written by
Melissa G.

“Stop the drug use before the drugs use you.”

Merriam-Webster defines prevention” as “the act of preventing or hindering.”

Synonyms for prevention: averting, forestallment, precluding.

If we could have hindered our son, Brandon’s, use of drugs the very first time we would have. If we could have prevented him from saying “yes” that very first time, we would have.

If we could have averted his use of drugs and encouraged him to talk about why he was anxious, we would have. Did we know? Probably not. But we did know from a very young age he suffered from irrational fears and low self-esteem. We didn’t know to label it as “Anxiety”.

We thought we were open with our children. We told them about drug use. Unfortunately, we were not educated. We were blindsided. Our children had curfews and we had to know where they were going and who they were with. We knew most of their friends’ parents. I am not sure if we ever thought the kids Brandon was hanging out with—the very kids he grew up with, went to church with, played ball with, and who spent as many nights with us as they did in their own homes—were experimenting with drugs. We heard stories about other kids who were using drugs or drinking alcohol, but our kids were good kids. They told us everything. So we thought.

We didn’t know that the first few times Brandon experimented with drugs, he discovered he didn’t have to worry or be anxious when he was high. Eventually, there were signs. The young man that had dreams about a family and a future started making choices that were negatively affecting his life and our family. He quit college, and before he knew it, he had a wife, two children, and all the responsibilities and pressures that come with raising a family. How did he handle this? He used more drugs. He was 23 years old the first time he came to us and said, “I can’t stop on my own. I need help.”

On August 28, 2018, Brandon Duane Grider lost his 12-year battle with addiction. After nine months of sobriety, Brandon died from “Accidental Fentanyl Poisoning”.

Brandon was a loving father to two children that adored him and always protected him. He was a treasured son that worried about the impact his decisions had on his parents. He was a big brother to two sisters that wanted to save him. He was an uncle to three beautiful nieces. Brandon was a grandson and a nephew to family that loved him deeply. He was a loyal friend. When Brandon was deep in addiction, he was someone none of us recognized. Addiction will steal every part of your being. 

It cannot be left unsaid, most importantly, that Brandon was a child of The King, the living God that loves him more than we could ever imagine. He is home, he is whole, and he is safe. This does not mean we do not miss him. Not a day goes by that we do not cry for our loss. If we can save one person from the nightmare of addiction, Brandon’s death will not have been in vain.

When you ask my family what prevention means to us we would say, “Prevention means education—education in order to hinder the difficulties of drug use, education to avert and ward off the undesirable occurrences of drug use, and to turn away from drugs by taking action ahead of time. Don’t get blindsided.

Prevention means educating young and old people on the fact that addiction does not discriminate. It does not care who you are or what your social status is. More than 90% of people who have an addiction started to drink alcohol or use drugs before they were 18 years of age. We have to start education early.

Prevention means education about anxiety and trauma and of physical, mental, and sexual abuse, and how self-medicating for these issues is not dealing with them or healing from them. 20% of Americans who have depression or an anxiety disorder also have a substance abuse disorder. We have to take mental health seriously and seek help. We have to teach people how to break the cycle.

Prevention means education about the misuse of prescription drugs and opioids. About 10% of people who misuse prescription opioids become addicted. Approximately 2.1 million Americans have an opioid use disorder. About 5% of people with an opioid use disorder will try heroin.

Prevention means education on Fentanyl and how it is being used. When I asked Brandon’s son what prevention means to him he responded, “Stop the drug use before the drugs use you.” He is a genius.

Through our loss and the loss of other grieving families, a support group has been formed. Light from the Darkness provides grief recovery and support for those who have lost a friend or loved one to substance abuse or addiction. This is a safe environment to ease the pain for those left to cope. The group meets the 4th Thursday of every month at 5:30 pm, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2800 Trotwood Ave, Columbia TN. This group is free to join and open to anyone who has lost someone to substance abuse.

For more information contact us at (931) 982-1873.