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How Do I Handle a Loved One With an Addiction?

by L

My sister told me two years ago that she was a heroin addict and needed help. After she went through detox, she and her 3 children came to live with me so I could help her get her feet on the ground. She was supposed to go to rehab, but "somehow" they never called.

I know I made a mistake then by not holding her feet to the fire. She later led us to believe that she didn't have any desire to use and had gotten physically dependent because her husband was using and she was just co-dependent. She saw an addiction counselor a few times but nothing regular.

A year goes by but she finally gets a job. Then things quickly start to go downhill. Although she was working, she couldnt pay the few bills she had. Then caught in lies, then kids stuff is missing. You all know the symtoms, but she never stole from me. The kids are now safe with their grandparents.

Its been 3 weeks since she left my house. She called me a few days ago telling me she has her name on a waiting list for detox/rehab. I tell her she can stay with me and I will help her get in. That night she confessed all of her guilt and mistakes. I really thought she wanted help.

The next morning, I called the detox and found that they did have "non subsidized" beds available, so I told her I would pay. All of a sudden, she can't go. She just wanted to detox here. I let her stay but when I told her that this is not a longterm option unless she went to rehab, she left.

She says she doesnt need rehab and she knows what she did wrong by hanging out with an active user- a relationship she shielded from me. Do all users need rehab? I can't put myself through this again. I just need reassurance that I have done the right thing.

I fear that I approached rehab the wrong way or the wrong time. Or is this just the addiction taking over? Do you see this behavior normally where they seem to have a break-through one minute and overnight their mind changes?

I have decided that I can't take the emotional roller coaster, so if she comes back in my life, I will be there once she checks into detox and seeks treatment. Thats even scary because I don't want to let her in my home again, but then where will she live?

Guess we arent even there yet, but I feel like I need to know my boundries before the situation arises. The last thing I want to do is make promises that I can't fulfill in the heat of the moment. I don't want her to give up the fight because she thinks she doesnt have support. I know I covered lots of ground here but any advice/ insight is appreciated! Answer

Your sister is simply displaying classic signs of her addiction ... fluctuating from admitting her addiction, where she went wrong, and that she'll get the help she needs to change - to thinking she can handle it and she'll go about doing things her way, i.e. get clean without help or support.

The reality is however she simply isn't ready to quit. So when she feels really low, she says all the right things - but as soon as she's given the opportunity to actually address her problem through you offering to pay for rehab, she stalls and gives you excuses.

So yes her behavior is normal, but not necesssarily in the way you think. This is still your sister in denial about the true extent of her heroin addiction, and thinking she can control it/get clean her way.

So she's actually still a long way off from reaching the point where she's actually finally ready to surrender to her heroin addiction, and do whatever it takes to get clean and turn her life around. It's called reaching rock bottom ... and until she reaches that point, things are going to continue as they are.

What you need to do is help her reach her bottom - and you do that by no longer enabling her. Because right now she has you to always fall back on - and that provides her with a level of comfort and support that prevents her from reaching her bottom.

So you did the right thing by saying she can't live with you and that you can't provide her with any support until she goes to rehab and commits to turning her life around. That starts holding her accountable for the poor choices she continues to make, and will accelerate the path of her reaching her bottom.

Always make it clear that you love her, but let her know she needs to start taking responsibility for her life, and that starts with getting professional help and going to rehab. You've done all you can, and where you sister lives is for her to worry about, not you.

It's a difficult thing to have to do, but it's also the right thing and gives your sister the best possible chance of eventually turning her life around. Groups like Nar-Anon can be great to help you through this and to reinforce that you are doing the right thing, so check them out, because it can make the world of difference.

Remember you can't control the choices your sister makes and until she is ready to go to rehab and make the changes she needs to to turn her life around, there is very little anyone can do to help her. So it's time for you to let go and let her start taking responsibility for her own life and the choices she makes. Good luck and take care.

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Thank You!
by: Anonymous

Thank you. I feel better about my decisions after hearing your advice.

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