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To expect my brother to get himself together?

(76 Posts)
Wanda354 Fri 12-May-17 09:30:59

DB has had problems all his adult life, which all stem from substance abuse, mainly alcohol. Over the past 20 years he has lost jobs and friends , been banned from driving twice, been arrested and charged for assault (got off on a technicality), and now his child is the subject of a child protection order. All of this is because of things that happen when he is drunk. He is nearly 40 now.

His partner has 2 older DC from other relationships. DB's relationship with partner is volatile, largely because he is a nasty drunk who says vile things to her and her older 2 DC when in drink, which he then cannot remember afterwards. Her older 2 children have chosen to live with their dads now as a result. DB considers he doesn't have a drink problem because he "only drinks at the weekend". But every Fri and Sat night he has a bottle of wine and 4 beers (each night) and thinks that is ok. Most weekends there is a row, frequently these are major, and I imagine very frightening for the DC to overhear. 

Recently things have come to a head and the child protection order put in place. Only a year ago was the charge for assaulting his partner. 

DB seems to see all of this as some sort of conspiracy in which events which are "not that bad" are made to look much worse than they are. He doesn't join the dots to recognise that the circumstances that have led to this all arise from his drinking. Whether he actually does realise that deep down, and chooses to ignore it. I don't know. Has said to me that he can't imagine never drinking again as "I've got to have something". Says he doesn't have any friends, never goes out, a weekend drink is all he has to look forward to each week. I have told him that what he does have is a child, who he loves, and who will be taken away eventually, either by his mother or God forbid, social services, if these events don't stop happening. 

He always bounces back to my parents' home when things go wrong (they live close by, I am an hour away) never thanks them for their support, never apologises for his behaviour. Over the years they have replaced cars he has written off when drunk, bailed him out financially, my dad has spent 2 periods of 18 months driving him to and from work every day while he was banned (so he wouldn't lose the job). Now they hide alcohol and car keys when he is there. They are in their 70s and don't want to be picking up the pieces any more but I think fear what would become of him if they didn't. Both of them text me regularly telling me they have had enough. It is destroying their relationship with each other and their ability to enjoy life. It's like a constant shadow for DM worrying what will happen next. She wakes in the night worrying about it. My dad says little but his disappointment is obvious.

I offer to have DB at mine but he rarely comes as it's not convenient for his work. Have tried to talk to him about getting help to stop drinking; he won't countenance it. 

Despite all this, my DB is actually a nice person when "normal" and I love him so much. AIBU to expect him to get himself together for the sake of his child and for the sake of our parents, who will not be around forever? What can I do to make him realise this? What can I do to help my parents? 

araiwa Fri 12-May-17 09:35:05

he's an alcoholic druggie

nothing you can do- he has to want to change himself then you can help him

you can try to prod him in the right direction by trying to talk to him in a window of clarity but if he gets defensive then he doesnt want to do anything about it.

there are charities you could talk to for further advice on how to help him

good luck

Wanda354 Fri 12-May-17 09:39:04

What sort of charities? I once took my mum along to an Al-Anon meeting for people affected by a family member's alcohol abuse. It was mostly wives of alcoholic husbands though and my DM couldn't relate to their experiences.

I just don't know what to do. I want to help DB but if he is so unwilling to help himself then I want to at least do what I can to help our parents and my nephew and his mother (who is quite isolated as she is from another country and has no family here).

Thebookswereherfriends Fri 12-May-17 09:40:17

He won't change unless he hits rock bottom (and then it's not guaranteed) and he won't hit bottom as long as your parents keep giving him somewhere to go. He has to see that it is his behaviour that is the cause and he doesn't yet.

araiwa Fri 12-May-17 09:43:21

www.verywell.com/information-for-families-of-alcoholics-63317

im sure google will help you find something local but there are many resources available online too- read a few and see what applies to you and your situation

DelphiniumBlue Fri 12-May-17 09:44:28

Police and SS involvement still haven't made any difference to his behavior, pleas from the whole family haven't worked.
There's a view that substance abuse is essentially self medication. That there's some trauma he's using alcohol to escape from. Has he ever had therapy/ counselling, would he consider it? The fact that he has no friends and feels he has nothing to live for points to deep unhappiness.
On the one hand, he's your brother and you love him, on the other hand there's the view that stopping drinking needs to come from within the drinker.
Maybe try AA for him or Al- anon for you and your parents, but can you get him to deal with whatever it is he doesn't want to face? Point him towards help?

AnthonyPandy Fri 12-May-17 09:44:32

They need to reduce their support down to emotional only ie no cash and no lifts. Let him lose the job, that would help him in the long run.

BastardGoDarkly Fri 12-May-17 09:44:57

I feel so sorry for his partner, she needs to leave him, if you want to help your nephew, this is what I'd be helping to happen.

Your brother is a grown man, he's making his own choices, without a fuck given for any of you.

Everyone needs to put their foot down, maybe then he'll realise what he's losing, or maybe he won't.

Its so hard op, I hope you find a way through.

DancingLedge Fri 12-May-17 09:44:59

You can't make him change.

You can be brutally honest with him.

You can protect your parents.

peaceout Fri 12-May-17 09:45:06

Wanda, I have seen this situation play out in my own extended family, the drinker in question lives with his elderly parents and AFAIK has severely blighted their lives, I dread to think what will become of him when they are gone.
Some of his children have NC'd him, others haven't, there is a rift between the two groups

You try to save the drowning màn, but when it becomes clear that he won't help him self and will drag everyone down with him

SnowBallsAreHere Fri 12-May-17 09:47:10

Perhaps try again with al anon for your parents. See if you can find a group that isn't only about alcoholic husbands. Your post reads to me as if they have been enabling his behaviour - driving him, bailing him out, paying for new cars etc - if it stopped what would he do? He's not been allowed to reach the bottom as they keep catching him.

justkeepswimmingg Fri 12-May-17 09:50:15

I've been that child. My dad was (still is), alcohol dependant. My advice is to encourage your SIL to leave with his kid, whilst yourself and family get him the help to stay clean. It's going to be rough, especially if he doesn't want to change. But the most important thing right now is ensuring that your SIL and DN is away from it all right. I have mental scars from witnessing the drunken behaviour and abuse (physical and emotional) that my mum received. He even eventually started lashing out at us kids. It's not a safe place for them, and priority should be their safety, then you can start tackling the problem. See the gp or contact local charities. I know there are some rehabs that are involuntary (kind of like being sectioned), but I'm not sure how they work. I'm sure the gp and charities can give more advice of those aspects.

user1493022461 Fri 12-May-17 09:54:59

I think your time would be better spent helping your parents to disengage from their codependent relationship with him. They are helping him to normalise and continue his behaviour, big time.

VacantExpression Fri 12-May-17 09:58:33

I think the main problem is that his habits are being enabled by your parents and his partner. So sad all round :-( there must be somewhere he can access professional help, but he has to really want to and he isn't there yet. I think you need to prioritise your nephew, his mum and your parents here.

Wanda354 Fri 12-May-17 09:58:34

All good advice. I have been telling my parents for years that only when they withdraw the support will he be forced to face the situation he creates. I think they genuinely believe that each "event" IS rock bottom for him. Only later do they realise it wasn't. E.g. After court case re DV incident with partner last year, solicitor told him that if anything similar ever happened again, it would be much worse. He swore blind it never would and parents thought things would improve. They did improve for a while - no massive rows at home for a bit - but one year later police and social services are involved again.

From DB's perspective it's very "poor me", his main concern being that if he was charged with anything he would lose his job as would have to leave even if not sacked, because it would all be so shaming. The thing itself isn't shaming, but strangers knowing about it is, apparently.

Delphiniumblue, I believe DB is depressed, have believed this since an event 10 years ago after which he washed up back at my parents'. He won't seek any help, won't go to GP, won't take anti depressants, won't ask for counselling (which I would happily pay for). He just won't do anything. But says things like "I am a bad person; there's just something bad in me". On reflection, it's quite easy isn't it to just say "I'm bad" instead of "I need help". No need to make any effort if you're just inherently "bad".

God I despair of how my nephew is growing up, the blight on my parents' later years when they should be enjoying themselves. Something has got to change now and I feel I am the person who has to make it happen but I don't know how.

peaceout Fri 12-May-17 09:58:50

Despite all this, my DB is actually a nice person when "normal
No one is a monster 24/7
the sum total of his behaviour, his overall effect is destructive
He's lying to everyone, swearing that black is white, that it's not that bad, glossing over everyone's suffering...suffering caused by him

Goldfishjane Fri 12-May-17 10:00:59

he assaulted his partner
and he did something to make his child the subject of a protection order?

I'm afraid I think you and your parents need to disengage.

Goldfishjane Fri 12-May-17 10:02:20

oh and just for some context - when someone says they drink and do drugs because they "need something" I actually completely get that.

but he is assaulting people!!

peaceout Fri 12-May-17 10:04:25

am a bad person; there's just something bad in me
Self indulgent, melodramatic
Don't we all got a bad side..eh?

I say (privately) make a deadline, I will give this much help, this much time, and then no more
He is a bottomless pit and will suck the life and the enjoyment from all those around him

TinklyLittleLaugh Fri 12-May-17 10:12:26

Thing is, if he is self medicating, so to speak, then it will be hard for him to stop unless he can get help for the original problem.

FizzyGreenWater Fri 12-May-17 10:13:16

The only thing that it strikes me you could do directly is to let his partner know that if she were to leave, you and your family would support her as much as possible and would be there for both her and your nephew and make sure they both remained a much loved part of the family, make sure relationship with grandparents was maintained, etc.

Little things like that might make all the differnece in helping her get away from him - though have to say if she's still with him given the loss of two children and the potential loss of her third I don't think it would make a lot of difference.

You can't help him. You can't even really help your parents disengage I think.

peaceout Fri 12-May-17 10:23:26

In these situations people take on various roles, martyr, enabler, victim, bad guy, etc etc, they can all become investEd in those roles, it's not always easy to just step away and become something different

Wanda354 Fri 12-May-17 10:24:26

I don't really know what his partner's position is. Sometimes she says she loves him, sometimes she says she wants him gone. One of the problems is that it's her (council) flat. It's not as though she can leave. He has to leave. Whenever he does so (when she chucks him out after a row), it's back to my parents'. They have never said he's not welcome there. I have suggested that he be encouraged to get his own place, but he only earns minimum wage so all he would be able to get is a room somewhere. Parents don't want him to be in that position as they see it (I think) as the start of an inevitable further downward spiral of depression and self-destruction.

peaceout Fri 12-May-17 10:33:01

Parents don't want him to be in that position as they see it (I think) as the start of an inevitable further downward spiral of depression and self-destruction

Parents are held to ransom...help me to continue to abuse my partner or you will suffer the pain of my depression and self destruction

PeaFaceMcgee Fri 12-May-17 10:58:35

What can I do to make him realise this?

Nothing. It's out of your control.

What can I do to help my parents?

Try again with Alanon. You should go too. Encourage them to speak to the group. They need to disengage from him now, if he has no intention of stopping. They can't control his behaviour but they can control theirs.

Shutting the door in his face is self-preservation and not cruel. It's HIS choice and HIS life. It's not your fault he takes no responsibility.

It's awful. Sorry flowers

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