Top News

Cocaine use on the rise in Pictou County

Almost half of all respondents reported using cocaine in their lifetime, but Canadians used it almost twice as much as the rest of the world.
Cocaine. Getty Images/iStock Photo

Police, medical professionals also seeing jump in use of other street drugs in N.S.


Pictou County is seeing a rise in the use of cocaine, says Cpl. Shawn Reynolds, unit commander for the Pictou County Integrated Street Crime Enforcement Unit.
Other common drugs in the county include hydromorphone – legally-prescribed pills with brand names such as Dilaudid – and so-called ice pills, a form of methamphetamine.
“It’s fair to say the use of cocaine, crack and ice pills has been reported on and acted on at a higher rate than when I initially arrived here (seven years ago),” Reynolds said. 
He said cocaine and ice pills typically find their way to Pictou County from New Brunswick, via Cumberland County, but can come this way from Halifax as well.
While marijuana legalization has somewhat changed the street crime unit’s focus, Reynolds says illegal sales of the drug continue and the unit continues to deal with such matters.
Reynolds notes the purpose of the street crime unit isn’t to target users, but mid-level and above dealers that sell the product. And he warns potential users how dealers and manufacturers manipulate their product in order to keep one addicted to their product.
“The producer wants to increase profit,” he said. “To increase sales, they’re putting in another chemical that draws (the customer) back. (The user) does not know what they’re actually getting.”

Education element
Local police are involved in efforts to educate the public, especially youth, on the negative consequences of drug use. 
Const. Ken MacDonald, public information officer for the New Glasgow Regional Police, said the police force works closely with local schools to provide information to students.  
“We predominately talk about healthy lifestyles, safe and responsible decisions,” MacDonald said. 
“It’s very important that we provide updated information to the parents and guardians, so they know how to talk to their kids about it.”
He said it isn’t about using scare tactics, but about presenting facts during a time of social media where all kinds of information about drugs are easily accessible.
“In some cases, there is a lot of misinformation out there and in some cases, it’s not clearly explained,” MacDonald said.  

‘Positive impact’
Back at the street crime unit, Reynolds said while he hasn’t seen a large amount of major property crimes, such as break and enters, there have been incidents of people breaking into unlocked cars to get money to spend on drugs. He points out how expensive drugs can be, with a gram of cocaine running between $80 to $120. Hydromorphone is typically between $10 to $30 per pill, while ice pills are $2.50 to $10 per pill.
Reynolds said while it’s easy sometimes to feel that little impact is being made, the fact is there have been times when police have been able to successfully curb the flow of drugs into the region. For example, police were able to stop the illegal sales of prescription hydromorphone for several weeks.
“I know, from the experience of speaking with those in the drug culture in Pictou County, when they say, ‘I can’t buy any pills because of the work police agencies have done,’ it’s a positive impact,” Reynolds said.  
“It’s very rewarding when we actually hear that.”

Cannabis consumption
Both local police and medical professionals are seeing a jump in the use of certain types of street drugs in Nova Scotia, while the legalization of cannabis has resulted in higher consumption of the formerly restricted substance.
“(Mental Health and Addictions staff are seeing) higher cannabis consumption, especially among youth who combine it with tobacco, which can cause dual addiction,” said Kristen Lipscombe, communications advisor for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, adding staff have also observed consumption of cannabis edibles like lollipops and gummies.
Lipscombe said there has also been a resurgence of cocaine use and an increase in binge drinking. As well, staff are also aware of the circulation of fake Xanax – the authentic drug is often prescribed for various anxiety disorders – in the form of chocolate bars.  
“People consuming these types of substances have no idea what’s actually in them,” Lipscombe said.

Mental Health Crisis Line
    1-888-429-8167 (toll-free)
    Available 24 hours, seven days a week
    Mental Health & Addictions
    (Outpatient clinic for Pictou)
    Community Health Centre
    Northern Zone MHA Intake
    Colchester East Hants Health Centre
    Inpatient Mental Health Unit
    (902) 893-4321
    600 Abenaki Rd., Truro
    Mental Health & Addictions
    Opioid Treatment & Recovery Program
    733 Prince Street, Suite C, Truro
    Satellite clinic:
    690 East River Rd., New Glasgow

Recent Stories