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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.

pinkchoccy Sat 21-Sep-13 19:06:27

He needs to go into rehab as soon as he makes the decision. He has to want to do it. He needs to go into paid treatment for at least 12weeks. You should choose this out of area. A long way out of area.

domesticvoyager Sat 21-Sep-13 10:33:13

Thanks Stinking and congratulations on your recovery. Your post perfectly resonates with my knowledge of BIL's situation.

The two things we have done for him have in a way been our closure on the situation. When the call comes, DH will be able to say he did what he could. I shouldn't think anything will be much comfort to his DM who will have lost 2 of her 3 children.

Last point and then I'll bow out...we were talking about this in AA last night (not your BIL, just the way we put cart before horse sometimes). That we run round trying to fix ourselves and our issues, thinking that is why we use, it's a symptom, or a medicine, so if we sort that out, we'll have no reason to use.

The problem is, while that might have been true in the beginning, by the end we use because we use. We cross a line and are physically and mentally dependent, even if life were flowers and rainbows. And the mere fact of using makes all the other issues worse because it deepens our lack of worth, our self loathing, our sense of inevitability and doom.

So I tried to write a book, to see endless therapists and psychiatrists, to change my medicine for depression, to unearth and seek closure on various traumas...

But at the end of the day, we need to tackle the addiction first. To get clean, and not just for days, but for months (a heroin addict's brain will take 1-2 years to revert to 'normal' settings in terms of producing enough dopamine again to make the addict able to do the things that make them happy). With that time comes clear thinking and perspective. Then we can look properly at our issues and sorting out our lives and finding a sense of purpose. All of that is tackled in the 12 Steps too.

And what we tend to find is, miraculously, with clear heads and consciences, a lot of those issues seem much less overwhelming than they did when we were using.

In other words, and you know this anyway OP, he needs to tackle the heroin first, and then courses/jobs etc come afterwards. But to tackle the heroin, you need to detach with compassion, and let him hit his rock bottom. Give him the painful, but positive, gift of desperation.

Good luck. To you all.

domesticvoyager Sat 21-Sep-13 10:12:24

Argh, sorry, I am the most incompetent name-changer ever. Just trying to keep this private as I have to mention sensitive issues.

So sorry for all the name-changing, I post on here about other topics that I was trying to keep separate from this one [embarrassed] and got mixed up.

Thanks for all the posts on this thread. I know some think paying for the course was enabling. I see it more as checking in on his mental state. We are well informed on this topic. Don't forget, we have had no problems whatsoever giving no money or 'helping' in any way FOR YEARS. But life is not all about zero tolerance and I don't think giving him this opportunity is any kind of setback because the term setback is irrelevant to his life. He is killing himself because he has absolutely no reason to live. No knowledge of life, no memory of anything different, profound depression, a horrific traumatic incident he can't face and a lot of experience of suicide. All he has on his side is a very good brain, completely unused.

Fairenuff Sat 21-Sep-13 08:59:51

OP is that you? I take it you've nc again?

Anyway, look, I am not blaming you, I am trying to show you how you have, in the past, enabled him. So that you can recognise when you're doing it and, if you want to, stop doing it.

Every time I point it out you deny it. That's up to you. It doesn't mean that it didn't happen though.

From Psychology Today

"By stepping in to “solve” the addict’s problems, the enabler takes away any motivation for the addict to take responsibility for his or her own actions. Without that motivation, there is little reason for the addict to change. Enablers help addicts dig themselves deeper into trouble".

I suggest you and your dh read up a bit more on this so that you can present a united front to his dm. She is definitely enabling if she is asking to borrow money from you so that she can spend it on him.

domestic it was awful. Feel free to PM I really do know what you are going through and it sucks!

domesticvoyager Thu 19-Sep-13 20:14:08

Sleeping how awful.

Fairenuff we generally do absolutely nothing and I don't believe we enable him. We tried to do something positive, because he was so keen and did so much to organise it. It failed. But it did matter to him enormously. I know this. He didn't just think, fuck it, i'm not paying so it doesn't matter. Have you never messed up something that mattered to you? I have.

I agree with fairenuff rock bottom is where he needs to get. As shit as that is sad

My ex's brother had the same problem. Although he never showed a desire to want to stop, We tried everything. He overdosed and died at 24. What a waste. Iv never quite forgiven myself sad

Fairenuff Thu 19-Sep-13 18:03:51

I have just read through Attila's list and again we're not doing any of those things. We paid for the course which was something he could never have done otherwise.

He could have paid for it.

Instead he chose to spend his money on drugs.

If he really wanted the course and had no-one to pay for it, he would have had to give up the drugs. And, of course, he wouldn't have done that.

So by paying for the course, you are enabling him to kid himself and anyone else who cares, that he is working on improving himself and getting away from the source of the problems.

If you didn't pay, he would have sunk further towards rock bottom. That is where he needs to get. He needs to be in a place where recovery or death are his only options.

It has to matter to him. It has to matter enough for him to do something about it, not just pretend that he is.

Donkeys thanks for your kind post. We really don't worry about BIL that much and we are fortunate that we have the financial resources. DN has been a different matter - that has taken up the past 3 years but it's been massively worth it as DN is now happy, working hard and excited about university and the future. It was not always like this!
(DN is not BIL's by the way, his children have been brought up by his ex wife - we just used to take them on holiday).

He did come to us with the course all researched and spent a long time chasing up his certificates for his gcses etc. That was why we gave it a shot. I think he tried really hard - but failed because he is trying to get a life in order to kick the addiction instead of kicking the addiction first.

Absolutely the only only thing I would be prepared to lend an addict money for is if they came to me themselves unprompted and were super keen to do residential primary and then secondary care, in somewhere good (Roehampton Priory is 18k for the 28 day addiction treatment programme, for heroin he might need to be there longer because the detox will 'waste' the first days, and then somewhere like Prinsted for secondary is about 200/day, or then there's halfway houses ie tertiary which are a lot cheaper). If the addict had researched it themselves, had an assessment with a therapist, seemed genuinely committed and excited/scared, was down on their knees screaming 'I can't do this anymore, I want help', and the understanding was it would be repaid in easy installments once they were back to being a productive member of society again.

Do you know why he only goes to NA sporadically if he seems to like it? I used to pay lipservice to AA, just trotting along whenever I was sober and happy, which defeats the object. You need to be going all the time, getting involved, doing service, getting a sponsor and starting the 12 Steps for it really to work. And work it does!

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 19-Sep-13 11:21:30

What strikes me is the time, effort and energy you and DH must put into trying to firefight where BIL is concerned. Now this anxiety with MIL and her home. If you didn't have DCs it would be admirable. The fact you adopted DN which is a whole other story and have a very young DS to deal with makes it awesome.

Sorry, unhelpful, as you were.

snailhunter Thu 19-Sep-13 11:14:52

Eldritch's post makes good sense.

My sister did a TEFL course and went abroad to get away from her problems. She ended up a hopeless heroin addict in a developing country. Really not a nice place to be.

She wasn't the only one, either. Most developing countries popular with heroin addicts have these weird, unpleasant pockets of junkie Europeans who went there to get wasted in the sun. A good few of them had come with the vague intention of 'teaching English.' None of them could have held down a job. They were all trapped. They had no money to leave.

There was one addicted British couple with a ten-year-old kid who lived in a shitty hut. The mum had one leg - lost the other from injected temazepam. The kid was pretty feral. They were all involved in credit card fraud, insurance fraud - anything to get a few quid for the next fix. One guy sold his shoes for a fix and got a hideous infection in his foot. Every now and again there would be a dispute with the locals who supplied them which would end in violence. My sister got ripped off time and time again by locals she thought were her 'friends' - they weren't her friends, they were her dealers. Or the police would swoop and you wouldn't see people again. Or people just died from a crap batch.

I think the best thing you could do for your BIL is to refuse any further help with this plan. He will find, just as my sister did, that his problems will follow him wherever he goes. There is nowhere in the world you can go to get away from heroin, crack and meth. Nowhere, and if you are determined enough (as most addicts are) you will find it, you will know where those places are.

I wish you and your family all the best. It is a heartbreaking thing to go through. By the way, my sister has been clean for 20 years. There is hope, but I don't think helping your BIL further with this course is the way.

Sorry for the name change - i try to keep this sensitive topic separate.

Stinking he goes to NA meetings sporadically - he finds them very supportive.

Pausing he is using a mixture of heroin and crack.

We haven't heard any more.

I have just read through Attila's list and again we're not doing any of those things. We paid for the course which was something he could never have done otherwise. Now he'll have to be clean for an extended period before we would be persuaded to let him try again.

I'm worried that MIL will mortgage her house. SHe called us asking to borrow money but confessed it was for BIL, so of course DH said no. I've been through all this behaviour when we took in DH's DN, who she brought up. She would give him things secretly if we had said he couldn't have them or had to work towards them.

pausingforbreath Thu 19-Sep-13 10:06:06

Hiya, OP have you name changed? I'm confused.

In answer to your question , did my brother drink too?

Yes, he drank too and heroin was not the only drug he was using either.

Every situation/person is different, in my family's experience my parents were desperate for their son not to be a heroin addict, they enabled him to the point he never hit 'rock bottom'.

I would say their need/want for him to be clean was greater than his as a result.
This is what I believe it what prolonged his addiction to a degree, he never had to 'face it' or deal with the consequences himself .

It was saddening/sickening to watch them treat it all like a project and they near as dammit ruined themselves in the process.

Yes, I used the services available for family close to addicts - their help saved my sanity.

The implants worked for him - after many failed DIY attempts. He also refused to register his addiction (seek treatment) from GP's etc. This was because of what SlangKing describes so well to you.

My brothers heroin addiction lasted decades - he used heroin not to get high. But if he stopped it was painful, he hurt and got very sick. He used because he would do anything to stop feeling that bad.
He simplified it for me , if you have a raging headache ; you take a painkiller knowing it will take the pain away.
Heroin was like that for him on a grand scale - he would do anything to stop the pain and heroin stopped the pain.

KatyTheCleaningLady Thu 19-Sep-13 09:55:34

I thought of "doing a geographical" too. Moving abroad would have its own stresses and the problems would still be there.

'Doing a geographical' is something of a classic addict tactic. We think all our problems are because of where we are/who we're with etc so try to make a fresh start somewhere else. The problem is, we take our problems - and ourselves, the root of said problems - in our suitcase.

Has he ever been to NA? Ever expressed any interest? Do you think there's any chink in the 'I don't want to go to rehab'? I resisted it for months but finally capitulated after a disaster, and it was the best bloomin' investment of time/money I ever made. Most of us were boozers, but the two most impressive people there were heroin addicts. Their progress was staggering and genuinely inspiring.

happymundanes Wed 18-Sep-13 16:41:04

Well I don't have proof fairynuff but he is very open about his life. I believe him, and I'm not exactly his number one fan. Of course if he's lying about that he'll come unstuck, it's not really my problem.

Fairenuff Wed 18-Sep-13 16:32:03

How do you know he has no criminal record?

happymundanes Wed 18-Sep-13 10:16:33

Well, I would pay for an adult BIL to go to college if I thought there were grounds for doing so, i.e. if they were unlikely to be able to afford it themselves and I was in a position to help. I think he was committed to the course but messed up because he was off his face. He is apparently gutted although he hasn't dared tell us yet.

DH is completely on side, none of us have any trouble understanding that he has to promote his own change, apart from MIL. He has no criminal record incredibly.

JohFlow Wed 18-Sep-13 09:41:48

Under normal circumstances would you pay for an adult BIL to go to college - or would you expect him to do that for himself? You can't 'rescue' a man who show that he actively wants to continue with his addiction. Actions speak louder than words!

If I was supporting him to move forward I would require full commitment (indeed I would make it a condition of him having any money). It is important that you meet more in the middle. It is also important that your BIL understands how having your support thrown back in your face actually feels. Do you feel that you/your partner can be that forthright with him?

I don't think that TEFL is the way forward at this stage as his chances of getting employed are virtually zilch. If he has any kind of a criminal record (not assuming he has) that more often than not will preclude any teaching work in future. I think he should focus on what he can realistically achieve now (on a part time basis) until he starts to recover. Moving abroad may be him trying to escape/or making sure he can continue his addiction unhindered.

I think the focus should be only on coming off the drugs at the moment; because any type of chaos associated with use can work against attempts for him to move on. Small steps first!

I think you also need to get your partner on side. You are in the fortunate position of not being directly related to your BIL and so there is an amount of distance for you to see a full picture of what is happening. Sometimes its in the family history to rescue rather than empower individuals to do things for themselves. Expect some resistance; but some beliefs about what the BIL needs may need challenging.

something2say Wed 18-Sep-13 09:14:14

Another reason why I am happy about the change in benefits. People who are hurting themselves may not be given the lifestyle to continue to do so and may have to take responsibility for themselves. We can go round and round the cycle but there is a cost to it, people die, and that is not alright with me.

happymundanes Wed 18-Sep-13 07:50:09

Isabeller thanks for your post. I have much respect for those organisations, but since our contact with BIL is minimal and takes up very little headspace, for want of a better way of putting it, I certainly would not want to go to a group. I will suggest it to MIL though, as she is definitely not thinking straight.

Slang BIL is definitely an escaper. I think by being an addict he condenses all the many problems he would have in reality into one tough but manageable one. It's not a comfortable life and it has its humiliations, but it's bohemian and free and a whole lot better, in his eyes, than working in a shop or whatever. I think the drop in benefits will really push him to make changes. Hope your exam goes well!

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