“Until Bryson is ready to make a change, [there’s] nothing I [can] do,” the RHOA alum said of her 33-year-old son. “I’m kind of numb to it because it’s been happening for so many years.”
The Real Housewives of Atlanta alum NeNe Leakes is opening up about her son Bryson Bryant’s recent arrest.
In Part 1 of a two-part interview on Carlos King’s Reality with the King podcast, the 55-year-old reality star addressed her son Bryson’s legal trouble and his ongoing battle with drug addiction.
On July 3, Bryson was arrested in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and was charged with violating probation, possession of a schedule II controlled substance, loitering/prowling and giving giving a false name, address or birthdate, according to People. Bryson remains at Gwinnett County Jail on a $6,100 bond.
When King — a former Housewives producer — asked NeNe about her eldest child’s wellbeing, NeNe replied, “I spoke to him on the phone, I think he’s doing OK.”
“He needs rehabilitation,” she continued. “He needs a lot of counseling. Like many families out there, I have family members that are struggling with drugs and certain addictions. He has an addiction. He’s been struggling with it for years. He’s been in rehab for a couple of times, and he still has come back out and relapsed.”
NeNe added her son isn’t the only family member who has struggled with addiction, noting that her brother and close cousin also have battled it. “Unfortunately for us, our family there’s just been certain that have addicted to certain things, and it’s a real struggle,” she explained.
The Bravo star said she’s done all she can to help her son, adding that, at this point, he has to be “ready to make a change” on his own. However, NeNe admitted that as a mother, it’s been difficult, sharing that he’s feeling “numb to the situation.”
“As a mom, just to watch it, my hands are tied,” she said. “He is  years old, he’s an adult. He has three children — three beautiful children — who I adore. He has a wife. [There’s] not much that I can do. For people who have had children or family members that have been on drugs, they know that they have to be ready. They have to simply be ready.”
“I’ve spent so much money on trying to get Bryson where he needs to be,” she continued. “But every time I’ve sent him off is because I said, ‘You are getting your ass up, and we are sending you off.’ But I learned through counseling myself that he has to say, ‘I’m ready to go,’ not me making him go.
NeNe added, “So until Bryson is ready to make a change, [there’s] nothing I [can] do. As a mother, I would never wash my hands of my child, right? But, I’m kind of numb to it because it’s been happening for so many years. I’m just really kind of numb to the situation.”
NeNe — who is also mom to 24-year-old son Brentt from her marriage to late husband Gregg Leakes — also shared her thoughts on whether she believes she — and her family’s — many years on reality TV could have been a factor in “contribut[ing]” to Bryson’s struggles with drugs.
The TV personality appeared on The Real Housewives of Atlanta as a main cast member from Seasons 1 to 7, which aired from 2008 to 2014. She returned as a guest for Season 9, before she then came back as a full-time cast member in Season 10. NeNe officially exited the show after Season 12.
While NeNe doesn’t think her children growing up in the spotlight directly resulted in her son’s addiction, she admitted that she didn’t think it “helped.”
“I wouldn’t say that the sole cause of it, [but] it certainly didn’t help,” she said after King brought up the subject. “We started on television when Bryson was like in the 11th or 12th grade, and Brent was in third grade. And, so they’re, they’re having to be in a light shine, a light shine on them that they did not ask for.”
“People are picking them apart because of the job that I chose to do,” she continued. “And so I feel for them in that way. But there’s just issues that he has.”
“I don’t know addiction because I don’t have an addiction,” NeNe explained. “You know, I just know from what people have said to me. So I don’t think it has 100% to do with it, but it certainly does not help, being in the public eye.”
Part 2 of NeNe’s Reality with the King podcast interview drops on August 1.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, get help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline (1-800-662-4357) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress.