescription addictions soaring on P.E.I., says expert

A legislative committee looking into the prescription drug problem on Prince Edward Island heard alarming statistics about addictions during a hearing in Cardigan Thursday.

Legislative committee examining the need for a new addictions strategy in the province

Margaret Kennedy says it's heartbreaking that some people aren't receiving the treatment they need. (CBC)

A legislative committee looking into the prescription drug problem on Prince Edward Island heard alarming statistics during a hearing in Cardigan Thursday.

Margaret Kennedy, the director of mental health and addictions for the province, said they’re struggling to provide treatment for everyone who needs it.

“Our goal is not to keep people out of this program,” she said. “It’s to make every effort for people who require this treatment.”

The committee heard that in 2004, there were just six people in the methadone program. Now, there are 250 receiving treatment, and an additional 70 are on the waiting list.

“I think the exponential growth has been unexpected throughout Canada, and really throughout North America,” said Kennedy.

The committee also heard that since 2009, there's been an 18 per cent increase in opiate prescriptions, and almost a 47 per cent increase in stimulant prescriptions.

Kennedy said it’s heartbreaking to hear stories about people who can’t get into treatment programs.

Right now, some addicts are sent to a program in New Brunswick called Portage. It’s a full service, 24-hour treatment program.

Kennedy said that is the type of program they should look at developing on P.E.I.

Once the hearings are complete, Health Minister Doug Currie is expected to present a province-wide addiction strategy in a matter of weeks.

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