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My Brother Is An Addict

Discussion in 'Share Your Story Here' started by vahbiz, Jun 2, 2015.

  1. deanokat

    deanokat Community Organizer Community Listener

    @vahbiz... I'm sorry if I've offended you in any way. That certainly was not my intention. Please accept my apology.

    I don't recall you saying that you didn't have a job, only that it might be hard for you to make ends meet. Without a job, would be incredibly difficult for you to move out. Again, I apologize.

    I would also like to clarify something... I never "just stood there" and watched my son ruin his future. My wife and I supported our son from the time he first became addicted to the time he finally got clean. We stood by him for seven years, spent our life savings to send him to multiple rehabs, participated in family programs, got him an excellent psychiatrist and therapist, etc. I wish more parents of children suffering from addiction would be more proactive. Unfortunately, not everybody reacts to a loved one's addiction in the same way. Some people go into denial; some people don't know what to do; or maybe they just don't want to deal with it. So they do nothing.

    Perhaps if your parents had done more for your brother you wouldn't be in the situation you're in today. I'm so very sorry.

    If you haven't already done so, I believe that sitting down and talking to your brother--or even writing him a letter--and telling him exactly how you feel about his addiction, and how it makes you feel, would be a good start. Good, honest communication can be very helpful in creating space for change to take place. When you talk to your brother, don't focus only on his drug use and negative behavior. Try to find something--anything--positive to say, too, so the conversation doesn't become only about what's wrong.

    Also, try to be understanding. Even though your brother's drug use is something you despise--with good reason--maybe try to see things from his perspective. Ask him why he uses drugs. The more he feels that you understand why he acts like he does, the less defensive he will be and the more likely he will be to listen to your concerns. Some empathy will go a long way toward helping the relationship.

    These are just my opinions. I'm relating things to you that worked for my family. Everybody's situation is different, though. I wish you nothing but good luck and peace. You are such a strong and courageous woman. I hope that your brother changes and that life improves for your whole family. I am sending positive vibes your way.

    P.S. For what it's worth... I do have another child. He is six years younger than my older son. And I have talked to him about his brother's addiction and how it affected him. It definitely had negative effects on him, and I regret that with all my heart. My wife and I focused a lot our attention on our addicted son for seven years, and our younger son suffered because of it. Thankfully, our relationships have all been mended and things are better today. But that doesn't mean that I don't still hurt over what took place in our family.

    Addiction is a family disease and it affects everyone in the family. Especially siblings. Here's something I wrote in my blog recently about siblings of addicts. Just in case you care to read it. (By the way, my wife and I created a college scholarship contest for students who have been affected by a sibling's addiction. It's our way of putting some focus back on the siblings, who are often forgotten amid the chaos.)

    Younger siblings of addicts are amazingly special people.

    Addiction is a family disease, and there's no doubt that it eats away at families in every way possible: emotionally, physically, financially. It affects everyone in the family, too: mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles. But I don't think anyone is affected as much as younger siblings are, because they are so innocent and vulnerable. They really don't know what's going on with this person who means so much to them, or why it's happening.

    My younger son was exposed to my older son's addiction for about seven years; from the time he was about 9 until he was about 16. Those are pretty formative years and I regret that our younger son had to experience what he did during that time.

    He idolized his big brother and for seven years or so he watched him struggle. He also watched his mom and dad struggle. Through no fault of his own, he was frequently put on "the back burner" while we dealt with the beast known as addiction as it tightened its grips on our older son.

    My younger son witnessed so much during those years. He saw his brother go from being a happy, athletic teenager to a depressed soul dependent on drugs. He saw him drop out of high school. He saw him go to multiple rehabs and hospitals. He watched and listened to horrible confrontations in our home. He was a victim of his brother's stealing, whether it was his "piggy bank" getting cleaned out without his knowledge or the family video game console getting traded for drugs. He saw police officers come to our house on a number of occasions. He was, as a young child, caught up in something he never asked to be a part of.

    Watching my older son fight the demons of addiction was heartbreaking for me. But watching my younger son have to deal with those same demons secondhand may have been even harder.

    I remember one night in particular, shortly after my wife and I found out that our older son was using heroin. Our younger son was upset and crying in our arms. "I don't want [my brother] to die," he said. That about ripped my heart out.

    Yet through it all, my younger son handled things pretty well. I'd be lying if I said I don't think he'll be impacted by what he went through for several years to come. But even though he was adversely affected, he was always supportive of his brother. When he was 15 and his brother was in rehab in Palm Springs, California, my younger son not only accompanied me and my wife to Family Weekend at the facility, but actively participated in it. I remember how impressed the facilitator was at my younger son's maturity and sense of compassion.

    Unfortunately, an older sibling's addiction also has a negative financial impact on younger siblings. While trying to help an addicted child, parents burn through money like nobody's business. They spend thousands and thousands of dollars on rehab treatment, hospitals, therapy, intensive outpatient programs, sober living houses, special medications, etc. Sometimes they even spend money on college classes that, unbeknownst to them, never get attended. By the time the younger sibling of an addict gets to the point where they need help financially, their parents are quite frequently tapped out. And, once again, the sibling--through no fault of their own--gets moved to the back burner, at least temporarily.

    That's pretty much the situation in my world today. Money's too tight to mention, I need a job, and my younger son wants to go to college next year. I never graduated from college, so I'd love for my son to have this opportunity. Whether or not we'll be able to help him financially, though, is a big question mark at this point. We are investigating scholarships, talking to the college's financial aid department, seeking advise from those in the know, etc. But it might be a couple of months before we know one way or the other.

    All of what I just talked about is the reason why I'd love to start a foundation to provide financial assistance to younger siblings of addicts. They are innocent victims in the clusterf*ck that is addiction. Their older brother or sister is afflicted with a disease, their parents do all they can to help fight the disease, and the younger sibling gets stuck with the short end of the stick. How wonderful would it be if there was a place for these kids to go to get some help with college tuition or other things?

    If I ever win the lottery, I promise you that I will make that happen.
    vahbiz likes this.
  2. vahbiz

    vahbiz Member

    Its a really god job u did with both ur kids. Atleast u realized ur younger child was getting affected, I have nobody who understands that. I hope your dream of helping d kids of affected families comes true. That's one of the reasons I'm mastering in psychology, mainly for the families affected by someone's wrong choices. Thank you for helping me see clearly in what needs to be done n for making me believe that I'm on the right path.
    I T
    deanokat likes this.
  3. 6up

    6up Community Champion

    What you should do is to make them understand how important they are since you lost your parents. Since that can be caused by stress, you need not to avoid them as they also need your company. You should remind them of how your parents wanted you to grow up. Definitely your neighbours may not be happy with their behaviour, ask them if they can help. I hope that one day they will change their behaviour.
    deanokat likes this.