Police, healthcare and public health partners are encouraging the community to use Drug Awareness Week as a time to have serious conversations about substance use and abuse.
The week (Feb. 13- 17) kicked off at Mather and Bell IDA Pharmacy where members of the Peterborough Drug Strategy team reminded the public about the Medication Take Back Campaign to highlight the importance of medication safety.
“Parents and grandparents play a huge role in preventing youth access to prescription medications by locking them away securely, keeping track of quantities, and taking them back to the pharmacy for proper disposal,” stated Deanna Vandenbroek, Health Promoter at Peterborough Public Health.
Peterborough Police Service Constable Andrew Hatton and Community Service Officers visit area schools to educate students on the impacts of substance abuse. He said marijuana, e-cigarettes and vaping are growing concerns.
“Whether it’s on the way home from school with the kids, at the dinner table, or while having coffee with a loved one or friend it’s crucial we are having these important conversations,” stated Peterborough Police Service Constable Andrew Hatton.
As a founding members of the Peterborough Drug Strategy, Peterborough Public Health, Four Counties Addiction Services Team, PARN- Community-based HIV/STBBI Programs and the Peterborough Police Service work with community partners and citizens to address the harms associated with drug and alcohol use.
Insp. Larry Charmley, chair of the Peterborough Drug Strategy, says education remains key to tackling drug addictions.
“Every day addictions to drugs and accidental overdoses are causing extreme hardship in our society and destroying lives and families,” he stated. “Surprisingly, stigma around these issues continues to isolate the many people who struggle with addiction. Collectively we need to do more to educate the general public, especially our youth, and find ways to reduce the devastation that drugs are having on our loved ones.”
In November 2016, Peterborough Regional Health Centre became one of the first hospitals in Ontario to launch a program that will see Naloxone, a lifesaving drug-overdose treatment, made available through the hospital’s Emergency Department. The funding for this program came from a Proceeds of Crime Front-Line Policing Grant awarded to the Peterborough Police Service.
According to the Ontario Drug Use and Health Survey, in 2015 an estimated 95,000 youth (grades 7 to 12) reported using a prescription opioid pain reliever for recreational purposes in the previous 12 months, with more than 56,000 saying they got the drug at home (Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey).