Hants County woman warns prescription drug abuse is ‘in our backyard’

Ashley Thompson athompson@hantsjournal.ca
Published on July 28, 2014

Sarah Leopold’s own family tragedy has inspired her to do her part to get prescription pills off the streets. 

©Ashley Thompson

Sarah Leopold learned about the dangers of prescription pills the hard way.

On Jan. 29, 2013 Leopold received some devastating news: her cousin, Corey Zwicker, accidentally overdosed as a result of mixing hydromorphone and alcohol.

Zwicker, 23, was away from his hometown of Windsor working in Regina, Saskatchewan at the time of his death. He was watching a hockey game the night he died, Leopold said.

“There’s so many cases where people take half a pill and they don’t wake up the next morning,” she added.

Zwicker’s obituary describes him as a competitive athlete with a good sense of humour and strong connection to his family.

A memorial washer toss tournament Zwicker’s family hosted in Mount Denson recently raised $1,000 for the Get Prescription Drugs Off The Street Society (GPDOTS).

“We just wanted to do something in his memory because it was such a sudden, preventable and premature death.”

The money will help GPDOTS pay for a banner that will be carried during the FED UP! — Rally For a Federal Response to the Opioid Epidemic demonstration scheduled to take place in Washington, DC this fall.

“Prescription pills are the fastest growing drug problem in North America among all ages and demographics,” said Leopold.

Prescription pill abuse, Leopold stressed, is a nation-wide healthcare crisis that consumes both addicts and their loved ones.

“You become addicted to their addictions,” she said, referring to the worry and stress that go hand in hand with addictions.

“You become so consumed in their life and what you can do.”

Leopold wants the masses — young and old — to know prescription pills can be just as lethal as heroin, cocaine or ecstasy if consumed in an irresponsible, or uninformed, manner.

“It’s time to start talking about prescription drugs and the dangers and what we can do as a community to make a difference,” she said.

She says small towns, rural communities and large cities are all impacted by prescription drug abuse.

“It’s here, it’s now — it’s in our backyard,” Leopold said.