Nashville Mayor Megan Barry Opens Up About her Son's Death, the Opioid Crisis
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Opioid addiction is killing thousands of people young and old.
In Nashville, the opioid crisis hit home when the mayor's son died of an overdose of several prescription drugs.
Two months ago, Max Barry, 22, died after ingesting a lethal concoction of prescription medications, including opioids.
His mom, Nashville's mayor, Megan Barry, says she's relied on a grief counselor to help her through the painful process.
"And it is a process," Barry explains. "I mean, I've gone from being incredibly numb to incredibly sad, and I'm still sad every day, but now part of this is finding the joy with the sadness and walking that."
Max, she says, came home from his junior year of college with a prescription for Xanax and a problem. The next day, they put him on a plane, sending him to rehab.
When Max returned, Barry said, he was clean and making good decisions until the one night he didn't.
"So, you really believe it was one bad night?" News 4 asked.
"Yeah,' she says.
Barry is adamant about a few things: She wasn't ashamed of her son's addiction when he was alive; she's not embarrassed now; and, she says -- if you know someone who's addicted, you shouldn't be either.
Barry has become the local face of a national crisis -- it's one of the reasons she agreed to do this interview.
"I'm shocked at how many families tell me that this may be the first time they've ever talked about it because there is shame, there is embarrassment -- as a community, we have to get past that because if we're not gonna get past it, we're never going to get in front of this," she explains.
Barry says turning tragedy into action doesn't ease her pain in any way, but she hopes it can help someone else.
"I'm not happy that I'm in this situation," Barry says, "but if it helps one other family avoid this situation because their kid lives, then that's a good thing."