Her Sober Brother

My brother is sober and in my life.

My brother is sober.

He is on his fifth month sober. After a string of events that led him to drug court he found himself in a program once again. He lived there for three months and is now living in a sober house. This time around I have chosen to have a relationship with him. I know the risks of this and I have tried to talk myself out of being in his life but something just won’t let me. I’m not sure why it’s different this time. It just is.

Maybe it’s because I miss him, and the anger I have felt towards him over the past 11 years is starting to fade. Maybe it’s because deep down I hope that my life will inspire him. Maybe I think if he sees that I can find happiness in family, love, and life, maybe he could too. Or maybe it’s just time.

I don’t know how things will end up. I know the cycle of addiction and I know the risk of having him in my life is high and could be destined for failure and pain but something just says that this is what I need to do. I love him and I want to believe so bad that he is on his way to a life of sobriety and happiness. But I also know that addicts have to do it on their own and my brother is no different. He has to want it and for the first time ever in the history of his terrible addiction I actually believe he does want it.

My brother started writing a blog when he found out about this blog. You can find him here at Her Sober Brother. 

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The Clean Addict

Hoping my brother stays clean…this time

Addicts love to get clean.

Heroin addiction is cyclical.  At least in my world. My brother has been clean more times than I care to remember and has been high more times than anyone ever should be.  It is not a pretty life.

Last time we spoke he had come by the restaurant.  He was headed into a 9 month rehab program and wanted to say goodbye.  I was hopeful, but having watched him go in and out of detox / rehab facility, I was highly suspect.

He lasted 2 months.

He got kicked out for fighting (?) and has now come back into my life.

I have seen him twice since he got kicked out of the facility and he looks good.  He’s clean.  He’s sober.  He’s got a sponsor.  But he’s still an addict, and addicts love to get clean.

Here’s what I mean.

The way heroin works, according to what I have seen go down in a 5 year addiction, is this:

Addict shoots up.

Addict shoots up a lot.

Addict shoots up so much that said addict can no longer get high with a small amount of heroin.

Addict is a junkie and can therefore not afford large amounts of heroin, so addict goes to detox.

Detox cleans addicts system out.

Addict can choose one of 2 ways, clean or junk.

Addict chooses junk.

The cycle begins again.

I have watched this go down with my brother over 20 times.  I hope I don’t have to watch it a 21st time.  I would like my brother back.  For real this time.

Helping a Heroin Addict

How can you help an addict? Should my parents take out a loan to pay for my brother’s rehab?

If you are not a heroin addict, you cannot help a heroin addict.  The only person who can help a heroin addict is the heroin addict.

That being said I would like to address a comment recently left on this ‘ol blog from Matthew:

HI, my brother is a junkie too. I know where your coming from. Is there any way to help him without breaking the bank?; That you know of? There are state programs but they only treat for a week and either treat for drugs or mental health. we need to put him in a facility that can treat him for both. Problem being is that he does not have health insurance. My parents are talking about dumping 20k into a place for his recovery. (Wasted money if you ask me!!!) Do you have any ideas or links that i could forward to my parents to stop them from taking out a loan to pay for his bad habits?

Matthew,

First of all I am sorry that your brother is sick.  unfortunately I have learned that nothing will help the junkie until he/she wants to help themselves.  My brother has been in rehab 4 times, one of them costing close to $20,000/month.  None of them have worked.  He was sober for a while and then 6 months later the needle was in his arm.

I’m not saying that rehab can’t work.  It can.  I know many people who have their own success stories.  It just won’t work if the person in rehab doesn’t want to get clean.

What seems to have worked for my brother is getting into the system.  That sounds crazy right?  Over the holidays my brother found himself in jail for 22 days (best christmas present ever) and 2 weeks ago he found himself there again. Since that time he has been given a mandatory sentence of weekly counseling, drug tests, and meetings with a probation officer.  Now it’s only been 2 months since all this went down however his 22 days in jail were the first days in his life that he went sober/clean without any maintenance drugs like methadone or suboxen and he seems to still be clean.

I pray he is still clean.

Matthew, I hope you find the help you need.  There are a lot of resources out there.  I found Beautiful Boy very helpful in the beginning of my brother’s addiction especially when my father became addicted to saving him.  Give your parents a copy.  Make them read it.  Hopefully they will find something in it that convinces them not to take out a loan. Unfortunately for addicts parents, lessons are never learned until after the money is gone.

Good luck my friend.  Your brother is in my heart.

Claws of the Poppy

My brother is living in a shelter.  I am devastated, however a part of me is grasping at hope.  This is the first time in three years that he has been on his on with his addiction.  Usually he is coddled and cared for by some member of my family.  He has been enabled time and time again.  Hitting bottom has yet to happen for him. His addiction has been easy on him.  An addict with a home, food, clothes, shower, and family.  Not bad.  It has only been hard on us, his family.

My stomach aches when I think about the last time I saw him.  He was high.  It was New Years Day.

Seeing him high again six months after the last time I saw him high broke me down physically.  I lost my shit.  I couldn’t stop the tears.  I stopped talking to him in the summer precisely because I did not want to breakdown the next time he did.  I figured if I was not emotionally attached to him I would not feel the hurt I have felt so many times before.  I was WAY wrong.    In fact I think that maybe I should have talked to him, I should have had a relationship with him for these past few sober months so at least I could be a part of his life, but then I think about my babies.  I could not have them around him.  I could not have them begin a relationship with him.

But I always hoped.  Secretely in the back of my mind I prayed that this was it.  He was back.  He was sober. He was my brother again.  He would step in and be my kids cool uncle.  My son’s fantastic godfather.

But he’s not. Walking into my parents house on New Years Day I spotting him on the couch and I immediately knew.  He was gray and he was skinny.  He looked like shit.

It was odd though, because he ate.  In the past when he was high all he would eat was ice cream & candy.  It was one of his tells.  But this day he ate dinner and he could function for the most part.  And then after dinner he disappeared.  He came back, sat down on the couch, and the shell of my brother emerged.

The signs of heroin began to show their disgusting teeth.  His eyes began to roll.  My kids attempting to play with him were ignored.  I knew.  I looked at the Chef.  He knew.  My parent’s knew while they searched his car.  We packed up the kids.

Happy 2009.

It has been three years since heroin began to kill my brother.  My brother, the smart one, the good looking one, the funny one.  My brother the boy who could make me laugh effortlessly.  My brother the goofy amazing athlete.  My brother.  My brother, the heroin addict.  My brother, the homeless man.  I am sad.  I am heartbroken.  I miss him.  I miss who he used to be.  All I can do is hope and pray that somehow he makes it through this.  I want him back.  I want my children to know the boy I grew up with and loved.

My poor father.  The man blames himself.  What parent wouldn’t?

The claws of the poppy sink deep in that first taste and never release.

I need hope but it’s so hard.  How many times….how many calls…how many sleepless nights are ahead of me?  How many years can this go on before it kills my father?  It will.  I know it will.  I can see how much he has aged since this began.  His eyes are sadder now and his voice is quieter.  He is broken.

Fuck.