PEI is often advertised as the “The Gentle Island”, and is known around the world as the setting of “Anne of Green Gables“. Our tourism brochures are filled with images of white sandy beaches, red cliffs, green fields, blue sky, and golf courses. All of these things can be found here, and like all tourist destinations, if you are here for a visit, you may get to experience the brochures for yourself.
However, PEI is also the same as the rest of the world in that those who live here can experience a very different life that seen in the ads. Just like everywhere else, there are drug addicts here and the personal devastation caused by these addicts is the same as it is everywhere else.
An Island women, Rose Barbour, has a blog called Living in the Shadows in Prince Edward Island, in which she and her guest writers tell the stories of addicts and their families. She struggled with an addicted child, and has used her experience to campaign for awareness and services for others in similar circumstances. Because of her intimate knowledge, she is able to focus the gaps in our current system as impacts on specific individuals, not just as a statistic.
Here is an example from a recent post:
At this point, our son left the house. We had to call the police who took him to the hospital where he was put on suicide watch for the night. He was let out the next day.
Mike and I went to Mount Herbert to find out how much longer he’d have to wait to get into detox. We explained that he is suicidal because he’s been waiting so long and feeling desperate. He needed help badly. He also needed some hope that his call for detox would come soon. We were told that they can’t take him if he is suicidal. I said, “Well, the hospital can’t take him because he is using drugs so where does that leave him?”
Another by a guest writer, describes a teen’s struggle with a mother who has an addiction.
I found the number for the `PEI addiction facility` and dialed the number. I tried to be as professional as possible, mature but firm on my delivery. I explained that my mother needed to be admitted to the facility because I felt that she was a danger to herself and that she was “doped out of her mind”. I don’t remember the answer that time, but I do believe they said their beds were full and that she would have to consent. I hung up the phone. How can they say that to a KID that’s calling about the state of their mother?
Ultimately, this teen dropped her mother off at the door to the centre, she she was treated for her overdose Unfortunately, while her mother survived, the relationship did not.
There is no happy ending to this story. I have grown up. My mother is still living but I lost the battle to have my mom back. I have moved away to escape the heartache and struggle that still pains me every day. I had to release her from my life for my own good. She has been dead to me for many years.
I call her once in a while, checking in and telling her how much I love her. She cries and says how much she misses me, how much she loves me. But not even love for her child was strong enough to get through the addiction. I don’t blame her.
There are some extremely powerful stories on this blog, but Ms. Barbour also includes a list of resources for addicts and their loved one, sparse as they are here.
I am one of the lucky ones who has been able to abuse alcohol and not become addicted. I’ve certainly self-medicated enough over the years and drank to excess to relieve the pain of depression, but it has never taken over my life the way it has for others. One of my personal mantras is that I have lived this long by good luck, not by good management.
Keep up the good work Rose.