Families in Peterborough shared the devastating impacts of opioids during a community meeting on Wednesday night.
During the public meeting, organized by city councillors Keith Riel and Gary Baldwin, community members discussed the rash of overdoses in the city and discussed solutions. Peterborough Police Service Dept. Chief Tim Farquharson told the audience that so far this year, there have been 19 deaths and 132 known overdoses in the city, many attributed to fentanyl and other more powerful drugs such as carfentanil.
He also noted 10 per cent of paramedics’ work is now opioid-related.
Maggie — a mother who declined to give her last name — told the packed crowd of more than 125 at the Lions Community Centre that her daughter, an active heroin addict, has almost overdosed six times in a two-week span.
“Crisis is a heavy, heavy word,” she said. “My kid is going to die.”
She was among several families who said people should not be afraid to discuss drug poisoning and its impact on the community. Some brought photos of loved ones who died of overdoses.
Peggy Shaughnessy, owner of Whitepath Consulting and Counselling Services, which offers addictions treatment, says communication and unity are vital.
“We have to come together and be strong because it’s not just addicts any longer … whatever an addict is in most people’s eyes,” she said. “To us, they’re people.”
Those on the frontlines made pleas for a safe injection site in Peterborough and emphasized the need to better understand why people become addicted.
Riel says opioids aren’t a new problem.
“A city the size of Peterborough that has five methadone clinics … we’ve had an opioid crisis for a long time,” he said.
Maggie’s emotional plea also called on the justice system to be stricter on drug dealers.
“We can’t cure an addict,” she said. “I can’t cure my kid — we need the courts to change things.
“I think dealer Tom sees dealer Joe go to jail for a very, very, very long time with no chance for parole. Then they’re going to think twice about carrying this garbage.”
WATCH: Opioid-related overdose spike in Peterborough-area prompts public warning