Nova Scotia

Methadone abuse fight goes online in N.S.

Friends and relatives of a Nova Scotia woman who died after overdosing on methadone are hoping their online efforts will help get the drug off the streets.

Facebook group started after Katanna MacDonald's death

Friends and relatives of a Nova Scotia woman who died after overdosing on methadone are hoping their online efforts will help get the drug off the streets.

Katanna MacDonald died last week in the Annapolis Valley after an overdose of methadone stopped her heart. Her father told CBC News Katanna's body was so badly damaged that a machine was needed to keep her alive so her family members could say their goodbyes.

"If somebody doesn't do something, the deaths are just going to go up," said Emma Schofield, a friend of MacDonald.

Methadone is used to treat opiate addicts and works by blocking opioid receptors in the brain to take away cravings and prevent withdrawal symptoms. It is taken orally, usually mixed with juice.

In most cases, the methadone must be taken in front of a witness, but some patients are allowed to carry the methadone away from where it's distributed.

Schofield said the drug is too dangerous to be sent home, even with recovering addicts. She wants clinics to stop allowing methadone to be taken off-site.

"Addicts can be the most amazing people — the nicest people in the world — but you can't trust an addict with the thing they're addicted to and expect them not to use it in some way," she told CBC News.

"It's awful to know that it could have been prevented, if people weren't allowed to leave the building with such a synthetic drug that's so addictive."

Emma and her friend Eric Schofield — Katanna's cousin — have started a Facebook group to raise awareness about chronic prescription drug abuse in the Annapolis Valley. The Get Methadone Off Our Streets group had about 5,600 followers as of Monday morning.

"What motivated us was to help my cousin. My cousin would be really proud of us right now for what we did," said Eric Schofield.

MacDonald's death prompted local MLA Leo Glavine to call for tighter controls on methadone, which in the Annapolis Valley is dispensed from a hospital in Kentville and a clinic in Wolfville.

Glavine estimated there are up to 400 people receiving methadone from the clinic in Wolfville alone.

Kings RCMP have said MacDonald's death is being investigated.