Home / Podcasts / Addiction, Death and Meaning: A Story of Resilience with Jeff Johnston

Addiction, Death and Meaning: A Story of Resilience with Jeff Johnston

Dec 13, 2023

Jeff Johnston experienced the loss of his oldest son to Fentanyl poisoning in October 2016 and tragically lost his wife to alcoholism in 2021. Since then, he has dedicated himself to making a difference in mental health. In this edition of Beyond the Balance Sheet, Jeff shares his compelling story of a tragic death, substance use, and his path to recovery. His objective is to change the narrative around substance use and end the stigma. For individuals who are struggling, those who have lost loved ones, and those who are navigating the deep waters of substance use, there is help available. Don’t miss this powerful story.


[1:37] Jeff shares the beginning of his journey of tragedy, substance use, and death
[4:03] Jeff admits to being an alcoholic, how he quit, and how it took his wife’s life
[7:22] Jeff considers suicide
[10:04] Jeff describes how he empowers youth to work on their mental health and the Gen Z advisory board
[12:20] Jeff shares how he encourages his granddaughter when she has a bad day
[15:37] Jeff admits to having two psychedelic experiences and discusses the effects
[17:50 What is negative visualization?
[19:56] Jeff describes his passion for Living Undeterred and what he is willing to do to see it survive

October 4, 2016 changed Jeff Johnston’s life forever. He and his wife lost their son to Fentanyl poisoning.
Jeff had a successful investment business and was on top of the world. Then his son, Seth, dies from Fentanyl poisoning, and Jeff’s secret life of alcoholism and gambling is exposed.
Jeff describes his journey from alcohol to gratitude. Making a sudden decision to stop drinking, he has dedicated his days to meditation and hosting a podcast focused on aiding individuals struggling with alcohol or substance use and those seeking to improve their mental well-being.

Beyond the Balance Sheet Website
Brightn Your Life
Living Undeterred: Home
Jeff on Twitter: “Never changes” / Twitter
Brightn – Facebook
Brightn – Instagram
Living Undeterred – Podcast
Jeffrey Johnston – LinkedIn
This One’s For You: Sophia, Eleni, Sophia, Eleni – Amazon.com

BIOGRAPHY: Jeff Johnston
On October 4, 2016, the trajectory of Jeff’s life changed with one phone call. Prior to that day, Jeff was living the American Dream. He had a great family, was a successful entrepreneur running a financial services firm in Iowa, and was seemingly coasting through life. On the morning of October 4, 2016, Jeff received the phone call that is every parent’s worst nightmare. His oldest son, Seth, had died from fentanyl poisoning. He was 23 years old.
Jeff soon realized that he had two options. He could go down a road of anger and despair and become bitter, or he could use his situation as motivation to become better. He chose the latter. Jeff decided to take a step back from his career as a financial advisor and focus his attention on making a difference. He became an advocate for bringing awareness to substance use and addiction in teens & young adults. He began speaking at high schools and community events and joined the board of a local treatment facility that Seth spent time at before his death.
In 2020, Jeff founded a non-profit, the Living Undeterred Project, to change the narrative on mental health & substance use disorder. That same year, he wrote his first book, “This One’s For You: An Inspirational Journey Through Addiction, Death, and Meaning,” and started the Living Undeterred Podcast. In 2021, the project got even more personal for Jeff when he lost his wife, Prudence, to alcoholism. He is currently working on a new mental health project, Brightn, geared toward Gen Z.


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