Dear Aunt Agony...
i understand english but i don't write it well. My brother is also a heroin addict, he leaves lyon... i miss him, and all my family hates him, even my mother can't stand him, she wants to try to forget him... but i can't, i want to help him, but i don't know how i can help an heroin addict, he lose control, he don't even know who he is, he lose his hair and some teeth. He's 25 but looks older... i want to save him, because i can't just forget him and let him destroy himself, he's my brother, there is the same blood running through our veins... he's my family, i love him.
i don't know why i'm saying that to you, but i never know an heroin addict, well i've meet heroin dealers in lyon, but they are too nasty and they loose all discernement, they scared me, and i feel, by your way of writing in your blog, that you are better than them... i'm 17, and i've some addictions, but i always refuse heroin because i know what it is, but sometimes i just wanna to try because i really don"t care about all my fucking life, my parents are already dissapointed... And the guy i love is also uses drugs.
Don't you ever tried to stop ?
please, répond moi, say me what i can do, to help my brother.
I don't now if i used to be alcoholic, but I used to drink alcohol every day, sometimes i can't go to school without drinking, it's like my oxygen, i can't feel good without alcool, now, i want to drink, and i always want to drink, i spend all my money on alcohol, but you know when i come back to home, this feeling of guilt just invades all my mind, and i cry, and my respect for my parents, for the education they give to me, you know, I've found the strength to stop. And now i only drink with my friends, i go often drunk to school but i only drink 2 or 3 times per week, and the week ends when my parent organize some parties, i tried to just drink beer and champain.
I don't know why i'm telling you all that... but i just need to speak...
Sorry for the mistakes but i'm french and i dont write well english...
Aunt Agony says:
Unfortunately you cannot help a heroin addict... there is nothing you can do. Your brother can only help or stop himself. All you can do is love him and be there fot when he finally stops - and one day he will.
I never tell anybody to take or not to take heroin... it's a free choice. All I say to you is you have seen the damage that it has done to your brother and it will do the same to you. Be sure, it will fuck you up and take your teeth and all your beauty. If you're lucky it may kill the pain of living for a while, but don't bank on it.
I stopped once, when I first came to Lyon. In that moment I didn't speak any french and so it was impossible to find and haggle over smack. After six months my french had reached 'basic scoring level', I could finally say, "excusez moi, je cherche l'héro. Tu peut m'aider?" And so I found a dealer here and began using again. But it's hard and my french is still quite basic so supplying my habit is a huge headache each day.
Anyway, back to you and just to recap: there is nothing you can do for an addict... even if it's your brother and even if you love him so. I'm sorry to tell you that, but I say the truth as I see it. That will be hard for you to believe... but I will not lie to give you hope. You could probably contact L'hôtel Dieu (the main substitution hospital in Lyon) and they will give you much better (and worse) advice.
You can mail me whenever you like... I'll always respond. Next time I may even try to answer in French! You can write in french if you like... I can read french very well.
All My Thoughts, Auntie.
Dear Aunt Agony... (translated from french)
Merci to have taken the time to reply. Actually I was waiting on it, it's true, but only because i feel so powerless in front of heroin.
I think that for my older brother he is finished... that he'll never be the same again, but i'm not able to accept that... I will never be able to accept it. You know, sometimes i have the impression that the world is against me, everything becomes crazy around me. My family is split and there are only ever arguments, so, what can I do? I know my older brother has lived the same things as me, his relationship with our parents was very strained and he was no longer able to support it. I know heroin has been his escape, but I don't understand how it has been able to turn so bad? Sometimes I cry when i look at old pictures of my brother, he's called Daniel, and he was very handsome, and now... God! I'm no longer even able to see him and have not much news, and no-one even knows where he lives...
In June I leave for a holiday in South America to see my family, but i am scared to return to Bogota in case I find him laying in the street like a tramp. I never want to see that. I would die.
happily my younger brother, Walter, is very clean. He once took a puff of a cigarette and hated it! He also never (or very rarely) drinks alcohol. He likes to go to parties but he is not attracted to those vices. I'm very proud of him; finally someone who doesn't suffer from an addiction.
Do you like Lyon? I was born here and like this city but she tires me a little. I prefer Paris where my father lives. But I enjoy myself in Lyon and I adore the district of St Paul and also Foch... it's where I often hang out. There is also the Hotel de Ville, where one can watch the skaters who I like a lot. But above all I adore to sit along the bank of the river Rhone with my friends and drink through the evening... it's really beautiful and makes me feel very well.
Take care, kisses, Gina.
Hi Gina, [translated from bad french into even worse english!]
I've always the time for people... it's something very important.
Don't give up all hope for your brother, he still exists but is maybe hurting a little in ways he cannot tell you, in ways he cannot tell anyone, and finds heroin numbs the pain. It's not always the end of the world... many times it isn't. When the day arrives that he'll stop, he'll be there once again as your brother... though he may look a little different. More than your brother it's your own life you must worry about. You're 17 and the world is on it's way.
The reason your brother may look how you described can be due to many things. Heroin in itself doesn't change you physically (not to that degree) but the lifestyle, poverty and the diseases around addiction can cause devastating physical changes. You'll notice that heroin addicts and the severely mentally ill often have the same comportment, it's because they are both preoccupied with something else, and all the things that keep us wide eyed and bushy tailed go out the window. But you've not seen your brother??? So maybe he doesn't look quite as bad as your family report? or they only see him when he is withdrawing and in need of heroin. There's a lot of myth and lies and exaggeration around heroin addiction, so keep that in mind.
Yes, I like Lyon. It's very different to London (9 times smaller) but in many ways I prefer it here. London is a very dirty and grey city and after a while it becomes depressing. But it is my city of birth and she is right through to the marrow of my bones, and do I miss her... Sometimes terribly. In Lyon I live in Jean Macé.
Evenings along the Rhone are beautiful. I often take walks just as the light is fading and the city feels like its dying. Sometimes with the sky in the distance and calmness stretched out forever, the river looks like it will lead to heaven. And just as you wish the moment will last forever, it's gone...
Thanks again for your mail, and you can write whenever you like (happy or sad).
I'll take care if you do the same...
Auntie A. X
Ps: My younger brother in england is also called Daniel, named after one of the saddest songs ever written: 'Danny Boy'.