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How to help my step brother

Discussion in 'Share Your Story Here' started by norms options, Aug 3, 2015.

  1. norms options

    norms options Active Contributor

    Hello All. I have a step brother who has gotten progressively worse in terms of drug addiction over the course of several years, and am reaching out for advice on what to do at this point. He started smoking pot when he was pretty young and has progressed over the course of, probably, 9 or 10 years and is now addicted to heroin. My dad and stepmom adopted him when he was a baby to avoid him going into the foster system due to being born to a crack addicted mother. He is still living with them now at age 22, and in my opinion, they are enabling him to continue to live as he pleases because of a lack of any obligations or responsibilities. I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions or advice??
  2. L_B

    L_B Community Champion

    I wish you all the best. There is not much you can do to help him if he doesn't think he has a problem and if he doesn't want help. There will be others on here who can offer best advice. I consider myself blessed that I have never had to deal with anybody with an Heroin addiction. I know it must be hard to watch somebody you love so much destroying his life. You can try talking to him but I am not sure how that will go. Keeping you and your brother in my thoughts. I hope he can get the help that he needs.
  3. karmaskeeper

    karmaskeeper Community Champion

    That story is a story that many others can relate to. It's very hard to see this happen thank goodness he was adopted to loving people. Really he isn't going to get better until he feels it's time. You can push him to do it, but if he is forced into it he will probably do it just as a means to make you happy. Usually the user will start back in a matter of time. Your parents need to show him tough love put him out. Let him know it's not going to fix it's self it's up to him.
  4. deanokat

    deanokat DrugAbuse.com Community Organizer Community Listener

    @norms options... Is your stepbrother living with your dad and stepmom? If so, I would definitely say they are enabling him. If he's living in their house and doesn't have any obligations or responsibilities, and is using heroin while he's doing it...well, then that's a classic case of enabling. When our son was addicted to heroin, my wife and I made the very common mistake of letting him live with us and just doing what he wanted. I think we didn't want to hurt his feelings or make him mad. Bad idea. Because when parents do that, all they're doing is creating the perfect situation for their child to keep using. If an addict can live somewhere rent-free, use drugs, and not have to work or do anything...well, why would they ever want to change?? They've got it made, right? There's an old saying... "If nothing changes, nothing changes." Once my wife and I told our son that he had to go to treatment or leave our home, good things started happening. After a couple days of living with a friend, our son decided to go to treatment and finally got clean. And my wife and I got back to having a life of our own, instead of a life where our happiness and well being was dependent on how our son and his addiction were doing. Was it hard to give our son an ultimatum? Yes. But it was so incredibly worth it. Today he is more than 3 years clean from heroin, working a good job, has his own apartment, etc. Sometimes letting go with love will breed positive results.
  5. zaerine

    zaerine Community Champion

    Maybe try talking to your father and stepmom if that is possible, to make them do something about it. You can also try talking to your brother if that is also possible to make him realize that it is not right to get addicted on those stuffs.
    deanokat likes this.
  6. norms options

    norms options Active Contributor


    Thanks Deanokat!!
    I have been thinking along the lines you describe here for quite some time. I am not sure how to get my dad and stepmom on board with this line of thinking. They seem to be stuck exactly where you say you and your wife were when you were making that mistake of trying not to hurt your sons feelings or make him mad. I agree that treatment is probably the best option for my stepbrother, but the adults that he is living with are pretty stubborn in their opinions and I am wondering if you have any suggestions about how to have a productive conversation to get them to begin to make effective changes?? They have taken him to a treatment center previously, but they will not keep him if he does not make the choice himself, so I am thinking that if they offer him the same ultimatum that you offered your son, maybe he will be more likely to choose to stay in treatment.
    deanokat likes this.
  7. deanokat

    deanokat DrugAbuse.com Community Organizer Community Listener

    That ultimatum can be very hard to make. But sometimes it's really the only choice, and we have to be prepared to live with whatever happens. I'll be totally honest with you: My wife and I discussed the ultimatum with our son's therapist beforehand (in private...my son signed an agreement to let us talk to his therapist about his issues). He told us that we had to be prepared for the worst; specifically that our son could die if he chose not to go to treatment and was forced to leave our house. But that's something my wife and I accepted, because we had done as much as we possibly could to help our son, and his addiction was destroying our lives and our family. I am grateful every single day that it turned out the way it did.

    One caveat: If the ultimatum is given, it's absolutely essential that they follow through with it. There's nothing worse than setting a boundary and then not following through with it. That sends a very clear message to the addict that they have won, and that any future ultimatums are likely just "talk."

    Good luck with everything. I'm keeping good thoughts for everyone involved.
    norms options likes this.