I believe there is a war going on out there. Looking out my window on this rainy summer afternoon, I pause to reflect on the latest battle, a battle fought in a war I thought was over. At least I thought it was over for my family. I wonder about the outcome this time—will relapse bring victory or defeat? Upon reflection, hopelessness comes easy. Without faith, defeat seems probable, the outcome more costly than I dare to imagine.
Countless American families experience this war, waged by and for those who battle drug addiction. This war is costly, exacting payment in the currency of profound suffering and loss of human life. Legal and illegal drugs are the enemy, not only for the addict but for those of us who love an addict. I love two, which is why I know something about this war. Drug addiction has nearly destroyed my family.
My two younger brothers, now in their early thirties, have battled addiction for nearly two decades. Both began smoking marijuana in their teens, the older introducing it to the younger. Their drug experimentation quickly escalated to harder drugs, including heroin. At the time, music videos and fashion magazines glamorized the emaciated and soulless addict-look, a lie marketed and sold to America’s youth. Our small Texas community found itself at the center of national news: “Heroin snuffs out yet another vibrant young life.”
My younger brother’s recent relapse after years of sobriety shocks my family. A prescription for painkillers quickly escalated to heroin, an enemy once defeated. My mother and father’s hearts are broken, again. Their son’s future hangs in the balance. My older brother struggles with guilt for sharing that first joint. ‘No!” he cried when I shared the sad news, “It should have been me!” My grandmother wishes she had not lived long enough to witness another relapse. Her grief is palpable. And I ponder why…and what might have been. How would all of our lives differ without drug addiction in our family?
There is indeed a war going on out there. And it’s going on in here, too, inside the hearts and minds of all of us who struggle to make sense of the devastation and wreckage created by drug addiction. The rain stops, and upon reflection, I find some comfort. I’m thankful that my brother was stopped before he injured another person or took his life in search of a higher high. I am comforted by his positive attitude, by his gratefulness for treatment, by his acceptance of consequences. For these blessings and my newfound glimmer of hope, I claim a small victory. This I believe.