Name: Alix Mereya Mejia
From: Elko, NV
Addiction Awareness Scholarship
06 18 2020
Addiction is one of those words that can have a different effect on those who hear it. When one hears the word “addiction” it may sound different from those in many different walks of life. Addiction might sound like sex, drugs, gambling, our cell phones, etc. When I hear the word addiction, I associate it with my brother. My brother is 4 years older than me and was someone I once idolized. He had his own battle with addiction, but it had many lasting effects on me and my family as well.
My brother was very kind, funny, smart, and athletic. These are all things you would think make up a young man who had no problems in school, however, my brother has Asperger’s syndrome (AS). AS is “…a developmental disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication…” (Brennan 2020) When my family and I moved to Nevada from Washington in 2008, my brother was the most affected by this. He had a group of friends that he was comfortable with and could interact with before we left, but that all changed when we moved. He had a really hard time adjusting, and making friends wasn’t easy. He was very involved in sports and did very well in them, but his teammates didn’t get along with him. They called him names, bullied him, and even went as far as physically assaulting him. My brother felt alone and was yearning for acceptance.
As the youngest sibling, I was always the one who sat back and observed. I saw my shy and socially awkward brother struggle with making friends. I also remember that when he finally did make friends, they weren’t the type you would want your brother hanging around. I started to notice when he would come home later and later at night, if at all. I remember my concerned mother sitting on the couch, watching tv, and her phone right next to her with the ringer on–waiting for a call that no mother should receive. I was there for all of the arguments between him and my mother. I shared my mother’s concern for her son, after all, he was my only brother.
It wasn’t until the day that I found my brother unconscious in the snow, face-first that I realized there was a real problem. I called for my mom and we both had to drag him to our front door. Once inside my mom began to ask him what he took that night, who he was hanging out with, and how he got home. My brother was slurring his words and his eyes were bloodshot and he kept saying “I’m fine. I’m fine. Don’t call the cops. Don’t take me to the hospital. I’m fine.” At that point I was crying and scared because I had never seen anyone act the way he did, I never wanted to see my brother in that state. I never wanted to see my mother begging her son to tell her what he took, she didn’t want to get him in any trouble, she just didn’t want her son to overdose and die. Those “friends” that my brother was hanging out with were the ones who took him home that night and opened their car door and dumped him in the middle of our driveway like a package, instead of a human being with a concerned family inside. They were also the ones who let my brother get behind the wheel while he was completely inebriated, resulting in him getting arrested for Driving Under the Influence.
My brother went to jail for three days. That might not seem like a lot to some people and it might not seem like a big deal to most, but for me and my family, it was devastating. I come from a family that doesn’t see much addiction. My grandparents had their battles with addiction to alcohol, but my parents knew they needed to do better for their children. They consumed alcohol and smoked cigarettes, but that was the closest thing to substance abuse that I had encountered aside from tv or movies. I saw first hand what addiction could do to a family, and I didn’t like it.
My brother made his own choice to do drugs, he was the one who put them to his mouth and decided to do them. I think that he desperately wanted to be accepted and to belong somewhere, and he associated himself with the wrong crowd. There are millions of stories, just like my brothers around the world. There are kids out there who just want to fit in and be accepted by their peers. It starts off as something small, like staying out too late, smoking weed just to try it, or experimenting with other drugs. It spirals into a storm that you can’t contain. It ends up wiping out relationships and trust and has a detrimental effect on yourself and those around you. My brother thankfully learned his lesson and became sober after his time in jail. He realized that the people he surrounded himself with didn’t have his best interest at heart. I love and forgive my brother for the hardship that his addiction put my family through and I am proud to say that he overcame the odds and beat his addiction.
Brennan, Dan. “Asperger’s Syndrome: Symptoms, Tests, Diagnosis, and Treatment.” WebMD, WebMD, 2 June 2020, www.webmd.com/brain/autism/mental-health-aspergers-syndrome.
Johnson, Written by Jeff. “What Causes Drug Addiction?” Casa Palmera, 25 July 2019, casapalmera.com/blog/what-causes-drug-addiction/.