My brother was a heroin addict. While I was on a family vacation with my soon-to-be in-laws, he was supposed to be celebrating being clean for several months, finally having received Social Security Disability Income, and moving into his own nice apartment after living with my ex-husband and me off and on for those clean months. He threw himself a party, and some of his old using friends showed up with heroin. For whatever reason, my brother decided to use. He overdosed.
His so-called “friends” panicked. They filled his new bathtub with ice and cold water and placed his body in there to try to shock it. That did not work. So they left him. Alone. In a cold and icy bathtub. One of them came back the next day. I do not know whether my brother was still alive or not at that point, but the person finally called an ambulance. When it arrived, it was too late. My 28-year-old brother was dead.
I was ten years old when my brother was born. He had a lot of issues growing up. For one thing, he had ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder). He had trouble in school. He did not make friends easily. He would become hyper-focused on some topic or subject and obsess about it for hours, days, months. People often took advantage of him. Our family was not the happiest one on the block, and our parents divorced when he was 13. I believe that was when he started using drugs. Over the next 15 years, he lived with my then-husband and me off and on, whenever he was serious about getting clean. My ex dragged him to hundreds of Narcotics Anonymous meetings. He went to counseling. We put him into rehab. My parents and I actually institutionalized him in a mental health facility once when he threatened suicide because he was so overwhelmingly miserable coming off of the heroin.
He would disappear for several months and then reappear, scarecrow thin with open sores all over his body and hacking and coughing like he had tuberculosis. He contracted Hepatitis B. When his stripper/addict girlfriend became pregnant, my then-husband and I offered to adopt the baby if she would just stay clean for the duration of the pregnancy. She went behind his back and got an abortion. He wept for days. Then he went out and got high.
For whatever reason, I do not understand addiction. My first ex-husband is a recovering addict. Many members of his family are in recovery. After 18 years of marriage and several different addictions, I finally had too much and left him because of his then gambling addiction. To my regret, our son is currently incarcerated due to crimes he committed while addicted to methamphetamines. I have lived with addicts for years, and I still do not understand what drives them to abuse their bodies, their minds, their families, and their souls for one more fix.
I will never understand why my brother, who had finally seemed to turn his life around, chose to try heroin one more time. My mother’s biggest fear is that it was a suicide attempt, but if that was the case, then every time he used, he was attempting suicide, and I do not believe that. I believe he felt his life was so miserable and he was so desperately unhappy, that heroin was the cure for it. It made all his misery go away. It also took his life.
My brother was an addict, and he would have been 39 this year, had he lived. I still miss him every day.