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Erik Kramer opens up about his son’s heroin overdose

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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.”

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17 Responses to “Erik Kramer opens up about his son’s heroin overdose”
  1. duanethomas says: Apr 15, 2012 11:40 AM

    My heart goes out to Erik and his family on the loss of their son.

  2. bchapman2011 says: Apr 15, 2012 11:44 AM

    Maybe its just me but it seems like he speaks kind of harshly about his son. It doesn’t sound like there is a lot of compassion or understanding there. Nobody grows up saying I want to slowly kill myself by injecting poison in my body. There is a lot of emotional issues that go with that

  3. grannyvi4 says: Apr 15, 2012 12:12 PM

    So sad. Addiction is a horrible disease for the addicted, as well as family and friends. Erik’s right….it’s a selfish disease. It becomes all about them and their need for their drug(s) of choice and about their problems that make them crave the drug(s).

    More horrible is that it’s a crapshoot whether your loved one will be lucky enough to come out on the other side. Despite all the love and support you give them, and despite doing all the right things, sometimes it’s just not enough.

    Hopefully the family finds peace in knowing there’s only so much they could do and that they did all they could to help this young man.

  4. bearsfan4life says: Apr 15, 2012 12:23 PM

    Drugs fool the users into thinking the users need the drugs to make it through the day.

    It is a very viscous cycle.

    Some users need the cold harsh reality of jail to wake up. But the solution isn’t long jail sentences. The solution is identifying the problem within the user and offering treatment. The user needs to understand why they are masking the pain in their life with drugs and be taught ways to overcome.

    3 hots and a cot for possession is a hoax and a crime upon the user committed by the prosecutors and the state. It is justification for their inflated budgets and salaries on this failed “drug war.”

    Oh…. and the picture of Kramer should have been him wearing the navy and orange!

  5. fritz1218 says: Apr 15, 2012 12:26 PM

    bchapman,,, Sounds like he understands a lot more than you do. He realizes his son’s using effects the whole family and he’s doing something about it and suggests that others do the same. One never gets through to an addict by trying to understand him/her but rather be truthful to them even if it hurts. Usually all the addict wants is pity for an excuse and that’s the wrong thing to give them.
    Way to go Erik, keep on doing what you’re doing. It may help another family. I am sorry for your loss and what it must be like to go through what you’re going through!!!!!

  6. j0esixpack says: Apr 15, 2012 1:03 PM

    Our hearts go out to them in their loss… I applaud them for trying to find some good out the tragedy by educating others… heroin is cheap and plentiful and in a down economy that’s a prescription for widespread deaths. No one is immune – it matters not if you are rich or poor, black or white.

    the thought that only “those people” are at risk of this sort of addiction is what kills the most

    thanks to this family they are breaking through that stigma and making sure their son’s loss may save others

  7. nflfollower says: Apr 15, 2012 1:12 PM

    Yup, using by teenage kids does affect the whole family, and many times the adults have no idea how to handle it, even tho they have the best intentions. Kudos to Kramer for speaking out on that point, its an incredibly difficult situation and parents / siblings can really benefit as well from the help of a professional who deals with this daily. Users do need a support system that WILL hold them accountable.

  8. sportmentary says: Apr 15, 2012 1:20 PM

    I don’t think he’s talking harshly about his son. He’s telling the truth about his experience having a drug addict as a son. Maybe parents will take his words seriously, since it is a life or death situation.

    Kudos to Kramer for stepping forward and trying to educate other parents!

  9. apage53915 says: Apr 15, 2012 1:40 PM

    Can’t imagine losing one of my children at that age, I don’t think I would even want to talk about much less speak publicly about it. Good for him, if he helps 1 family with the same addiction problem that would be awesome.

  10. fdugrad says: Apr 15, 2012 2:04 PM

    As a public school teacher of some forty years, I have seen over the decades how frightening early kids have to make life altering decisions. It is not unusual for students to be confronted with choices regarding any number of substances as early as fifth and sixth grade. Consequences and the future are abstract ideas to young minds. Peers have more sway many times over kids than parents at this time of development. I realize I am OLD, however I did not even SEE a joint until I was a freshman in COLLEGE!! It was considerably easier for me to make serious decisions lasting a lifetime when my concept of the future was not “now” and “not now”as it is with young kids. It is SO complex and difficult to raise children presently. Keep up the good fight Mr. Kramer, and God comfort you and yours.

  11. alefty says: Apr 15, 2012 3:05 PM

    Knowledge is key. Seeking support, help and understanding when addiction shows itself with your child will improve the chances of a positive outcome.

  12. rajbais says: Apr 15, 2012 6:01 PM

    That’s awfully admirable of him.

    It’s sad to see what happened to his kid.

  13. zz56 says: Apr 15, 2012 6:57 PM

    I pray Erik Kramer will find peace for himself & his extended family. Thanks for the inspiring words Erik.

    God Love You!

  14. itsmebobd says: Apr 15, 2012 8:35 PM

    I love how people with no idea how addiction works are passing judgement on others who have it. Sure, some people do in fact steal and lie and commit horrible atrocities that tear families apart, but not all drug addicts hurt others. In fact, alot of them hurt only themselves, in many ways. Its very unfortunate that his son couldn’t be on methadone or suboxone therapy to do a very slow and gradual detox. Detox alone is why most addicts cannot quit opiates, its the worst addiction their is. I bet 90% of these on here posting how these people are selfing, have no idea the hell these people go through during detox.

  15. fritz1218 says: Apr 16, 2012 12:04 AM

    itsbod, I love how you have no idea how an addict or drunk affects the lives of loved one. As a matter of fact it sounds like a lot of people understand recovery more than you do. There are different detox’s for all of us and yours is not worse than other addicts or drunks it just different. Maybe if you quit feeling sorry for yourself & thinking that only you know you’ll discover that you’re about as unique as crabgrass. This program of recovery that we have will give you the second chance to become the person you wanted to be in the first place. Good luck.

  16. fritz1218 says: Apr 16, 2012 12:04 AM

    And another thing. What the heck is selfing???

  17. lilmiddle78 says: Apr 16, 2012 3:54 AM

    There are so many different levels of addiction, it’s really hard to guess what type of situation this young man was in. Being only 18 he very well may have been considering himself a casual user and not had a full realization that every score, every high was wrapping him up tighter & tighter in his addiction!!

    It sounds like Kramer was a parent who really knew his son, well enough to realize his flaws at least. It must be hard to speak of your late son, making light of his weaknesses & flaws for the sake of another family understanding what it might take to beat addiction & reclaim their loved one!!

    “Use, don’t Abuse”!!??
    Sometimes that’s just no possible!!

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