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Melissa Etheridge Reflects on Losing Her Son to an Opioid Overdose in ‘I’m Not Broken’ Docuseries

In an exclusive clip from the two-part documentary, the musician opens up about how the death of her son and letters from incarcerated women with similar addiction struggles have inspired her

Melissa Etheridge‘s docuseries I’m Not Broken chronicles the musician’s correspondence with five incarcerated women who shared stories of their battles with substance abuse with her in harrowing letters. In an exclusive clip from the two-part release, premiering July 9 and 10 on Paramount+, the artist explains how their stories connected to her own after the 2020 death of her son Beckett Cypher at the age of 21.

“The letters I’ve been getting from the residents, they all have the core of drug abuse,” Etheridge explains. “I lost my son three years ago to a fentanyl opioid overdose. It is an epidemic. And in all of the letters, no matter what was the thing that actually got them put in here, it’s all fueled by the drug addiction that begins when they’re trying to get out of pain from whatever happened to them.”

These reflections inspired Etheridge to write an original song based on the women she encountered at the Topeka Correctional Facility in Kansas. “I’ll tell them, look, I wrote this song,” she says in the clip. “You’re my inspiration. This is for you.”


Etheridge performed a concert at the correctional facility in 2023, later releasing the performance as a live album. I’m Not Broken follows the musician as she prepares for the event while highlighting themes of incarceration and addiction. An early trailer for the docuseries notes that nearly half of the incarcerated women in the United States struggle with some form of substance abuse issues.

“I’m excited for audiences to join me on this powerful journey and hear these remarkable stories filled with pain and struggle but also hope and healing,” Etheridge said in a statement when the series was first announced. “I hope that this docuseries shows viewers the challenges that women face in our prison system while also serving as a resource to those who currently are struggling.”

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