Former NFL quarterback Erik Kramer lost his 18-year-old son to a heroin overdose in October, and he’s now speaking publicly in an effort to educate other parents.
Kramer says it’s important for parents whose children have drug problems to realize that it’s not just their children who need treatment. Parents need to get support to help them learn the right ways to help their children.
“Kids that get involved in drugs, they need treatment,” Kramer told the Chicago Tribune. “But . . . the parents need it as much or more. Many of the problems are parental. I have been in Al-Anon now for a couple of years. I have gone through the drug-treatment center where Griffen was. I continue to be a part of that culture. And to me, drug addiction is a self-absorbed disease. It’s also a disease of non-accountability. And parents do enable by never allowing their kids to be accountable and responsible.”
Kramer believes that his status as an NFL quarterback put added pressure on his son, who was a backup quarterback at his high school.
“He thought he should grow up and be in the NFL and be a superstar,” he said. “I think he carried that weight with him. From a very early age, it was very important to him to out-do his father. And as he got older, he didn’t have the work ethic that it would have taken.”
Kramer learned that for parents whose kids are struggling with addiction, getting them treatment is the only option.
“Sobriety for these kinds of kids,” Kramer said, “is life or death.”