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My Mom is Addicted to Saving My Addicted Brother

by Tonya

I am the younger sister, 35, of a 42 year old brother with a drug addiction and probably some form of mental disorder. He is out of prison and now in a 28 day rehab program.

I keep trying to get my mom to get help before he gets out so she can stop the same patterns that happen over and over. He gets out of somewhere - jail, prison, half-way house, rehab ... comes and lives with my parents, against my dad's judgement (my dad is my brother's step dad) and starts off well - working, involved in the family, takes care of his daughter when he has her and then the cycle begins.

Stops doing things around the house to help my parents, sleeps all day, not working, etc. I feel no boundaries are set and kept by my mom because she has a lot of shame and guilt regarding how he was raised.

However, it doesn't seem to be helping my brother or her marriage to my father. In her eyes, she can't deny him a place to stay because I think she is afraid that if something happens to him, she would never be able to live with herself. HELP!! What can I do or say as the daughter?


Hi Tonya

You have to help your Mom understand addiction and how it works. Most people just don't understand addiction and what to do, especially in relation to someone they love. 'Enabling' and 'protecting' are often confused for acting in love, when in actual fact they end up doing more harm than good.

So hopefully with a bit of education and understanding, your Mom will learn more effective ways of handling your brother, as well as be able to begin her own process of healing so that she no longer feels compelled to over-compensate for whatever happened with your brother when raising him.

And that best place to get the help she needs is through groups called Naranon (for families of drug addicts) and Al-Anon (for family members of alcoholics). So take your Mom to a meeting nearby where you can meet other family members going through what you are. Not only will you and your Mom learn a great deal, but the support of others who are in a similar position to you would be make the world of difference.

Addiction is a family disease - because the family is also so badly affected. That's why having a proper support structure and opportunity for healing like you get at Naranon and Al-Anon is so important. So with the correct guidance and support in place, I'm sure you Mom will learn how to deal with your brother much more effectively. For his sake, and hers. Best of Luck.

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