My brother has been dealing with an addiction to heroin, not very sure how long but at least the last 2 or 3 years. Hes been in and out of rehab and detox. My father brought him to detox this Sunday, but an hour later he checked him self out and no one knows where he is. Hes been struggling with different addictions for the last 10 years. I’m struggling to cope with not knowing if he is okay, and I know my family is making their pain. How can we heal knowing he is out there and the possibility of overdose is something I cant stop thinking about? We’ve tried being nice, tried tough love, I feel like we’ve tried everything. Now he just dissapeared and we have no idea of his well being. Is kicking someone out really helpful? Is it ok to be angry that hes choosing drugs over family? I’m just very lost at this point and just keep being told that him being out of the house is a good thing but I’m really struggling with this.
Dealing with a missing brother and all the emotions that have come with it, does it ever get bearable?
Do not have an answer for you re: right/wrong decisions. Just responding to let you know you are not alone. My son is off the grid. I raise his 2 children. Struggles with his mental health and addiction have forced me to stay strong with boundaries for the children’s sake. Always thinking “is he ok/alive/hungry/cold…” he has rejected numerous opportunities for assistance from family/friends. I have to hand him over to God, I feel powerless.
@MiaP - I’m so sorry you’re in this situation. To answer your question, Does it ever get bearable? Yes, it can. The pain, the anger, the hurt, and confusion you are feeling does pass. Nothing is permanent and you can find peace. It does take work, and unfortunately we cannot rely on our loved ones, especially those who suffer from addiction, to provide us with the peace we seek. Peace, happiness, acceptance - it can only come by looking inward at your own needs and behaviors, and taking care and control of yourself.
I’ve asked myself this question as well. My husband is a recovering heroin addict and it hurt me so much when he would choose to drive out to the city after work for drugs instead of come home to his wife and baby. By learning about the disease of addiction more, as well as talking to my husband about his triggers and what it feels like when he is in active addiction, I realized that he’s not really choosing drugs over family. Addiction affected his brain so that it wasn’t exactly a choice but more like tunnel vision. Logic and a sense of right/wrong was gone, and he could think of nothing else except getting that next fix. It takes a lot of of time and work for the brain to recover so that he could find joy in other, healthier ways. But it is possible.
Have you ever been to a support group such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon? Al-Anon has been helpful for me in learning to let go of expectations, focus on my own behaviors, and start finding peace. We all want to help our loved ones, and the best way to start is to make sure we are in a healthy place and as educated and informed as possible about addiction, recovery, and the many ways people can recover. It’s not black and white. If you like reading, I suggest “Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Can Help People Change.” So many helpful tools there for enabling change in our loved ones and having a relationship with someone who is suffering from addiction, whether they are in recovery or not.
This forum is a wonderful source of information and community as well. I recommend checking out one of the digital meetups just to talk about your fears, concerns, and questions with people who have been there and have the expertise to help.
Take care. Sending you lots of love.
Thank you for reaching out. Some days I feel completely alone. I haven’t slept, have nightmares and haven’t been able to eat. I think all the same thoughts, like is he sleeping in the street, will he ever come home and will we get a phone call that he was found unresponsive. It’s all very overwhelming and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. He has all the support from his family, I’m not really sure how this is going to play out and that is what keeps me up and I’m scared. Hes young, he is supposed to have a full life ahead of him. As his big sister I just feel like I failed in protecting him, always thinking there must be more I could have done.
Thank you so much! I was for so long just keeping all these feelings to myself. Reading other stories and communicating with all you wonderful supporters has really been extremely helpful. Reading your response has made me feel like I can finally breathe a bit. I know I need to start healing and try and find peace, so I’m going to begin that process today. Thank you for sharing your insight, it is more helpful than words could ever express. I think I’ve been going through so many emotions because he agreed to get help and then ran away. He doesn’t think he has a problem and I think that is what I am having the most difficult time dealing with. I know there is nothing more I can do for him, but it still makes me feel guilty. I know deep down he loves his family, but there is so much hurt there that I just miss who he was before the addiction because I really dont know who he is anymore.
My husband has told me that people suffering from addiction, himself included, often aren’t so much in denial of their addiction but rather just scared of admitting it. Many people will turn to drugs as a quick fix for numbing out pain and avoiding some serious mental health issues, trauma, and stress. Getting high makes it all go away. Not being high means going through detox and facing, feeling, and working through all that pain they are desperately running from. It get worse before it gets better, but it does get better.
People may tell you he needs to hit rock bottom but I never liked that term. (Check our this thread on rock bottom.) I do believe they need to have some motivation to change, and that they have to be ready to change on their own. But that doesn’t mean we can’t help. I gave my husband a bit of an ultimatum to get him into rehab and it worked to get him there, but he did end up relapsing shortly after and admitted he only went because he didn’t have a choice. At the time, he hadn’t intended to stop using - he was just going through the motions. But getting him into rehab at least was the first step and got us the resources needed to keep going.
It can be very confusing when you’re trying to set boundaries for yourself and make sure you’re not being pulled down by the disease of addiction, while also trying to show your loved one that you support him. I still struggle with this. It takes a lot of self work to learn how to identify your own needs and create boundaries before you are in a good place to help another through addiction. Empathy helps. My husband is more open with me about slips and urges and his recovery because we’ve created an environment where we can communicate openly without judgment. I know he’s human and that recovery is not just sober or not sober. It’s not a straight line. His family, on the other hand, has not gotten any help or support for themselves. They don’t follow the same practices that I do - positive reinforcement, forgiveness, letting go. And so my husband doesn’t feel like he can go to them for support. In fact, then idea of telling them about his slips brings him anxiety and is actually not good for his recovery.
Have you checked out the playbook provided here? You might find it helpful. And again, the book “Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change”. A lot of what I’ve learned about communication and empathy in couples therapy can be found in that book! It really works.
Is there a point when they are just ready to get help? Is there something I can say or do to at least help? Or do I really have to just turn my back and let him go through it?