I still can’t hate him. He is my brother.

From Anonymous:

I still can’t hate him:

Four years. Four years of lies. Four years of tears. Four years of drama. Four years of trying to help. Four years my brother has suffered from heroin addiction.

It all started when my brother’s best friend died in a car accident. My brother was 21. His friend had given him OxyContin because he was depressed. He needed something to take his mind off things. He wasn’t coping with the loss. One pill…. one pill was all it took to send my brothers life spiralling downwards.

One pill a day turned to two a day. Two a day turned to three a day. His whole weeks pay wasn’t even covering the cost of these pills since they weren’t prescribed, he was buying them off the street. Eventually, he realised that heroin would give him the same high and would work out a lot cheaper. BOOM! That’s the day my brother became a heroin junkie. Just like that, every moral or value he was raised with was thrown out the window because there wasn’t anything my brother wouldn’t do for his next hit.

I’ve watched him steal from nearly every family member, I’ve watched him lie to everyone who’s ever cared about him and I’ve watched him lose everything.

The last I heard, my brother was living in a car with his girlfriend (also a heroin junkie – go figure). The day I realised that his sweet and beautiful girlfriend was secretly on the drugs too, it changed everything. They are TOXIC for each other. The junkie Bonnie & Clyde.

I feel for my parents. They have tried so many times. It broke their heart to kick him out of the house but they just couldn’t watch him destroy his life and use those drugs under their roof. They loved him so much, they understood he had an addiction and they wanted to help but my brother believed he could do it on his own, that he wasn’t as addicted as we made him out to be (SHOCK).

Last year, my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My dad’s final wish was for my brother to be clean, healthy and working towards a future. All his other children were on the right path, he didn’t have to worry. This was still not enough to make my brother clean. He didn’t even try. This was more of a reason to shut off, dis-connect and completely distance himself from his own family. I was broken. Not only was I losing my dad but I knew now that I was mourning my brother who was still well and truly alive.

There are so many details and stories that I could write for hours and hours. I honestly wouldn’t know where to begin. My family knows now that even though four years feels like a long time, this is just the beginning. He is still no closer to being clean. He is still with his toxic girlfriend. He is still lying. He is still stealing. He is still homeless. Despite every tear I’ve shed from him & every ounce of rage that has travelled through my body…. I still can’t hate him. He is my brother.

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Dopeman

Submitted by: Anonymous

 

The struggle is real…all of it. From wondering what he is doing constantly to anticipating his next move. Never have I felt so much pain. Pain for him, my parents, for all of us.

When I used to get angry or upset, I would email Dr. Phil or the show intervention hoping that someone would he us. I did this numerous times because this was all I could control. A little over a month ago A & E shared another special called “Dopeman” and since he was in Chicago, I didn’t think it would hurt to reach out to him also.

Tim, dope man, emailed me back. At the time my brother had finally opened up and told me that he was going to be homeless.  Mind you, he is functioning and works at a job where he makes almost 100,000 a year. I couldn’t understand homeless. When Tim emailed me back I held on to every word he said. I then tried to call him because I was in panic mode thinking my brother was going to be on the streets and wouldn’t survive long. By the grace of God Tim answered when I called. He told me he would talk to my brother. In the meantime, I called a rehab facility and sent his insurance card to figure out what we could do.

Tim encouraged my brother to go to rehab for himself. I finally thought we were there…and he was ready. This had to be rock bottom, right? Because my brothers arms were so bad, he had to have them checked out before going to rehab. He went to the emergency room and it was determined that he had mersa and would eventually need plastic surgery. Again, I couldn’t wrap my head around everything that was going on. I kept telling myself that I will rejoice when he gets to rehab.

After a week in the hospital, he was released. He had to take an uber directly to the airport to get on a plane. I waited anxiously to see if he would actually do it. Hours later, he made it. Did I feel relief? Nope, not like I thought I would. I wasn’t given the chance because he continues to need my help.

He has currently been in rehab for about a week after a week of detox. I have had panic phone calls in the middle of the night and phone calls from counselors telling me they are taking him to the emergency room. I haven’t slept because I continue to think if I am not pulling for him, then who will.

 

It is a constant struggle…will he make it? Am in enabling him by making these phone calls for him? I have never felt more that this is truly a family disease. I guess, today, I feel that if I can go to sleep knowing that I have done everything that I can, I am ok. He is thirty-two years old and is going to need to learn how to cope without drugs on his own.

 

Currently I am waiting for his phone call because he has been evacuated for hurricane irma. I guess there is no place better for him to Be, but man is it hard. Hard to not worry and think about it every minute. Hard to concentrate on my job and my own family.

 

All I do know is that God is good…and today, so far, is a good day. He is breathing!

He’s hurting, so he hurts her.

This morning I woke up an read this piece called 7 Days of Heroin. It’s a heartbreaking story written by the Cincinnati Enquirer following 7 days of heroin overdoses, arrests, criminal activities, and death. It’s heartbreaking if you have lived any aspect of heroin addiction. I read it through tears. Heroin causes so much havoc.

Heroin addiction has caused my family so much pain over the past 14 years and it never seems to end. The pain just changes. It evolves into sobriety then rears it’s ugly head with addiction. We are all affected.

My brother, whom I have not seen in over a year is still affected. He is still an addict. He may be clean. He may be trying with Suboxone. But I can’t be sure. I have recently offered him help and when at first it seemed like he would take it, now not so much. My hope had risen for a moment and my ego convinced me that maybe just maybe I could save him. But I can’t save him. All I can do is love him.

I think about this space often. I think about what My Junkie Brother means to people. I read the comments and feel so sad that so many people have been what my family and I have been through. I feel so broken that so many have lived the life my brother has lived these past 14 years. I feel so helpless. I want to do something. I want to make something stick. I want to help my brother and those like him. Those who did nothing wrong, but got hurt and get prescribed a drug that they were immediately addicted to. I want to help the moms who only want to love their kids but can’t because the power of the poppy is too strong. I want to help all of the addicts. And the only way I know how to help right now, is to write. Writing and talking about heroin addiction publicly has changed so much in the past 10 years. When I first started talking about my brother’s addiction publicly I got so much anger and embarrassment from my family, from my friends, and from strangers. Now I get emails and letters and comments that mimic my own story thanking me for sharing my truth. There are so many of us who live this same truth and I believe we should all share with the world what this epidemic has done to those people we love.

I don’t post on this blog enough, I know that. But I think I have a solution for how this blog can help more people. And that solution is you: the readers. the sisters, the brothers, the fathers, the mothers of addicts, and the addicts themselves. All of you can help.

I am going to ask that you share your stories here. You can email them to me and I will post them. You can be anonymous or share your first name. You can change the names of people, I don’t care. Your story, their story will help. It will help shine a light on the immense epidemic that is tearing through our country like a hurricane.

To share your story or someone you loves’ story please click the button on the sidebar to email me.

Heroin + Christmas = Jail

A reoccurring theme has presented itself in the tenure of my brother’s heroin addiction. For the past 5 years, my brother has spent Christmas in jail or rehab. This year, it seems it will be jail. I got the call today. He’s in jail. I wasn’t surprised. He’s been living with a co-dependant who has supported his addiction for the past year and a half. It was only a matter of time.

After I got the call I realized that more than once my brother has spent Christmas in jail. I read through this blog and a journal that I write in to confirm this realization. 5 out of 5. He’s spent 5 Christmas in jail.

FIVE. 

It got me thinking that somehow, subconciously he is still in there. I’m not sure if this will make sense or not but I’m going to try. Since my brother’s addiction began, he has spent 1 Christmas with my family. He was high, and gave my 2 year old son a pair of 10 year old Burton snowboarding pants, tags on that were obviously stolen. Since then, he hasn’t been to any family holidays. Every now and then my dad will have him at one of his holidays but if my kids are coming, he doesn’t. We never want to take the chance that my brother is fucked up around them.

Heroin isn’t a fan of family Christmas.

Which is what leads me to believe that somewhere, way down, deep inside, the old Andy still exists. The Andy who used to come to all the family gatherings and play cards, tells stories, and have fun. When Christmas comes around, the old Andy momentarily battles the demon Andy (my junkie brother), realizes that the only family he has is heroin, and instead of spending Christmas with heroin, he somehow lands himself in jail or a hospital for the holiday. To me, it’s like the old Andy is subconsciously punishing himself for his addiction.

I know. I’m reaching. Addiction is addiction. Jail is part of addiction. Living with a co-dependant psychopath who feeds you pills and drugs all day is a part of addiction.

I just hope he’s still in there somewhere. I hope someday we get the old Andy back. I’m not sure we ever will but at least for now, I can hope. I can hope that someday he will be in my house, with a family of his own celebrating with mine.

A sister can dream…

 

 

6 Months Ago

6 Months ago I watched my brother almost die. I sat next to his hospital bed, held his puffy hands, and prayed. I prayed and prayed and prayed. Selfishly I prayed for me. I prayed that he would find sobriety so I could have him back in my life. So we could make up for the past 10 years we’ve lost. I prayed that he could find enough good inside himself to want a life free from drugs so my kids could be around the uncle that they love dearly. I prayed that he would live so he could find the happiness I found in this life. I prayed that he could live so my dad wouldn’t have to go thru the crushing trauma of losing a child. I prayed for everything I could think of as I sat there an held his puffy hand. I prayed for everything and everyone but him.

I should have prayed for him.

Addicts don’t have the luxury of praying for themselves. They are consumed by the drug and that obsession cancels out any thought of their own well being.  Laying in that hospital bed, my brother felt pain like I will never feel. My prayers belonged with him those days.

Today, 6 months later, my brother is alive. While our relationship is definitely strained, I find myself praying for him daily. My kids and I say a prayer every night for him. We don’t say what we want our prayer to accomplish, we just say we pray for Uncle Andy hoping someday our prayers get answered.

2 Months Ago

2 months ago I watched my brother almost die. I am still watching him die. Since that day in the hospital, we have learned so much about the past year of my brother’s life. His girlfriend has essentially been keeping him high. She provides him the drugs and he uses. After my brother’s stay in the hospital we all rallied around him in hopes of getting him into a long term treatment program. At first his girlfriend seemed supportive but then we realized that she is the biggest hurtle in his recovery.

She keeps him high. 

I have no idea why she does this especially since she is a mother. But she does. She has told us that she knows “what meds” he needs to be on. This is why he carries 10 bottles of psychotropic pills, benzos, xanax, and anything else she will get him in his book bag that never leaves his side. She provides him the demons that fuel his 12 year addiction.

She is sick. He is sick. Together they are a co-dependent tsunami just waiting to destroy.

Last week on my birthday, my brother got on a plane and went to a long term rehab. Today she flew him home. At the rehab he was combative and on all sorts of drugs and had little interest in even trying to get clean.

I am sad but I am not sad. He isn’t the boy I know. My brother died a long time ago and I think it’s about time I get used to that fact.

Day 1: This is Heroin 

On Tuesday I found myself racing to the hospital thinking that it would be the last time I saw my brother. This is the first moment I saw him. It’s not an easy image and it was the hardest moment of my life. I put this picture up here because this is what heroin use leads to. This is not an easy image to put up here for all the world to see. People may judge. People may shake their head in disgust. But this is the reality of heroin addiction. It’s not pretty. It’s not glamourous. It’s not cool. It fucking thrives on human life and it takes no prisoners. No matter who you are. I put this image here to remind me that the moment I thought that my brother was going to die was the worst moment in my life. I put this up here because I want him to see it and never forget it. I want him to remember what it did to him. I may not be able to save my brother but I know that using my voice to talk about heroin addiction is important in this very public health crisis. I put this up here because maybe somewhere someone else’s sister thinks their brother has a drug problem and maybe this image will help someone else. I put this up here because I want him to save his own life.