DEAR HARRIETTE: My brother has been battling substance addiction for a while now. My boyfriend struggled with the same thing for years before I met him, and he is now completely sober, healthy and thriving. I want the same thing for my brother. The emotional and psychological toll that my brother’s addiction has taken on our family is immeasurable, and I'm always looking for resources to help him. I was wondering if my current partner could provide some insight into his journey and be a supportive, positive presence for my brother in a way that only those who have lived through similar experiences can truly do. Could this be too big of an ask? My brother and my boyfriend do not have much of a relationship. -- Desperate for Help
DEAR DESPERATE FOR HELP: Talk to your boyfriend. Reveal what’s been going on with your brother, and ask your boyfriend if he would be willing to talk to him. Make it clear that you are not asking him to be your brother’s sponsor or to serve in an ongoing capacity as his sounding board. That would be too much to ask. But it could be enlightening for your brother to see someone who is clean, sober and living a positive life. Ultimately, though, your brother will heal when he is ready. Often, people have to reach rock bottom before they begin to take their recovery seriously.
For the family, you may want to consider going to Al-Anon meetings for families struggling with drug-addicted relatives. These meetings are designed to support family and loved ones who are affected by this disease. You can go to an in-person or a virtual meeting. Find out more here: al-anon.org/al-anon-meetings/electronic-meetings.