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.
For 10 years I have been preparing for his death. Over time I have distanced myself from him thinking it would be easier when the heroin eventually took his life. I enjoyed him when he was sober but stayed away when he used. Now I know that I was wrong to do this.
On Tuesday I picked my daughter up from school. My son had to stay after so we went to go get a snack. My phone rang an unrecognized number, and as I answered I felt my stomach drop. The man on the other end announced himself as a doctor. My brother was in the hospital for a severe case of pneumonia and couldn’t breathe properly. They needed to put him on a ventilator. And because my father was out of town, I needed to give them consent. I asked the doctor “Is this life threatening?”
“Yes it is.”
My breath stopped. “Yes it is.” My stomach ached in pain. “Yes it is.” I pulled the car over, told my daughter I needed a moment. “Yes it is.” I got out and sobbed. “Yes it is.” Barely able to say a word in between sobs of pain and shaking beyond control, I quietly muttered into the phone “yes, do whatever you have to do to save my brother’s life.”
I didn’t know what to do. My body just stopped working. I couldn’t breathe. I could’t move. I slowly got back in my car trying not to scare my daughter but she knew. She knew it was him. We went back to school to pick up my son and quickly made our way downtown to find my brother. The ride was horrible. I have never felt so much pain or hurt. Losing him at the moment was unimaginable, yet I had been preparing for it over the past 10 years. How had this happened? I knew what heroin could do to him. I knew. I kept myself away just so I could avoid feeling this way. You know what? I was wrong. I can’t avoid feeling pain when it comes to my brother just because I keep my distance. I was wrong. I was so wrong.
I love him. I love him for who he once was. I love him as an addict. He is a part of my soul and no matter what I want him to live. Please God let him live.
If he pulls through no matter what, using or clean, I will call him everyday. I will text him everyday. I will tell him I love him no matter what. He deserves that. No matter what.
I am beyond devastated to write this post. You see for the past year my brother had been clean. He was part of a drug court program that drug tested him weekly and had him meet with the judge weekly. This, I believe helped him more than any rehab he has ever been in. He had to be accountable for his sobriety or else he would be thrown in jail for his full sentence of crimes he previously committed. He was doing great, working out, interacting with our family, and really seemed to be on the path of a sober life. It was awesome having him back in my life. I believed he had changed. I believed he had fought the devil and won.
He didn’t win though. As I write this my brother is back to the needle. The lies began about two months ago (weeks after he finished with drug court) as his social media posting began to quickly disappear. You see, my brother has a few tells when he’s using. The first is his lack of social media presence. When he is clean and sober he works out and when he works out he posts lots and lots of pictures. When he doesn’t post, we all know the dope is back in his life as his #1. The second tell is his anger and meanness. Normally he is pretty kind. However on heroin he is a complete asshole. My last interaction with him over text ended with him basically telling me to fuck off. I knew then, he was back only a month away from his 1 year clean date.
I’m bummed of course because for some reason this time it was so different. He was so happy and so alive, I thought there was no way he could reach those dark places that call his name over and over. But he did. And just like that my brother is gone. Heroin wins again.
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.
After 4 moths of sobriety my brother is in jail. Last week he got charged with felony heroin possession.