Just Say No
Monday, April 9, 2007
My older brother plays for his university’s football team. He’s the team captain and often finds himself under a lot of pressure to deliver. Lately, he’s been acting anxious and aggressive, which is not like him at all. When I tried to talk to him about it to find out what was going on, he snapped at me and became verbally abusive. One day after he came out of the bathroom, I found a bottle of pills he had dropped in the sink. To my horror and disappointment, I realized then that my brother had once again been taking steroids. He was using last year and my parents tried everything they could afford to help him quit. I’ve already confronted my brother and he has begged me not to tell my parents and promised me that this would be the last time he’d be using. I fear that my brother will not quit and that this time something serious could happen to him. I want to tell my parents but at the same time I do not want to betray my brother. How should I handle this, Sammy?
- Worried Sister
Dear Worried Sister:
It must have been a blow to you when you found out your brother was once again a victim of drug abuse, and even more disappointing when he asked you to keep his secret from the rest of the family. If you want your brother to continue using steroids, then do what he has asked you to do and keep his problem a secret. But you signed off as “Worried sister”, and if you are indeed worried about your brother’s well-being, you must inform your parents immediately. People on drugs can be very manipulative; they will try to make you feel bad for not giving them what they want and make it seem like you’re the bad guy for not supporting their habit. Now is the time for you to be a strong sister and practice tough love. The fact that your brother is abusing drugs again is a crystal clear sign that he needs help fast. You cannot take on this burden alone and keep this secret from your parents.
Now, I understand that you don’t want to tell on your brother, especially since you’ve seen first-hand the unhappiness his drug problem has brought into your parent’s lives in the past and I’m also sure you don’t want them to relive it either. Hopefully, your brother doesn’t feel you are betraying him and realizes that as his younger sister, you have only his best interest at heart. There are some secrets between siblings that are better off left a secret but when it involves a person’s life and safety, it can no longer be kept quiet. Worried Sister, I have seen too many families fall apart because of secrets, and if you and your family are close, then as a family you must help your brother fight his addiction once more; but this time with a little tough love. I feel you care deeply for your brother and want to see him recover once and for all. So do the right thing and let your parents in on his problem because it will likely come to light sooner or later. I know you want to be the hero and handle
this yourself, but remember that behind every hero is a supportive team. This will be a difficult time for your family, but in the end your conscience will be at peace with the fact that you did the right thing.