Just six weeks ago, my youngest brother Scott passed away from alcohol use disorder, also referred to as alcoholism.
He was only 53 years old and he left behind three beautiful daughters, an equally beautiful grandson and granddaughter, his mother and three older brothers of which I am the oldest.
Scott was a navy veteran who bravely served on the USS Ranger aircraft carrier as a crash and rescue specialist.
He was as I said very brave and physically strong, but also an extremely sensitive and gentle soul.
My brother began drinking early in his youth and his brain disorder progressed rapidly.
He said that during R and R from the navy he would hole up in any motel room at whatever port he was stationed and drink an entire bottle of vodka each night.
Vodka was his drink of choice because others could not easily smell that he’d been drinking.
Scott was charged with a number of DUI’s throughout his life and was in and out of treatment and recovery a couple of times, but eventually relapsed each time.
In the end he was found alone in his apartment dead with two empty vodka bottles near him.
As a youth, my brother was not exposed to evidence-based substance use prevention programs that could have postponed or even prevented his disorder.
Once his alcohol use disorder developed, he had access to very few affordable and effective treatment and recovery options.
As substance abuse specialists, I’m sure this all sounds familiar to you.
I share this tragic, painful and preventable personal story with you to remind you that as substance abuse specialists, you should never think that what you do does not save and improve the lives of others.
Your work save lives!
This truth should never leave you and in fact should be on your mind at the start of every day and at every day’s conclusion.
What you do saves lives!
What you do for youth, families and communities is absolutely critical.
I hope part of my brother’s legacy his that his story will raise you up during difficult and frustrating times at your job.
I hope my brother’s story will always remind you of your essential mission to protect and promote the health, wellbeing and lives of vulnerable young people and others in your community.
Thank you so very much for all you do for others.
If I can help or support your critical mission to prevent substance use and substance use disorders among youth and high-risk adults in your region, state or nation, please let me know.
That’s why I’m here and that is why Prevention Plus Wellness is here.
Chudley Werch, PhD, President
Prevention Plus Wellness, LLC