Cape Breton disbands group that combated prescription drug abuse in community

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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SYDNEY, N.S. - A partnership that formed after numerous prescription drug-related deaths in Cape Breton six years ago is being disbanded.
Police Chief Myles Burke announced Thursday that the Breton Community Partnership on Drug Abuse will end April 30.
As chair of the group, Burke said there was an overlap in resources from various partners at the Cape Breton District Health Authority, Cape Breton University and the regional police force.
"We felt that it was time to probably look at what's best for the community, our resources, etc.," Burke said.
He said the police service is open to continuing the work with their partners, as long as staff and volunteer resources are used wisely.
"Spreading people too thin can be a difficult thing, and we want people to volunteer and be working toward a goal," Burke said.
The community partnership formed after numerous deaths connected to oxycodone abuse. Its focus was to address the harmful impact of drug abuse in the community.
The organization successfully lobbied for the creation of a provincewide electronic prescription monitoring program and helped support the establishment of a methadone treatment program.
Burke said much of the heavy lifting in getting drug pushers off the street has been done.
He admitted, though, that people are still dying of prescription drug abuse in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
"I think all of the big hits have been done and accomplished. We haven't won the battle, but we've won significant pieces ... dealing with the issues of prescription drug abuse and deaths in our communities."
George MacDonald, a former chair of the partnership who is now a municipal councillor, expressed his disappointment over the decision to disband the partnership.
"The group was so successful that it's been recognized as one of the most successful collaborations among agencies we've ever had," he said. "So I'm not happy.
"I'll only be satisfied when I see who's going to finish off these projects."

Organizations: Breton Community Partnership on Drug Abuse, Cape Breton District Health Authority, Cape Breton University

Geographic location: Cape Breton, SYDNEY

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