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BIL's addiction. Do we keep trying?

(95 Posts)
curableromantic Mon 16-Sep-13 16:44:57

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.

IAmNotAMindReader Tue 17-Sep-13 09:36:59

I would ask for something in return because that means they are obliged to move forwards in order to get what they want. It also means they are forced to do something they don't particularly want to do because it will help them. And then they will have had the help.

Right there sums up your problem. Being clean for a few days at a time isn't doing well. sorry but realistically it isn't.
You've admitted there he doesn't actually want help he just wants someone to wave a magic wand and his life be fixed without any real effort from him.
If he had put the effort in he would have known which module was being tested because he wouldn't have gone into college in a drug addled state.

He's making all the right noises but is expecting everyone else to carry him through it. That is where you are enabling him.
Yes the most traditional type is via cash but this is slightly more subtle yet still with the same results.

Until he gets angry with himself and realises his addiction is what's ruining his chances and he won't succeed until he stops self sabotaging by living in denial. He will not succeed on any programme you put him on.

His brain is not functioning in the same way non addicts are at the moment as the only thing he owes anything to, the only thing he is obliged to right now is the drugs. Being around normal people won't matter his constant partner when he goes to sleep and as soon as he wakes up is drugs. It shrouds him like a bubble and alters his reality and nothing from outside gets in. That is why no help will work because nothing can break in until he has broken out.

The only way he will kick the habit is if he faces it himself. Seeks the help himself. Not says to his family, "I want to get clean" and then you all rush around and sort it for him. A test of his resolve that his will to do this is finally stronger than the drugs is if he sorts out the logistics himself.

The feeling of being obliged to someone else is just fuelling his anger.

You can't stop him ruining his life if that is what he is intent on doing. You can't save him for your MIL. As again that is adding fuel to his rage because its not truly 100% for him and he knows that. Any attempt at coercion will add to his rage and any half hearted attempts to say the right things without the commitment will have the same result.

Nothing you do will work until he really gets it himself and you are banging your head against a brick wall until that day.
Unfortunately the talk about hitting bottom is true. Every addict has that one appalling moment that shocks them into no holds barred self examination and leaves them horrified at what they have become. Only then do they commit to seeking help.

Some are lucky and it takes one abhorrent moment, others have to face a series of ever lower events. Here your BIL has never really had to face any shocking consequences of his addiction. Being kicked off a couple of courses isn't really going to sink in. Withdrawing until he has faced up to it and hit his bottom is all you can do. The more you extend your hand, the slower and more agonising his descent. You are just propping him up with no real foundations and thus making the fall even harder to take when it happens.

The Al anon suggestions aren't a poke at well you and your H must be alcoholics. They run courses on understanding the mechanism of addiction you get to hear things from an addicts point of view, albeit alcohol but the mechanism is the same. They can give you tips on what to do to be ready to help without enabling. Tips on what they will do or say when they are finally ready to quit. They will teach you coping mechanisms and how to show compassion without getting drawn back in to the addiction drama. They will teach you signs of a relapse and how to react to this without helping push it back to full blown addiction. They will also teach you how how to cope with the fallout of addiction as a family. How to handle the feelings this raises within it.

I wish you well.

curableromantic Tue 17-Sep-13 09:52:01

Katy, DH has tried for 15 years to tell his DM not to do anything and to allow him to hit rock bottom. We were prepared to give him one shot at rehab. Failed. And we were prepared to give him one shot at the course. Failed. I wondered whether it was worth giving him another shot at the course because he did actually make a huge effort getting on the course and getting 3/4 of the way through it.

I think al anon is not a good suggestion for us because we are not really involved in his life in that way. I apologise for responding rudely, it's just that we have stayed right out of it and only helped him twice when we thought pragmatically that it was worth a shot. We have focused our support on his children and the nephew we are bringing up. BIL has been to al anon a lot though.

EldritchCleavage Tue 17-Sep-13 13:25:15

For me his biggest problem is his anger which is huge. I don't like him at all as a person. He is not allowed in our home as I won't have him around our children. He is like a feral beast, he frightens me

I don't want to be unkind, but really how can you and your DH countenance enabling a person like this to head off to somewhere (possibly Third World with fewer social/legal/welfare resources) and teach people, possibly children? I grew up in a place overseas where on occasions weird horrible people from Europe and the US rocked up hoping to get away with shit they couldn't pull at home.

If he can't be around your children, why on earth would it be a good idea to help him be around Thai or Chinese or Gambian or Romanian children? Or even adults who may have saved for years to scrape together the money for English lessons and would deserve better than a ferociously angry heroin addict for a teacher?

I have zero tolerance for the attitude that fucked up people can just head off to poor countries with dysfunctions front and centre and feel that by virtue of inflicting their white First World selves on the place they are doing some good.

JustinBsMum Tue 17-Sep-13 13:52:24

Ime AA is for alcoholics and Al-Anon is for those living with, or related to, alcoholics. They are two different groups where I live.

SlangKing Tue 17-Sep-13 15:09:15

Glad to help OP. Glad you clarified the 3 day thing. The reason I mentioned the option of self medicating on methodone is because BRIEF usage will get you over the worst of the heroin withdrawls and avoid all but a minor methodone addiction. It worked for me. Day 1 I took 60mls then 50, 40, 30, 20, 10 and 5mls. It lasts a bit longer than the heroin so I was OK for 36 hrs or so then when I tried to sleep I'd get 'electric feet' which is incredibly irritating. 5mls will get rid of that and reduce any night sweats but soon you've got to endure a few sweaty, mostly sleepless nights clean if you want to quit. A week or 2 of restlessness then you can sleep OK. Your BIL is 100% correct about swapping one addiction for another with regard to the agencies his GP would refer him to. The only way I know of to get a (quick) reduction taylored to his needs would be to sign up with a Harley St (type) doc' which is expensive and, of course, still no guarantee of success. As for the local treatment agencies, while things may be better in larger cities in this one (pop 75,000 approx) I wouldn't even consider using one nowadays and that's true of probably 40% of the addicts I know. While there are certainly advantages to a legal addiction which I'll get to, the things that otherwise put them off are as follows. Only some pharmacies can distribute this kind of medication. Unlike 'normal' people picking up regular prescriptions, batches of junkies have to be there at specific times. They can get struck off if they aren't. So, they have to wait in a seperate 'junkie queue' until the pharmacist is ready to deal with them. Other staff aren't allowed to, and some pharmacists aren't as sympathetic as others. While this is a 'necessary evil' for addicts of the legal drugs, for working/professional addicts it's not an option. Sooner or later they'll be identified by a colleague or whoever and the secret they'd successfully managed will be all over town. That's not the end of the bad news or petty humiliations. Weekly prescriptions are increasingly rare. Many (most) are on daily pick-ups and many of them will have to drink their methodone prescriptions at the counter - or take one of two subutex. It might not be the best comparison but it makes the point - if women with yeast infections had to wait in the 'Thrush Queue' to be readily identified by friends and colleagues they'd justifiably be furious and, more importantly, reluctant to go. Such enforced consumption takes no account of individual metabolisms. Some find themselves sick hours before the next pick-up - not too bad if they live near the chemists but if they have to walk in from the outskirts they might be too ill to manage it. Likely, they'll then be struck from the the program and back on heroin shortly thereafter. That also means, for those addicts with penchants for doing so (by no means all) back stealing YOUR property and other crimes. Needless to say, a proportion of those who avoid these programs for the reasons described will continue with other anti-social behaviour. For many, an addiction is embarrassing enough so public humiliation for the sake of a different addiction isn't worth the humiliation. About that legal addiction. After being referred to an agency you'll talk to your councellor and end up with your prescription, weekly or daily. Depending on your usage it'll typically be between 50 and 120mls per day, or more. Your next appointment will likely be in 2 weeks so you'll be on that dose for the duration. If you got weekly pick-up and managed to reduce your daily intake, don't expect any praise. Some councellors don't like to have their 'authority' questioned and might well punish you by moving you from weekly to daily pick-up. Thereafter, if you miss an appointment or fail to pick up on time, you'll likely be booted off the program. Also worth noting here, while you have to be in the 'junkie queue' at a specific time the registered pharmacist may've popped out, be in a meeting or on holiday. For mystery reasons, any stand-in locum might well have to speak to your councellor or a manager before he/she can dispense. If the agency staff aren't there for whatever reason you're screwed for at least 24 hours. If you use heroin to ward off sickness and fail your next urine test that'll be your fault, never the system's and you'll likely be punished. Anyway, if you take your 50+ml dose for the 2 weeks until your next appointment (where you can discuss reducing) you'll already have a significant methodone addiction. I can't speak for all agencies and some councellors are more understanding/less punitive than others. Some treat you like scum rather than a sick person who's sought help. I DO understand you BIL's reluctance but, if he's injecting, the legal addiction will protect him from infections, abcesses, collapsed veins, overdose and myriad problems stemming from whatever crap his heroin is cut with. Gotta stop - character limit (again!).

curableromantic Tue 17-Sep-13 16:01:54

Thanks Slangking, interesting stuff. I'm not surprised he doesn't want to go to his GP then. Is there no proper rehab on the NHS with therapy, residential courses etc.? I've seen the addicts drinking their methadone at the counter in the chemist, it doesn't look a good option.
I suppose I think that he will never manage to come off it while he lives where he lives, but he loves his flat and it's near his kids, although they will soon be off to university. I think his benefits are radically changing which is why we have had increasingly panicked calls from him for money (we haven't given it to him). I don't really understand how he claims when he is not a registered addict but I don't ask too many questions.

pausingforbreath Tue 17-Sep-13 17:00:36


This is where my brother was treated.

He had the Naltrexone implants. It is worth a read.

Having the implants meant that he didnt have to move away, he could be amongst all of his friends ( other users ) etc.
The day he walked out of the clinic , he bought and used heroin - but it did nothing. The effects were blocked by his implant.

I think you read my 'will be dead in a year' comment a different way to how I intended you to earlier.
It wasn't meant o be offensive at all.

Fairenuff Tue 17-Sep-13 17:14:35

Just one thing I was wondering about, why doesn't he pay for the course himself?

Fairenuff Tue 17-Sep-13 17:19:14

Ah, sorry, I see you say that he is on benefits and running out of money.

Now, if he really wanted that course, he would stop spending his money on drugs and pay for it himself. So that's how you've been enabling him. Paying for his course leaves him free to buy drugs.

curableromantic Tue 17-Sep-13 18:00:36

OK Pausing, I shouldn't have taken offence smile

We have discussed those implants but my concern would be that he would just drink himself to death on special brew. Did your brother drink?

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 17-Sep-13 18:05:07

I recall your last thread (how was the honeymoon on that trip?). It has been an ongoing problem for so long my heart sank when I read this and realised your BIL is still hooked. Until he himself looks for help and follows through it is all sandcastles and tides and no permanence.

No advice I'm afraid but best wishes.

SlangKing Tue 17-Sep-13 19:04:29

I'm pretty sure that the treatment I described is your standard NHS/GP/agency treatment and the standard of it depends on your location. There used to be 2, briefly 3, agencies here and things were better. There was some 'consumer choice'. Sadly, these places are no different to other companies. They compete for government funding, every effort is made to eradicate the competition and when they achieve a monopoly their priority is to cut costs. Not hard to understand why it's difficult, if not impossible, to get taylored treatment beyond the bi-weekly. As for the (private) rehab centres, you CAN get NHS funding for them but I've never known anyone get that who hasn't first tried treatment via the local agencies. Not saying there aren't exceptions, only that I've never heard of one. I know less about the rehab centres themselves but some seem to offer taylored reduction while others simply provide a room for you to quit in and staff to bring you drinks and change sheets. In the latter, apparently you have to go to community areas to eat and attend group therapy. How strictly they enforce that I don't know but for sure they have their rules and you can be evicted for breaking them. I'm also guessing that if you manage to get funding for a private centre you'll have to attend one within that funding area which may not meet your requirements. Like regular NHS treatment, where you live can determine the standard/quality of treatment you receive. As regards his benefits I can make some semi-educated guesses about his recent losses. Standard Jobseekers Allowance for single adults is just under £72 a week, paid every 2 weeks. That can have reductions for government loans and fines imposed by courts. That's the minimum payment so long as you meet the demands set by your claim. If you don't you will be 'sanctioned' by total loss of 1 or 2 weeks' money. They don't do fines of 10 or 20 quid, to be sanctioned is to lose it all. Repeated non-conformity can result in lengthy sanctions of weeks/months and even years. I forget the specifics. Since April the unemployed have had to pay a percentage of their 'poll tax' and a bedroom tax if applicable. Could be that accounts for your BIL's loss of income but my guess is he was claiming an additional Sickness or Disability Allowance for something relating to his addiction. Addiction alone isn't enough for additional entitlements.Those benefits used to be 3-tiered but I don't know about now. The lower one was about £30 a week and that's what I'd guess he's losing. The gov' have been cracking down on those and changes are still to be introduced. People with both mental and physical problems are losing benefit 'top-ups'. Appeals can take 18 months or more and many give up before they get there. I can't think of anything else your BIL could be missing since Housing Benefit and poll tax are tied to his JSA. If he's sanctioned those will stop too but he can reclaim them seperately. A few further thoughts - Since you aren't giving him money and aren't allowing him to use drugs in your house you're not really meeting any criteria on the 'enabling' list. On the flip side you're not really helping him either and I still suspect he's lying to you about failing that course - NOT for the sake of lying but because he feels guilty for using your money and failing. I hate to generalise but at the heart of most addicts is low self esteem. I don't know how long that course is but with him being on benefits it's likely he couldn't afford his drugs for a day or more and was too sick to attend. You have to wonder why the one person who "revised the wrong module" was the one with the drug habit. I flunked a first aid course my work sent me on during my addiction. Think I told anyone the truth outside of a few junkie mates? No chance - I couldn't attend due to a "migraine". Sure I could be wrong but if I knew you IRL I'd confidently bet you a tenner I'm right. FINALLY - if he's doing those 'rattles' at mum's through choice rather than inability to score drugs that's an encouraging sign. Seems it's too much for mum rather than him. I can only repeat that if he refuses the legal help an illegal detox is the next best thing. If you explain to mum that if she puts him up again he'll be less ill/needy, and persuade him to try it, that looks like his best chance at success. If he doesn't make any effort you'll just be throwing good money after bad by funding courses for him.

curableromantic Tue 17-Sep-13 19:35:12

Thanks Donkeys smile The honeymoon was lovely, as was the wedding when we got back! BIL was good as gold on the trip, not so much when he got back hmm.

curableromantic Tue 17-Sep-13 19:42:50

THanks again Slangking. We called the college and they confirmed he failed the module, but of course, I imagine he failed it because he was off his face. He can try really hard, but because he won't get real support and help with his problems, it's always on very shaky foundations.

He did 2 weeks clean at his DM's house recently, on subutex. I think his presence around the house is quite difficult though and she also has her grandchild living there, although she is older, it's still not a great example. He came to see us afterwards and said he was starting to get back some of his energy and was starting to sleep. But then he was drinking a good few cans of special brew during the day, so he wasn't really allowing his brain to normalise in any way.

crazyhead Tue 17-Sep-13 19:54:54

One thing about your posts that really strikes me OP is that they make me wonder where your family life and happiness is in all of this. TEFL can be really expensive - is that kind of money neither here or there to you, or is it a nice holiday you and your family won't get to take?

You've done an enormous amount by adopting your nephew. You sound like you've done loads generally for your BIL and are hugely kind. You should also protect your own life though - this sounds like it must be taking up a lot of time that you could be spending in better ways.

I'm no expert in addiction, but you are treating this man like a child, and I do think sometimes it is right to step back in any situation where it is all take and no give and think about how you'd see it as an outsider or to the standards you'd set for yourself.

I bet if YOU'D just taken a load of cash from your relatives for a course you then failed due to not doing the work (which you probably wouldn't do anyway) you would hardly expect those same relatives to cough up for more.

happymundanes Tue 17-Sep-13 20:40:24

crazyhead it doesn't impact on our lives at all - we can afford it easily. I wouldn't have prioritised him over our family. We don't spend any time on it either, other than pay for the course.

he hasn't been brave enough to tell us he has failed the course, too scared to speak to DH. MIL called and asked DH. As Slang said, low self-esteem, he hates the fact that DH is successful and happy and well-off and he has to hang around and hope we'll throw something his way.

SlangKing Tue 17-Sep-13 21:12:22

Yep, off his face or ill. Hardly matters which. Either way alerts you as to why funding him would probably be another exercise in futility. Again making use of generlisations, hoping they're helpful to you - In my experience there are 2 types of addicts - those who have some kind of ongoing emotional trauma/issue they want to escape from and 'dabblers' like me who went beyond their occasional usage due to a specific event. The former don't like (their) reality at all, the latter usually have little problem with it so don't fear returning to it. Unfortunately your BIL's consumption of Special Brew as an alternative/conjunctive to heroin suggests he's in the former camp and will find it harder to quit. From his perspective, giving up one shitty reality for another isn't especially enticing. Exorcising demons isn't the hardest part. The hard part is acknowledging that you have them and identifying them. If he won't consider therapy either, he needs to help himself. While he's unemployed he has plenty of time to make use of the local library. They have self-help books, psychology books and biographies by former addicts. If he won't accept help, he really needs to make more effort to help himself before you agree to help him further. If he doesn't you'll just be wasting your time and any remaining emotion. Even though you seem to be keeping a healthy distance, ANY failed attempts to help, or just watching him fail to help himself has to be frustrating for you. You can put my suggestions to him and any others you hear/read. At least you're a bit better equipped than you were prior to posting. Time to watch As Good As It Gets. Suggest you do the same,, laughter being the best medicine n all that. (it's on 5*).

AnyFucker Tue 17-Sep-13 21:28:34

Great advice from SK on this thread

Isabeller Tue 17-Sep-13 22:16:04

I hope you will be willing to be open minded about this comment OP.

The suggestion to go to Alanon Family Groups is relevant for anyone who has been affected by someone elses drinking (or drug taking) and Alateen which is associated it is for the children of alcoholics. It doesn't matter whether the alcoholic is still in your life or even still alive Alanon can still be highly relevant.

It is difficult to consider the part you are playing in someone elses recovery with realistic detachment. I would urge you to try Alanon Family Groups and see if you can find some answers from others who have been where you are now.

SlangKing Wed 18-Sep-13 01:15:18

Thanks AF. Quite a break from tradition, eh? I'm still singed from some of the flaming I've received recently. No biggie though. Early night for me. Exam in the morn'. Bon nuit.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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

How do you know he has no criminal record?

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