When his younger brother died from an overdose, Stephen Wood knew he needed to say something. He penned an honest message to those battling addictions as well as those who encouraged it.
Stephen’s brother, Brandon, struggled with addiction for a long time. He had several attempts at getting clean but was sadly always pulled back into a life of drugs. Brandon’s family and friends knew that he was struggling and hoped that he would be able to turn it around.
After Brandon’s death, Stephen knew that it was time to speak up. Emotions of anger, sadness, and frustration welled up inside him.
“This isn’t easy but I want to speak directly to Brandon’s friends and enablers, and anybody else struggling with addiction,” Wood begins.
Stephen knew that there were those who didn’t fight on Brandon’s behalf when he was too weak to fight for himself. As the opioid crisis rages in the United States, it’s going to take the community to fight.
Those who have been pulled into the life of addiction are often too weak to fight for themselves. They need support. Stephen knew this all too well.
Stephen and his new wife were enjoying a quiet dinner at his grandmother’s house when he heard his grandmother take a call that would forever change his life. Her tone quickly changed from friendly to despondent. Stephen rushed to the home of his brother’s girlfriend. That’s when the worst was realized.
“I climbed in the ambulance and looked at my little brother lying there, knowing he was gone. Yesterday, I went and planned his funeral and picked out his casket. Today, I had to go look at him again and I bought a suit to wear to his funeral. These things shouldn’t have to be done for a 21 year-old.”
His post continued to address those battling addiction. He implored that while it was too late for his younger brother, Brandon, there was still hope. Stephen hopes that Brandon’s story will encourage others to reevaluate their choices.
“It’s too late for him, but there is still time for you!” Wood writes. “You think the drugs are only affecting yourself; but what you don’t know is how much it impacts everyone around you.”
Stephen shared that Brandon’s choices didn’t just affect him. The family spent nights worrying about him, whether he was safe or not. Brandon often said that he wouldn’t be a statistic and that he planned to make a change.
But change didn’t come soon enough. Stephen shared about the guilt that he and the family now carried, feeling that perhaps they had not done enough to help Brandon.
“So, don’t let him die for nothing! Get the help you need and get clean-if not for you, then for your family. You’re not invincible, you’re time is short; and as much as you don’t want to believe it, you’re next.”
Stephen’s Words To The Dealers
“I want you to know how hard he tried to help himself and to find help, and every time he did and got clean; you were lurking in the shadows, calling his name. I want you to know that you are murdering people for $20 bucks a pop-and I hope you feel terrible about it. I can’t imagine how it feels knowing $20 is worth more to you than another person’s life.”
But that wasn’t where Stephen stopped. Instead, he put out a plea to those same dealers to consider a different path. He begged them to see the good they could be doing instead of writing a death sentence for others.
“…this isn’t why you were put on this Earth. If you turn your life around, there is so much you can do. Think of the people you can help! Get a real job, make your own money, do something for which you can be proud.”
Stephen hopes that while there is nothing more he can do to change the course of Brandon’s life, this post might reach someone. Drug addiction has often been a “taboo” subject. As a topic ignored, it quickly has become an epidemic. Stephen’s prayer is that someone who needs help will find it through an open discussion. That Brandon and those like him will not have died in vain.
After seeing his post go viral, Stephen responded to those supporting and sharing it on social media.
"I want everyone who has shared this post to know that It has been shared 10 thousand times and I have received literally hundreds of messages from people all around the world who are battling their own addictions. I’ve had messages from several rehabs and prisons telling me they have printed it and have it hanging somewhere and have read it to hundreds of people who are all battling addiction. I got a message from a man who has OD’d 5 times in 3 months and a girl who is pregnant and said she read it at the perfect time and Brandon has motivated her to change for her baby. I wish you could read all of the messages. It’s unreal. Even though Brandon is gone, he is still changing lives, and it isn’t showing any sign of slowing down. So thank you."
Stephen told reporters, "Brandon's dream was to get clean and devote his life to helping others who are struggling with the same things he went through. Brandon is clean now and though he is no longer here, his story is helping thousands. And I am just trying to be my brother's voice."
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357
h/t: Love What Matters
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