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Druggie brother is ruining my relationship with Mom and Dad

answered 08:13 PM EST, Wed March 13, 2013
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My 26 year old brother has been in and out of treatment for heroin and other drugs several times. He has overdosed two times, the most recent being a week ago. He lives with my parents. I have two kids myself (9 and 8). My mother is taking it personal that I don't allow my kids over there. I don't see things getting better..they say things like, we are just happy he is alive and if he is alive there is hope. My relationship with my parents has deteriorated...I had to distance myself, and of course my kids are missing out on a close relationship with their grandparents. What to do...i lose sleep over this!

Dr. Ari Hahn Says...

Dr. Ari Hahn A. Hahn

If the only reason that you do not want your children to be at your parents' house is because your brother is a heroin addict I think that the situation is workable. If he is dangerous for your children for other reasons the story will be very different.

I think the biggest problem for you seems to be that this issue is destroying your relationship with your parents. From their perspective they are watching their son fade away and as a result losing a daughter and grandchildren. That has to be very, very difficult. Could you make an effort for your parents to enjoy your children in some other way? Is it a problem for them to visit you? For parents who need to deal with an adult child who has an overwhelming problem, grandchildren can serve as a fantastic mood rejuvenator.

Another issue is that you need to deal with your children’s relationship with their uncle. I assume that they know about him. I would suggest that you make sure that they know all about the addiction and how devastating it is. If he is a good uncle they should know that the drugs are killing him and every time he overdoses (if he does again) they should feel the pain also. That will help them learn the dangers of addiction. If he is not an uncle that interacts with them in a positive manner (but does not harm them) you would need to talk about your pain from the drugs and your parents’ pain from the drugs. Children can learn how to live when their parents use negative examples of how not to behave.

Of course, if he is abusive of your children in any way you should not bring your children to where he is. Explain that to your parents and try to work out alternative ways of getting together.

If you think that there is a genetic tendency in your family towards addiction it is actually more important for you to address this issue now. Ten year olds have been known to experiment with drugs and alcohol. With a living example of the dangers and how not to behave 8 years old is definitely not too young to educate.

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Page last updated Mar 13, 2013

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