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BIL's addiction. Do we keep trying?

(95 Posts)

I have posted before about DH's brother who has been a heroin addict for 14 years. Recently he has shown a concerted desire to give it up and we have done a lot to support him. We took him to a rehab place abroad but he went straight back on it when he got back home. THat was about 6 months ago. He then decided he wanted to do a TEFL. He did a weekend introduction course which we paid for. He passed and managed to get on a proper, 1 month course. He got through the first 3 weeks but failed 1 module and has been kicked off. He is asking us to pay for another month and I'm not sure whether to do it. On one hand, he has come a long way, although I imagine he is still taking heroin in the morning before college. He says he revised the wrong module which is why he failed. He believes he can go abroad and teach with this qualification. I have taught TEFL before and think his anger issues will prevent him working in a school. I want him to go to the doctor and start rehab but he won't consider it or therapy or anything else. MIL is desperate. She has already lost her daughter and I can't bear for her to lose another child.

DP is just annoyed by his whole family. Our DC is donor conceived because he won't risk inflicting their genes on a child. We just have reasoned discussions about whether it's worth doing x or y and then we tell them and that's that. I think we are both resigned to getting that call one day. I do feel for MIL she carries a lot of guilt, and of course, who can blame her for not wanting to give up on her son.

We haven't given him any money since that 1 stab at rehab. It's not the typical enabling scenario where he keeps coming to us and is able to shirk responsibility for his life because we pick up the slack. I know everyone thinks it is, but it isn't. He funds himself entirely (well, along with your and my tax, but hey). The fact that I dislike him is neither here nor there - DH has a profound sense of duty and wants to give it a go, just as 3 years ago we adopted his nephew. At least it wasn't too late to save him.

He is failing but not because he is lying and cheating about what he really intends to do. He is failing because he thinks he is above the help out there. Only the Disney options remain.

AnyFucker Mon 16-Sep-13 20:55:24

You and dp need to disengage, love. Really, you do.

We are disengaged emotionally. I suppose we could tell them all the shop is shut.

DH has told his DM she should pay for it if she thinks it's worth it.

AnyFucker Mon 16-Sep-13 21:05:19

So there is family pressure for you to bank roll and offer emotional support for something that is doomed to failure ?

Tell "them all" to get to fuck. Really, this is madness.

Noone asks us for any emotional support that's for sure. I think MIL is hugely encouraged by him surviving 3 weeks of the course, and upset he has failed at the end because of something he could easily have done. He has a very good brain.

TBH i'm quite encouraged by him getting so far with the course, unless the college is a complete joke, which I don't think is the case, he has been participating well in class and passing other modules. I can't put my hand on my heart and say I believe it is doomed to failure. Almost definitely doomed, but not certainly.

So for now I have told DH my opinion is that we shouldn't give him any more money.

Jeremiad Mon 16-Sep-13 21:16:08

Love the idea that a TEFL course is a suitable option for an angry heroin addict. Never mind your BIL, OP. The world's English language learners deserve better.

Bloody insulting. sack him off. He'll just drag you down with him.

Fairenuff Mon 16-Sep-13 21:17:58

It sounds like MIL is the driving force. Why is she leaning on your dh though, instead of wasting her own funds? I'm sorry for her loss, it must be very hard for her to bear. Perhaps you could both offer her emotional support, take her to support groups for families of addicts, that sort of thing?

AnyFucker Mon 16-Sep-13 21:18:01

Yes. Giving him no more money is the absolute minimum of what you should decide to stop doing.

MariaLuna Mon 16-Sep-13 21:24:02

I agree. You need to disengage.
Also from the guilt that you are "responsible" for him/beholden to MIL. This could end up destroying the whole family.

You really are not helping him to help himself.
(which is what he has to learn). You are just enabling him to keep on with the excuses.

Anyway, should he do and get the TEFL, how is he going to explain a 14-year gap on his CV?

And if he is volatile, the last place for him is in a classroom.

A man who has a heroin problem should not be getting a TEFL and going to Asia for instance where there is plenty of cheap heroin.
If he can't resist it on the estate, going X thousand miles away is not going to do it either.

At the end of the day you cannot "save" him. He has to do the hard work himself.

Wishing you all the best. Having an addict in the family is shit... and everyone gets caught up in the maelstrom.

tribpot Mon 16-Sep-13 21:25:39

Learning how not to enable is an important journey for the family of an addict. It is truly not the same as helping.

As far as I can tell, both you and your DH are of the opinion you shouldn't fund anything more for him, and that his mother can do it if she's so convinced this is the turning point. Is there really any further discussion to be had?

BettyBotter Mon 16-Sep-13 21:35:14

How do you know that he got so far on the course? Are you sure he has the potential to pass? I've done a month TEFL course with a reputable trainer. Those who failed the course (and there weren't very many) were the ones who were fairly clearly not cut out for teaching all the way along.

I'd discuss with the college with his permission and ask for their honest feedback on his chances of passing if he took it for a second time. Frankly, if he is using in the morning before going in and teaching it's unlikely that he's going to be in the right state to cope with the any of it.

Having been married to an addict, and then became one myself...kinda know it from both sides now.

Compassionate detachment is what you need to strive for. You'll hurt yourself otherwise, and ultimately him too (it was the gift of utter desperation that got me well, my partner's insistence on me going to rehab just prompted counter productive and delaying defiance).

I'd strongly suggest you and DP (and DMil too) going to AlAnon, which is there to help those caught in the fall out of the addict's behaviour. It started off as the sister organisation to AA, but addiction is addiction and the same lessons apply. This is a family illness. You all need to be well for when he, hopefully, starts trying to arrest this himself. He'll need your strength then.

SlangKing Tue 17-Sep-13 00:54:07

Like Bishop, I had an addiction,,, 8 years in my case. There's no truer advice in this thread than "he won't quit until he wants to" (or however they phrased it). It's not your fault, you're not an addict, but I think you're being very naive. One thing you've not been picked up on - "at least he's spending the day with normal people." It takes 10 seconds to stick your head into a car and exchange money for drugs,, thereafter you're good for 24 hours or more, depending on the amount bought. I held down a full time job alongside 'normal' people throughout my addiction. But for my addiction (and the same is true of many addicts I know) I/they are as normal and capable as you are. While it's very noble of you to try to help him I see no sign of him wanting to help himself. Refuses therapy and treatment - presumably methodone or subutex programs. I wouldn't want to do either of the latter either - no guarantee of confidentiality, treated like naughty children, unsuitable prescription - but the dealers who sell him heroin can get him methodone, or another addict can. 500mls will provide him with a DIY, 7 day crash reduction. He can avoid the puking, cramps and the worst of the aches, pains and sweatr. He'll still feel shitty,, but functional. If he wants to be clean - and not 'clean' on a legal substitute - at some point he's gonna have to endure months of lethargy. Each week is better but it's months before you feel 'energetic'. You say he goes 3 days clean. HOW? Most of a hit wears off after 12 hours. After 24 he'll feel bad and by 36 he'll be into a full on rattle. Believe me, he CANNOT go 3 days without more heroin or a substitute. By the end of day 2, he'd be curled up somewhere, sweating and shaking. I suggest he's lying to you if he keeps doing "3 days clean" cuz if he had that kinda stamina, 3 more days and he'd be over the worst. With all that in mind, why not offer to pay for his course when he's been clean for 6 months. Then he has INCENTIVE. In addition to what others have said about scoring heroin abroad, things will be no better if he can't. He'll be too ill to work in the short term if he goes abroad with a habit. Then, most jobs have some kind of testing policy now so his prospects will be limited. Most junkies want to get clean, but until they make that leap it's always 'tomorrow'. Ask him how he plans to get clean THEN think about rewarding him after he's taken some big steps. My guess is he'll tell you "after I've passed the exam you're paying for and got a job." Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

SlangKing Tue 17-Sep-13 00:58:58

Like Bishop, I had an addiction,,, 8 years in my case. There's no truer advice in this thread than "he won't quit until he wants to" (or however they phrased it). It's not your fault, you're not an addict, but I think you're being very naive. One thing you've not been picked up on - "at least he's spending the day with normal people." It takes 10 seconds to stick your head into a car and exchange money for drugs,, thereafter you're good for 24 hours or more, depending on the amount bought. I held down a full time job alongside 'normal' people throughout my addiction. But for my addiction (and the same is true of many addicts I know) I/they are as normal and capable as you are. While it's very noble of you to try to help him I see no sign of him wanting to help himself. Refuses therapy and treatment - presumably methodone or subutex programs. I wouldn't want to do either of the latter either - no guarantee of confidentiality, treated like naughty children, unsuitable prescription - but the dealers who sell him heroin can get him methodone, or another addict can. 500mls will provide him with a DIY, 7 day crash reduction. He can avoid the puking, cramps and the worst of the aches, pains and sweatr. He'll still feel shitty,, but functional. If he wants to be clean - and not 'clean' on a legal substitute - at some point he's gonna have to endure months of lethargy. Each week is better but it's months before you feel 'energetic'. You say he goes 3 days clean. HOW? Most of a hit wears off after 12 hours. After 24 he'll feel bad and by 36 he'll be into a full on rattle. Believe me, he CANNOT go 3 days without more heroin or a substitute. By the end of day 2, he'd be curled up somewhere, sweating and shaking. I suggest he's lying to you if he keeps doing "3 days clean" cuz if he had that kinda stamina, 3 more days and he'd be over the worst. With all that in mind, why not offer to pay for his course when he's been clean for 6 months. Then he has INCENTIVE. In addition to what others have said about scoring heroin abroad, things will be no better if he can't. He'll be too ill to work in the short term if he goes abroad with a habit. Then, most jobs have some kind of testing policy now so his prospects will be limited. Most junkies want to get clean, but until they make that leap it's always 'tomorrow'. Ask him how he plans to get clean THEN think about rewarding him after he's taken some big steps. My guess is he'll tell you "after I've passed the exam you're paying for and got a job." Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

SlangKing Tue 17-Sep-13 01:01:03

Did that post twice? Sorry. (friggin Dumbphone!)

DIYapprentice Tue 17-Sep-13 01:01:27

OMG, you want to give a heroin addict the ability to travel and work overseas in non English speaking countries?! Are you mad?

I'm sorry for being so blunt, but the risk of him getting locked up in a foreign prison for either using, being caught being a drug mule, or anything to do with drugs is too horrific to even begin to imagine!

Wingedharpy Tue 17-Sep-13 02:24:34

I don't want this to sound harsh but, is part of the reason his family is keen to help him get this qualification is that once he has it he can then push off overseas and not be "their problem" any more?

CookieDoughKid Tue 17-Sep-13 04:45:33

I can't see ANY positivity in your family paying for another course other than making yourselves feel better. If you really want to make an impact, you should seek advice from professionals. I also wouldn't believe your brother being clean for 3 days. Addicts can look and act clean but underneath they are not. Suggest you take heed of the advice from former addicts here and professionals to help steer a course for you all.

Slangking thank you very much for your insightful post. He goes three days clean by staying at his DM's house, a curled up, sweating mess. That's about as much as she can stand. Then he goes back home and that day, or the next day, he's back on it. The one time we took him to rehab he bought some subutex and took that because there was a flight involved. He has described like you, the lethargy and the seratonin depletion. He rejects methadone because it is just replacing one addiction for another and says all public rehab will require him to take it. Is this true?

The heroin he gets is weak anyway. But he has no life outside drugs and that was reason we paid for the course. He has just been working towards getting away from his estate. We are not necessarily trying to get rid of him. We hardly ever hear anything from him, perhaps once every six months. The last time he came to us with all the details for the course and a clear plan of what he could do with the qualification and because I have worked in TEFL I could see a remote possibility that he could teach (he is well read and articulate) so we said we would pay for it if he paid for and completed a weekend course, which he did. So I do think he has put effort in himself.

I have sought advice from professionals - I know it has to come from him. I think it is coming from him!

If we do any less for him, we will be doing absolutely nothing. There is no 'seeking help from the professionals'. And that's fine, I can do that no problem but he will be dead in a year and I don't want DH feeling like he should have done something.

Sorry, thank you do all the other posters too, I have read all your posts and will come back to them too. It's not that I don't see that addicts must help themselves, i don't need convincing of that.

Fairenuff Tue 17-Sep-13 08:25:46

He will be dead in a year if he doesn't do a TEFL course? If that was such a life saver for drug addicts I'm sure the professionals would be prescribing it left, right and centre.

pausingforbreath Tue 17-Sep-13 08:27:24

How do you know he will be dead in a year?

I know this sounds harsh, I have been where you are with my brother ( many a time ).

The fact that you all feel responsible for keeping him alive without you all ' he will die' - is the weakness he will play upon to keep you all enabling him with whatever tin pot ideas of schemes to make him recover.

I couldn't get down on this reply how many great ideas my parents funded in the hope this would be the one...

None of them worked - what worked was when he had the implants sewn into his belly , so it blocked all opiates from working. He had 3 implants . 9 months.

Only when he went into a proper clinic had proper treatment. Not when he would DIY give up, with a scheme ( which always went tits up- because it just always masked the real issue. he was not prepared to try a proper go at giving up the heroin. fact.

Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of pounds were thrown at him by my parents - with no movement forwards ....

KatyTheCleaningLady Tue 17-Sep-13 08:31:21

I second the recommendation for al anon. For you and your husband.

You seem to be tied up with feelings of guilt and obligation to your mil, as well. Enabling can be like an addiction in itself, so you could be enabling her, as well. Perfectly understandable, really. But not good for you.

He's not staying clean for three days at a time, really. He's just withdrawing. He's not out, functioning during that time..
Addicts often relapse after months or years of being clean. The more time they spend in the real, sober, sane world, the easier it is to get back on the wagon.

I don't think he's ready for a career right now. He would be better off going to meetings every day and doing something menial until he's gotten some time under his belt. He needs to learn how to be a normal, sober, functional basic person, first.

I used to be addicted to heroin and went to NA. I am unusual in that I am now normal (no interest in drugs and I can drink socially/normally) but I have been a different person for decades, now. All the addicts I know would tell you that you must not enable him.

No feelings of guilt here, I don't know what leads you to suggest that hmm although I know that is often the case. And you want DH and I to go to Al Anon? WTF?

I haven't suggested his withdrawal has been remotely successful, I just made the point that he had not lied.

As I said upthread, we have said no to the course so I don't really see much point in labouring the point. I think it is rather facetious to say that we are implying he will die if he doesn't do a TEFL. He will die because one day soon he will overdose or have another heart attack. We have thrown him a couple of lines and he hasn't taken them. I really resent being made out to be hand-wringing, ever-hopeful, over-concerned family members.

KatyTheCleaningLady Tue 17-Sep-13 09:22:28

Why do you think al anon is an absurd suggestion? It's for the families of addicts. They find it helpful to talk to others in the same situation.

You do come across as being concerned about your bil. This is perfectly understandable and natural. But you listen to people who have been there, either as addicts or loved ones. Your bil is not unusual or different from other addicts. No matter their intelligence or social class, they are more alike than not.

I'm glad you have said no to paying more money. What do you need help with, specifically?

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