The Golden Boy

Ashley Avidan
Tell us about your (or your loved one's) recovery journey. What has been the most rewarding part?

My brother was the favorite of the family. He was good looking, kind, and smart. He is one of those stories you hear about on the news but can't seem to believe. A captain of his championship football team headed off to college majoring in Biology. I was the bad sister who got in trouble and was failing out of college. Something changed... Looking back I think it may have been the start of a mental illness coupled with the inability to ever fail and not be saved. His second year @ Scranton turned into a nightmare. After he left he never, ever was the same. He saw therapists, psychologists but never seemed to find a fit or stay on his medicine. Then came the girlfriend who clearly had a drug problem of her own. Maybe he just hid it better for longer. Before you knew it, he was sitting in his car instead of going to class at the local community college. Finally, after finding straws for sniffing heroin we realized the depths of his darkness. We have been blessed with financial resources that have been used for the past ten years to send him to rehab after rehab, including intensive inpatient and outpatient therapy. He has been to mediocre rehabs and to some of the best ones available to our family. In the beginning he could hide the relapse longer. Even get a job. However, it all ended the same way. Lying about losing the job, sometimes stealing from my parents, and in hysterics because he finally was caught. My brother never seems to want to stay on the medicine needed to help his sustain his mental health. Now we are on around the 10th relapse and have decided to stop rushing in and trying to save him. He has been homeless, stolen money, owed drug dealers money and my parents always kept swooping in to help solve the problem of the hour. We have moved him away and kept him home. Drug tested him weekly this last time until he relapsed again and again. One of the things he always mentioned was the ability to learn how to fail and come back from it on his own. Something a lot of addicts mentioned during their shared experiences. Hopefully, he can find a way. Now we are at the beginning yet again, we are hoping he actively starts recovery this week. He is staying with a friend after sleeping in his car for 2 days. This week was the worst. He left the halfway on Sunday because he suddenly remembered he was sexually abused as a child. We want to believe him so badly. But he won't provide us with any details. Just saying he is sure it happened. The same brother that has seen countless therapists and been in patient care more than I can count. Now suddenly thinks he has repressed a memory from so long ago. He then went to the friend's house and relapsed just one time on heroin while she was at work. As if doing heroin one time is normal. Who says that. I vacillate from being understanding to extremely mad. I know it is an addiction. I know he has mental illness. I know he is the only person who can solve this problem. YET, I get so mad. Why does he not just get better or try and stay on his meds. I feel horrible for my parents who have spent more then just money. They are falling apart, slowing dying themselves.

The only rewarding aspect of this horrible journey was learning how much mental illness plays a part with addiction. Addicts are just people, our brothers, sisters, etc., and before this experience I never even knew an addict. It taught me compassion and understanding for those who are affected by this horrible disease. That everyone has issues and a story and you never know what is going on with someone or someone that they love. It taught me how to be a better mom. To realize my kids will one day make their own choices or have their own issues. All I can do is prepare them the best I can. The rest is up to them.

Do you have a message for the Shatterproof community?

Take care of yourself and your loved ones who are touched by the addict. Sometimes it is okay to sit back and let the addict try and resolve their own demons. Teach your children how to ask for help with mental illness. Let children fail and learn grit.