I've been a sibling of an addict for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I always looked up to my older brother and often times as a high schooler went to his parties and hung out with his friends. At that time, it was the "in" thing to do. As we grew older it's almost like he is stuck there and I'm the older sibling. We thought for a moment in time, we had him back. But that was only a snap shot. I can't tell you what it's like for everyone to have a brother or a sister addicted to drugs but I can tell you from my perspective what it feels like to be the sober sibling.
Everyday, I sit and watch my mom go over and over again in her head, what she did wrong, how could her "baby" grow up to be a drug addict. The truth is mom, there isn't anything you could have done. You tried putting him in sports, we always had nice cloths, a roof over our head, food on the table, when we turned 16 you always made sure we had cars to drive. We were given every opportunity to become great. Not every parent is perfect, but raising a drug addict is something you didn't cause. Do I think that if our "dad" would have been a part of our lives would it have made a difference, no. I think this was just the way he was going to grow up. His hatred towards our biological dad, I do believe plays a part in his addictive behavior, but that's just his coping tool. So in other words, mom, you did not cause this, you can't control and you can't fix it.
Everyday, I sit on the "sidelines" as my mom goes through this process. I miss not only my brother but my mom at the same time. I miss the person he was before he thought drugs were more important than his sisters and his niece and nephew, his family in general. I miss my mom as the person she was before drugs consumed her life, I miss hearing laughter and joy. I miss being able to spend holidays and birthdays together as one family and not as two families, always worrying about what to say and not to say.
Everyday, I sit and worry and am in constant fear I will get a call from one of his friends saying we couldn't save him this time. My brother was always my best friend and hero growing up and if he wasn't here, even if I'm not talking to him, I don't know how I would go on. I know I'd have to for my children and my mom, but inside I would be dying. Growing up, we always had each other's backs. No matter what anyone did or said, I would always be on his side and he would always be on my side. If something happened to him, I would always blame myself, even if it wasn't my fault and logically I know it wouldn't be. I would always think, what could I have done to help him? Maybe if I would have talked to him more, he'd still be here? Could I have saved him? Why wasn't my love and understanding enough?
Everyday, I watch people with judgmental eyes look at, not only my brother, but other addicts as well with every bit of disgust. Every time I see this, I want to scream from the top of my lungs, educate yourself and realize these people are someone's brother, sister, daughter, son, mother, father, uncle, aunt. These people are loved by many but forgotten by many more. They become the lost people of this world because so many people haven't educated themselves on this disease. Too many, still to this day have a negative look on addiction and don't realize with the right tools and opportunities, people do recover, people do get better. It hurts my heart when I see people looking at my brother with these eyes. I wish I could educate everyone to help them understand and not be judgmental.
Everyday, I watch as my heart gets heavier and heavier and my brother digs deeper and deeper and I can't save him. I watch as my mom becomes more and more distant and I can't save her. I watch as I become more and more overwhelmed with sadness and I can't save myself. That's why they say addiction is a family disease. Even if you don't think addiction is a disease, people are dying and dying at a rapid rate, so something needs to be done. So you ask me, what's it like to be a sibling of an addict, the answer is it's hell. It's hell on earth and I have no control over it. I have no way out of it, I have no way to save anyone from it. It's a living nightmare. And at some point, we do have to walk away, walk away from the addiction, not the person. We have to save ourselves before it's too late for us. We have to make ourselves stronger in order to help the addict.
If you are the addict, I ask you to please reach out for help. From the bottom of my heart, your family won't judge you, won't be angry with you, all we want to do is help you. Help you become the person you used to be. Become an active member of society. We want you to be involved in our lives and be there with us, before it's too late.