The Below Deck captain opened up to Tamron Hall about how he is coping following his son's passing on July 22 at the age of 42. "It's tough. It's a minute-by-minute thing, to get through one minute to make it to the next," he said. "It's not hour-by-hour, it's not day-by-day, it's minute-by-minute."
Though it is incredibly difficult for Captain Lee to talk about his son's passing, he said he feels that it's important to share his story "because not enough people are paying attention" and "there's not enough people making enough noise" about addiction and the opioid epidemic in the country.
Josh had battled addiction for 20 years. "It's something that's very subtle. Nobody starts out saying, 'When I grow up I want to be a drug addict,'" Captain Lee said. "And there is such guilt and such shame and such a stigma attached to it. I was never ashamed of my son, ever."
Captain Lee got emotional as he recalled the day he found Josh at his home after he accidentally overdosed. "We're not designed to bury our children. We go through lives, we watch our parents grow old, we watch them fight certain diseases, diabetes, cancer, whatever, and we know that eventually we're gonna bury our parents. But parents aren't designed to bury their kids," Captain Lee said. "And it's a club that nobody should belong to. And it's preventable."
Captain Lee shared what he believes should be the next steps in helping others who struggle with addiction and combatting the opioid epidemic.
"We need to remove the stigma and the shame. Nobody thinks you're a bad person because you have cancer. Nobody thinks you're a bad person because your kidneys are failing. They don't even want to look at you if you're a drug addict. And the treatment that we're giving these kids or lack [thereof], you're not gonna take a drug addict and get him straight and get him clean and change his life in 45 days. You're not gonna do it in six months. You're not gonna do it in a year. You've got to alter their life. It's got to be a year or two-year program," he explained. "There's money out there to do that. It's out there. These hundreds of billions of dollars they're winning in these lawsuits, that's where it needs to go. And it needs to treat it like the disease it is and remove the shame so people aren't afraid to seek treatment."
Tamron told Captain Lee at the end of the interview, "You're a brave father, and I know he has to be so proud to know that his father's representing him."
"In the end, it wasn't enough," Captain Lee said in response. "That's part of the carnage that's left behind."
Captain Lee will be participating in the 14th Annual Sallarulo's Race for Champions in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 2 in memory of Josh in order to help raise money for Special Olympics Florida.
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