My little brother and I were always close as kids. We argued over the TV and which restaurant to eat at, sure, but when it came down to it, he and I were best friends. As we got older, we even got into trouble together– drinking alcohol every now and then and smoking weed, which we didn’t think was a big deal. It wasn’t until after I graduated from high school that I noticed a difference in my brother.
He used to be the funniest guy– always joking about stuff and finding the silver lining in everything, but all of a sudden he was angry all the time. l knew my brother was trying other drugs, but I figured it was a just a phase and he’d get over it soon enough. As he became less pleasant to be around, he started to look really sick too– I always told him he looked like a vampire because he was so thin and had such dark circles under his eyes. My mom began to get concerned because he kept coming down with a “flu”.
It was early on a Sunday morning when my brother called me. I was away at college and thought something really bad must have happened for him to be 1) awake this early and 2) reaching out to me, since he avoided contact with me at all costs. When I answered, my brother told me he needed help because he thought he was overdosing on heroin. That was the most terrifying phone call I’ve ever received. I knew nothing about heroin and had no idea he had let his minor “experimental phase” avalanche into such a bad drug. I immediately called my parents and told them that he needed help. He sounded like he was going to die.
It’s been over five years since my brother got sober, and although it frustrates me now and then that I can’t go “grab a beer” with him, I’ll take that inconvenience over his being a drug addict any day. My brother is back to the guy he was when we were younger– hilarious and outgoing, but also thoughtful and courteous to everyone he meets. Now, writing the words “five years” only took a second, but the difficulty of work that my brother had to do, the realities he had to face, and the relationships he had to repair can’t be described. I can’t imagine what he went through to get to where he is now, but I’m grateful everyday that he found the resources to help get him there.