Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 – My brother Andrew


My brother Andrew

Last year, my step
brother Andrew passed away due to a heroin overdose, at the age of
27. Without getting into the details, as it isn’t my story to tell,
he had been clean for three months. Him and his girlfriend were
grocery shopping, and before they left the store, he ran back inside
to go to the bathroom. When he came back to the car, he began seizing
and became unconscious. He was put into a medically-induced coma for
several days before passing away. He was his only son. My dad, also
his biological father, had made efforts to connect with him when
Andrew’s mom reached out to explain that she was losing him. He had
been stealing from her continuously, in efforts to acquire money for
heroin. This was devastating for her, as he had never been any
trouble growing up. She explained that she barely recognized him
anymore. My dad made many efforts to meet with him and to get to know
him better, he drove hours to meet him, only for Andrew to fail to
meet him when he agreed he would. We knew that this wasn’t really
him, and that he had been consumed by his addiction. Watching all
this, from my perspective, spoke to the power of addiction. I wish
that Andrew had gotten the chance to meet all of his siblings and
that I had really gotten to know him, I can’t help but think that it
may have made some sort of difference. I can only imagine what Kathy,
his mother, has gone through. People might choose to try drugs, but
nobody chooses to become addicted, which i think is something a lot
of people fail to understand. It is all-consuming, and life while
high seemingly becomes a better reality, and being sober becomes
something to escape. People with addictions do not deserve to be
labelled Addicts, as they are living with an addiction, but are still
more than that. Addiction is a mental disorder, with genetic and
environmental factors, just like any other mental health disorder.

The stigma around
addiction needs to be changed in order for people to be more eager to
get help for those who need it, before it’s too late. There are so
many people in the US that suffer from addiction and those that do
should be treated with empathy and compassion, not shame, disgust, or
guilt. They should be shown that life can be better than their
current reality and doesn’t have to be something that they want to
escape from. Being able to destigmatize addiction will be an effort
to help thousands of people suffering, as well as their families and
loved ones. It starts with education in schools and programs
explaining what addiction really is and how it can be treated. It
isn’t an easy task, but will be so worth it as so many lives will
be saved and people with so much potential to better contribute to
society can get their chance after being rid of the heavy chains that
addiction holds. I am so passionate about helping those with
addiction, their families, and physical and mental health care
professionals in their efforts to treat and help people suffering
because of the lessons I wish I had learned earlier, before my
brothers’ story ended all too soon.