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Possible drug/alcohol addiction - family member

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 humantrampoline (original poster member #61458) posted at 5:42 PM on Wednesday, November 17th, 2021

My nephew, who is living in one of our houses and working for my husband, has an issue with alcohol and maybe drugs.

This situation is triggering so many infidelity-related issues. I'm feeling a loss of control over my life, sad, confused, hopeless, and not even sure I know the truth about the situation. I've tried for days to make this post to ask for help, but I am struggling to express my thoughts and feelings. I'm not even certain what type of help to ask for right now.

My husband and I own a handful of houses in the area. The idea is to fully remodel them and rent them out for un-earned income. The houses and our financial portfolio will allow us to back away from our jobs.

Last fall, my husband spoke to my nephew who is in his early 20s, living at home, and working landscaping jobs to ask if he would like to come down to our area and work on the houses. He offered to let him live in one of the houses, expenses paid, and we would pay him for the work. We know this nephew well. He declined, but my other nephew who was temporarily living with my brother and SIL said that he would like to do it. We don't know this nephew, early 30s, well. His father, my other brother, divorced when his son was young. Still, we agreed.

Our nephew has been living in our house, about 5 doors down from us, for over a year. After he came, one of my brothers told me he was a good worker if you can keep him off the bottle. My SIL called and told me several things, including that my nephew drank too much when he lived with them.

Within the first month, my nephew got very drunk at our house one night. I'm talking falling down drunk where I was worried for his safety and not sure he could even walk home. My husband spoke to him after and told him that it was unacceptable. My nephew hasn't done it since. My nephew started to spend time daily with his nextdoor neighbors, often drinking at their house. They became close friends. We had lived in that house previously, and we know the nextdoor neighbors well.

On and off, the neighbor has told me she's worried about my nephew. She's mentioned drinking, but she also tells me things that seem like additional drama where she wants me to get in the middle, and I find it inappropriate. For example, she mentioned my nephew is not showering every day, and that he was doing laundry at their house because the washing machine in our house was broken. When she told me, I said my nephew is an adult in his 30s and capable of talking to us about the washing machine himself. Also, she should tell him if she didn't want him doing laundry there. She would tell me things like, "Oh. You don't even know half of what is going on there." Her drama would piss me off, and I would ignore it.

I don't fully trust my neighbor. I believe I caught her lying to me about a year ago. She told me something that my husband told her I said about her. It wasn't something I said. I repeated what she said immediately and asked her if my husband said that to her. She backed off and said, "Well, maybe something like that. I can't remember." I asked my husband who claims he didn't say it. I believe him.

In the past year, things have been going ok with my nephew and the work according to my husband. It's not always great, but it has been helpful and worth it. Again, my nephew has all expenses paid including gas for his car and a phone. He's welcome anytime for dinner or to go through our fridge and cupboards for breakfast/lunch. He gets paid cash weekly.

About a week ago, my neighbor said that my nephew wasn't welcome at their house anymore. She said he had been drinking their liquor during the day, even when they weren't home. He is working on our house next door or the one down the street. My husband isn't always there, but he has another person working on the houses too.

One of the first things my husband told my nephew when he came here is that he could not drink or smoke pot, at all, while he was working because it's too dangerous for him and everyone else around him. When my husband heard about the day drinking from my neighbor, he spoke to my nephew and told him that he knew he was drinking during the day and it was unacceptable. That was last Thursday. On Friday, the other person working on the houses for my husband told him that they need to talk. He said my nephew was drinking during the day, among other things. He gave him proof, definitively, that my nephew had been drinking that Friday, the day after my husband and nephew talked.

My husband and I decided to take the weekend to decide what to do. On Saturday, my neighbor told me that my nephew had brought home crystal meth last month when he went to visit his mother. I don't know what to believe. My neighbors clearly want my nephew gone. However, they have encouraged this whole thing up until last week. But really, that's not my problem or an area of focus for me. My neighbor also has me so confused and doubting myself. She asked if I was sure that we originally made it clear to my nephew that he weren't going to support him and give him somewhere to live forever. She said that was his expectation. Ugh. Really?

On Monday morning, my husband and I talked with my nephew. We are giving him one more chance. We bought a portable breathalyzer over the weekend and told him it was a condition of continuing to work, and that he wasn't welcome to stay if he wasn't working. We also told him there was a zero tolerance for any drugs in the house other than a small amount of marijuana for personal use. We told him previously, and again, that if anything gets around our son he is immediately gone.

I asked my husband last night how its going with our nephew. He said our nephew told him he's hurt that we would think he's a "dope fiend" or something similar. Our nephew said that he had worked hard to get off drugs years ago. Some time in the past year he had mentioned this to us. My husband told me today that my nephew is "taking the day", so not working.

I don't know what to think. Some one is lying. I feel so helpless and confused. I hate this. I know that if my nephew is an alcoholic or drug addict, this situation is incredibly enabling and bad for him. The only experience I have with a similar situation is my nephew's father, my brother. The two are so similar in personality and charm. They both know how to say what you want to hear. I enabled that situation about 20-25 years ago, and I've always regretted how I handled it.

If anyone has any advice or insight, I'd appreciate it.

posts: 409   ·   registered: Nov. 17th, 2017
id 8698907
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zebra25 ( member #29431) posted at 4:22 PM on Thursday, November 18th, 2021

I'm so sorry you are in this awful triggering situation. It sounds like you are trying to give your nephew a great opportunity and he at the very least has put that in jeopardy.

I have zero experience in this area so keep that in mind. The breathalyzer sounds like a good idea. I'm not sure why anyone would object if they have nothing to hide.

Is pot legal where you are? This is just my opinion but if it is not, I would not allow that in a house that I own. I also don't think it is a good idea for him to have if he is an addict. Again, that is just opinion.

As far as your nephew being hurt because you think he is a dope fiend, well, too bad. You are doing a nice thing for him. He screwed up by getting fall down sloppy drunk so he needs to own his mistakes and accept the consequences.

Good luck!!!

"Don't let anyone who hasn't been in your shoes tell you how to tie your laces."

D-day April 2010

posts: 2516   ·   registered: Aug. 25th, 2010
id 8699072
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The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 5:52 PM on Thursday, November 18th, 2021

Addicts are accomplished liars. Please know that.

The worker who came to your H is proof that there is an issue. This nephew needs professional help. He doesn’t have the ability to "stop" drinking on his own.

I don’t know if he’s doing drugs but I would not be surprised.

You need to tell him his only choices are rehab and therapy OR he has to leave.

He has run out of chances. Sorry to say. And letting him stay in the home and drink while pretending to work is just enabling the situation and allowing it to continue.

He needs professional support to kick his addiction(s).

[This message edited by The1stWife at 5:53 PM, Thursday, November 18th]

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 10890   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8699091
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 humantrampoline (original poster member #61458) posted at 2:56 PM on Friday, November 19th, 2021

Thank you all for the replies. Early on, my nephew did talk about depression and past hurt from his upbringing, including my brother and his issues. My husband had many talks with him and bought him books on depression like Journey from Abandonment to Healing. We offered therapy. My nephew hasn't shown any initiative there. When we spoke to him on Monday about his drinking, he again mentioned depression.

My husband did offer rehab to him as an option on Monday. Honestly, after what I went through with my brother, I don't think I'm willing to walk that path with my nephew.

I realized I am also so disappointed in my neighbors and mourning the loss of that friendship. I felt anger earlier, but I'm really sad about all this. My nephew referred to my neighbor as his second mom, and I truly thought they were good friends acting in his best interests. I know this isn't their fault or responsibility. I'm still disappointed though.

posts: 409   ·   registered: Nov. 17th, 2017
id 8699253
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Bigger ( Guide #8354) posted at 2:40 PM on Monday, November 22nd, 2021

…my nephew got very drunk at our house one night


…house other than a small amount of marijuana for personal use.


Our nephew said that he had worked hard to get off drugs years ago.


ANY use – ANY "small amount" is like bringing a sixpack of beer to an AA meeting.

Addicts can’t be semi-sober or partially-sober or "personal use" sober or whatever. Addicts might have a drug-of-choice but will use any substitute if needed. If he had to "work hard" to get off drugs in the past, then he probably wasn’t a recreational every-second-weekend user or snorts an occasional line of coke type of user. That type can quit and don’t really need hard work to do so.


As a general rule a person dealing with addiction that really wants to quit will abstain from ALL intoxicants. Someone dealing with alcoholism won’t succeed by staying off booze but replacing the high with pot. Nor can a coke-head stay off the coke by switching to vodka. There are exceptions, but I venture that over 95% of those serious about their sobriety won’t risk it by trying some other intoxicant.

There are some that manage a "controlled" usage. Someone might get off opioids but stick to pot. But as far as addiction is concerned that’s not recovery per se but more a managed decent into chaos.

He might be depressed. That is a real possibility. It might be due to his addiction, but frankly it might also be a diversion to focus the attention from his addiction to something he’s more willing to sacrifice. I truly think that if he is depressed then the correct process would be to deal with the addiction before/alongside the depression.

Based solely on what you share: I think he’s an addict. Be it an alcoholic or drug addict. Based on what you share it’s not recreational drinking, but also done over the day and while working. That’s not "normal". That’s not the accepted one beer before dinner and maybe one after doing the dishes.
He can strongly indicate he isn’t by agreeing to abstain from intoxicants for an extended period (say 6 months) but IMHO he would be even better off by attending some form of rehab – maybe AA meetings or something of the same irk.

What you need to be careful about is the codependency and how deep and far you are willing to get involved. As an addict he will grab whatever finger is offered and then chew his way up your arm. IMHO being loving and supportive but firm is the way to go.

"If, therefore, any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone." Epictetus

posts: 10016   ·   registered: Sep. 29th, 2005
id 8699621
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 humantrampoline (original poster member #61458) posted at 5:01 PM on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

Bigger,

OK. I am trying to get there in my mind about what I am willing to accept with or without verification. My older brother also told me that we should demand fully abstaining from everything. I could demand that where and when I see it. Where I get stuck is that I'm not willing to enforce or babysit to the extent necessary. My husband is not willing to do that either. In fact, he has said if he can't trust my nephew and has to use the breathalyzer, he doesn't want my nephew there.

I don't see how I can believe what my nephew tells me now. A one-time drug test costs about $30 from the pharmacy. I'm not willing to regularly pee test my nephew. He seems to be abstaining from everything now. He spends more time with us. My husband said he's better.

The depression may be real. It is likely real. If my nephew won't actively take actions to treat it, what is my responsibility then? What is my responsibility in any case?

What you need to be careful about is the codependency and how deep and far you are willing to get involved. As an addict he will grab whatever finger is offered and then chew his way up your arm.

This hits me hard. That is the story with my brother who is my nephew's father. I enabled my brother's addiction; unknowingly until I found out, but I still did it. I hope to learn from that.

After letting it sink into my brain, the story of the crystal meth is likely true. About a month and a half ago, my neighbor dropped my nephew off to visit his mother while on a personal trip and picked him back up on her return a few weeks later. She said on the interstate ride home that my nephew asked her to slow down because he had enough crystal meth for them both to get a felony conviction. What she told me the other weekend is that he didn't have anymore. And also that her husband had smoked some with him.

I was in shock. I'm not familiar with drugs. My experience is trying weed a few times in high school and deciding it wasn't for me. My husband is the same. I can't imagine my normal, adult neighbors smoking crystal meth or my nephew either. But I also can't imagine them making up a story like that.

As my husband pointed out, my neighbor didn't stop the car and tell my nephew to get rid of it or get out. We would have done that. She also didn't tell me right away when they got home. She waited until it was gone, and I can't do anything about it or prove anything. My husband says he personally wants to ask our neighbor (the husband), because he wants to hear what he has to say. I just don't see how that matters anymore.

posts: 409   ·   registered: Nov. 17th, 2017
id 8699813
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Bigger ( Guide #8354) posted at 6:35 PM on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

Keep in mind your nephew isn’t your brother and you aren’t the same person that possibly enabled your brother’s addiction. People change, mature, grow and learn.

Based on what you share about his father’s addiction I am certain he is an addict. Keep in mind all I have is what you share. I might be totally off. Addiction is SO hereditary.

Your responsibility? Well – you aren’t responsible for his use. You aren’t responsible for his sobriety or whatever. If you feel you have an ethical responsibility, then it might be that you are responsible to give him the tools and opportunity to sober up. However – it will always be HIS responsibility to grab whatever chance he is offered. At some point you need to be willing to step back and let him teeter away to his own destruction.

I might be old-fashioned, but to me it’s not normal to grab whatever intoxicant is available. I won’t have a beer and then go looking for happy mushrooms, smoke some meth and chase it down with LSD. Based on my work-environment, family and friends then drinking during work, doing drugs… it’s not normal. Be it your nephew or the neighbors or whatever.

What I would suggest is the following: Look up an Al Anon association in your area. Ask to speak to someone regarding dependency, enablement and a possible intervention. Chances, they will connect you to an experienced AA person that might be willing to be your nephew’s sponsor or at least partake in an intervention. When you have everything ready then talk to your nephew. Offer him the support to be sober. IMHO what he’s doing now won’t cut it – sobriety is so much more than simply abstaining.

"If, therefore, any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone." Epictetus

posts: 10016   ·   registered: Sep. 29th, 2005
id 8699821
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