Stepping Up

He was slipping away and there wasn’t a thing that I could do about it. It had taken all of six months for my brother, once so vibrant and full of life, to wither away to practically nothing. I was consumed with grief over not being able to help him. Every time I saw him it was like I was getting a sneak preview of his funeral. The worst part was that I knew it didn’t have to be this way. If he was terminally ill, I would have resigned myself to the fact that my time with him was limited and made the best of it; instead I had to live with the reality that he had done this to himself through heroin abuse.

In the old days, we smoked weed and took a little bit of oxy. I grew out of it; he didn’t. It’s as simple as that. Years after I had quit taking drugs, he was still hanging out with the same people (those that weren’t dead or in jail, anyway) but he was still managing to live his life. Once he stopped taking pills and snorting heroin, things quickly fell apart. I’m not saying he was better off taking pills, it’s just that heroin took over very fast. I didn’t even know he had switched until a friend of mine told me.

After half a year’s worth of agonizing worry, I got the rest of my family involved and organized an intervention. I swore to myself that I’d never let a stranger get involved in my family’s problems, but these issues were too big for us to deal with one on one. I had a brother that could easily die any day and before I got that phone call, I wanted to make sure I did everything that I could to help him. At the end of the line, I just wanted him to be able to move on and live a happy life.

At first I had a hard time with what I was going to say, particularly because we started doing drugs together. I was afraid I would sound like a hypocrite and my pleas would fall on deaf ears. On the day of the intervention, I stumbled a lot, but was finally able to get my point across. This combined with my parents’ pleas were just enough to get him to seek treatment. I made him promise me before he left that he was doing this for himself as much as he was for us. He said he’d been meaning to stop for a while and had no intention of dying at 31.

He completed treatment, and predictably, struggled at first to find his footing. The world can be a scary place for people that are first coming out of rehab. For the past two years, and with the support of my family, he’s managed to remain drug-free. Without heroin intervention, my brother never would have made it. Instead of writing about how he got clean two years ago, I’d be writing a much sadder story. 

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