Riding the Addictions Roller-Coaster

It used to be our family’s dirty little secret.

But, believing others could perhaps benefit from our learning, my family suggested we share.

As a result, almost exactly one year ago, my column included a letter I had written to a younger brother caught up in the terrible pain of addiction.

There wasn’t a family member who ever believed it possible that one of us would end up on the street. We’ve learned that addiction does not discriminate and that it is so very complicated.

While my brother’s addiction spiraled as the result of painkillers prescribed for back and hip injuries, in hindsight, he was addicted to other substances prior to that. It’s clearer now that he’s been running from some form of childhood sexual abuse for a long time.

We’re not sure who it was but we’re guessing it may also have been a factor in the deaths of two other of his close childhood friends who died as the result of the lifestyle choices they made.

Last year at this time, we thought he had hit rock bottom. Living on the street, he had ended up hospitalized with a major infection that almost killed him.

It seemed he was ready to turn his life around.

Turns out we were wrong.

As with many other addicts, his behaviours are much like a roller coaster, and he’s been on and off the streets over the past year.

We are so very grateful to the social service agencies that kept him alive by making sure he had food in his stomach, clothes on his back, and a roof over his head in cold weather because half the time we didn’t know where he was and simply prayed he was alive.

Then, last week we heard that he was back in hospital. While that’s normally not a good thing for most people, for us it meant he would at least be safe for a while.

He’s given me permission, to share the letter I wrote him today. If you’re the kind of person who believes in praying for others ... please say one for him.

Dearest Little Brother:

Mom told me you’ve have made the decision to go into rehab and will go from the hospital directly to the centre in Guelph.

I am so relieved but also so very proud of you. Took you awhile ... but then again we do seem to have inherited that Ukrainian “stubbornness” gene.

Knowing the constant pain you’re in, I’m also amazed at the strength and perseverance that has kept you alive until now.

Now that you’ve made the decision to get help, I’m confident you will be able to direct that same stubbornness and perseverance toward getting well.

I read somewhere that while we seem to think that overcoming addiction is about willpower, change is likely more about “want” power ... wanting something more than the old addiction ... wanting to be a new person and wanting a new life more than the old addiction. Maybe that’s what this is about and what you will need to hold on to during what is sure to be a challenging journey over the next few months.

If Mom hasn’t shared it with you already, ask her to talk to you about The Secret. While its true there’s been a lot of recent hype surrounding the book and the videos, what it really does boil down to is that each of us creates our own life with every thought we think during every minute of the day.

So the “secret” of life is really to think of your life as a menu where you’re in charge of what you “order” and ultimately what you want your life to be. If you expect to be unsuccessful and unhappy you will be, if you expect to be successful and happy you will be.

While I’m guessing it will be difficult to think beyond the constant pain you are now dealing with, I just want to encourage you to think as much as you can about the life and the happiness you want and so deserve to have.

You are the only one who can figure out what it is you want your life to be once you are free from the pain ... family, security, love, meaningful work, travel, helping others? I think that wanting the new life you envision for yourself will need to become more important than your old addiction.

Anyway, I have faith that you will be able to figure it out ... you always have been pretty savvy.

While your new journey is one that only you can take, start on your new path knowing there are many of us who love you and are standing along side you cheering and praying. In my heart of hearts, I know you’ve got it within you to be successful.

Be strong.

Love you and thinking of you always,


Posted on 12-19-07


Very nice post…
Thanks for sharing it

•Posted by Marie Semuel  on  04/03/12  at  02:58 AM

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