Five, seven, two, one, done

By. Kaia Wright

Five, seven, two, one. Those numbers represent something. Something I never believed, never wished they would. 

Five rehabs, seven programs, two felony charges, one arrest, and countless drug abuse.

According to the 2022 United States National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH): 46.8 million (16.7%) Americans (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in the past year. 

But this is not just a statistic or a set of numbers. It’s my brother. A brother I grew up with, who I’ve known my whole life.

It’s the brother who is forced to play dress up with me and wear a pink dress with matching plastic heels and a crown to top it off. It’s the brother who would make up pretend stories for us to act out. My best friend. 

Yet it’s also the brother that couldn’t be at my graduation because he was in rehab. Who couldn’t stay sober for my formal dress shopping?

A brother I spent days writing to and visiting every weekend at whatever rehab he ended up being at that time. A brother I didn’t know and could no longer recognize. ADHD has been taken over by a calm only drugs could give. Not caring about the things he used to value so highly.

Wanting the brother I knew to come out the other side, not the person I’ve watched addiction turn him into. Morph his personality into something that it never was and mine right alongside it. I lost the hope for a change, a hope he’d get better like he said he would. 

Spending their 21st birthday within the walls of a rehabilitation center and holidays over phone calls. Only knowing them by the person you grew up with, not the person drugs have made. Crying to every letter they sent where they said they’d get better and be out, “soon, I’ll be home soon”. 

How do you mourn the loss of someone you loved who is still alive? How do you grieve for someone who you still see? Someone who you grew up with, watched all their achievements and milestones morph into someone you no longer know in this life.

These are the questions many family members, friends, loved ones, and siblings have to ask when they lose the person they knew to the claws of addiction. A question we all had to come to terms with.

Losing a family member who is still alive is a concept that’s hard to understand. But losing siblings is an experience I never thought I’d live. They’re still there but no longer the person you spent every day of your childhood with.

This person knows you like no other person ever will. They know your routine and every little quirk, what every scar is on your body.  Yet suddenly, seemingly overnight, they change into someone unlike what you knew, hardened by drugs. 

“Please just stop, I can’t keep on being a part of your life if you stay like this” you’d say to them after crying for hours after another relapse.

Watching my mom on her knees praying to God above to save her child from this disease, praying with all the emotions she has for a son she loves. Asking god to guide their path back home. 

I want them back so badly, he’s standing right in front of me  so close, I’ve fought for so long to have that person back and so has everyone else in my life and his, yet every time they will show favoritism to this thing, a substance that is slowly killing them everyday.

I never thought I’d be so acutely familiar with a substance I never even took part in. understanding its every effect and side-effect, and how it takes a toll on a human life. How did a drug I stay so far away from still find a way to affect me? 

I had to step away. Step away so this drug could not affect my life like it did my brothers. Step away not just from him but from the hurt it brought me. We all had to. I lost a brother, My other brothers lost a friend,  my parents a son. He is still alive and still here but he no longer will be the person who had become so acquainted with, the person we had all fallen in love with. That bright, bubbly, loving person. 

He’s still here which means there’s still hope we will meet that person once again.on the other side of addiction.  I pray I get to have lunch with that person, to meet him on the other side of addiction.

Five, seven, two, one. These numbers mean something to me. To everyone around me. I wish they meant something to him, sometimes I wish I meant something to him, enough that he’d change. 

I know he can. It’s in him and I see it through the brokenness brought by the appalling results of addiction. When he called me to just say hi. When he sent me twenty dollars for my birthday instead of on drugs. When even in rehab he still took the time to write me letters and say he loved me. 

The princess dress-up, play-mate I grew up with is still there and I’m sure one day we’ll meet again. We have to. 

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