New to my sister's addiction...I need direction please

Old 11-16-2008, 07:39 PM
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New to my sister's addiction...I need direction please


I am happy to be a new member of this forum and have gained some great insight from reading some if the posts here. This is my first post anywhere, to anyone, about the following.

Tonight I am writing concerning my addict sister who lives states away from me (and has for 24 years), whom I do not see or talk to on a daily basis. She and I, though far apart in miles, share a very deep bond in spirit. Her story, I am finding through study and family members, is not unlike those of many addict's. I was made aware of her addiction 6 months ago and the following is what I have learned, and I have gone into much detail in order to assist anyone who might be able to help answer the questions included in my post.

My sister is addicted to prescription drugs (she has been for about 6 years now) and on top of that she has been abusing alcohol for a year. Since last May she has tried to take her life once (that we know of, and that she was hospitilized for and placed into 72-hour lock down for); has been in rehab 2x (one of those times was due to her attempted suicide); constantly says she feels like she is in a pit of despair; threatens her husband that she will try take her life again "and it will work this time", and well, I probably don't have to say much more.

My sister has always been looked to up to by all of her family members, her co-workers and her community, as are many addicts. My sister graduated in the medical field and had a very good, though stressful job in it. Prescription drug abuse became the reason she lost that job.

When I or others talk to her one-on-one she admits she has a problem, but also says she just has no will to live. She says she is always waiting for 'the other shoe to fall', always expecting the worse about things in general and has pretty much lost all of her self-esteem. Addiction induced feelings, or did she become addicted because of those feelings? In my mind, the more I learn about addiction and the more she brings up her past, it is most likely both. She was not always this way, or she was extremely good at covering up a lot of emotional/physical burdens and just made the best of things. Now I can't figure out if it is her addiction talking to me or what is left of her truth.

I am aware that only when my sister is ready to get help that her chances of recovery are better. She has been to AA and does have a sponsor. I talked privately to my sister's husband recently and he is checking into the possiblity of holding a family intervention at their home. Can I, even though I don't live in the same state as my sister and may not be there for the after-intervention-follow-up in person, be of any help in the intervention process? I want to be present for it and will if I am asked, but would living long distance be a limiting factor? Has anyone had experience like this?

Currently my sister is seeing a psychologist and is taking anti-anxiety and anti-depressant meds. She was tested for bipolar but that was ruled out. Because she was severely abused in her first marriage her psychologist thinks she is sufferning post-traumatic stress from that. Her current husband told me recently that he has never known my sister not to take some sort of pill, from aspirin to other meds, and that until a year ago he just always attributed her pill taking to her severe neck pain and migraines (for which she had an unsuccessful surgery in which a steel rod was placed in her neck), brought on by the physical abuse she suffered. He believes that her only hope at this time, to be able to move forward in all of this, is complete detox.

My sister refuses to attend any more AA meetings (saying they do not help her). She does what she can to get her hands on prescription and OTC meds and alcohol (or the like). She had a job in a restaurant and was respected by all there, but had access to alcohol there which lead up to her suicide attempt.

It has come to this: family no longer allows her to drive (her husband and my mother keeps the car keys), she is not given any money (because she of course, finds ways to get meds and alcohol with it), and she is basically watched 24/7 by my mom when her husband is at work, and even so usually finds a way to elude her and gets a hold of some substance to get high. Her husband has even resorted to giving her breathalizer tests, almost on a daily basis, which she finds very degrading. If she so much as laughs or acts silly her little daughter asks her if she has been drinking and asks to smell her breath. My sister told me she feels like she can't act normal and goofy without being accused of being strung out. I can see how this all fits together.

Here is another question, and it concerns the endangerment of family members in my sister's home.... What rights does my sister's husband have in CA as far as admitting her to a facility when she will not consent to go herself, especially since my sister became violent with their child when was away at work? Her husband was quick to get their daughter, who called him at work, out of the house by means of another family memeber's intervention, but what if...???

I know my sister's husband is trying to find out what steps he can take to admit her to some sort of rehab (since she won't consent) out of his own frustration and concern for their daughter, and it seems that he is just grasping at straws. We're just crossing our fingers that no one dies in the meantime; my sister or another family member. Does anyone have any advice I can pass on to him? From what I read and hear, nothing can be done until she consents to get help.

I could also benefit from input on how best to keep myself in check about all of this. I am getting increasingly anxious about my sister's worsening state and the welfare of her family, including that of my mother, who feels obligated to help out (because my brother-in-law asks her to and her own self-induced guilt). I do try to look for positive things to fill my mind and time daily. I have read the AA Big Book and other AA material, have recently read the book Addict In The Family:Stories of Loss..., have been researching many things about addiction on the internet (which is how I found this site), and I am now reading Willpower's Not Enough. And I pray-- a lot; for my sister and all of us involved. Would attending AA or Al-anon help me, and if so, how?

I know there are a myriad of reasons why my sister is where she is at today. And since she is not really grasping true reality any more (due to chemical changes in her brain from the addcition), we are only getting bits and pieces of why she is doing what she is doing. When she isn't high she attests to the fact that she needs some kind of help and talkes about bettering herself. When she is high she says, as one might expect, that she feels like there is no hope for her and that she is just plain tired of living this nightmare. No doubt.

Thank you very much for your input to me regarding this.
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Old 11-16-2008, 07:50 PM
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Welcome to SR!

I'm so sorry for what you, your sister and family are going through.

I'm not really sure what your brother-in-law (BIL) can do legally, but if their daughter's safety is at risk, I would certainly recommend he see a lawyer, just to see what he can do.

You seem to have a pretty good grasp of addiction. I would recommend attending al-anon or nar-anon meetings. They are for people who love and addict, and can help you to know what helps, and what is enabling, which makes the addict worse. I would also REALLY recommend the meetings for your BIL, as he is right in the middle of all of it. Depending on the children's age(s) there is also ala-teen. Most kids will think their parent's addiction is somehow their fault.

You may want to also check out the friends & family forums here, as there are a lot of people here who are going through something similar. No matter where you post, though, you've found a site full of some wonderful, supportive people.

I know I didn't answer all your questions, but I'm sure others will be along.

Hugs and prayers!

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Old 11-16-2008, 07:53 PM
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Wecome to SR!

I echo what Amy said above! Good advise. You have written a well thought out post. Try to copy and paste it and post it in the Friends and Family Forum. Many of our members who deal with this on a daily basis check in there regularly.

I'm the addict so I don't have advise for you. Just wanted to let you know that I think you are a terrific sister!
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Old 11-16-2008, 08:18 PM
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Hello and Welcome to SR....

Following Amy and Pelicans good suggestions
I am moving your thread to our
Friends & Family of Substance abusers Forum

Blessings to all of you

Last edited by CarolD; 11-16-2008 at 09:53 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 11-16-2008, 08:18 PM
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Welcome to SR. Your story is compelling. I am an alcoholic, new in recovery...So I cannot give you any advise or anything, but the family and friends side be a great place to start. Good luck to you and your family, there is alot of support here, alanon is great too for people affected so I am told. I hope your sister can get the help she needs..AA is saving my life! God bless..:praying
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Old 11-16-2008, 08:42 PM
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He can get her removed from the home due to child endangerment. He may be investigated also though. My thought is the safety of the children. The substance abuse issue is something she must get help for but she may become closer to her bottom if she is not allowed in the home.

My thoughts are with you.

I believe you can research the laws from where you are but so can he.
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Old 11-16-2008, 08:53 PM
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You sound like a wonderful sister!
It sounds like it is time for a serious intervention with a professional.
It is time for her to agree to treatment or your bil needs to divorce her and keep her away from the daughter. What a sad situation. But it also sounds like your sister is crying out for help and needs a little push.
Keep reading and attend Al-Anon and Nar-Anon. I would also encourage your bil to do the same.
Best of luck!
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Old 11-16-2008, 08:54 PM
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The best thing you can do in your situation is pass this site along to your brother-in-law. I know that he is trying desperately to help his wife/your sister but really all of it to me seems like enabling. As long as she has a roof over her head and someone to pick up the pieces of her destruction she will continue on this path.

Its hard to hear your story because I know you feel very helpless. Because of the fact that you mentioned she has gotten violent with her child the best thing to do (IMHO) is for her husband to ask her to leave.

Its no longer about your sister its about her child. Things will continue to get worse. No good can come of her staying in the home.

I dont know the legalities or the ins and outs of laws but what I do know is that you BIL is living the life I chose not to. I asked my exabf to leave our home over a month ago. Today he is in treatment. I am unsure of what will happen to our family but I know that I could not continue allowing an active addict to live in my home with our children.

That was one of the most painful things I have ever done. But my kids suffered alot from it. My oldest child suffered the most and in ways my ex will never understand until he reaches that point in his recovery, which could really be never. The final straw for her was when he came and removed his things from our home. It was like she snapped. I had to have her hospitalized. She is home and better today but the damage is done. I am the parent with the clear head and it is my job to protect my children at all costs. There is no greater love for your kids then to show them that they mean more to you then someone who is destorying themselves and everyone in their paths.

What will happen to your niece if she continues to witness the downward spiral of her mothers addiction. Ask your BIL to come to this site and read and educate himself to the life he is choosing for his child.

Keep posting. Keep reading...Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family...
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Old 11-16-2008, 09:29 PM
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Thank you everyone so very much. I will sleep much better tonight for all of your kind and wonderful advice, even you Pam08...what you had to say gives me hope as well and the best of luck to you all. Until later....
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Old 11-17-2008, 04:24 AM
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Welcome to SR. My daughter is my addict and she also abused opiates. You have to let them hit a bottom but you can help them reach that bottom by not enabling them. Addicts need to take responsibility for their addiction and sometimes the only way they will do that is when they lose everyone and everything. When using becomes more painful than the idea of getting help. When you talk to your sister you are really talking to the chemicals that she has put into her body. It is very hard to talk sensibly with an active addict. They just go round and round in circles and that can lead the person trying to talk to them to feeling a bit crazy themselves. Addicts will also lie to protect their addiction, so believing anything your sister tells you is a waste of time. When she is angry and mean she is most likely craving the drug and when she is pleasant she is most likely high. Go to a meeting if you can. How they will help you is by showing you how to keep the focus on you and away from the addict. They have helped me immensly along with this forum. My daughter still tries to manipulate me but it is much much harder since I have found recovery for myself. Hugs, Marle
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Old 11-17-2008, 05:33 AM
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Thank you Marle. I appreciate what you have told me. I am going to check out the meetings. Have a good day today.
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Old 11-17-2008, 06:18 AM
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I just wanted to add, that what Marle says about addicts hitting bottom is so very true. I'm not just a recovering codependent, I'm a recovering addict.

I, too, felt despair and that life wasn't worth living. It wasn't until I hit bottom and my family said "sorry, we love you but you have to get yourself out of this" that I actually started recovery. This involved walking away from a nursing career, losing almost all my possessions, and getting locked up, among other things.

I will forever be grateful for my family LETTING me fall on my face and get back up. I am also grateful to SR and my friends here, which are a HUGE part of my recovery.

Hugs and prayers!

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