Sister decides to speak out on drug use

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 29, 2002

Gina Waters wants to help.

Not just her brother, but others, too.

It's the thing to do. Make that the right thing to do.

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She has seen enough. She has watched a steady ascent from alcohol to dope to cocaine to meth.

But as experimentation and casual use increased, it became a descent and she couldn't recognize her brother anymore.

She tried. Lord only knows how she tried to help. Bailing him out of jail, going to after-care sessions, listening to the confessions, apologies and promises never to do drugs again. Even testifying on his behalf, giving him shelter when the dealers wanted payment for their drugs, and always turning the other cheek to criticism for getting involved.

She has tried so many times to help her brother. So much, in fact, that she wonders if she has become a co-dependent. Addicted to helping her brother. Unable to stop. Seeing no change.

So, one day she stopped. Just like that. Enough was enough. for her. Went cold turkey on the I-am-my-brother's-keeper routine.

And, she went to work trying to help others after failing to help her brother.

"I want to help. I really do," said the 30-year-old woman. "I want to help anybody who will listen. I'm not afraid to stand up and tell my story. I'm there to educate.

"I don't want to be a victim. I want to be a volunteer."

Gina Waters is a single mother of two daughters. Emma is 8 and Madison is 3.

She is the only daughter in a family that also includes four brothers.

Jason is the youngest.

The last time she saw her brother, he was in orange jail coveralls and shackles watched over by Mower County Sheriff's deputies in a district courtroom. (See related story, Page 2.)

"We were a very close family," Gina said. "but about nine years ago, I noticed a difference in Jason. He had a wonderful uncle for my children when he was sober.

As Gina tells the story of her brother's skirmishes with friends, terrible with the law and growing addiction to drugs, she speaks candidly.

"He was in and out of treatment. He got all the help he could use, but there were always the excuses and lies when he did something wrong," she said. "We never loved any less for the trouble he kept getting into. We probably loved him more, but we lost him."

The family's intervention could not turn things around for her brother, according to Gina, who recalls a St. Valentine's Day five years ago, when the wheels came off -- again -- of the runaway train that was her brother.

"I bailed him out of jail for a probation violation," she said. "I really couldn't afford it, but he said he would give me the money back when he got out of jail and went back to work. Well, to make a long story short, I lost the money."

"He has done that so many times. He's a con artist," she said.

One night the sister said her brother broke into her residence, when he said he was being chased by people, trying to collect money for drugs he purchased from them.

Then came the incidents two weeks ago. An alleged home burglary in retaliation for unpaid drug purchases, a drive-by shooting to intimidate associates, fleeing police and finally being captured in a backyard and jailed.

"There isn't anything I can do for him right now. I went to court, when he was charged, but I don't know what else I can do," said the sister.

What the sibling is doing is speaking out and trying to help others. She's taking her story into schools, support groups and other venues. Telling all her story about drugs and a brother who couldn't just say "no."

"I want to stand up," she said. "People will listen to you if talk from the heart, if you tell the truth. Maybe, I can make a difference in somebody else's life.

"I won't tell anything that would put me or my daughters in danger. I don't know anything. All I know is what happened to my brother and how it affected our family. When something like this happens, the whole family becomes a victim."

While her brother sits in jail awaiting the next court appearance on multiple felony charges, his sister is preparing her presentation before health and life skills classes in local schools.

What does she think her brother should know about her candid crusade to help others?

"That I love him and that I always will love him," she said. "I don't know him or what he has become because of drugs."

Gina Waters is looking for a sponsor for her public appearances to lecture on the impact of drugs on her family. A single mother of two children, she is currently unemployed. Anyone or any organization interested in assisting her efforts or in booking an appearance by the woman may contact her by e-mail at

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at