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Something's not right in our family (alcoholism and intervention)

Hi there.

I would like some feedback on a problem we presently have in our family.

My brother is a full blown, dyed in the arse, alcoholic.
He started drinking at 16 when he hooked up with a girl who was also a full blown alcoholic (she has since died) and at 28, he is mentally aged around 12, is beligerent, sometimes violent, verbally abusive, feral in terms of hygiene and the list goes on.


My question is this. How do I (lawfully) get him away from dad?

For a few years now he has been heavily dependent on Dad, humbugging him for money all the time, promising to pay back loans and not doing it, sending Dad broke a few times etc.

Dad is unfortunately a part of the problem. He's enabling my brother's poor form by just allowing this to happen but I believe it's gotten to the stage now where he just doesn't know how to let go. My brother is an abuser - the way he speaks to Dad, the way he takes money, limits his freedom by taking his car and the scrapes he gets himself into and expecting Dad to bail him out...which he does.

It's gotten to the stage now where Dad is facing homelessness due to my brother's reluctance to pay rent and living expenses, not looking after the house, bringing all sorts of people around who cause havoc and just generally crapping all over Dad. And I have gotten to the stage where I just want my brother in a hole in the ground, y'know?  I know that sounds bad (I am certainly not soliciting or advocating murder) but the STRESS and gnashing of teeth this has caused over the YEARS is just finally getting to me. I can't take watching it, dealing with and hearing about it any longer.

I want to go in there and issue an AVO but my siblings are saying no, you'll hurt Dad if you do it.  Thing is, if something is not done about my brother's addictions (I suspect he takes speed too but have no physical proof of this, just behaviour and rumours of where he buys it from) both he and my Dad will end up dead.

So if anyone has been through this before I'd like to hear it. No speculators please. Thanks.

Re: Something's not right in our family (alcoholism and intervention)

Hey brownpaperbag,


This sounds like a really difficult situation to be in... My family has had some similar issues with my brother, which are thankfully getting a bit better - but I remember how hard it was to be stuck in the middle of it. It sounds like you really care about your dad and want the best for him - he's lucky to have someone like you looking out for him Smiley Happy


Have you tried explaining things to your dad from your perspective? I think it can be really hard for parents to take a step back from their children and recognise that by 'helping' them, they might not necessarily be doing the best thing for them - I know this was something that my parents really struggled with, but it was only through doing that and my brother learning to take responsibility for himself that things started to improve. Could you perhaps try sitting down with your dad and explaining the way you see things, and ask what he thinks the best way forward is? You could try the same thing with your brother - explaining how you see things and that you feel he is taking advantage of your dad, and ask how he thinks things are working.


If you're not able to have these conversations, it could be useful to try and get some kind of mediated discussion happening between your dad, your brother and perhaps the rest of the family too. Relationships Australia offers family dispute resolution counselling (read about it here: which could be an option. I guess the thing is that when it comes down to it, it's going to be your dad's choice whether or not he changes the way he interacts with your brother, and even though you feel that it's a problem, if your dad doesn't acknowledge that or feel the same way - it's his decision how he continues to deal with your brother. I know it's incredibly frustrating to watch someone you care about get caught up in someone's alcohol/drug use, but in the end, we can only control ourselves, and everyone else is in charge of what they decide to do.


In terms of AVOs (at least in NSW - it may be slightly different if you're somewhere else), if the person for whom the AVO is sought is over 18, they either have to apply for it themselves or be in support of it being sought, or it has to go through the police and the police have to apply for it on their behalf - you can't just decide that someone needs one and apply for it for them. If you google your state's legal site you can find some more information on AVOs there. From my experience, unless there are minors involved, it's quite difficult to get the police involved if there isn't physical violence or threats to life - so if your dad doesn't want one, I'm not sure how possible it is to take that avenue. 


Good luck - I hope things start to get sorted for your family soon.