MONTREAL—Prescription drug abuse is on the rise in Canada and teenagers are especially at risk to drugs that are accessible, inexpensive and often deadly when mixed with other substances.
Sabrina Launiere is trying to start a new chapter in her life. At 15-years-old she is a recovering drug addict. Her drug of choice was cocaine, but when she couldn't get her fix she turned to prescriptions drugs—Oxycontin, Xanax, Codeine, Morphine—drugs she got for free from her friend's mom.
“When I would go out on weekends and do these prescription drugs, I wouldn't feel any of the emotions from the last week and that's why I kept doing them,” said Launiere.
Sabrina Launiere, 15, is a recovering drug addict. Her drug of choice was cocaine, but when she couldn't get her fix she turned to prescriptions drugs.
She’s not alone. Almost half of the 27 teenaged residents at the Portage West Island substance abuse center have gotten high on prescriptions drugs.
Allan Farkas is the center's director. In the past two years he's seen a dangerous trend: A spike in teen prescription drug abuse.
“More and more you're hearing about overdoses and deaths and when they do an autopsy its clear there was a misuse of prescription drugs,” said Farkas.
The drugs are easy to find. Eric Francoeur, 17, said he used to buy Codeine, Ativan and Oxycontin from friends at his high school.
“I don't think parents see it because they don't notice the behaviours that drug addicts have because we're extremely sneaky,” said Francoeur.
Canadians have become the second largest consumer of prescription opioid drugs in the world.
According to staff at Portage, parents need to keep a close eye on their pills.
“You need to make sure that the amount that you are taking corresponds with what's left in the bottle,” said Vonrick Hoyte, an admissions officer at Portage West Island.
This is Launiere’s second attempt to "get clean," an aspiring artist she hopes it will be her last.
“I will admit that I do love drugs and stuff, but I know that it's not the road that I want to go down,” said Launiere.