For a while they thought they got rid of heroin, or at least contained it. Then the prescription drug epidemic came and nobody saw it coming. I never thought I would have to worry about either hitting my family, but when my brother messed up his back and started taking OxyContin, things almost fell apart. My family was always close. We had all been born and raised in Florida and never wanted to live anywhere else. When my brother started having a problem with OxyContin, he was one of the people that were caught in the cross-hairs of the great crackdown that occurred a few years back.

I can’t blame the people who lobbied for stricter prescription control—something obviously had to be done; I just wish my brother didn’t get mixed up in all of the fallout. When he was addicted to Oxy, he had been arrested three times and in treatment twice. For a while, it seemed like he had a grip on his problem. He relapsed in 2011 and this is when the situation truly became dire. After being clean for over a year, he could no longer obtain the pills that had once been so readily available to him, so he resorted to using heroin.

I’m told that this is now a common scenario that affects many families, but that doesn’t make this story any easier to tell. Within months he lost 20 pounds, withdrew himself from all of us and was once again on course to die before his time. During the summer of 2012, we almost lost him when he overdosed in his car outside of his house. If my sister and I had been five minutes later, we would have been burying him that same week. We got him into treatment and began the process of healing all over again. Thankfully he’s been resilient enough to mount another comeback and has been clean since rehab.  

My brother went from OxyContin to heroin addiction because heroin was the closest he could get to replicating an oxy high. I don’t know how much attention is being paid to this problem, but the resurgence of heroin is causing some to simply trade one addiction for another. It’s frightening to think that as they work to eradicate one drug threat, another resurfaces. This is the modern reality that we must live with.

I bought a house in Arizona and moved him out to live with me. As much as it pained me to leave Florida, I just didn’t think that his old environment was safe for him anymore. Slowly but surely, I’ve noticed that he’s returning to brother I know and love. I suggest that if you have a loved one that is suffering from an addiction problem, you make it your life’s work to see that they continue to stay on track in their recovery. You never what temptations lie ahead and all it takes is one extra vulnerable day to send them careening off the rails.