Ashley Brewer, a resident of Dickinson for the earlier 11 years, is a 32-year-old widow and mom to a few younger kids aged 12, 10 and three.
In 2011, Ashley Brewer moved to North Dakota together with her late husband Ray, however little did she know the way darkish and tough occasions forward could be.
“He had at all times had psychological well being points. I swear he was bipolar and anyone that was actually near him thought the identical factor, however getting him recognized is subsequent to inconceivable right here,” Brewer mentioned. “He had substance abuse points from the time he was 14, primarily alcohol, however at occasions different issues.”
On Nov. 22, 2015, Ray received his left hand injured whereas engaged on a job in Wyoming. For the following 12 months, the married couple spent hours operating from ready room to the following consulting appointment with medical doctors centered on how they may restore the damages. It was to no avail, amputation was the one resolution.
To take care of the rollercoaster of feelings following, together with bouts with extreme PTSD, medical doctors prescribed Ray Brewer Xanax — an addictive Schedule IV drug and sedative used to deal with nervousness and panic dysfunction, however documented to trigger paranoid or suicidal ideations, impair reminiscence, judgment and coordination.
“All people’s repair for it on this city was Xanax. As a substitute of doing the work to repair it, they tried to masks it. And that is what they do on this city is that they push capsules as a substitute of really attending to the foundation of the issues,” she mentioned, including that the lack of Ray’s hand left him “feeling like half a person.”
As soon as his Xanax ran out, Ray would discuss to a specialist by TeleMed for 10 minutes earlier than the physician would renew his prescription, which was the extent of “his psychiatric look after shedding the hand,” Brewer mentioned.
“Xanax hits the identical pleasure zone as alcohol. They created a recipe for catastrophe and so they knew he was a recognized alcoholic, and so they nonetheless thought Xanax was the very best match,” she mentioned.
One time in 2019 whereas going out with some pals, Ray determined to stroll dwelling intoxicated on a frigid -50 evening in order to not awake his spouse and their five-month-old child sleeping at dwelling. Carrying cowboy boots, he slipped on the alley approach towards his dwelling and couldn’t get again up. An individual had observed this and referred to as for emergency assist.
Ray had a blood alcohol degree of .08%. He was despatched to the North Dakota State Hospital in Jamestown, the place they held him for 4 days. This was the third time he was shipped to the hospital for an alcohol degree.
“… He did want psychiatric care, however not for that exact incident. He did cease ingesting at that time. However then he began utilizing Xanax extra,” she mentioned.
This previous January, Ray left for work in Texas and his habit to Xanax adopted him.
One evening, in accordance with his widow, Ray ended up taking 57 two milligram bars in a 24-hour interval. Then whereas driving on Interstate-35 in San Antonio, he crossed over his lane and was hit by a automobile driving 70 mph.
For the following 75 days, Ray was hospitalized at Brooke Military Medical Middle. Regardless of being concerned in a severe automobile accident, Ray endured for his Xanax — nevertheless, Texas medical doctors denied it and sought precise psychological well being therapy.
After his launch, he returned dwelling to North Dakota the place after a fast TeleMed appointment he was getting one other prescription of Xanax. 4 days after returning to Dickinson on Might 20, Ray Brewer handed away in his sleep.
At present, the reason for Ray’s dying continues to be underneath investigation by the Dickinson Police Division.
“If I may have gotten him the assistance and received him off the Xanax, he would not be lifeless,” she mentioned.
The couple have been collectively for 13 years. Although marriages have their ups and downs, the Brewer’s rocky relationship fell on the mercy of medicine and alcohol. Although Ray was by no means bodily abusive to his kids, Brewer famous that emotional abuse affected his kids.
“So when he was sober, he was the very best man on the planet. Underneath habit, he was abusive. He choked me. He hit me, he threw full tequila bottles at my head. My two oldest are in counseling due to it,” Brewer mentioned.
She continued, “I favor to take a seat within the workplace, as a result of then I can see her complete physique. I can inform I am not being judged. You’ll be able to’t inform over the telephone and you may’t inform on a pc. When you might have psychological well being (points) as a result of I do have despair, PTSD, nervousness… that may be a concern — you do not wish to be judged, and if you cannot inform in the event that they’re judging you. You are not going to speak to them, you are not going to be open, you are not going to be trustworthy. You are going to (say) let’s simply get this accomplished and over with; I do not wish to be right here.”
“I don’t wish to lose anyone else. The one loss was an excessive amount of,” Brewer mentioned, wiping away a tear. “And I don’t need one other household to undergo what we went by. Have you learnt how many individuals after they ask me my marriage standing and I say widow, they take a look at me like I’m insane as a result of I’m 32?”
What’s it going to take?
Amy Spangler, who works as a clerk of the courtroom for the Metropolis of Dickinson, famous she has additionally seen the implications of psychological well being and the dearth of providers in southwest North Dakota. On a day-to-day foundation, Spangler mentioned she’s seen the “damaging results of untreated psychological well being points.”
“Psychological well being impacts way over simply crime; it is part of the way you take a look at any facet of your life. I do know this sounds a bit of unusual, however the simplest way for me to see it’s in somebody attempting to get their suspended driver’s license reinstated. They’ve excellent site visitors tickets, which need to be paid first. Then, most of the time, the person wants an SR-22 (excessive danger insurance coverage), and must guarantee that will get submitted to the licensing company, after which pay the reinstatement price. Most individuals would get their very own data, or be pointed in the fitting course by us on the Clerk’s Workplace, and care for it step-by-step,” she mentioned. “However when nervousness is part of your on a regular basis life, every a type of steps can appear to be a mountain. The sum of money to pay these site visitors tickets, for instance, turns into an unachievable aim. The thought of getting to attend on the telephone on maintain, and never understanding what inquiries to ask, is one other.”
When the coronavirus pandemic hit within the spring of 2020, the world “gained a plethora of latest catch phrases, like ‘social distancing,’ ‘gradual the unfold’ and ‘in these unsure occasions,’” Spangler famous. With that, companies and colleges closed down. Spangler mentioned that instantly she observed an uptick in home violence, drug fees and DUIs.
“Folks have been shedding their jobs, cooped up at dwelling with no outlet, having to show college to their kids (and not sure how to take action), and funds have been tight. To not sound redundant, however, ‘unsure occasions’ abounded. With out wholesome coping mechanisms, individuals flip to the unhealthy ones, that are often simple to acquire,” she famous.
Spangler continued, “This spring, we began to see a bigger variety of individuals being involuntarily dedicated (in District Court docket) to the State Hospital in Jamestown, and others needing extensions on their instances so they may enter an inpatient therapy program, and all have been having to have a look at Bismarck and Fargo, and many others. ready for a mattress to open up. A few of these people have been/are ready for these beds to open up whereas sitting in jail. All of this stuff have created the proper storm to show the deterioration of psychological well being into an epidemic.”
Although Dickinson has psychological well being service suppliers akin to Hope’s Touchdown, they’re typically tough to get into, Spangler remarked.
“When somebody is having a disaster and wishes quick intervention, being informed you may have to attend months to speak to somebody is simply including one other degree of frustration to an already pissed off individual,” she mentioned. “Let’s be trustworthy… we procrastinate the issues we’re scared to do. It is typically laborious for individuals to ask for assist, and most need that assist to come back face-to-face after they get the braveness to ask.
“… With regards to treating psychological well being points, there are various inconsistencies, and that has so much to do with a blanket response to treating these points. We as a society want to alter not solely our view of psychological well being, but in addition the way it’s handled. It is no marvel relapse and recidivism are fixed points.”
When studying the primary article of this sequence “Breaking Point: Lack of Mental Health Options Leaves Dickinson Family in Sea of Uncertainty,” Brandy Johnson famous that she was puzzled by younger Grayson Johnson’s story. Grayson is an 11-year-old boy from Dickinson who’s coping with developmental disabilities, ADHD and a bunch of different points on account of being born with opioids in his system and uncared for for durations of time at a really younger age. Although he was adopted at 2.5 years previous, Grayson’s household of Dickinson is at a crossroads to search out the providers he wants.
As a grandmother, Johnson associated to this story together with her circle of relatives’s struggles and trials with drug abuse, psychological well being, abandonment, neglect and extra.
“I completely get it. There is no such thing as a assist right here; there may be none,” Johnson mentioned. “… Why don’t we’ve a program like that for Grayson right here. Why? So (his household) does not need to go all the best way to (one other state)… Grayson got here from a really damaged (dwelling), one thing he didn’t ask for. Why can’t they get assist?”
For roughly seven years, Johnson, a Dickinson resident, has seen firsthand the chain reactions of how habit and psychological well being are intertwined. As a result of complexity of those points, household names have been omitted from this text. Nonetheless, Johnson hopes that extra heads will flip towards the difficulty as a substitute o
“I feel they have to be educated extra… and I feel that there must be extra assets for not simply grandparents, however there’s different members of the family which might be caring for his or her grandkids or nieces with none help from anyone. (They’re) simply doing it and (we want) some type of help system for them alone,” Johnson mentioned.
The “breaking level theme of psychological well being and emotional well being” is the way it all performs an element with the remainder of one’s bodily well being, Johnson added.
“I feel that a number of the legal guidelines have to be modified …and I do not I would not even know the place to start, as a result of I am not no techie with that. Mother and father which have that type of a historical past of drug use, it’s that is laborious to show,” Johnson mentioned. “… (However) once you’ve received any person that has a report of all of that, and it is there — it is black and white — why are they getting so many possibilities? Why cannot there be one thing written that (says) you are accomplished? You do not get a 12 months, you do not get nothing.”
With organizations such because the North Dakota Baby Abuse Prevention already in place, these providers do assist however it is going to take an angle change for the area to ensure that change to stay, Johnson mentioned.
“What’s it going to take? It’s going to take a complete military of individuals to face collectively and rally for it. Combat for it, rise up and combat for these children,” she famous. “… (Then) let’s go beat the pavement and knock on doorways and simply hold knocking collectively as a result of one individual cannot do it by themselves. It is an excessive amount of.”