Brian Mendell was a child who loved the outdoors and had an infectious smile. In elementary school, Brian started to experience difficulties and was diagnosed with ADD. He was also later diagnosed with anxiety, depression and traits of Asperger's.
Brian started smoking marijuana at the age of 13 with some of his friends. He, unlike some of his friends, became addicted to marijuana and ultimately became addicted to opioids. He went through numerous treatment programs, struggled immensely, relapsed frequently and ultimately took his own life after a long battle with addiction in the fall of 2011.
"What I miss most is the emotional connection we shared," said Gary Mendell, Brian's father. "We were soul mates. As Brian once wrote in a letter from a wilderness program, 'Dad, underneath we are twins; I see it out here a lot - Mom and Dad I don't think I've ever missed you more or realized how much you do for me and I want you to know I know all your decisions are out of love. Love, Brian.' I miss Brian every minute of every day."
Gary, a successful hotel entrepreneur, channeled his feelings into doing something to help other individuals suffering from addiction. He read everything he could about what research says about effective drug treatment and ultimately developed an organization called Shatterproof, with a mission of protecting loved ones from addiction to illicit and prescription drugs, and alcohol, and ending the stigma and suffering of those affected by this disease.
Gary has since donated and raised millions of dollars and has advocated for smart approaches to ending the opioid epidemic.
Informed Families is grateful for the wonderful work that Gary Mendell and Shatterproof are doing to help end the stigma of addiction and to help individuals suffering from addiction get the kind of support that will help them lead healthy, productive and happy lives.