Helping a Heroin Addict

How can you help an addict? Should my parents take out a loan to pay for my brother’s rehab?

If you are not a heroin addict, you cannot help a heroin addict.  The only person who can help a heroin addict is the heroin addict.

That being said I would like to address a comment recently left on this ‘ol blog from Matthew:

HI, my brother is a junkie too. I know where your coming from. Is there any way to help him without breaking the bank?; That you know of? There are state programs but they only treat for a week and either treat for drugs or mental health. we need to put him in a facility that can treat him for both. Problem being is that he does not have health insurance. My parents are talking about dumping 20k into a place for his recovery. (Wasted money if you ask me!!!) Do you have any ideas or links that i could forward to my parents to stop them from taking out a loan to pay for his bad habits?


First of all I am sorry that your brother is sick.  unfortunately I have learned that nothing will help the junkie until he/she wants to help themselves.  My brother has been in rehab 4 times, one of them costing close to $20,000/month.  None of them have worked.  He was sober for a while and then 6 months later the needle was in his arm.

I’m not saying that rehab can’t work.  It can.  I know many people who have their own success stories.  It just won’t work if the person in rehab doesn’t want to get clean.

What seems to have worked for my brother is getting into the system.  That sounds crazy right?  Over the holidays my brother found himself in jail for 22 days (best christmas present ever) and 2 weeks ago he found himself there again. Since that time he has been given a mandatory sentence of weekly counseling, drug tests, and meetings with a probation officer.  Now it’s only been 2 months since all this went down however his 22 days in jail were the first days in his life that he went sober/clean without any maintenance drugs like methadone or suboxen and he seems to still be clean.

I pray he is still clean.

Matthew, I hope you find the help you need.  There are a lot of resources out there.  I found Beautiful Boy very helpful in the beginning of my brother’s addiction especially when my father became addicted to saving him.  Give your parents a copy.  Make them read it.  Hopefully they will find something in it that convinces them not to take out a loan. Unfortunately for addicts parents, lessons are never learned until after the money is gone.

Good luck my friend.  Your brother is in my heart.


15 thoughts on “Helping a Heroin Addict”

  1. My heart goes out to all the families dealing with an addict and for the addicts. I am on that same emotional roller coaster ride as all of you. My brother is 38 years old and he is a homeless heroin addict. After years of heroin addiction, jail, detox, recovery houses he is back out on the streets. I am finally coming to terms with the fact that I can not help him, that the only one that can help him is himself. All I can do is pray for him and that one day he will get clean and stay clean. I think of him every day and it breaks my heart, I have my moments that I ask myself why does he want this life? I don’t understand why he just won’t surrender. Heroin kicked his ass so many times I wonder if my brother’s rock bottom is death. Obviously his rock bottom isn’t being homeless, starving, broke, skinny, unhealthy, loneliness, it is just frustrating and painful for everyone in my family that loves him. Thank you all for sharing your stories, it helps knowing people understand. God Bless all of you and your loved ones.


    1. Like you my older brother has been a heroin addict for years. The family have tried every approach and have been every experience detailed on this site from overdose, heart attack, theft, lies, borrowing money and never paying it back, losing contact with his children, violence and prison. I am solicitor and my own company and in despair I even resorted to appearing on the Jeremy Kyle show just to get him the help that was not readily available in the southwest. Appearing on that awful show was humiliating for the family but we felt my brothers life overrode anything and it was a last resort.
      He received all sorts of counselling, therapy and support but to no avail. Eventually he ended up back in prison where he managed to clean up. He was released on the 10 may and the family have provided every support. He is back living with mum and I provided him with work but last week I started noticing the early signs of a relapse …..disappearing for hours, always asking for subs which become more frequent, loss of appetite and rapid weight loss. He didn’t turn up for work today even though he only works 2 days week and I found foil in his draw. I also found out today he borrowed money from one of my staff last week asking her to take it from petty cash (something he has failed to mention) . My other brothers also found foil with the burnt residue left on his bed so there is no doubt about the relapse.
      It breaks my heart and I can’t go through watching him kill himself again. Do I confront him or should i just cut him out of my life…..I feel so guilty when I do it this but I can’t go through it again. I don’t think he will ever clean up and I’m not sure he wants to. Please tell me how to handle this as I’m not good at pretence and feel I should confront him but everything I have read is so contradictory………
      We suffer more than he does the selfish pig! I was abused as a child and don’t use it as an excuse and it really grates me when people using bad experiences as their excuse. Everyone has a choice!!!!!!


      1. Did your brother receive any help for his addiction from the Jeremy Kyle show? My daughter is currently en route to NYC for a taping of the show tomorrow. The father of her baby is a heroin addict who lies and steals from her to support his habit. His family are good people, but don’t know how to cope so have become enablers. Jeremy Kyle show promised they would pay to get him into a good rehab program (he has no insurance) if they agree to appear on his show and air their dirty laundry. I say the show is a hoax and won’t come through with the free rehab program after they get what they want; a beautiful young girl, the villain addict along with his father and brother telling all on stage. I’m also afraid Social Services could be called in and my daughter could lose her baby or the addict parents could be turned in for allowing their addict son to live under their roof while there are young grandchildren in the home on a daily basis. My daughter found 20 used needles and a tie-off in a bedroom under a chair. The addict has Hep C. I’m heartbroken.


  2. My brother has been a homeless heroin addict for 8 years now. I feel a little relieved tonight because he is in jail again. For us that means he is alive and clean, if only for a little while. He is in Santa Cruz, Cali and I am in Birmingham, Alabama. This distance makes helping him very difficult. My mom grieved herself to death in January. Her only son had been missing on the streets of LA for over a year lost in heroin addiction. He is 34 years old now and has spent his youth addicted. I don’t want him to die in the streets but I have no idea how to help him. I often pray that he will be sentenced to a year or two in prison so maybe he would have a chance to heal. He’s like a ghost, dead already……hep c, staff, starving, homeless, but he is my baby brother and I love him. Why is there no answer? He tries to get methadone but its harder for him to come up with the $11 per day than to get heroin. I fear this will only end when he is dead. In the meantime we sit back helpless and watch him die a slow death. I’m glad I found this place, at least I know others are waiting for their loved ones too. If he had died we could heal and move on but the undead is so painful. A wasted life. It’s hard to find hope and the guilt that we have turned our backs on him while he dies is overwhelming sometimes.

    God bless us all.


    1. I am the mother of a 19 year old daughter, who is addicted to heroin. We have tried to help her, to the point of enabling her, and finally we have stopped. I had to put a restraining order against her for she and her friends robbed me and vanalized my house. Yet, I struggle with the guilt of turning my back on her. Did I do enough? Could I still help her? I know the answer is no, she must want to help herself. She is staying at the “dope house” down the street, a few blocks away, and I find myself walking past there now looking for a glimpse of her. I want my little girl back, the little girl, who I once knew, I do not know her anymore. I thought I saw her today sitting on the porch of the “dope house” and her eyes looked as if there was no soul left. I thought maybe it was just my imagination. I pray for anyone who is struggling from the addiction of any drug, and for those who are suffering for loving them helplessly. I try talking to my family and friends and they are so supportive, but they do not understand what it is like watching your child slowly commit suicide. She is on probation for conversion that I got her a lawyer for to get her out of trouble, now I can’t wait for them to pick her up and take her to jail for burglery. At least then I will know she is off the street, out of that house (which who knows what goes on in there), and sober. God bless us all. A hopeful mother.


      1. My heart aches for you my dear. My daughter is 22 and you summed up the pain perfectly by “Watching your daughter slowly commit suicide” I too want my little girl back but as all have said, the addict must WANT to change their lives. It’s an illness that only another addict can understand and the pain and helplessness parents and siblings can only understand. I too have seen my daughters eyes looking soulless- I know how painful it is and I’m sorry this has happened to your family and baby girl. I’m happy to have found this blog- let’s you know you are not alone and there are people who know what you are going through and can lend an ear and I’ve read good advise. Hang in there, I hope when she is picked up you can get a little rest and she will make a life changing decision to stay sober.


      2. Starvin Artist,

        Thank you for your kind words of understanding. I sit here today with my baby girl. She has been clean for 4 weeks. She hit her rock bottom, and went for treatment. The journey will be long, I just hope she has the strength to stay out of the problem that she had to stay in it. Time will only tell. God Bless.


  3. My older brother is 26, turning 27 in the fall. He has been struggling with heroin for the past 3 years. It’s been a rough 3 years with his addiction. He’s been to rehab 3 times and has been on the street once before. He came back in August of last year and was clean for 8 months. During those 8 months he was being drug tested because he had mandatory NA meetings and they required a weekly drug test. So this meant that he was clean, which he was. Those meetings ended in February and he was no longer being drug tested. He remained clean for about another month. Then he started doing suspicious things that he had done in the past when he was on heroin. He would be in the bathroom for long periods of time, go out in the middle of the night for a bit and come back in, lock the door to his room (which he never did when he was clean for the 8 months he was being drug tested), and i could always tell he was high by the way he talked. Until recently, (about a few weeks ago) my parents became suspicious to and found heroin and some needles in his car. We gave him an ultimatum, which was to either quit and submit to random drug tests or we kick him out again. So we ended up giving him another week to get clean and to stop. He passed his drug test. But last night he was acting suspicious again, so my dad made him take another drug test. My mom works in a lab so she tested it at her work today. It came out positive for opiates and coke. Now as i am writing this we are waiting for him to come home and to kick him out. This has been especially rough for me because i was able to see my brother at his best. I say this because when he came back from living on the streets in August, we both decided to hit the gym and we made it a daily thing. He used to workout alot before he started his drug addiction around the age of 23 so he was already ahead of me in size and strength. But anyways, he was my inspiration because he was devoted to the gym. He had great determination. He went on a diet for those 8 months and he even went to the gym twice a day. He was in great shape and he was a great inspiration to me. I’m only 16 and this has been rough on me since he’s been the best older brother anyone could ever ask for. It’s hard to see him slowly kill himself, but I, along with the rest of my family, must let go and accept the fact that he’s lost and can only pray that one day he will come back ready to change. Until then, i can only pray and hope to God that his rock bottom won’t be death and he will realize that he needs help.

    Anyways, I’m sorry that this was very long and maybe even boring to read, but i just wanted to vent out and tell someone how i feel about this. I can only imagine how rough it is for anyone else that is experiencing a loved one go through this disease.



    1. Oh Matt. My heart goes out to you and your family as you begin this painful journey. The struggles with anger, heartbreak, guilt, blame, disbelief, grief… little brothers addictions tore my parents apart after 30 years in 1999 and my mother just couldnt live with the heartbreak and passed away in January this year at 57 yrs old. My brother has been on the street since 2004 when he was 26yrs old. It is so hard to helplessly watch them die this death.What a wonderful little boy he was and how hopeless he must feel….I wish I could give him hope, I wish I could give you hope, the truth is there is very little hope with this drug.Learn and grow from this pain, pain makes us strong, and you will need all the strength you can gather for yourself and your family. They are walking dead. Short stints in jail are our only relief now.I pray for them to keep him 2 or 3 years so we can know he is “safe” for a little while. Don’t let this consume you. Prayers and peace to you and yours.



  4. My big brother is a heroin addict. He has been to rehab now for his fourth time. I found diabetic’s syringes under his bed along with a spoon and squared off burnt tin foil. You see the thing is I am only 18. I go to college and hour away and my brother has moved in with my mom. He was sober for about 60 days after his third try. I had a feeling to look through his room. I just knew it. He was having constant diarrhea, binging on chocolate, lazy, stopped working out and became very mean. I have been home for a month on break and it has been a nightmare. I am Pre-Med so I have enough stress at school. I feel like I saved his life this time. I found the paraphernalia and told my mom and she confronted my brother and he is headed for rehab thursday. If I can offer anyone advice this would be it: do not let you guard down and have false hope, always look for signs of relapse, on average heroin addicts will relapse 7 times. Don’t be a fool and think they might escape it, it is never just ONCE. Keep an eye on your loved one, please, I have had false hope and it got me no where, I don’t want anyone else to believe their loved one is okay and then have them die or relapse again because you simply thought it was all over. This is a long road. And you have to be there for them, they are liars and know how to work their magic on you. Please, don’t let yourself think it’s all over. It usually isn’t. I wish someone had told me this before. I have been dealing this for almost two years. I have seen my brother overdose, I have seen more than any 18 year old should have to see. I pray my brother doesn’t kill himself. He’s abused me, but I have been there every step of the way. I went to prom with a huge bruise on my arm. But I still have faith in him. Although I have faith, I do not trust him. I have learned to not trust him, give him cash, or let him take my car. My mom is a single mom and has been dealing with this as well, although she is emotionally there for herself, she hasn’t been there emotionally for me. Which I guess is okay. I hope I helped someone with this. Please, remember the 7 relapses and don’t think “that won’t happen to my loved one,” well, all I can say to that is that once is never enough and I have seen it all and it all has been too much. I wish none of this had ever happened. I have been damaged because of it. I just want my brother to be there at my wedding, to be there when I have my children, to be there when I need him, the way a big brother should be. But I know I’ll probably never get that.


  5. I feel the pain in all of your words, it’s new but familiar. I just found out my little brother has become addicted to Heroin and been using for 4 months. (first we thought 2, now who knows) He is just a baby with his whole life ahead of him. I noticed he was acting differently this past year. I thought he was depressed about his girlfriend, no one in our family liked her and we thought she was keeping him away from us.I even said to someone that I don’t know who he is anymore. He turned into a monster, he yelled at me on Thanksgiving because I came over early to help my dad cook, stole from my family, withdrew from holidays/ family functions, was always depressed, he no longer laughs, jokes, eats anything. He closed himself out of life. It has consumed him…my dad took him to the hospital and then they admitted him to a mental illness/addiction center but he talked his way out. (only stayed 5 days total) He stayed with my older brother for a couple days and then convinced him, he was ok to go home. I just spoke with my dad today and he thinks he is using again. He took off for hours, locked his door and then said he was going to sleep. He broke his plans with my dad to go out to eat and my dad caught him locked in the garage. My family doesn’t want to accuse him and my dad is scared he will take off again if he says anything. Now my brother doesn’t want to go to rehab and says we are trying to lock him up. He doesn’t have insurance and we can’t afford $20k to get him the treatment he needs anyways. I’m scared with him so close to the neighborhood dope house he might overdose. I can’t be there with him because I have a young daughter I care for so my dad is going through it alone. I’m so lost that I haven’t talked with some of my best friends for weeks because I can’t tell them what ‘s going on. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, the thought of it makes me sick. No one will help us because we aren’t rich. I felt like if we could just find somewhere before he was released from the center that he had a chance. Now that hope is gone. I even called the drug hotline to ask for advice. I just don’t know what to do to help my baby brother. I love him so much. I just want him back. The guilt has sunk in, what if I had been there for him? why didn’t I see what was going on? I could have stopped him. I feel helpless. I feel anger towards the other addicts in the area, my brother told me who he was hanging out with. I wish I could save him. I feel like I lost my chance. My dad says the only hope is for him to get locked up. Nothing has resulted in that yet, but this is all new. I’m scared he will over dose when I’m not around and we will lose him forever. I saw him last week when he was 6 days sober and we laughed, he talked to me like old times. I miss him so much, I went home that night and cried. God please help us! My prayers go out to the rest of the families on here. Thank you for listening and thank you for your stories.


  6. So sorry about your brother my heart does go out to your family. Myself my baby brother (25) is addicted to heroin any kind of stromg opiate and Xanax. My family has offered him thee best help in the world spending my dads last pennu but refuses.. It makes me go insand i can’t just sick nack and watch my baby brother kill himself he is so funnu and genuine. when sober but high he is a monstor. Jesus is jis only hope please pray for my brother and i will pray fod yours too! Guess i just needed to vent and let you know your aren’t alone! Keep strong! Prayers…


  7. It is hell on earth watching a loved one slowly kill themself while simultaneously destroying the love, trust, and security of their families in the process. This is such an epidemic in America, I can’t believe Congress and brain researchers continue to look the other way. Who needs foreign enemies when drugs and alcohol are destroying us so effectively from within? Worry about my loved one dominates our family life, hard as we try to detach from it. The only relief there is for loved ones are prayer and Alanon. Neither solves the problem. All I can add is the hope that God will take mercy on us all.


  8. I need some advice on how I can get my homeless brother off the streets. I tried to help him twice and he refused my help. I have backed off but I don’t want to give up on him. Please any advice would be appreciated. A little insight about my homeless brother. It’s been over a month he was released from jail and ever since he’s been in the streets starving. He’s a heroin addict and drinks and has no one to help him. I understand that he has to be willing to help himself but he can’t even think straight. I am hurting to know my brothers and sister want nothing to do with him.


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