Hi, Does anyone here know anything about how to deal with a family member who is an addict? I have an adult brother on meth and he also has AIDS. He uses the AIDS to blackmail us all into helping him because he says he will die if we don't. And, if we don't help him, he stops taking his meds and ends up in the hospital. He has almost died so many times! One time, about a year ago, the doctor told us to make funeral arrangements. But, then he pulled through! We were thrilled! But, then when he gets better (the AIDS drugs are really good now), he goes back on the drugs and starts the whole cycle all over again. He gets very abusive towards us - mean and angry. And, then he stays awake for days. Then, he gets suicidal and calls me over and over again to "talk him off the ledge". The whole family is supposed to drop everything at every moment to get him whatever he needs or take care of him at any moment, but he lies constantly and won't tell us anything. He gets money from Social Security, but it disappears immediately and then he asks us for money and makes up stories of being robbed or things like that. Nobody has dealt with an addict before and we don't know what to do. We don't want to let him die, but we don't want to keep enabling him. My parents keep looking to me for answers, but I don't know what to do?!?
If you haven't already, find the nearest Al-Anon group and go!!!! If your parents will go with you, so much the better! You need the support and advice of people who know exactly what you're going through. Good luck.
Count your blessings!
I second Gutmutter.
I hate it when people try to manipulate others like that and are succesful.
"...each affects the other, and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one." - Mitch Albom, one helluva writer.
When you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, you know which one you hit by the one that yelps!
I spoke with my parents today and I am going to start seeing a counselor to learn about how I am enabling him and how to stop. I am hoping my dad will also do the same because he is the one who always gives him money (I'm the emotional support). Thanks for the advice. I do hope my family can get it together enough to go to al-anon at some point. So far, everyone has been at different points with my dad in complete denial, me trying to ignore it, my step-mom angry, my step-sister really angry, etc... At least we are all now starting to get on the same page because we can no longer deny that this is the truth of what is going on and it is ruining our lives. We can't ignore it anymore!
Maude - I feel for you so bad! I am so sorry you and your family has to go through this. I pass this on for what it is worth:
I am a recovering alcoholic and my father is an alcoholic (still active), so I have the experience of both being the addict and dealing with an addict myself. First and foremost, I will strongly agree with what others have said - try to attend some Al-Alon meetings. I will preface the rest of what I say by saying at the end of the day, you and your family need to do what you are comfortable with. Some of this will sound harsh, and some people just can't/don't want to do it, which is completely acceptable - as you are the one who ultimately has to live with it.
Speaking from my own experience, I can tell you with 100% certainty that the only person who can make an addict quit and get help is that addict. No amount of coaxing, begging, screaming, fighting, etc. will make the difference. Unless and until the addict is ready to get help, he won't - period, end of story. When an addict is in the middle of their addiction, their lives are controlled by the addiction and they will manipulate and hurt whoever they have to to keep the addiction going. I know it sounds brutal, but it is true. I will add to that that most addicts won't get help until they have hit their bottom. Where their bottom is differs for every addict. Unfortunately, some addicts die before they hit their bottom. I truly hope your brother is not one of those people, but sometimes the only advice I can give is to prepare yourself for the reality that you may lose him. You can not save an addict - you just can't - unless and until they want to be saved. Sometimes when a family finally understands and stops enabling the addict, it causes them to hit their bottom that much faster and seek help. But sometimes it doesn't and they lose the addict. It is an absolutely terrible, tragic situation. What you and your family do have to face is if you are willing to continue helping your brother if he doesn't get help? Are you willing to risk losing him? If the answer is no, then through counseling and Al-Alon, I hope you are able to find peace with his behavior and the current situation.
Whatever you choose, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Feel free to PM me if you want to talk, vent, whatever, as I do know what you are feeling and have been there. With my dad, I had to pull away, both because of my own sobriety and my now family. I do have a relationship with him, but we are not around him if he has been drinking and he is not allowed to drink around my children. He has made peace with that and we have a relationship today, but it wasn't always like that. I had to make the decision that I talk about above - I chose myself, my husband and my children and I made peace with the fact that it was his life, he was a grown person and if he wanted to drink himself to death, that was his choice - but I was not going to watch him do it and I was not going to support him in it. I was not going to allow him to manipulate me anymore. When I was drinking, I got divorced because my first husband made the exact same choice. It is painful and difficult, no matter which choice you make. At the end of the day, you have to make the choice you can live with - and then, positive or negative, you have to live with it.
I had a very close person in my life who kept promising to stop, bring it under control, etc., etc.
After going through this for 3 years I finally walked away and have had no contact since 1997.
Sometimes (this may seem cold) you just have to decide what is best for you, and that may mean just shutting the door on that part of your life.
And I will add... Unfortunately, not all family members will agree and or recognize that the person needs help. They won't support you in getting your family member help. They will continue to enable the family member and make you the bad guy. So be prepared for this too.
Katesmom I admired your strength and courage.
Wow, I'm glad I will be seeing a counselor because this is all really tough. We have already seen that he doesn't seem to have a "rock bottom", but that he is willing to die unless we bail him out. His partner recently died and he almost died, but it didn't scare him straight. He has adult diapers because the meth gives him uncontrollable diarrhea, and he still considers the drug worth it. He lost his teeth over it. He has sores on his body. He is as thin as a concentration camp victim. He has severe breathing problems from smoking it and can barely walk across the room. None of this bothers him enough to give up the drug. During his crashes, he talks about killing himself. It all sucks so much.
Anyway, I was lucky enough to get an appointment with a counselor for tomorrow because my friend works for one. I am hoping to get some coping skills and advice for me and my dad - who is the one that supplies the money. I have even recently told my dad not to give him cash and to only give him food or things he needs, but my dad gave him cash again today. Very frustrating!
But, at the same time of all of this, my brother loves me so much and is my little brother that I have always looked out for. I find it hard to just let go of him completely.
Thanks for letting me vent here!