HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Region Struggles With Drugs That Claim More Lives Than Car
Pubdate: Sat, 18 Feb 2017
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Contact:  http://www.therecord.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/225
Author: Liz Monteiro
Page: A1

REGION STRUGGLES WITH DRUGS THAT CLAIM MORE LIVES THAN CAR ACCIDENTS

WATERLOO REGION - A group of parents sit around a small table. Their
eyes are red from crying.

Nearby are framed photos of the children they have lost to drug
overdoses. Among them are Iain Goddard, Brittany Cobbing and Austin
Padaric.

Janice Walsh-Goddard didn't even know what fentanyl was when she heard
it killed her son.

Iain Goddard died last May while Janice was in England on vacation.
She got the call on the last day of her weeklong trip.

"I just dropped the phone and screamed and screamed," Janice
says.

Iain, 25, died after taking morphine and crystal methamphetamine laced
with fentanyl.

"I know Iain didn't want to die," Janice says.

She is still trying to understand how her well-dressed and
well-mannered son turned into a meth addict in just two years.

"It was like Jekyll and Hyde," she says.

Iain went from wearing designer jeans and expensive jewelry to picking
scabs on his face for hours at a time.

"Yes he did it (drugs) that first time, but he didn't choose to be an
addict," Janice says.

"He was a really wonderful child that somehow went off the
tracks."

Iain was a typical suburban kid. He went to Cameron Heights Collegiate
Institute in Kitchener. He liked to skateboard and loved swimming.

He liked the finer things. Iain had a closet stuffed with rows of
fashionable clothes and he wore trendy cologne.

He had three siblings and he was the biggest daredevil of them
all.

"He didn't fear anything," Janice says.

He was fearless and worked as a water tower painter. The height didn't
scare him, he loved it, Janice says.

Iain would tease his mom and send her pictures from the catwalks of
water towers.

"Look mum!" his text messages would read and attached would be a
dizzying photo of his view.

When the coroner told Janice her son died of a fentanyl overdose (19
milligrams was found in his body - several times the lethal amount)
she studied the drug like a "woman obsessed," she says.

She soon discovered many grieving mothers like herself across the
continent through Facebook support groups.

The opioid crisis has claimed more lives than car accidents in
Waterloo Region.

Iain was one of them. Janice doesn't know why her son turned to
drugs.

She knows her son experimented with opioids and his drug of choice was
meth. Addicts are known to pick at their skin and near the end of his
life Iain had scabs on his face.

Janice believes her son started to slip into the world of drugs when
he had to leave the job he loved after developing an allergic reaction
to the paint.

He started a new job laying concrete floors in apartment
buildings.

"That was when I started to notice he was doing something … something
to keep him awake because he worked really long hours," Janice says.
"Then he slowly declined." Within two years of his addiction all of
his designer clothing was gone.

When Janice went into Iain's closet after his death she collected one
laundry basket of clothes.

"He sold everything to get his fixes."

It was in the final year of his life that his addiction got worse.
Janice couldn't keep him at home because she runs a daycare. So Iain
would spend his nights on the streets.

He came home to eat supper and then he was on his way.

"Some nights he slept in people's sheds," she recalls.

Iain would become enraged when he couldn't get his fix. It shocked
Janice, who says her son had a sweet, understanding disposition. "It
changes your whole personality." Iain would also have moments of
panic, break down and promise his mother he would try to stop. He
attempted several times but failed.

"He didn't like what it had done to him," Janice says.

"I could see the self-hatred in his face."

*

Brittany Cobbing experimented with heroin for the first time January
2015.

Five months later, the 22-year-old Kitchener woman was dead from an
overdose of heroin laced with fentanyl.

A year and a half later, her mother still wonders how it all
happened.

"She was a sweet soul, she was a good girl," says Natalie
Cobbing.

Brittany wanted to become a chef one day. She loved cooking for her
family.

Natalie remembers the last cake she baked.

It was a SpongeBob SquarePants-themed cake for her brother's eighth
birthday. The yellow, square-shaped cartoon character has big eyes and
a big goofy smile.

"She just used whatever we had in the house, it was great," Natalie
says.

But she still wonders why her daughter turned to drugs. Natalie says
she first suspected Brittany's drug use when she was about 15 years
old.

"I found a pill on my floor," Natalie says. When she confronted both
daughters, Brittany and her older sister, no one took ownership of
it.

Natalie looked up the name of the drug on the Internet and found out
it was ecstasy. It all went downhill from there. "She started hanging
out with people I didn't know," Natalie says.

Within a few years Brittany ended up using meth. She moved on to
opioids and started to take Percocets. Soon she graduated to heroin.

Natalie says friends of Brittany's told her she was at a "trap" house
in Cambridge when she overdosed and died. Trap house is slang for a
place where drugs are made and sold.

"Everyone shows you the beautiful pictures of their children, no one
shows you this face," Natalie says as she points to photos of her
daughter in the months before she died.

Brittany's pretty face was covered in marks and scabs.

"Maybe this will make people pay attention," Natalie
says.

Near the end of Brittany's life, Natalie admits, their relationship
struggled, but they spoke often.

"She was lost in that drug world," Natalie says. "But I loved her all
throughout her sickness."

Natalie still doesn't know exactly how her daughter went from a
bright, blue-eyed girl with dreams of becoming a chef to an overdose
death statistic.

She says Brittany had some mental health issues and was treated for
anxiety and depression. Maybe that had something to do with, Natalie
wonders out loud.

"It could have been a million different things," she adds. Natalie
just wants someone to listen. She wants to see the Canadian government
take positive steps to help young people who struggle with addictions
and mental health issues.

She wants law enforcement to stop the flow of drugs to the
streets.

"I think it's great that there is now awareness, but police and
politicians need to work quickly."

*

Natalie, Janice and other people who have lost loved ones to drug use
meet monthly to share their stories and to heal.

Grief Recovery after a Substance Passing (GRASP) was started by
Christine Padaric. She lost her son Austin to a morphine overdose in
2013.

"We just help each other with our grief," she says.

"It's a place we can continue to talk about it, it's
safe."

These days Padaric says she carries a naloxone kit with her at all
times just in case someone needs it.

The opioid antidote could have saved her son, a 17-year-old who died
six days after snorting morphine at a high school party.

"It gives you slight piece of mind to be prepared because anyone can
overdose."

Janice wants to do more. She was afraid to tell anyone about her son's
addiction when he was alive. Now she wants to scream it from the rooftops.

"I just don't want this happening to anyone else."

She has hopes to talk to students in schools and maybe help start a
support group for parents who are struggling to deal with their living
children's addictions.

"I wish I knew what I know now," she says. "I would have handled it
differently."

*

Janice hates the way people talk about addicts. "They're human
beings," she says. "The way people think, react and act toward people
with addictions has to change."

It got to the point where Janice shied away from her friends because
she was ashamed.

"But I'm not ashamed anymore. A drug addict doesn't want to be a drug
addict … that's how Iain felt."

Natalie agreed. "I had a lot of shame because of the way she
(Brittany) died," she says.

"I was embarrassed, my family was embarrassed, but that was a part of
who she was. I'm not ashamed of her."

All three of them want to see more awareness and education around
opioid abuse and the dangers of fentanyl in particular.

Janice believes her son would not have taken fentanyl if he had known
what it was. So does Natalie.

"I don't believe anyone would have taken it if they knew," Janice
says.

They want big changes like sweeping education campaigns. They want
drug dealers to make the conscious choice to carry naloxone kits.

Brittany and Iain were both dead for several hours before police and
paramedics were notified.

They also want everyone to know how to spot an overdose. "There's a
lot to be done," Janice says. For more information about GRASP,
contact the group at  ---
MAP posted-by: Matt