My brother’s an alcoholic who may end up sleeping on the streets.
He’s my younger brother, now 34. I’m 38. He became a successful travelling salesman, whose clients always appreciated his visits ending with drinks.
I’m an insurance company manager who goes straight home to my wife and kids.
Everything changed several years ago when his employer sold the business. He could’ve easily gotten another sales job, but he became angry, then depressed.
He hasn’t worked since. Instead, he drinks. His ex-girlfriend (who eventually kicked him out of her apartment) told me that he’d been going through his savings and is nearly broke.
I paid for him to get alcohol abuse disorder counselling, and tried to enter him into a 30-day rehab program, but he bolted on the second day.
He’s moved to a rooming house where many of his house-mates are also alcoholics.
I’m prepared to pay his rent and meals there so he’s not destitute, but don’t know what else I can/should do.
My wife’s sympathetic but neither of us want our children living with a visibly-drunk uncle who’s given up on his own life.
What Can I Do?
It’s worth my repeating for every similar situation: Attend an Al-Anon group for your own personal support, and for learning how others have handled the addictions of close people, including the effects on themselves.
Meet with an addiction counsellor to learn more about what’s worked with some clients.
Ask what circumstances lead some to follow a rehab program, while others quit/fall back.
Try to encourage your brother to attend an Alcoholics’ Anonymous meeting, and accompany him.
Seeing people from every background acknowledging alcohol’s hold on them and seeking/giving mutual support, can be a powerful moment for him.
Perhaps he’ll someday want to join them. Stay connected.
My grandparents, in their 80's, have until now been in great health. Two Christmas's ago they came to sleep over and spend Christmas day with the family.
After we visited, everyone decided to take a walk. My grandparents were tired and opted for a nap. When we returned, they’d already left.
We called. Grandma said she wasn't feeling well.
This has happened at every family gathering since. If they come “for dinner,” they stay 15/20 minutes, ask the same questions repeatedly, then leave because Grandma isn't feeling well.
If we plan to visit them, they call at the last minute to say she isn't feeling well.
We were very worried about her health and her memory, and asked her to see her doctor. According to the doctor, she’s in perfect health with no signs of memory loss.
This behaviour is causing family tension as everyone feels they don't care about us anymore.
My mom recently had cancer and chemotherapy and they never asked about her.
When we express concern, they get angry and tell us to mind our own business. We haven't hung out with my grandpa in two years.
I miss my grandparents so much.
Worried and Confused Granddaughter
Your family’s reacting from their own hurt feelings. But your grandparents, in their 80s, are likely dealing with increased frailties and fears, especially concerning your grandmother.
Accepting her own version of what the doctor “said,” gave her permission to carry on not wanting to disturb the family with bad news.
It’s now up to senior members of the family to go to their home and insist on knowing what’s going on with their energies, memory, and any serious conditions.
I was close friends with a woman for years but could no longer handle her competitive self-absorption.
Though she ran an interesting business, her conversation inevitably turned to how great she looked, her “fabulous” clothes, and men who were “besotted” with her.
Years before, soon after I got married, a close college friend became obnoxiously snobbish to others.
I hadn’t recognized this trait in the years when we’d hung out in a tight undergrad group.
Now at 38, busy with work and kids, I wonder if I once chose my friends without any discretion, accepting behaviour I’d now challenge in my kids’ choice of friends.
Was I Undervaluing Myself?
Discretion is gained through experience and maturity. Eventually it requires you to reject behaviour from others that makes you feel part of the problem.
The good result here is that you now value yourself appropriately, along with the standards you want your children to eventually adopt (maybe even sooner).
Tip of the day:
Addiction can affect everyone in a family. Al-Anon and other similar programs (e.g. Nar-Anon) offer significant help.