The Courage to Change: A Recovery Podcast

Steve Grant: A Father’s Journey to Find Hope After Losing His Two Son to Drug Overdoses

Episode Summary

On a December day in 2010, Steve Grant lost his 24-year-old son, Kelly, to an overdose. Five years earlier, he lost his 21-year-old son, Christopher, in the same way. His only two boys: gone. After a downward spiral of losing his marriage, his only two children and dealing with the repercussions of such, Steve decided to take matters into his own hands and established the Chris and Kelly’s HOPE Foundation to fight back. The Foundation’s mission is to provide financial support to programs that treat teens and young adults who struggle with substance abuse and addiction. The Chris and Kelly’s HOPE Foundation operates under the auspices of the Community Foundation of Greenville, but is committed to assisting worthwhile organizations nationwide. Steve’s story has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Clemson University’s TigerIllustrated.com “Letters from Dabo” section - Part 10. In addition to being the Managing Director of Mass Mutual in South Carolina, he is also a recent author with his book “Don’t Forget Me - a Lifeline of hope for those touched by substance abuse and addiction”.

Episode Notes

On a December day in 2010, Steve Grant lost his 24-year-old son, Kelly, to an overdose. Five years earlier, he lost his 21-year-old son, Christopher, in the same way. His only two boys: gone.

After a downward spiral of losing his marriage, his only two children and dealing with the repercussions of such, Steve decided to take matters into his own hands and established the Chris and Kelly’s HOPE Foundation to fight back. The Foundation’s mission is to provide financial support to programs that treat teens and young adults who struggle with substance abuse and addiction. The Chris and Kelly’s HOPE Foundation operates under the auspices of the Community Foundation of Greenville, but is committed to assisting worthwhile organizations nationwide.

Steve’s story has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Clemson University’s TigerIllustrated.com “Letters from Dabo” section - Part 10.  In addition to being the Managing Director of Mass Mutual in South Carolina, he is also a recent author with his book “Don’t Forget Me - a Lifeline of hope for those touched by substance abuse and addiction”.

 

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Episode Transcription

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Hello, beautiful people. Welcome to the Courage to Change and Recovery Podcast. My name is Ashley Loeb Blassingame, and I am your host.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Today, we have Steve Grant. On a December day in 2010, Steve Grant lost his 24-year-old son, Kelly, to an overdose. Five years earlier, he lost his 21-year-old son, Christopher, in the same way, his only two boys gone.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

After a downward spiral of losing his marriage, his only two children and dealing with the repercussions of such, Steve decided to take matters into his own hands, and established the Chris and Kelly's HOPE Foundation to fight back.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

The foundation's mission is to provide financial support to programs that treat teens and young adults who struggle with substance abuse and addiction. The Chris and Kelly's HOPE Foundation operates under the auspices of the Community Foundation of Greenville, but is committing to a ... Stop. But is committed to assisting worthwhile organizations nationwide.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Steve's story has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Clemson University's tigerillustrated.com, LETTERS FROM DABO section, Part 10.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

In addition to being the Managing Director of Mass Mutual in South Carolina, he is also a recent author with his book, don't Forget Me: A Lifeline of HOPE for Those Touched by Substance Abuse and Addiction.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

This episode was heavy. And it'll be heavy for you, too. But the ability to ... Stop.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Steve's willingness to find some sort of hope, and some sort of courage to pull the courage out of this situation, and create Chris and Kelly's HOPE Foundation, help other families, and to heal ... Absolutely remarkable. As the mother of two boys, this was really, really hard for me to hear.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But it was not a story of utter defeat, utter failure, complete misery, desecration. It was a story of rising, truly, from the ashes of a situation that most of us cannot imagine.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And Steve was able to talk about that, and just to hear someone have this experience, and be willing and able to come through it, is beyond me. I hope I would have the dignity and the poise and the willingness to do what he has done with his life, if I were in the same situation.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So, really, really intense and beautiful story. And I hope you enjoy it, and get as much out of it as I did.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Please enjoy Steve Grant, Episode 59. All right, guys, let's do this.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Steve, I have some notes over here, but I doubt I'll need them. Thank you so much for being here, I really appreciate it.

Steve Grant:

Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I don't even remember where I came across your story, but I was so ... I was telling my husband, I'm not a big crier. But I genuinely was so moved. And I may cry during this interview, so I apologize in advance for ...

Steve Grant:

I might too, also.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay, okay. Yeah, I have two little boys, and I am a recovering alcoholic, and so is my husband. I'm actually a recovering heroin addict.

Steve Grant:

Congratulations for your recovery.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Thank you, thank you. And my father, yeah, my father found me overdosed on May 17th of 2004, and I got a shot of NARCAN that saved my life.

Steve Grant:

In 2004?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Steve Grant:

Wow. I didn't think NARCAN was around.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. The ambulance, the paramedics happened to have it.

Steve Grant:

Wow.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

This was really before the onslaught of the epidemics.

Steve Grant:

Overdoses, yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, yeah, so it was not quite as common. And one of the things that really terrifies me these days is how common this is, and how kids who you never would have thought before ... It used to be a junkie was a ... You had to do a lot to get to that point.

Steve Grant:

Yeah, you picture this person in an alley and he's destitute. There's nowhere to turn. And I'm shocked when I hear you had NARCAN in 2004. And I'm glad you're here and recovered.

Steve Grant:

When my first son died in 2005, of a methadone and cocaine overdose in his bedroom, I didn't know anyone who'd lost a child, and I don't live under a rock. And I didn't know anyone, though, who's lost a child to a drug overdose.

Steve Grant:

I didn't know anybody growing up who'd had a drug overdose. And I've heard about a few lately, I didn't know that's how they did, but it wasn't common. It wasn't common in 2004. And even when Kelly died in 2010 of a heroin overdose, the only one I really knew was his brother.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Steve Grant:

But now it's, I know someone who died yesterday. I know someone who died last week. So it's very common now. And it's unfortunate.

Steve Grant:

We have to get rid of this critical pandemic, obviously. But one of the casualties of this, and there's several, but one of them is that the suicide rate's gone up, the drug overdoses going up, people are becoming ...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Relapse.

Steve Grant:

Relapsing, because they're enclosed and there's nothing else to do. They're talking about the freshmen 15?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay.

Steve Grant:

I've got the quarantine 19.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

[crosstalk 00:06:20] Oh yeah, I can't even look at this point.

Steve Grant:

Yeah. I mean, just like everything, I'm excited I'm home ... Yeah, I guess, [inaudible 00:06:26] in my mouth.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, yeah. It's so true. Well, you have a remarkable story. As you mentioned, you lost both of your sons to overdoses, and you have dedicated your life to talking about it, and speaking and making it worth something, which I absolutely can imagine is the only way to continue on, really.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Can you give us a little bit of background on Steve? Where did you grow up, and what was your upbringing like?

Steve Grant:

Sure. I was actually born in New York City. I have a twin brother, and my parents were, I think, 17 and 18 when my brother and I were born. It was the day in time where they said, "Mrs. Grant, we hear two heartbeats. This is when she's going into labor."

Steve Grant:

So they had one bedroom prepared and it was for two people, that ended up being. But we lived in New York for a little while. Then we moved to New Jersey. I had another brother and a younger sister after that.

Steve Grant:

As I said, I wouldn't say a fairytale upbringing, but it was, we were very middle class. But I didn't want for anything. And my parents were great people, and Paramus, New Jersey was a great place to grow up. I mean, I had to leave it for the last 40 years to really appreciate it, but it was a good place to grow up.

Steve Grant:

I was an athlete. I was captain of the baseball team, captain of the basketball team, those kind of things, that went to college on a small baseball scholarship, and I played college baseball. I've been in the financial services business for the last 40 years, and I've done the same thing.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. And so, you grew up in New Jersey, but you ended up in the South, right?

Steve Grant:

I ended up in South Carolina. So I went to school at Furman University, which is a small Southern Baptist school in Greenville, South Carolina. And from there I stayed. And I went in the insurance business and have stayed in it ever since, right here.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Isn't that where you met your wife?

Steve Grant:

Met my wife, I met my first wife, the boys' mother, at Furman.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay.

Steve Grant:

She was a senior with me, and we got married right after we got out of school, and had Christopher who, when we moved back to Greenville, Christopher was born in 19, let's see, '84, in May of '84. And Kelly was born in May of '86.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay. And what was your experience with drinking, drugs, your exposure? Did you know anyone who was an alcoholic?

Steve Grant:

Oh yes. Oh yeah. My grandmother was an alcoholic. I mean, I didn't know, but my grandmother, lovely, lovely lady, I loved her, she'd come to our house when I was growing up. And she would stay, because she lived in New York, and we lived in New Jersey.

Steve Grant:

She would come and stay for two weeks, three weeks in the summertime, or other times. And she always had this little glass of beer. And she poured it in this little glass all the time. And I didn't know what it was.

Steve Grant:

I mean, I knew it was beer. I didn't know it was bad for you. I didn't drink it myself, of course, but she always had it, and it was always there. And my mother, finally, when I was old enough to know, she said she was always you-know-what-faced, and it didn't seem like that to me.

Steve Grant:

But then, of course, when you read my book, my mother had a time when I was a freshman in college, when she checked herself into a rehab. Now my mother rarely ever drank. And yeah, it was really because my sister had died in a car accident. And my mother started self medicating with alcohol.

Steve Grant:

And that's, it's really an interesting thing. Because there's a part of my book, where I talk about some things, that not a lot of people know about, where I checked myself into a rehab for a couple of weeks. Because I found myself self-medicating after my son died, my first son died.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Steve Grant:

So it was very similar how the apple doesn't roll far from the tree.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, right.

Steve Grant:

But with that said, my mother's brother in Florida, who's still alive, who's one of those guys, that I don't know how they did it, but some doctor said, "If you don't stop drinking, you're going to die." He stopped drinking. And to this day, he still doesn't drink. And that's years ago.

Steve Grant:

Then I'm having his brother, my mother's other brother, died of alcohol-related deaths. My mother, grandmother died of cirrhosis of the liver. So there's a lot of alcohol on my side of the family.

Steve Grant:

And there's a lot on my, what my ex-wife said. And my ex-wife said, "Our family is more of a social drinker." You know, it's a rite of passage sort of stuff, the cocktail at six kind of crowd.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Steve Grant:

But it's a very consistent cocktail, of course.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, right, right, right.

Steve Grant:

And cocktails is probably plural, so ...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, right. And tell me about the car accident.

Steve Grant:

You mean, my sister's?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Steve Grant:

Yeah, it changed my parents' lives. I was home from school that summer, and she and her boyfriend had, I think they'd won a contest or something, and they'd won some money.

Steve Grant:

And they said they're going to drive to the New Jersey shore. We were in Northern New Jersey. They had a two-hour drive to some kind of beach location.

Steve Grant:

Well, they left. And my parents told them not to go, but they did. And I think what happened, he fell asleep. They hit a guard rail and both were killed. And the next morning my mother got a call and said, "Your sister's been in an accident. You better get to the hospital two hours away."

Steve Grant:

I remember driving my parents down there, only to realize that when we got there, she had probably died when we were an hour into the trip. So then I identified my sister. And it changed the course of my parents' life, frankly.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What's interesting about your comment is that you talk about it with regard to it changing the course of your parents' life. But what about you?

Steve Grant:

Well, the whole process ... I'm pretty much still the same person I always have been. I'm a giving person. I'd do anything for anyone. I always say, "Listen, I'm a good guy, but don't mess with my wife and don't mess with my kids."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Steve Grant:

That's how I approach things. My kids, when I was taking Christopher to his first rehab, he said, "Dad, I know what you're like. Don't bother that guy I got liquor from at 14 years old."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, yeah.

Steve Grant:

He's been conditioned, he's got a family. I said, "Okay, I'm not going to bother him, Christopher." I mean, I did eventually, but I didn't that night, certainly.

Steve Grant:

But that's how I am. That's how I'm wired. So when, after my second son died, I really had no intention of starting something like Chris and Kelly's HOPE Foundation. But it was the furthest thing from my mind.

Steve Grant:

So it was, Christopher dies in five years, I went through a divorce, that I didn't want to go through, 30 days before Christopher dies. So there was a double whammy there, for a marriage, a 25-year marriage. And that's another casualty to this issue.

Steve Grant:

Although I'm remarried, I married a great girl who had never been married, never had kids. So we don't have any children to worry about. But some of that I regret, some of it is positive.

Steve Grant:

She feels like she has two kids, though, if you were to ask her. Which isn't really fair for her, but I'm not sure where I was going with that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Tell me a little bit about ... So you had two sons, and you talked about the first, Christopher's first rehab. You had the two kids, and when was the first time you saw any signs of anything?

Steve Grant:

Oh, I know what I was talking about. I was talking about the foundation, but we'll come back to that.

Steve Grant:

You know, that's interesting. I was starting to see some things going on in our house, and it was his behavior. And I was reading a book one day downstairs. And it really wasn't bothering me, any of these things.

Steve Grant:

I grew up, but you asked my experience, I didn't drink until I was probably the late teens, any kind of beer or anything like that, never smoked marijuana till I got to college, and did it infrequently.

Steve Grant:

I'm not a wallflower, but at the same time, so I know. Hey, you hate to say this, but whenever I talk to someone, I always pause when I say that my son's a normal person. But what is a normal person? Well, he drinks a little bit of it with his friends, he has a little marijuana here and there.

Steve Grant:

Parents, when they ask me, and I had three yesterday, I always say that, "You know there's something wrong when your son or daughter's life is being controlled by something other than what it should be controlled by."

Steve Grant:

For Christopher, I was sitting in my den one night. And I was reading. And he came downstairs in his pajamas, good-looking kid, six foot, beautiful.

Steve Grant:

And he says, "Dad, I don't want to be an eff up." And he said the word. We didn't promote cursing, but that's what he said.

Steve Grant:

I said, "Well, why do you say you need to be a, you're an eff up?" But he couldn't tell me. He just kept saying that. And of course, it bothered me, but he couldn't tell me why.

Steve Grant:

Years before, I had helped start the suicide crisis hotline in Greenville. And I went through the training to listen to somebody on the phone, who's thinking about taking their life. And it was very good training.

Steve Grant:

I did it one night, stopped, because I didn't want to go home and wonder what happened to somebody. But it was very good training to hear someone sometimes, they're saying something, but you don't understand exactly what they mean by it. So he left that, and we left that night like it was.

Steve Grant:

About two weeks later, Christopher comes downstairs. Same scenario. I was reading a book. He says, "Dad, you're my only friend in this life." And I said, "Oops." Myself, I said, "Okay, here we go."

Steve Grant:

I said, "Chris," I said, "I'm really flattered." And I said, "But when I was 15 years old, and I wasn't the only freshman on the soccer team, I wasn't the only freshman on the basketball team. I didn't have all these girls calling me up, and all these things you can be doing. And for me to be your best friend, I'm very flattered."

Steve Grant:

But I said that. I shouldn't be your best friend. My dad's my best friend today. But he certainly fell down the wrong on that one, when I was 14 and 15 years old. So that told me he was crying out for something.

Steve Grant:

The next day, actually, I called a pediatrician friend of mine. And I knew about a psychiatrist in town who was very effective with adolescents. And I said to my doctor friend, "Hey, I'd like to get Christopher to see Dr. So-and-so. Something's going on, and I'm not exactly sure what it is. Okay?"

Steve Grant:

Now I had found some beer cans underneath some sofas, a liquor bottle here, one maybe thrown in the back of the yard, one in the garbage can. Again, I was starting to see these subtle things going on. And not that didn't bother me, but they were infrequent.

Steve Grant:

But by the grace of God, this psychiatrist actually saw me the next day, on his lunch. And he's very hard to see. And he was very nice, and he came out of the room after talking to my son.

Steve Grant:

He just said, "Steve, I can't tell you a lot because it's between Christopher and I, actually, but I'll just tell you that his life is being controlled by marijuana and alcohol."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Steve Grant:

And I went, "Ooh, okay. Okay." So that's how it started. And five rehabs later, five boarding schools, five different high schools, after going to the same one for 10 years, or same school system for 10 years, only to get your GED. And it was just, every step was just difficult.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

When he would go to treatment, what would happen after? How long was the effect? Did he want to stay sober? What was that experience like as a parent?

Steve Grant:

Going through it the first time, I was a little naive when I was getting ready to do my rudimentary intervention with Christopher, and choosing the night, and I remember how it happened vividly. "Christopher, you're going to a rehab facility in Tennessee for 90 days as soon as they call us. All right?"

Steve Grant:

He had got kicked out of his high school that he loved, that he was in a public school. And I told them, "One of these days, I'm going to come get you." Well, the day came and we went. And Christopher, he didn't fight me on it.

Steve Grant:

I had a few people say, "Don't stop the car, don't get out, don't do anything, because he's going to run." He respected me, and he was obedient, but his life was being controlled by alcohol and drugs.

Steve Grant:

And he got there, and I still have the letters. And a lot of the letters are in my book. The first letter was, "You son of a, blah, blah, blah."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Steve Grant:

"You've sent me here with a bunch of, blah, blah, blah, intravenous drug users, rednecks. I don't have the problems these guys have." Sometimes I wish I could go back to those guys and say, "Are you still alive? Because Christopher's not."

Steve Grant:

That's what he said, I mean, but the letters got better. And I always tell people that go to treatment, it's almost like, your brain changes.

Steve Grant:

I'm on the Board of the Medical University of South Carolina, down in Charleston, and it's the Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs, which is about 15 of them around the country, where these people study the brain, and say, "This is how it changes."

Steve Grant:

Sure enough, there's letters where, "Dad, I know I've got to stop drinking, but I really like that marijuana. And all I do is a little weed."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

Steve Grant:

You hear that a lot now, because of the legalization of marijuana, and kids are using it. And they say, "All I do this a little weed."

Steve Grant:

Well, for most people, for a lot of people, that's not a bad, that's not the worst thing. But for some, it's going to be a bad thing, and it'll catch you. And man, he just loved marijuana.

Steve Grant:

So he was starting to negotiate with me that arrival home. So 90 days came by, and hey, here's my, "This is our son again."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Steve Grant:

"This is our son again."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Steve Grant:

But we had all these ground rules set, and then bingo, they tell you, "Well, you'd better prepare for relapse." And I'd say, "What do you mean, prepare for relapse?"

Steve Grant:

I said, "This is 90 days. We're done. We're going to go back to being on the basketball team, on the soccer team. Our life's going to go back in place." And it didn't. It didn't.

Steve Grant:

It was for a little while, but these kids, they have a Mark on their back. And it is very tough to tell a 14-year-old, or a 15-year-old. I wouldn't have heard it. This is like, someone would have said, "Steve, we don't want you playing baseball ever again."

Steve Grant:

I'd be going, "What?"" I would have rebelled. Well, you were telling me, "He's here for 90 days, you can't do drugs and alcohol the rest of your life."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, right.

Steve Grant:

Right? To a 14- or 15-year-old.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Steve Grant:

So me, naively, thought-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I've been to that party.

Steve Grant:

Yeah. I mean, that's right. Me naively thought that would be, that would work. But obviously it didn't. And so, you plan for relapse.

Steve Grant:

And all right, we did have a plan. And he actually went and lived with my parents, who live an hour and a half from here, in South Carolina.

Steve Grant:

I called my parents and said, "Would you mind having Christopher?" Because you know how they say, "You can't go back to your old playground," that kind of business about-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, and play things, yup.

Steve Grant:

Yeah. So he's there, he's on the basketball team at this, really, it's a town that segregation still is kind of a-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, wow.

Steve Grant:

Lot of spoken term. But it wasn't long before he started using again. And then, we were back, and that caused issues too. So it was a struggle.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

How did this affect your marriage?

Steve Grant:

It was very stressful. Obviously, having another son ... With my parents, even being an hour and a half away, but being much older, obviously, than Christopher, they had their children already.

Steve Grant:

And they weren't expecting the grandchildren to come live with them. Especially one that's as active as Christopher could be.

Steve Grant:

So they started dealing with things they really never dealt with from their own kids, growing up. Because we were pretty model children, actually. So in other words, we behaved, and we understood what we were supposed to do and not supposed to do.

Steve Grant:

But Christopher got dragged back into that again. So I'm driving back hour and a half every day, for four days. I told my parents, "I'm coming down, I'll leave you money. Take care of Christopher. I'm going to come down and watch him."

Steve Grant:

Because he was already starting to deviate from the plan, his own plan that he'd learned from the 90 days, and now their plan. So, of course, I'm forming this alienation with my wife. We were already, before that, having a difference of opinion on how to treat Christopher.

Steve Grant:

One of the things, I talk to parents all the time, and typically, they're not aligned. That doesn't mean you're going to have an addicted child if you're not aligned. That just means that it doesn't help the situation.

Steve Grant:

But Mary wanted me to do it one way, and I wanted to do it another. So when I went on this thing about, "We got to take back our family. He's controlling it. We've got to send him to rehab."

Steve Grant:

I remember going to rehab, driving with Mary. We were already separated, okay?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay, okay.

Steve Grant:

Yeah. So we're driving to rehab, and we'd get out, and we would leave him there. They talked to us about what's going to happen, and things like that.

Steve Grant:

And we're driving off, and we were going down the hill. And most of these rehabs, as you know, they're in the middle of nowhere, you know what I mean?

Steve Grant:

This was outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, and people didn't even know where this was, that lived in Knoxville. So we're driving off their property. And she is hitting me on the shoulder saying, "Go back and get our son," because I was crying.

Steve Grant:

Because here we was, leaving a 14-year-old. "Go back and get our son." And this was the first time she ever showed any emotion about this. And I said, "I am not going back. I am not." And I kept going.

Steve Grant:

But I'll never forget that. Because I really made most of the decisions that involved this. But it got to be very, very stressful. And eventually, Mary, who loved her boys, it was too much stress. She'd had it. She wanted out.

Steve Grant:

But it was, as you know, it controls everything. It sort of controlled my finances. We had legal issues, tax issues, people throwing the rocks through our window, people breaking the windows of our parked cars.

Steve Grant:

Christopher started owing people money, you know how those people get. And so, we dealt with a lot of that stuff. And it was just, it was too stressful.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Why did you think, after 90 days, that he would be recovered? Did you spend time learning about the brain? What was the educational piece? How did you think that? Where did you get the information or the idea that he was going to be cured?

Steve Grant:

Yeah, I guess that's just the general way. I'm fairly positive.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay.

Steve Grant:

So I didn't read anything. I read a lot of things. And what I read was what exactly happened, other than, I don't think Christopher got anybody pregnant, although he was very active.

Steve Grant:

But I heard that I was going to have marital problems. I heard that was going to have legal problems. I heard I was going to go bankrupt, maybe. I heard this. Well, check the boxes, okay?

Steve Grant:

I said to myself, I remember reading this, saying, "This ain't going to happen to me. We're going to knock this thing out, you know?" And so no one counseled me on that.

Steve Grant:

Even this psychiatrist, who I love to this day, who was Kelly's psychiatrist, who's my psychiatrist, even the guy I love today, I mention him in the book, he handed me these three Xeroxed pieces of paper that had names of rehab facilities on it, five, six, eight, eight rehab facilities. And I still have it.

Steve Grant:

I became an educated idiot on rehab facilities. And then you got to worry about, "Well, does the insurance company pay for it? Who pays for it? How much do they pay for?" All those kinds of things, so since it ...

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:26:04]

Steve Grant:

How much did they paid for it, all those kinds of things. So since, it was process, it took a toll, but I took care of most of it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, right. And so he continues on his path and what's going on for Kelly, your other son.

Steve Grant:

Kelly is getting good grades. Like I said, he's a normal kid. He's not very athletic, totally opposite, but tried real hard. And ever since, it was fun to watch. He didn't want to be an athlete, but when he went out there and did it, he did it, he wanted to be a drummer and they eventually signed a record deal when he was down at the College of Charleston with the record company before he died. But he was a gifted drummer and I never put my arms around music. I could put my arms around basketball and baseball and this kind of thing, but I never could figure out music with him. So it kind of made, it was almost to a point where it got to be, Kelly was Gary's son and Christopher was my son.

Steve Grant:

And especially when I started going down places and visiting him and staying overnight with Christopher. So Kelly never lost his love for me. And I never lost my love for Kelly, certainly, but it was sort of like, I kind of checked out. And in my book, I even checked out as a husband when we had children, because I didn't realize until later on down the road, way too long down the road, that a child, when they're born is a welcome addition to an already existing family. Where I thought that my family started, when I had Christopher. And I remember telling my wife, telling my wife in the driveway that we've committed an unselfish act. And now we've got to put all our energy on our son.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And what do you think now? What's your belief now?

Steve Grant:

Now I believe that, I think that marriage had to be solid, and I would put my kids before my wife. Okay? Very subtly, not overtly, but very subtly. And I think that was one of those things that pulled her apart for me, pulled her apart from our sons. There's a lot of things that go into that. But I remember some moments more than others. And I remember that moment particularly, and I remembered it. I was reminded of it or told it. Actually, when I went to a parenting class, the boys were already in trouble, not Kelly, but Chris was already in trouble and I'm sitting in the room with my ex. And she finally got me to go to this class that was 10 Mondays in a row or something like that. And that's why I didn't want to do it.

Steve Grant:

I was coaching the kids. It was going to be a commitment and I really didn't want to do it. Well, it was great. But, but all the people in there with the other couples will either have a bun in the oven or they just had a baby. Here I am with teenagers, I'm learning this thing. And this couple says, well, your children are a welcome addition to an already existing family. And I went, holy crap. And I remember apologizing to my wife out by her car after it was over. Literally apologizing to her, if I'm wrong, I'm wrong. I said, Mary, I say the truth. I said today was an "aha" moment, because I've never thought of us as a family until we had Christopher. I didn't think of you and me as a family.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, right. [crosstalk 00:29:17] That's very different.

Steve Grant:

And then when Kelly came, well, my wife went down to the fourth and you know, she was third in the peg. So it wasn't overtly, it was just subtly and that was the way it was.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. I always joke about how the dog eats before I do, like everybody, and the fish, everybody gets fed and, it's super hard without even the struggles you guys had to put that relationship first. When you have little kids, and then when you have kids who are in trouble, I mean, that's all you could possibly think about. And I remember my parents talking about, so I was born in '86 and.

Steve Grant:

So is Kelly.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right. And I was the straight-A student. I was head of every community service, all the stuff. I was not the kid you would have banked on having this problem as looking from my parents' perspective.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And, I remember them talking about how they disagreed on when I should go to treatment. And in the time between when the one parent who was holding back for me to go to treatment, and the time I actually went, I was kidnapped. And then I was arrested and I almost blew apart my parent's marriage. And at the time, even after treatment or in my early twenties, I did not understand what that would mean for a marriage, what that would look like. But I mean, I've had situation. I have a three-year-old twin boys, and [crosstalk 00:31:07] I know I love it. I love it. They're fraternal twin boys. And [crosstalk 00:31:13] they, I've had, we've had situations where, is the fever too high? Do we go to the hospital or, do we do an ice bath? Do we do Motrin?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

We're at each other's throats about, whether or not what to do about a fever. Right? And that's just a fever, that's not a life threatening situation. So I can't even imagine, and I look back on it, what that experience is like. And I remember my parents too, they thought that I was going to be cured. Or that I would I don't know... And I went to lots of treatments too. And each one... Why couldn't I get it? I'm a smart person, why couldn't I get it?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And it took so much education for them to understand how to support me, but that was not a priority at a lot of the places, which, looking back, I think is so important for the family to have a really, really in depth, both emotional, spiritual, and physiological medical knowledge of what we're dealing with. Because we aren't the same person that you... were not the same child that you gave birth to. We become someone different. And I remember my dad saying "I don't know who this person, I don't know who you are. I don't know who's inhabiting this body of my child because this is not my child." And that is really what happens to us.

Steve Grant:

Well, actually, that's funny you say that. One of "aha" moments was Christopher [inaudible 00:32:52] really something else. And he was really the cause of trouble. He was almost getting physical with his mother, and someone said, you've got to take your family back Steve.

Steve Grant:

So literally we came home from that session, just my wife and I, and he was in the garage and Christopher rarely ever cried, and I really did either. But he looked at [inaudible 00:33:15], he would say I was his best friend. And I probably was, and he was always honest with me to a point. And then it got a little, the honesty came a little bit harder. But I was in the garage, and I said to him, just like your dad told you, I said, "Christopher, I don't know who you are anymore," and he just said "What do you mean by that dad?" I said, "I don't know who you are anymore. You're not the Christopher I know, and I know you can be." And he started crying and he was very offended by that. And I was kind of happy he was offended by it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right. Yeah. Right? It means there's something there. Yeah.

Steve Grant:

Because he was shocked that I said it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. I definitely remember feeling like I was possessed by something. And I really did feel like, I don't mean to sound spooky or whatever, but I felt like there was a demon that had a hold of my person. And that the things that I did and said and felt were not who I was at my core, but they were the only thing that was available to come out. And it was heroin and opiates allowed... On the one hand they created it, and on the other hand, they allowed me to escape from those feelings, and come down from what felt like a possession really often, and just kind of numb. When did you know that your son was using opiates, was using heroin?

Steve Grant:

Kelly was very different, and he had gone to... He was going to school, college in Birmingham. And then when his brother died, I made a mistake, and I sent him back home the day after Christopher died. Let's get back to our lives. You know, all this, I'm going back to my life. You're going back to your life. That wasn't the expect- it wasn't that we knew Christopher was going to die, but we knew there was a chance that he was going to die, because we had done everything we could do.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

How old was he when Christopher died?

Steve Grant:

Christopher was 21. Kelly was 24 when he died. He was 19 when Christopher died and he was a freshman in college. And so when he came home for his funeral, I just said, "Look, we're going to go back." Because it's not, again, not that I wanted Christopher dying, certainly I didn't. But, there was this expectation. I sometimes talk to ladies who say, I have a black dress in my closet waiting for that phone call. Okay. Maybe your mom had a black dress in her closet at some point, with the expectation that she's just going to get this phone call.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I mean, my parents always talked about how, for years it was every time the phone rang, their heart dropped. And my dad said, when I had the intervention and the people came to take me away and put me in the treatment. When I was a teenager, my dad said that he was so relieved, even though I was horrible to him. And then when it happened, he was so relieved. It was the first day that he didn't worry that I was going to die that day.

Steve Grant:

Yeah, that's right. I talk in the book about the time, Chris got arrested. He was in jail for 28 days. About 20 days, it just killed me every day to go down there and talk to him through plexiglass for an hour. Okay? And it's hard to talk to someone every day for 30 days with plexiglass about something. But I did it every day and that killed me to do that. But I knew at night where he was, [crosstalk 00:36:49]

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, that's what my parents would say.

Steve Grant:

He wasn't leaving jail so I could sleep at least during the night. I had other things to worry about. What's going to happen when he leaves, but at least I was sleeping [inaudible 00:37:00] But you're right. We used to, I remember being curled up in bed with my wife and we'd be praying that when is he going to come home? Where is he?

Steve Grant:

Because we don't know where he is. This is again, before cell phones were really, everybody had one. [inaudible 00:37:15] with him. So back to Kelly, he came back. He finally said, "Dad, I want to come back to Greenville." So I was kind of testing his emotions and he came back here and he went to a school for a little while here in town. And then he just transferred to the college in Charleston. And down there, he met a friend who wanted to start a band and they went to grade school together. I knew his family very well, I knew him very well. And they started a band and they were actually rather successful. They went to this thing South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

Steve Grant:

And that's where we really found out about this. They came back from South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. It was like in March, Kelly had come home and there were five guys driving in a van together, pulling all their instruments, not staying overnight, because they couldn't afford anywhere. Barely could eat, because they couldn't afford to eat. Right? Meanwhile they were at South by Southwest and I didn't realize that being invited to that is pretty good. So I never heard about it until they were going. And now I understand it's a big deal, but he comes back and they drive through the night. Okay. Well, Kelly has already started his... He fast track from whatever you start heroin with to intravenous use. Interesting, his brother never did anything intravenously to my knowledge or to his friends' knowledge.

Steve Grant:

Kelly was afraid of his shadow. And for me to think about him putting a needle in his arm, it just blows my mind to this day. But anyway, he fast track to it, and I guess that is the appeal of that, and his friends that helped him do it. Nobody knew about it other than a few people and the girl that sort of supplied it. Well, he had an overdose that night. They came back from South by Southwest in March of 2010, And I didn't know about it. Nobody really knew about it. His friends called the emergency room, the girl called the emergency room, the emergency room picked him up in this parking lot by himself. Took them there. And unfortunately this is one of my biggest complaints, here's a 24-year-old, 23-year-old, maybe at the time. Yes. Leaving the hospital.

Steve Grant:

He's an adult. Right? So he gets a little slap on the rear end of the back and says, "Hey, you could have killed yourself. We saved you." Okay? And then he just walks out of there. Right? And so I don't know anything about this. He doesn't really tell anybody about this. And a couple of months later, I get a bill from the emergency room. Right? So they don't want to tell you this because it's private. But meanwhile, they want to send you the bill because you're the responsible party. [crosstalk 00:13:57] It's just like college.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Classic!

Steve Grant:

It's just like college grades, these things. [crosstalk 00:40:02] You're paying the tuition, but the kid gets the grades. So I never could understand it, but now. So I get this bill and it's for an emergency room visit, that's Kelly. I call Kelly up. I said, "Kelly, hey, I just got this bill from a Roper Hospital at Charleston for emergency room visit. I don't know anything about this. And why don't you use your insurance card and all this kind stuff?" "Oh dad, you remember when we came back from South by Southwest?" I said, "Oh yeah, I remember." He said "I was exhausted and I passed out, and my friends panicked and my wallet was left in the car. And they took me to the hospital."

Steve Grant:

Plausible? Yes. Okay. Because I knew, it's very possible. And at Charleston it's a hundred degrees all the time. So he came out, but it was a heroin overdose. And I did not realize that until one of his band members, his closest friend who didn't know it called one day and said, "Mr. Grant," he called me in June, I remember exactly where it was, it was morning. And he said, "That was not a passing out. That was a heroin overdose."

Steve Grant:

And I thought, holy crow, I'm going through this again. I mean my world was just rocked again. And I got in the car and I went down there to get him. And I took him home and we drug test him every other day, and he was off heroin for that summer. He might've been smoking marijuana. He might've been taken his Ativan prescription, but he wasn't using heroin. And he went back and we had this deal when he went back to college at Charleston. We had a formal agreement with the band, if he used that he was going to rehab and Kelly agreed. And so here he goes back and sure enough, after about 30 days, they called, "hey, we think Kelly's using heroin again." So I go down to get him again, but he didn't want to go to rehab, because the band was the only thing in his life. He was 10 courses away... 10 points away from graduating.

Steve Grant:

I'm [inaudible 00:41:57] "You got to get your degree, Kelly. You can be a rockstar after you get your degree. Okay?" So that was my big mission. And fortunately the College of Charleston researched his transcript after he died, he got his diploma posthumously. Which was very nice. The ceremony down there was very, very nice. It's a goal after he died. That's another story in itself. But when we took him home, because the band kind of backed off on him, I lost my leverage. That the band was not going to take you back unless you go to rehab. That was out. So I really had no leverage anymore. So he comes back. "I'm not going to use dad, I'm not going to use" and we're drug testing him again.

Steve Grant:

And sure enough, he starts renting this house very close to me. We talk all the time. We're watching Mad Men on Saturday together, The Whole Nine Yards, we very close. I was supposed to [inaudible 00:42:50] One Sunday night, I couldn't get them on the phone. So it was very strange. I was dating a girl at the time and I said, it's very odd that I can't get Kelly on the phone on Sunday. And also, when I text him, he usually calls me right back. So I was concerned. So I drove to his house, which was a few miles away. So his car was in the driveway. Unfortunately his car's in the driveway, which made me scared. And then I got to the door, it was dead bolted from the inside. So I knew something was wrong, I knew he was in there. And I don't think he was sleeping.

Steve Grant:

And of course I find a brick in the yard and I break the window at the door. And I'm going through the back door and go looking around for him, and the house wasn't that big. But there he is on the kitchen floor with a needle in his arm, and obviously he had died and vomit coming out of his mouth and phone was on the other side of the room. But whatever he took, somebody had sent him a marijuana from Charleston, a girl. And actually he kept it there for quite some time. Because the coroner said he had one needle mark on his body when he died. Which is not the sign of an intravenous drug user, or consistent user. So here he was with [inaudible 00:44:01] and the night before he died, he called somebody. He called this close friend, this girl has always been in this life.

Steve Grant:

And they were just friends, he said, "Anna, do you have any Suboxone? I'm feeling a little jonesy tonight." Right? So if you call me and said, "Dad, I'm feeling a little jonesy. Can I have some..." I don't know who jonesy really is, but I do now. I knew what Suboxone was by this time, I was becoming educated idiot on everything. So I knew what Suboxone was, and if he'd said that to me, I said, "I know what's going on, Kelly. We'll get you some Suboxone."

Steve Grant:

But she said, "I don't know what that is." She had no idea Kelly was addicted heroin. So she said, "I don't know what that is, Kelly." So literally, he used it and it's pretty much went straight to his heart. And what happens when you start using heroin as you know, maybe, after a period of time that you don't use it, you usually don't go back to where you started. You go back to where you ended. And he went back to where he ended and that was it. And it's very tragic and a very gruesome scene. His brother, when I found his brother dead in our house, he was looking like he was sleeping. And he looked like he was just going to wake up any second. Kelly's was a little nastier, obviously.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So Steve, you found both of your boys?

Steve Grant:

Yes. Yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What does that do to somebody?

Steve Grant:

People always say, do you ever have problems? The times I have problems is the times I think about where Kelly was on that floor or how he looked. I think about that sometimes. And sometimes it really gets on my mind. And I dream about my kids often, and it's interesting. My dreams were always about when they were little. They're not about when they were big, they're never big in my dreams. They were always little. And I always realize that when I want to wake up, they were clean, they were healthy, they weren't using drugs. It was the light. And it's funny how I have just dreams of that time versus the other time. And then, I really mean that I really mean that. But Kelly's death really took me by surprise. It was a real gut punch and it was a gut punch for a lot of people, because no one knew it. No one knew. In fact, I didn't share to really close to the end with my ex wife, because we were already divorced and everything like that. And unfortunately, well, I'm not going to worry about that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Did you call her to tell her?

Steve Grant:

Yes. So my wife is a gifted linguist and she's fluent in three languages. She was a university professor. And so she was in Spain actually when Christopher died. So I had someone call her over there that knew where she was and that got her home for that. So she got home for his funeral and I was able to call Mary that night and get her there when Kelly had died. So yeah, it's very difficult. They both weren't communicating very well with their mother at the time of their death, which I feel badly about, but I didn't create that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Talk to me about what recovery has been like for you after this experience and you know, a little bit about what you would've done differently and what you would have done the same?

Steve Grant:

This question comes up a lot and I did radio show the other day and it was someone from Columbia, South Carolina. And they asked me basically the same question. And I told them that I have very few regrets about how I handled it, because I handled it, how I knew to handle it. I didn't seek a lot of advice and it wasn't because I was ashamed. A lot of parents don't want to talk about their kid's use of and drugs and alcohol. It's a very, very [inaudible 00:47:47] thing. So for me, it wasn't. Not that I told the world, but when Chris was in Tennessee, while my ex wife was saying he was in boarding school, I was saying, no, he's in rehab

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right. My mom did the same thing.

Steve Grant:

Christopher was telling people he was in boarding school. You know, one time he came home, he was in church with us. One of the most consistent things in our life, we always went to church on Sunday. It didn't matter how bad was, how bad Chris was, Kelly was never bad. His was eight months, Christopher was eight years, but he was always going to church with us. He knew that we were going and a lot of it, that was my wife, which was, I'm glad she did. But I remember he was home visiting and, everybody was sort of wondering where Christopher was, some knew was in rehab, some knew he was in a boarding school. And one of my close friends came up to him and said, "Hey, Chris, how you doing?" He said "I'm doing great." Christopher looked great. He looked great.

Steve Grant:

And he said, I was, [inaudible 00:48:46] about listening to their conversation. And John said, "Hey, Chris, what are you doing? Are you play basketball? Are you playing soccer?" He said, "No, I'm actually in rehab." And the guy said like "for a knee? For a back?" And Christopher right away said, "no, no, Mr. Wafford, I'm there for alcohol and marijuana." And I was proud of him. He knew why he was there, and he'd gotten it. So that's part of it. So when you talk about guilt, I don't have a lot of guilt beaus I left it on the field in the way I knew. I spent a lot of money, [inaudible 00:49:26] school, five high schools, rehab facilities, and your parents will tell you, there's a lot of soft costs, obviously that go into this too, besides the the hard costs.

Steve Grant:

And then there's the cost of how many years of sleep I've lost [crosstalk 00:49:41] those kind of things. But from a guilt standpoint, like I talked to parents and they feel guilty about what happened. I think guilt, sometimes grief. I don't grieve a lot and maybe I should do it more, but I don't know. There's one component of my grief that I don't have and that's guilt. [crosstalk 00:49:59] I think it's so much of grief is built on guilt and I don't have any guilt the way I handled it because I would do differently. Yes.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But that's my question. Not about the guilt, but like...

Steve Grant:

What would I do differently?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And obviously you did the best you could at the time, we're just looking at it from the perspective of people who are listening, who are in the midst of it, what would you have done differently?

Steve Grant:

Sure. People call me about that. And when I evaluate it, I tell them I'm parent, but an addictionologist, I'm a parent who's experienced two losses and they happen to be one of the stories. The interesting thing about the story is that it took two different paths to the same ending...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Steve Grant:

Two very distinct paths, but when I think when I talk to someone who's has the, again, I think I've told you I've maybe I told this to someone before today. I was telling someone this morning, the behavior, the characteristics of someone who is being controlled by alcohol and drugs, even though it's unique to your family is very similar from one child to the next. It's really kind of amazing. But with that said, when I talk to parents, definitely have this issue going on, they checked all the boxes in my opinion.

Steve Grant:

I say, and they're 14 years old, they've barely gotten through adolescence, and drugs and alcohol. Well I don't know how young you were. But for Christopher, when he died at 21, he might as well have been 16 maturity wise. It robs you of your adolescence, and it certainly did for him. So when I see a person like that, classic, I say, look, I fought this. People kind of knew what I was going through, and I went through one rehab and then another rehab they finally said to me, "Look, Steve, you need to send Christopher [inaudible 00:51:43] to be rewired. He needs to be rewired." This is when I started really understanding this disease and how it affects your brain. [crosstalk 00:51:51].

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, the brain.

Steve Grant:

And I started understanding this a whole lot better, because when they talk about relapse, I said, well, I better start thinking about this because I didn't know about relapse. What is the next chapter?

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:52:04]

Steve Grant:

Well, I better start thinking about this because I didn't know about relapse. What is the next chapter?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Steve Grant:

And there's plenty of chapters afterwards I realized. But I recommend people, I said, "Look, when you know this is happening and you want to give it the best shot possible, there are places out there where 28 days is a thing really kind of developed by insurance companies."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Exactly.

Steve Grant:

And everybody patterned themselves for 28 days. Well 28 days there's nothing.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's crap.

Steve Grant:

Yeah, 28 days ain't going to get you anywhere.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Nope. It'll detox you-

Steve Grant:

Yeah. Detox [crosstalk 00:52:27].

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... and stabilize, but that's about it.

Steve Grant:

Yeah. It ain't going to start changing your behavior yet or anything.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Or your brain chemistry.

Steve Grant:

No. And I said, "60 days doesn't do it. 90 days doesn't do it." Maybe an adult, but even with an adult, it's hard. They say adults go seven times in their lives before they truly are sober, if that's their intent. An adolescent, I think they say age of first use is a great indicator of lifelong sobriety or lifelong illness. Okay? So age of first use is a big deal. So I always tell people, "Look, try to find a program, whether it's this wilderness program, whether it's one that I helped start in Asheville in North Carolina, which is more like a boarding school setting." A lot of it's based on budget, obviously.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What's that called?

Steve Grant:

It's called Montfort Hall. I helped start that, and it's been open for about six years. It's basically a boarding school. This person who had started it is a PhD and is in recovery himself. And it was like many of them all, they have these ventures. And he wanted to start a not-for-profit wilderness program in an urban setting because it doesn't happen. Where he firmly believed that after a period of time, we've got to put this toe back in the water and test the water. Not bad test, but test the water in the city. Because some of these places are out in the middle of nowhere. And they come back after nine months in the middle of nowhere to Los Angeles or New York city or Charlotte, North Carolina, Atlanta, Georgia, and boom. How many of these people have ever heard about that, all of a sudden, the day after one week after, they've either died of a drug overdose, one. Or they're back, and it didn't work.

Steve Grant:

So, so I always tell folks, we need to try something that is at least six to eight months long to just get to it, and at a minimum. I said 90 days, I was pigging on 90 days cause no one really educated me on it. So I finally realized... Someone said, "You got to send away for 18 months." And I'll never forget, I got Christopher there said, "Look Chris, this just ain't working. Mississippi didn't work, the Knoxville didn't work, Greenville's little program didn't work; I'm taking you to Houston, Texas. And we're going to go to a wilderness program outside of Houston, Texas in a little town." There's a girl here in town who's there. And she today is very sober. That was great for her.

Steve Grant:

And it's going to cost this much a month. I didn't know where I was going to get it. I had no idea. So I suppose eight or $9,000 a month. And that's where I was, I was trying to move in to do. So we got in this plane and we went down to Houston, Texas. He was willing, we rented a car, we drove out to this place middle of nowhere and I dropped them off. I talked to a few people, but there were these four or five guys there that were in the program, Christopher's age that looked like bouncers. They were so big. And I thought... I could tell that they were not [inaudible 00:55:31] that they were there for a reason. The reason was, if Christopher decides to go, they ain't going to let him. Right. And I think Christopher knew that too. Chris was very savvy. I think Christopher knew it too. So I write a check for eight or $9,000. I can't remember.

Steve Grant:

I knew I couldn't cover it. And I knew I couldn't figure out how to cover it. I didn't know how. And that was the next problem, but I give it to her and I leave. I go down this dirt road, which was like two miles. I get out and I get a little bit lost going back to my hotel at Houston and sure enough, I get there and Christopher's there. He had run down this two... very athletic. He'd run down this two mile road. He left his bags there. Run down this two mile road. He hitchhiked downtown Houston and got to the hotel right before I did. Because he stayed there the night before, so he knew where it was.

Steve Grant:

So I said, "Okay Chris, what's up?" He said, "I'm not staying there dad. Those people are nuts." I said, "Well, it's just a rehab like any other one that you've been to." He said, "No, it's different. They're little crazy over there. The school thing and the whole nine yards, I know it's important, but I'm not staying here. 18 months maybe, are you crazy?" So I said, "Well here, Chris." I gave him $20. I said, "Look, you can buy drugs or you buy dinner. Okay. But you're not staying here tonight." It's the first time I ever did this. And I remember it was just horrible. I got in that room. I cried the whole night. I don't know where he went. He stated in Houston for about six months. And he finally met a family member, distant family member and lived with them and caused chaos because their son was in the same deal. Right.

Steve Grant:

So that's when I left Chris around the street in Houston. And that was my attempt at this longterm program. So long answer to a short question, I would try to find a program that's affordable, believable, has a good reputation, and have it for as long a period of time as possible. It's very hard to tell yourself as a parent that you're a little darling is going away for 18 months. That's very hard for a parent. And I think I struggled with that certainly in the beginning when some people started telling me about these things,

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right? But from your perspective, having the background that you have, probably in retrospect-

Steve Grant:

I'd do it in a heartbeat because one, they're going to be of an age, that age that Christopher had already turned 18 so he can run. He could go. That was the risk, and I knew the risk. You could take a 14 year old, 15 year old, 16 or 17 year old, they're kicking and screaming, they're going to stay. They have to stay. So, that was sort of the difference. And that was why I would encourage someone. And it's very important when we start talking about kids and I said, "Well, how old is your son?" Well, he's 17 and a half. I said, "Ooh, well now's the time we got to think about this. The alternatives are much better. You don't want your 17 year old was really a 14 year old in his head, mature wise, going into an environment with adults. Because adults have different problems entirely than adolescents do."

Steve Grant:

So also Christopher found himself in these communities with these gentlemen. Older gentlemen, doctors, lawyers, different parts of the community. He went to a very nice place in Hattiesburg, Tennessee. Hattiesburg, Mississippi. And he went there twice and they were good, but nothing... Christopher was one of those that you hate to say that, I know we give it a best shot, but you hate to say it wasn't going to work, but he's just close to one that it wasn't going to work.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Stay tuned to hear more in just a moment. Hi, it's Ashley, your host. I'm so excited to announce a brand new support group at Lion rock called Community. Community is a recovery support group where all people in the pursuit of peace in mind and body may find hope and healing through connections with each other. Community is open to everyone and meetings are available online daily, Monday through Saturday. For more information, please visit our website, www.lionrockrecovery.com and click on meetings tab, come and join us. So, okay. Let me just tell you a little bit about Community. Community is awesome in part because I helped write it. But so I just want to tell you a little bit about the belief. So this is a place where people can come, doesn't matter what you're recovering from. Doesn't matter how you define your recovery or sobriety your abstinence. What have you.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And I just want to give you a little snapshot. Here are the beliefs of the program. We believe that finding peace and recovery requires a personal path and that recovery looks different for different people. We celebrate the diversity of paths and traditions. We believe that our lives can be different from what they are today. And we can get there with the support of community when we ask for help. We believe that we can change our lives, if we can conquer our fears by doing the work. We believe that recovery requires renewal and depends on personal growth, like many people before us, we believe you get what you give. We give positive energy. We believe that our inner pain must be released for us to find freedom. And the pain is often a signal there's more work to do. The work may include repairing the damage we caused.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Our common bond began with our desire to relieve our pain at all costs and continues with the cultivation of our healing, through our connections to each other. Our common goal is the pursuit of peace in mind, body and spirit. Yay. So it's awesome. The people are awesome. The meetings are awesome. And I highly recommend you go and check that out, please. Again, go to www.lionrockrecovery.com, hit meetings tab, and you will see an exhaustive list of community recovery support group meetings, including ones for LGBTQ and upcoming ones for the podcast book club, stay tuned.

Steve Grant:

Freshmen. He had very low... He looked in the mirror and didn't see that beautiful kid that everybody saw. He saw somebody different, unfortunately. So how I go on and how I've dealt with this. First of all, I know I'm going to see my children again. I'm a very confident in that. I know that God has the plan, and I didn't agree with the plan, but it's the plan. And so that comforts me a great deal, and again, about two weeks after Kelly died, I had to go to a sales meeting and the guy in the office who ran our office. Said, "Steve, this is really not but I really did some gray hair there." And so it was two or three weeks after Kelly died, right after Christmas, first week in January.

Steve Grant:

So I go listen to these two guys that come to Greenville from st. Louis. And today these two guys have huge podcasts. They're tremendous motivational speakers Ben Newman and John O'Leary and they were Greenville and they were talking to about 50 people and this little horseshoe and the speaker was up front and we were in there. And I do what I usually do. And certainly felt like I didn't want to be there because, if they were going to talk about the financial services industry and I had already been in it for 30 years and all these other people were new. They're not going to say anything that I'm going to know. But I'm just going to do a favor for my manager and go there like he asked. Be a good soldier. So we get there and sure enough, these guys, instead of talking about how to be a better salesman, they said, "After three days of this bootcamp..." It was three days. "After three days of this bootcamp, we're going to crystallize what your legacy is going to be when you leave this life."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, wow.

Steve Grant:

And I was, "Okay. Well, wait a second here, we ain't talking about whole-life versus term and all this kind of thing. We're talking about some interesting stuff here." So, I've perked up and they went around the room. And they said, "Quickly tell us today what you think your legacy and life's going to be when you die." I mean, tough thing to talk to... There were 25 year olds in there. I'm 50 at the time, probably 52. So you'd think mine might be a little more crystallized, but right now I wasn't thinking about helping anybody and legacy. I knew what my legacy was, the guy who lost his only two children to drug overdoses. And I didn't care about what other people thought about me, that never bothered me like it bothers parents. That also never has bothered me.

Steve Grant:

I was just worried about my health and my head best way to help my kids. But anyway, they get to me that day and I'm sort of sitting at the top of this thing because I want to be furthest away from the speaker that I could be. Because they called on me, and I just stood up, like you're supposed to. And I said, "Hey, I think I'm going to do everything I can to help adolescents and young adults who struggled with addiction, substance abuse and mental health." I'd won several national awards for my work with the mentally ill. So I had some knowledge of mental health, and I knew that there is some connection, obviously between mental health and drugs and alcohol, most of the time. Most parents, when they talked to me, they don't know if it's mental health or if it's addiction. What's really pushing this thing in them.

Steve Grant:

And with girls, a lot of times it's more of the mental health side that seems like. And nine out of 10 it's boys, it's the addiction side and not so much mental health but regardless. That day I said that, and these speakers said, "Why would you do that, Steve?" And I said, "Well, I've lost both my own two sons, the last five years of excellent drug overdoses. And I lost one, three weeks ago." So everybody kind of shut down. He goes, "Well, let's take a break." So they talked to me a little bit. Anyway, at that point I drew sort of a line in the sand and I think God was looking over at me that day certainly, because I had no inclination. It wasn't written down. There was nothing there. I wasn't expecting the question, but here's what rolls out of my mouth.

Steve Grant:

Okay. Well, if you knew me, it would be very characteristic of me. Because my sons knew it. My ex wife knew it, my current wife, Kathy knows it. That if you called me tomorrow and said, "Steve, I need something." I'm going to make sure. I'm going to figure out how you can get it. That's just the way I always have been wired. So sure enough. I said that. And so I started thinking about creating a foundation that would support, be a conduit to a lot of the arms of addiction. The prevention, the aftercare, the care, the science of addiction, the education, early education, all these little pieces of it that I realize are not being supported as much. And there's a lot of people in this business. Unfortunately the addiction business and recovery business, is a several billion dollar a year business.

Steve Grant:

And unfortunately there's a lot of money in it. But I built a not-for-profit called Chris and Kelly's HOPE with the help of the Greenville Community foundation. Typically, you have to have some money to start a foundation. Well, I was broke and I went to Bob Morris, who I knew sort of, and he said, "Look Steve, we have nothing under our umbrella funds that deals with drugs and alcohol on addiction. And certainly that's a topic. So let's go ahead and start this foundation." So literally it was a time, like we were talking about earlier actually that people started dying of overdoses. And a couple of fairly upscale folks lost their sons the following year. And so we, right away, Chris and Kelly's HOPE Foundation got a $100,000 from a high school of [inaudible 01:07:22] thing, and it's called spirit week where the kids go around and knock on everybody's door for 30 days, collect as much money as they can.

Steve Grant:

And you're in competition with other high schools and you give it to a charity. So whatever they collect, they get to Chris and Kelly's HOPE. Right away, after the shoot, we get $100,000. So we're off to the races and we've raised a little bit. I do it very part time. We've raised south of a billion dollars and we give away in all the time. So my bank account right now is $3,100. And I know there's two groups that need help. And my mantra is I'll try to help you as much as I can, as long as you're a 501(c)(3). And also I help things like junior achievement, boy Scouts, girl Scouts, healthy activities that these kids could do from that bewitching hour. I used to call it. The 3:30 to 4:00 to 7:00. When you both, your parents are not back from work yet, but you're home. When all the garbage goes down. Let's have them doing something else.

Steve Grant:

So I'll support those too, but by and large, 99% of it's has to do with drugs and alcohol. We started not helping individuals, but when I realized that there are individuals out there, especially young adults who are destitute. They've scratched all the plastic, they've ruined all their relationships with their brothers and sisters and parents. They got no place to go get money and they find themselves someplace in a shelter or something like that. And they say, you got to go to rehab. I've realized that there's some very good not-for-profit rehabs that will take you in for a very nominal fee at the beginning. Maybe they'll put you out of work program, which I think is important.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yes.

Steve Grant:

These are young adults, obviously not children, but they might be $600. It might be a $1,000. But we've probably done 30 of those scholarships for those people. And they just overjoyed because they can't... Now a lot of them have made it, a lot of them haven't. One of them right now is back again. They asked to be and he's back in. And I don't mind helping. I love helping, in fact. And I get a call like that, once every couple of weeks. But I don't like have happened is that a local place here that doesn't have the greatest reputation, they started saying, "If you need money, call Steve Grant." Yeah. So I didn't let that to happen, certainly. But most of the time it's vetted by somebody else that this person needs this and financially can't cut it. And so I've worked with the institution or the individual to work it out that they can go there, which is very gratifying, frankly.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. I'm sure. And is that the thing that made it possible to move on or move forward? Not on.

Steve Grant:

Well, it does help. You know, a lot of people would think that talking to people about this, doing a podcast, I've been in front of a thousand people, I've been in front of 10 people and tell my story and I've done it a lot of different places over the last seven years. And my wife Kathy, love her to death, but, she says, "Steve, this has got to be so debilitating for you." And, in fact it's invigorating for me. This is invigorating. I'm invigorated after I get off the phone with you. I'm not depressed, so it invigorates me. And I think it's just my general nature is that I know somebody's going to hear this, Ashley and you and I are going to have helped that person. It may be more than one. And as long as it's one then I'm real happy about it. I know you are too.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. That's why I do this. And it was my experience as well. I got sober at 19 and I've been clean and sober for 14 years and I put my life back together. I'm the same age as Kelly would have been. And I was around... And I just happened... My overdose... I just... The paramedics in the Bay area just happened to have Narcan, but I would not be here without that, and it was accidental. I didn't mean to do it. It was the same thing I came out of rehab. I hadn't... In fact, I had gotten out of rehab and I was 17. I had gotten out of a lockdown rehab. And I came out and was totally disoriented, smack back into my old world. And I had started drinking again because drinking's not [crosstalk 01:11:40]. And I was so disoriented. I just, I needed to cope. Right. I hadn't learned the skills, I wasn't committed. So I started drinking again.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And as a result... And I always say this to people as an important piece. I have zero recollection of getting heroin. I don't have a recollection of getting needles. I don't have recollection of making that decision. I had absolutely no intention of using heroin again. I became so intoxicated that I made a decision under the influence that I do not remember. And what happened was I woke up after this Narcan overdose to a situation that I had created unbeknownst to myself. Which is this interesting phenomenon where I say, I'm just going to start drinking. People say, "I'm just going to start drinking." I say, "You don't know what you're going to do." That's the truth is that if you engaging in your addiction, if you take that first drink, my experience is that I made decisions against my own will. And I woke to them.

Steve Grant:

Yeah. And I love hearing stories like yours because unfortunately, you don't hear as many success stories. I'm a baseball player, so a Baton average is a great year, a hall of Fame. If you bat three 30, three, one in three. You get one hit every three times up. You pay a lot of money. Even if you get one hit every four times up. But in this world, you might hear about one in 10, one in 20, but it's a low number. I always say rehab is like a poor batting average. Success in this world has a poor batting average when it comes to recovery for whatever reason. And there's probably several of them, but I'm always stunned. So that was the first time you went to rehab, right Ashley?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No.

Steve Grant:

With heroin overdose you didn't go to rehab?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No, I had gone to outpatient. I had gone to three places before the overdose, and then I went to three more.

Steve Grant:

After the overdose. And you were you still using heroin afterwards?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. So I had the overdose and then I went to a year long program for young adults, which was amazing. Changed my life, all my best friends are from there. Was my high school experience, basically. I had lived there for a year, but I relapsed while I was there. I ran away and drank. I was 17. And then I went to another rehab and then I went to another halfway house. And then I used again, and I infected all the veins in both of my arms. And the thing that was crazy about that, like your sons, I was not the portrait of what people think a heroin addict looks like or sounds like. And I had all the knowledge, I had been to treatment a million times.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

The truth was that I had to do a lot of deep work and I had to be ready. I had to be ready to let go of this thing. And, in order to stay... We talk about like the one and 10, the one in 20. In order to stay sober a long time. I talk about this a lot. I know when I talked to people who've been sober 10, 20 years. I know what it takes to stay sober that long. I know what it takes to be in horrific emotional pain and have no easy way to anesthetize that. Every feeling, there's nowhere to go.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And over time, if you are going to stay sober a long time, there's a lot of emotional, spiritual work to be done and growth to be done. And not everybody either knows how do it, or is willing to do it. And I think I have been challenged over the course of my sobriety to grow up and to get better and to make my recovery stronger and to continue to keep it at the forefront, even though I'm nothing like the person I was. I still have to be as active today in my recovery as if that person is right behind me, which is a very strange feeling.

Steve Grant:

Oh, you know that the person's behind you. And I have the utmost respect for anyone that's been in recovery, any length of time. Especially when you see these people that know the date, "It was 30 years ago today." Those kinds of, I just get thrilled with that. And I'm in a position here that, part of my role is I hire people and I mentor people. And I actually have hired a couple of guys who are in recovery. And they've been in recovery two, three, four years. Because when I see on the resume that someone's an Eagle scout, I think, well, that's pretty good because I know it's hard to become an Eagle scout. I also know that when you share with me that you've been in recovery for five years or 10 years, I'll also say to my mind I'm going, "That's impressive. That's a great characteristic to have."

Steve Grant:

Because I have to worry about myself at times, and I'm very envious of folks who can do that. Because there's a tremendous difficulty to it, and I'm always cautious when people are announcing those anniversaries. And I say, "Congratulations." And I say, "stay strong." And the reason I say stay strong is because of what you just said, you don't have to tell anybody that you know that's been in recovery for any length of time that they worry about that person behind.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And you know, when I got sober, January 7th, 2006. And when I got sober I was 19 years old and I had nothing. I didn't have children. I didn't have a husband. I didn't have a career. I didn't have education. I didn't have anything. And so what's terrifying is that sobriety and recovery have allowed me to build a life, right. And have allowed me to put this stuff together. And now I have so much to lose.

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:18:04]

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And now I have so much to lose. So much. I have people who count on me, but the girl who wants to go get loaded in the back alley, the girl who wants to... She's still there and she still talks to me and she's still present in the picture. And now there are stakes and I never had stakes before. And that's a really different and challenging piece of my recovery today, which is I don't get to entertain thoughts, maybe the way that I used to kind of play with fire or what if or whatever. There are people's lives who count on me and me staying sober. And that has to be just as important too. And that's new to my recovery.

Steve Grant:

You're right about the stakes. Occasionally, when my wife and I go out, I'm the guy in this town, I tell people that who's lost two kids. But now the guy who's lost two kids but started this Foundation and fit that park on that fitness trail, that about 2,600 people see every day at Chris and Kelly's HOPE Fitness Park was started by this guy. He's also built this, he's built that, he's helped support here and he's helped to support there. He's raised $800,000, and help people. He talks around the country. Well, my wife says, when we go out, we say, "Who's going to drive?" Because one of us is probably going to drink, right? We drink socially. And always, my wife has always, and it goes through my mind, but she likes to remind me, she says, "Steve, the worst thing that could happen to you right now is that if you got arrested for drinking or you got arrested for public intoxication or something like that." And not that that's going to happen, but I do think about the stakes that are built, that are built around me that people see me as.

Steve Grant:

One of the places in my book, there was a time obviously, I admitted that I went to rehab for a couple of weeks after Christopher had died, a year or so after he died and I started using a lot of alcohol, and I checked myself in for a couple of weeks, and they put me on the psychiatric side right away, because they said, "You're just medicating yourself Steve, with alcohol." So after that, but there's another thing I did that I talked about. And the anniversary of my first son's death in October of, so he died in '05, October 2006. On the anniversary of his death, my buddy of mine says, "Steve, let's go out to have a drink?" And he knew it was the anniversary of Christopher's death. So we went out and had a couple of beers, and we had three or four beers, but I was a mile away from my house, right? So I go home and I was single. And at the time, I would usually get on my leather sofa and watch TV and all of a sudden I'll be sleeping, okay?

Steve Grant:

And this was a Friday night. So I get home, it was not late. I didn't fall asleep. Also, and I said to myself, I think I'm going to drive downtown and get some work done in my office, 10 miles away, okay? And I think I'm fine. You know where this is going, right.? So I get pulled over. And I ended up, and it's so funny. I get in the back of the police car, they go take me down to the police station. I feel like dog dirt, sitting and going, "Oh my gosh." And I hadn't started the Foundation or anything like that yet. Kelly was still alive. Kelly saw my picture, one of those things they put in a grocery store, because one of the... Yeah, mugshot, that they put in the grocery store. I didn't know they did that. And one of his friends gave it to her son and said, "That looks like Steve Grant in that picture."

Steve Grant:

And sure enough, my son said, and I had already told him that, I had already told him when he came home from school one time, that that's just what happened. But he said, "Yeah, I did know it dad, because someone showed me the picture of you." And I explained to him what happened. But what's really interesting, when I get in the car and he's driving me down to town, I had gone through all the gyrations and touched the nose and walked this and do that. And it was freezing out. So part of what I was really having problems with is I was shaking also, okay? And so, not making any excuse, I just, but I go down there and I'm in the car and I'm thinking, "Okay, what was Christopher's advice?"

Steve Grant:

He used to always say, "Dad, if that ever happens to you, don't blow into that thing. Don't blow into it." Or did he say, "If that happens to you dad, blow into it?" I couldn't remember which one he said, so I'm going, okay, okay. Well, the guy said, "Well, if you don't blow into it, you'll lose your license automatically. Going to be considered guilty, you'll lose your license for three months." I'm a salesman. I can't lose my license, right? So I blew into it and I blew it right over. I was right over. It doesn't matter if you're right over, if you're a lot over it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Same deal.

Steve Grant:

So I spent the night in the jail on a Friday night in downtown Greenville, and it was an interesting evening. And I think they keep you there purposely for a lot of reasons, but you do a lot of thinking. And not only, at this point, most of my friends had gone from their landlines to their cell phones. And you couldn't call anybody to pick you up that had a cell phone. But thankfully I have a good memory. And I called my buddy up at one o'clock in the morning to come pick me up. And his wife ignored the phone a few times, because it was late at night and he answered, he came down and got me. But if I had not remembered his phone number, I would have probably got, let me out earlier in the morning and I would've probably had to walk home. So it was an interesting evening. It was one of those lessons you learn in life.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that must have been quite the experience. But I mean, having been through what you've been through, I feel like people would-

Steve Grant:

Yeah, I think so. That's why I've debated whether I put that stuff in the book. But I think it really makes you understand that I too am vulnerable to that, and I am too am guilty of things that I shouldn't have done that have exactly to do with this monster.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. No, I mean, it isn't a moral issue. It's easy to make it that, and it's easy to see it that way, but it's not a moral failing. It really has to do... There's a lot of neurobiology involved and that really helps me. It helps me understand how my brain works and why my brain, when I put certain substances into my body, my brain kind of does a freak out and a different part takes over, because I was successful and capable very so in every other area of my life. But this one area, as long as I was doing that, I couldn't function. And I think, your Foundation is amazing. I was actually helping someone get into treatment yesterday. And we were talking about the cost of detox, and this, that, the other.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And she said, "How to normal people afford this?" I said, "They don't." And that was my company Lion Rock Recovery, which does online intensive, we've been doing telehealth for 10 years. We started it because my aunt died of addiction and lifelong addiction. And obviously I almost died, and we started it, because we wanted there to be an option for people that integrated them into their life. Kind of like what you talked about where it was like, you're out in the middle of nowhere and then get dropped back in. You don't have that support. But also something that was affordable for people, accessible. And so, what your Foundation is doing, making treatment accessible to people it's so vital, because it's not going to change nothing... We have a saying in recovery and program, nothing changes if nothing changes, right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And so if we, as a country, as a people, as humanity, don't step in and help each other with a problem that was frankly, somewhat created by big... It's certainly now, certainly nowadays, mine wasn't related to OxyContin, but nowadays very much related to prescription drugs and fueled around things that we've done in our society and how we treat mental health and all these things. We can't change it if we don't change how we think about it and how we treat it. If we don't see it as a medical issue, as a chronic disease, as something that can be treated, but it needs to be treated long-term. And there is no cure, it's ongoing. This is when I say to people, think about it like diabetes. You can get it under control, but you have to maintain that control.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You have to continue to take your medicine. You have to continue to eat well, you have to continue to upgrade your diabetic recovery as your body ages, right? As your cellular being changes. This is the same, but it doesn't go away. It's not going to grow away. And that's so, I mean, I just, I spent so much time talking to parents about it as I know you do, which is, this is not what you think it is. And it's important that you learn what you're dealing with before you do anything else, before you do anything else, learn what this is, so that when these things come to you, when the fly balls come to you in baseball speak, you have enough knowledge to be able to make a quick decision, because I think so often it's just going on blind faith or what you think you know.

Steve Grant:

You're absolutely right. And I'm sitting here thinking a little bit more about me and maybe you brought up a good topic about getting as much knowledge as you can about the issue. I got, it seems like, I ran into James Dobson several months ago, the famous James Dobson, and we were on our way to church, and Cathy said, "There's going to be some guy here might help focus on the..." I said, "Oh no, no, James Dobson's not going to be here Cathy." She had Cathy and her kids. They didn't really knew who James Dobson was. "James Dobson is not going to be at your church, Cathy. There's no way he's going to be here." Well, sure enough, there he is. And I said, "Well, Cathy, this is like Billy..." Billy Graham had just died actually. And I said, "This is like Billy Graham." And I'm, "He's in the top 10, James Dobson." Right? So I'm listening to him, and I've read some of his books.

Steve Grant:

And I went up to him afterwards and I said, "Hey, I'm Steve Grant." And he said, "Thank you, nice to be here. Great, dah, dah, dah, dah." And I said, "Hey, I don't want to cut to the chase, but I've lost two kids to drug overdoses, accident drug overdoses. And here's my card." I have a card that has pictures of my boys, that says Chris and Kelly's HOPE on it. And I handed it to him and he said, "Oh, God bless you. This is horrible. It's a terrible problem around the country here." And I said, "I had the pleasure of reading all your books basically." And he said, "Which ones?" And I said, "No, I can't remember the titles of them. But I do know one thing, I read them too late. I read them too late." And he kind of went, "Wow." And I said, "Yeah," I said, "at least I understand that. And a lot of what you're talking about is, I read things too late, or I understood too late."

Steve Grant:

I understood why Christopher needed to be in a place for 18 months, when I tried three places at 30 days or three places at 90 days, I understand that now. And hopefully, that can be the benefit. So, when I wrote this book, a lot of people were shocked that, "Hey, your son died 15 years ago. The other one died 10 years ago. Why are you writing a book now?" Right? Well, it was always something and always something everybody kept saying, "You got to write a book. No, one's lost two." They're only two children. Although I've found a few people who have, and then maybe they haven't like Christopher, Kelly taken two distinct roads to the same outcome. So what I realized when I was writing this book was I needed to tell people the why. Why does this happen?

Steve Grant:

And that book is less for people who are going through... Some people think it's to help people with grief. Well, I don't know anything about grief really, okay? And I don't mean it doesn't exist. It's certainly does exist. It ruined my mother's life for the rest of her life that she lost her daughter, okay? It really did. It consumed her the rest of her life in one way or another, okay? I'm not consumed by my kid's death. I went through this channel. There are times I go to its deep dark spot, I'll see something on television. Actually, I drive every day to a location that Christopher flipped the car in. And I found him, he walked away from it after flipping a car. I'd drive past that spot every day. And I think about it, but I don't let it ruin my day.

Steve Grant:

So, I'm trying to immerse myself in something else. But when I was writing this book, I had to tell people, well, why is it that Christopher thought there was a pill for every problem? Maybe it was because he started using Ritalin at five years old, because he was an active child. And the teacher said, "I think your son needs to have some Ritalin." And I remember as a parent saying, "Oh my God, he's already..." And then at the end of the year, "Well, I think he ought to repeat." So, "Okay, we'll repeat." And we go through this in my book. And then, next it's Adderall next, then it's whatever. Then that's whatever. Then that's whatever. And then, he gets an injury. He starts knowing about OxyContin, Lortabs. He goes to his doc, my doctor who is a good buddy of mine, a client. And he went one day after scoring three goals in a soccer game, and the next morning he said, "Oh, my knee's killing me dad." This was another one of these indicators. And the doctor knew it, because he was in there shopping opioids.

Steve Grant:

So he comes out of the car, he sits down next to me and he says, and I could tell he was obsessed, "What's the matter?" He said, "He gave me Mobic." "Mobic?" I said, "What is Mobic?" He said, "Mobic's like candy dad." And I'm sitting there going, shoot, I've got a pharmacist on my hands. And the doctor knew it. The doctor knew what he wanted, and he gave him Mobic. But Christopher knew that Mobic was like, "We don't want much. You don't sell Mobic to my friends," right?

Steve Grant:

So, the book goes into all those things. And it's really of more interest really to someone like you as much, because you've been through it. It's probably interesting for you just to read it yourself. And I always caution people that they're in recovery, it's clearly at the front of the book if you're recovering, this might be a difficult read. If you lost your children or any child that might be a difficult read. But for that parent that is very concerned about their seven, eight, 10 year old kids who are out and going out in the world, and maybe like I used to tell my kids when they were growing up, because of my family and my ex-wife's family, having some alcohol issues, significant alcohol issues, I say, "Guys, you're going to like something one day. I guarantee you, one of these days, you're going to like something. It might be bad, what you're going to like" okay? And I used to say that all of the time. I just say, "You're going to like something." Well, Kelly found heroin. Boom! And he liked it. Christopher found marijuana eventually. Boom! He loved it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But that's the thing about, and I want to touch on this, which is that that's the thing about marijuana. Like the substance is a symptom of the problem. And so, I think a lot of times people focus on what the substance is. Oh, it's marijuana and alcohol. Oh, it's this. And I think what's important is if your child or person you love, whatever, is seeking to feel differently than they feel using substances. It doesn't matter what that substance is.

Steve Grant:

It could be video games today. It could be video games on your cell phone, video games on your iPad. It could be anything. It could have been me shooting basketball, free throws for two hours every night, throwing up. You know what I mean? It was something that, it was my behavior, right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's about the escape. And I think that's the part that confuses or kind of hides this issue is where people say, "Well, he's just doing XYZ." And I say, "Look, it doesn't matter what the substance is." They'll change substances. They'll switch to... It may not be their drug of choice and they'll use it. Or when people say, kind of like, "Your son did," and I hated, which is, "Oh, I'm going to stop the alcohol, but I'm going to continue with the marijuana," or whatever, insert, whatever. It's not about the substance, I mean, substances aren't... Heroin, isn't evil. You put it on a desk and it doesn't do anything. It's not going to hurt anybody. It's not the substance, it's about what happens, what it's doing for that person.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And I just think it's so important that we're talking about, look, we've a mental health crisis on our hands. And the reason that people, children, there was a, I did a press tour recently and there was a, they did an opener about me and they're like, "Childhood drinker, Ashley." And I started laughing. I was a childhood drinker. But I realized I was a childhood drinker. I was a little, little kid. And why was that? Because I didn't have the skills to deal with the feelings, the emotions, what was going on in my life. I didn't know how to do that. And these things solved that problem for me.

Steve Grant:

Yeah. You found something you liked.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I found something I liked.

Steve Grant:

Made you feel good.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yep. So anyway, I am just so grateful to you for being here and telling your story, it's amazing. And I want to direct everybody to your Foundation site and help with that cause, because I think that you're doing amazing work and I want as many people to know about it. What's the name of your book?

Steve Grant:

The book is called, Don't Forget Me. And real quickly, the publisher had a great idea. He got a picture from me with Christopher, and before 2005, took a selfie of his hand reaching up into the sky. I don't know why he took it. I kept it, it was a color picture, just his left hand reaching up to the sky. So they took that picture and they made it the cover of the book. And for some significance. So there's some clouds in the picture. So he's reaching up to the clouds. And then Don't Forget Me, came from a picture that my mother found, after both my sons had died, we're going through some pictures. And she said, "Have you seen this picture Steve?" I said, "Yeah, that's a picture of Christopher playing soccer in the ninth grade. You know that mom." She said, "No, have you read the back of it?"

Steve Grant:

And I said, "No, what's on the back of it?" She said, it's Christopher's handwriting, "Don't forget me." And my mom said, "Well, what is that?" I said, "Well, I think that's a God wink or God thing," because I said I've never seen this before.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh my God.

Steve Grant:

Yeah, it's really eerie. So that's where Don't Forget Me came, and the picture's in the book, and his handwriting is not very good. And it was very obvious that it was his. So I was, "Wow!" So the book's Don't Forget Me. It came out February 4th. We had a great article in the Wall Street Journal about it, which is I think, where you may have found out about me. And then, there was a subsequent article about me in the Wall Street Journal, had a lot of interest from that. And a lot of things like this podcast. It was also Amazon's number one, bestseller for three weeks in the drug and alcohol category. So, it's going to help some lot of people, but proceeds, most of the proceeds go to the Foundation. So I'm always interested in selling more and it was sold out several times. It was nice to hear that from my friends who said, "I tried to order it, but it's on order."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Yeah. That's amazing.

Steve Grant:

Yeah. The book world is a... I don't know if you've written a book yet Ashley. But the book world, I'm not writing another book. This is a one and done. And I really do mean that. And I don't think those are words I'll ever regret, but it's not that I hated it, but it's a long process. And it's not as easy as people think.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. I have a book on Amazon that was published by my company. So I didn't have to go through a real publisher, but I've heard that it's intense.

Steve Grant:

Yeah, it is. It is. And it was, I had to. The reason I think the book has done well again, is because we tell the why. We have a guy named James Campbell, who I became, who's an addictionologist, his PhD. He happened to be in Greenville. I happened to know him through the course of contributing to different organizations. I asked him, "Hey, listen, can you help me write this book?" And he said, "I'd love to, be honored to." So I would tell him a story, and he'd say, "Well, this is why this happens." And so, there's a lot of pictures in it. A lot of notes. I kept everything from rehabs. I kept everything from doctor's reports, kept all the letters that I got that told me what a jerk I was. "This is the best thing that ever happened to me dad," and all those. Because it kind of lets people know that they're not alone in this battle. This is a behavior that their son or daughter had too, or this could happen.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Yeah. Thank you so much for writing that and giving that. I know it, it means a lot to people out there to share that. And it's an extraordinary from wonderful to terrible on every spectrum story. Tell us where people can find the Foundation.

Steve Grant:

The Foundation is www.chriskellyhope.org. And on that, Stacy [Devil 01:39:43] does a great job keeping up with all the things that I do. And eventually when this goes public, we will post this on our website hopefully. And there's a lot of things on it. And then we have a separate website for the book of course. And so yeah, we get a lot of interesting things.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Yeah. It's wonderful. Well, thank you so very much for being here and for doing this and sharing your story with me and your time. I really appreciate it. And I love what you're doing and we'll definitely be an active supporter.

Steve Grant:

But I appreciate it too. And I most enjoy meeting people like you.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Thank you.

Steve Grant:

It's a great thing you do. And congratulations on your own sobriety.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Thank you. Thank you so much.

Steve Grant:

And thank your husband too, and God bless you.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Thank you. Thank you. You as well.

Steve Grant:

Take care. Thanks Ashley.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Thanks Steve.

Steve Grant:

Bye now.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Bye.

Speaker 1:

This podcast is sponsored by Lion Rock Recovery. Lion Rock provides online substance abuse counseling where clients can get help from the privacy of their own home. They're accredited by the Joint Commission, and sessions are private affordable, and user-friendly. Call their free helpline at 800-258-6550 or visit www.lionrockrecovery.com for more information.

PART 4 OF 4 ENDS [01:41:10]