O brother, where art thou?

This article first appeared in the Family Drug Help newsletter and has been republished with full permission.

Seeing a loved one battling addiction is often very difficult. I grew up with an alcoholic father, and in years to come it would be that my three brothers would have a similar path. One brother is still a somewhat functioning alcoholic, functioning considering he is on his second marriage, now separated, my other brother addicted to marijuana and my eldest brother battled a 10 year addiction to ice. Why not me, I ask, we had the same upbringing, were treated the same, had the same discipline, went through the normal highs and lows of a childhood.

I often wonder what could I have done to more to help in the initial stages of their addictions, Mum always said you don’t have to deal with adult issues. The truth is I never knew how or what could be useful. It seems that they were ashamed to tell me what was going on, until they reached their ‘rock bottoms’. It changed the relationship I had with each of them. I tried to stay in touch and have some sort of brotherly relationship with them, but time after time I was lied to, stood up, felt like I had nothing in common with them.

Although their journey is not complete, and comprises of a mixture of recovery and active alcoholism/addiction, what I do know is that I have to be vigilant,in case it’s in my genes. I do have to look after myself, I do have to support them when I can, and give my self permission to say “no” if I can’t or if it doesn’t feel right. I cannot change the past, I can’t predict the future, but it’s nice to have two of my brothers well again and on their tough journey in recovery. 

Family Drug Help work with families to have been impacted by substance misuse.