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Addiction and Substance Abuse

What if anything can be done?????

11/13/2003

Question:

I have a young brother who is an alcoholic and a drug addict. He spent 5 years in prison, got out, went 2 years attending meetings doing very well. He became smitten with a girl he met at NA and staarted dating her. Everything was fine until he got a job that required him to travel a montha at a time. # times she relapsed while he was gone, they`d break up get back together, then finally he relapsed too. They are now supposesdly broke up and he says he doesn`t want that life and denies doing any ,but I suspect he is lying. Should I confront him with my suspicions, spy on him or just let him be? I know the answers ALAnon gives but I also know he can`t do this he will die or wind up back in prison. Is there anything I can try to do or say that would be helpful to him?

Answer:

Since I do not know your brother personally, I can only speak in general terms. I certainly think it is OK to continue to share your concerns with him, but "spying on him" may be unnecessary and may just push him away. Continue to let him know that (a) you are concerned about his health, (b) you are worried that he is using drugs again, and (c) you are available to help him if he wants help. I am glad that you are familiar with Al-Anon principles. It is very painful, but true, that your brother (and not you, or anyone else!) is responsible for the choices he makes. You did not cause his drug use, you can`t change it and you can`t control it. Continue to seek help from Al-Anon members who have been through this same situation.

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Response by:

Christina M Delos Reyes, MD Christina M Delos Reyes, MD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University