The Sad Story of How my Brother Lost His Battle with Alcohol Addiction
David with his Beloved Guitar
What is Alcohol Addiction
Definition of Alcohol Addiction according to Mara Tyler in Healthline Magazine:
Addiction to alcohol is a widespread disease that affects people of all walks of life. Experts have tried to pinpoint causes such as genetics, gender, racial or socioeconomic factors that may predispose someone to alcoholism, but studies have shown there is no singular cause, and the disease can afflict anyone.
Signs of Alcohol Addiction
According to an article written in Healthline, the following could be signs of alcohol addiction:
- increased quantity or frequency of use
- higher tolerance when drinking or lack of “hangover” symptoms
- drinking at inappropriate times (first thing in the morning) or places (church or work)
- wanting to be where alcohol is present and avoiding situations where it is not
- changes in friendships (an alcoholic will choose friends who drink just as heavily)
- avoiding contact with loved ones
- hiding alcohol where no one will find it, or hiding while drinking
- dependence on alcohol to function or be “normal” in everyday life
- increased lethargy, depression, or other emotional issues
- legal or professional problems such as an arrest or loss of job
Memories of my Brother
My Brother's Struggle with Alcoholism Eventually Ended his Life
Dear Dave, I've been thinking about you more than usual lately because you would've turned the big "50" on January 8. It's hard to fathom you've been gone for ten years already. I've been trying to write you for some time, but wasn't ready until now. I have so many raw emotions and feelings swirling inside of me. I think about what you could have been if it wasn't for the insidious disease that crippled your mind, body and soul. You were a prisoner of sorts; every waking moment was about feeding your addiction. It was a tiresome, painful journey, but at least you were alive. We all hoped and prayed you'd eventually work through your demons and live the life you always deserved.
Addiction Changed our Relationship
We were very close in childhood and well into our twenties. You, Laura and I, pretty much did everything together because you were only a year older. The three of us even looked alike and had many things in common, especially our love of music. Laura and I loved when you called us on stage to sing with you and the band or jammed at the house with our friends. Life with you was a blast until alcohol started to pull us apart. Your drinking changed you. Your sweetness, charm, intelligence and incredible talents started to fade away as your alcoholism progressed. You even turned your back on your beloved passion and true love of your life. The guitar was always a part of you, and when you put it away, I knew you were losing your greatest joy in life. To me, this was when I knew you were giving up and alcohol was winning the battle.
The Last Years of your Life were Hard to Watch
Those last ten years of your life were painful for you, and difficult for loved ones to watch. I will never forget the night I was watching the local news, and there you were. Your mug shot reflected a sad man that had lost his soul. Your physical body was there but your true being had gone somewhere else. Your eyes were now hollow and desperate. You were driving home from your job at the airport after putting in a full day. You were pulled over because of reckless driving and given a breathalyzer test. Your blood alcohol was a shocking .43. The police found luggage in your back seat that you'd stolen from baggage claim. There were those who were insensitive and callous by asking if I was embarrassed about your latest escapade. I told them in no uncertain terms, "I am not embarrassed, just grateful that my brother is still alive." I knew then as I'd known for years, that this disease had a hold on you and may cause you to die early, just like mom. You tried sobering up and voluntarily entered treatment three times, but you'd eventually succumb to your craving and addiction for alcohol.
Your roommate of many years, finally had enough. She kicked you out, knowing she was enabling you and your drinking. She was in love with you even though she knew you didn't reciprocate the feeling. For you, she was a friend, and a place to lay your head. She would fill the refrigerator with beer and make sure to keep it restocked to make you happy. It was a toxic and co-dependent relationship, but eventually, she found the courage and strength to let you go.
You found yourself living on the streets, eventually moving into a homeless shelter. Several months later you qualified for a place to live. It was a section-8-transitional housing unit in downtown Minneapolis, serving those deemed 'homeless.
The Dreaded Phone Call
I received the dreaded call I'd always feared would come. It was your older sister, wailing on the other end, trying to get the words out. "A policeman just came to my door. He's dead, David is dead."
Friends and staff hadn't seen or talked to you in a few days and became worried. The landlord went to your apartment to make a welfare check. Sadly, he found your lifeless body lying in bed. You were fully dressed and still had shoes on your feet. The toxicology report showed you died from an overdose of OxyContin and alcohol. Just like our mother, you lived a very short life because of the power of addiction. You outlived mom by only one year.
A Special Message the Day of your Funeral
The day of your funeral, we were given a special message from your cousin. Mike shared that he bumped into you just a week before you died. He was able to talk with his friend and manager of a popular downtown bar to get you a spontaneous gig. It was nearing bar time and the place was packed. Mike had no idea the healing he provided the family. None of us knew you were playing your beloved guitar again. You put it away for years because of the addiction. I believe God knew you needed to play for a big audience before you died. Word has it, you rocked the place!
Why I had to Cut Ties with you
I know we didn't talk much those last years but it was too painful for me. I had to set limits and take care of myself, especially when you'd call me drunk and get verbally abusive. I know now that your'e in heaven, you understand why I had to sever ties. I loved you David! It was the behavior from the addiction I hated. I dream of you often, and treasure the precious time with you. In my dreams, your healthy as a horse and not addicted to alcohol. It's just you and me the way we used to be before you got so sick. I love and miss you brother. Happy 50th birthday.
Stairway to Heaven-One of my Brother's Favorite Songs
Losing a Sibling
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Dealing with Death of a Sibling
Addiction and Treatment
© 2012 Linda Rogers
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