The Mighty Logo

What Melissa Etheridge Most Wants Others to Know About Addiction

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Editor's Note

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction, the following post could be triggering. You can contact SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

After her son died of an opioid overdose in May 2020, Melissa Etheridge is determined to share her story, spread awareness for those struggling with addiction and support their family members, who often may not know what to do.

“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,” Etheridge told People Magazine.

According to 2018 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 128 Americans die of an opioid overdose each day. While loved ones can play an important role in getting people into treatment for addiction, ultimately, the person struggling needs to be ready. Nobody can make that choice for them.

Etheridge shared that many family members of those with addiction may feel feelings of guilt and shame but said that it’s important to challenge those feelings and remember that you can only do so much.

“It’s a journey for anyone around the loved one,”Etheridge said. “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.”

Etheridge stressed how important it is for her to share her son’s story. The musician launched the Etheridge Foundation in June after her son’s death, which supports research into the causes and effects of opioid addiction. She also found purpose launching her at-home streaming platform, Etheridge TV.

Etheridge has also been open about her own health journey, going public in 2004 with her breast cancer diagnosis. And for Etheridge, it isn’t just about her own healing, but helping others with her candor.

“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 told People. “We’re here to be an example.”

Header image via Angela George, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Originally published: February 3, 2021
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home