This Is What It Feels Like To Be An Addict’s Sister

Paul Papadimitriou / Flickr.com.
Paul Papadimitriou / Flickr.com.

At eleven, I found out you were smoking pot. I wasn’t worried though because I didn’t think that you would ever do anything more than that. At fourteen, you had your first trip; you went crazy because you were on LSD and you threatened to kill me. At seventeen, I found out you were hooked on heroin. You’re only 14 months older than me. Today, I’m twenty-two and you’re still addicted; and although I don’t know what its like to be a heroin addict, I do know what its like to live with an addict.

Every day I try to understand what it does to you, why you feel the need to stick a needle of black tar heroin into your arm. I try to understand why you choose to be so selfish in every aspect of your life. Why you constantly lie and steal. I wonder if I will ever trust you again, if I will ever know you again, but most of all, I wonder if I will spend the rest of my life fighting this battle with you.

I question if you’ve ever thought about all the hell that you’ve put our family through, or whether you have ever felt genuinely bad. I’ve started to believe that the pain that has come from your use of heroin is only on us, not you. Yes, it’s a selfish thought but it’s also a logical to me. As naive as it may sound, all you suffer from is the urge. An undeniable urge to use; everything else, we’re forced to deal with.

Growing up, life was simple, fun and adventurous until you started using. It almost seems as if you couldn’t let anyone else be the center of attention for once; the moment the spotlight began to shine on someone else, you would steal it back. You’ve become a thief in my eyes. You began with stealing the spotlight but quickly moved onto bigger and better things: cash, jewelry, and quite frankly anything you can get your hands on. Don’t get me wrong; you’re not a kleptomaniac. You steal because you need too; your life depends on this drug. You need to get whatever you can to be able to pierce heroin through your blood.

The truth is, I want to hate you. I want to never speak to you again and feel completely fine about that decision but that isn’t reality. I spend every day worrying, thinking about every bad thing that could possibly happen to you. My nights are filled with nightmares of your death and what your funeral would be like. I have imagined nearly every possibility. Whether it be an overdose, withdrawal, or murder from a drug deal gone wrong — I’ve imagined it. I’ve spent nights planning out what I would say, each time my speech becoming meaner and meaner. At first, I imagined mourning your loss and us being surrounded by people who loved you, but now, I imagine speaking of you in a negative light, just as you deserve. I imagine telling the crowd that every day you would choose heroin over us and how could we miss someone who spent over ten years choosing drugs over us? The truth is, if you died today, I would mourn you for every minute of my life until I died and your funeral would be nothing that I could ever imagine. Still, the pain I’d feel at your funeral would be nothing compared to the daily pain you put me through with your prolonged use.

You’ve changed our family in every aspect. My mom is no longer the mother that I grew up with but rather an enabler, a woman so focused on her son that every text and call I receive is about you, her addict son. Every angle of her life is consumed with your welfare, giving every last dime to you in hopes that you’ll get clean. You still don’t care enough though because you continue to steal from her and use her just as you use your heroin. As for dad, he’s given up. He’s so tired of dealing with all of your problems; you have become a loser in his eyes. The truth is that he loves you more than you’ll ever know but you can’t see it with your drug soaked eyes. You’ll never see the love he has for you because you’re too focused on the love he’s been giving us, your siblings. Blame him all you want for your drug problem, but that will never change the fact that you’ve chosen to use. As for us, your siblings, we’re done. We have grown up living with your problem and quite frankly not understanding it. Each of us has given up so much for you; we’re no longer hopeful that you’ll get clean. You’ve been to rehab multiple times. When you’re high, you’re a different person. You’re mean, selfish, and downright vicious. When you’re sober, you’re a showstopper. You light up every room but we’ve learned that’s just an act. Everything has become an act.

I force myself to keep caring every day. Although, I can that I don’t care about you countless times over, we both know that’s furthest from the truth. What keeps me going? Memories. Daily, my mind fills with silly memories that can’t help but make me smile. Whether it was the time when you were in your third rehab and I hacked your Facebook telling all your friends this grand tale that you were going on the Reality show The Bachelorette, or the time that I cooked you “faux meat” and tried to convince you otherwise of it. Every memory of the last few years is associated with rehab, associated with which time you were sober. Years to me have turned into rehab trips. I no longer associate time with years, but rather with stages of your life.

Science says that you need the drug or you will withdrawal. You’ll experience unimaginable feelings of discomfort, hours and days of nausea. First you’ll struggle with the physical withdrawal. Along with that inconceivable nausea, you’ll break out into sweat until you hit a breaking point. Eventually the physical pain will subside and then a daily trial will ensue, the mental agony. Every morning and night, you will continue to think of all of your drugs; it won’t matter who you have to deceive, all that matters is this drug. You’ll imagine being high again but with sobriety comes denying the urge to use. You’ve done it before, the most being a year and a half sober and honestly, you can do it again. However, in my eyes, I see a selfish young boy wanting everyone’s attention again. A boy who chooses to lie and steal because at the end of the day, you only care about one thing: heroin.

After spending almost a decade questioning all aspects of life that you’ve contributed to, I find myself mad and angry that I still care. Most days, I wish I didn’t know you. I wish you weren’t my brother because I know that heroin use is a death sentence. Every day for the rest of your life you will suffer from this craving and I know that there’s nothing I could ever do to take away that craving. In that aspect, I feel as though I have failed you as a sister. They say that love is enough to conquer anything but heroin has proven to our family that love is most certainly not enough. Love can’t take away your addiction or your cravings, and love certainly isn’t enough for you to give up this death-ridden life that you chose. TC mark

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Image Credit: Paul Papadimitriou / Flickr.com.

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