‘My addict brother threatened to kidnap my child. I’m scared of him, and I’m scared for him.’

But some people refuse. They leave the hospitals and rehab centres and the prisons. They are back on the streets, fleeing reality and seeking their next high. Those around them are damned to simply bare witness, to just wait.Wait for them to wake up and reach out. Or wait until it’s too late. There is no easy solution.They become lost. Lost to their families. Lost to their community. Lost to their future. Lost to themselves.I feel sad for the little boy my parents knew. For every opportunity he was given. For all the chances he ruined. For the wreckage he left for others to clean up. For the choices he has made. Sadness for the disease that has taken grip of every part of him and turned him into a stranger to me. I feel sad for my sister who still sees the little brother she loves.I feel hatred. Hatred that I was robbed of a big brother to protect me. Hatred that he refuses help. Hatred that I now only associate him with fear. For me, fear is not the stranger in the night, it is not the boogeyman under the bed. It’s my brother.I feel angry that he will be treated as a criminal in a world that has no patience for this type of sickness. For the disease that is addiction. For the ignorance of everyone including myself that just wants him to stop and sort out his life.I feel jealous. Jealous of those families who aren’t gripped by a disease attached to so much stigma. Of the people who don’t have brothers that threaten them. Brothers that seek that high at the expense of everything.Jealous of those who don’t have every big family celebration tainted by the sadness of the black sheep who will not be there, or worse – who will be.I feel exhausted. Exhausted from the stomach drops and the sweaty palms. Exhausted by the ongoing chaos that is his life. When I look at him now I mainly just think, aren’t you tired yet?I feel overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the nothingness that can be done.Over and over we are told if he does not want to change, there can be no change. Over and over the people shake their heads. Over and over the phone rings in the night. Over and over the police say there is nothing to be done unless a crime is taking place.Ironically, that’s when it can be done. You can be helped during. You can be helped after. You cannot be helped before.I feel a desperate lack of control. He had good parents. He had the right ingredients. A safe upbringing. Boundaries and structure. Education and friends. A family.So now I look at my own children and feel sick with worry. I know all too well. Occasionally, even with the right tools, a functional life cannot be built.My brother is sick. He refuses treatment. He is lost and does not want to be found.Feature image: Getty.


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