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“So Many Pathways” To Recovery: A Sister’s Message After Losing Her Brother

Jaclyn Brown lost her brother Marc to heroin in 2018. While she and her sister tried to support him, the clarity of hindsight is making it painfully clear to her the steps she might have taken, if only she’d known they were possible. But her essay is not about self-judgment; it’s about reaching out to others with a message of hope.

Jaclyn Brown gives it to us straight – she and her family had little idea about the array of resources available to those enduring substance use disorder like her brother Marc:

“We didn’t know what we didn’t know. We didn’t know that there were medications for addiction treatment (MAT). We didn’t know that we should have Naloxone on hand (and in a lot of places, you can get it for free). We didn’t know about peer support. We didn’t know about parent coaches. We didn’t know about the concept of harm reduction. We didn’t know how many other families have gone through this. We didn’t know that organizations like Partnership to End Addiction existed. We didn’t how many support groups were out there to help us navigate this. We didn’t know there are other people out there who are compassionate and wouldn’t judge us.”

Jaclyn’s story of losing her brother, and her realization that she might have supported him in accessing these broader resources, could easily mire a survivor in guilt and self-accusation. That’s not Jaclyn’s project, however. In the memory of Marc, she’s working hard to spread the word that recovery resources are many, and widely available. Her testimony is so powerful. You can read it in full here:

A Sibling’s Story: Facing Their Brother’s Substance Use – We Didn’t Know What We Didn’t Know

And if you’re starting your own search for resources for your Loved One, don’t forget that Allies In Recovery maintains a large, up-to-date online hub for recovery resources. The options are many, and they differ greatly. To help sort through them, you might also want to consult our introduction to levels of treatment providers and step-by-step resource finding guide. No matter your Loved One’s situation, there are actions you can take, and caring people to help you take them.


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In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)