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Old 08-18-2012, 06:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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how do I watch my sister destroy herself?


Hi everyone,

I'm new to the site and I'm loving all the wisdom so far. My sister (38 yrs old) is an alcoholic and a drug addict. She is also bipolar. She's been drinking for about 20 years and her drug use and other destructive behaviors have really taken off over the past year.
Perhaps you could lead me to some stickies or share some thoughts with me on this: how can I, as a sibling, be OK with watching my sister destroy herself?
My family and I had an intervention with her in July. We went to the city she lives in 3 times over the next 5 weeks. She overdosed on heroin about 3 weeks ago. After that she agreed to go to a residential program at a psychiatric hospital that does dual diagnosis. Three days before she was to be released and transition to their outpatient program, she abused prescription drugs (Atavan and Suboxone) while in the hospital. She got kicked out of residential but can still go to the day program. She is extremely high risk and needs 24 hour monitoring. I talked to her yesterday and she is in complete denial that she has an addiction problem. My dad and stepmom went to see her today to try to force her to go home to my mother's (for 24 hour surveillance) but she refused and was very nasty with them. My sister, the one I used to know, is gone. I know there is nothing we can do to save her. I know our love won't save her. I know that she has to decide herself to recover. But I still don't understand how I'm supposed to sit here and watch her destroy her life. I know anything I do won't change her behavior, but it's so hard to be OK with that and not try to go out there and save her from herself. Any wise words?

Thanks!
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Old 08-18-2012, 06:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to SR. I'm sorry your sister is in denial of her problem, but there is nothing you or your family can say to her that will fix her. To be honest, the worst thing they could do would be to allow her to move into their home. That won't make her better and it will only cause more chaos and misery right there in their own home.

I know how hard it is to watch loved ones make such bad choices, but you can't control her. You don't, however, have to take a front row seat to the drama. She is going to do what she is going to do, so all you can do is protect yourself so you don't stay torn up all the time. Same goes for the rest of your family. If love could cure addiction, not one of us would be here. It just isn't possible and until she, herself, is truly ready, nothing is going to change.

There are many stickie posts at the top of the first page of the F&F of Substance Abusers forum. I hope you'll take the time to read them and get an idea of what many of us have dealt with concerning our addicted loved ones. Please post often and read, read, read. We're here to support you.
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Old 08-18-2012, 07:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcome, Sisterstruggle. So sorry for your pain. I would suggest that you do a search on this forum with the word "sibling." You may find some other soul sisters and brothers here. And lots of mommas who can help, too. One thing to know, hard as it is, is that you can really do very little to change the outcome. She's in charge of this one.

Yesterday my 14 yo daughter was able to convince her BF that he needed to go home, talk to his mom, and fess up to his pot, alcohol and other drug use. Her joy in being able to convince him was like a drug in some ways. She watched her sister in the hospital for 5 weeks after a heroin overdose and she has found too many friends of her own to be vigilant with since. I am seeing both sides right now. Or three sides! My own addiction to helping my AD, my AD's recovery process which involves being nasty and/or cold with me, and my youngest daughter trying to rescue everything she can find! (Look at my post about the baby hawk incident!) You need to find a way to detach from her decisions, good or bad. I know you can do it. You seem like a smart sister. Peace.
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Old 08-19-2012, 02:17 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Good morning Sisterstruggle,
My sister is also a drug addict, a lot of people have sent very helpful advice my way if you search for posts that I have started.

I haven't got a lot of time today, but just wanted to say that you come first. If it gets too hard to watch your sister destroy herself, you are under no obligation to stay in contact. And if relatives have a problem with that, you have no obligations to them either.

And don't let her in your house. And encourage your parents to get their valuables into a safe place.

At this time, I have not spoken to anyone in my family for over a month. It went against everything I thought was right, but I must say I have never felt such peace.
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Old 08-19-2012, 08:22 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone for your loving messages.
I think what I'm struggling with (and my entire family too) right now is that all of this is so new. She's been an alcoholic for years and years but has managed to keep a job, buy a condo, and otherwise be functional. It's in the past 6-12 months that her mental illness has really plunged and it's not until this summer that we found out about heroin (although I'm quite sure she's been using for at least 6 months or longer, same deal with abusing prescription meds). We confronted her for the first time in July and she went to a rehab (which she got kicked out of) for the first time earlier this month. She hasn't stolen from us. And she lives across the country. My parents are a 6 hour car ride away, I'm a 2 hour plane ride. And she has moments when she crumples and cries to my mom or my stepmom, "please help me. I don't want to die."
Recently we are seeing less and less of the fragile and crying girl that we know and love. Instead we see more and more of the stubborn girl who claims she is not a drug addict and it's just her mental illness that is the problem. So because she waivers back and forth, and it's our first time truly confronting this, we keep having hope that she will decide to get sober. It's like she isn't completely lost (yet).
She's a binger. With alcohol she could go a week without drinking (she even has gone months in the past). But then when she does drink she can't stop and drinks until she blacks out. So she may actually not be using drugs every single day. I just have no idea.
Is it possible for someone to use heroin 5-10 times (as my sister claims) and NOT be an addict? Or is she completely bullshitting us? Do heroin addicts have to use everyday? Or can they use other drugs in place of the heroin to get their fix? I just don't know how it works.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for being here with me and helping me understand.
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Old 08-19-2012, 08:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
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It's in the past 6-12 months that her mental illness has really plunged

Can you be sure if it is indeed the mental illness ? The drugs will exacerbate the illness, I have a son who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective and they can do nothing for his mental illness until he is off drugs, it is possible that a lot of what you are seeing is a combo of the two intertwined.

Sadly, there is nothing you can do to help her my guess having a diagnosis of bipolar myself is she is cycling much faster but I am not a doctor that could be why you have seen such changes recently. No matter the reason only YOUR sister can do anything about it.

Have you tried any meetings for yourself?
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Old 08-19-2012, 08:36 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by sisterstruggle View Post
Hi everyone,

I'm new to the site and I'm loving all the wisdom so far. My sister (38 yrs old) is an alcoholic and a drug addict. She is also bipolar. She's been drinking for about 20 years and her drug use and other destructive behaviors have really taken off over the past year.
Perhaps you could lead me to some stickies or share some thoughts with me on this: how can I, as a sibling, be OK with watching my sister destroy herself?
My family and I had an intervention with her in July. We went to the city she lives in 3 times over the next 5 weeks. She overdosed on heroin about 3 weeks ago. After that she agreed to go to a residential program at a psychiatric hospital that does dual diagnosis. Three days before she was to be released and transition to their outpatient program, she abused prescription drugs (Atavan and Suboxone) while in the hospital. She got kicked out of residential but can still go to the day program. She is extremely high risk and needs 24 hour monitoring. I talked to her yesterday and she is in complete denial that she has an addiction problem. My dad and stepmom went to see her today to try to force her to go home to my mother's (for 24 hour surveillance) but she refused and was very nasty with them. My sister, the one I used to know, is gone. I know there is nothing we can do to save her. I know our love won't save her. I know that she has to decide herself to recover. But I still don't understand how I'm supposed to sit here and watch her destroy her life. I know anything I do won't change her behavior, but it's so hard to be OK with that and not try to go out there and save her from herself. Any wise words?

Thanks!
This is awful. It really, really is, and I'm so sorry you're going through this. Unfortunately, there really is nothing you can do, especially when you factor a mood disorder into the mix. She's self-medicating, which is quite common for someone with Bipolar.

The hardest thing we all have to do, as the loved ones of someone with alcohol and/or drug issues, is accept that we are powerless over their addiction. You can love them all you want, you can hope the best for them, you can yell, scream and get in their faces, and it doesn't make a difference. It sucks. The only thing you can do is control your behavior when faced with the situation you find yourself in now.

You will learn, as you spend more time here, that some of us are recovering addicts themselves, and the work they've had to do to recover, to get honest with themselves, is nothing short of amazing. Read their posts very, very carefully, for the insight is invaluable. I also HIGHLY encourage you to find a local Al Anon and/or Nar Anon meeting so you can have support in person from those who have been where you are. Allow them to comfort you and listen to their wisdom, for it can and will save your sanity.

I'm glad you found us, and you and your sister will be in my thoughts and prayers tonight.

God Bless,
ZoSo
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Old 08-19-2012, 09:32 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Hi Angie,
Thanks for your message. It is definitely a combination of the two. And we don't know what behavior is the bipolar and what is the drugs. And yes, you are right - her mental illness is absolutely stuck (and getting worse) as long as she keeps using. We've told her one million times that if she uses or drinks it will negate the impact of her prescribed meds for the bipolar. She claims she can control herself. Yet she has proven time and time again that she cannot. I guess we just have to let go and hope she decides to sober up. ;(
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Old 08-19-2012, 10:35 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Hi sisterstruggle,

((hugs))

Our family has been dealing with a similar situation, my sister is bipolar, a meth addict and probably an alcoholic. She won't seek help for anything. Years back I had her clean and working for two years. She complained all the time of being " bored with the straight life." went back to the drugs. My dad is still willing to wear himslf out.

The answer to your question; "how do I watch my sister destroy herself?". Answer: stop watching. I know how horrible that sounds, but it is the only thing that has kept me sane.
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Old 08-19-2012, 10:48 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks FindingErica. I can't imagine how painful and infuriating it must have been for you to see your sister clean (for two years!) and then return to using. That is just heartbreaking.
In my sister's case, the case worker we were working with told us that one of the big problems with bipolar is that once they are stabilized and sober, they find normal life "boring" and don't want to take their prescribed medicine and often return to using. Compared to the chaos and high of the manic phases (and the highs of the drugs), I guess our lives do seem "boring" to the illogical and addicted mind. But I will take my so-called boring life any day over the destruction of drug abuse.
I think it will get to the point where I do stop watching. Right now I'm not really in contact with her very much. I called and ripped her a new one on the phone two days ago. That was a wake up call to me that a. she is in such denial and b. anything I say makes absolutely no difference. She is still communicating daily with my parents. My mom is a recovered alcoholic (16 years!) so she knows exactly who she is dealing with and is able to handle her so far.
Thanks again for your message, I appreciate it.
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Old 08-19-2012, 11:34 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I think it will get to the point where I do stop watching. Right now I'm not really in contact with her very much. I called and ripped her a new one on the phone two days ago.
Calling and ripping into her is trying to control her which leads to mutual resentments. It does not work.

Drugs have rewired her brain to protect and sustain her addiction.

Here's hoping that she reaches her own bottom sooner rather than later.
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Old 08-21-2012, 08:52 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Hello sisterstruggle. I understand the situation you're in. I agree with the others who have posted already - avoid contact with your sister if you need to. There isn't anything you can do now. It's all up to her. There's no need for you to experience all of her drama for the next 10 years or however long it is. I've been doing it at least that long, and I wish I had stopped years ago. It's a nightmare. I'm sorry you're having to deal with this, but this site is a good place to read and learn about addiction.
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:10 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Is it possible for someone to use heroin 5-10 times (as my sister claims) and NOT be an addict? Or is she completely bullshitting us?
I feel for you. Though I was on the other end, I see now what my addiction did to my family.

Heroin was not my drug of choice, so I don't know about the specific questions related to that drug. What I can say, is yes, she is completely bullshitting you all. Addicts are liars and manipulators. In the midst of active addiction, they will do or say anything to be able to keep using. I can't say for sure, but from what you've described I would say that your sister is an addict.

You've said as much yourself and other have posted some great advice, but you cannot be responsible for your sisters actions. I can only imagine how painful it is to watch someone you love destroy themselves, but she is the one that needs to make the decision to seek recovery.

Have you considered going to an al-anon meeting?

Stay strong.
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Old 08-29-2012, 10:34 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Hi, you might like to check out the sibling support program in Australia. It's online and provides information/advice/techniques etc to help you get through this. The program is specifically tailored for siblings affected by their brother or sisters alcohol/drug use. Take Care
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Old 09-23-2014, 08:37 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I feel your pain. My little sister (43 years old) has lost her job, her home, and her children to drugs. She will admit to being an alcoholic, but refuses to admit she is a drug addict. We've had to kick her out of my dad's house and take responsibility for her 2 younger children due to this addiction. She and I have ALWAYS been best friends. This is devastating. I can't sit by and watch her destroy her life, but there is nothing I can do to help her. She has to want the help.
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Old 09-23-2014, 06:11 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Welcome Traci3704! I think the person who posted this thread is no longer an active member, so please feel free to go to the main page of this friends and Family forum, click the "new Post" feature on the top left, and start your own thread introducing yourself to our members. I'm sorry about what you are going through with your sister. There's lots of great folks here and terrific support!
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Old 08-11-2015, 09:44 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I can relate

Quote:
Originally Posted by sisterstruggle View Post
Hi everyone,

I'm new to the site and I'm loving all the wisdom so far. My sister (38 yrs old) is an alcoholic and a drug addict. She is also bipolar. She's been drinking for about 20 years and her drug use and other destructive behaviors have really taken off over the past year.
Perhaps you could lead me to some stickies or share some thoughts with me on this: how can I, as a sibling, be OK with watching my sister destroy herself?
My family and I had an intervention with her in July. We went to the city she lives in 3 times over the next 5 weeks. She overdosed on heroin about 3 weeks ago. After that she agreed to go to a residential program at a psychiatric hospital that does dual diagnosis. Three days before she was to be released and transition to their outpatient program, she abused prescription drugs (Atavan and Suboxone) while in the hospital. She got kicked out of residential but can still go to the day program. She is extremely high risk and needs 24 hour monitoring. I talked to her yesterday and she is in complete denial that she has an addiction problem. My dad and stepmom went to see her today to try to force her to go home to my mother's (for 24 hour surveillance) but she refused and was very nasty with them. My sister, the one I used to know, is gone. I know there is nothing we can do to save her. I know our love won't save her. I know that she has to decide herself to recover. But I still don't understand how I'm supposed to sit here and watch her destroy her life. I know anything I do won't change her behavior, but it's so hard to be OK with that and not try to go out there and save her from herself. Any wise words?

Thanks!
I know this post is old, wondering how things are now? And what tools you found most helpful. I too am struggling with accepting that I must sit by and watch, that there is nothing I can do. Sharing anything you found helpful would be greatly appreciated.

Best,
Charlotte
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Old 08-11-2015, 10:05 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I feel your pain sister! I have 2 sisters that are on heroin. One is 23, the other is 18 and just gave birth last week 6wks early. Baby is tiny and going through withdrawals. My parents have never been there, so I'm there. Its extremely hard to watch someone waste away. The older sister has overdosed over a dozen times, and she also prostitutes. I am going to counseling as I just can't cope with the pain and guilt, because I raised them (both parents are alcoholics) I just know somewhere inside they are my sisters and I can't separate that from the addict. Sadly I don't have advice, just praying that they realize how wonderful they're life could be without the constant lying, stealing, manipulation etc...love and hugs your way. Here if u need to talk
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