Imagine watching someone you love being slowly and painfully taken away from you. This was the majority of Brandon Martineau’s young life while both his parents battled serious drug addictions.

Brandon grew up in the small community of Creston, BC. At times, he lived with both his parents, sometimes just with one while the other was using. Other times – when neither of his parents were able to care for him nor his younger brothers – they moved in with their grandmother.

Brandon was only in grade two when his life changed forever with the death of his mother. He recalls his grandma taking him for a walk as a way to soften the blow, before explaining to him that she had died of an overdose.

The boys moved in with their grandma full time while their father continued his battle with addiction. There were several times when Brandon believed things were getting better, but ultimately his dad would only end up in rehab or begin using again.

When he was in grade six, Brandon was met at grandmother’s door by two solemn-looking police officers. He remembers his grandmother’s tears as she broke the tragic news that his father, too, had died of an overdose.

At the time, Brandon wasn’t even able to cry when he found out his father was gone – he was too angry, upset and disappointed. One of the last conversations he had with his father had been a promise for him to get clean and stay away from drugs forever.

Now 11-years-old, Brandon is terrified that he’s destined to go down the same path as his parents. He writes in his journal to cope with his pain and was recently asked by his teacher to write a poem using his life as a metaphor.

His poem, The Hook, is a powerful reminder of the pain and suffering caused by drug addiction.

The Hook

By Brandon Martineau - Age 11

My life is similar to a fish

I was born then my parents left me

I want to be free to be able to do whatever I

want to be

But there is something holding on

to me

Well I guess that’s a good thing

As I reach the obstacles of the river

Swimming up the current

Wanting to go my own way

I see a sparkle of joy

I take a bite and I am hooked

Will I get free?

Or is this my destiny, always being caught?

Will I be hooked for life

and never get free

Because of this addiction?

Or will I fight my way off

to live my life like a good person?

My parents were drug addicts

I have the chance to find freedom

To turn my reputation around

To have a better life than they did and not

stay hooked

I am a fighter.

Using words to cope with “bad thoughts”

Brandon is encouraged to write by his grandmother, Lori Martineau, and his teacher, Tanya Poznikoff.

He continues to write in his journal and says it’s a good way to get his thoughts out when he’s bored or mad at someone. He would rather get those “bad thoughts” onto paper than keep them in his mind.

Brandon and his two younger brothers still live with their grandmother. He says it’s hard to put into words just how much she does for them.

“When I lost my parents she took us on and having three boys is tough. She was a nurse but quit her job to be home for us when we got off the bus. She will always cook and sometimes have clothes ready by our beds to make the day easier. She helps us when we get in trouble. She constantly works in the garden to get food for us. She even builds stuff when we need it. I don’t know what we would do if we lost her too.”

Brandon wants to be a police officer when he grows up so he can stop drug use.

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