Brewer helps fight drug war
By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
Robert Brewer deals with problems caused by drug abuse every day.
Brewer's not an addict or a dealer, but a mental health counselor who helps others overcome addictions.
Brewer works with the Southwest Alabama Mental Health/Retardation Board, and his job is to work with those who find themselves in trouble for abusing drugs and alcohol.
He meets with groups three times a week which are made up of adult men referred as a condition of parole or probation; by the Department of Human Resources (DHR), by court orders, doctors or self referrals.
All people who abuse drugs and alcohol are not eligible for the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), Brewer said. Those who are not ready to admit they have a problem are not ready for the program. The program lasts for at least one year and can go even longer; it all depends on the person. During that time, participants must remain “clean,” or drug-free.
The first phase lasts 12 weeks and requires attendance at the program three nights a week. The second phase lasts for 14 weeks and requires participating twice each week. The third phase is six months long and requires the client to to participated one night each week. During the last six months, participants must use the time to start looking for a support system on the outside.
Those who come to the program by order of the court are sent there by Judge Brad Byrne as part of the county's drug court. In addition to the other requirements of the program, these clients must appear in court every week.
It is a fact that drug and alcohol abuse are more prevalent than they once were. That is true in small towns like Brewton and East Brewton, just as it is in larger cities. Those who experiment with drugs can wind up being addicted in a short period of time. Children and teens are vulnerable to experimenting. This is where Red Ribbon Week hopes to make a difference. If younger people can be educated to stay away from drugs, the program is working.
Brewer had no idea he would be working in the field he is today. He was born in Arkansas and moved around a lot while he was growing up. He spent time in a lot of different schools but by the time he graduated from high school, he had returned to his father's home place in Crenshaw County.
He graduated from Highland Home in 1994. He was a good student who focused on academics. He received a full scholarship to Troy University, where he majored in criminal justice and minored in Spanish. His wish was to someday go to work with the FBI and he went ahead and got his master's degree in 2000. While he was attending college he worked at several jobs, including a library, Food World grocery store and teaching Spanish to some tenth graders at a private school in Troy. He also worked at a BP station and did some yard work.
It was while he was doing the yard work that he met his wife, Jean Peters, from Brewton. She was living in an apartment complex where he was working and also attending college. She majored in social science and now runs a gym in the building next to her father's office in Brewton.
While they were still attending school they lived in a mobile home in Banks. In return for the mobile home, Brewer looked after the landlord's zoo.
Jean Peters Brewer is the daughter of Dr. Ronald Peters, a local dentist. The couple moved in with her parents so he could get medical attention. After he got better, he got a job at the YMCA and then in 2001 he got a part time job at the Mental Health office as a summer camp counselor. When an opening became available on a full-time basis he began to go into the area schools and teach prevention to the children and finally was given the job of prevention coordinator. In 2003 he moved out of prevention into working with adults, after they have become addicted, and he was promoted to Substance Abuse Counselor.
Brewer and his wife are the parents of a daughter, Aidyn, who is 3 and one half, and a son, Robert “Rocky,” who is 16 months old.
He doesn't have a lot of spare time, but loves to spend time with his two children and work on his hobby, which is a little unusual. He builds miniature war games and then displays them.