Nfld. & Labrador·Video

Drug addiction can happen to anyone, Nathan Smallwood's father says

The father of Nathan Smallwood, whose battle with drug abuse cost him his life, is speaking out about his son's death in hopes of reaching others suffering with addiction.

'It's not a particular income or lifestyle or family that it hits — it can hit anybody'

A grieving father speaks about his family's tragedy, hoping others may be spared (Part 1)

7 years ago
Duration 4:29
David Smallwood is going through a painful time. His 23 year old son Nathan died because of years of drug abuse. He's angry because he couldn't save his son and angry at a system he says provides too little, too late.

The father of Nathan Smallwood, whose battle with drug abuse cost him his life, is speaking out about his son's death in hopes of reaching others suffering with addiction. 

Smallwood died on March 28 at the age of 23.

Nathan Smallwood died at the age of 23. (CBC)
"There was no signs of intent, there was no signs of abuse or anything," David Smallwood said of his son's death. 

"I guess it all comes down to, enough was enough. Your body can only take so much."

Smallwood said his son grew up in a typical middle class family, who played sports and took vacations. 

By the time he was 15, Nathan Smallwood began doing drugs.

"It's not a particular income or lifestyle or family that it hits — it can hit anybody," Smallwood said.

The road to recovery was a rocky one for Nathan, with plenty of obstacles in his way, Smallwood said.

He said his son thought many times he had conquered his demons, only to revert back to the same lifestyle. 

"When he came home in January, he was coming home, leaving recovery in Fort McMurray to go to recovery in St. John's. But you have to understand that recovery in St. John's is 18 to 20 beds."

Smallwood said there's such high demand that people in need of treatment often have to wait.

"When you're involved in this, weeks and months is an eternity."

The family held an event on Smallwood's birthday last Sunday, urging people to stay away from drugs and alcohol for 24 hours. 

The Facebook-driven initiative sparked wide-spread interest, with more than a thousand people vowing to take part. 

​A grieving father speaks about his family's tragedy, hoping others may be spared (Part 2)

7 years ago
Duration 3:33
David Smallwood is going through a painful time. His 23 year old son Nathan died because of years of drug abuse. He's angry because he couldn't save his son and angry at a system he says provides too little, too late.

Watch CBC's Debbie Cooper's two-part discussion with David Smallwood, as he explains why he's speaking out about his personal tragedy.

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