Living with a substance abuser

My brother is and might still be a drug addict… Sounds harsh, right? But, it’s totally the truth. I can’t say whether or not if he’s still using now because I don’t talk to him anymore. And that might sound mean or unsupportive of a family member who may be struggling but, my brother and I have had a tumultuous relationship because of his addiction. 

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs you know that my siblings are 15+ years older than I am because they’re not my biological siblings but actually my god brother & sister. When I first came into the picture my brother and sister were in high school and they thought I was adorable (as long as they didn’t have to babysit me on Saturday nights)… Lol. All of the teenagers in the neighborhood would come over to my parents house and want to hold or play with me when I was a baby. My mom actually has photos of me with my brother asleep on his chest. We were actually quite close, except for the fact that when I was little, he kept trying to teach me to say “bad words” because he just knew it would be funny to hear a toddler cursing… Smh. 

Up until I was about 7, my brother was a constant factor in my life. He would pick me up after school if my parents were working late. When he had girlfriends sometimes they would take me out to eat with them or buy me outfits from time to time but, slowly things started to change…. In a bad way. 

At first, we noticed that the guys my brother had always hung with didn’t come around as much anymore… And that he had new people he was hanging out with that seemed a bit sketchy. He was coming home late at night, and sometimes, not at all without telling my parents where he was or who he was with. My parents knew something wasn’t right so, they confronted him and he admitted to being an “errand guy” for a drug dealer. My parents were so disturbed and forbid him from hanging out with those guys, but never thought that my brother would actually use the drugs he was supposedly delivering…. 

Months went by and we all noticed how much my brother’s behavior got worse. Now things slowly started to disappear from our home. Nothing major, initially but, maybe money one of us left on the kitchen table or my dad’s dresser. The missing money gradually turned into missing items.… And that’s when things started getting really bad at home. I remember one evening coming home after school with my mom and my father being irate. My dad couldn’t find some jewelry that my great grandfather had given to him…. And for some reason he just knew my brother had something to do with it. So, he confronted my brother and my brother admitted that he took the jewelry and that not only was he still “running errands” but that now he was using drugs. He told my parents he was sorry and that he would stop but as much as he probably believed that he could stop, it didn’t happen that way. That was the beginning of a downward spiral….

My father made the decision to eventually kick my brother out of the house because he was afraid that drug dealers would either come to our house looking for him or try to kill us because he owed them money. Not to mention the fact that he was consistently stealing from us…. I think the tipping point for my dad putting him out was me… One Christmas holiday, I think I might’ve been about 10, I had been working and babysitting and had saved up a good amount of money. I vividly remember going to the store with my sister, Montgomery Ward, actually… That tells you how old I am, that store has been closed for years… Lol. Anyways! We were in Montgomery Ward at the cash register, I had picked up a bunch of Christmas gifts for my family and I was so excited to be able to pay for them myself with my own money! I had a cute little black bookbag purse that had a wallet compartment on the front of it. They lady told me my total and I reached inside to take out my money and…. My money was gone. Completely gone. I look through every pocket, zipper, everything that I could on my bag and no money. Not a red penny was there. I was devastated to the point that I started crying at the register. My sister ended up paying for the stuff and took me home. I just remember crying and crying because I knew my brother had stolen from me. I never thought he would take anything from me. He had taken things from my parents but never me. I was crushed. Inconsolable…. I remember my mom trying to hold me and calm me from crying but, I just couldn’t stop. I worked so hard for my money and saved…. I even had a gift for him that I planned to buy that day. He came home a day or so later and my mother screamed at him for stealing from me… She even made him pay me back, but the damage was done. My heart was broken. My big brother, the one who was supposed to protect me, had stolen from me…. 

Years went on and his life and addiction got worse and worse…. He ended up living on the streets, in and out of rehab and jail, all while my mom did everything she could to support him and actually still does to this day. She tirelessly still tries to help him… I think she feels like his addiction, in some way, is her fault because she’s his mom but the reality is crack ruined my brother’s life, not my mom. He may not be on drugs today, but he still operates as though he’s an addict. He’s irrational, makes poor choices, and just can’t seem to get things right. He uses my mom as a crutch rather than trying to figure out anything on his own and now he has children who are suffering because of his poor life choices…. And as much as I’d like to be close to his children or help them, I just can’t bring myself to do it because of all the hurt I’ve experienced from my brother… From being cursed out, threatened, attempting to fight me, stealing from me, lying to my face… I could go on but, I think you all get this picture at this point… 

So, this was a hard post to write but it was necessary. Necessary for my own healing…. And for those who may have family members who have or are suffering from substance abuse. Sometimes it’s hard to love someone who’s dealing with addiction… Believe me I know. I’m still working through this concept myself. Do I love my brother? Yes. Do I like the lifestyle he’s chosen for himself? No… So, what’s the lesson for the day? Chile’ I don’t know! Lol, I’m still trying to figure this out for myself! Lol. I guess I’d say to love your family member, even when they’re broken, or when they’ve broken your heart. Sometimes you even have to love them from a distance to protect yourself… That’s the space I’m in now… And pray that one day maybe you’ll be reconnected on a more positive note, just like I’m praying for the same with my brother… 

Peace, Love and Light. 

5 thoughts on “Living with a substance abuser

  1. This addiction has been such a hard thing for us and our extended family to deal with. Kim I pray that putting pen to paper to share this story helps your healing.

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  2. Oh! Thank you for sharing this really personal post ! unfortunately we forget how addiction affect s the whole family and not just one person! my heart is with you, just remind yourself that your brother is not himself, otherwise he would never hurt you!
    And writing this post is your own way to start healing! this is your journal and your diary to make you feel better !
    Keep it up !

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  3. Kim, you are always in my prayers. I love this post as drug addiction and mental health is usually the unspoken topic that many of us have to deal with. Prayers for healing!!

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