OWN Host Laura Berman's Son, 16, Dies After Drug Overdose: 'My Heart Is Completely Shattered'
The relationship therapist says her son bought fentanyl laced Xanax
Sex educator, researcher and therapist Dr. Laura Berman is mourning the death of her teenage son after a drug overdose. He was 16.
Berman, who hosts In the Bedroom on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, announced the tragic news to her followers Sunday on Instagram.
"My beautiful boy is gone. 16 years old. Sheltering at home," she captioned a photo of the two of them. "A drug dealer connected with him on Snapchat and gave him [fentanyl] laced Xanax and he overdosed in his room."
"They do this because it hooks people even more and is good for business but I causes overdose [sic] and the kids don't know what they are taking," she continued. "My heart is completely shattered and I am not sure how to keep breathing. I post this now only so that not one more kid dies. We watched him so closely. Straight A student. Getting ready for college. Experimentation gone bad. He got the drugs delivered to the house. Please watch your kids and WATCH SNAPCHAT especially. That's how they get them."
In a statement to PEOPLE on Monday, a spokesperson for Snapchat said the company is "committed to working together with law enforcement in this case and in all instances where Snapchat is used for illegal purposes."
"We have zero tolerance for using Snapchat to buy or sell illegal drugs," the statement continued. "Using Snapchat for illegal purposes is firmly against our community guidelines and we enforce against these violations. We are constantly improving our technological capabilities to detect drug-related activity so that we can intervene proactively. … We have no higher priority than keeping Snapchat a safe environment and we will continue to invest in protecting our community."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that fentanyl, a rapid-acting opioid, is 80 times as potent as morphine and hundreds of times more potent than heroin. Classified as a Schedule II drug by the federal government, its medical uses are typically pain management following surgery or for chronic pain.
A health alert issued in December by the CDC reported "substantial increases in drug overdose deaths across the United States, primarily driven by rapid increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids excluding methadone (hereafter referred to as synthetic opioids), likely illicitly manufactured fentanyl."
According to the provisional data, approximately 81,230 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. between June 2019 and May 2020, the largest number of drug overdoses for a 12-month period ever recorded.
The CDC recommended bolstering overdose prevention education and expanding the provision and use of naloxone, a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose, amongst other measures.
Berman is also mom to two other sons with husband Samuel Chapman. Last September, she posted a throwback photo on Instagram with two of her kids at the WGN Morning News studio in Chicago.
"Nothing is better than bringing together my biggest loves: my work and my children," she wrote.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.