: Drugs, alcohol and mental health

Discuss the twin challenges of mental health and substance use

Feeling stuck

A close relative of mine has had a Ketamine addiction for 6+ years now. She's been in full rehab twice, and has stayed in a number of dry houses but had to leave as she used or drank. She is currently in council accommodation, using Ketamine daily (or drinking when she has less money), and she's not going to any groups, or pursuing counselling, or accessing any other services/support to help herself.

She calls me on the phone high as if nothing is happening so I confronted her to ask what she is currently doing to address the addiction, and unsurprisingly, nothing. She said she's tried everything and nothing is working, and that I don't understand the addiction. The conversation quickly turned into blame and I'm an awful person territory so I stepped back.

She's doing some part-time work, socialising here and there and has her accommodation paid for by the council so is in a very comfortable position to continue with the addiction and not do anything to tackle it.

I know I can't begin to understand what it's like but the fact she's not doing anything at all to help herself and then pretty much acts like nothing is up by sending me funny videos etc, and says she's given up, is infuriating and hurtful. I have said let me know when you're doing something to address it, because I feel like it is enabling to ignore and let the relationship continue when there is no action on her part to help herself, but of course there's an underlying threat in here (no relationship unless you work at the addiction) which most likely just perpetuates the cycle she's in, but to be frank I don't want to speak to her when she's high. As a family, we spent many years brushing it under the carpet to an extent but now I've gone the other way completely - zero tolerance for it, and zero patience unless i can see she's actively doing work to address things and help herself heal.

I know I sound like a pretentious know it all - but I've also gone through enough of my own journey to know my own personal boundaries. I've been a continuous support and source of comfort for her - at the cost of my own mental health because it always backfires.

So I guess I'm asking what others think - is it cruel to say we can only have a relationship if she's doing work to address her addiction? Anything other than this feels like I'm enabling. I know it wont necessarily go away because she's doing the work - but at least if she's trying, well she's trying. I can't uphold a relationship with her if she's not, too much damage has been done to our relationship and I've seen too much (way too much) to now take this lightly!

Thoughts gratefully received xx

update: reading this back I guess it's how I communicate this with her - i.e. that it's too painful to see her carry on and not do anything to address her addiction, and I can't pretend its not serious and ignore the fact she's using. Perhaps i need to say: don't call me when you've been using or drinking, we can't meet when you've been using or drinking, I can't be around you when you're doing either because its too upsetting??

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