Welcome To The Bitchery

Question: counseling and addiction

I am a little out of my depth here and would love some advice. Background: My brother is in treatment for addiction. We do not know the extent of his usage but we think alcohol, pot, and opioids. Anyway, he has been at a small center since the fall (now in kind of a halfway house situation) and he seems to be doing well. We do not see signs of his addiction, he looks healthy, is holding down a job, saving money, etc.

He turns 21 in a few weeks and me and two siblings (there are 4 of us, I’m the oldest and he’s the youngest) decided to go visit him so he can hopefully have a memorable 21st in a different way. My dad arranged for the three of us to visit his counselor, which is kind of how they do things at his facility and this isn’t a surprise - just the first time we’ll be in the same city as him. Seems like a good idea, I’m all about it.

Except: apparently we are not supposed to tell him we are doing that until after. The reason makes some sense to me: that he doesn’t spend the weekend nervous about it or try to manipulate our perception of what is going on, which is apparently common with addicts? I also don’t want him to think this is why we are coming because it was arranged after. But I cannot get over what a breach of trust this feels like. Through this whole thing, the three of us have tried to position ourselves as non-judgemental support and friends because he lost his whole social network in this. We figured to leave the parenting to our parents and the counseling to the counselors. So we really just wanted to give him a nice time and come show love and now there is this element of sneaking around. I was in therapy in a different context and I would have felt SO violated. I know he has many counselors and is in a different situation but we are all very uneasy about this.


I think we all don’t want to be bull-headed and override the wishes of the expert (despite our own instincts), but I really am having trouble with this. We are fiercely loyal to each other and have always kind of been a team against our parents. As the oldest, I was his second parent for a long time while my parents’ marriage crumbled. Drove him to school and helped with homework and came to his soccer games when he was in elementary school - all that. When he went into crisis we really had to stand back and we are only now able to try to rebuild our relationships with him. He is only now in much control of his life. We just want what is best for him and for him to feel supported and loved by us. Anyone have some insight to share? Anyone who has experience with addiction or supporting addicts in recovery?

Edit: to clarify - what we are supposed to do is come to counseling without our brother and don’t tell him until after. So we are going to visit him but will have to do something in secret at some point over the weekend.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter