‘It is a crisis’: A father’s mission to save drug-addicted teens from dying

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Thursday May 25, 2017

‘It is a crisis’: A father’s mission to save drug-addicted teens from dying

Steve Cody is juggling two weighty tasks. He’s attempting to lead an emerging, software firm towards a billion-dollar valuation. But he’s taken on another job — a mission really — to save the lives of teens doing drugs.

For Cody, this gut-wrenching mission is personal.

When Cody’s teenaged son, Nick, became addicted to drugs, the successful Ottawa entrepreneur knew he had to get him help immediately.

“I took my son, got in the car and drove,” says Cody.

“We knew our son was addicted at that point. So I said, ‘OK, we got to get some help.'”

Despite having significant financial resources, that help was impossible to find. For instance, services including medically supervised detox for kids don’t even exist in Ottawa — not five years ago and not now.

Cody says when Nick was first struggling, they lobbied for better teen addiction treatment programs in their community.

Related: Saying No For Nick: an interactive story

Steve Cody and Son

Now that several young people in Ottawa have recently died from drug overdoses, he’s angry that the school system and health-care system didn’t do more to prevent the deaths.

“We need to start treating it like a crisis, because it is a crisis. This can’t be a surprise to anyone,” says Steve.

In 2013, Nick, 18, left the home to go to the movies. But Cody says he never went. Instead, Nick bought five pills of what is commonly known as ecstasy.

“He was with somebody else and they each got a pill — the other pill was fine, the pill Nick took was not fine. And you know, it just burns your body inside.”

Nick overdosed that night and died.

“I got a phone call about 1:30 in the morning … and then when the phone rings in the middle of night it’s never a good feeling,” Cody says.

“I knew it. I knew that this was going to happen. The other part of the reaction is you kind of just don’t believe it — like you are numb.”

Now, Cody is making it his priority to try to prevent teens from dying from drugs.

“We know we’re not going to save, like, everybody — it’s not going to be a drug-free world,” he says.

“I think the reality with Nick is if I look back as a parent, I’m completely: No to drugs — like it was just black and white. No. Now if I look back, I would change that decision.”

Listen to Steve Cody’s full story at the top of this web post.

This documentary was produced by CBC’s Julie Ireton and The Current’s documentary editor Josh Bloch.

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‘It is a crisis’: A father’s mission to save drug-addicted teens from dying

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