Dear Annie: My adult brother is a drug addict. “Keith” has been in and out of rehab programs, but hasn’t succeeded in staying clean. He lies to family members and lives in his car and various fleabag motels. He is still working, but only enough to support his habit. Frankly, I’m amazed he can hold down a job.
I feel torn when it comes to being in his company and having him in my home. I try to be understanding of his addiction, but I am extremely uncomfortable around him. And I don’t trust him. He stole from my parents, and when he received thousands of dollars through an inheritance, he spent all of it on drugs.
Am I wrong to want to distance myself from my brother? Keith keeps saying he’s going to get his act together, but it hasn’t happened. Meanwhile, I dread his calls because I feel obligated to listen to his sob stories, and then I feel guilty for wanting him to leave me alone. How do I handle this? – Torn in Maryland
Dear Torn: It’s hard to remain lovingly invested in the life of a drug addict. It requires tremendous patience and effort, and there’s no guarantee of a payoff. You do not need to have Keith in your home, if he is not trustworthy, nor do you have to spend a great deal of time in his company. However, if there are family gatherings, we urge you to be there, not only to support your parents but to give Keith hope that his family has not given up on him. Please contact Nar-Anon (nar-anon.org) at (800) 477-6291. It’s an excellent resource for friends and relatives of drug addicts.
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