Island mother fighting for better addiction services

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A P.E.I. woman who believes her son took his own life as a result of drug addiction is taking her concerns over Prince Edward Island’s opiate “epidemic” to the province’s lawmakers.

Dianne Young of Charlottetown holds a photo of her and son Lennon Waterman during a happier period in her son's life.

Dianne Young plans to stage a protest in front of Province House in April when the legislative session resumes. She says she believes too many Islanders are struggling with addictions to prescription pills with not enough options for treatment.

“I think people need to open their eyes and see what’s going on in this Island, this gentle Island that we get tourists to come to. The reality is, we have a lot of drug addicts on this gentle Island,” Young said.

Her 29-year-old son, Lennon Waterman, has been missing since early November. She believes he took his own life by leaping into the cold North River.

Police received a report Nov. 8, 2013, of a suspicious male on the North River causeway. After a search of the area, RCMP found some clothing, leading them to suspect a person had gone into the river.

Young later identified the clothing as belonging to Waterman. He has not been heard from since and no body has yet been found.

Young says her son spent the last decade tormented by mental illness, hooked on highly potent and addictive prescription drugs.

But she is now turning her grief into determination to fight for improved services for a growing number of Islanders like her son who are abusing and addicted to prescription pills.

“I think it’s time to take a stand,” she said.

Young is planning to protest the lack of government investment in treatment services for the growing number of Islanders getting hooked on opiates.

She criticized spending on initiatives like the Trans-Canada Highway realignment project, known as the Plan B highway, and other provincial expenditures — saying these monies could have been spent on better rehabilitation services.

“We need a treatment centre here. We don’t need to be sent off of the Island.”

Young has taken her concerns to social media encouraging others to join her upcoming protest.

Her son was born April 14. He would have been 30 this year. Young is planning the protest for the following day.

“My son ended his life. He was addicted to Percocets, Dilaudid, Oxycontin. He was also mentally ill,” she said.

“People have to know what’s going on in P.E.I., and if we can spend millions of dollars on roads, we can spend a little bit on a treatment centre to treat these people that are addicted.”

Organizations: Islanders, Province House, RCMP Trans-Canada Highway

Geographic location: Iceland, North River

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  • Nick
    March 26, 2014 - 06:04

    She's got a very tragic story, and I feel very badly for her. I would think that the highway project would mean jobs for people who may be broke, stressed or feeling hopeless... and help prevent some from turning to drugs out of stress, hopelessness, boredom, etc. What are the facts and figures on addiction and dollars spent on treatment? How do they stack up to similar areas in the country?

  • But...
    March 25, 2014 - 11:54

    The Plan B highway realignment was a federal expenditure... those monies are part of the Transportation budget. They'd never be spent on healthcare (provincial mandate).