Aa
A
A
A
Close
Alcoholism Community
1.72k Members
185634 tn?1257074739

Feeling torn

My brother has been an alcoholic for about 25 years on and off, mostly on.  He's had 4 DUI's, been incarcerated several times, lost his job and continues to drink.  The short time that he was "sober", he abused pain pills.  For the past 5 years, he's been living with his girlfriend, who supports him and unfortunately, because she's naive - enables him.  I don't know how she's done it for this long.

When he's drinking, he's on the phone non-stop, calling everyone imaginable at all hours - talking nonsense.  It's slightly embarrassing to say the least.  He's turned many people away, including family - due to this.  I stopped taking calls from him about 5 months ago.  I know that sounds mean, but every phone call turned ugly as he denied he'd been drinking when it was clear he had.  And the conversations we had were all the same.  I would tell him that I loved him, and wanted him to get help.  He knew he did, and swore he would do it on his own.  

The last straw was when our dad passed away shortly before I stopped taking the calls, and he never showed up for visitation or the funeral.  Many people called and offered rides, including me.  My one stipulation was that he stay the night with me so he was sober for it.  No show.

Now for the dilemma.  He did something stupid late last year that had the law involved.  He ended up not showing up for his court date, so then had a warrant out for his arrest.  Early this past week, he was found by the police, on the street, drunk, and because of the warrant - he was taken to jail.  He was not well enough to stand before the judge after three days, so they released him.  The girlfriend took him straight to the hospital, as he's had a history of seizures when he quits, and he couldn't even walk when they released him.  The girlfriend has had enough, and I don't blame her.  She was going to take some clothes to him last night and be done with it - letting a social worker take it from there.  She just can't do it anymore.

Is this the tough love he needs?  Will the social worker help him find a rehab facility?  He told the girlfriend that he doesn't want to go.  His mind is toast, and I'm not sure if it will even come back.  It just kind of scares me, but I do know that he's done it to himself.  And maybe this is the only way that he'll get help?  I guess as a sister, I just want to know that he's going to be taken care of and I don't know how all this works.  He's basically cut ties with family, so it's just him against the world.  Even though I don't talk to him, he's my brother and I love him.  This is so hard.  Any thoughts or suggestions would be welcomed.  
21 Responses
1580085 tn?1400944438
i know hes your brother, and that you love him, but his girlfriend is really doing the right thing by leaving him, i know it sounds very harsh, but as you say yourself, she has been enabling him, its so difficult when you see a loved one go through this, but he will never stop while he is being propped up, has a roof over his head etc, he needs to hit his lowest point, his rock bottom, and maybe he will when there is nothing and no one to prop him up. you really need to look on this like its for his own good, i think he will be put into a detox facility of some sort . this is the tough love he needs, i am from the uk, but my brother is alcoholic, so i do understand. my heart goes out to you ,but your brother really does need the harsh reality of being alone. god bless you  
Avatar universal
COMMUNITY LEADER
Very wise words from Sudie and I agree 150% w/her.Its not the world against ur brother..its him against himself!!!!Social services will find somewhere for him to go.....and if not he'll undoubtedly find a sofa to crash on until he presents himself for seriously wanting to get sober.Government $$$ and state spending is being drastically cut for 1/2 way house placements....its rough out there....and he is way beyond adult years and so much of what happens 2 him is out of ur control!
185634 tn?1257074739
Thank you both so much.  I feel like a horrible person for turning my back on him, but you're right - I do know this is the best thing for him.  Another question - if social services steps in and guides him through the process, will there be any way to find out where he is, how he's doing, etc?  Or do I just stand by and let things fall the way they may?  And what happens if something bad happens to him?  Do they know who to contact?  Ugh.  This is so hard.  Again, you're right though.  It's out of my control.
599071 tn?1300072302
I can't add to what the others have said in terms of whether to rescue him but I do understand.  My sister has been an alcoholic for about the same amount of time & has had several car wrecks; a serious prosecution & been on life support twice due to her drinking.

Most recently, the doctors believed that her coma was irreversible but she seems to have 9 lives & eventually came out of it.

We just lost my brother in a car accident & my sister was unable to make any of his funeral or memorial ceremonies & stayed passed out at home.

Because of her extreme behaviour, my parents continue to bail her out, even though she's 48 years old & I have great sympathy for them as it's terrifying when she endangers her life.  However, I don't think it has helped & she has admitted that part of being "unwell" is having no responsibilities.

I know how incredibly hard it is to watch a family member self destruct in this way but I have to be guided by the experts on this forum who have gotten & stayed sober & I have experienced much of what has not worked with my sister.

I hope for both of us that change is in the air.
Avatar universal
COMMUNITY LEADER
if social services steps in and helps him he has to sign a release of information due to HIPPA laws to allow them 2 talk to u!I know how hard this is 4 u!i work in a outpatient substance abuse clinic.Our agency gets a limited amount of state dollars to help those w/no insurance get treatment.We have a contract w/a hospital at the rate of $500/day which is cheap.Self-pay or insurance is about $800!It doesn't go very far.....and i really get torqued BIGTIME when one presents themselves wailing that they are in agony and want 2 go to rehab.Then they come out,blow off aftercare and go drink/use again.We have those that don't do that and tend 2 their recovery but there have been 2 many that have been given a chance...or several....and just blow it...over and over again.....like Charlie Sheen and that sad Lohan girl for examples.Precious dollars wasted but we have 2 give them a shot.....and if they blow it...nothing we can do......and there is very little u can do!Ever been to Al-Anon?if not u could sure use it......u need to tend 2 ur emotional health now!
185634 tn?1257074739
madtram ~ thanks for sharing.  It helps to be able to talk to people out here that can relate.  I'm sure this is very difficult on your parents.  I know my brother put mine through a lot - physically, mentally and a lot of money thrown out the window for court costs, attorney fees and restitution.  Many times.  Both of my parents are now gone - within 3 years of each other.  He made it to my mom's funeral, but was drunk.  He saw my dad ONE TIME since Christmas of last year, after dad was diagnosed with cancer.  He was drunk.  He has a lot to deal with if he chooses to remain sober.  I hope there are changes coming for your sister too.  She just happens to be the same age as my brother!

ibizan ~ I have thought about going to Al-anon.  Need to find a place near me and just GO.  It does help to post here and get responses from people like you.  So thank you!
Avatar universal
COMMUNITY LEADER
Yes dear......find and al-anon meeting and just GO-try several and u can see where u feel the most comfortable and make that ur home group!
185634 tn?1257074739
One of the social workers called from the hospital yesterday.  She told me that he needed physical therapy, due to the fact that he's so weak and can't function.  He doesn't want to do that, nor does he want to go to rehab.  She wanted me to call him and try to talk him into doing it.  I did try to call, but got no answer.  

I then called and talked to the nurse.  She said he's in really bad shape.  Doesn't make sense when he talks but is constantly asking her for booze.  They did liver tests and it's questionable for cirrhosis, and he's jaundice.  They're trying to bring his electrolytes up, I guess those are all out of whack.  She said that he's showing signs of alcohol encephalopathy, and that may or may not improve when he's completely through the withdrawal process.  

After talking with both, they're going to have a psych consult to see if he's able to make decisions on his own.  If not, it'll either be me (next of kin), or if I throw in the towel too - it'll be a case worker.  Again, I'm torn.  If he's not able to think for himself, do I step in and make decisions for him, and order him into rehab - or let someone else take it from here?  I honestly don't know what's best.

Ibizan, yes - I'm going to find an al-anon group and go.  I need it BAD!!
999891 tn?1407279676
Your brother is in a bad way and needs help, it looks like he is not capable of understanding this fact. Necessity compels,  sometimes events compel you to do something you would much rather not. If you do decide to order him to rehab you should not feel bad, your brothers choices are limited. stay as he is and drink himself to death or get help. He may not accept or cooperate with the help but that is down to him.

What ever you decide best of luck :)
1580085 tn?1400944438
you know that he badly needs professional help, so i wouldnt hesitate to step in, its for his own good, it could save him, god bless
Avatar universal
COMMUNITY LEADER
In Ohio by law a person cannot be forced in2 alcohol rehab.My xperience has been that when one is saying they don't want it.....and refuses to participate in the program...the program will not accept them......again it is money wasted and a bed that could be used by one who is willing to cooperate w/the program.It sounds like for now they will try to medically stabilize him but the encephalopathy is a sign of serious brain impairment...and i usually don't see that reversing itself to the point of someone being fully cooperative w/a recovery program.
185634 tn?1257074739
I don't believe that he can be forced into rehab here in MI either, unless they deem him incapable of making decisions on his own - and either me or his case worker makes him go.  I don't think forcing him is the answer anyway.  HE has to want it, or it won't work.  However, if his brain function doesn't return - then what?  What if he can't even function well enough to take care of himself?  

I was thinking about this after I wrote earlier.  I will talk with him after he's completely through the withdrawal process.  Much like an intervention, I'm going to tell him that if he chooses to not seek treatment for his disease, that I too, am walking away.  We've all spent way too many years dealing with this.
185634 tn?1257074739
Seek and ye shall find.  Going to my first Al-anon meeting tonight at 8.
Avatar universal
COMMUNITY LEADER
One day at a time w/him my dear and urself.......time is the answer in ur questions....i sure hope u find some support/help at the A-Anon meeting!
185634 tn?1257074739
The Alanon meeting was good and am going to continue to go.  I called the hospital last night and talked to his nurse.  The psych consult was done, and at this time he is unable to make decisions for himself and will need someone else to do that for him.  She asked "Are you going to be that person"?  I told her I didn't know yet, and asked her several more questions that she couldn't answer.  She gave me the number of his social worker, and I will be calling her today to hopefully get some of my questions answered.

I'd like to ask this community your thoughts.  People who have been on either side of this - either the alcoholic or a family member/friend of one.  In your opinion, would it be best to let a court appointed person take over his care or me?  I honestly don't know what's entailed if I do it, nor if I have the time or resources to do it.  I'm a single mom, working full time.  I'm hoping the social worker can help me sort this through as well.

Last I knew, he still didn't want treatment.  That's the part that holds me back.  It will be more difficult to work with resistance than if he really wanted help.  Ultimately, I want what's best for him and his (hopeful) recovery.  Since every other time, family has stepped in and helped him - and he's always gone back, I'm thinking that if he had someone from the outside working with him, if may be better for him?  Thoughts???
Avatar universal
COMMUNITY LEADER
Since no one else has commented to u here heres my 2 cents again......i don't think it will make a difference to ur brother who tries to help him for he doesn't seem to want help..so the social worker will have to follow the law of the land and do her best to prevent him from dying in order to avoid a potential lawsuit..and believe me agencies/hospitals are always concerned about this.hows al- anon going for u?
185634 tn?1257074739
Thank you, ibizan.  It's been a tough week emotionally for me.  The social worker called me today.  They were getting ready to take him for an MRI on his brain, and he coded for no apparent reason.  They still don't know why, but have moved him to the floor that the heart patients are on.  Ugh!!  He's doing better now, and I guess he's actually coming out of the fog a bit - answering questions that needed his long term memory.  Not sure about short term, though.  The social worker told me that his ex? girlfriend was up there at the time.  She and I talked last night, and I told her that there is no way that I can take on the role of being his decision maker.  I just can't.  And like you said, it'll be fighting a losing battle anyway if he doesn't want help.

As for alanon, the meetings are once a week, so I go again on Sunday.  I'm looking forward to it, and I do believe that this will help me.  These are the times I miss my parents.  :-(  Thanks again for your help.  I appreciate it!
Avatar universal
COMMUNITY LEADER
I'm so sorry ur parents are gone...my dad gone in 06 and my mom battling Lewy Body Dementia.Its my moms body but my real mom is gone.I know the crater  in our souls/hearts this leaves!Only 1 al-anon meeting a week?u r in a small town!Who is paying ur bros medical bills?the state?Serenity Prayer is full of wise true words...and they apply to u right now...and for all of us on a daily basis!:)
185634 tn?1257074739
I'm sorry for the loss of your dad, and really - the loss of your mom too.  It sure does leave a big, gaping hole that never seems to completely heal.  My mom passed away in Feb '08, then dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last April and passed away in October.  Less than 3 years apart.  Mom was only 66, dad had just turned 68.  I miss them horribly.  Trying to settle my dad's estate has been trying and now this.  I sure hope I pass whatever test is being put on me!!  :-)  Yes, it's a small town.  There are other meetings in the town that I work in, but they're later at night and not convenient.  Once a week should be okay.  I have a great group of friends as well, so that helps.  And yes, my brother has medicaid as he hasn't worked in many years.  Praying that he gets his crap together and starts living again.  This makes my heart hurt!

Thanks again.....you have helped me a lot.
Avatar universal
COMMUNITY LEADER
Wow ur parents were too young!keep w/ur friends and the Al-Anon....u just tie a knot in the end of the rope and keep hanging on.my dads estate takes care of my mothers needs then when she passes whats left is left to be divided amongst family.My bro does a fantastic job of handling WAY 2 much and i have 2 sisters that tear at him like pirhanas.It is shameful!Ur bro is out of ur hands.....he needs to want to muster the will to live!
185634 tn?1257074739
What a week.  It honestly sounds like the hospital that he's in is just as garbled in the brain as he is!  I have heard from FOUR different social workers now.  It seems that every time they move him to a different floor, he gets a new person.  If that's their procedure, fine.  But they don't talk to each other and obviously don't make any notes!  I told the last social worker that while I do love my brother, I do not have the capacity to step in and take over.  I told her it would have to be a court appointed person.  Last night, I had a voicemail from yet a different one, talking about his possible release this weekend and asking if I'd be up there to get him.  One of the phone numbers she gave for contact was missing a number, and she just sounded confused.  GREAT!

I have talked with his girlfriend, and she's agreed to involve herself to the point of answering questions that they have, since no one but her has been around him in the last 5 years.  Thank God.  She actually was with him this week and for no apparent reason, he went unresponsive, so they called a code.  He finally came around and they moved him to the heart floor for monitoring.  This was 9 days after no alcohol.  Strange.  She said that he's almost childlike.  He still cannot walk on his own, and while some things he says make sense, most don't.  He's now on day 12.  They're questioning whether his brain will ever be back to normal.  Very scary.  

I have a whole host of emotions going on.  Sad, scared, mad, helpless, guilt.  For those of you reading this that are wanting help, please take the steps you need to do it.  Take the offers for help from family members that love you and are willing to guide you through before it's too late.  This is not only affecting your life, but the ones who love you and are standing back watching self destruction. I talked with my brother several times about getting the help he needed, and offered to assist him.  Now, he's a 48 year old man who has chosen the @#$% bottle over his family, sitting in a hospital with a half functioning brain.  He can't even walk without assistance.  At this point of the game, the rest of his life will most likely consist of living in a nursing home.  At 48 years old.  So sad.
Have an Answer?
Top Addiction Answerers
495284 tn?1333897642
City of Dominatrix, MN
Avatar universal
Nebulae, OH
3060903 tn?1398568723
Other
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Is treating glaucoma with marijuana all hype, or can hemp actually help?
If you think marijuana has no ill effects on your health, this article from Missouri Medicine may make you think again.
Julia Aharonov, DO, reveals the quickest way to beat drug withdrawal.
Tricks to help you quit for good.
A list of national and international resources and hotlines to help connect you to needed health and medical services.
Here’s how your baby’s growing in your body each week.