I believe that addiction doesn’t discriminate. When I was growing up, I saw my family as perfect. I looked up to them, and, as the only male sibling, especially attached myself to my sisters. Since we were so close, I never thought there could be secrets.
As my sisters grew up, they got good jobs, money, and cars, and were living what I thought were successful lives. But soon after they moved out, I started to suspect something was wrong.
It seemed as if every time they called, my parents would argue with them. Eventually, it got so bad that I relentlessly questioned my parents until they finally sat me down and told me that my sisters were doing drugs. Infuriated and hurt, I refused to believe them. But deep down I knew it was the truth.
Everything changed at that point. It seemed as if my “perfect” family was falling apart. My grades started slipping because I was so busy worrying if my sisters were going to die from drugs. I also worried about my niece, who was born in the midst of my sister’s addiction. I cared so much for her and couldn’t believe how addiction affected someone so innocent and special.
For a while, my sisters tried to play it off like there wasn’t anything wrong, as if I was still naive. In the beginning I played along, scared that my sisters would hate me if I told them how angry and hurt I was. But it didn’t take long before I broke down.
Just as I was feeling like there was no hope, my sisters came back to my family for help. My parents helped them enroll at a recovery facility, and I was there to support them every step of the way. I knew I couldn’t cure them, but I would visit them often to show them that I supported what they were doing and tell them how much I loved them.
After completing the rehabilitation program, my sisters lived at a halfway house before moving back out on their own again. Slowly, I began to feel as if my “perfect” family was coming back together, as if we were all reborn again and starting life over from scratch.
Through this whole process, though, I had been so hesitant to talk to other people about it. I felt very alone, like this wasn’t happening to any other family besides mine. But then my parents and I started going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings with my sisters. There we heard stories from other families about how they dealt with addiction and I realized that I wasn’t alone.
Going to those meetings also showed me that addiction didn’t discriminate. There was such a mix of people there, I quickly realized that it didn’t matter if you were white, black, or tan, nice, ugly, or popular. Addiction can slide in through any open crack. Addiction doesn’t discriminate, but no one is alone in dealing with it. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.