How do you get a 19 year old who has already been convicted of a felony into rehab for cocaine abuse?
December 7, 2009 10:33 AM   Subscribe

How do you get a 19 year old who has already been convicted of a felony into rehab for cocaine abuse? Family complications outlined inside.

I’m just going to lay the whole story out here because I feel like I don’t even know what details are relevant. I will try to respond via a mod if necessary. FWIW, I’ve read the previous threads on rehab and addiction… but you know, special snowflake and all that.

My brother is 19 and lives at home. My sister is 22 and also living at home while finishing college. They live with my mom and stepdad. Mom has always exhibited the classic symptoms of BPD, Stepdad is a good person but sometimes plays into her problems. I am the oldest kid and live very far away.

Last year, Brother was arrested for felony theft. He went to jail for a week. The details on this are still sketchy because Sister and I only found out months after the fact when he was brought to trial. It turned out that Mom had told Sister that Brother “ran away” while he was in jail and the only reason it came out was because Sister started suspecting something was up and snooped through the house to find out what it was (there is a long history of playing “guess the horrible secret” in my family). Brother was sentenced to several years supervised probation and 6 months house arrest. He enrolled full time in community college, sees a court-appointed therapist and psychiatrist (who diagnosed him as bi-polar), and works part time. Once I found out all of this, I called him to voice my support and offer help. He rejected the help and said that he felt like he just had to make better decisions.

A few weeks ago Sister called me to tell me that she suspected Brother was using cocaine. She said she could hear him doing it in his room and that he was uncharacteristically selling his stereo. The next day she snooped again and found a bag of white powder in his desk and confronted him. He flat out denied it and said that she didn’t know what she was talking about. She told him that if he didn’t quit she would have to tell someone for his own good and he accused her of wanting to put him in jail. She told me all of this and I started poking around online to see if there were any more surprises. When I googled his phone number, bunch of Craigslist ads came up- one for his stereo plus 5 other ads for expensive electronics. Sister and I agreed we had to tell someone and decided to go to Stepdad.

To our surprise, Stepdad had noticed the signs way before we did (although he wasn’t computer literate enough to know about the Craigslist ads). He had even brought it up with Mom, but Mom had said that Stepdad was “out to get” Brother (which is ludicrous). Stepdad then told me that right after the sentencing, Mom had switched Brother’s therapist after the first therapist suggested he needed rehab. I pulled together the ads so Stepfather and Sister could confront Mom. After that, Mom and Stepfather finally confronted Brother, who (no surprise) denied everything. Mom said, “see, I told you everything was fine” and things seemed to improve over the next few days. Brother told Sister that he’s looking into the military, so I reached out and tell him to offer encouragement and support again.

Today Sister said she heard him doing coke again. I looked on Craigslist and sure enough, another ad. Stepdad, Sister, and I all strongly suspect these are stolen goods (but don’t know where he’s stealing from) and we all want him to go to an inpatient, preferably 90 day rehab. Stepdad says he’ll talk to Mom again but doesn’t think the outcome will be good. Brother’s house arrest will be up in less than 10 days and Sister, Stepdad, and I are terrified.

So here’s the actual question part of the question: We want him to go to rehab, not jail. How can we do that with or without Mom’s help? How do we convince him to go? Is mandatory rehab an option given his criminal status? Who should we talk to? Can we trust his court appointed therapist/psychiatrist with this information? How can I continue to manage this from far away? My sister is getting ready to graduate and move out, but she feels totally responsible because while Stepdad means well, he’s ineffectual, and Mom is… as ever. How can I do more so she can feel comfortable getting the eff out of there?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As someone who has a few family members caught up in drug addiction (and one family member who died of an overdose), I feel for you. Rehab, however, will only do your brother any good if he wants it to.

Your brother is not at rock bottom, so if you simply ask him to go to rehab, he will probably refuse. It seems clear that your family loves him and wants to support him, which sadly often makes for terrible situations (emotional manipulation in order to get large sums of money was pretty popular with my addict relatives). You might want to think about offering him two options: 1) he goes to (and completes!) rehab, or 2) you turn him in for possession (which could entail more jail time or just mandatory rehab, depending on his lawyer and the judge). Only take this approach if you're all willing to follow through on it, or you're just making idle threats.

It's obvious that you love your brother a lot, but the decision to clean up is something he has to make himself. If he's truly addicted, you might have a rough road ahead. Best of luck.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:47 AM on December 7, 2009

This is an awful position to be in.

You want your brother to be healthy. However, anything I can think of that you might try to compel him to be healthy, if he doesn't want to be healthy, will likely harm your relationship to him.

If your brother can buy and use cocaine while under house arrest, the threat of going to prison is not enough to compel him to stop.

I do not know how your criminal system works, so I cannot advocate going to your brother's probation officer with your suspicions, as this could lead to more punishment without any constructive treatment.

But it might be worth talking to a lawyer about - ask a lawyer familiar with the court and jurisdiction that sentenced your brother whether there is a way to get your brother into treatment.

I wish I could give you better advice. Good luck.
posted by zippy at 10:55 AM on December 7, 2009

Is mandatory rehab an option given his criminal status?

The only way "mandatory" rehab happens is if a judge orders it, and typically the person in question is agreeing to the treatment under the stipulations provided by the court. I.e., they are saying they want treatment, and are agreeing to the rules guiding stipulated treatment, including that the court can sanction them for noncompliance with the court's order. However, even if your brother was arrested on drug charges and offered a plea bargain stipulating drug treatment, if he refused treatment he wouldn't be forced into it, he would simply go to trial for the charges he was facing and do whatever time is associated with those charges if he's found guilty. Likewise, in this situation, if your brother is going to refuse treatment if it's offered to him by the commonwealth he's not going to get it no matter what you say to the judge, his PO, a psychiatrist, etc. They will be perfectly happy to just lock your brother up if he doesn't want treatment.

Since he's on house arrest you could contact his house arrest PO and tell them all this but that's a pretty major decision to make. If he refuses treatment (if they even offer it) he may wind up just having his house arrest revoked and being sent to jail, so you should be okay with that if this is the decision you are going to make. You should also probably be okay with permanently destroying your relationship with your brother as a result of your decision.
posted by The Straightener at 11:13 AM on December 7, 2009

I've seen that Intervention show quite a few times, and it seems like one of the biggest steps is to have all of his enablers stop enabling him. Your mom sounds like she's in major denial, but she really needs to get on board. She is your first intervention -- to get her to stop enabling him. Then you guys can start drawing some lines in the sand: kicking him out, refusing to give him money, threatening to call the cops, etc., unless he goes to rehab. He won't want to go and further drama will ensue, obviously. Be stubborn and be a united front. It's for his own good.
--p.s., your sister should get a lock on her door so that when she leaves she can lock up her things.
--p.p.s., don't believe that all addicts have epiphanies and stop using after they hit "rock bottom"; plenty of people die from their addictions.
posted by bunny hugger at 11:19 AM on December 7, 2009

Yeah, I just confirmed with a house arrest PO that at least in Philly they would offer him treatment if he's testing positive for cocaine but will lock him up if he refuses the treatment. He will have to agree to complete a treatment program, and if he doesn't complete or continues to test positive, he can also be locked up.

Drop me a line if you have any other questions.

(When I asked this question about four house arrest PO's in my section went, "Awwww, fug, it ain't one-uh mine issit?")
posted by The Straightener at 11:21 AM on December 7, 2009 [4 favorites]

If your parents are serious about getting him off the drugs, I would say weekly drug tests. If he fails, he has a month to move out or go into rehab on his own. While this is going to cause distrust and conflict within the family, that is more or less the only leverage they have on him at this point, considering he is legally an adult. If nothing else, failing or denying the drug test will get your mother to confront the fact that her son is on drugs. As an unrelated aside, your sister seemed fairly sure he was using coke, but there are other white powders such as meth and heroin that can be inhaled through the nose.
posted by sophist at 11:33 AM on December 7, 2009

I am going to have to agree with what most of the comments have already said, that is, you cannot force him to go to rehab. Even if you could, rehab doesn't really work unless an addict wants to be there and get help.

Depending on what state he is in, I would assume his PO will randomly drug test him once he is off house arrest, so he may be found out that way.

Having dealt with lots of addicts in my own family, I'm really sorry for your situation. I have learned (after a long time thinking otherwise) that you can't force someone to help themselves. I would recommend al-anon or a little bit of counseling to help you understand that his addiction is his, and the best thing for you to do is take care of yourself and offer your brother support if he does want help.

On the other hand, a good friend works for intervention 911 and sets up professional interventions to get people into rehab. memail me if you have questions.

Your mom sounds like a classic enabler. If she isn't willing to admit her son has a problem, she will continue to allow him to do exactly what he's doing indefinitely. There's little you can do about it.

Sorry if any of this sounds cold. I know it is a really tough situation, and no one wants to hear that there isn't much you can do, but I believe it's the honest truth. Feel free to contact me if you have more questions or just want to talk with someone.
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 2:43 PM on December 7, 2009

Yeah - until your brother gets away from your mom, he doesn't have a chance. I have a brother whom my mom still enables, and he's living with her at almost 40 and an absolute mess. You can try and turn your mom around on this, but your stepdad needs to stop letting her be the final word. Without them unified in this, they can't enforce any rules for you brother. Add to this that your brother needs to want to change for anything positive to happen. This is where the "3 C's" come in didn't cause this, you can't control it, and you can't cure it. If I were you I'd focus on your sister, who sounds like she is going through Hell right now.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:44 PM on December 10, 2009

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