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Old 12-30-2014, 09:25 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Seeking perspectives / options


My sister has had a long time alcohol and drug abuse problem (decades long). She has been out of touch for about 10 years or so. My concern is her health and welfare and that she is asking for money - something I've never given though other family members have. Money has been a murky and mucky issue for my family with my sister.

She's been through detox before. But hadn't tried in a long, long time. According to her children one year ago she had a crisis and they supported her through it. She recently began to drink again apparently due to depression. Recently I received a call from her that she was in a psychiatric center after a suicide attempt. She will not be there much longer. Her immediate family is out of the picture for the moment as they are exhausted.

During the first call she asked for money to get herself back on her feet. I said I'd see, but I told her she needed to speak with social services, how could they help her?

During the 2nd call she asked for money again - less money, lots of talk about what she can do for herself.

During the 3rd call she asked for money again - I'm the last hope she says. She's now on medication for her depression and other psychiatric issues. Now she is asking for very little. She wants to get her phone running - and wanted $100 (yes, I know this isn't much), and I said that there were other options - she advised that she wanted to keep the same phone number just in case her children called and it will be helpful for her as she looks for employment (I can understand this) and she wants a bus pass for the town she is in - she says the social worker has her placed somewhere where there is food, shelter and access to services. Her meds will be covered as well.

It troubles me as she seems a bit glib about the drinking - that she isn't drinking now so wherever she goes, though she doesn't need it, she will be placed in a 30 day detox (out in the community type environment). And it is possible I am reading her “glibness” incorrectly. She wants cognitive therapy and liked that this past year and she wants to give life another chance. I'm not sure if she was on medication for her depression this past year or not. She’s a pretty isolated individual even in a room full of people.

I don't necessarily believe her - I'm concerned about giving her money or helping her in any way other than supportive phone conversations. Her immediate family isn't forthcoming. I believe they feel ashamed (I wish they didn't feel that way) . I also wish I knew a bit more about the last year – I had hoped the family would have had a united front – I would have joined them. I feel as if I am flying a bit in the dark on this.

I'm also concerned about the suicide attempt - it was, it appears rather well thought out. I will be speaking with the doctor - at some point - before giving any monies etc.

I thought it was remarkable that she actually had been sober last year and I'm thinking that perhaps if her depression is under control and she has a real desire AND she isn’t enabled maybe there is a chance. And, I realize that she is the one who needs to make some choices – this is in her hands.

I might be a bit naive as I've never directly dealt with issues of this type at this depth. I know I can pay for the phone or she can get a free phone. I know I can pay for the bus pass. I know these things can get sold and that I may be being sold a bill of goods at the moment by my sister who is struggling.

If her story is true, her suicide attempt was very planned and she tried more than once. She also had suicidal thoughts after her trip to emergency and it was only after she got on the appropriate medicine that they finally dissipated. In the back of my mind I'm a bit concerned what she is actually planning after she gets out of the hospital.

I have searched out local resources in her area. By the way my sister landed herself in a space where there is no family living anywhere near her.

Are there other options, or perspectives I need to hear. I'd welcome your thoughts as I ponder on talking to both the doctor and others.
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Old 12-30-2014, 10:31 AM   #2 (permalink)
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How long has she been in the hospital? Detox only takes a few days. If she's been in the hospital that long she doesn't need detox, though she may need rehab.

If you are inclined to give her any financial support, I'd make the payments directly rather than giving her money.

According to whom has she been sober for a whole year? If she's the one telling you, I'd take that with a grain of salt. I'd confirm everything you can before you decide to help her out financially, and if you have conditions on the assistance, make those clear--and stick with them.
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Old 12-30-2014, 12:21 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I will echo what Lexi has said here. Maybe add for a resource. Donate to a church near her, how much she needs. Maybe even a little more. Then ask the church to administer that help to her directly. Many times a church can call any agencies/creditors and sort of calm the fears that they would have dealing with your sister directly. The voice of reason so to speak.

It's tough when it family. It's easy to make you out as the bad guy if you can't solve the unsolvable.
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Old 12-30-2014, 12:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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How about you call her cell phone provider and pay the bill directly via a credit card?
If it's a national provider like Verizon, you could most likely go to the office, give them her number,
and pay the balance in cash as well I would think.

Bus pass could be handled through the social worker perhaps or a church as was suggested. I don't know if a bus pass would have much resale value "on the street", especially a monthly one.

I see your point about giving her even a small sum of money if she possibly planning another suicide attempt. Even a hundred dollars might buy enough drugs etc. to OD
if that was in her mind.

I'm sorry you are dealing with this. I hope she is serious about getting better.
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Old 12-30-2014, 12:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I think it’s best for you to write down all of your thoughts, questions and concerns.

Then speak directly to her social worker and get that input to help you make a decision you will be comfortable with regarding helping your sister financially.
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Old 12-30-2014, 01:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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My first career was in social work. We assessed transportation needs immediately with our clients at all 3 agencies I worked for over the years. Bus passes were the easiest, quickest service I could provide to my clients. It took far less time than helping with housing or food stamps. In fact I almost always had extra passes in my office or referrals to local churches that would provide passes or ride services. And yes some clients did sell or trade bus passes for drugs. Transportion is a big obstacle when it comes to employment and following up on appointments. I would check further with the social worker.

I agree with the suggestion to not give cash.

Good luck. This sounds like a very tough situation.
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Old 12-31-2014, 05:46 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I only have access to receive patient info if I am given permission. Talking to a social worker / doctor has so far not come through. It may, but it hasn't so far. Thank you for the thoughts about paying for possibly needed services rather than giving cash.

Yes she has detox'd, but given her past and current issues I tend to think rehab is helpful.

Thank you for your suggestions. What I did was call the place she said she was going to go and ask about the services provided directly - this was helpful in accessing some of the information I received from my sister. Actually turns out she may not need any of the things she is asking until after 30 days rehab is up.
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Old 12-31-2014, 08:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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If she has signed permission for you to talk with her treatment team, then the social worker at least should be able to talk with you about discharge planning. It sounds like your sister has made you top dog in her discharge plan, so you should be able to discuss options with the social worker. If she hasn't/won't sign the paperwork, to me that is a big red flag that she could be hiding stuff.

Sober living is a great option for folks trying to get back on track in early sobriety; perhaps you could pay her first week or month (depending on cost) at a sober living house where all the other resources (food, AA meetings, sober support) are there for her. However if she is "glib" about recovery, she will likely not last long there once she relapses. Ultimately it is up to her.

I guess the biggest question is do you want to give money at all? It is OK if you choose not to financially assist her. If all you want to do is be a supportive person she can call, that's OK.
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