When I found out my brother was an addict, it completely changed my life.
I didn’t even know what was happening to him until it was too late. I noticed that his actions were different, but I couldn’t figure out why. I was constantly worrying about him. Late at night, when I would hear the garage door open, I would sigh in relief because then I knew he was home safe.
My brother’s addiction impacted our entire family. I didn’t know anyone else who was an addict, so it was a learning experience, to say the least. I remember learning about drugs in grade school, but his addiction was completely different from the typical addict I had pictured in my head. It was very difficult for me to understand the situation at first. There is a lot of uncertainty and fear that some night, he just wouldn’t make it home. Once I educated myself about his situation, I was better able to accept what was happening and give him the support he needed.
The biggest lesson I learned through all of this is that addiction is a disease that affects the actions and behaviors of your family member or friend. They are ultimately responsible for their actions, but the disease is what is driving their insanity.
I’ve learned that support and understanding are crucial to recovery. If someone you know is battling addiction, encourage them to get help and do whatever it takes to get them that help.
My parents were his biggest enablers. Finally, when they had enough, they sent him to Ambrosia’s West Palm Beach rehab and it was the best thing that ever happened to our family. He was resistant at first, but once he got there he knew what he had to do. After treatment, we were surprised to hear that he wanted to stay in the area and get his life back together away from the temptations of home. He moved into a sober community, and that was key.
Today I recognize the fact that just as he is powerless over drugs and alcohol, in the end, I am powerless over his decisions. The best I can do is keep in touch with him often and ask them how he is doing as he goes through recovery. My parents and I are always reminding him of how proud we are of his accomplishments and we support him endlessly, but it took a while for us to get to that point. Letting go of the need to protect him was what eventually led him to get the help he needed.
Now that my brother is sober and working on himself, it feels like I can sleep at night knowing he is going to be okay. I still worry about him sometimes, but nowhere near as often as I did when he was using.
My brother has accomplished so much since being in recovery. He has a girlfriend who is also in recovery and he has an amazing network of friends that support each other. He has also been able to mend past relationships that were fractured because of his disease. I have learned so much information, addiction no longer frustrates or confuses me. I can approach the topic and those that struggle with compassion and understanding. Although I would have never wished this situation on myself or anyone else, I am thankful for the knowledge and experience that I have gained through this. As a future healthcare professional, I want to stand behind this cause and improve the lives of individuals affected by this disease. If my brother can beat this, anyone can, they just need to reach out and get accept help when it comes their way.