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Old 08-08-2012, 06:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Siblings of addicts...are you out there?

Hello out there!

Although I'm gaining lots of insight from reading everyone's posts...I really came on here to seek the support and understanding from other siblings of addicts.

My big brother is probably my closest friend in the world, he knows me inside out, holds the key to my past and i hope he will be the key to my future. He has been struggling with his addiction for the past 15 years. It all started when he was a kid, just smoking some weed no different from me or any of our friends growing up...but he just took it way too far. He's 32 and has nothing to show for his life! We grew up in an upper-middle class neighbourhood, we live a good life, we never went without, we had no reason to complain.
I don’t know exactly when the drugs started, probably around 11-13 but they quickly escalated. My parents tried everything to help guide him on the right path. When he was 16 he left home and moved downtown and this is when the hard drugs started. I didn’t see him much at that time, and when I finally did he was laying in hospital bed unconscious and looked skinny and pale after his first OD. It freaked me out! I tried my best to put him out of mind but I missed him! He moved home when he was 19, graduated highschool and even went to university. University, the next downfall, he was diagnosed with ADD and put on medications – which then pushed him back into drugs…he was dealing and god knows what else…he didn’t last 1 semester.

The last 12 years have been constant rollercoaster of relapse, rehab, relapse, rehab…my parents constantly support him (TOO MUCH!)! It hurts to see my father, in his late 70’s who just retired have to worry about supporting his son, when he should be thinking about all the fun things he will do with his retirement.

I'm quickly reaching my breaking point - I want so much to help him but i've decided for my own health and sanity i have to cut him off...this is the hardest thing i've ever had to do, especially since we are so close! I don't know what else to do anymore, i've tried every way of helping him! This relapse is especially difficult, he sent a bbm message to our brother saying he tried to kill himself with meth (which he hasn't touched in years). this is threw me into a whole slew of emotions, i can't forgive him for this mainly because we lost our older sister to suicide just 3 years ago. She had struggled with mental illness for her whole life and at 43 she decided to end it. It killed our family - we still are grieving and to hear that another sibling of mine tried to do this...nearly killed me.

He's now gone to our cottage for a few weeks - my parents way of getting him to detox and recover. He's supposed to check into rehab in our city...but we've heard about an intensive 8 month program that my dad is going to check out this week...hopefully some good will come out of this. But i know deep down if he really doesn't want to recover the rehab will do nothing!!

gah i ramble...thanks for letting me get this crap off my chest! I ramble to my friends but i feel like its too much for them and they don't get it. hopefully there is someone out there who understands!
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I am the sibling of an alcoholic so may have some experience to share that you might find useful.

First off I want to say that I am sorry you are going through this; it sounds to me that you have gone through some difficult family times in the last few years.

Just for a bit of background my brother is 5 yrs younger than I am and it was just the two of us. Actually, it was basically just the two of us from the time I was 21 and he was 16/17. My mother died then and my dad just fell even more into an alcoholic haze. Anyway he and I learned how to take care of ourselves quickly - apparently for him that included a lot of drinking and drug experimentation. I figured it was just youthful experimentation - besides I was busy just making my life work.

Roll forward many years and at age 48 my brother almost died from pancreatitis. I had absolutely NO idea that things were that bad.....in fact if you had asked me if he was an alcoholic I would have said no. We have always been close.....but for years we have lived a good distance from each other so any interaction he could control - timing and level of intoxication.

So....I sat in a hospital room with him for about a week and watched him hallucinate, lash out, almost die, beg for drinks and eventually agree to go to a 30 day rehab. (that I paid for). He went to rehab......I made an appt with my therapist and starting reading Al-Anon materials! He left a week early - I got paid back about 3/4 of the cost and I began the process of grieving for his eventual death. I have no delusions about his prospects of success. I also have let go of any involvement in the process. I Love him a tremendous amount, I talk to him when he is sober, I support any attempts he makes at staying that way with everything but money - but I stay out of his way and detach when I am uncomfortable with his choices.

It has been 2 years now.....and for the most part he is doing well. But...I am doing better for having learned how to separate with love and how to maintain a relationship with him that is healthy for me.

You do not need to cut your brother out of your life. You can control how you let him in by establishing boundries. These are things you do by yourself and for yourself - they do not need to be communicated to him. Sadly - while in active addiction he probably won't even notice. When he is in recovery he will appreciate your trusting him to take care of his own life.

Hugs to you....I know it's hard.
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Old 08-08-2012, 08:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have a brother who is 44 our mom started leaving us home alone for every weekend from Friday evening to Sunday morning when I was 7 and him 5 it feels more like he is my son than brother at times.

My brother started drinking with my mom when he was around 16 I was moved out on my own by then he turned into an alcoholic then came to a point when he drank he used crack . He eventually went to AA and even got his 1 year chip made his amends etc...

Fast forward he started the same process again, then stopped again... he calls himself clean now but he smokes marijuana so he isn't clean and I know he can slide back to his DOC at anytime.

He went from having nothing to owning his own business was doing really good then his new addiction became gambling he lost everything and has started over.

I love my brother with all my heart and soul we live a little over 100 miles away from each other and do not see each other often what I did for my sanity was let my family members know I don't want to know if he starts using, gambling or whatever the addiction of the day is that is my boundary it took them awhile to realize I meant that but they now respect it and have not tried and cross it for about a year.

My brother like yours has the tools he needs if he so chooses to use them. I can only pray for him and love him.
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Old 08-09-2012, 01:51 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Hello rollercoaster,

My 28 year old sister is a drug addict. When I was a teenager my parents spent much of their time and money keeping her problem a secret. They never made an effort to seek help for me or my brother. And they did nothing when my sister would break into our rooms, steal our money and valuables, or beat us when she couldn't get anything. I don't know how many times I was threatened with death before I turned 18. And my parents: "What do you want me to do about it?""Why do you leave your stuff out for her to get?". And I knew if I called the police, I'd be the one in trouble. I used to stay as late as I could at school, joined every after school club. And then I'd RUN upstairs to my room and lock myself in for the night. Our family life was a big lie. I'm not close to any of them really.

I moved to another country, and now that I'm far away from the dysfunction, I see it in every interaction I have with them. So I haven't spoken to my parents in nearly a month. I don't have to worry about them calling me. I broke contact with my sister a year ago after she stole my mother's engagement ring and other jewelry, and bought heroin, which she used in my parents' home. Right after she did that, she got pregnant and she's due to have a baby very soon!

In a way I envy those of you who still really love your addicted sibling. I honestly do not love my sister. But in situations like these I am so sorry for what you are going through!
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Old 08-09-2012, 06:52 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I am so sorry for what you are going through! I have struggled with trying to determine if I will cut my brother out of my life if he continues actively using. I say that I will, but then know that it will be difficult to follow through. It is hard when your family tries to hide the addiction from the outside world. My parents have told no one except for another couple that are friends. They haven't even told my aunt who has an addict son!

I understand your emotions related to a suicide attempt. When my brother was wandering in the road and was struck by a motorcycle, my parents swear he was trying to commit suicide, and I believe it was his intent as well. I was devastated. I found myself begging him not to hurt himself and wanting to check on him every minute of the day to be sure he didn't. I am finally realizing that while I would be devastated if he ever succeeded in committing suicide, I would not be able to hold myself responsible for his actions. That doesn't make it any easier though. It is impossible for us to watch them every second of every day.

I hope that your brother finds the strength to choose recovery and stick with it. I hope that we, as siblings, can find the peace we need as well. Hugs to you!
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Old 08-09-2012, 07:19 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Siblings of addicts...are you out there?

In families with a history of drug abuse, siblings who did not use drugs demonstrated similar brain patterns and poor self-control as their drug-addicted brothers and sisters, British researchers reported Thursday in the journal Science.
Siblings with a family history of substance use grew up in abusive homes, but only some became addicts, neuroscientist Karen Ersche and her colleagues from Cambridge University said.
Understanding why certain family members abstained from drugs while others didn’t is a complicated problem, Troiani explained. It could be as simple as they didn’t enjoy the experience of drinking or using drugs. It could also be something more complicated like they realized they had a problem early on.
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Old 08-09-2012, 07:19 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Welcome to the board! There are siblings here and many of the experiences with addicts transcend the type of relationship one has with them.

I'm mainly here because of the recent problems with my AH; but I should have joined years ago due to the ongoing problems with my A-sis who has been an addict for the past 20 years or maybe more. I believe she started with pot, booze and LSD around age 14. Meth is her drug of choice. We were so close growing up. It has been a reoccurring heartache that continually has robbed our family's peace, consumed time, energy and resources; has put myself and even my children in danger and has chipped at my father's health. I can see now how this behavior has been detrimental to everyone. Recently she said she found an inpatient rehab ministry; my dad was all excited and whenever he thinks someone or some entity is going to feed, clothe and shelter her he starts meddling, stewing and sending money. I love my dad and hate to see how he worries. I told him this time, hands off the addict, your money will be no good in helping her, it hasn't for 20 years.

Your parents need to let go of him or he will never get better. Their money is no good here, it furthers the misery. He must hit rock bottom, whatever that is to him on his own. Keep reading!
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Old 08-09-2012, 12:14 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Redium....

Interesting information, but as they stated, why one sibling is an addict and the others are not is a complicated problem. My brother and I did not grow up in an abusive household nor are our parents substance users or drinkers. I never experimented with drugs, not even pot, and while I drink on occasion, I have never felt as though I needed to. So why is my brother an addict while I am not? I would be curious to read more about this subject.
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:53 PM   #9 (permalink)
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thank you everyone for your support, its good to know i'm not alone in this hell. Tonight was hell - i was on the phone basically from the time i got of work at 4 till about 10 tonight...with my mom, then my sister, mom, sister, other brother...and finally had to call a friend to vent out my frustration! Nights like this remind me i need to set my boundaries. Its my priority now!

@farfaraway - you say you envy us who still "love" our siblings...but i envy your strength to cut your sister out. Its funny, I had the same attitude when i was a kid, i'd stay late at my best friends house then come home to hide in my room - when my brother left when he was 16, i think i was almost happy (but also sad at the same time) i had my parents attention again!

@SSHope - Its so hard to cut someone out who you love! I feel your pain! How does your family manage to keep it a secret? I almost wish my brothers life was a big secret - but for some reason the whole freaking world knows! ...its a bit embarrassing sometimes... I'd just rather keep it quiet then showcase it lol

@findingerica... i agree their money is no good, its not helping him at all...he lives a freaking cushy life - my parents pay for his apartment and bought him furnature - all of which is waaaaay nicer than anything i have...and I have my masters and have a VERY good job! I spoke to my mom tonight and tried to explain why their money isn't helping him - she agrees but the Mother in her can't let go...its a shame.

I'd also be interested in reading that article as well...our home enviornment was in no way abusive...and out of 5 kids 3 of us are well adjusted healthy adults (to a certain extent )
I've studied mental health issues quite a bit and i know for them - the difference between one of us developing an illness is related to our "tolerance" to significant life events...its hard to explain but a graft was shown and it shows depending on where you land in the graft is your chances of having a psychotic "break" from a particular event. One may have a higher threashold then another....and it all depends on your genetic and psychological makeup.

Thanks so much everyone for your support. It helps to know i'm not alone in this!

xo
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Old 08-10-2012, 05:47 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Yep, boundaries with my folks helped a lot....OK, with my Mom helped a lot.

My sister is a recovering alcoholic and cocaine addict. I was not around her during the height of her use as she was living in California at the time. But sis would call my mother, and my mother would call me......you get the picture. I finally encouraged Mom to just leave her to her own devices.

My sister has been clean and sober for more than 15 years now, that I know of.

Good luck! There are many of us who understand!!
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:30 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Hi Rollercoaster!

My sister is a heroin addict. (So is my cousin.) Your name certainly rings a bell. Feel free to pull up my threads, I share a lot about the current dynamic of her using, stealing from me, my mother enabling her heavily and trying to throw her guilt onto me. My phone calls were going exactly how you explained, on the phone with one after another, sister, mom, everyone upset, no progress made EVER.

I finally had to set some boundaries. I moved out of state years ago after my sister stole a good deal of my belongings, so that helped a lot to create some distance, literally and figuratively. More recently I've started applying boundaries to my interactions with my mother as well. I'm not no contact with either of them, but my contact is quite guarded. I don't talk to my sister a lot because I won't support her drug use - I won't buy her anything, I won't giver her money, I won't give her a place to stay, and I won't try to get her a job. Those are all things she can do on her own. I also won't get sucked into every latest dramatic story of terminally bad luck she brings, I'm not the one who can solve her problems. Because I won't do these things, she doesn't contact me nearly as often as she once did.

With my mother, I have made a conscious effort to stop engaging in discussions about my sister. It hurts my feelings, and it makes me angry, so I have to stop doing it. Period. It also does absolutely nothing to improve the situation, so there really is no reason to do it besides the draw of enmeshed drama that I recognize I have some sort of sick weakness for.

I will say this: Just one day, one single day, I wish people would get as stupidly excited for me to do basic crap like brush my teeth (and floss!), or go to the DMV, or send in the phone bill, or any number of daily tasks that *everyone else on the planet* does. See, because when my sister does these things, you would think she was an Olympian the way they throw on the extravagant accolades. "What's that, mom? Sister went to the grocery store?! Call the President, he'll want to know about this!!"

I know it's not funny, but if I can't laugh at everything sometimes I think I would go completely insane. I'm sorry for the reasons you find yourself here, but welcome to the forum!
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Old 08-14-2012, 06:44 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I am here and the sister of an addict. I recently have started to apply some of the principle in this program unknowingly. (I learned about the serenity in the exact proportion to my level of acceptance through the Big Book and Overeaters Anonymous.)

I am so thankful for everyone here!

I live 2000 miles away from my sister and have very limited contact with her now....some texts..she doesn't call me anymore due to my no longer getting involved w/ her drama.

It is sad though and I miss who she used to be.

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Old 08-21-2012, 09:18 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Broken Families...What could have helped US?

Hello, everyone. Sibling of a drug addict here.
I am new to the group, but not to the comments I am reading from everyone here. The frustration, resentment, brokenheartedness, and isolation from families is very familiar.

I'm an adult sibling of an addict and a part of a family that is very broken on the inside. I'm really glad to find this group. It's weird being an adult and still having such angry and sad feelings toward my parents. I was just with my family for a vacation and saw my addict brother for the first time in a while. He is sober (he says) but still doing the same selfish stuff and just walking around like the world is a handout (and my parents provide everything for him anyway). After being annoyed, then sad, then angry, then overall bummed, I found myself wondering what if things had been different... could I have been helped so that I didn't always have the same experience in my family? It's not just about my brother, it's also my parents I feel resentment toward.

But I know that most family-based intervention strategies for addiction focus on the parents' relationship with the addict and that often leaves us sibs out. My question to all of you is...what would have helped US? Would any of you have appreciated some sort of support that sought to help our relationship toward the family? More time with parents (away from our sibs) or maybe some groups for sibs where we could meet others people who know what it is like to live with an addict. Could there have been something in the community for us? I know it might have been nice to meet people I could invite over and not worry about them seeing my brother "on the nod" or worry about saying to them "hey if you have any money, you should make sure to hide it..." I wonder if I would have done it as a teen...

Anyone have any thoughts?
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Old 08-22-2012, 06:26 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Hi~!

I am the sibling of an addicted sister. We just had a falling out this past weekend and I am feeling pretty sad about the whole situation.

She has panic/anxiety disorder and fibromyalgia and has been prescribed painkillers and also ritalin or something similar to it. She has a husband at home who last year had a stroke and remains paralyzed on the left side of hius body. She has my 2 adorable nephews there, who have to witness all this, plus her screaming maniacal behavoir and she is hanging around with the sleaziest of all sleazebags in town. A woman who actually got her into trouble with the law and whose house had nbeen raided and some gay alcoholic violent scuzzbag excuse for a male.

It's all just breaking my heart. Yet she claims that I hurt her by not going to her house while I was up to see my mom. Sister and I had made plans to take all the boys plus my son and grandson and my moms foster daughter to the pool to go swimming and have a nice family day ....and she texts me that she is sick and had just thrown up for the second time. 2 hours later when my mom and I drove past there she has all the scummy people on her porch, going through bags of clothes that my daughter had helped her clean out of her closet and that sister said she wanted to let me go through and have forst pick of. After I saw that, I just never even responded to any of her texts or calls. I have nothing left to say. She had CPS called on her about 3 months back and they investigated and talked to the kids but found nothing wrong. She is going to lose everything, she can't keep this up. She has court today if she remebers to go.

Yet she posts on Facebook that she id done with family and that family only is negative etc........


Gimme a break~!

I take care of my soon to be 83 year old father , who has dementia. I also am in school for nursing and work part time. My plate is pretty full as it is, I just cannot even afford to spend the time to worry about her, but I do and especially my nephews, as they have no choice in the matter.

Very sad today.........
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Old 08-22-2012, 06:57 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I am the sibling of an addicted sister...heroin I am still in shock over everything. I came here due to a boyfriend who is an addict and since then found out about my sis. I honestly have not processed it. She keeps it hidden from the family to a point. My mom, other sis and I are the only ones who know. My sister is the sweetest, kindest, most compassionate soul and it breaks my heart what is going on with her. She is starting to develop other health issues as well. She is on her own and has a son with high functioning autism. She was always such a good mom to him, so patient and loving, but I can see where that relationship, as well as others, is becoming affected. I am at a loss. I try to let her know frequently that I love her and would be supportive if she chooses recovery. After dealing with an addicted BF on and off for the last 7 years, I have learned it is beyond my control. Maybe it sounds strange, but I have to say that all of this happening with my sister has made me more empathetic to my ex and to not take it personally. I know what a beautiful soul my sister is and some of the things she has done to fuel her addiction are NOT the behaviors of the girl I know and love. She is in there somewhere, only the "beast" is stronger. I am sorry, but I do not believe her or my ex choose addiction. It is heartbreaking is all I can say.
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:56 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sinclairf View Post
Hello, everyone. Sibling of a drug addict here.
I am new to the group, but not to the comments I am reading from everyone here. The frustration, resentment, brokenheartedness, and isolation from families is very familiar.

I'm an adult sibling of an addict and a part of a family that is very broken on the inside. I'm really glad to find this group. It's weird being an adult and still having such angry and sad feelings toward my parents. I was just with my family for a vacation and saw my addict brother for the first time in a while. He is sober (he says) but still doing the same selfish stuff and just walking around like the world is a handout (and my parents provide everything for him anyway). After being annoyed, then sad, then angry, then overall bummed, I found myself wondering what if things had been different... could I have been helped so that I didn't always have the same experience in my family? It's not just about my brother, it's also my parents I feel resentment toward.

But I know that most family-based intervention strategies for addiction focus on the parents' relationship with the addict and that often leaves us sibs out. My question to all of you is...what would have helped US? Would any of you have appreciated some sort of support that sought to help our relationship toward the family? More time with parents (away from our sibs) or maybe some groups for sibs where we could meet others people who know what it is like to live with an addict. Could there have been something in the community for us? I know it might have been nice to meet people I could invite over and not worry about them seeing my brother "on the nod" or worry about saying to them "hey if you have any money, you should make sure to hide it..." I wonder if I would have done it as a teen...

Anyone have any thoughts?
I think the same al-anon/nar-anon principles work for us. Unfortunately, the nature of addiction makes it so that the entire family is consumed by the addiction. That is to say, parents of addicts that are actively supporting/enabling their addicted child aren't very nice to hang out with. So even if I had more "alone time" with my mom, she would spend it talking about or worrying about or managing my sister's life. It's just part of her particular addiction.

It would be cool, though, to have access to friends that would understand - so that perhaps a friend could visit like you mentioned - I never attended alateen when I was younger, but in my head it's kinda like that. The other teens you would meet there likely know all about being ashamed to take anyone home for dinner (assuming any of us even had a family dinner, I know I never have). So perhaps this already exists? I sure wish I would have gone to that then, imagine how ahead of the game I would have been!
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Old 08-22-2012, 04:22 PM   #17 (permalink)
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First off I'd like to say that I have an AB. He's only two years younger than I am and I am 23. It's extremly difficult for me that he has a drug problem. He's been my best friend ever since I can remember. I do believe I am extremley close to my little brother (or was before the using). We also have an older brother, but there is really no contest that my younger brother and I were the closet sibilings in the house. It's hard to have someone you knew completely change into a different person because of the abuse of drugs. I can tell you exactly when my brother is high (as I'm sure most of you can tell when you're loved ones are high). I have distanced myself from my younger brother quite a bit since his addiction, mostly for my own sanity. Since we live in the same house together and finances don't agree with me moving out, I've had to make the best out of a bad situation.

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Originally Posted by SSHope View Post
Redium....

Interesting information, but as they stated, why one sibling is an addict and the others are not is a complicated problem. My brother and I did not grow up in an abusive household nor are our parents substance users or drinkers. I never experimented with drugs, not even pot, and while I drink on occasion, I have never felt as though I needed to. So why is my brother an addict while I am not? I would be curious to read more about this subject.
Like you, my brothers and I did not grow up in an abusive household. I do drink on occasion, and yes I've smoked pot before. But, I do not have an addictive nature. I don't ever feel the need to drink and to be honest don't know why pot is so popular, its stupid and doesn't do anything IMO, so why smoke it. My AB on the other hand, does in my opinion drink a little too much, thats not his addiction though. He's addicted to prescription pain killers, and Opiats.
However unlike you addiction does run in my family. My father suffers from an addiction to alcohol, but not to the point where it interferes with his job. And I believe farther back than that on both my mother and father sides, there have been addicts.
Like I said though I have no problem with addiction whatsoever. While my little brother suffers greatly with addiction. IMO addiction can be something you inherit from your family. Just like kids inherit eye color, hair color etc. I believe addiction is a trait that can be inherited. So while I did get the blonde hair and blue eyes from my father, my brother got his addiction trait. Which to me is why it makes sense why I'm not an addict and he is. Could be why one or more sibilings are addicts while one is not.
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Old 10-21-2013, 11:19 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Hi all - depressing dinner last night

You're not alone Rollercoaster - sucks to have this going on!!!
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