Barrier to treatment: Getting teenage addicts to accept help can be difficult

Brent Clark knew it would be difficult to find his daughter a place to detox safely in Ottawa before getting help for her drug addiction. He's since discovered an even greater hurdle: getting her to accept the help in the first place.

'There's no pushing these kids into doing things that they don't want'

Chloe Clark said she doesn't know what life is like without drugs. She is hopeful detox and treatment will help her quit. (CBC News)

Brent Clark knew it would be difficult to find his daughter a place to detox safely in Ottawa before getting help for her drug addiction. He's since discovered an even greater hurdle: getting an addict to accept the help in the first place.

Clark's 17-year-old daughter was supposed to start treatment at the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre on Tuesday, but when the time came she refused to go.

Chloe Clark, who CBC News first interviewed on Sunday, said she had been trying to detox on her own but took Percocet on Saturday, and that her withdrawal symptoms were too bad to go into treatment. She said she needed to detox first.

"I want to go but I just couldn't because I used. So I was mad but I was also kind of relieved because I'm really scared to go," she said.

"I don't know what a life is without it, like without Percocets, so it's going to be hard adjusting to something new."

Brent Clark is supervising his daughter Chloe as she waits to get into detox and then the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre. (CBC News)

Need for more detox beds

There is a serious gap in services when it comes to detox beds for youth in Ottawa, according to a school-based addiction counsellor with Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services.

"[It's] a big enough gap that a lot of parents and families have had to get really creative as to how they're going to get their son or their daughter into treatment," said Nick Delroy, who added many teenagers are trying to detox at home.

It's also not uncommon to see all the detox beds in Ottawa full, according to Mike Beauchesne, executive director of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre. He couldn't discuss Clark's case in particular but said if detox beds are available, the spaces also have to fit an addict's particular needs.​

Brent Clark managed to get his daughter a spot at the Ottawa Withdrawal Management Centre on Montreal Road, where he said the beds are often full.

But when the time came for her to go into detox on Wednesday, she refused.

"There's no pushing these kids into doing things they don't want because they just won't participate in any of the treatment unless they really want it," said Clark.

She's continuing to detox at home but "didn't want to go to the detox centre because she didn't feel comfortable being in there with older addicts," Clark added.


Detox beds by the numbers

  • Ottawa Withdrawal Management Centre: 26 beds, ages 16 and up.
  • Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario: 19 beds, dedicated to the care of psychiatric emergencies and other mental health problems.
  • The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre: 12 beds, ages 18 and up.