Communities through Central Jersey will hold events Aug. 31 in observance of International Overdose Awareness Day aimed at ending drug deaths.
Suzanne Russell | Wochit

Brian Mendell was a young man who died as a direct result of his addiction to drugs on Oct. 20, 2011.

Like other parents that I’ve written about, Gary Mendell was devastated by his son’s death and he created Shatterproof to “spare other families the tragedy we suffered.”

Mendell earned hundreds of millions of dollars in the hotel industry, but he now directs all of his energy to fighting addiction by informing the public about the problem, ending the stigma, and advocating for policy change at the state and federal levels.

In August, Mendell talked with me about his experiences and the mission of Shatterproof.

READ: #EndOverdose Saint Peter’s spearheads campaign to tackle opioid addiction

READ: RWJ-Somerset builds new road to recovery for opioid addicts

READ: Old Bridge creating townwide program to fight opioid addiction

Question: Before Brian’s substance misuse disorder surfaced, what was your view and experience about alcohol and drug abuse?

Answer: That’s such a good question. I had no experience with it. I viewed it as the result of poor choices and a lack of will to change. I had no idea. When Brian’s problem developed and he struggled despite treatment, I thought…