A Look At Drug Addiction, Through a Sister's Eyes.
Growing up I admired my older brother, he was absolutely my everything, as I was to him. He adored me and wanted to include me in everything he did and I loved every second of it.
As we got into our teenage years, I started to see him less and less, I was in middle school and he was in high school, it wasn’t so cool to have me around anymore. He had his group of friends and was doing the typical high school thing; he wanted nothing to do with me anymore.
For so long I hated him for it but 9 years later I now have some answers as to why he had changed so much; he had started the vicious cycle of using pain killers. It started out recreationally as it does for most people, a Percocet every once in a while, but a few months after he first tried a painkiller he was doing them every single day, his terrible and long struggle had just started.
I finally got into high school and he was a senior when I was a freshman, I loved it because I always hid a nice ride home from school, but the awesome times we used to have just turned into me trying to take care of him.
At the time I did not know my brother was struggling with an addiction all I knew was that he was different then the brother I used to know and I hated it. It seemed as if he was always sick, he would have to pull over his car to throw up all the time, I remember always asking my parents what was wrong with him and they didn’t know they always pushed the issue aside.
He used to be an athlete, he was healthy and muscular and I slowly watched him lose all of that. In high school I didn’t know much about addiction, it wasn’t as public and widespread as it is now, but I did know that something was wrong. I look back on it today and wish I could have figured it out sooner.
For a while our relationship got a lot better, I believe he stopped using drugs for a while, but about a year later things got really bad, he got a few surgeries and got prescribed to Oxycontin, the downward spiral had started.
His doctor had given him enough to get through about a months’ worth of pain but he ended up using the prescription in about a week. He heard from friends about the “crooked doctors” that would prescribe you pain meds for just about anything and started getting 8 different prescriptions a month.
For about 2 years me and my brother did not have a relationship at all, I found out what he was doing, but I did not know the extent of it. I had grown so tired of acting like the big sister and trying to take care of him that I just gave up.
Maybe it was selfish of me, I was in high school and just wanted to live my life without the stress of his problems, but If I could do it over again I would have stuck by his side to let him know he had someone there for him - because I recently found out that during the time I wouldn’t speak to him, our parents had also given up on him, and he felt as if he had no one and nowhere to turn.
In the 2 years after that he spiraled completely out of control, on an average day he would do about 320 mgs of Oxy just to get through the day. I had started to speak to him again, it wasn’t always the most positive experience but I just wanted my brother to be around again so I dealt with it.
His doctors all ended up taking away his prescriptions and he had to start selling the pills just to be able to get them for himself, he could not go a day without them. I now know the definition of an enabler, and I was a prime example of one, if he ever needed anything, I was there for him, if he ever needed money I gave it to him.
I ruined a lot of my personal relationships because I spent so much time catering to my brother’s needs, any time he called I dropped everything I was doing to help him out, even if it meant driving for hours and spending the entire paycheck I had just gotten.
Around this time we had both lost a good friend to the same addiction, I hoped and prayed that it would open his eyes up but it didn’t ... I thought he had hit rock bottom, but I now know he had a ways to go.
I ended up losing most of my closest friends, and wasn’t able to pay my bills anymore because of how much money I would spend on him so I had to cut him off, the day I told him I couldn’t give him money anymore he told me he hated me, and wanted nothing to do with me.
It hurt so much that someone I love, someone I tried so hard to help out had just said that to me, I struggled with that for a while and didn’t speak to him. I found out through mutual friends that because he didn’t have enough money to buy pills anymore he had started to do heroin because it was way cheaper.
I remember driving to his house and telling him I never wanted to speak to him again, he had hurt me so much and caused me so much pain and at that point I really meant it. I went a few more months ignoring his phone calls, I refused to speak to him, and I would avoid family events just because I couldn’t stand to be around him.
Finally one day I got a call from my mom, saying my brother was going to start rehab, he had finally hit rock bottom and he was ready. I didn’t believe it but I went with my parents to take him, he did heroin in the car on the way, I knew he wasn’t ready but I gave him a hug and wished him the best, I hated to be cynical but I had been through too much to have much hope.
He had 30 days clean and they released him from rehab, I saw the brother I used to know for a few weeks and got so much hope, I tried to hang out with him and do things with him to keep his mind in a good place but he ended up going out one night and drinking with some old friends and came home and did heroin, my heart was broken once again, he once again put himself into a downward spiral.
A few months ago he started rehab again, this time I actually myself believed that he was ready. He went away for 30 days and when he came back he looked like a whole new person, he had gained weight and had a smile on his face again. I had so much hope for him, we started talking again every day, and every time I would talk to him I heard so much happiness in his voice, so much hope ...
I myself had become so much happier knowing he was doing well; his moods good or bad had always affected me so much. I was so glad I had my brother back again, until about a month ago he called me one day and I just heard it in his voice, he was messed up, he thought he could hide it but after so many years you just know better.
I don’t think addicts can understand very well what they put their loved ones through, it is a day to day struggle for me, every time he calls I debate answering my phone, because I don’t know what mood he will be in, is he going to be happy or is he going to yell at me, is he going to ask for money or is he going to ask how my day went.
Every single day when I wake up I pray that my brother also woke up that day, every single night I go to sleep I pray that I get to talk to him the next day, every single time my phone rings I hope that it is not a call telling me that I lost my brother, every time I answer a phone call from my parents I just wait to hear bad news.
I know this will be a lifelong struggle for him, but he is family, so I have now accepted that this will be a lifelong struggle for me also.
I have lost way too many friends to this addiction, and I don’t want to lose any more, so I hope sharing my story will touch some hearts and motivate more people to share their stories also.
If you know someone struggling with this terrible addiction, let them know they are not alone and encourage them to get help, I know people who have gotten to the other side, there is hope, and it can get so much better.