I was raised in an average middle-class family, I had everything a child could wish for. But everything changed when I was 12. My brother turned to drugs and for the past 16 years we have been through what I can only describe as agony. I was very close with my brother growing up, he was my idol. I thought he would protect me through the ups and downs that life presents. Instead, I had to protect myself from him. His addiction rapidly escalated to class A and by the time I was 14, he was a complete stranger. He would do anything he could at the expense of anyone or thing around him to get his fix. My family was distraught, abused and broken. My parents did everything they could to help us, but had little support. Some family friends started drifting away, the school didn’t listen, the doctors put it down to a ‘teenage phase’ and those that desperately wanted to help, didn’t know how to. No-one with the tools to help us did. We were alone. I quickly experienced the stigma that comes with having an addict in the family, not only is it unjust, it’s ridiculous. Nobody chooses to be an addict or chooses to have an addict in the family. Those affected by addicts are living double lives; they live in a silent struggle that very few know about for fear of being judged. I was always the one that asked the questions and got frustrated by the lack of answers. I am passionate about helping others in our situation and raising awareness of this issue. In many ways, it is like a life sentence, 16 years have passed and my brother is very mentally unwell, my parents are exhausted and the support still isn’t enough.