How Not to Be an A-hole When…

…Your Relative Has An Addiction

I want to help my brother out when he asks for things but I know that he is an addict. I stopped giving him money years ago. When things are tough I want to be able to pay stuff for him like his electric bill. I worry that that’s the same thing as giving him money though because now he can spend that seventy bucks on drugs.How do I not be an asshole when he asks for help and somehow support what he needs but not his drug problem? Thanks.

As much as I would love to pull out something that would be helpful in this situation, figuring out how to support someone with a substance use disorder with supporting the addiction is SUPER outside my realm of knowledge.

So, here is my advice on how not to be an asshole: talk to someone who does have that knowledge. There seem to be a lot of people and groups (such as Nar-Anon) on the internet who have strong opinions about whether or not providing material support like what you describe above is helpful (and what ‘helpful’ means may also look different depending on who you talk to), and while that might be a place to start, I would suggest that you find a therapist of your own to talk to about this.

Is that a cop-out? Nope. Not at all. Therapists exists for myriad reasons; just because you aren’t the one with the substance use disorder doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from talking to them. Seeing someone you care about go through something so challenging is a big deal, and there are people who spend years of their lives learning how to help you figure out what is best for your own health and well-being.

If you don’t have the funds to access a therapist and don’t know how to go about finding support, the SAMHSA National Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) might be able to help.

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