Open Discussion is built around a simple premise. That addiction impacts an entire social sphere not just the addicts themselves. My youngest brother, Matt Kerouac, has spent his entire life in the sphere of impact brought on by addiction. In the fifth installment of our Outside Perspective series Matt, 17, joins our Discussion to share his perspective. We discuss what is was like for him to grow up with two brothers dealing with addiction, the difficulties high school presents, and his thoughts on the growth of the problem.
“As a kid growing up and going to high school, I have had drugs be a big part of my life and a big part of my upbringing from being around them so much. I’ve had many friends who have been affected, my brothers have been affected by drugs, and I think that it’s an epidemic. It’s something that it needs to be addressed.”
Matt explains what it was like dealing with the uncertainty addiction places on a family. He talks candidly about his thought process experiencing these harsh realities at a young age.
You’re trying to wrap your head around it. I grew up with my brothers, running around the house with them and playing with them and stuff. It makes me wonder how they could be doing that to themselves, how the drugs could be impacting them in that way and that drastically.
I’m seeing my brothers carried off in stretchers. I’m watching them overdose and go into rehab centers while I’m going to school, not knowing if I’d see him again. It has impacted me a lot and impact on my family a lot. It’s terrifying. It’s one of those things that you can’t plan for it.
I knew about drugs, I knew about addiction, but I wasn’t fully aware until I saw my brother laying there in the hospital bed. They told me they were treating him for a severe case of pneumonia and had to help him breathe. [He was] put on a ventilator and he was hooked up to all kinds of tubes. I still have pictures of that on my phone and I look at him sometimes and it’s just, I’m so grateful and so thankful that he’s still here with us. He’s still here to be able to hang out with me and talk to me, give me advice and I’m really proud of where he’s come.
He offers his advice to anyone with a loved one struggling from addiction, gives his opinions on rehab, and proposes an entirely new method of educating on the subject.
Being strong really helps the addict to see that you have their back, you’re in their corner and you’re going to help them. When they decide to make that step to helping their addiction, you will be with them every step of the way. And I think that is a big part in handling the whole addiction processes, knowing that you’re not abandoning them, but you’re also not going to sit there and waste your breath trying to convince them. You’ve got to have that balance where you’re supportive and helpful, but allowing them to recover themselves.
I think rehab can go both ways. It can be helpful tool, it can also be a hindrance on some. In rehab situations you might have people who are court ordered to be there, you’re going to have people who don’t particularly want to be there. They’re just trying to avoid jail time and as soon as they get out, as soon as they get cleared, they’re going back to what they initially were doing, whether it be drugs or whatever. You’re going to make friends in rehab. Some people who actually want to get off of the drugs and actually want to help their addiction may meet someone in rehab who doesn’t, and that might be their downside. I think that it really depends, it’s a coin toss. It depends on who you meet there. It depends on what your intentions of going there are. I think it can be a great thing and I think it has its downsides too.
I think, oddly enough, the (best) approach would be to shy away from drugs make sure people are informed about drugs themselves. Rather, start from the roots of addiction and start from knowing how to identify addictive personalities, addictive behaviors, all the way from being addicted to drugs, to pornography, to drinking, to anything that can be addictive. Anything that gives you that sense of euphoria, you focus on teaching people and people who aren’t as familiar with it about addiction in itself instead of just the drug side of it, which is what people usually focus on.
The interview showed me just how wise he is at his age. When discussing how to better address addiction Matt provided me with one of the most insightful perspectives I’ve heard thus far. We wrap up our Discussion with Matt giving me his impression of OD:
Your idea, Open Discussion is a phenomenal idea. I think that allowing addicts and their families to discuss. You’re allowing the families to have their own brand, their own design, their own way to speak their mind without actually standing up in front of a crowd or standing up in front of a group and specifically saying it. So the way you’re doing it is allowing them to express themselves and explain themselves and their addiction in a whole new way.
As always please send this along to anyone who might be able to find strength in our message.