(Closed) my sister is on drugs (no, seriously…help)

posted 8 years ago in Family
Post # 3
Member
514 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2011

I’m in recovery and alcoholism is throughout my family (including my FMIL).  As someone who knows quite about about how the addict’s mind works, here’s a little advice:

1.  Get to Al-Anon or some other type of support system so you can talk with people who “get” what you’re going through.

2.  You can’t save her. 

3.  Take care of yourself!

4.  Don’t have her in your wedding if at all possible.  Trust me, it will not go well.  She will not pull it together for you.  I say this because I know how much I disappointed my family (and didn’t care until I got sober) when I was using.

FYI, there’s a school of thought that addicts stop growing emotionally when they start using and are perpetually adolescents in regards to maturity.  This definitely was the case with me and sounds like it may be true with your sister.

Post # 5
Member
359 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

I’m really sorry that you and your family have to go through this. I know it’s hard to see someone you love lose control like that. I’ve had a few friends/family members who were similarly influenced by alcohol and even went through a phase where I was drinking way too much/relying on alcohol to avoid dealing with emotional pain/depression. Unfortunately, I’m not sure there’s much you can do beyond letting your sister know that you love her and are very worried about her and the choices she’s making. She probably wont respond well to that conversation, but at least you might help her to eventually realize there is a problem. From my experience, it seems people really have to reach their own decision to quit. Losing a substantial scholarship (which would have meant I essentially got paid to go to college for 4 years) was the wake-up call I needed.  I would try to let her know how you feel in a loving, non-judgmental way.

As far as her involvement in your wedding… I would probably speak with her about your concerns and ask her if she really feels she can come through for you – allow her to decline and come as a guest if she would rather. Maybe you could ask another family member if they would be willing to stick close to her on your wedding day and help her to stay on track/guide her to another room if she is acting the way she did with your daughter. I’d also consider letting the other BMs know the situation and that they may need to take over her responsibilities or be flexible with her. 

I really wouldnt call Crimestoppers – she clearly has already been arrested/convicted and it didn’t help last time. It seems like that would likely cause your parents more stress and not really change anything for your sister (other than maybe send her to jail/prison for multiple offences.) The criminal process rarely rehabilitates people and may even connect her to even more bad influences. 

Have you spoken to the rest of your family about the way they enable her behavior? That seems like the most reasonable thing you could hope to change. Maybe your parents just don’t know what to do – is some kind of family counseling a possibility?

I hope she gets help soon, for your sake and her own. I think it really needs to be her decision to get clean, but I’m sure she will need the love and support of her sister to eventually get there. 

Post # 6
Member
941 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

During a training on active listening (amongst other things), I was told that the best way to communicate with someone is by being open, honest, and direct.  And I think in dealing with your sister, this would be the best route to go.

Going a step beyond that for general people, addicts are not people you want to try and reason with, or be logical with.  People with addictions can do a great job of giving you excuses, reasons, explanations, etc.  They’re also great at explaining away things or trying to convince you that they’re right, even if it’s not a truth.  It’s all part of the disease of addiction, and can leave you banging your head against a wall.  So, in the interest of being open, honest, and direct, you can make it about you and not give her the chance to argue with you.  It’s important to say these are my feelings and concerns, and this is how it is.  And don’t give her wiggle room.  And realize your feelings are your feelings, no matter what she says.

And I definitely agree that going to Al-Anon or Nar-Anon (for people whose loved ones are addicted to drugs).  It’s a great program that has offered me support in the past.  And if you don’t want to/feel comfortable going to in-person meetings, there are online message boards that are really helpful.  I relied on a message board community for support, and it was really helpful and empowering.  So if you haven’t, I fully fully fully recommend you seeking out support.  (And if you have more specific questions, feel free to PM me). 

Post # 8
Member
941 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

@ChantelleyLace:  It is super tough having to cut out loved ones, especially since it’s much nicer to think of them as the people they were before the drugs and alcohol took over.  And at the same time, you have to think about what’s best for you.  And it sounds like you know not including her is what’s best for you.

If you really do want to include her, maybe discuss with your fiance a role she can play that isn’t required, so if she isn’t able to follow through, you won’t be upset or negatively affected.

When it comes to addiction, one of the ways you begin to heal is really considering what is best for YOU.  Because it’s not easy (and usually impossible) to change the behavior of someone else, it’s important to do what you know is good for you.  I know when I first learned that, I felt like it was a selfish approach.  And then i realized it’s the best one to take.

This is you wedding and your wedding day.  And it’s important that you do what you can to control what you can so you can have a happy day full of good memories. 

Post # 10
Member
941 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

That’s interesting that she said that.  It is definitely a possibility that she was able to acknowledge her problem.  Though acknowledgment is one thing, action is another.  A lot of people who are addicts can realize their behaviors are not good or healthy.  And then it’s a whole different thing when they actually do something about it. 

It’s also easy to joke about your problems…much easier than actually dealing with them.  So that could be it too…

Post # 11
Member
514 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2011

I second the idea of being open, direct, and honest.  Addicts don’t pick up on subtlety (I still have problems with this after years of sobriety, but I might be extra slow :).  I would tell her that you know that she is using and that you dont’ want to have a bridesmaid who is an addict/alcoholic. 

I know what it feels like to have to say these things to family members.  I’ve had to tell my father that I don’t want to him to be around me when he’s drinking (which basically means I don’t want him around at all).  We used to be really close and it was really hard to tell him this, but I need to protect my own health and sobriety. 

I know it feels selfish, but it really isn’t.  Being selfish would be to not care about what she can handle and do and to ignore her problems. 

Post # 13
Member
399 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2012

I’m in a similar situation, except it’s my half-brother, and he’s only 5 years older than me (27).  He started drinking and smoking at a very young age (13 or 14) and started his downward spiral from there.  He dropped out of high school, and my parents tried their hardest putting him into every group home they could.  He would show signs of improvement, but after he left get right back into everything.  He was even in my state’s training school for a while (basically a jail for minors, if you’re unfamiliar).  He’s my dad’s son from a previous marriage, but my mother basically raised him.  My parents literally tried everything they could.  It got to the point that he would even steal from my parents.  Take all their saved up change, family heirlooms to pawn, etc.  They kicked him out and had to tell him that if he ever came near the house without their permission they would call the police.

I’ve tried writing him letters (i’m not good with confrontation).  The first one I wrote he read and on Thanksgiving came to my Grandparents house and told me how much it affected him and that he was going to change.  That didn’t last long.  A few months later he was back to the same old stuff.

Over the years he has had a few children with different women that he doesn’t support, and he has warrants out for his arrest in 3, maybe 4 states for missing court dates and such (mostly for drug charges).  He got married last year and his wife is no better than he is.  She has two kids who she left behind to run away with my brother.  Since then they’ve been arrested for possession with intent to sell, were released, failed to show up for their court date, arrested again.. etc.

My parents have sent him money (he lives across the country now), talked to him numerous times, and supported him through everything.  It wasn’t until a year or two ago that my dad finally came to term with the fact that there’s nothing they can do.  I told him that I don’t want him to even come to my wedding unless I know for a fact that he’s clean and sober.  It doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on him, since he’s yet to do anything about it.

I know that your sister is still a very big part of your life.  You’re never going to go a day without worrying about her.  I still worry daily about my brother, but I had to let go.  There comes a point where you realize that they’re not going to change, and if they are it has to be on their own.  I think you’re making the right decision by “firing” her.  Maybe try what I did, and give her an ultimatum.  If she cleans herself up and proves that she can get better, she can be in your wedding.  I really really really hope that she’ll take your advice and go to the rehab center.  I also think it might be helpful to have a talk with your mother about her.  Maybe it hurts your mother so much that she puts on a front and acts like she’s okay.  Maybe she just really needs to talk about it.

Sorry this was so long, but I just wanted you to know that there are other people out there going through similar situations.  I’ll keep you in my thoughts, and I wish the best for your sister.  Try as hard as you can and do whatever you can do to help her, but don’t give her the chance to ruin your big day!

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