“When you’re on the sidelines watching your child self-destruct and you can’t do anything to force them into rehab, it breaks your heart,” grieving father Greg Sword told Global News.

His daughter Kamilah was only 14 years old when she died from an overdose of MDMA, cocaine and hydromorphone.

In the months leading up to her death, she was hospitalized twice after overdosing and met with counsellors and psychiatrists.

But it wasn’t enough to save her.

“It’s disheartening to be in B.C. and finding out that if I lived in a different province, I could have forced my daughter into rehab,” Sword said.

In Alberta, there is a program called PChAD, which stands for Protection of Children Using Drugs Program.

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Under that act, parents can ask for a court protection order and involuntarily commit their child under 18 to a detox and stabilization safe house for up to 15 days.

Sword said his daughter’s situation left him feeling hopeless and alone.

“People judge you,” he said.

“You constantly get judged. And you feel like you’re a bad parent. You feel like you’re you’re screwing up, you feel like you’re making mistakes constantly and anytime you reach out, the answer’s ‘no.’”

Click to play video: 'Youth deaths from toxic drugs on the rise'

Youth deaths from toxic drugs on the rise

Sword said it was challenging that even when his daughter was ready to receive help, there was no space for her in a rehab facility.

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“It’s just a messed up thing where a child can’t vote, can’t drive, can’t get alcohol, but they can make the decision of what drug they want to use,” he said.

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“Even though it’s supposed to be illegal for them, but they can choose whatever drug they want and if you’re a parent and you find out, you can’t do anything to stop them from doing it.”

Sword said the experience was frustrating and upsetting.

B.C.’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Jennifer Whiteside, was not available to speak to Global News about the issue but provided a statement.

“We’re taking significant steps to expand access to treatment and create more early intervention services for youth, aiming to prevent small problems from becoming bigger in the future,” Whiteside said in the statement.

“For example, we’re opening Foundry centres in 35 communities, offering free counselling, health, and addiction services for youth as young as 12. We are also expanding youth treatment beds and services, supporting thousands of young people each year to get the help they need.”

In a follow-up statement, the ministry added that it takes the need to balance individual rights with the obligation to help people living with mental illness seriously, and that the government’s priority remains voluntary treatment.

“There are situations where patients need to be held involuntarily, and the BC Mental Health Act does provide tools for physicians in those cases,” it said.

Click to play video: 'UBC prof’s book examine’s youth toxic drug crisis'

UBC prof’s book examine’s youth toxic drug crisis

Critics of the Alberta program say involuntary confinement can harm the relationship between parents and children, worsening their substance use.

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Timothy McConnell, better known as TJ, took his life in January 2021 in a solitary cell at the Edmonton Remand Centre.

His mom, Lana Greene, told Global News that going into the PChAD program with TJ was a desperate decision.

“It’s hard to explain, but he didn’t think anything was wrong, so he wasn’t wanting any help,” Greene said.

She said the process broke the trust between her and her son, who was 17 at the time.

TJ was 23 years old when he took his own life but Greene said she believes the involuntary rehab program was the beginning of the end for them.

“He was very angry,” she said.

Greene said she feels that PChAD was the beginning of the end for any trust her son could have in the rehab system.

“He didn’t want to speak to me. So I went to Edmonton and stayed at some family’s house so I would be nearby if he changed his mind,” she said.

“What ultimately happened, was his program ended and I picked him up and he came home and packed his bag and left again.

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“It pushed him completely out of my house.”

Youth and addictions expert, Danya Fast, told Global News that treatment programs like that can have a negative effect.

“They can sometimes conclude that the systems and services in place are absolutely not trying to help them,” she said.

“They’re trying to control them, and actually become very, very effective at evading care.”

Sword said he knows that PChAD isn’t a perfect answer for youth who need help with drugs and substance abuse but he believes it would have made a difference.

“Now I’ve got nothing,” he said.

“I’ve got my daughter in ashes because I wasn’t given any chance to save her.”

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