I’ll be honest here, as the mother of a 16-year-old (for 18 more days!) son, this article is very hard for me to write. But it’s also the kind of article I pledge to keep writing until I do not have to anymore. I write this because a successful doctor and loving mom, OWN TV host Laura Berman, lost her 16-year-old son to an accidental drug overdose this week. And reader, you and I would be the biggest of fools to think that it could not happen to us.
In an Instagram post, Dr, Laura Berman, the best-selling author, sex therapist, podcaster and OWN host made the announcement that is surely every parent’s worst nightmare.
“My beautiful boy is gone,” she says. “16 years old. Sheltering at home. A drug dealer connected with him on Snapchat and gave him fentanyl laced Xanax or Percocet (toxicology will tell) and he overdosed in his room. They do this because it hooks people even more and is good for business but It causes overdose and the kids don’t know what they are taking. My heart is completely shattered and I am not sure how to keep breathing. I post this now only so that not one more kid dies. We watched him so closely. Straight A student. Getting ready for college. Experimentation gone bad. He got the drugs delivered to the house. Please watch your kids and WATCH SNAPCHAT especially. That’s how they get them.”
“I post this now only so that not one more kid dies,” is the line that really stuck out to me. Because that, as I inferred above, is why I write this terrible story.
It is not to scare other parents. It is not “because if it bleeds, it leads.” It is because I do not want any more precious children to die in this terribly tragic, preventable way. I don’t want any more parents to have to struggle to take each breath, let alone wake up each day without their child. It’s because I don’t want any of us to avoid these hard topics with our kids because we think “my child would never.”
Because the reality is, your child might, and so might mine. Samuel Berman Chapman thought he was just getting some harmless Xanax that might make him feel good. Just wanted to try it, probably. Teenagers, with their frontal lobes not fully developed, aren’t prone to think about the “what ifs” and wonder if this dude on Snapchat might not be the most straightforward drug dealer on the block.
Let me say it again. Our teens, no matter how smart they are, aren’t really capable of running a full risk assessment on these types of behaviors.
So we as parents have to do some preventative conversing with them about it. Every time I write or read an article like this one, I talk to my son about it. I even sing a little cringey “Awkward Talks With Mom” theme song to lighten the mood a bit.
Moms and dads, these convos suck. It sucks that we have to have them. But the consequences of not having them are so, so much worse. Let’s not let Samuel’s death be in vain. Listen to his grieving mama Dr. Laura Berman, and talk to your kids and monitor the heck out of their social media (Side note, I’m a big fan of NOT giving your kids Snapchat access, and this is a case en pointe scenario on that.)
Dr. Berman, I am so sorry for your loss. I pray your son’s memory will be a blessing to you and that his story will save lives.