Layne Staley would have turned 50 years old on Aug. 22, and his mother, Nancy McCallum, speaks about the Alice In Chains vocalist's battles with drugs, as well as the current U.S. opioid crisis, in a new interview with the Seattle Times. In the interview, she also recalls the harrowing moment that she sat next to Layne's deceased body after she had a police officer break down the door to find him.

Remembering her son's early days, McCallum said, “Layne was the quietest child in his high school class. The stage gave him permission to do what we all want to do sometimes: Just scream.” As for his battle with drugs, she says, “He was touring around the world, he was at home and he was in treatment. He was caught in a trap. I came to understand it too late."

She adds, “Addiction is a disease like any other. Like a cancer, it can be treated, but it can also reoccur. We shouldn’t judge. The emphasis should be on research and treatment.”

She then recounted showing up to her son's apartment with a police officer when he was found dead in April 2002. The officer told her not to go in, but she did anyway, and sat down on the couch next to Layne's body, after it had been there undiscovered for two weeks. “I promised that I would always be there for my children. I told him I was sorry this was how it turned out."

"Society thinks mothers are weak and whiny, but women go to war, we have babies," explains McCallum. "This was my war. While others were in Afghanistan and Iraq, he was fighting a war at home. He chose to write about it and sing about it and perform about it. It was a warning.”

As for today's opioid crisis that is plaguing America, McCallum says, “I don’t have any magic answers. I just try to console people. It’s heartbreaking and overwhelming and unnecessary. But I know it’s coupled with a proclivity for habitual behavior. I will never be able to understand even trying something that is so dangerous. I’m as bewildered as the next person, because I see a beautiful world.”

She encourages families to attend 12-step programs, and adds, “When someone is charging you thousands of dollars, promising they will heal addiction, far away from home or with religion, you are being misled."

You can read the entire heart-wrenching article at the Seattle Times. A Layne Staley tribute concert will take place tomorrow night (Aug. 19) at the Moore Theater in Seattle.

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