Aaron was a beloved high-achiever, until his addiction cost him his life

Aaron was a beloved high-achiever, until his addiction cost him his life

On March 20, 2009, my brother Aaron lost his fight with addiction to pain pills. He died from acute drug toxicity. He was 36 years old. My mom and dad found his lifeless body, and since that morning our lives have changed forever.

My brother was an athlete in high school. He was a starting pitcher for the high school baseball team and played starting defensive end on the football team. As a result of his sports injuries in high school, he had a lot of pain that started in his early thirties. When he sought out medical attention he was dispensed his first prescription of Vicodin, and upon follow up he was dispensed another prescription for Vicodin. I believe this is when he became addicted. My brother had no history of drug abuse prior to this. Unlike I did, he stayed away from drugs and alcohol in high school and as a young adult. My brother was the guy who always did the right thing. As an adult, my brother was very successful and had a great life. He owned a beautiful home in San Diego, had a great career, many friends, and a family who adored him. It was hard for our family and his friends to understand the change in him. It was like it happened overnight.

Unlike a lot of addicts, my brother only survived his addiction for about three years. I know that he hated what he had become and desperately wanted to change. He tried several times to get clean. He even secretly went to rehab at one point but still couldn't beat his addiction to pain pills. My brother was the strongest person I have ever known, which made me realize that addiction has nothing to do with a person's character or strength. I have also realized that addiction has no prejudice!

Aaron was my only sibling. It has been over three years since he left us, but I still cry every day. My parents and I have tried to move on with our lives because we know this is what Aaron would want, but, honestly, moving on seems like an impossible task some days. Aaron was our sunshine. He was kind and beautiful. I miss him every day of my life. I can no longer call him for advice; I can no longer hear his amazing laugh. I have to live the rest of my life without my best friend. There is so much I want to say.

I would like to think that what happened to my brother might help someone else in their fight against addiction. I have wanted to help in this cause since I lost him but have been so depressed that I haven't been able to bring myself to do anything—until now. My one piece of advice that I can give to someone who has a loved one battling addiction is this: do not give up; don't take for granted that your loved one is going to get better; fight for their life; even if you think it will hurt their feelings, do something!

Jennifer Cassidy
Virginia Beach, VA