How do I convince him he is ill? Therapists are no help!

I have a brother who suffers from what I believe, is schizophrenia, however I’m having trouble convincing him to try different drugs. He’d rather drink alcohol in “moderation”. I asked him, “What’s the difference between this can of beer and a pill? They both have side effects, they both effect the brain in some way…”

Anyone out there, can you please help me find a way to encourage him, and to gently convince him that he has a severe illness that needs treatment?

Mental Illness runs prominent in my family. In fact my oldest brother has has schizophrenia since he turned 22 (he’s 35 now). He has been on a medication for a long time that has helped him function greatly. I’m trying to get the name of it right now. My uncle’s illness went untreated for so long, that he has not been able to function alone in society and now lives in a foster home. Fortunately - I think - he is consistently taking meds. Half his siblings blame themselves for not getting him help right away.

But my other brother, whom recently turned 24 has battled with substance abuse - weed and alcohol. Last year he became so stressed he OD on alcohol, couldn’t sleep for 5 days and ended up in a mental hospital for two weeks.
On the 4th day of no sleep he would not talk at all. He would simply sit and stare and would only look at you when you talked to him. On the 5th morning he had muscle spasms so badly that an ambulance was called. After sitting in ER for over 9 hours he was submitted to a mental hospital.
When questioned in ER he was able to explain that when people talked he hear “a loud, harsh scratchy voice.” They told him he may suffer from depression, then they changed it to bipolar. They gave him double doses of the half-life drug Invega-Sustenna that turned him into basically a zombie for an entire month.
He’d seen therapists and physiologists following the incident but they did not do a good job explaining to him that he has mental illness. He tried Risperdal but felt depressed and stopped taking it after two weeks.

He broke down the other night and explained to me what he’s been struggling with.
He said “I hate being around people. They make tease me and I’m afraid to stand up for my self. I’m afraid I’ll make them mad and they will kill me. They will torture me. And sometimes I just feel so insane for thinking these things. I’m so scared. I feel like I’m dying. I’ve only been sleeping 3 hours a night because I’ve been out of weed.”

I tried my best to encourage him. Here are some discoveries he shared with me;

While sober he doesn’t feel stimulated enough. He’s always felt this way - since he was a child.

He doesn’t like being “intellectual” like studying or trying to do academics hard-core. He doesn’t like being inside his mind that much. (Not sure why?)

He prefers to listen to music and spend time online so he can go into his imagination.

He wanted to drink alcohol to help calm his mind. He was so distraught. So I tried to make an agreement with him. “You can try this for now - in moderation - but you have to promise me you’ll try different medications.”

Every time I said the word “pill” he would stare at me with no response.
He is not convinced he requires medical assistance.
This is terrifying because I cannot fathom how much torment he’s in and I so desperately wish to help him. How do I tell him?
Therapists have been absolutely no help!

My mother suffers from slight paranoia. Every time something negative about her children is said, she believes they are blaming her for not raising her children right. She believes each of her 3 children think that about her as well. I can’t talk to her about my brothers without her getting upset.

I told my father about the incident, about what my brother said, how it confirmed that he may have something along the lines of schizophrenia. I told him my plan to get him a good dr and get him prescribed different meds. My dad said “I don’t know what to do.” And walked away.

People who have suffered along side and among those who need medication - Please help me. How can I convince him that he should get on, stay on meds? How do I even begin?

Please at least, share you story if you’d like.

I feel so alone.
Thank you for reading.

Oh, it sounds like you are going through so much and wish to help your brother.

Hopefully, someone will show up here with links on communication like Dr. Amador’s book and youtube stuff I’m Not Sick I Don’t Need Help.

I want to let you know that many people go through difficulties like your family’s. Without meeting criteria for involuntary holds, it is impossible to get treatment for a person who doesn’t want it. So you kind of just have to wait around and see if the person becomes too ill to be safe outside a mental hospital. I’m really sorry to write that, but it’s true.

Keep a record of his difficulties and how often he eats, sleeps, etc. If he winds up in the hospital again, you can give this record to doctors even though they cannot give you info unless your brother signs a release.

My main comfort is that we love our family members who have mental illness. Even during difficulty, there is room for eating together and other daily activities. As much as the illness is real and needs to be treated, pay attention to how much functioning is happening. How much basically regular stuff is going on between you two. Because unless a person is in a serious episode and truly needs to be hospitalized, the vast majority of what they are doing and saying is “normal” and you can continue to relate as a brother.

I know you love your brother; I know how desperate you are to find him good help and I hope you do. Don’t make your relationship about whether or not he takes meds. Seriously be his friend. I have MI and when people ask me if I am on my meds, it’s very diminishing. With my family member who has sz, I was beyond desperate to get some safety and basic orientation to reality into their life. After three psychotic breaks over a year and a half, shaky stability happened somewhat over a long period of time without meds, which family member chooses not to take (though I have facilitated many doctors appointments). Yes, I would like to see if meds would help bring more stability and function, but it’s not my choice.

Loving someone with a medical illness they choose not to treat would be painful enough, but knowing that the illness itself is preventing their access to treatment is the worst feeling (and the fact that the medical community knows this, but doesn’t come up with treatment protocol for those who “lack insight” is beyond unresponsive and incomprehensible). I’m sorry you’re going through this.

Maybe over time you will be able to provide solid education for your mother and father and they will come to understand what is happening and be able to join in supporting your brother. Try that video in the post a few below yours: “Keep Talking: Schizophrenia - One in a Hundred” It’s really comprehensive.


Often sz people will say meds don’t work or make them feel bad. Your brother probably has sz as it sounds like he’s delusional and hearing things. I tried many meds before Seroquel helped me deal with my illness. But to the sufferer meds can often cause sexual side effects such as decreased libido which is tormenting for the sz sufferer and often the person would rather not be on medication. Usually, lack of libido is devastating to young males as it was for me and I went off of meds several times because of this. I’m not saying that this is what’s wrong with you brother but since he uses pot instead of meds it’s possible. Sz can also be devastating sexually as it is a mental illness and the mind because of stress can cause problems even between married couples. Magnify the stress of a sz sufferer by a 100 times and you can see why young sz people are afraid and ashamed and find it difficult to talk about it. They often say they don’t like the way meds make them feel. Freud believed that all mental illnesses were due to sexual problems. But,
with some it is just relationships or love problems. Even on these boards, sz and sex aren’t always linked together. But, I have met many sz people who have told me about their sexual dysfunction and I have slightly reduced libido as well. The part of the brain that controls sex can be diseased or inhibited by meds. It is important that the sz person realize that sexual dysfunction
is not the end of the world and can be helped if the person is willing to try different meds in order
to find ones that help them and they can deal with. I hope this helps.

Your brother is extremely lucky in a few ways. First, he confided in you in an honest way which is so rare and admirable for both of you. Second, even though he’s hesitant, or refusing, you have hope. He sounds like, between the lines, that he wants help. Yet he sounds very addicted and addiction is rough — I really like the book “Clean”.

Likewise, the books mentioned above are great on how to communicate and negotiate. What we have done (only a month ago so it’s a work in process) is stop enabling our son from getting what he was addicted to with money and to start requiring that he start paying his own bills (slowly) — car insurance, take-out food, and cell phone from his disability check.

So, attend AA or NA support groups, get armed to fight-the-fight for his life. He may never cooperate but you’ll be giving him that 10% (wild guess on my part) shot at having his own life like the wonderful men and women suffering from the disease write about on this forum and coping skills they use.

Hugs and love


Great advice here; I forget to focus enough on the normal and we have to bring that back into place instead of what we were doing — we were addicted to his addiction and only nagged him on his meds because he wasn’t taking them. I appreciate this advice; the caring, patience and love are admirable and tough to pull off but right on.


Thank you very much. This was encouraging. I know there are many resources out there, and that I’m not alone - none of us are alone. My brother and I will always be friends. Deep inside he is aware he needs outside help and I know he’s slowly coming around to it. I just worry about him immensely as any relative of a sz sufferer - I can’t imagine the pain! But there’s always hope.

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This has helped, thanks. I know meds won’t be the perfect solution and ultimately it’s his decision. I think he’s now willing to try different meds at least. But either way he’s still my bro!


Thank you. Another reminder of the hope out there, for both those who suffer and those who stand along side.


I hope your brother does well.



I recommend you watch the series of videos (and read his book) by Xavier Amador. See below:


The book is:

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