I have just returned from a crisis situation that happened while on vacation in Thailand.
What was supposed to be a 2.5-week focus on my physical/mental health turned into discovering my brother who lives there, was so far gone with alcohol. A 26er a day of vodka, disgusting living conditions and had many people enabling him with $$ and a very toxic Thai girlfriend.
I was able to get him 3 days after I arrived on Koh Samui to a facility I could afford. It was the longest day of my life flying him over and getting him settled, while I ran around ATMs trying to get cash.
I wasn’t prepared for what transpired, mentally or financially. But if I didn’t he would have been dead within months.
My brother has nothing. He burned through cash and credit living some fantasy lifestyle—this after he had already completed treatment a year earlier for drug addiction.
Now I am back a week, and I don’t know what to do next. I am in BC, he is originally from Ontario. He thinks he is able to return to his island life.
Honestly, I don’t know what I can do next, he needs ongoing help for his past trauma and deeper conscience work. As I believe he was involved in some criminal activity.
Is it fair to say, yes I will support him financially on my conditions back here in Canada? The conditions would include work camps, sober farm camps, 12 Step and he had to pay me back.
Or does he even get a say in the matter on where he should be after his 30 days? I will not support him in Thailand nor will his friends there.
This is going to be a huge wake-up reminder he has to support himself. I really don’t know what to do. Addiction killed both our parents and it is just he and I. He is 10 days in and has not thanked me. Not looking for thanks, but this is an observation.
Do I keep putting money into him and shatter his illusion of what he wants to do?
Thank you kindly,
This is such a good question you’re asking, and I think a big part of your confusion is that there seem to be a number of layers to this issue. I know you love your brother and don’t want to see him hurting or living a life that you find difficult to accept for him. I’m going to try and simplify this for you.
I think the most telling thing you said was: Honestly I don’t know what I can do next, he needs ongoing help for his past trauma and deeper conscience work.
I think you’re absolutely right. It sounds like you have gone over and above, trying to help him—and in the process some of this may have devolved into enabling. Unfortunately, the reality is that if he doesn’t want the help yet, it won’t matter what you do. I know this is hard to hear for everyone with addicted loved ones, and part of your addictive behaviour may be that you’re trying and trying to control something that you absolutely can’t control.
The amazing Serenity Prayer says:
God (whatever that means to each of us), grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Like it or not, what we can change is ourselves—our choices and our reactions. Period, full stop. What we can’t change is everything and everybody else. And if we don’t have the wisdom to know the difference between what we can and can’t change, we ultimately keep trying to change what we simply cannot change, using our precious energy and resources to do that, and pretty much always coming up short because—what we’re trying to do isn’t ours to do.
Does this make sense to you? My hunch is that it makes sense but you may not want to believe it. You may instead want to believe that if you can just try hard enough, if you can just find the right thing to say or do, then he will come around and do what you want him to do, because you love him so much and want only the best for him. I understand.
What you can do is tell your brother that you love him—in fact, that you love him enough to say no now to any enabling you may have been doing before, so that he has a fighting chance of recovery. You can tell him that, because you love him, you will support his recovery but not his addiction any longer—and when he gets to the point of actually wanting help, to let you know and you’ll be there for him in the ways that you can.
I know that doing it this way could feel difficult for you because it seems you may be used to trying to do things for him so that he’ll be okay—and that way, you’ll feel okay too. But that is enabling, not helping. The truth is that you are quite limited in what you can do because the choice to recover is fully in his court—this is simply not something you can do for him.
I hope you find this helpful—and if you’d like to talk with us at Love With Boundaries to get some support for yourself—and for him when he’s ready—just fill out our Questionnaire to have a free 30-minute consultation. We can show you how to help, not enable, him. Here’s the link: https://lovewithboundaries.com/intake-questionnaire/
All my best,