Brandon Wood had, like millions of Americans, taken an opioid at some point in his life—a painkiller, $5 heroin; the pervasive drug has a bad habit of seeming innocuous.
Brandon was barely 21 when he realized drugs had taken over his life. So he resolved to quit—but it didn’t happen. He would go over to his brother Stephen’s house, crying for hours, “telling [him] he hates what he has become, but there was no escape.”
No matter how many numbers Brandon blocked, dealers would ping him, pressuring him into buying drugs for “20 bucks a pop.”
All the while, Brandon’s family and friends stood by, feeling or refusing to feel guilt, as Brandon’s addiction continued to spiral.
Then it happened.
Just a few days ago, Stephen had just gotten back from his honeymoon, and was visiting his grandmother’s house when the phone rang.
“What?” his grandma answered sarcastically. But what the person on the other end said in reply made the expression drop off her face.
“The mood changed quickly and I knew what the call was,” Stephen wrote.
He rushed to Brandon’s girlfriend’s apartment right away—his mother made it there too, and she was “losing it.” The ambulance had already arrived, and he “looked at [his] little brother laying there, knowing he was gone.”
On October 25, Stephen planned out his younger brother’s funeral and picked out his casket.
“These things shouldn’t have to be done for a 21 year old,” Stephen wrote. After his brother’s passing, he wanted to share what had happened not just as a cautionary tale for others and for Brandon’s “friends who are doing the same things he was.”
“This isn’t easy, but I want to speak directly to Brandon’s friends and enablers.”
“What I wanted to say to you is how badly I want you to use his life to turn yours around. It’s too late for him but there is still time for you,” he wrote on Facebook. It doesn’t just affect the drug user—it affects everyone around them.
“You don’t know how many sleepless nights I’ve had worrying about him.
You don’t know how many times he has told me he is going to beat his addiction, he won’t be a statistic.
You don’t know what it’s like to feel your stomach drop every time the phone rings, because im scared it might be about him.
You don’t know how it feels to know time is running out for him, and not being able to do anything to help.
You don’t know the guilt I feel for not doing more than I did.
You don’t know how I’ve heard every one of my relatives the last couple of days say “If I would have done this, or I would have done that, I know he would still be here.”
You don’t know what it’s like watching grown men who you thought were invincible, standing over a casket crying.
And you don’t know what it’s like to know that you’ll never be able to kick a soccer ball, play Xbox, argue over football, or any other little thing we take for granted with my brother ever again.”
To his friends, and others struggling, Stephen wrote:
“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, your time is short and as much as you don’t want to believe it, you’re next,” he wrote.
To the dealers, he had a harsh word.
“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,” Stephen wrote.
“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.
I want you to know how badly I want to take justice for my little brother into my own hands.
How I know who some of you are and how much rage I feel when i look at your Facebook pages, living like nothing happened.
And I want you to know that eventually what you are doing will catch up to you.”
But he also wanted to make clear that “this isn’t what you are on earth for,” and there was a chance “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 you can be proud of.”
Stephen thanked those who helped Brandon when they could, and encouraged people to share his brother’s story in the hopes that it would help someone who still stood a chance. The post was quickly shared thousands of times, and went viral.
“Now reach out to anybody you know who is struggling, and do whatever you can to help, so we don’t have to lose someone else with their whole future ahead of them.”
Photo credit: Facebook/Stephen Wood
Credit: Epoch TImes