Hard of Healing

Growing up I had an Idyllic life: a great family, lots of friends, plenty of money, etc. It was almost too good to be true. I suppose someone from the great beyond thought it was too good as well because when I was 16 years old, fate took my brother from me in a car accident. It was two weeks after his 21st birthday and he was killed by a drunk-driver. I never let go of the anger and rather than confront the forces responsible for this tragedy, I let it consume me and send me into a spiral of addiction.

Severe depression soon gave way to substance abuse. I was doing anything I could get my hands on to numb my reality. While my parents were grieving over their lost child, their other child (the only one they had left) was trying everything he could to kill himself. Without my brother, I considered life to be a meaningless joke that I didn’t want to be a part of anymore. I was angry at everyone and everything, including myself. This lasted for about four years, during which I did everything I could to try and destroy myself because I thought it would bring me some peace.

I developed an addiction to Xanax when I was 18. At first, I was taking them to help me sleep through the night. Then I started mixing them with alcohol. My parents tried several times to get me to stop, but I had moved out of the house at this point so there was only so much they could do. I wasn’t thinking about their suffering or their heartache or their anguish; I was only thinking about what I could do to make myself feel better in the short term. I never took the time to properly heal or process these emotions.

Then the inevitable happened. When I was 20 years old, I nearly died from a fatal combination of Xanax and alcohol. The doctor said I had stopped breathing for about three minutes and it was a miracle that I survived. Looking at my parents sobbing in the hospital room, once so full of hope and happiness, now having to battle for the life of their only remaining son, I made the decision right then and there to enter the best rehab in Florida. I needed to get better—for myself and for them. I needed some place to go with all of this anger and frustration.

When I went to rehab, I felt like I had so much work to do; like I was completely broken on the inside. Within a few weeks, I felt myself start to center and come back together. Don’t get me wrong; detox wasn’t exactly a picnic, but once I started thinking clearly and sharing what I was going through, I felt like I was starting to mend. It’s hard to say that I’m “cured”, but I haven’t used drugs or alcohol in over a year and I’m better able to deal with my emotions. My parents and I have reconnected and I’m feeling better about the future every day. There will always be a place in my heart for my brother, but I’ve learned to make one for me as well. 

Contact the National Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Information Center (NASAIC) anytime toll-free at (800) 784-6776 or through our online form, and we will recommend the leading drug and alcohol rehab centers for you or your loved one.

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