Siblings and Addiction
I have been really concerned about my brother lately. Well, let me first start out by saying that I am always concerned about my brother. However, lately, we had a rather vulnerable conversation on the phone last week and it has really got me thinking. We talked about my brother’s struggles with addiction. He still struggles. I have decided to write a little bit about my personal story as this is something that has been on my mind a lot lately.
It all started in high school. At least from what I remember. My brother began using various substances. It first started with marijuana. Marijuana is a gateway drug (basically a gateway drug is essentially a drug that eventually leads to other drugs. The high becomes not enough so an individual begins seeking another more potent drug that will increase the high). My brother was essentially using it every day. Taking hits before school, after school, evenings, etc. I later found out that he even drove us to school high. He would also use it before playing athletics (my brother played hockey from a young age). Looking back, I recall him being high for most of our teenage years. Some may say that that is to be expected but the minute he began using, he began making poor choices. He began getting into trouble not only at school but outside of school as well. For example, my brother and his friends thought that it would be a good idea to beat up a civilian’s mailbox with a baseball bat. At first the civilian decided that he was going to press charges but then he decided to drop them. The reason I bring up this example is just to demonstrate one of many examples of when my brother gave in to peer pressure. Social status was always somewhat of a concern to him growing up. He wanted to be cool and didn’t want to be seen as a wimp by his friends if they were smoking and he was not.
Fast forward to college, and things took a turn for the worst. My brother like myself went to a small liberal arts college. However, unlike myself, he got into quite a bit of trouble. He played college hockey and his hockey buddies were not the greatest influence on him. He began drinking a lot. I understand that for some, drinking is a part of the college culture but for him, it became excessive. At one point, he drank so much over a spring break trip to Cancun with his friends that he had to have his stomach pumped upon returning home. They did a toxicology report at that time and found cocaine in his system as well. Now, he is still drinking and has been taking psychedelics in addition to taking supplements in excessive amounts regarding exercise.
My brother was seeing a counselor and was on anti-anxiety medication but I do not believe he sees a counselor anymore. While that is his choice and I support his decision, I am very concerned. I know I can’t force him to get help, but I worry about him. I am concerned that if he does not get help, that he may have another setback as he did in college. There’s nothing like being a sister and feeling powerless. He knows I support him but I can’t force him to get help. I would want him to come to that conclusion himself anyways.
I chose to write this article to demonstrate how a family member’s struggle with addiction can affect family members as well. Not just siblings.