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Melissa Etheridge Speaks Out About Son’s Opioid Addiction

Country singer Melissa Etheridge is speaking out about her son Beckett in one of her first interviews following his death. Twenty-one-year-old Beckett passed away in May 2020 as a result of an opioid overdose, after struggling with addiction since the age of 17.

In a new interview with People magazine, Etheridge was extremely candid about the details of Beckett’s addiction, and the helplessness she felt in trying to help him overcome his struggles. Etheridge told the publication that Beckett’s battles began after he broke his ankle while training to be a professional snowboarder. The injury set him back in his sport—and eventually led to a dependence on painkillers.

Beckett’s dependence on opioids progressed to heroin and fentanyl use over the course of several years. Etheridge reflected on how the drug use affected the son she once knew as a different child, stating, “The drug abuse really turned him into someone I didn’t know. 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’s experience in watching Beckett’s struggle is familiar to millions of families in the United States, where the addiction crisis has continued to surge. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, overdoses have continued to skyrocket, particularly as struggling addicts face intense periods of isolation, depression, and anxiety.

When news of Beckett’s passing broke, his family issued statements that stated he had passed as a result of opioid addiction, and in the months that followed, reports emerged that Beckett had been on a two-month “bender” immediately prior to his passing.

The son of Etheridge and her former wife, Julie Cypher, Beckett also had a sister, Bailey, and twin half-siblings. After many years of speculation, it was revealed that musician David Crosby was the sperm donor for Etheridge and Cypher’s two children.

As Etheridge mourned the loss of her son, she performed songs on her Facebook page to connect with others, as many were isolated at home due to the pandemic. In one of these performances, which aired on the Rachael Ray Show, Etheridge performed a cover of the Coldplay song “Fix You” alongside her daughter Bailey. The show posted that the performance would be dedicated in honor of Beckett.

As the family struggles with their loss, Etheridge has taken time to reflect on the experience of trying to help Beckett throughout his addiction.

Etheridge spoke for many parents when she told People, “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. 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.”

As many families who have lost children to addiction can attest, finding community can provide solace. Etheridge, who has been open about her life experiences throughout her career, has now taken the opportunity to share her son’s story to help others. In Beckett’s memory, Etheridge also recently founded the Etheridge Foundation, which will support research on opioid addiction.

Although she is fighting a private battle with grief, Etheridge knew she needed to share her story as a mother who had lost her son to this insidious disease.

“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. We’re here to be an example,” she said.

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