“It’s a good story. It’s an unfortunate story, but it’s a very timely story,” Steve Grant says. He felt his story needed to be heard so much so that he wrote a book titled “Don’t Forget Me.”
Grant exposes the gruesome truth of a parent’s worst nightmare — the loss of not only one child but two — and a nasty disease that’s ripping apart families.
“We have two boys who took two different paths to the same outcome,” he says. His sons, Chris and Kelly Grant, both died of accidental drug overdoses within five years of each other.
“This disease now is a white, middle-class disease,” Grant says of addiction. “A lot of families are affected by it.”
Oftentimes parents who lose children to addiction are paralyzed by shame, according to Grant. “We tell them in this book that the parents have nothing to be ashamed of, they have nothing to be guilty of, and they really didn’t cause the problem,” he says.
While stigma continues to exist around the issue, Grant views addiction as not simply a choice but rather as an illness.
“It’s just like any other illness; it’s like cancer, and you can treat cancer,” he says. “If you’re addicted, you’re going to get treatment for the addiction.”
Grant notes that his book, “Don’t Forget Me,” is written from the perspective of a parent and doesn’t discuss the politics of whether treatment works.
Although his sons both struggled with substance abuse and addiction, Grant felt none of the stigma some parents experience.
“I didn’t feel guilty at all. I didn’t feel any shame at all,” he says. “And I didn’t really care what anybody thought of me. All I really cared about was helping my sons.”
Grant speaks openly about his sons’ deaths, saying that a lot of grief is based on guilt — something he doesn’t have.
“I’m comfortable with my efforts to help them,” he says. “Yes, I wish my second son would have gone to rehab. I offered it to him, but he wouldn’t go.”
His oldest son, Chris, went to rehab five times plus an expensive boarding school. Kelly never went to rehab.
“Everything I read about that would happen to a family of someone with an addicted child just about happened,” Grant says. “We almost went bankrupt, had lawyers all over the place, police; my marriage of 25 years dissolved because of it.”
In 2012, Grant started Chris and Kelly’s HOPE Foundation in Greenville to combat substance abuse and addiction. The foundation provides financial assistance to programs that treat teens and young adults.