In September 2017, Bolling lost his only son, Eric Chase, to an overdose after Chase took a Xanax pill he bought on campus that was laced with fentanyl and cocaine. Chase was a sophomore at the University of Colorado.
Two months ago, de la Garza was left in shock when Lovato overdosed on opioids at her Hollywood Hills home, after six years of sobriety.
Over the past week, Bolling and de la Garza went on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and “The Sean Hannity Show,” and attended the premiere of “Not in Vein,” a film about opioids. to urge people to share their stories, to teach parents about having hard conversations about drugs, and to provide a cautionary tale that drug overdoses can happen to anyone.
“The stigma needs to be around the drug, not the person,” Bolling said.
The Epoch Times caught up with de la Garza and Bolling at the premiere of “Not in Vein.” Featuring journalist Sara Carter, the documentary explores what is feeding the opioid epidemic and tells the stories of some of those swimming against the tide to help the people they can.
This is de la Garza’s first foray into the spotlight as a crusader in the fight against opioids. Once it was clear that Lovato was on the road to recovery, de la Garza contacted Bolling about working together on raising awareness, which Bolling has been doing since his son passed away.
On July 24, Lovato was reportedly found unconscious at her home after a long night of partying.
Lovato’s assistant told de la Garza that Lovato was conscious but not talking.
“Anyone who knows my family knows that we are big talkers from the South and I knew that was not a good sign,” de la Garza said.
She started shaking so much that her oldest daughter, Dallas, had to drive them to the hospital, where they stayed for two days, wondering if Lovato was going to make it.
Just a few months before, Lovato had released a single called “Sober” in which she says, “Momma, I’m so sorry I’m not sober anymore/And daddy, please forgive me for the drinks spilled on the floor/To the ones who never left me/We’ve been down this road before/I’m so sorry, I’m not sober anymore.”
De la Garza, who doesn’t live with Lovato, said she had no idea until she started getting text messages and calls about her daughter’s overdose that anything was wrong.
“I can tell you that I wasn’t expecting to get a call that she had overdosed—at all,” she said.
She said used to tell her kids that she knew they would likely experiment with drugs and would warn them to be cautious about it. But now, she would warn them that using drugs is like “like putting a gun to your head and playing Russian roulette … it could be the last thing you ever do.”
Bolling agreed. In his case, there wasn’t much he could have warned his son about—Chase thought he was getting a pill to treat anxiety, not a heroin fix or some other type of street drug. Bolling had just visited him the day before and said there wasn’t any sign of what was coming. He still urges parents to become educated about the dangers of drugs, and to talk to their kids about it frequently, as well as to not be in denial that their kids would experiment with illicit substances.
“As a parent, Not My Kid Syndrome—my kid’s too smart, my kid’s too beautiful, too friendly, too popular, too athletic—Not My Kid Syndrome is deadly and can kill if you don’t have the conversation,” he said. “Your kid is not immune.
“You want your kids to feel like they’re independent and they’re growing up and you trust them, but the drugs that are on the street right now have become so powerful, so strong, and so quickly, it’s surpassed society’s ability to regulate it.”
Bolling has been working with President Donald Trump, who reached out to him shortly after his son’s death, to develop policy around combating the scourge of opioids that killed an estimated 49,000 people in the United States last year.
The Trump administration’s efforts at securing the border, cracking down on international gangs like MS-13, and increasing screening for mail coming into the country are aimed at stemming the flow of drugs into the United States. Bolling said that while that is a big part of the problem, he would also like to see more resources directed to treatment.
“Not just all on enforcement, [but] creating more opportunities for beds for recovery. It’s gotta be both,” he said.