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HAVING JUST FINISHED reading “Me & My Monkey”(1/13), I want to thank both the author for sharing his experience in such an intelligent and moving manner, and Washington City Paper for publishing such an article. It was an excellent mixture of personal revelation, cultural commentary, and informative journalism—and engaging enough to make me miss my Metro stop.

While my own drug use has been limited to a handful of marijuana joints, I have a brother, who doubled as my best friend for the first several years of my life, who has been high every day for the last 12 years (with the exception of one month in a rehab five years ago). Like the author of the article, we come from a white-collar background, and my brother is extremely intelligent and gifted. He started with marijuana at age 14, and from there things have progressed, to what extreme I do not know, since he has grown extremely distant over the years—sometimes months have gone by without anyone even knowing where he is living, let alone what he is using. He has managed to stay out of serious trouble, his only arrest being for drug paraphernalia, and to my knowledge, out of serious debt. He has spent money that our parents gave him for college tuition, car insurance and repair, health insurance, and rent, all on drugs. I don’t have to tell you that he no longer lives a white-collar life.

My own feelings about my brother’s problem have ranged from frustration to hopelessness to pity to hope that things will change. He has promised me a million times that he was quitting. He means it when he says it, and that is the hardest part to see. (Once he even said that he would kill himself if he didn’t succeed—you can imagine how scared I was then.)

What “Me & My Monkey” helped me to see more clearly is just how hard it is to quit. I never saw it as something so simple as waking up in the morning and deciding to change, but also never compared it to a King Kong on your back. It kills me to see a person who I care so much about trapped in something that pulls him away from me and from himself. I never knew what it was like for him—he doesn’t talk about it, and watching him has squashed any desires I might have had to experiment myself. He’s always high when I see him, and when he’s high he doesn’t care. But I like to think that there is hope for him to change, and the article helped me remember that. I’m sending a copy to him, which will probably piss him off at first, but which may give him some of that same hope—and he’s the one who needs it, not me.

Greenbelt, Md.