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Druggie Sibling - What To Do?
Old 07-08-2008, 01:59 PM   #1
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Druggie Sibling - What To Do?

I have a family-related issue, and am looking for some advice. My Dad, who currently lives a couple of hours away, is moving closer to us to be near our kids. We're happy about that because the kids love him, and they'll be thrilled to get to see him more regularly. What I'm not happy about is that my sister is moving down with him. She's 34, and I believe she has an on-going drug problem (I'm 99% sure it's meth). She and I are not close. I don't actively dislike her; I just don't relate to her and the choices she's made. She's in her thirties, dropped out of high-school, has never held a steady job, and has been living with and mooching off my Dad or various friends her entire life. When she does work, she finds strange under-the-table jobs, but after promising starts those always dry up (most likely because she's unreliable due to drug use). If I were a hiring manager at any retail or fast-food outlet, I wouldn't hire her based solely on her appearance (she looks like someone who has been abusing drugs for 15+ years).

There are 2 separate issues I have:

1. I really don't like having DS around my kids much. When he lived out of town, my Dad would often just bring her with him without telling us first. She's never done anything remotely bad or disagreeable toward the kids, but I'm not completely comfortable having her in my house. As far as I know, she's never been high when she's visited. I'm always relieved when she leaves. It's not that I think she's going to hurt the kids, or steal something, I'm just not comfortable around her. Maybe it's just embarrassment? I'm not sure.

2. I don't like the fact that she's continuing to mooch off my Dad. He's in his late 50's, and doesn't have much saved for retirement. He's commented that he's probably going to be working until he's 70 (and believe me, it's not because he loves what he does). I suspect (but have never verified) that a significant portion of his disposable income goes to support her. Food, a 2 bedroom apt. instead of a one bedroom, etc. She smokes, and since she works so little, I assume that he buys her things like cigarettes, as well.

Complicating matters is the fact that my family isn't big on communication. Dad starts getting uncomfortable when I bring up DS's drug use, or start asking him whether she's applied for her GED, etc. He seems unwilling to make any demands of her, and she continues to play the victim and accept his charity. He says that he enjoys her company, which may be true, but he's also said that he can't just let her be homeless (which is likely what would happen if he didn't allow her to live with him). I've never talked directly to my sister about her problems.

So, what to do? Regarding the first issue, I guess I need to tell my Dad how I feel about having her around. I suspect that he'll be hurt and angry at me for excluding my sister. It's either that, or just grit my teeth and bear it when she comes over.

On the second issue, my instinct is to either discuss it with my sister directly and tell her how I feel about her living off my Dad, or to do nothing. Part of her problem, I think, is that she doesn't have any expectations to live up to. My Dad is a good man, and he's done his best by us, but he raised us on his own, and he didn't provide a lot of structure. I guess some people need some external pressure to force them to move or change, and he doesn't seem willing to provide that pressure. Is it my place to do it? I don't know. It's not like he's asked me for help in resolving the problem.

Any thoughts or input are appreciated.
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Old 07-08-2008, 02:32 PM   #2
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grit your teeth. your father's happiness is more important than your own, and there is likely nothing you can do or say to fix your sister's problems.
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Old 07-08-2008, 02:33 PM   #3
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I am sure I do not know the entire situation, or that anyone can fully understand it except for you, but your relationship concerning your sister and your dad seems a bit of a problem. Since it seems that your sister is the one you are lamenting in the situation, not your father, you should (as it seems you have previously) tell your dad how you feel about it. Tell him that you feel she could/should apply for her G.E.D. get a steady, paying job and eventually move out on her own. What it comes down to is his decision, in that he is the one who is supporting her primarily. Speaking with your sister at this point does not seem like it would not do much good because a.) she seems to have had this issue for at least 18 years (dropping out of high school and still acting the same way) and b.) she does not rely on you financially like she relies upon your dad. Thus, if your dad comes around to your view, his speaking with her will have a lot more effect on her than yours will.

As regards to your sister visiting your house with your kids, obviously it is a very personal issue when it regards your kids. If it ever gets to be a serious issue, you need to tell either her or your father what your issue is with her and why you don't want her coming over (if it gets to that). Explain that if she gets her act together or gives up the drug use (still unproven, but you could confront her on that if you need to), then she can continue to visit with your father. Yet again, with regards to the relationship between her and your father, I feel you should speak to him, but it ultimately is up to him.
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Old 07-08-2008, 02:51 PM   #4
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Other sibs? Do you all care enough to sit together with dad and talk about doing an intervention with your sister? There is power in numbers. But you better really care and get advise ahead of time. And dad absolutely would have to be on board. He is the one who probably cares enough but does not have the "tools" and support to properly intervene.

If not, grit your teeth. Maybe if you see her a bit more often you will begin to care.
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Old 07-08-2008, 03:26 PM   #5
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We had a similar situation with a BIL. The big thing is to set limits and boundaries for your own sake. This may be rules on visiting or rules on lending money/things. Your father may not be happy about it and probably blames himself for how she turned out, so this is his way of compensating. However, you don't need to compensate also.
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Old 07-08-2008, 04:23 PM   #6
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Please forgive me if I seem too harsh or out of line, but you asked for thoughts. Here's mine.

Your father is enabling his daughter. There is little you can do about that. He has to stop on his own terms.

If you are uncomfortable being around your sister, go visit your dad with the family. Meet them at a restaurant or other public place. That way, when you feel your skin start to crawl, you can leave. Your first priority IMO, are your children. If you're uncomfortable, they will feel it...you need to do what is best for them.

Perhaps in time things will change for the better.
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Old 07-08-2008, 04:33 PM   #7
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YOUR home is YOUR castle. If you are uncomfortable having DS over to visit... then by all means set that boundary.

For a short while I lived with a Meth addict (daughter). At one time I had to install a bolt on my bedroom door for fear of my life. I went to Narc-Anon meetings and CODA (codependent) meetings where I learned that I needed to be in charge of MY life and make the rules around MY house.

You might consider getting additional support through these types of meetings. They help the sober family members deal.
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Old 07-08-2008, 04:57 PM   #8
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I agree with Life Is Good. Those types of meetings and organizations can give you a lot more help and insight than most of us on this board can.

From my own perspective, I don't agree at all with d that your dad's happiness is more important than yours. Your dad makes his choices, but that doesn't mean you have to let those choices invade your own home life. You can make your own choices to work around his decisions for your own well-being. And if you want to prioritize family, your kids are probably going to be most important, as I can tell you feel. You owe it to their future to do the right thing for them. But I'm not going to claim to know what that is in your situation.

Good luck.
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Old 07-08-2008, 05:09 PM   #9
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If it's meth, then you need to set firm rules for your children's sake. I've seen the damage. If it's NOT meth, but rather just pot and booze, you might take the grit your teeth route, but even then...

Honor thy father only goes so far, you are the first and last line of defense for your children.
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Old 07-08-2008, 05:16 PM   #10
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This is an delicate situation to be in. I know because I'm in the same situation with both a brother and sister taking advantage of my mom. I agree with two things already said. Your dad (and my mom) are enabling this behavior and it's not likely to change if it's gone on this long. Don't speak your mind to your dad.....in my case it strained the relationship with my mom.
I decided to distance myself from the whole bunch about 2 years ago when my mom got mad at me for not promptly getting sis out of jail for DUI. I still see mom, but I'm careful to avoid saying anything about sis or bro.
Good luck with this. I know it's tough.
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Old 07-08-2008, 05:32 PM   #11
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Sorry you have to deal with this. It actually might be good for your sister to live close to you since she will have to see the results of her choices (your disapproval and refusal to engage her in family activities) more often than she did before--hang in there. In my experience it has been best for my psychological health to ignore relatives when they are under the influence--so if you end up deciding to discuss this directly with your sister, maybe plan a time when she will be clean/sober (I've experienced the heartache and pointlessness of reacting to someone when they are out of it)?
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Old 07-08-2008, 05:48 PM   #12
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I appreciate all the feedback, folks, thanks very much. Lots to mull over.

Anybody have any personal experience with an intervention?

Anybody seen somebody as non-functional as I've described DS who turned their life around?
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Old 07-08-2008, 05:56 PM   #13
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Close relative on meth eventually turned it around, closing in on 20 years NA and AA. But they really had to hit bottom, as in 2 years in the slammer. His brother still uses meth to this day, doing odd jobs etc. just as you described.
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Old 07-08-2008, 06:28 PM   #14
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In the first place, I'm not sure that your efforts are going to avoid further problems-- let alone solve the current ones.

In the second place, I'm not sure that this is any of your business. These people made their choices long ago and, while there may be some evidence that they desire to change, it's not evident in your posts.

About the only place you'd be able to draw the line would be around your own home/kids. That generally means a lot of restaurants, parks, and sporting events.

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Originally Posted by ProspectiveBum View Post
Anybody have any personal experience with an intervention?
Anybody seen somebody as non-functional as I've described DS who turned their life around?
Cousin, numerous interventions. No, and she's in her late 40s. Your description of the situation made me wonder if you were describing her.

Frankly, from what I read about Hawaii's struggles with crystal methamphetamine addicts, 15 years is a very long time.
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Old 07-08-2008, 06:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProspectiveBum View Post
Anybody seen somebody as non-functional as I've described DS who turned their life around?
Yes! My daughter turned it all around and has now been clean and sober for about 5 years. She recognized that she needed help and asked us to put her into a program (she was a teen). It still wasn't easy. There were a couple relapses and such. She attended the NA meetings. I think the point I'm making is that she turned it around because she wanted to. We were lucky.
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Old 07-08-2008, 07:17 PM   #16
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My brother was a long term pothead. My parents tried everything they could to get him turned around and in the end they had to cut him out of their lives. His "lifestyle" didn't just affect him and my parents. He and his alcoholic wife couldn't manage to be responsible enough to raise their 3 children, and they lost custody to his MIL and FIL, who did the best they could.

When the kids were little we all tried to include them in family events, holidays, etc. but it was very uncomfortable. I understand what the OP means about having a drug addict around your kids. It's just creepy and it's like an elephant in the room.

Our situation was different in that my brother never asked our parents for any help. After he and his wife lost custody of their kids their addictions took over, eventually my brother and his wife got divorced. He never worked on a regular basis. He was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and something else that got him qualified for SSI (Supplemental Security Income). He lived on about $550 a month, sharing housing with friends, moving a lot and lost all contact with us and his own kids. He did scrapping, trash picking, bartering and occasionally worked temporary day labor. Whenever there would be news of a body found in a river, a body found in an alley, a body found near the railroad tracks, I'd check the description because I didn't know what kind of world he was living in.

A few years ago he called me, said he just wanted to know he still had family. I was very suspicious, but I did get together with him and he never asked for anything except to keep in touch. I worried that he'd show up on my doorstep but he didn't have a car or license and he was too lazy to hitchhike. He would just call every couple of months, just keeping in touch. I even arranged for our sister to meet us for lunch and we sat for 3 hours, just talking about everything.

And we took a picture of the 3 of us together, first time in decades. My brother was 43, I was 49 and our sister was 52. Neither my sister nor I mentioned this to our parents, it was just not talked about.

Over the next few years he would call me every once in a while and it was never a problem. I enjoyed having him back in my life, just a little at a time. He never asked for anything, he never got scary.

My parents kept in touch with the 3 grandkids and their maternal grandparents who were raising them. In 2006 my dad got a call that my brother had died. He and his 20 year old son were doing drugs together and my brother had died in his sleep. It was Oxycontin (oxycodone). It's very addictive and very dangerous. He had told me he never did anything but pot. Because everybody knows pot is harmless.

He was only 45. He had even told me of his retirement plans!!! He wanted to move to Canada, close to the border with Washington. He planned on having a P.O. Box in the USA so he could still collect his SSI check, but he'd live in Canada so he could legally have his pot. Such a visionary.

I'm sorry for all of you dealing with a family member with a drug problem. What I learned from this -

-Drug addicts lie.
-Nothing is more important that the drugs.

I hope you have a better result than my family did.
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Old 07-08-2008, 07:38 PM   #17
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Sue , Your story is heartbreaking ! My heart goes out to you .
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Old 07-08-2008, 07:58 PM   #18
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When I was a young lawyer, one of my pro bono activities was to go to local high schools to talk about the legal system. After class, we would take a field trip to the courthouse (criminal division) to watch arraignments. One thing I recognized early, and made sure to tell the kids, is that 99% of what happens in criminal court is related to drugs. Either the defendant was charged with possession or distribution of drugs, the defendant committed a crime to get the money to buy drugs, the defendant was under the influence of drugs when the crime was committed, or the sentence was contingent on obtaining drug counseling and treatment. Drugs are a terrible scourge on our society. I am so sorry for Sue J and Prospective Bum. It is truly a shattering situation.
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Old 07-08-2008, 08:21 PM   #19
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Sue J.,

I'm very sorry for your loss.

I am one of those who turned it around. Some of us get off the train. Some, like your brother, don't. I was probably a few years from death when I got clean and sober at the age of 28. Now I'm a 49-year old retiree. I'm always amazed by the capacity of people to change.

I'm in strong agreement of all that has been written about enabling, boundary setting etc. I've had lots of first-hand experience with these issues in my 20 years of sobriety; there is a lot of addiction in my large family of origin.

These issues are complicated, frustrating, and emotionally very painful. The best we can do is educate ourselves about addiction and the role loved ones can inadvertently play in shielding the addict from the consequences of their actions. And seek support wherever it's available. It's a problem shared by millions. There are no easy answers, but help is available for anyone willing to seek it out. My heart goes out to everyone faced with the addiction of a loved one.

Tom
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Old 07-08-2008, 08:59 PM   #20
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To the OP - a slightly different angle -

Lots of good info above. I'll just offer that you consider an approach where you talk to your Dad, not about problems, but about your concerns and solutions. So, instead of any criticizing of your sister for not being responsible, or arguing with your Dad for enabling all this, just focus on solutions. Something like this:

Dad, I'm concerned about how sister will get along if anything happens to you. Can she earn enough to get by? Does she have health insurance? Maybe we can talk to her about getting into some job training program, etc, etc.

It would help if you already had the job training contacts lined up. Of course, part of this job training might involve getting drug free, so that you can hold a good job, but it might be best to let that develop. That way, you are not the 'bad guy', pointing out problems. You are just trying to help with solutions.

The problem with this is, if your Dad is the enabler, sister will not be motivated to go do it, so you are back to the problem of Dad being an enabler. But, it might, it just might, get him thinking about the consequences of his actions. You can step it up later, and describe that if he cares for her, he has to help her become independent.

It is a way to make an effort to resolve this, without the direct confrontation. That usually just makes people defensive. Heck, it's worth a shot.

-ERD50
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