Am I enabling my brother

by Cathy
(Beaverton OR USA)

My brother is the worst alcoholic I've ever seen. He will relapse and within 3 weeks, stops eating, stops going to work (loses the job), and cycles between passing out and waking up to drink.

He's lived at my house 3 times over the past few years totaling 4.5 years. In that time, he relapsed 10 times. It always meant me taking time off work, finding rehab centers, and paying 1000s of dollars. He would get well and then 3 months later, be back to drinking.

I finally made him move for good 10 months ago and paid for him to stay in a sober men's house for 3 months. Again more money. He went missing in action and then I heard from him a few weeks later where he needed yet more money to stay in a sober house. He had a job but lost it. He has had 3 relapses in this 10 month period.

He finally got caught by the police and went to jail for drunk driving. I didn't know this until I got a call from a family member (the rest of the family never helps). So I had to pay quite a bit to get his car out of impound and sent money for a sober house which he never went to. He instead stayed at my sisters and drove her crazy. He called again and I sent a bunch of money for his stuff in storage and a real sober house this time.

I told him I am done after this. I may get stuck paying a few more months for the sober house, but if he relapses and loses this situation, I hope I'm really done.

I worry about him being on the street. But then again, I know I've enabled him with each relapse and he assumes I'll save him. I'm in my mid-60s and want to retire, but he's slowly eating up my retirement money.

Should I just let him fail the next time (nothing surprises me anymore with him - he likely will fail). How do I say NO if he's on the street? Then again, can I afford not to say NO?

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Apr 03, 2018
Just Really Stop
by: Anonymous

Yes, you are. Absolutely. And it will kill him. My brother just died at 47 from chronic alcoholism/ cirrhosis. If my mother had stopped enabling him, he might be alive. Now it's too late. He's dead. My mother enabled him to death. It helped her and killed him. Please, if you haven't already, just really, really stop. It's hard. But nowhere near as hard as the reality of loving someone to death.

Dec 17, 2016
by: Anonymous

Yes u are and I know it is hard but they say an addict needs to hit rock bottom before crawling out. I hope you can stay strong and help our self with retiring maybe find an AlAnon meeting to go to to support u and your brother

Nov 14, 2016
Regarding: am I enabling (Yes I have been!)
by: Cathy

I really needed this affirmation that I am enabling my brother. I'm saving that response so I can read it in the event my brother fails again, as the next time, he won't have me (I hope) and will be on the streets.
I only hear from him when he wants something, so I can only hope he has stayed sober since I last talked to him and sent money for the sober men's house which was a little over a week ago.
The funny thing about all of this is he expressed regrets over how he ruined his own life, but did not mention any regrets over how it affected me. My guess is an addict is pretty self-absorbed at least in the beginning.
At any rate, I told him that he probably should not waste time on regrets, but focus on today, as life can only get better that way. And of course the one day at a time and the only way out is through thinking.
Thanks again for your comment!

Nov 14, 2016
Wishing you strength and courage
by: S

I think you are enabling your brother; however, I totally understand why you do it. I can imagine how hard it is to see a person whom you love, in this situation. I would have to help him too. I have seen this happen to a couple of my friends, and we talked many times about what to do. We know that giving him more and more money and saving him time and time again is not really fixing anything. Its just a temporary relief for everyone involved. Its really hard to let a love one live on the street with nothing. If he can't keep a job, if he can't stay in rehab and clean him self up, then you can't do it for him. He is on a downward slide to eventual death from his addiction.Maybe a professional intervention would give him courage and strength to help himself. You have no choice but to let him live his own life and realize that you are not his savour. You need to enjoy whats left of your own life.

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