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“My Stepbrother”

A winning essay from our Brighter Future Scholarship contest

I have a stepbrother who is addicted to heroin and cocaine. For some context, my dad loves throwing family get-togethers and making his famous BBQ chicken. I especially loved the get-togethers because I got to see my stepbrother. He was an athletic, all-American 20-year-old. He lived with his mom in PA and came over occasionally, but he never missed Dad’s get-togethers. At the time I was 6 and he was my best friend. I loved playing cornhole with him, talking about our favorite cartoons together, and sharing grape popsicles. My fondest childhood memories were created with that big head. He had a nice girlfriend, a good job in construction, and was a family guy through and through. I hadn’t seen him around for a few months. One day as we were nearing the summer, I remember overhearing a talk while I was “sleeping”. Something about him being in a hospital and “out of control”. I remember not knowing what it meant and praying he was okay. That summer, he wasn’t at Dad’s get-together. Or the summer after that, and that, and that. Soon enough he stopped coming over for Christmas, and at all for that matter. It was like he disappeared into thin air. I missed him so much. His big goofy smile. The jokes he told that would have me out of breath. The pointers he would give me at my basketball games. I was devastated, it still hurts whenever I think about how he used to be.

I couldn’t understand how it all turned bad so quickly. Little did I know how much he was struggling. His friends introduced him to cocaine and it was all downhill after that. He got kicked out of his mom’s house, broke up with his girlfriend, and lost his job. I remember overhearing my dad talk about how my stepbrother would ask his friends for money on Facebook. We were all heartbroken and confused. As I grew older, I would see a picture of him or get an update here and there. It would look like he was doing better for a little, but eventually, he would just relapse again. I think what affected me most was seeing how much it hurt my dad. He was his best friend too. Whenever I would ask about him, he would stay silent and look away. I noticed the tears in Dad’s eyes. They were the same ones that streamed down my face every night before I went to sleep.

It impacted me negatively because I had to experience my brother slowly deteriorating from his abuse. I have seen him 4 times since he first started his addiction. He has significantly lost weight and is frail. A big difference from the football player body I was used to, and the big strong arms that he used to swing me around with. He looked like a shell of the person that he once was. It positively impacted me because I got to inform myself about drugs and their effects. I remember spending hours researching what the drugs were doing to my brother and how I could help him. I swore to myself to never take them, or even try them. I talk to my family members, friends, and whoever else will listen about addiction and how detrimental it is. It has helped me spread awareness and stay far away from substances.

It has changed my perspective on the disease by making me see addiction as a spell. For instance, my brother is still in there somewhere, but this “spell” makes it very difficult for him to escape his addiction. I used to think addiction only happened to those who were broken. But the truth is that anyone could get addicted. Unfortunately, my best friend is still missing. I hope everyone can avoid this spell by resisting any temptation or peer pressure. It’s not worth destroying your life and hurting those who love you.

I would like to major in Criminal Justice in college. I recently got accepted into the college of my dreams in New York. I am out-of-state which means I would have to pay significantly more in order to receive an education there. This scholarship would help me reduce my tuition and focus more on my studies rather than how I am going to pay for them. In my journey of becoming a cop and later a detective, I hope to encourage others to resist drugs and inform them about the abundance of negative impacts. I hope to also aid offenders in participating in drug abuse treatment. I will do all that’s in my power to make a difference in this world. I hope to stop others from going down the same path my brother did.

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