11/25/2015 13:12 EST | Updated 11/25/2016 00:12 EST

Family, friends hope death of Ron Hynes draws attention to drug addiction

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Friends and family members of Ron Hynes are hoping his death will shine a light on the scourge of drug addiction and what they say is a lack of services for people struggling with the disease in Newfoundland.

The musician died last week in St. John's, N.L., following a return of cancer that was first diagnosed in 2012.

His nephew, Joel Hynes, issued a post on Facebook saying that while cancer may have caused his death, it was a long-time drug addiction that was central to his demise.

Joel Hynes, an actor and writer, wrote that his uncle was destitute when he died, going so far as to sell his treasured guitars "for a pittance to feed his demons and line the pockets of drug dealers."

Sandy Morris, a lifelong friend and fellow musician, says people in St. John's were heartbroken as they watched the acclaimed singer-songwriter "waste away" from drug use.

Morris says he hopes Joel Hynes's post will draw attention to what he says is a growing problem of drug addiction and the troubles people have in getting treatment for it in Newfoundland.

The Canadian Press