Ask Someone Else's Mom by Susan Writer

LW's Brother Endangers Family

DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I’m an adult child living at home with my parents. I am 27-years-old and live at home to help pay off student loans while saving to buy a home. I work two fulltime jobs in healthcare. I also pay rent to my parents and pay all my own bills. 

I am not the only one at home with my parents. My 24-year-old brother is also living at home. He dealt with some mental health issues a few years ago, got let go from his job, and hasn’t had a job since. He sits at home, smokes weed all day long, and watches the family dog. He refuses to see a therapist and when asked by my parents what his plans are for the future, he says, “This.”

My parents are getting older in years and they don’t know what else to do. They have considered kicking him out, but nothing has ever come to fruition. Both of my parents and myself hold jobs that require us to take drug tests. Because of my parents’ strong religious convictions and our jobs, the drug use is a constant strain on everyone’s relationship. I’ve had to leave the house multiple times in the middle of the night because the fighting becomes too much of an emotional strain or because of true fear for my personal safety.

I know my brother is an adult and counseling will only work if he wants it. We’re approaching 2.5 years of unemployment and I don’t know if our family can survive the tension of a second winter in quarantine.

What can I do to help my brother and my parents resolve this situation? --- Desperately Want a Happy Family Again

DEAR Desperately Want a Happy Family Again: As you’re clearly aware, getting your brother the help he needs is key to improving life for him and your family. There may be legal options for you to explore if necessary, such as an emergency petition, whereby your brother is basically forced into the hospital for evaluation if he becomes violent or threatens self-harm. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but don’t rule it out —for everyone’s protection.

Wishing your brother seeks help on his own isn’t enough. You and your parents would quite possibly benefit from professional help and guidance right now.

You mentioned your parents are religious. If they’re members of a faith-based community, it might be worth reaching out to their clergy to see if they can make referrals to local mental health services.

Being in the medical field, you may already have some reliable resources you could tap, if you’re comfortable reaching out to any of the practitioners where you work.

Another avenue to explore is your local or state’s department of behavioral or mental health services. Where I live, additional resources have been made available to the public, due in large part to the effects of the pandemic.

Finally, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) can be an excellent source of information and support. They’ve helped several families I personally know, and have chapters throughout the United States.

You may not be able to convince your brother it’s time he makes big changes, but perhaps you and your parents can get some tools to improve your own situations.

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