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Addiction and Rescue

answered 08:45 AM EST, Tue July 02, 2013
anonymous anonymous
I have a cousin who is a drug addict and he is now living on the streets. Crack is his biggest problem but I think he does a lot of other drugs as well. He has been on the streets for about 4 months now after bouncing around from rehab to a recovery home to get kicked out of that recovery home to another recovery to getting kicked out of that next recovery home to back with his parents to getting kicked out of his parents and then back again and then finally to the street and the Salvation Army sometimes. I see him sometimes and it breaks my heart. I can’t believe this is a person from my family. I guess these people always come from somebody’s family but somehow you never expect it to be from yours. I want to help him but I have no idea how. If I give him money he buys drugs. If I give him stuff he sells it and buys drugs? If I get him a place he parties and then gets kicked out. How can I help him without making the problem worse? I am trying to get him to meet me for lunch in the park once a week just to keep a lifeline in (the way he looks restaurants aren’t really a good option.) Sometimes he comes but mostly he is unreliable with this too.

Loren Gelberg-Goff Says...

Your cousin is very lucky to have you in his life. That said, I am sorry that you cannot rescue him. By agreeing to meet him for lunch in the park on a regular basis is huge, and is about all you can do at this time given the history you have described. You cannot care about your cousin's rehab more than he does. It sounds like a lot of people have been working hard to "rescue" your cousin and it sounds like he's not ready for it. I'm sure you've heard about people needing to feel that they are at their bottom before they do anything to make changes in their lives. Unfortunately, your cousin has not yet hit his bottom and is therefore not really looking for help to climb up out of the mess he's in. Addiction is a challenging issue and obviously not just for the addict, but for the people who care for and love him as well. You really are powerless in terms of 'making him better', but do NOT underestimate the significance and value of simply being present. This means letting him know you care, that you are willing to talk with him, meet him in the park, listen, etc. It doesn't mean rescuing, fixing, taking care of, etc. Your cousin will have to take some responsibility for where he is in his life. You might attend meetings with him (if he chooses to go) or you might go with him when he's ready to check in to another rehab center, but he must be the person who drives this train, not you or other family members.

As difficult as it is to set boundaries and limits so that you do not get sucked in to the fix and rescue mode, it is imperative that you let your cousin take the reins to make changes in his life (or not). If you need help setting and maintaining those boundaries, you might want to attend some NarAnon meetings. It's important that you feel you have support of other family and friends who are dealing with similar issues and struggles as you and your family face. If group meetings don't feel like enough, seek out a therapist in your area who works with families of addicts.

Loving and caring about your cousin may not feel like enough, but sometimes it really is all you can do, and it is enough because even though he may not be accepting of any help or intervention, you are always communicating a message of love and caring. This is very meaningful and worthwhile.  Please contact me if you have any further questions or needs...


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Page last updated Jul 02, 2013

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