"He used to rip the heads off of my Barbie dolls and tickle my feet until I peed my pants. He made fun of my braces and gave me a complex about the size of my forehead. He once blindfolded me and hid me in his bedroom and told my parents that I ran away. I missed dinner. Did they really go ahead and eat? I was missing! He was my brother. And he did what brothers do. And I loved him so very much.
I wanted to share this note about my brother, Jimmy, because there will not be an obituary in the newspaper or a large celebration of life ceremony. Only a handful of you even knew him personally. Those who did hadn’t seen him or spoken with him for years anyway. My brother was an addict.
A lot of people have been asking me lately – when did he go ‘downhill’. That’s honestly a difficult question to answer. He was always the ‘bad kid’. He always managed to seek out trouble even in the most honest and innocent of situations. It started with a little marijuana here and there to a full blown heroin addiction by the time he reached his 20’s. He traded that for alcohol. He was drowning in it.
It breaks my heart that to the rest of the world, he was viewed as a low-life, a waste to society. When people learn of how he passed, they almost nod their heads as though to say, ‘well, that explains it. It was bound to happen’. Yes it was. Yes, it was. And it did.
See, I knew I’d get the call one day. I thought I had mentally prepared myself for it. But, I have to tell you, it hit me harder than I ever imagined. A person can’t really prepare for losing a sibling. He is so much a part of me. A bond that only siblings have. If you’ve lost one, you get it. Even though he broke my heart over and over and over, I knew he loved me and I loved him too. That unbreakable sibling bond.
He was artistic. He was musical. He was funny. He was smart. He was loved so much by a family who tried everything in their power to help him. He needed to help himself and he just couldn’t.
I know I will see him again. I take comfort in that. I just wish he could’ve known my children. I wish they could’ve known their uncle. I do know that as they get older I will warn them about the effects of drugs and alcohol… it killed their uncle. My brother.
Life is short. We all get one shot. I hope you’ll make the most of yours. I plan to do the same.
In the meantime, I’m going to hold on to the good memories and mental images of my brother. The rest doesn’t matter anymore. He is finally free."
I posted that on my Facebook page a few days after my brother, Jimmy, passed away of a drug overdose in May of 2013. I decided to 'use my story'... HIS story... to try to relate, encourage and comfort others who have an addict in their life. It's a complicated, emotional roller coaster.
I know that my family is not alone as overdose has become the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Trends are worsening with studies showing that over 500,000 adolescents are abusing prescription pain meds, and over 2.5 million people are already addicted.
In 2012, 259 million opioid prescriptions were written, enough for everyone in the U.S. to have their own bottle of pills. That is startling.
Forty-nine states have responded to this epidemic by passing legislation allowing prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). PDMPs allow doctors to know the history of a patient’s prescription use, even if he or she was not the prescriber. This is important as better information makes the doctor a better practitioner. PDMPs also mitigate “drug seekers:" those that are attempting to obtain opioids (OxyContin, Vicodin, Fentanyl, and others) to either abuse, or to sell.
One state, Missouri, does not have a PDMP. A small group of Senators, led by Robert Schaaf of St. Joseph, filibuster the bill each year. Missouri has the votes in both the House and the Senate for the bill to pass. It is amazing that a small group of obstructionists can hold up a bill year after year. A bill that is sorely needed.
Federal legislation was recently passed to support state efforts in mitigating the opioid crisis. If Missouri does not pass PDMP legislation in this session, it is possible that Missouri will miss out on needed federal funds to fight the opioid crisis.
Shatterproof, a national non-profit, is focused on ending the opioid epidemic and is advocating for PDMP legislation in Missouri. Will you please join me in signing up to support their advocacy efforts? Simply click here.
In honor of my brother, and all of the others who have passed, we need to support this legislation.
Thank you for your help. It means the world to me.
This post originally appeared on sheKC Lifestyle. Republished with permission.