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Fentanyl overdose paralyzes Calgary teen: ‘he has a life sentence now’

Fentanyl overdose paralyzes Calgary teen: ‘he has a life sentence now’
WATCH ABOVE: It's a deadly epidemic that is killing both hardened addicts and young kids experimenting with drugs. There is a growing number of devastated families left behind. Two moms who lost their sons to overdoses are hoping their tragedies are reason enough to turn kids off drugs. And as Jill Croteau reports, they're counting on an even more compelling example to save just one life.

Trez Anderson thought he was invincible. He spent his entire teenage years addicted to drugs and didn’t care how he got his fix as long as he was able to get high.

But it was a near deadly dose of drugs that changed his life forever.

“I felt fearless. I wasn’t scared of nothing.”

READ MORE: Fentanyl fact sheet – what it is and what it does

At 19 years old, Anderson ingested what he thought was crystal meth. He knows now it was fentanyl–the drug responsible for killing 270 Albertans last year alone.

Anderson overdosed in a basement suite and was left unnoticed for two nights. When his friend found him unconscious, he was rushed to hospital where he lay in a coma for nearly two weeks. He suffered two massive strokes while in the coma.

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READ MORE: Recovering fentanyl addict describes overdosing in Calgary Walmart

Anderson was paralyzed from the neck down. The doctor broke the news that he was a quadriplegic.

Trez lives full time in a long-term care facility.
Trez lives full time in a long-term care facility. Jill Croteau
“The doctor asked me if I wanted to live or die,” Anderson recalled. "I wanted to live and get through this and I did."

Now 20, Anderson wants to do something positive. He wants to be a stark example for students, to show them what drugs can do.

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Watch below: Global’s ongoing coverage of the fentanyl crisis in Alberta

“I never saw someone like this before so I would never know,” Anderson admitted. He wants kids to understand the dramatic impacts.

“If you look at me, I’m on a ventilator. How I live now is a lot different than before. You can’t eat on your own, can’t drink on your own, can’t do any sports — just sit here.”

The brave young man has teamed up with two mothers who are already touring Calgary-area schools to speak to students about drugs.

Trez shares time with Yvonne Clark and Sharon Schubert.
Trez shares time with Yvonne Clark and Sharon Schubert. Jill Croteau

Both of their sons were friends and died from a drug overdose.

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Yvonne Clark lost her son, Conner, at 21 years old. He died after ingesting fentanyl.

Conner Clark, 21.
Conner Clark, 21. Yvonne Clark

“I miss him horribly. He was my best friend,” Clark said through tears. “He was my first born. We were close.”

Clark said Anderson’s story will resonate with the students. She remembered the first time she met the young man.

“He’s an extraordinary young man.”

As proud as she is of Anderson, she made a staggering admission:

“It’s a hard thing for a mother to say – but I am blessed that I lost Conner and he didn’t end up how Trez did.”

Sharon Schubert’s son, Christian, was close with Conner. Christian also died from an overdose.

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Christian Schubert, 20.
Christian Schubert, 20. Sharon Schubert

“I never thought he’d die; I never thought it was that bad,” Sharon said. “Most parents don’t think that could ever happen to their child.”

Both mothers hope their tragedies, along with Anderson’s reality, will save someone’s life.

“It can either be a death sentence like Conner and Christian, or a life sentence,” Yvonne Clark said. “Trez is trapped in his body, imprisoned for life.”