Nashville Mayor Megan Barry returned to work less than two weeks after her 22-year-old son, Max, died from an apparent drug overdose.
On “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” Barry candidly discussed her son’s tragic death and the importance of opening a discussion on the issue.
“I’m speaking today as a mom, but as a mayor I have a responsibility to make sure that we’re doing things in our community so that other children and other parents don’t have this same fate,” she told Tapper. The state of Tennessee had the 10th highest number of drug-related deaths in 2015.
Barry is still waiting for a toxicology report and wasn’t able to confirm the exact cause of Max’s death, or which drugs may have been involved. She spoke about how his problems with drugs began.
“His drug addiction started with a prescription and it did start with Xanax,” Barry said, saying that Max went to rehab in summer 2016. The visit to rehab “got him back on the right track,” she said, and Max returned to high school and graduated in spring 2017.
Joining Tapper via satellite from Nashville, Barry warned that “the prescription industry and overprescribing is something that our kids are experiencing and we have to stop it.”
“We actually in Nashville have been able to equip our police officers and first responders with Narcan, which is an incredible life-saver if it’s administered,” said Barry, discussing her city’s efforts to battle the epidemic. “There are a lot of rural communities out there that don’t have the resources that we do.”
Barry also touched upon the value of treatment and the need for funding from the federal government. “My son was able to go to rehab because he was able to afford a treatment bed,” she said.
On the national level, President Donald Trump recently received what he called “a major briefing on the opioid crisis,” meeting at his New Jersey Golf Club with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and acting Director of National Drug Control Policy Richard Baum.
“I hope that President Trump — with his new report — will be very focused on making sure that those resources flow into communities,” Barry said.
Barry also shared some fond memories of her son, in particular his love of the outdoors.
“I’ve been so grateful to the Nashville community, our hearts are overwhelmed and so grateful for all of the outreach that we’ve received across the United States.”