Nearly nine months after her son, Beckett Cypher, died of an overdose, Melissa Etheridge opened up about the difficulties of watching her son struggle of watching what her son went through. A struggle so many American families intimately know and also share.
“It’s a nightmare so many families go through,” the rock star explained to People, “and it just eats away at good people.”
While she says things are improving, Melissa Etheridge continues to mourn for her son who lost his battle with addiction.
The data backs up Etheridge’s claim. According to a study released by the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) showed 128 Americans die of an opioid overdose each day. Etheridge’s 21-year-old son joined those unbelievable statistics on May 13, 2020, when he succumbed to his years-long battle with opioid addiction. Now, Etheridge is still coming to terms with Beckett’s death.
“It gets better. It’s been eight months — feels like two weeks,” the Grammy winner told People. “I miss him. It’s something that you have to grow with every day.”
Beckett was following his dreams and training to become a professional snowboarder at the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club in Colorado where he accidentally broke his ankle in 2016. Subsequently, he became addicted to opioids and other painkillers. He was just 17-years-old at the time.
“It gave him a whole lot of pain. It kept him from being a professional snowboarder,” Etheridge said. “He was on that path, and he got lost then — because if he wasn’t going to do that, what was he going to do?”
Beckett was prescribed painkillers to manage the incredible pain of the injury. He became addicted to the medication and Etheridge new she needed to take steps to see her son well. She got him into treatment only for him to voluntarily leave when he was 18.
“The drug abuse really turned him into someone I didn’t know,” she said of Beckett, who eventually began using heroin, then fentanyl (a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine). “He was quicker to anger or mistrust. He stole money from me. The last couple of weeks, he was paranoid, and all of a sudden he was involved with guns. It’s sad because it’s not who he was before that.”
Etheridge says told People that she felt “helpless” as she watched Beckett struggle with addiction for years.
“When you have a loved one who is battling opioid addiction, it’s horrific. You don’t know what to do. You want to help them, but ultimately they have to help themselves,” she revealed. “It’s a journey for anyone around the loved one. You realize the only way to help them is to take care of yourself. You can’t do anything for them; you can’t make them be sober.”
While it’s an easy thing to do in the situation, especially as a parent, Etheridge has refused to feel fault for her son’s addiction. Her babies, Beckett and Bailey, 24, were conceived using a donation from David Crosby who also battled addiction. She said in the past that it might be the likely reason for a genetic predisposition.
In June, the rocker launched the Etheridge Foundation, which supports research into the causes and effects of opioid addiction. After Beckett’s death, Etheridge also found purpose in launching her at-home streaming platform, Etheridge TV, on which she plays concerts and covers and does a chat show with her wife Linda Wallem.
She’s sharing Beckett’s story to help others, as she did when she came out as gay in 1993, and then again when she shared her breast cancer diagnosis in 2004.
“When opioid addiction took my son, I wasn’t going to hide that. It feels better to be open about it, to be truthful about it,” she shared. “We’re here to be an example.”
We love that Melissa Etheridge is taking steps to mourn but also stays proactive about the things she can do to help it from happening to other parents and their children.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction or mental health issues, please contact SAMHSA‘s substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP for resources.
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