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Personal Stories: My Brother’s Keeper

by Jeffrey Juergens ❘  

Fighting a Secret Battle

I grew up being very close with my brother David. He was nearly ten years older but still the closest to my age, so he was the sibling I always looked up to.  The entire time I was in middle school and some of high school, he was fighting a battle that most of our family was unaware of. His enemy was his own reflection staring back at him in the mirror.

He was fighting a battle that most of our family was unaware of.

My brother had a pretty messy divorce from his wife when I was about 8 years old. She left him and took everything, including what he loved the most: his children.

On the outside, he seemed like the strong, level-headed David that we all knew and loved.  On the inside, he was full of anger and hate for letting his life get this far out of his control.

Little did he know, his life was about to get a lot more out of control.

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Spiraling into Addiction

It started slowly.

He said the first step was having a drink during the day with his friends when he wasn’t working. Eventually, he started bringing beer with him to work. Then coffee mugs full of warm vodka. He runs his own contracting business so it was pretty easy for him to get away with drinking at work. No one was monitoring him during the day and his work never showed flaw.

Eventually, however, it caught up with him. His clients figured out what he was doing. His family knew what was happening.

Nobody liked what he was becoming, especially himself.

He was fully aware of how bad his problem was. But if there’s one thing you should know about my brother, it’s that he’s way too stubborn to ask someone for help. He tried countless times to stop gradually, but that only led to a binge—and ending right back where he started.

One day he met with his attorney about getting his children back. The attorney said David had no chance as long as he was drinking the way he was.

I think that was the moment he realized how badly he needed to change. He decided that his kids were way more important than alcohol. He decided it was time to stop.

A Difficult Road to Recovery

Despite his new resolve, David’s stubbornness got in the way again. Rather than seek treatment from a professional, David quit cold turkey. What he didn’t know is that alcohol withdrawal is not only uncomfortable—it can also be deadly. His body couldn’t handle the immediate detox.

One night, my mother and I watched him have a seizure right in front of us in the kitchen. In a panic, we dialed 911 and watched as they took him to the hospital to detox.

We found him a great treatment center that was close enough for us to visit but far enough away that he could focus on his recovery, insulated from daily worries of home life.  Their treatment helped him change his life and become a much better version of the man he previously was.

Treatment ultimately saved his life.

I’ll never forget how I felt that night I watched him collapse in front of me. The person I grew up idolizing was a detoxing mess on the kitchen floor.  The worst part was seeing the look on his face when he came to. Not only did he know what happened, and why it happened, but you could tell he knew that he could not do it on his own.

That is why Addiction Center matters to me. My brother is proof that sometimes people just need a little bit of help.

Andrew Swan is a senior member of the community outreach team at Addiction Center. After having been personally affected by a loved one’s addiction at a young age, he is determined to help people reach recovery through Addiction Center’s services. Andrew is a Florida native who spends his downtime playing sports, fishing, watching football (Go Steelers!) and hanging out with friends.

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