Nova Scotia

Bridgewater has drug abuse problem, says police chief

Bridgewater's chief of police says his town has a problem with prescription drug abuse, after three young people have died in the last five months.
Bridgewater Police Chief John Collyer says his town has a prescription drug abuse problem. (CBC)

Bridgewater's chief of police says his town has a problem with prescription drug abuse, after three young people have died in the last five months.

Chief John Collyer told CBC News all three deaths, which are being investigated, were related to prescription drugs and alcohol.

"It is a problem. It is one that is on the rise here in Bridgewater," he said Wednesday.

Josh Ballard, a 22-year-old Bridgewater man, died in late October after taking prescription drugs.

Ballard was friends with 19-year-old Brandon Wentzell, who died in early February from a lethal combination of the painkiller Dilaudid and vodka.

Last week, 18-year-old Robyn Brown also died after ingesting prescription drugs.

Collyer said police are hoping to speak to people who had contact with the three victims in the last 24 hours of their lives. He said police need help to find the drug dealers.

"There are some individuals we haven't been able to talk to. Either they haven't been identified to us or they are unwilling to speak to us," said Collyer.

"We are appealing to those folks if they had contact, if they know something about those circumstances, would like them to come forward to speak to us."

David Wagner, a recovering prescription drug addict, said he wouldn't be surprised if there were more prescription drug abuse deaths in Bridgewater.

David Wagner, a recovering prescription drug addict, said he wouldn't be surprised if there were more deaths in Bridgewater. (CBC)

"It's sad that happened but that's reality. It's that easy," Wagner told CBC News.

"That's probably just the tip of the iceberg. I wouldn't be surprised if within the next couple of months, there's going to be more."

Drug abuse is a 'time bomb', says recovering addict

Cheryl Veinotte, Brandon Wentzell mother, has said she wants the person who sold her son Dilaudid to be held responsible for Brandon's death.

On Wednesday, she said she's alarmed by the rising death toll.

"That, right there alone, should be a huge eye opener. There definitely needs to be something done in regards to an arrest for people to say, 'Hey, this is a problem here,'" said Veinotte.

David Benard, a recovering prescription drug addict, said pills are too easy to find.

"If you know somebody that's got a disability, right there, you probably have pills," he said.

"They go from — depending on what the pill is — it could be $20 a pill. So they're making a lot of money."

Wagner, who knew Ballard and Wentzell, said he's lucky his own drug abuse hasn't killed him.

"It could happen to anybody, just like that. The wrong mixture, some people can't handle it, some people take too much," said Wagner.

"Especially mixed with alcohol and other prescription drugs, it's just a time bomb."

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