The morning after my last exam of sophomore year of college, I woke up to a phone call from my mom saying that my brother was in a drug-induced coma and the doctors didn’t know if he would wake up. She didn’t assure me that everything “would be okay.” My normally unshaken mother couldn’t fix this.
My brother is one year younger than me, and at the time we were both attending colleges in Virginia about an hour from each other. He drank a lot. He smoked a lot of pot. And he also took a lot of anxiety medication, as far as I was aware. In retrospect, his incessant substance use clearly showed signs of addiction and/or alcoholism. Since early adolescence he had caused my family huge amount of pain and embarrassment. I knew that his habits weren’t healthy, but I justified it because he was in college. I thought that one day he’d outgrow it. Little did I know, he didn’t know how to stop using.
The one-hour drive to the hospital, knowing that my baby brother might be dead was the worst hour of my life. I was physically sickened because I knew that I could have done something to avoid it.