The loss of a child is difficult for any parent. Losing a child to drugs or alcohol addiction can sometimes leave a parent wondering if they could have done more to save their child. For Gary Mendell, the loss of his son inspired him to create an organization called Shatterproof.
The organization is committed to protecting children from drugs as well as overcoming the stigmas associated with addiction. Mendell described his son, Bryan, as “what every father could ask for and more.” When he tried marijuana for the first time a year before high school, he became addicted.
“It connected with his brain biologically different than other people and he became addicted, unknown to him. And once you’re addicted, it’s a nightmare. He couldn’t talk about disease that is so difficult and so powerful.” After realizing he had an addiction, Mendell said his son sought treatment.
“And then he entered a treatment system, which in this country is 100 years behind the treatment of all of the other diseases. The treatment system out there is not based on science. The science isn’t there yet. And even worse, you enter a system where you’re shamed, you’re isolated, you’re ashamed of who you are because society doesn’t say you have a disease, society says you’re a bad person.”
One of the problems according to Mendell is that even though there are 13,000 treatment programs in the United States, including both in-patient and out-patient, these programs do not follow protocols advised by the scientific community.
“You want to stop, but you’re brain’s telling you to use regardless of the consequences,” Mendell explained.
Shatterproof will focus on advocacy, changing public policies, research, treatment approaches and ending the stigma. Mendell and Shatterproof will coming to downtown Pittsburgh June 25 to raise awareness and funding to the cause by having approximately 100 people be fitted, trained by experts, fastened with equipment, and rappel from the Westin at the Convention Center.