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46 Year Old Alcoholic Brother Living at Home With Parents

by Robin
(San Francisco)

Starting at 13 my brother started doing drugs and drinking. He was out of control throughout his teenage years into his 30's. He quit the drugs (I think) and now is just an alcoholic for several years.

He's been in and out of halfway houses growing up, never graduated high school. Mows lawns for money and works odd yard keeping jobs. My parents are now in their 70's, my dad is going through lung cancer. My mom hurts to see my brother go through this but by him living with them all these years with no responsibilities whatsoever hasn't done him any good.

The reason I'm writing today is that my mom just told me my brother woke up in the ER due to alcohol overdose. He took the IV's out even though the doctors begged him to stay he walked a long way home. His friends are all street people on SSI using drugs and alcohol.

We honestly think he's beyond help, he has no intention of being clean and we don't know what his real mental state is. He tried different medications that didn't work as a teen. We are just at our wits end. My mom said to him that he's going to die and he just said that death is a beautiful thing.

My parents don't want to see him die and he really doesn't care how my parents feel. They tried kicking him out when he was in his late teens and he was back in the garage and worked his way in. He was in the house but now lives in the side room on a mattress. The house smells of a horrible smoke stench and of garbage.

My parents are finally coming to the conclusion that what they've done all these years by enabling him hasn't done him any good. He has no responsibility, accountability. This isn't working. The question is, what can they do? Should we try to apply for SSI or find him housing so he isn't with my parents?

They are very open to the idea. They can't go on vacation because they are worried what will happen if they leave for 1 or 2 weeks. My brother isn't open to being evaluated, he's a grown man we can't force him to do what he doesn't want to do.

Honestly I believe he's comfortable living this lifestyle because this is all he knows. He's not a bad person, very smart and cleans up nicely. There are so many shades of grey here; we think he's capable but not really sure. We love him very much but we can't save him. Answer

Your brother does no doubt lead a very comfortable lifestyle - can make himself a bit of money here and there to fund his drinking, has a roof over his head and food to eat every day - so as an alcoholic that's all he needs.

Unfortunately your parents having allowed him to live this lifestyle practically all his adult life means they have enabled him in the extreme, because it's meant he's never had to take any form of responsibility for his life.

So to try and change things now after all these years is going to be difficult, because it doesn't sound like in all his 46 years he's ever had to look after himself. Which is really sad.

So by all means look into whether him getting any form of SSI is viable, and what form of housing you can find for him. It may have to be something like a shelter but it sounds like that's all he really needs. Maybe also investigate what forms of social welfare housing are available.

What your brother really needs is a stint in a long-term rehab so he can get sober and start putting his life together. But whether he really has the will to live and make the effort to change seems unsure. But maybe if given the opportunity and the right kind of support that a long-term, intensive addiction treatment program can offer, you never know.

Whatever you end up doing, your parents can't be expected to continue looking after him and supporting him. They have their own health concerns they need to focus on. And what would happen to your brother in any event once they pass away, so it's actually the best thing for everyone to make arrangements for your brother now, whatever those end up being.

Good Luck with everything

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