Monday, April 2, 2012

Addiction and Contradiction

My oldest brother, Scott, died in September of an accidental drug overdose.  Addiction had plagued him for years/decades.  I never understood why it had such a hold on him.  His personality seemed to predispose him to such things.  Alcohol was my brother's drug of choice.  It was the constant.  He dappled in cocaine, etc, but 'booze' provided the daily grounding he seemed so desperate for.

Being ten years older than me, I honestly don't remember Scott 'before booze.'  He was drinking by the time he was 15; I was 5.  As the years passed, I started seeing the negative impact it was having on his life.  He was an abusive 'drunk.'  He didn't work (to speak of).  He used, and abused, my parents.  He abused his wife.  He lost the few things he had managed to acquire in his alcohol-controlled life.  He burnt all bridges. 

My brother, with his sparkling eyes, ended up alone and homeless.  He was in and out of rehab on countless occasions but he always returned to his life on the streets.  That is where he died.  On the streets, he finally found peace.

I think back to our talks.  We were close.  I used to say we were "twins born ten years apart."  I could sense things about Scott, even when he lived hundreds of miles away.  I could sense trouble.  I knew when things were going to go wrong.  I tried everything I could to help him (as did most of his family and friends).  We talked, frankly, about addiction.  By the end, I was angry about his addiction.  I was angry that he continued to choose to use.  I knew this thing would take my oldest brother away from me.  Last summer (2010), I told my husband, and sister, "Scott will be dead in a year."  I can't explain why, but I knew.  I knew he would be dead in a year.  Less than 14 months later, we buried him.

I gave Scott a lot of strife, over the years, about his drinking.  All the while, I smoked cigarettes (and still do).  It somehow seemed different.  He was mean when he drank.  I don't get mean when I smoke.  I guess that's why it never seemed to be a contradiction for me.  As I think about it now, I was fighting to save his life.  It wasn't about him simply drinking; it wasn't about being mean when he drank.  It was about wanting him to stay alive.  Now it's my turn.  I won't be a hypocrite.

I started smoking when I was 14.  I've smoked almost twice as long.  I need to let go of my addiction to cigarettes.  I wanted Scott to be a part of our family (in the last few years, he was restricted due to his unpredictable/volatile behavior).  I, too, want to be a part of my own family.....for many years to come.  I don't want something as stupid as cigarettes to take me away from the people I love the most.  Therefore, today is my last day with this vice.  When I wake up tomorrow, it will be without the need to utilize something which could ultimately kill me.

My brother's addiction killed him.  I will do everything in my power to make sure I learn from the lesson of watching him.  I will not allow my parents to bury me over nonsense. 

Tomorrow, and each day after that, I will be smoke-free.

(I love you, Scott <3)


  1. Julie,
    You are a very powerful and resilient person. So blessed to know you!