My brother's addicted to Ecstasy

I love my brother but he seems to have lost his mind

Published May 17, 2010 1:01PM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

My brother is addicted to the drug Ecstasy. I am scared. We all don't know what to do with him. It's so hard on me and my family to see him like this. My parents don't know how to stop him from taking these pills. He's 23 years old and still lives with my parents and does not have a job. How he gets those pills we don't know. My mom and dad tried to look for help but couldn't find any. It's really scary for me and my sisters to watch him yell and scream at my parents for money. Every day is a problem in my house.

I can't take it any more. My mom and dad just give up on him. My mom is going crazy and is crying more them she ever did. My brother is hallucinating. It's scary to watch ... He's talking crazy that he owns the world and that he and the president are working on a plan. He said that he is going to rule the world. My mom and dad tried to kick him out of the house but my mom felt bad and started crying that he might die out there. Everything is so hard on us now. He's always laughing really loud and screaming at my mom and dad. He hit my dad right in front of me and my younger sisters. It was scary to watch. He doesn't want to stop and he doesn't want to go see a doctor.

My mom doesn't want to let go of him because that's her son. If we stop giving him money he starts to yell and scream. If we kick him out he would die in that cold weather. He has no friends that care for him. He doesn't want to stop ... he would do anything to get money even if it were for him to hit or kill. I hate the way he talks to us and looks at us ... He thinks he's some big thing ... he even thinks that president knows him ... that he's God and we are all Satan.

We went so many places for help but he won't stop. We went to the cops for every time he hit, we went to many help centers but they couldn't help us because he doesn't want to go there. We called so many places but there was no answer. We can't do anything so please help us ... Please please please help ... we are dying every day by just watching him. Please.

Can't Stand to Stand By

Dear Can't Stand to Stand By,

Certain things you say about your brother indicate that he may not only be addicted to a drug but that he has had some kind of break with reality. Laws vary from place to place, but if he is a danger to himself and to others, it may be necessary and desirable to have him locked up where he can get the help he needs. It is possible that what he is taking is not just the synthetic chemical known as ecstasy but a wide variety of street-drug adulterations and substitutions. He may be doing just meth. Meth can bring on psychosis. So he is indeed in trouble.

I urge you to persist in finding help. You may be turned away the first time. Persist. Please know that most social service agencies are overloaded and so they tend to say no the first time. They don't make it easy.

I am choosing to answer your letter today, upon my return after five months, because I have been that person your brother is.

What changed?

Something within me did change, and it may change in him as well. You might say the very mystery of the world cracked me open and I bled and I was rendered sensible; you might say I got so beaten down I tasted the earth and was reborn as a child again.

This unforeseen thing of recovery has happened for millions. It can happen for anyone. It surely may happen for your brother. But you cannot make it happen.

So for now, you must ensure the safety of your family. Consult a social service agency. Understand the circumstances under which your brother may be committed to an institution, and the laws that protect your family should he be expelled from the house.

Talk seriously with your parents. If they feel that he must be put out of the house, then support them in this. Meanwhile, look into groups that support family members and loved ones of alcoholics and addicts. They can offer you much care, support and wisdom.

You can't change people. It's hard to accept but true. People sometimes change. In fact, people can make miraculous changes in their lives. But you can't make it happen. You just have to wait.

Follow the steps outlined above. Keep looking until you find someone who will help you.

Love your brother. Be there for him but do not let him ruin your family life. You must be tough and strong. You can get through this.

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What? You want more advice?

By Cary Tennis

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