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Can I give up on DH's brother now?

(33 Posts)
mamateur Thu 09-May-13 13:21:41

So we have been trying to help DH's brother. He has been a heroin addict for 14 years. We got him into rehab, he came out declaring himself cured although he still takes it. He was with us for a week or so, turns up with a pill to take the edge of the withdrawal and then sweats buckets all over our house (2 children here) before disappearing back to London. He bit himself and bled everywhere (he has hep). He is supposed to be moving into a flat we have bought as a btl but he arrived last night, very sweaty, had dinner, we watched a film then half way through he said sorry, I can't do this. Got the train back to London then called us to say he is coming back today to start again. I'm so sick of this. We are paying for everything, organising a course, losing the income from the flat which is quite a lot of money and he has done nothing, nothing to show any commitment to recovery.

DH has already lost a sister, I can't bear his mother to lose him too. I don't want DH to look back and think he could have done more but this is so pointless.

He is so aggressive and defensive when he is here, I try to explain to him how far he has to go, what it will take but he just rubbishes everything I say, he knows best, he just needs x, y and £££.


mamateur Fri 10-May-13 08:57:03

I think it is very hard to give up drugs when you live in a tower block where drugs are commonplace and his dealers are contacting him constantly and all his friends are using. He has agreed to go to NA and the doctor and I have booked him some therapy. The drugs coincided with a traumatic event I think he would benefit from discussing.

Thanks for all your support. I have to say, it is very likely that when I report back it will be to say he has gone back to London but DH will know he did what he could.

DistanceCall Fri 10-May-13 08:44:59

That's good, OP. Obviously cutting a brother off is a tremendously hard thing to have to do (particularly if your husband already lost a sister). I think your husband would feel horribly guilty if he didn't think he had done everything he could to help his brother. So this is good, if only for your husband's sake.

But, as you say, if he uses while he is in the flat, that's enabling.

I really hope everything goes well. Good luck.

mamateur Fri 10-May-13 08:36:40

He spoke to DH last night and they have agreed he can move into the flat if he gets to all his meetings, does the course and, clearly, doesn't take drugs. Our original intention was to give him a fresh start. I know that lots of you will say that's enabling but personally I don't agree. It would be enabling, to me, if he were living there taking drugs.

It doesn't make any difference to our family finances or affect the children so I suppose I will go ahead with it.

DistanceCall Thu 09-May-13 20:47:43

You did the right thing paying for his rehab and offering him a place to live. He has thrown that back in your face and is taking drugs again.

If you let him live for free in your flat, NOW you will be enabling him.

I'm so sorry about this. It must be such a horrible situation for you and your family, particularly your husband. But your children and your own mental health should come first.

If he REALLY wants to change, there are ways to do so. But it sounds like he just doesn't want to.

mamateur Thu 09-May-13 19:40:48

Hi ifyoucan what an awful thing to have to observe. BIL has 2 DC but thankfully their DM has kept them well away from it all. If you can't stay off it for your children then it's all pretty hopeless.

No news from BIL. I'm sure he knows he can't come back here.

IfYouCanMoveItItsNotBroken Thu 09-May-13 17:57:01

Hi, I went through something similar with a friend. I hadn't seen her in years but when I returned to my home town after uni I knew she had been taking heroin and had her kid removed. She had just started methadone program and, although I didn't have money to support her, I did all I could. I ran her to drug appointments, I supervised her contact with her kid, she came round every night to stop her being bored using, I stuck my neck out for her and honestly it took all my energy. She eventually got her daughter back, although closely monitored, and she got involved with a man from her drug taking days. She made friends with junkies who moved to the town and eventually gave birth to an addicted baby. SW had concerns about the partner and friends but they apparently "loved" her kids so she took them there everyday. When they were arrested after a midnight raid it was me who got the frightened children in the middle of the night. Her 8 year old told me "they should have got a warrant for the shed, that's where the drugs are". At that point I realised her behaviour had destroyed her child's upbringing. Addicts are heartbreakingly selfish and won't be cured unless they really want to be, I cannot now recall a single time that she put her kids wants or needs before her own, and her eldest would come round to mine when she was out of it. They know certain behaviour isn't right, whether they show it or not.

I've cut all contact, her kids are safely away from her. It's truly upsetting but it was interrupting my family life, and I honestly gave my best. Until your brother in law sorts himself out, himself, because he wants to, then anything you do for him is a waste of money and energy. Any opportunity will be wasted. Any furniture in the flat will be sold. Let him know you will be there when he's better but in the meantime rest easy knowing you have done more than enough.

mamateur Thu 09-May-13 16:52:48

Thanks for your posts everyone smile

Wibblypiglikesbananas Thu 09-May-13 15:30:14

Hi OP. it sounds to me like you have tried very hard to help BIL but that for whatever reason, he is not in the right place to fight his addiction right now.

If I were you, I would make a firm commitment to putting the needs of your family first for the next six months and let BIL's needs take a back seat. Tell him that you are prepared to assist him when he is ready, but you don't think that is the case now.

You have nothing to feel guilty about. As PPs have commented, you didn't cause this and you can't control it. You can support his recovery, but ultimately, he has to want to recover.

I think you and your DP need to take a step back and consider the advice you would give to a friend in a similar situation. Or try considering what you would think if this wasn't a relative. Be absolutely honest with yourself.

Your children deserve to be your number one priority and to be in a safe environment at all times. It doesn't sound as though BIL is able to be part of that right now.

You have not given up on BIL. You are being cruel to be kind - and ultimately you can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped.

Good luck.

TalkUsernameYoudLike Thu 09-May-13 15:08:53

He bit himself and bled everywhere?! So not only does he not give a damn about yours and your H's health, he is putting your children at risk.

You both have done all you can.. and definitely a lot more than most other people would.

If you stop helping him out, don't feel guilty because you as a family have done more than enough.

It's tragic that your H's brother is an addict, but he has to want to change, not just want to accept the continuous help.

mamateur Thu 09-May-13 14:10:59

"the emotional cost has been very high"

How have you evaluated this?

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 09-May-13 14:04:45


You have indeed tried and you have gone above and beyond here but your kindnesses and help have been thrown back in your face by a person who never wanted support or help in the first place. The emotional cost has been very high.

Draw a line here for your sake.

hettie Thu 09-May-13 14:03:41

well... I would ask yourself why he is coming to you for help.... there are rehab places available in the UK that you don't have to pay for..... but the staff there will make an assessment of his commitment to change before allowing him a place.... He sounds like he is very much in the first stage of change to me (pre-contemplation). Rehab does help addicts to recover, but they have to want to.......I'm afraid you may have to accept that he has to help himself and there is nothing you can do...You are not 'giving up' on him you are accepting that nothing you can do will change his situation, you can still hope that he'll change and not give up and hold that position.....

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 09-May-13 14:02:33

"so you think there is no point whatsoever in helping an addict family member who comes to you for help?"

In this instance no. This man came out of a rehab facility cured but is still taking drugs.

"You can't force an addict into rehab, but rehab has helped many an addict to recover"

Indeed re the first part of your comments but many addicts recover because they as the addict actually recognise they have a problem, take responsibility for it and actively make a real long term commitment to themselves to continue the recovery process. No amount of helping out on the part of well meaning relatives makes that process happen any faster and infact doing so could make things worse.

WouldBeHarrietVane Thu 09-May-13 13:57:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mamateur Thu 09-May-13 13:57:02

Er...I don't really see why paying for rehab is enabling him. Of course, if we continue to pay for rehab when he shows no commitment, then we are clearly in enabling territory.

I don't want a war of words on this. We tried and it failed, as it was probably always going to. I wanted to be sure that DH didn't look back and think he did nothing.

The money isn't really a problem for us.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 09-May-13 13:56:52

Most individuals who provide addiction support have a hard time differentiating between what it means to “enable” or “support” their loved one. It’s a fine line, and one that’s difficult to plainly decipher in the midst of such an emotional situation.

You’re enabling an addict when you’re:
•Doing something for an addict that they should be doing themselves.
•Helping an addict avoid the consequences of unacceptable behavior.
•Continuing to provide for an addict during a relapse.
•Paying bills, filling out job applications, making excuses.

You’re supporting an addict when you’re:
•Doing something for an addict that they are not capable of doing for themselves
•Allowing them to resume taking responsibility for their own lives.
•Only in a part of their lives when they’re in recovery and living responsibly.
•Encouraging them to pay their bills, apply for jobs, and take ownership

mamateur Thu 09-May-13 13:55:10

Attila, so you think there is no point whatsoever in helping an addict family member who comes to you for help? You can't force an addict into rehab, but rehab has helped many an addict to recover. We offered to help him in this way, so I'm not quite sure why you feel there is no separation between enabling and assisting in recovery.

Obviously he has now burnt his boats. But for a month or two, we tried.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 09-May-13 13:54:24

"We have refused to enable him for years, but agreed to pay for rehab and to help him get out of the place where he lives, to retrain"

Unfortunately you have indeed enabled him by a) agreeing to pay for rehab and b) to help him get out of the place where he lives. Why did you offer presumably at the expense also of your own family finances?.

Where do you yourself draw the line?. Codependency here also plays a part in such dysfunctional relationships.

mamateur Thu 09-May-13 13:52:54

Yes, I can honestly say heart on heart my DC have not been negatively affected by this.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 09-May-13 13:51:46

We have refused to enable him for years, but agreed to pay for rehab and to help him get out of the place where he lives, to retrain

mamateur Thu 09-May-13 13:50:49

Atilla, we have not enabled him. We have refused to enable him for years, but agreed to pay for rehab and to help him get out of the place where he lives, to retrain. Supporting is not always prolonging. Obviously, we know it's not an ongoing plan.

Inertia Thu 09-May-13 13:48:27

Put your DC first. Your BIL doesn't want your help to get better, he wants you to continue to enable the life he has.

BIL has to take responsibility for his own life.

DontmindifIdo Thu 09-May-13 13:45:10

OK, your responsibility is not towards your BIL, it's towards your DCs. It's not acceptable for them to be dealing with this.

Stop trying to fix him - you can't do it. He has to be the one to do it. You need to put your money, time and energy into your DCs. Honestly, hand on heart can you say they haven't been negatively effected at all by this?

Step back and let BIL live the life he wants, you've tried.

AMumInScotland Thu 09-May-13 13:44:49

It sounds like you've done all you can. Time to say "enough's enough" specially since your DH seems to have reached that point - it would be trickier if he still felt you both ought to be doing more, but it sounds like he has accepted that your help is not changing the situation.

Get the key off him, and/or change the locks. Let out your flat. Take care of yourselves and your children.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 09-May-13 13:38:30

"Just offered to pay for rehab, flat etc"

Why?. No, that was absolutely not the way to go either.

Who gave this man a key in the first place?. He must without question return the key.

You and your H do need to look at your own roles in this situation because what you have done has not helped but perhaps has even prolonged all the agonies for all concerned.

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