PROJECT RECOVERY WITH CASEY SCOTT & DR. MATT WOOLLEY

Utah woman speaks about life after losing her husband to addiction

Aug 7, 2019, 11:58 AM
Photo: GoFundMe/Smith Family Support Fund...
Photo: GoFundMe/Smith Family Support Fund

A simple shoulder surgery left a Utah man addicted to opioids — an addiction would eventually take his life. Now, his wife is picking up the pieces of a shattered family.

On the latest episode of ‘Project Recovery,’ Emily Smith describes her story, from falling in love to moving forward after tragedy.

The start of Emily and Brian’s love

Emily first met Brian Smith through mutual friends while attending the University of Utah.

They eventually started dating, but due to Brian attending Southern Utah University in Cedar City at the time, their relationship was predominantly long-distance. Often, Brian traveled to Salt Lake City to visit his friends and Emily.

For Emily, the attractive qualities she saw in Brian outweighed the distance.

“This guy’s such a super nice, super sweet [guy],” she remembered. “He’s handsome, he’s just an all-around good guy.”

Brian impressed Emily with his ability to teach and coach.

“He was just a really good teacher or coach. We would go golfing together…but he would make it fun because he would say, ‘Stand this way, put your head this way, grip it this way,’ and all of a sudden I’m playing the game and he’s making it fun,” Emily explained.

That same level of compassion translated into Brian’s career in Criminal Justice.

“He was good at being the professional, where they taught him you can’t be their buddies when they’re in jail but you have to treat them with respect,” she added.

A year after dating long-distance, Brian decided to move up north. After another year of dating, the two decided to get married. Later, their family expanded to include three young boys.

How a shoulder surgery started a downward spiral

During the early years of their relationship, Emily never saw any signs of drug abuse or addiction. That all changed after Brian had surgery on his shoulder.

“I don’t know his story, so I don’t know when it started. I know there was a shoulder surgery, though,” Emily described. “His recovery was rough.”

Brian received a prescription for opioids to help cope with the pain, but after his prescription ran out, the first signs of addiction began to appear.

“He refilled a prescription and when that was through, there were withdrawal symptoms and they were scary,” Emily said. “You could tell, he just felt really bad… It was like a depression, it was very solemn and grim.”

Ultimately, Brian hid his addiction from Emily, so she wasn’t able to completely understand or help him with what he was going through.

Brian’s addiction began to cloud his judgment; his employer, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, gave him the option to resign after accusing him of stealing opioids, but Emily said she knew something was very wrong a couple of days earlier.

“Right before we got the call, he was very altered, so I knew,” she explained.

Emily kicked Brian out of their home over the constant drug abuse and loss of his job, a decision that forced him to consider rehabilitation and to sign up for a treatment program.

A turn for the worse

After realizing that his addiction consumed his life, Brian started looking into rehab facilities. With Emily’s help, he signed up for a three-month program.

“Once he got into treatment… I could see so much… improvement in the way he talked about himself, how we talked to each other,” Emily recalled. “Just because he was getting help and he was learning skills that he needed to learn and it was helping.”

The signs of recovery were apparent almost immediately. Emily began to see positive changes in Brian, even after just the first month.

“He really liked his therapist, he really liked the people in the program with him and he was having a good experience,” she explained.

Brian even began to talk more openly with Emily about his addiction and what he was feeling.

“He could just communicate his feelings better, which can be so hard to do with that label on emotion and say this is what I’m feeling and this is why,” she said. “He just had more hope for the future.”

Brian began to call Emily every morning on his way to treatment to talk about life and their future but on July 9, 2019, Emily never received a call.

She called Brian’s therapist that morning to see if he had made it into therapy but his therapist had yet to see him that day. The therapist offered to perform a wellness check and go to where he was staying to make sure everything was okay.

At his parents’ home, the therapist found Brian, dead.

Putting the pieces back together

Emily is now focused on raising her three boys and trying to find a routine for their family after such a horrible tragedy.

“You don’t feel like getting out of bed, but I have three kids, so it’s not an option to sleep all day, which is good because that’s what I would probably do,” Emily said.

The small things like playing during the day, reading stories at night, and praying before bedtime have become essential for Emily.

“Those things feel so amazingly normal to me, it’s so healing,” she said. “You can almost feel normal again when you have to do those things.”

Countless people have reached out in support of Emily’s family and have helped in many ways including making food, writing notes, and even donating money.

Emily is also emphasizing talking about Brian with their boys, even though they are so young.

“We still have all of the videos with daddy we can watch. They’re so young, they’re 7, three, and 10-months but we talk about him because it actually feels wrong not too,” Emily concluded.

To hear more from Casey Scott and Dr. Matt Woolley, you can listen below or subscribe to the ‘Project Recovery’ podcast on Apple Podcasts or the KSL Newsradio app.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Project Recovery with Casey Scott & Dr. Matt Woolley

recovery...
Josh Tilton

How a Utah recovery center is innovating treatment for substance abuse

A Utah recovery center owner is redefining how others find recovery after he struggled to live a substance-free lifestyle for years. Jordan Burningham, who was once addicted to heroin and struggling to stay sober, is in charge of one of the leading innovative recovery centers in Utah. He’s currently 6 years sober himself and through […]
10 months ago
Instagram...
Josh Tilton

How Instagram became an outlet for a mother struggling with addiction

After struggling for years with being able to stay sober, Gentry Jones turned to Instagram to try and help curb her addiction to alcohol and get her on the road to recovery. Gentry, now a mother of four kids, began to experiment with alcohol throughout her teenage years. Her substance abuse began to escalate as […]
11 months ago
Tainted...
Josh Tilton

Utah artist on how his addiction help fueled the creation of his new single “Tainted”

Growing up in a traditional Utah household, Tyler Gould was living the all-American dream. He was active in multiple sports and even a member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. But after getting an itch to sell extra ADD medicine that he had laying around when he was fourteen years old, his life would never […]
11 months ago
Project Recovery host Casey Scott talks to Sarah Frei about their experiences with drunk driving cr...
Ashley Moser & Jared Turner, KSL TV

Sarah Frei Gives Emotional Interview About Losing Legs In Crash

Project Recovery podcast host Casey Scott sat down with Sarah Frei, the young woman who lost both of her legs in a crash caused by a drunk driver.
1 year ago
Coming to understand what Casey Scott’s addiction was truly like for his children only came recen...
Aley Davis & Debbie Worthen, KSL TV

Addiction Through A Daughter’s Eyes: How Teen’s Letter Impacted Casey Scott

Addiction is a family disease. It doesn't just affect the individual struggling, but everyone who loves them. Former KSL-TV feature reporter Casey Scott took that message to heart after reading a paper written by his 16-year-old daughter, Preslee.
2 years ago
promote safe prescription drug use...
Josh Tilton

Helpful ways to promote safe prescription drug use with Know Your Script

SALT LAKE CITY — Between 2017-2020, Intermountain Healthcare has been successful in reducing opioids by 9.5 million fewer pills and reducing benzodiazepine and opioid co-prescribing by 49%. All the while, finding ways to promote safe prescription drug use for Utahns within our state. According to Kim Compagni, AVP Pain Management Services at Intermountain Healthcare, we […]
2 years ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Utah woman speaks about life after losing her husband to addiction