To have no idea what to do about my alcoholic brother...(38 Posts)
My younger brother is an alcoholic - he's 31 and relatively high functioning in the sense he's not on a park bench drinking at 10am. He's a lovely guy, but his alcoholism makes him irresponsible and selfish.
He has a job (although zero hours - often only works a couple of days per week) but drinks every day in the pub, he does this by borrowing money from friends.
He has never had a social life outside of the local pub, a girlfriend or the things that one might expect somebody of his age to have. He's had his job for about a year - before that, he'd never really worked.
He lived with our other brother until about six months ago, when he (other brother) got so fed up with him, he chucked him out and now he's in my spare room. He's lived with me before and it was problematic, but I felt I had to take him in, due to feeling sorry for him and pressure from my family as we have space for him.
He doesn't do any housework (though to be fair, he doesn't make much mess) and he pays us seventy quid per week housekeeping - this includes all bills and food. I usually make him dinner, otherwise he doesn't eat. He's painfully skinny, he doesn't shower often and is quite dirty and unkempt. Our spare room smells awful now. As you can imagine, my partner is not very keen on him.
He's sometimes drunk around my kids (age 12 and 15). Tonight my daughter (12) is having a sleepover with a friend. They were being quite noisy so I went downstairs to tell them to quieten down and found him back from the pub, drunk and running around the front room with them.
The fact that he doesn't get that this is really inappropriate has worried me.
I think I've honestly done all I can for him and it's getting to a point where I can't have him here any more. He can't afford his own place, I don't think the council would house him - he would be a homeless alcoholic and I'm worried he would go down hill.
My partner is in AA and says he needs to hit bottom before he will get better - we both know deep down that him living here with us is just allowing him to continue drinking for longer.
To complicate matters further, our dad (who lived here with us too) recently died and we're all struggling with our grief. It's early days still and I don't want to be heartless.
Should I hang on for a few more months? Should I try to just love and support and guide him through this? Should I start putting his house keeping away until it's enough for a deposit on a flat? (Although I don't think he'll cope with bilks etc) Should I just chuck him out and let him hit bottom?
I genuinely don't know what to do for the best.
You do know he needs to leave. If he can't understand how running around pissed with a group of 12 year olds is not on, then there's potentially quite serious trouble brewing in the horizon. You could end up with social services on your doorstep asking you what steps you are taking to protect your children from his influence if one of the other children's parents get wind of this, or a future event.
He's now affecting your family life and you have a duty first and foremost to children above him and from what you have said his alcoholism is affecting the family. So now any help you offer him must be once he is in his own place.
You're right. I'd say exactly the same to somebody else in this situation. It's just tough because he's my baby brother.
We lost our mum pretty young and I think this is the main reason he's ended up like this.
The point about social services is not one I'd even considered. I'm a teacher and if one of my students confided this to me, I'd be filling out forms.
I guess he's just going to have to go. But where?
I agree he has to go OP.
Clutching at straws here, but if he was registered with the GP as having alcohol addiction problems would he be more eligible for social housing?
How high do you imagine demand is in your area for social housing? Can you look up how many points are required and how they're allocated?
You need to kick him out IMMEDIATELY. Your brother will never hit bottom and/or decide to change his life as long as you keep providing the safety net that he can fall back on. Stop all communication, don't give him any money, but make sure the last words he hears from you are how much you love him and how you'll love to welcome him back into your life when he's sober. Your brother needs a shit ton of tough love.
You are enabling your brother to carry on being a useless drunk.
How can you allow him around your children? Their health and safety should be paramount.
You need to kick him out.
I'm so sorry April, but you know everyone is right. He needs to go.
I know how hard it Is, but your safety net is actually prolonging the suffering, for him and for you.
When they say alcohol splits families, it doesn't mean just the immediate family (wife, children etc) it means whole families.
I too had a brother who was an alcoholic, it took him in the end.
I went through everything you're going through. I tried everything with him, doctors rehab programs and pouring his alcohol down the sink (like that was going to make any difference).
Your family are putting pressure on unfairly, they want someone to take responsibility and making that you.
If you continue this track, it will split your own family.
I urge you now to ask him to leave and help him from a distance.
Alcoholism is a cruel and destructive illness, please don't let it also destroy you and your family.
I wish you luck and hope your brother recovers before it goes further, but you (nor I or anyone else) do not have the means to save him, only he does.
I have a brother who is an alcoholic, he is very low functioning,pissed in the local park at 9am.His mental health is also now really awful and he lives in hostel/ supported housing.
I see him occasionally to drop of food cigarettes,to chat to social workers etc. He never sees my kids he's not safe emotionally or physically to be around. Its sad ,he is still my little brother,honestly I amazed he is still alive.
Alcoholism is a greedy disease you need to find your boundaries because your brother won't.
What a horrible situation for you. I have to say though, if my 12 year old came back from a sleepover and said that the hosts uncle was messing around pissed, I would be seriously unimpressed.
He needs to go, but you mustn't feel like it's your fault. Isn't there an equivalent of AA for relatives? Can you get some support from them?
Hi OP. I completely understand you dilemma and am in a similar but not same situation, which is impossible because on the one hand you must protect your children but on the other hand you brother being kicked out could lead to homelessness or worse.
You need help in RL from outside sources. And someone without emotional attatchment
Thanks so much for all your replies. I will sit down with him today before he starts drinking and show him this.
My instinct is that you're all right, he can't stay here and it will eventually damage my children. I feel incredibly guilty that I'm exposing them to this, but I also feel terrible that I'm making him homeless so soon after our dad has passed away.
I know he's struggling, that he's lonely and he's using alcohol to cope with feeling like shit. I feel so sorry for him.
I've been thinking about building him some kind of annexe in our garden/converting our garage to a flat for him so he's away from us, but not on the street. But I also feel like this will just allow him to carry on how he is.
I'm also thinking that maybe I could set some ground rules with him - no contact with us if he's drunk, he has to come in and go to his room etc. But we've had rules set when he first moved back in and they've gone by the wayside.
I'm clutching at straws here, aren't I?
He has to leave. No annexe, no staying in his room. He has to be out of your property. You are still placing his needs above those of your children. You cannot cure him. All the love in the world cannot cure him. He needs to be in a place where he realises he needs help and you are now actively preventing that realisation by keeping him in a protective bubble due to your guilt and sense of responsibility for him. You may as well be handing him the bottle now OP.
I know that sounds harsh but people have pointed out it will get worse and you still are still wavering about doing what you know you must. You've gone from saying you know he needs to leave and to be allowed to hit his rock bottom to see he needs help to things may be OK if we tell him to stay in his room. That's not helping him or your family in the long run.
Yes, you know you are clutching at straws because you feel you have failed him. You didn't cause this and you can't fix it. He needs professional help. You are too close to the situation to be able to give him what he really needs.
My uncle lived with my mum for a while. He was a heavily drinker when he came to us but quickly sank into all out alcoholism. He stank. He staggered everywhere. He shook. He insisted on carrying hot food to her (she's disabled) and fell on her and spilt it on her. He left burners on. He broke things. He was sick everywhere and didn't clean it up. He passed out in the bathroom with his pants down. He became rude and baity. He hid bottles everywhere - we still find them.
We made him leave, eventually. It was very very hard because we loved him and wanted him to get better, but he was not safe to have in the house and lied to your face if you tried to talk to him about how he was behaving. Talking kindly or angrily or crying - it just did no good because the only thing he cared about was drinking and as long as he was living somewhere comfortable with his family he could kid himself that everything was ok and we were making a fuss about nothing.
Make him go. It is an illness, yes, but he is also making choices here.
Ground rules won't work if they haven't already
PS please don't read what I have out and think "he's not as bad as that so perhaps it's ok". That is where your brother is headed. Shit but true.
How about rehab is that something he would go to?
Rehab may be a possibility I guess. I'm not sure if he would go, I don't think he thinks he has a problem.
AnUtterIdiot - you are right, I did read through your first post, thinking - well, he isn't that bad. And, although I don't want to believe it, you are also right in saying that he's on his way there.
I think my family (including me) all watched him in this twenties, thinking he might grow up, meet somebody, change by himself.
He's been getting away with it health-wise because of his age, I guess. I know this won't last forever. In the last few years, he's gone noticeably downhill. He's 6'2. He must weigh about nine stone.
I know that this situation isn't working for anyone, least of all him.
But where to start? I don't know if I can bring myself to bag up his stuff and tell him to get out?
And Meh...I hear what you're saying. I do feel responsible for him, I suppose. I think it's a leftover from our childhood because we lost our mum quite young.
Not doing either of us any favours though, is it?
Did you say your partner is in AA, too? If so, you might need to consider what your brother's behaviour is doing to your DP.
Kick him out OP. The annex won't work.
My partner is ok-ish with the situation, his sobriety is pretty long standing and he's in a good place. He has some sympathy and understanding, having been there.
But he also thinks we are slowly allowing him to kill himself.
And he is right.
Your children have the right not to have to live with this. You don't have the right to bring it into their home to alleviate your feelings of guilt. However responsible you might feel for DB, you're more responsible for them.
It also concerns me that my poor kids are already a bit cursed with any 'predisposition to addiction' genetics (alcoholics on both sides of the family).
I guess the last thing we should be showing them is life with an alcoholic deep into their addiction.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.