I wanted to share a personal and painful story. Last week my youngest brother died of alcohol use disorder.
He was only 53 years old and left behind three beautiful daughters, two equally beautiful grandchildren, three older brothers and his mother.
My brother was special in many ways, but more relevant to this communication is that he was in and out of detox and treatment several times during his life.
Unfortunately, in the end he relapsed and died.
This brings home to me the tremendous importance of what we all do in the substance use prevention, treatment and recovery fields.
Part of my brother’s legacy for me is to recommitment myself to two things.
First, to share with anyone who will listen that substance use disorders (SUDs) specifically, and mental health problems in general, are largely brain diseases.
I believe this fact is important to communicate to combat stigma that prevents those suffering from SUDs from seeking help, family members from helping in productive ways, and organizations and professionals from providing more and better treatment options.
Relatedly, I also pledge to advocate for more appealing and accessible detox, treatment and recovery opportunities for those suffering from these insidious brain diseases.
Second, I promise to work even harder to assist and support substance use prevention and health professionals and advocates to get training in using cost-effective, practical strategies to prevent substance use and promote protective wellness lifestyles and identities.
I want to thank those of you who work tirelessly, and in most cases without great reward, recognition or recompense, to protect and promote the health and well-being of youth, young adults and adults in general and at high risk by providing and advocating for effective and accessible prevention, treatment and recovery services.
I hope sharing my story with you will help in some small way to remind you of the literally life-saving importance of the work you all do for youth, families and communities throughout our country and world.
If there is anything I can do to help you in your critical mission to prevent substance use and substance use disorders among young people and those at high risk, and to promote their physical and mental health, it is my great honor and my personal and professional mission.
Chudley Werch, PhD, President
Prevention Plus Wellness, LLC