Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald is directing the department to take action to curb prescription drug abuse after receiving a report on drug-related deaths in the Annapolis Valley from Medical Officer of Health Dr. Richard Gould.
Today, May 13, Ms. MacDonald announced:
— the department has been directed to work with the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority to find additional methadone treatment space in the Valley
— recommendations from the provincial Prescriptions and Drug Overdose Working Group on how to improve collecting, sharing and analyzing data and provide better supports to investigate medical examiner cases will be fast-tracked
— a public education campaign will be developed to tell youth in Annapolis Valley and across the province about the dangers of taking un-prescribed prescription drugs, especially with alcohol.
"The sudden death of a loved one because of substance abuse is tragic," said Ms. MacDonald. "This is a significant issue and it is clear that we need to do more for people at risk.
"Dr. Gould's findings have confirmed to me that this must remain a priority as we continue to work on finding solutions for addictions across the province."
In his report, Dr. Gould said people are dying from opiate abuse and dependency every year. He also noted that the Valley situation seems similar to other parts of the province, and he recommended work continue on plans to address opiate drug abuse at provincial and local levels.
"Dr. Gould's report is vital information and I want to thank him for bringing clarity to this problem," said Ms. MacDonald.
The province's efforts complement the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority's work to increase access to methadone treatment in their area and to develop a community plan. It will focus on prevention, communication and improving service delivery for opiate addiction in the Valley.
"As I developed my report, I met with police, RCMP, the medical examiner, the health authority and community members to determine the depth of the problem and outline potential solutions," said Dr. Gould. "I am pleased to hear about the department's plans, and I look forward to continuing my work with the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority and the community as we come together to implement further solutions."
Dr. Gould's report can be found at www.gov.ns.ca/health/Drug-related-overdose-DrGould-report.pdf .