NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The opioid epidemic hit as close to home as it can Monday morning during what was billed as a health care summit in suburban Nashville.
You could hear a pin drop as hundreds heard Nashville Mayor Megan Barry tell the story of losing her son recently to drug addiction.
“I need your help. I need you to help me turn the tide,” the mayor said before hundreds of health care providers. “The first step is to talk about it.”
Probably everyone listening there knew Mayor Barry lost her 22-year-old son Max to an overdose due to a combination of drugs, including opioids, but reading about it and hearing a mother, a mayor, tell it are two very different things.
“He was hanging out with some friends on July 29 (near) Denver,” she told the gathering. “They were housesitting, and what I think happens more than we like to think, they got into the drug cabinet.”
Before the gathering called “Turning the Tide on Opioid Abuse,” she listed the drugs found in that bathroom cabinet and later in her son.
“So when my son died, the stuff that he had in his system was Xanax, a little hydrocodone, methadone, and a little cocaine. None of those drugs were toxic enough to kill him, but the combination did,” she explained.
The mayor also told the audience one thing they can do right now.
“Go home and look in your own medicine cabinet, your own medicine cabinet,” the mayor said as she closed. “You get a prescription for something and you stick it in your medicine cabinet and you forget about it, and (finding it) it may not be your kid, it might be somebody else’s kid.”
She added that in Nashville, most leftover or unused drugs can be taken to a local police precinct for proper disposal.
The mayor hopes her words as a mother who has lost a son to drug abuse resonate not only in Tennessee but around the country as well.