How can I get my sister help for her addiction/depression?
September 20, 2009 3:15 PM Subscribe
My sister has an alcohol and/or prescription and/or depression problem. What can I do to help her, and in what order?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Apologies for the long e-mail, but this is anonymous so I want to get as much of the story here as I can.
My sister was in town this weekend (from 250 miles away), and did some things that really alarmed us. She is a few years older than me, in her mid-30s, married with a boy and a girl who are 6 and 3. I see her a couple of times a year. My two girls are near in age and love to play with their cousins.
This weekend, my sister drank 2 bottles of wine each night by herself while everyone else (her husband, me, and my wife) had either soda pop or one beer each. She would get progressively more angry/aggressive (verbally) as the night went on, but was never in a rage. Just noticeably sharp-tongued and at the same time boasting about herself.
Then overnight last night things got really bad. Apparently, after everyone went to bed she woke up (or never went to sleep) and snuck downstairs. She either drank more (but we couldn't find anything she could have) or popped some pills (again, not sure what they were or could have been). She was up into the night posting incoherently on her blog and on Facebook. Then on her way back to our guestroom she fell on our stairs and bloodied up her face, and fell over into a door (this was at 5:30). When her family left this morning at 8:00, her husband had to literally pick her up off the floor, then support her as she stumbled down the stairs and out the door. He flopped her down into the car and they were gone.
Talking to my parents, this is at least the 3rd time something like this has happened recently. My sister appears to be in complete denial that there is any trouble, and for whatever reason I think her husband is not willing or able to address the issue proactively (or at least not initiate action himself).
My wife and I think she needs help, now. For herself, for her kids, for her husband, and for the rest of our family. Complicating factors are that she has been generally depressed for as long as I can remember, she has MS, and she is without a job (recently) and being chased by creditors (for a long time).
I don't know if we need an intervention or a direct talk with her. I don't know if we should talk to everyone and get them on board behind her back (which could infuriate her and set her off if someone tells her) or address her first (which could set her off into a denial/aggression cycle before all the pieces are in place to convince her to get help). I don't know whether insurance will pay for rehab. I don't know whether I can or should call her own therapist and express my concern/get his advice. I've never done this before but think that my family will look to me for leadership. I am concerned that she could hurt herself; she will surely be defensive/dismissive/angry when confronted. I love my sister and want to help her. She will not be happy that this is happening.
For those who have been through this: how did you do it? In what order? With the addict's knowledge or behind their back?
Thanks for any advice you can give. Throwaway e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org