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My little brother is 19, he was diagnosed with ADHD when he was in 1st grade and was put on Ritalin. The Ritalin worked pretty well, but with him already being a small kid, the appetite supression was really bad for him. After several years he tried Strattera with negative side effects. Since then he's been on Adderall and Focalin, which work very well. Now that he is legally an adult he refuses to take his meds because they make him feel slowed down and "weird". Within the last 6 months he's lost 2 jobs, got kicked out (currently living on friends couches), got a medical marijuana card which he uses frequently, and started doing LSD and ecstacy, and drinking quite a bit. He's just so impulsive and combative and I worry about what will happen over the next few months/years. He had a rough childhood and has no support from our family at all (except me). He has no insurance so he can't afford the meds, even if he wanted to take them. I guess I'm just wondering if there is anything I can do for him. He won't go to counseling, so that's not an option at this point. I would be devestated if he were to die while driving drunk or overdosing and that seems to be the path he's headed down. I guess I'm looking for some insight as to what, if anything, I can do.

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This is a first person site. That means those on the boards support you in dealing with your issues. In this case, it's probably an issue of how the question was worded. We can't really advise on how help your brother help himself. We can, however, give you support on dealing with the situation.

  • Part of dealing with this is to accept that you brother now is an adult and is responsible for his own decisions. You can't assume responsibility for them.
  • One of the things about addicts and drug users is that no one can make them want to change. This is something they must decide is valued and desire to attain by stopping the habits.
  • As for what you can do, not enabling the behavior is high on the list. If he is using, this means don't give him money. Instead, you can offer an ear and emotional support. You can offer food, clothes for a job interview, etc. If you have space, you could offer a place to sleep providing he is clean and sober.
  • If you have resources, you can offer to help with medical/medication if he wants those things. Since he managed to get a marijuana medical card, it sounds like he knows how to work the medical system. If that was back when he had insurance, then you could help him work community health clinics and like medical assistance.
  • Basically, you can offer the things that help him towards non-use while staying away from things that could result in him purchasing drugs.
  • Sometimes people have to hit bottom before they see that they want better. It is hard to watch, but sometimes there isn't much more that you can do other than offer help getting out of the hole.
  • These suggestions are pretty basic and offered by way of suggesting the type of actions you take to help yourself while offering to help him. If he doesn't want them, you still know that you offered something healthy and positive that doesn't enable his use. That will most likely help your conscious while finding a way to deal with what this does to you.
  • Alanon is an organization that supports families of alcoholics and drug addicts. You might find some real life support and better ideas there.

I'm sorry this is happening to you. It may be his problem, but you are living with the reality of it, too.

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All you can do is be a kind and (emotionally) supportive sister. But don't damage yourself by taking aboard guilt over his problems.

He has MI, and is self medicating with drugs and alcohol. He has to want to quit. He has to want to get better and treat his MI by seeing a doctor.

You may find groups for family members like Al-Anon helpful.

Best, a.m.

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Oh I understand how the site works, I'm on here for my own MI, but I just can't get him out of my mind. I understand what you are saying though, that I can't force him to help himself. I'm sure he is going to be one of the ones who has to hit rock bottom because he's always had to learn things the hard way. I think I worded things wrong in my original post, I know you can't tell me what to do, I meant more about how to talk to him, but I also can see that that isn't the main issue. I just need to sort of emotionally detach myself from the situation. I have offered him a place to stay (provided that he gets a job and doesn't do any drugs) but he would rather not have a home and still be able to party. My husband has told me several times that I have offered him all that I can, and that my brother has to make his own choices, good or bad. Maybe I will look into Al-Anon and ask my pdoc for suggestions on how to handle this without emotionally damaging myself further. The rational side of my brain tells me that I have done all that I can do, it's the other side that causes the guilt and sadness. Thank you for the insight and suggestions, I really appreciate it!

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  • 3 weeks later...

He has to be responsible for himself, which is probably pretty difficult given the issues you've reported. But don't feel that you can make him do anything, and don't feel if it's your fault if things get worse.

This is probably pointless, but has he tried taking somewhat smaller doses of Adderal or Focalin? Perhaps a smaller amount wouldn't make him feel weird but would still help.

Perhaps you could go for walks with him, if he's willing? They can be calming for both of you, though of course if he needs meds walking isn't likely to be enough, even if it's every day. Or some other form of physical activity?

The drugs don't sound like such a great idea, especially the alcohol. But he probably knows that.

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