More than 22 million Americans have a substance use disorder and over 370 people die from an overdose every day, leaving behind tens of millions of family members and loved ones. Addiction can be the catalyst of shattered lives and relationships for everyone involved.

Shatterproof is a non-profit organization that has established a community of ambassadors, advocates and supporters. The organization is dedicated to providing treatment for people who are struggling with substance use disorders and decreasing the effects that addiction has on families and loved ones. Shatterproof strives to be an advocate for those individuals and families that are afflicted by addiction and provide evidence-based treatment that can close the gap between addiction treatment and efficacy.

The mission of Shatterproof is to help our country understand that addiction, like other diseases, needs to receive funding for research and treatment so that everyone who needs help can receive it.

How Shatterproof Began

CEO and founder, Gary Mendell, created the organization after losing his son to addiction. Mendell notes that it isn’t just the addiction that can cause the death of someone who is struggling, but the negative stigma that is often associated with the disease can eventually result in death.

Mendell shares how his son expressed that he felt shame every morning when he opened his eyes, telling him in one instance, “Dad, 300 years ago, they burned women on stakes in Salem, Massachusetts, because they thought they were witches. Later they learned they weren’t and stopped. Someday, people will realize that I am not a bad person. That I have a disease and I am trying my hardest.”  

Mendell’s son shared these words during their last visit together. Four months later, his son died. Mendell made a promise to his son that he would spare other families from having to experience the tragedy of losing a loved one to a disease that often goes untreated and is often overlooked by insurance or research studies.

Mendell recognizes that for most major diseases in America, excluding addiction, a well-funded national organization exists. These organizations implement programs advocating for prevention, treatment and recovery and he thought there should be one for addiction that could offer evidence-based resources for addiction similar to, for example, heart disease. He wanted to create an organization that fostered tolerance and compassion, and he wanted to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with substance use disorders.

Programs and Projects

Shatterproof created a Substance Use Disorder Treatment Task Force with the goal to provide high quality, evidence-based addiction treatment and care to significantly improve the outcomes for patients.

The task force aims to close the gap and bridge barriers of the current system in place for addiction treatment. This public-private group also strives to provide the most recent and up-to-date treatment and increase access to these programs for all. Gary Mendell, CEO and founder of Shatterproof co-chairs the task force with Dr. Thomas McLellan, founder of the Treatment Research Institute and former deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Strategy.

The task force believes that addiction treatment programs have fallen behind treatment that is available for other diseases. They believe that the reasons are due to the separation from the mainstream health care system, policy barriers and stigma. The task force’s first step toward implementing research and evidence-based practices is the establishment of The Shatterproof National Principles of Care for addiction treatment.

The initiatives for the standard care of substance use disorder treatment include:

  • Changing payment by health insurance companies to incentivize quality care  
  • Engaging providers and support them to provide quality care
  • Educating consumers to identify and demand high-quality care

Shatterproof’s task force follows eight principles of treatment:

  1. Routine screenings in every medical setting
  2. A personal plan for every patient
  3. Fast access to treatment
  4. Disease management, that extends beyond 28 days
  5. Coordinated care for every illness
  6. Behavioral health care from legitimate providers
  7. Medication-assisted treatment
  8. Support for recovery outside of the doctor’s office

In addition to the establishment of the task force and the principles of substance use disorder treatment, Shatterproof also mobilizes families who have been affected by addiction. As advocates, Shatterproof provides these families with a platform for their voice to be heard. With the support from the public, Shatterproof has also been able to expand access for naloxone (a lifesaving medication against overdoses), strengthening prescription drug monitoring programs and ensuring prescriber practices align with the CDC guidelines for prescribing opioids.

Shatterproof’s Community Alliance program was formed with the goal of shattering the stigmas associated with addiction. The program provides education and supportive advocacy efforts. Shatterproof joins federal and state legislation battles and supported laws like the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act.

Become an Advocate

Shatterproof spotlights its advocates as one of the main reasons for their success. While the board and other partnerships contribute to the organization’s cause, becoming an advocate and creating a movement can help close the gaps and remove barriers in addiction treatment.

Shatterproof’s influence is increasing and helping to change the way that addiction is perceived in America. By changing perception, we can change the way addiction treatment is approached and save lives.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.