Rehab Agreement?
Posted: December 13, 2016, 11:45 AM

Posts: 2
Joined: December 13, 2016

This is my first time posting - maybe y'all can help.

My brother is 22, & has been an addict since he was about 17 we think - it started so small that we were unaware, but has snowballed since. He overdosed for the first time at 19, & was in a coma for three days. Luckily he survived almost unharmed, & had to go to rehab for a mandatory 10 days. We thought it was over, but it wasnt.

He's overdosed twice since then. He's been to rehab I think about 6 times...he always stays enough to detox & then thinks hes "better" and checks himself out.

We've tried moving him to different cities, enrolling him in different college programs, my dad & mom have funded these endeavors with hopes he'd stick to his word & change his life around.

It never works. He drops out. He starts using again. At first, it was pills. In the last year, its turned to heroin.

He has stolen money from me, my mother, my grandmother - he cons my grandmother mostly, promising its for gas or food - then spending it on drugs, of course.

He's gotten charged with stealing from stores - he's got a pending DUI - at this point, he is so low. My mom has tried kicking him out to live in his car, he crawls back because he's out of money, or owes money to drug dealers.

So, enough background I guess. He was supposed to go to rehab before Thanksgiving. He had stolen from me, felt horrible, cried and said this time was it. He needed help, he needed to change, he was finally not going for anyone but himself. So we did all we could to find him a program. He's still on my dad's insurance - so he made a ton of phone calls, we thought we had him lined up at a rehab facility, my mom & I drove him 2 hours up there at night, to be turned away because of "miscommunication" between admissions and the actual detox facility.

He started to detox at home and was doing well. So of course, he decided he didnt need rehab anymore. Said he wanted to move back to where he was trying to go to college the last time & get a job & a place & "start over". We fell for it. He's already back again, and worse off than he's ever been. He's so sick, his track marks make me want to cry. He's my only sibling. I feel so responsible for him.

He came to my mom & promised that he would go to rehab after Christmas. He doesnt want to spend the holiday in a treatment center. He said that he wanted her to hold him to it - that if he refused after Christmas he wanted us to have him involuntarily committed or to call the cops on him & have him put in jail. He said he would even sign something that way he couldn't back out.

I've read some on this forum that people think written agreements/contracts are stupid. I understand the reasoning behind that. BUT, since he's asking, does anyone think it would help/does anyone know where I can find a sample?

I've told him all I want for Christmas this year is my brother back. & I'm just at a loss now. I don't know what else to do to help. But I want to be able to hold him to his agreement. & I need help knowing how.

Thank you all in advance. Happy Holidays.
Posted: December 13, 2016, 1:10 PM

Posts: 383
Joined: October 25, 2016

Your brother is still young but it sounds like he is already into drugs pretty heavy. I think heroin is one of the worst addictions to recover from because of the physical aspects but I can’t tell you much about it. The fact that your brother has gone to several rehabs already sounds to me like he may want to quit or is the family or court forcing him to go? I just wonder if he is really serious in his own mind that he wants to make a change in his life. Rehab will not work if he isn’t committed. It sounds like he can come home and get clean, then when he feels better and gets comfortable again he starts all over. Maybe if he has nowhere to go if he messes up, he won’t be so quick to start using all over again? He still has his family there to help him. It is good that he is still on your parents insurance so he can get some good help. However, they will be responsible for their share of the cost and at some point they may not want to invest any more money into his rehab if it isn’t working.

Heroin is not my son’s drug of choice, but we did the college thing. He enrolled twice and once we sent him away from all the bad influences so he could focus on school work. The first time he dropped out and did who knows what with the refund. The second time he didn’t complete one class and he brought friends from home to live with him in the apartment we paid for so it did no good to send him away. There are all kinds of drugs and parties in college towns. I would not spend any more money on sending him to college until he can prove that his life is together enough to focus on it. Maybe after he is sober for a year or more he could figure out something easier like a local 2-year course of study so the pressure would be less and cost wouldn’t be so much. Minimize the money loss now because your parents might be doing this awhile unless they stop enabling his behavior sooner than later.

I often tell my son that he has to make changes within himself. He tries to run away from his problems and has started over a bunch of times. He thinks he can run away from the drugs, but there are drugs everywhere and he just takes his problems with him wherever he goes. He has to learn to say “no” and hang with a different crowd. All the drug users find each other no matter where they live.

It sounds like your brother loves his family. Unfortunately, I don’t think you can believe much of what he tells you. He feels guilty about what he has done. He makes promises because he knows that is what you want to hear and maybe he sincerely believes he can do all those things .. go to rehab .. go to college .. get clean for the family .. be the person you want him to be. The reality is that it is much harder to do it than to think you can do it. I believe some people are born with an addictive personality that makes them use drugs and it is an urge that is hard to stop. You can’t save him from himself no matter how hard you try. My son stopped or cut down on using drugs for a few years and substituted drinking too much alcohol. He just exchanged one illegal addiction for a legal addiction but he was still using a drug.

You say your brother is “low”. He may seem low now but that is not nearly as low as he can go and sounds like he is heading there fast. You can’t be responsible for him or his choices or the end result of his using. He will do what he will do and it is not your fault or the fault of your parents. It is not because you didn’t love him enough or help him enough. You can try everything and something might work or it might not work. It can be sad and depressing for everyone involved but whatever happens is ultimately your brother’s choice. Don't let yourself get swallowed up by his bad choices...make your own good life and be happy.

Many on this board are going through similar things. There are people here that know more about heroin use and they can give you some insight and helpful information. I hope your brother turns things around but I wouldn’t expect things to happen fast and suddenly he is a completely new person.

Posted: December 13, 2016, 1:36 PM

Posts: 383
Joined: October 25, 2016

I forgot to answer your question about an 'agreement'. I haven't had much success with agreements, but anything is worth a try. Maybe it will work with your brother. What is the worst that can happen? He will ignore the agreement and not go to rehab. He is free to make that choice so don't be surprised if it happens. He wants to be home during the holidays, but when he starts feeling better he may think he doesn't need to go. I have heard similar things from my son when he was just buying some time or trying to get what he wanted out of me. My son had no intention of honoring any agreements it was just a way to stay at our house but your brother might be different.

Posted: December 13, 2016, 5:52 PM

Posts: 1648
Joined: June 27, 2016

short answer - read the posting - "What not to do" you and mom and family should go to naranon meetings to be able to learn how and what to do and to hear from others. my husband and I went for about a year. It helped us strategize what to do and to be on the same page with a plan.

an agreement should be short and sweet: example. 1. he can live at home if he is not using any drugs or alcohol 2. A time for a curfew since others in the family need to sleep and if he is not home or coming in late, it disrupts mom and dad's sleep. 3. within a certian time, get a job. 4. give rent or paycheck to parents, with xxx amount a weekly allowance. 5. participate with family, chores. no need to get too detailed.

basically - he can live home if not doing drugs. period.

you can discuss What You Are Not Going to do ---- so it wont be a surprise.

between brother and family, meet once a week to go over the agreement to see if changes need to be made.

It becomes exhausting to 'police' his behavior. It is usually easier for him to be on his own. and do not give money or things that he should be doing himself.

it is harder than it sounds. we have all been pushed to this limit. my son is 27. started with a great career, full time job for several years. now he has nothing but saddness. he has lost some friends. my son has been in two rehabs in two years and has stayed for over 45 days in eachone.

currently he is living at his sister's where he can not get drugs (yet) . so he is ok for now.
but he has to figure out how to rebuild his life when he really does not like life very much.

(just my own thought - I think he needs something to be passionate about)

This post has been edited by NyToFlorida on December 13, 2016, 5:57 PM
Posted: December 13, 2016, 7:10 PM

Posts: 288
Joined: October 12, 2006

Written agreement? Not to be rude but don't bother. Waste of time.



I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power,love and a sound mind.
Posted: December 13, 2016, 7:59 PM

Posts: 1648
Joined: June 27, 2016

It is true that a contract might be a waste of time. your brother has to want to stop. he has to want it more than anything. thats what it takes to suffer thru withdrawls and cravings. and then it takes months and a year to slowly feel better. If he wants to stop he can begin by going to NA meetings. Then, instead of a contract and living at home, he should find a sober living house /program close or within public transportation from a job. He can have a contract with the sober living program. Tell him that is his ONLY choice. can not have him at home, he needs the programs to learn how to live without drugs. He needs independent time away from the enabling family.

do not pay his rent. he should talk to the administration and negotiate how to pay the rent when he has a job - which should be gotten as soon as possible. at the most, let your parents pay a small amount of the rent. nothing more. HE needs to learn to save money for food and clothes and transportation.

my son has been struggling in recovery for the last two years. If he didnt keep relapsing, and if he stayed at the sober living house (where he was for about 5 months) he would have been fine. but, he moved into a room he rented, barely paid rent. we thought he was doing OK for about 3 months, then all progress fell apart. wasnt paying rent, needed clothes and shoes for work, then needed food....

HE should have been paying rent and should have saved for new clothes and shoes, etc..

a few months ago one of the old timers here said something about wanting to do it HIS way not the right way.... it is true, my son wants to become sober by doing it HIS way. But HIS way does not work, he has been doing it for years! Now - us family members - need to do it OUR way.... our daughter was kind enough to take her brother in. but only bc she lives on a military base and for the short term he wont know where to find drugs. Maybe it is enough to keep him clean for a while. we all were just welcoming a break from the phone calls and financial problems.

If my son does come back home, one of MY rules will be that I get his paycheck and give him an allowance. If he does not like that, then he can go somewhere that he likes!

Good Luck.

This post has been edited by NyToFlorida on December 13, 2016, 8:04 PM
Posted: December 14, 2016, 6:37 AM

Posts: 243
Joined: August 18, 2016

I agree with Jen..a written agreement is a waste of time. All it does is "get you guys off his back" until after Christmas..when he most likely will ignore the contract and go back to his usual behavior.

Active addiction is something that you have no control over. It doesn't matter how much you love him or want to help him..he will need to find recovery in his own time in his own way. The only thing your family can do is stop enabling him and start living your own, healthy lives.

@NY, just a mentioned that you would make your son give you his paycheck and give him an allowance. That is part of the controlling, watching that comes with enabling. He is an adult who, addict or not, needs to learn to make a living and budget for his needs. You controlling his paycheck will not keep him clean. If he needs money for drugs, he WILL find a way. The only way he will ever learn to be fiscally responsible is to learn how to handle his money and to suffer the consequences if he spends it on drugs or other things instead of rent, food etc. It is a hard area to let go of control over, but it is a necessary one. Just something to think about...
Posted: December 14, 2016, 9:29 AM

Posts: 1648
Joined: June 27, 2016

hi lollee, yes, I agree with you. but we have already spent years waiting for him to learn how to manage financially. and spent $$ on rehab and expenses. I have been paying his student loans for the past 2 years. me taking his paycheck is guarantee that his money will be paying the loans. I will not continue paying while his $$ buys a good time. I think of it as my payback. I will save it for him, but also take $$ to pay the loans and a small amount per month to pay me back. He can then participate with me in learning how to use on line banking and to pay his bills. a few months ago in a conversation he said he would consider this . (of course - agreeing to what we want to hear) he has not come home because he feels it would be a nightmare for him to live with our rules - we wont let him drive our cars, no public transportation where we live, dad will be hounding about a job, mom will talk about money every day. LOL

This is the whole reason why it is easier on everyone for the addicted loved one to live elsewhere. For them to be forced to learn to do it on their own. and so no one has to watch and control and deal with the fall out of another person's actions.

Me taking his paycheck sounds like control - my control of my finances - to be sure that I dont get stuck paying for his stuff. been there, done that too many times.

If he is serious about being clean, he will do it. non addicts do this when they have trouble w finances. or need more control over spending.
Posted: December 14, 2016, 10:41 AM

Posts: 185
Joined: November 2, 2016

AMK Sister,

You will get great advice on your situation. I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am that you and your family have to go through this! I can tell you love your brother and he is really in a mess. Heroin addiction is a horrible, horrible thing. Try to take care of yourself and be easy on yourself. You cannot fix the problem, as much as we want to! It is a really difficult situation to love an addict, to have an addict as a member of the family. I hope he eventually can move into recovery. However, even if he does not, please take care of you. I have struggled in the same way you are struggling. I just wanted to tell you that I can relate to your pain. Keep reading here and sharing!
Posted: December 14, 2016, 11:35 AM

Posts: 2
Joined: December 13, 2016

Thanks everyone for your kind words & advice.

I hate that anyone has to go through this. Its hard.

I met up with him last night ... he told me that his dad is trying to get him into a treatment center maybe even before Christmas. He said it would suck to spend Christmas away but that it would be his Christmas gift to everyone that he is finally trying to get better...

I cried my eyes out when I saw him... he looks like the walking dead. It's hard to imagine my vibrant, sweet, red-headed little brother is somewhere inside that shell of a human being.

He couldnt stand to see me crying, & the visit was short, but I'm hoping for a Christmas miracle at this point. Anything is possible, right?

I've looked into family support meetings in my area, I'm going to try & start going & get my mom & grandmother to come with me. I'm scared - I feel like a lot of people are so judgmental. We are still in the stage of trying not to enable, and it seems like so many people have just cut their relatives out of their lives completely. I cant imagine not speaking to my brother for months, years, etc. Knowing he's homeless or in prison. It hurts my heart. But it also seems like a lot of family members judge you if you cant just cut that person off. So I've put off the meetings so far for fear of that happening. I just need to suck it up, I guess.

I'm glad I found this. I hope that it helps me work through it. No one can understand unless they're in our shoes how hard this really is.
Posted: December 14, 2016, 11:44 AM

Posts: 1648
Joined: June 27, 2016

amksister and fran33, I re-read your initial post. your brother needs a live-in program for many months. he has done detox many times. he needs a program of support to keep him clean and to learn how to live without drugs. they need time to learn how not to do what they have been doing.

this is a concern w my son. he is living w his sister, which is ok for now and somewhat temporary. but he is not participating in a program of any kind. he really needs this bc he has to unlearn what he knows and learn what he has not learned regarding taking care of himself and being a productive, law abiding citizen. only others who have been there can teach this in a way that he can understand (us parents just arent the ones who can teach them - already tried, right?)

at the beginning of 2016 my son was in rehab and then living at a sober living program who's mission was exactly what I am talking about. he was there for about 5 months, was doing well, then got itchy and thought he could do it on his own... nope, couldnt. he needed a lot more supportive time. he jumped out too soon.

you can take a broken toy off the street, but it is still a broken toy.

I can talk the talk, it all sounds perfect, but we arent walking perfectly in this family either!
Just keep trying!

keep reading our old posts.

This post has been edited by NyToFlorida on December 14, 2016, 11:45 AM
Posted: December 14, 2016, 12:20 PM

Posts: 521
Joined: August 28, 2016

In my experience a contract isn't worth the paper it is written on! Our son went to a Outward Bound 3 week course and was supposed to sign an contract with his parents at the end. He looked at us and said "no way" and tore it up in front of us and the counselor.

As far as controlling their paycheck, I think that is just what it is and that is still controlling. Yes, it safeguards your money but what does it teach him? It is so hard to not want to set them on the right track --control how they spend their money, where they go or what programs they are in, and where they live and on and on. Fact is we cannot control them or change them and they can spend 5 years in rehabs and programs because we wanted them there, but they have to want to change and want to get clean! They will tell you whatever it takes and whatever you need to hear to keep you "enabling" them and off their backs! We all have spent countless hours, money, and tears over their addictions, but sadly, statistics prove that the rate for returning to drugs is higher than the rate of cure.

Basically---we can pull out all the stops and put all our hopes into them ,but unless THEY want to change--NOTHING changes!

I pray that at least one of our addicts can make it and I pray for all of us moms, dads, and other family members --that we will live to see them be free of their addictions!

Posted: December 14, 2016, 12:33 PM

Posts: 29
Joined: October 10, 2016

Hi AMKsister - there is always hope. I would have to agree that a contract may not be effective. It never worked in my situation. I know for me, I had enabled my alcoholic 27 yr old son for so many years. Nothing ever changed. I found out that there were many dynamics in play with my enabling: I was rushing in to fix, rescue and solve his problems because I couldn't allow him or myself to sit with the anxiety and worry that came with addictive thinking and living. My thinking was I was his mom, it was my job to do the worrying, fixing, and figuring out for him. I found out that it was not my job, but his. All i was really doing was trying to control the situation so I would feel a bit of relief from all the upset, if only for awhile. I was sending him the message that I didn't really think he could handle, figure out or manage his own life., After a much hard earned realization of my part in this dynamic, I informed him that I was no longer going to enable him and take away his dignity and right to live his life the way he wanted other words, I had to let go of all my thoughts, fears, anxieties of not having a hand in his life. The hardest thing Ive every had to do. That was in Aug - I felt a lot of shame from making this decision, I just knew that people would not understand, least of all my family or son. But I knew in my heart that I had done and tried everything else, everything except let my son have his life and choices back.Getting help for myself is a part of my process. I needed to learn how to have a different relationship with my son. I had to concede that I too needed recovery from my enabling codependent ways of coping. I cannot do it alone. It is a work in progress...some days are better than others..but there is always hope. So keep coming back here and let others share their experiences, their strength and hopes with you. xo
Posted: December 14, 2016, 12:57 PM

Posts: 383
Joined: October 25, 2016

Going through problems with a drug addicted family member is very hard. It is an emotional roller coaster. No one has the right to judge what you do or how you do it. None of us have the answers…if we did we would have fixed our family problems long ago. We suggest things (maybe too strongly) because many of us have been doing this same thing for years and have tried everything we could think of in our own situations. Some of us may feel burned out after the emotional and monetary drain through the years. Many of us have detached from our addicts as a means of self-preservation because we just can’t take any more of it without losing ourselves. We don’t intend to sound judgmental or to even suggest that you cut your brother out of your life. You have to do what you think is right. We will be here for you to talk to no matter what happens. I know this forum has helped me very much because there are people here that have gone through it all.

Please don’t let your brother’s drug use drag you down! We have been there and done that. I didn’t get much from the meetings I went to but it is a start and others say it is helpful if you find the right one. Read all you can…there are many good books that can give you more ideas. You might find a personal counselor in addition to going to meetings. A counselor helped my daughter understand everything and cope better. This is a family disease that affects everyone.

We are not cold people here. We actually love our children very much (maybe too much?). It sounds bad to make them live on the street and not give them money or help them but most of us did help them maybe too much and for too long, but things didn’t get any better. When you get older and realize that you only have a limited time left in your life, it gives you a new perspective. Some of us have had to ask ourselves if we want to be doing this same thing (giving all our money, health, time, and going through the mental anguish) until we die. There has to be something more for us than sadness.

You have to decide what is right for you (and your brother) and stand up to all the critical people. The only one that has to be happy with what you do is yourself. None of this is or ever will be easy for your family or the addict. But if you make it too easy, there is no motivation for him to change. He has to be very motivated! Take what you can use from this website and leave the rest. Don’t let anyone judge you and remember you are not alone.

This post has been edited by BugginMe on December 14, 2016, 2:43 PM

Posted: December 14, 2016, 5:34 PM

Posts: 2616
Joined: January 4, 2008

I would sign anything....say anything. anything...when I am sick and at that point when I don't want to use anymore but I have to ..when the tracks are bad...water hurts...itch is in my skin...nose won't stop...the fix isn't holding is short and my habit too big...I'd promise you my soul when I'm close to the head is dark....and the rig brings pain....thing is...I'm the only one who can decide when I'm done...he knows this too....he's just not ready yet to deal with it...when he's done...really done...he won't ask you...or anyone. ..he'll go get it done...we know how and what to do. ..when were excuses paper promises. ..

This post has been edited by constantine on December 14, 2016, 5:41 PM
Posted: December 14, 2016, 7:45 PM

Posts: 733
Joined: October 5, 2015

Hi, You shouldn't put off going to meetings. They won't condemn you they will help you deal with it. If you've read on here that people condemn their family members for doing drugs then I would say that was probably how they felt in that moment. Our lives are like a rollercoaster. Some days we love them and feel sorry for them while other days we can't stand them and don't want them around us. Its hard to contain the disappointment and anger we feel at times for the lost or stolen lives taken from us. I know I have become hardened and I don't mean to be. It's how I survive at times. I hope your brother gets help and gets a chance at a new beginning. My daughter has been on heroin,crack/cocaine and goodness knows what, for 17 yrs. Recently I actually thought she had stopped and was working hard at trying to stay sober. But now the old fear is back and I know there's something going on. I don't want the drama until after the holidays are over with so I'm staying quiet for now. Good luck and I wish you well with your brother. Stay strong. Your a wonderful sister!! Mary

This post has been edited by Mandm on December 14, 2016, 7:48 PM
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