My brother JR

Jr was a little younger than me, but when we were kids, he was the one I was closest to of all my siblings. I laughed harder with him than I did with anyone else in my whole life, usually because one of us got hurt doing something stupid. He was a perfect example of how people need to lose the stereotypes that they have created in their heads regarding what a person suffering from this disease looks like. He had a good job, he was a marine, and he really enjoyed helping people out who were either less fortunate or in crisis. I won’t say he was perfect and we often disagreed but he was a good person, as are most others who suffer from addiction. We saw first hand what alcohol did to our family and I know every one of my siblings and I said we would never be like that when we grow up, yet we have all had our issues and continued our family cycle of addiction. My brother died on December 22, 2018 and although it was an accidental overdose, I don’t like to say that he was a part of an opioid epidemic because it was the disease of addiction that killed him, not a substance. We don’t have an opioid epidemic, we have an addiction epidemic that has been here for a long time. Fentanyl has been found in every kind of street drug and the reason people use those substances has nothing to do with opioids and everything to do with a disease that is treatable. I really think that this society will only reinforce the stigma of this disease by focusing on the substance rather than the big picture. Every one of my siblings grew up to become the same guy we didn’t want to be, but all with different substances. Blaming fentanyl and opioids is easy but not very effective. The blame game helps relieve some of the anger you feel after losing someone you love in this manner. Instead of blaming I hope one day we can all take responsibility for this epidemic and learn to accept people for who they are and instead of passing judgement on their morals let’s help them get better. People need to be able to access quality treatment that is customized for each individual’s clinical needs. Instead of going to treatment they are treated like criminals. Jr did not have a criminal record and that is true for so many others too. And as for the ones that are involved in the system, they still deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They are someone’s son or daughter. They are someone’s friend. Jr was 38 when he passed. He was a father of a a beautiful, funny, and caring daughter who sadly lost her life only three years later at age 20. I love them both so much and miss them every single day. I look forward to the day we are together again.

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