Need psych help for brother

My brother is a wreck.

He has a bit of a learning disability, so he never did well in school, despite being very bright.

He therefore dropped out of college (that’s community college for you yankees) after one term and began a life of debauchery.

He has had the occasional job tending bar, or serving, but he can’t keep them. All he seems to want to do is drink and party with the few friends he still has who haven’t yet moved on to bigger and better things.

This enrages my father. He can’t accept the fact that his son is a failure. Also, my brother is SO SELF-CENTRED that he refuses to listen to anything we tell him (which is also because the manner in which we do so is bound to make him defensive) and so he and my father fight all the time.

My mother refuses to allow my father to kick him out of the house, although I don’t think my father actually ould do this.

We can’t seem to find any consequences that will cause him to stop being such a jerk, and my mom, child psychologist that she is, seems to think that we need to have positive encouragement to raise his self-confidence, rather than negative reinforcement.


  1. What to do?
  2. What consequences, short of kicking him out of the house, can be applied?
  3. What kind of job can a bright kid get into without an education?
  4. How do you talk to someone who is really defensive? (and don’t try to tell me about “I-Messages”)

There are a lot of good jobs an intelligent person can do w/o an education if he is willing to work hard. But first he has to turn his life around.

It probably would be very difficult to do, but you have to convince him to see a psychiatrist or psychologist and join AA. I don’t know how you can convince him of that, but he definitely must do that as a first step. I’m sorry I can’t help more, but that’s all I can offer.

A family therapist is needed–for everyone. Your parents are classic enablers, allowing your brother to destroy the harmony of their home and, perhaps, relationship. Your brother is an adult and must be responsible for himself. Those in the family who are willing to go to therapy should go. Parents should consider preconditioning his continued staying at home with him attending therapy with them.

Consider Al-Anon, as well–if only for your peace of mind. Your brother sounds like he has a chronic drinking problem, mood disorder, and some kind of personality disorder.

Al-Anon, or a similar program, will tell you and your parents how to love your brother, while detaching from him in the process. Continuing to enable him will only perpetuate the problem and keep everyone unhappy.

A good therapist can also work on your brother’s issues of underperformance at school and work. But the drinking and underlying mood disorder needs to be addressed first. THink baby steps.

How old is this brother? And for how long has he had a drinking problem? Maybe there’s an institution in your city where he can go to “dry out?” There’s a place like that in my hometown, I think it was called Greenbriar and it mainly helped teenagers and young adults. Depending on how old your brother is and what your parents’ health insurence policy says about dependants, they might be able to handle the bill. He’s really gotta take take of the alcohol issue first so he can work on the other stuff.


While I know that you never think that, he doesn’t drink by himself or anything.

I don’t think he can afford to be an alcoholic, and he is keeping a job, although not a good one, as a bartender these days.

What sort? He is CAPABLE of working hard, he just needs the proper incentive, and we don’t know what sort of incentive can be got. Like I said, to us, it seems like he has everything he wants: beer, dope and a place to crash.


ToughLove is a great organization for this type of situation. Take a look Tough Love for Families

Best Wishes from someone who’s been there & done that (and had it work very well)!


The internet is a piss-poor place to get advice on something of this nature.

I’m going to move this thread to MPSIMS, where others can share their stories and perhaps give you some ideas. It is certainly beyond the scope of General Questions.

Rory, why is it your problem?

FWIW except for the LD, my sister could have written and probably did say exactly the same things about me a decade ago.

My view on the situation was VERY different to hers.

You are a sibling, not a parent, so why is it your problem?

Alcoholism doesn’t fit any known stereotype. Many don’t drink alone, for fear of becoming alcoholics. And many alcoholics can and do hold jobs and function.

FWIW, there seems to be a link to drinking/drug abuse and other forms of mental illness. Seems some mentally ill self-medicate with alcohol and/or drugs. Take care of the underlying problem, and the substance abuse problem is easier to take care of.

Al-Anon is a wonderful program, and I recommend it heartily.


Manny, in my experience, the SDMB is one of the most useful places on the net for getting down to earth suggestions about how best to approach particular problems and those suggestions are usually offered by people who have been in the situation and willingly share their own life experiences in order to help someone else.

I personally have found it far more beneficial than sitting down with the phone book and calling phone numbers “blind”.

The combined experience of the members of this board, and the suggestions they can offer should never be underestimated : it makes us a very powerful and unique community.

That said, however, it helps if we know general geographic regions and what has already been tried - that way people familiar with the available resources in certain areas can offer guidance, and fellow dopers can comment on what types of intervention made a difference in their lives.

Al-Anon or some similar program does sound appropriate. Unfortunately it would probably backfire to approach him without preparation. No one in your family is good at talking to your brother. If you’re serious about seeking help, contact the local chapter and ask for advice about doing an intervention.

Why are you convinced that the best living arrangement for your brother is at Mom and Dad’s place? There are gentler ways to resolve things than kicking him out on the street.

Your brother may qualify for a halfway house. A couple of years of military service could straighten him out. He probably earns enough to rent somebody’s spare room if he doesn’t like either of those options. I’d offer to help move his stuff and offer a practical housewarming gift: used furniture, cleaning supplies.

Unfortunately you’re not the decision maker. Be willing to distance yourself from the strife if your parents would rather continue to let this young man divide and conquer the family.

get the AA big book- read the front part of the book, there are some of the diff. types of drunks in it. you will see your brother fits them to a t.

much good advice here so far.

if he is alchoholic, the only thing you can do is try a couple of interventions, or hasten him reaching his bottom, ie:kicking him out of the house, etc.

By far, most drunks die of the disease, easily by far. Some get in recovery. Many of those don’t make it. Some do, with mis-steps.

If he is alchoholic, and he is one of the unfortunates who will not get better, his eventual death will be probably long, messy, very painful, and the misery is contagious.

Love him as you can, try not to enable him, and do your utmost to not let it take you down also.
Be well.