EDITORIAL: Alex's open book

York Dispatch Editorial Board

If America’s opioid epidemic has taught us anything, it’s that addiction is powerful, knows no social or economic bounds and is cruel.

Users like Alex Lauer might struggle for years — with help, on their own, after relapses or out of the blue — fully aware of exactly what the drug is doing to their bodies, their lives and their families.

For too many, as loved ones will attest, a willing heart is no match for addiction.

Alex’s case is heart-breaking because he could see a meaningful life after heroin. The Dallastown man meticulously documented his 10-year struggle, hoping he could someday use his experiences to help others seeking recovery.

Heroin got the best of the 33-year-old father of two late last month.

More:Gripped by addiction, Dallastown man hoped to help others. Now it's his family's cause

Mary Lauer, left, and her husband Donald Lauer, right, sit with their son Garret Lauer, of Orlando, Fl., at the kitchen table as they look through photo albums, journals and a plethora of notes and other research materials at their home in York Township, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. The materials belonged to Garret's younger brother Alexander Lauer, 33, who lost his more than 10 year battle with heroin unexpectedly on Nov. 20., just one week after being released from York Hospital for drug treatment. Dawn J. Sagert photo

But Alex and his journals might still help others.

His family members, during what has to be one of the most difficult times in their lives, shared his story and took up his cause.

The family hopes to continue spreading his message through a project called Alex’s Open Book Life Legacy Program, which compiles stories of those affected by the opioid epidemic.

Garret Lauer said the name was partly inspired by the open journal his younger brother left behind, and it's currently operated by him on his Facebook page

The main goal is to make people comfortable enough to talk about addiction, Garret said, “to get them to at least say one thing to somebody outside of their house … because that seems to be where everyone is scared.”

If Alex had lived, “if he could have escaped it himself and figured out a way to speak out,” that’s what he would have done.

He would have created “a community of conversation and knowledge and most of all comfort for people that are scared or embarrassed to admit this to other family members or friends,” Garret said.

That type of community and outreach is exactly what's needed right now.

Thank you, Alex Lauer’s loved ones, for sharing your story.