Guilt over brother

Old 03-05-2012, 02:47 AM
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Guilt over brother

I will try to keep this short although there I have a great deal to get off my chest.

I would just like some advice on my situation.

I am 18 yr old in college. My brother (20yr old) is a recovering heroin addict who has been sober for over two years now. I am writing this because I still feel guilty about his addiction. Growing up I would always keep his secrets even from my parents. I didnt think much of when I lied to my parents when my brother was starting smoking pot in middle school. I always thought I was being loyal and it wasnt really hurting him. this went on for some years until his drug use got worse. I heard rumors of him using hard drugs but never accepted them as truth. Easily the biggest failure of my life came when I found his stash of needles. I dont know how i rationalized them but i did and I tried to forget about them. I didnt go to my parents to get him help. I was selfish and scared. a few months later my parents caught him, pulled him out of college and sent him to rehab. to this day I feel guilty for being a coward and not being able to tell anyone about what I knew/saw. There is no one I feel I can talk to, I always hid my emotions and also way to ashamed to talk to my parents.

PS. my brother does not know that I found his Heroin stash and I have considered apologizing to him for my enabling/looking the other way although I dont know if that would help either of us.
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Old 03-05-2012, 08:04 AM
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I don't know either, if telling him you knew would be helpful to him, but I'm positive letting it out here is helpful to you. I hope you'll begin to forgive yourself; you were a child and did not have the coping skills to deal with it. I think you'll find that most parents here didn't have the coping skills, either. I know I didn't, when I discovered my then 20 year old daughter was shooting up.

I had to learn to forgive myself for all sorts of things I did, that enabled and contributed to her addiction. Now that I know better, I do better. You will be able to say the same thing, if you take the past and let it become a learning experience about yourself, let go of the guilt.

Are your parents involved in any recovery programs for themselves, like Alanon or Naranon? Is your brother? It might be helpful to you, to consider something like that, or utilize your school's counseling services.

Many hugs to you!
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Old 03-05-2012, 08:51 AM
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his addiction is not your fault, and it never was. you had good reason to be scared of any outcome regarding any decision you made, telling or not telling, because you found an enormous dark secret that was screaming Danger!.
it's a learning process for every single one of us. No one can really say if you should tell your brother or not, that is up to you. you said he has been in recovery for 2 years? i would think he would understand enough about his addiction at this point to be able to talk with you about it.
you can't cause an addiction, you can't control an addiction, and you can't cure one either. but i think it's good that you're aware of you're feelings and wanting to get things to where you feel ok about it.
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:49 AM
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2manyears is right on target! Don't believe for one second that his addiction, or continued addiction is your fault. My older brother is a recovering addict, and before his recovery, at 22, I enabled him for over a year - but he eventually fell into a downward spiral and got a DUI. I did what I thought I had to do because I didn't know any better. So did you. Be kind to yourself and remember the three C's! You didn't cause it, you can't cure it and you can't control it.
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Old 03-05-2012, 10:30 AM
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I agree with all of the above. My daughter is now 25 and my addicted son is almost 22. They grew up as very close friends and I'm sure our daughter knew a lot of stuff we didn't when they were in high school together and during her first couple of years of college when she was home more often. I think she felt it wasn't her place to tell us or maybe that we knew but were pretending we didn't know. She felt she was there to listen to Andy, to talk and to be his friend. Her now-husband is the one who told us our son was leaving after we went to bed at night. Our daughter just didn't want to be in the middle of it but she agreed to let her fiance tell us.

Do you have a Nar Anon or Al Anon group near you. I went for the first time last night. I think it is going to help.

My son is receving counseling at college. It is included in your tuition and the guy he has is really good. He chooses to allow us to talk to his counselor but you can keep it completely confidential too.

Hope your day is going well!
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Old 03-05-2012, 11:45 AM
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Hey guys thank you for all the support and advice. Immediatly after posting on here I began writing a letter to no one in particular. I just told the story of my brothers addiction from my perspective and I didnt leave any details out. It was amazing when I realized how the emotional patterns were being repeated, and this didnt start just when he got caught with heroin. after writing about 5 pages I realized I needed to tell someone so I emailed the letter to my parents. I woke up with a response from them, they had no idea I knew before they did, but they were glad I shared. I don't feel as relieved as I thought I would be but im still glad I did, no matter how embarassed I may be
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Old 03-05-2012, 05:53 PM
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Hi mnmnl,

I pretty much going to repeat what others have said. Your brother's addiction is not your fault and it was not your responsibility to monitor his behavior.

My brother isn't an addict, but struggles with many other things in life. I spent almost my entire adult life feeling guilty about the life that he was living. I'm older than him and always felt that I should have been able to help him.

One day in my therapist's office, she locked eyes with me and said "Raising your brother was not your job. You were a child too, it was not your responsibility." I started to cry and felt the weight of years of guilt lift from my shoulders.

Hope you make yourself comfortable here and are able to read the many useful postings that have been accumulated over the years (especially the "stickies" at the top of the forums).

No matter how much we love the addicts in our life, whether they recover or not is their responsibility.

Take Care,

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Old 06-26-2012, 02:55 PM
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You're exactly right. You can only control yourself. You probably feel more at peace now.
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Old 06-26-2012, 04:03 PM
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We all have moments when we wish we had reacted differently. We can't change the past, so lets all let it rest and move on with what we do have control over--this very moment. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is yet to appear, now is all we really have. So from this moment forward, commit to doing whatever is right to do in this moment.

I trust that God will make right the wrongs I've made and I hang on to that belief. Otherwise, I would go crazy from wishing things were different, that I had said or acted differently. Let it go, the past, and concentrate on right now. That's all you have control over.
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:53 AM
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Support program

Hi there, you might like to check out sibling support a online program they are a great resource and support service for brothers and sisters affected by addiction in the family.
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Old 10-05-2012, 11:13 PM
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Similar story

I have been in a similar situation. I'm almost 2 years younger than my brother. I saw my brother turn into an addict from 7th grade untill my senior year in highschool, I finally tried to get him help for the first time. I thought I was doing the right thing for him by not telling him and getting him in trouble for some reason, I wanted him to trust me and be cool. I never thought about addiction, I was thinking it was just a phase, I even thought it was normal, as if most kids do all those crazy drugs and sometimes he would get me too. I grew away from him, and once it got to the point that he was stealing from me and friends and other family members to pay for drugs i realized what he had become, and I walked in on him stealing soooo many times, i had enough, he was kicked out of the house after stealing countless times. Even after he was kicked out, he was stealing family money through forged checks. He was sent to rehab like 3 or 4 times, and never worked. The good thing is, last week we got him to go to rehab again and for the first time he called my dad and cried and apologized after the detox. I lost hope on my brother, but i think i have hope again. I dont know what to say about the guilt thing, i feel the same way sometimes. I should have known better, seeing him do drugs and tell me all about it on a day to day basis i thought it was something a lot of kids did, i was in denial. Im glad to hear your brother is clean. That is very good news, I hope one day my brother will return to the charming person that he truly is, addiction with hard drugs like heroin and coke and meth really change a person completly. Remember, your not responsible for someones addiction, you didn't introduce your brother and pressure him to do drugs, he was doing that on his own. Hope everything works out for you and your family.
I have actually written a lot of poems about this situation, maybe you can relate to them, here is one of the poems I wrote, called, Retrospect. If interested in other poems about this topic or similar ones i can send you a url to my blog with all my writings and poetry, maybe it could help.

In retrospect,

I recollect, that there were signs in which I would blindly neglect.

I was fooled and in denial.

There were things I could have, should have done.

I turned my back on your beloved son,

Closed my eyes and blocked it out.

I thought I was doing him a favor,

I wish I knew then that there is no later.

I was waiting for this phase to finish its cycle.

Ogling over prescription pills,

Mouthwatering for more.

What’s the harm in a little medicine?

I never thought twice about his addiction

All around me, so many omens.

He had to let his devils win.

Preaching that selfishness is not a sin,

A lifetime of lust, allow yourself to give in.

Walking on ice, turns out it was too thin.

Drowsy, now he’s drowning,

Ice cold water to his chin.
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