Captain Sandy Yawn from Below Deck Mediterranean shared that her niece Jessi died at age 39, adding that alcoholism took her life.
Yawn has been open about her own recovery but has also revealed that addiction ran in her family. She publicly shared her loss on Instagram, urging those who may be struggling to get help.
“Today we lay to rest my niece Jessi,” Yawn shared along with a series of photos of her niece. “Alcoholism took her life. She was 39 years young and our hearts are broken! Addiction steals relationships, children, mothers, fathers and more lives! If you are suffering, or someone in your family is from addiction please call 1-855-905-3334.”
Captain Sandy opened up about her own struggle with addiction
Yawn shared with Showbiz Cheat Sheet that addiction almost ruined her life. She described being a lost teenager and young adult, who was often arrested for drinking and driving. Yawn is thankful she never injured anyone but said she continued to drink and drive. “I always got bailed out,” she said in 2019. “But I could have killed someone. My life would be very different right now.”
“I was a mess,” she remarked. “By the grace of God, I’m alive. No matter how much money you have, it’s not going to save your life if you are an addict or an alcoholic. And I was a major addict and alcoholic.”
Yawn went public with her story in an effort to help others. She was seen having a heart to heart discussion with lead deckhand Travis Michalzik during season 4 when she and other crew members became concerned about his drinking.
“I never really talked about my recovery,” she added. “I remember getting arrested for drinking and driving and was court-ordered to detox as a 17-year-old.” She finally found yachting and eventually got sober in her early twenties.
Captain Sandy also expressed concern about recovery during the pandemic
Yawn shared her concerns for those in recovery during the pandemic. She knew people in recovery faced additional stress without access to in-person meetings and isolation.
“Obviously, it’s in you,” Yawn told Showbiz Cheat Sheet in March 2020. “What do people do when it’s stressful? A lot of people take a drink. So many people relax by drinking a glass of wine or here in Denver smoking pot or having some edibles, right?”
“I don’t have that luxury,” she continued. “Because I have it in my genes. I’m an addict, an alcoholic. I have to exercise, go to meetings. And know that this will pass. This too shall pass. That’s what I keep saying to myself. I call my sponsor, I stay engaged with people in recovery. And it’s hard, it’s a struggle.”
“I just want to say, you don’t have to [self-medicate with drugs and alcohol],” she said. “Instead, do the things that you’ve always wanted to learn. Like, I want to learn to play the piano. [Girlfriend] Leah [Shafer] bought me this keyboard and I’ve been playing that.”
How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.
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