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Henry's Story: A young man's battle with drug addiction and the family who tried to save him

8:58 AM, Nov 2, 2010   |    comments
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On Wednesday, October 27, 2010, WBIR aired Henry's Story.  It's the story of a young man whose life was cut short by drug abuse.  The special will re-air on Saturday, October 30, at 7:30 pm.

Henry Granju was from a loving, supportive family but fell into drug abuse at a young age.  Despite his family's efforts to help him, including two trips to rehab and various treatment attempts, he died of a drug overdose this year at 18 years old.

His family hopes that by sharing his story, they will bring awareness to the very real threat that any family could face.  If you watch the documentary above, you'll hear from his mother and father, siblings, and other close family members, along with doctors and counselors about Henry's problem, and the greater problem in East Tennessee.

Henry's mother, Katie, is a prominent blogger.  Here is how she explains the decision to share Henry's Story in her blog:

The program tells the story of my son Henry's life, struggle with addiction and his death from drugs on May 31, 2010. Henry was only 18 years old.

The WBIR special features interviews with many of the people who loved and knew Henry best, although obviously, it wasn't possible to interview every single person who was important in Henry's life. There are lots of people - grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, teachers, friends and counselors who don't actually appear in the show, but who loved Henry a lot and who were loved a lot in return.

I have watched the special in advance of its premiere tonight, and I think it's beautifully done. One point it manages to make very well is that for Henry, particularly by the last 18 months of his life (9 months of which were spent in inpatient addiction treatment), there was nothing "fun" or happy about his drug abuse. It was no longer a situation where a teenage boy was partying with his friends or just looking to have some fun in a dangerous way.

By the last year or two of his short life - after Henry became involved with the prescription drugs that eventually killed him - Henry was physically and mentally addicted. Every day for him became a painful, depressing, terrible struggle to find a way to procure enough of the chemicals that day that would keep him from becoming very sick with withdrawal. He told me that once he started using the pills, he woke up every morning determined not to use that day, but went to sleep every night feeling like a complete failure.

I hope that viewers come away from watching Henry's Story tonight understanding that drug addiction - real drug addiction like that which tormented my teenage son - is not a "lifestyle choice" that ANYONE would make. No teenage boy with a loving family, a good education and all the opportunity in the world ahead of him is CHOOSING to hang around outside of homeless shelters in the afternoons, trying to score a fix from other homeless people because that's a fun thing to do. That "lifestyle" is not some sort of careless teenage partying (which is where his addiction started).

No, in fact Henry's life as a drug addict was - for him - depressing, dangerous, humiliating, painful and ultimately, fatal. My teenager's addiction pulled him away from everything he had known - loving parents and siblings, a comfortable home, good schools, family travel, music and community - and launched him into a frightening underworld of dangerous, cruel people and places who were able to prey on my child because he was both naive and desperate. He was sick. That's all there was to it; Henry was very, very sick.

If you or a loved one needs help in recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, click here.

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