Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Looking for advice or support from the brother of a schizophrenic


#1

I haven’t really had much opportunity to discuss my brothers illness with friends or family much. The topic always becomes uncomfortable. I was hoping to get some advice from people with experience dealing with schizophrenia.

I have recently moved back home to help support my mother and brother as we are dealing with this new diagnosis after his first episode about 6 months ago. I fear that the current situation is unsustainable as his frequent street drug use (marijuana) and lack of motivation and anger issues are threatening my mothers mental health as well.

I can only see the current situation lasting for 4-5 more months at most and then my parents will kick him out and he will be on the street. I don’t think he will be able to get a job (he can’t right now) and he doesn’t have friends in the area. His medication has been successful in suppressing the paranoid thoughts but we have not had success with dealing with his anxiety or depression.

The only thing he loves in the world is smoking marijuana. He smokes 3 times a day and could get violent if we try and stop him or take it away. We have tried rehab but all of the programs we have found for adults are voluntary and he has no desire to go as he doesn’t think it is a problem.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? I have tried to talk to him but he is terrified and seems to have no control over himself. It is heartbreaking and infuriating at the same time and something will have to change as both of my parents are suffering.


#2

He needs to stop smoking MJ, it induces psychosis and worsens schizophrenia if you already have it. If he gets violent while you take it away, know that it’s okay to call the police and hospitalize him for a while (days, weeks, months). Many of us here have had to do that before for our own safety and for the best interest of our loved ones. You also need to find a way to get him to go to a psychiatrist and maybe have like a therapist and psychologist see him as well. If it’s that bad you also may want to get a Case Manager (social worker/TCM) to help him get back on his feet and get a job or continue with school and join groups or do activities where he can socialize with others. My fiancé used to be in the same position as him, he’s actually in the hospital right now by court-ordered. You need to do what you have to do for your family’s safety, his and yours included.


#3

It sounds like he’s burning his bridges.

It’s good he’s taking his medications. That shows that he’s willing to help himself. The medications, however, may need to tweaking since he’s having un-functional levels of anxiety & depression.

His MJ smoking is probably contributing to his anxiety & depression (& his previous paranoia if he smoked before). If he doesn’t work then he must be getting the money to buy it from your parents. I wouldn’t allow that. If he acts out violently because your parents refuse to buy him MJ then they may be able to commit him to a place.

It’s not a sustainable situation (his MJ smoking), and he needs to stop. It is not helping him. Don’t allow that in your house… You can all have an intervention with him to talk about this. Or reward him if he slowly starts to wean down himself. Keep on encouraging him to get help for his addiction.

Please be strong, xoxo


#4

Thank you both for your responses. My parents have stopped giving him money and then he got angry and started demanding some money that was his that he saved up from last summer. They consented but are starting to look at rehab places. I told my brother that I’m worried if he doesn’t cut back or stop it will first be rehab and then the streets.

My family and my brother sent a few emails back and forth and I had a bit of a chat with him. He has made it clear that he is not going to stop smoking. It’s not an option. It’s all he wants in life. When I said our parents would kick him out then he threatened to stop taking his meds.

He wants to live in this house and smoke whenever he wants. He doesn’t have a job or any real future plans.


#5

Concernedbrother - Yes, unfortunately I know what your family is experiencing as it sounds like our son who is now 26. It is an extremely sad situation but the ones who have to think clearly are the ones who are not addicted and are not mentally ill. That’s easy for me to say so let me explain our story because I hope you don’t have this tragedy with your brother.

Our son is addicted to marijuana when he was diagnosed about six years ago. He was hospitalized initially and returned home and then returned to smoking marijuana because we gave him an allowance. Marijuana was the only thing that made him happy and I think we were just in shock for a few years and trying to figure it out. Our son was terrified too. After several years of continued addiction we realized that we had to cut off the money. We sold our dream home to move into another area where the houses were not as close because we were afraid by then (our son had hit us and was clearly going to be violent). No one keeps mentally ill people out of your house for long without a serious incident. We then cut off the money and he attacked my husband (total shock because he always threatened me) by holding a knife to his throat. He was arrested.

Here’s what I would have done differently:

  • Cut off money years ago
  • Attended more parental support groups for parents of addicts (e.g., AAA)
  • Kicked him out earlier

What we did right:

  • Educated ourselves on how addiction really is for the addict (library is great!)
  • We did not lower the charges or bail him out (incredibly difficult)
  • We search him when he returns home if we suspect anything and have pop searches of his room
  • We accept now that he’s an addict first
  • Setup a fiduciary so our son will never be able to access money that isn’t for his living expenses after we die
  • Setup a special needs will to protect his benefits and future living situation (if he lives on a very limited budget)
  • We live on a very tight budget now to afford him some future living expenses when we die

So I hope this helps you concernedbrother. This has been a nightmare for our daughter and continues to be one that she is fearful about. Our son has been sober for a few months and he’s not happy but isn’t violent. Now we can actually figure out, when his advice, what medications do and don’t work for him.

My prayers are with you… your parents can do this and there are many that will help (Church and AAA in mental support). This is incredibly hard for both parents but I think for Moms it’s even worse. I do, know, however, that my denial or lack of action did nothing to help him.

Hugs and prayers,

:slight_smile:


#6

Hi all,

Thanks so much for the support. Have any of you had experience with rehab?

We as a family have decided to propose the option of either attempting recovery with rehab or kicking him out of the house. He still doesn’t see the damage marijuana has caused and thinks that we are old fashioned. It has ruined his mental health got him kicked out of school prevented him from getting a job destroyed the relationships with his family and it will use up all of his money. I don’t understand if it is schizophrenia that is stopping him from seeing this or the addiction.

I am just hoping rehab will help because there are too many sad stories here and my family is really suffering.


#7

Do your research before you send him to rehab. Last summer we found a rehab place in TN that was supposed to use DBT the best therapy for schizophrenia. Their website look great; the price was expensive but affordable and less than a lot of the others. They were Christian-based and they worked with the individual to find the underlying causes of the addiction according to the website. Our son was not interested but we insisted and with it being only a state away we thought we had found a good plan. Our pastor had dropped off a brochure the week before. We drove him down and met the counselors in the group home and left. On the way home they called us to assure me that our son had come to them and had told them this was different then he had had expected sounding positive like it might work out and they were ready to say that they thought he might benefit from a longer stay. That evening I got a phone call about 1 o’clock in the morning from a pastor who told me that my son was out of the program that they had giving him his bag, his money, his medicine and had escorted him to town. They said that he had an altercation with another patient. Our son had never been violent before but he is loud and he has a loud voice and he uses his voice often when he feels threatened. I called my sister-in-law who lived closer to the place and asked her to go to the hospital where the police officer had dropped him off. This hospital had no psychiatric unit and he was admitted and treated for bruising around his neck. The nurse who treated him suggested he file a police report so she called the police back. He declined to do that and went out to smoke a cigarette outside and wait for us to pick him up. He then met someone who asked for a cigarette but told him that they were Christian and he could stay with them.

To make a long story short he was picked up by a group of heroin users. He doesn’t do that drug and noticed they were sharing needles. He didn’t join them but did want to buy mj. His bag was separated from him at another house. I was three hours away trying to call the police in the middle of the night. The hospital said that he had simply vanished.

I have found it common for people to be picked up from the hospital. People assume they have drugs and stalk the disabled or MI.

He convinced them the next day to let him use his phone and they thought we were far away. My sister-in-law was in the town looking for him and as soon as I got an address they went over to pick him up. It was in the middle of projects and the individuals were pretty scary individuals. Thank God my brother in law accompanied her there and insisted he get in his car.

We learned that unless our son wants to get better it is a waste of time to send him anywhere for rehab. It could’ve been much worse but it was bad enough. Not knowing where he was and knowing that I had taken him and dropped him off was horrible. So I am very, very cautious of where I send him and I would definitely check it out well first.

Our son got sick before he was able to leave home and learn independence on his own and he’s very gullible and naïve. It’s a shame because left on the streets he’s very likely to be a victim like this episode showed us but I would love for him to be able to have some independence.

He has poor insight and so far the eight hospitalizations that he’s had has not helped him gain insight. If they are psychotic I really don’t see how any type of therapy could be beneficial beyond establishing trust. I’m sorry this is so long-winded but I felt like we were victims of a false website they did they have since taken that part down that they serve schizophrenics because they don’t. I told them if they did not that I would sue them. I would love to hear a positive results of rehab but even the ones the therapeutic communities they have to want to get better, they have to want to take their medicine, and they have to want to follow the rules of the community. I wish you the best.


#8

Dear mom2,

I am sorry you had to endure such a stressful and shocking scenario. We will certainly do some additional research regarding suitable programs. I am living in the UK and have been speaking to a government appointed addiction helper who provides information on suitable facilities and interventionists.

He will not go willingly and since all of the programs require the patient to be there voluntarily we have been advised to hire an interventionist who is prepared for exactly this occasion.

I have also had contact with a few programs in the area. Most seem professional with 28 day programs including therapy and psychiatry. While they were clear they do not treat schizophrenia directly, it seems most of the medical professionals have had experience with schizophrenia patients also having addiction issues. My brother doesnt currently have any psychosis (positive symptoms?) and olanzapine has been very successful in managing his paranoia. His symptoms currently are mainly anxiety and depression, these we will be able to manage, but not while he is high all day.

I will keep you all updated as next saturday we will have an intervention and propose either he accepts rehab and the help of his family, or he doesnt.

It is a difficult time for us all but it helps to speak to people who have been in similar situations.


#9

One of his doctors suggested an interventionist last year also. But long term 5 months was recommended because his delusions are so deep seated I guess. He was too ill at the time. He was getting better and last week he said he felt great but then now off meds for two days. perhaps I should have gone that route again last week. The holidays are coming up. He is off his meds now so it will be a
Matter of time and he’ll be back in the hospital.


#10

It is a heartbreaking situation I know. But your parents are enabling the situation and things won’t even begin to improve until they set a clear boundary. It will probably lead to an arrest or hospitalization but it is best for him and them.


#11

Why type of mental health services do you have in your community. Because of my daughter I’ve gotten know people with mental illness who do not live with their parents. One situation I know of is of a man with sz and he lives in his own little apartment and his parents come every two weeks to check on him and the parents clean his house. Several other situations where mentally ill folks live in supported housing such as group homes.

You sounds like a wonderful son and caring brother. I’m sure you are a great source of comfort for your mother. I wish you and your family the best.


#12

Hi all,

It has been a while since I have posted but quite a lot has happened. We arranged an intervention and discussed his drug use. He was not happy and began to yell sweat and started punching things. We eventually managed to get him in the car but throughout the 2 hour drive he was violent, punching windows and threatening all kinds of things. He only managed 4 days in rehab before they had to discharge him.

We picked him up from rehab today. He was still aggressive, his psychosis has returned. When he got home he drank a full bottle of vodka threw up and then started smashing his room looking for the weed we took before he went to rehab. We feel afraid in the household. We have a meeting with his doctors tomorrow but I can’t continue like this. He says the most hurtful things he can think of just to get a reaction from us. He doesn’t seem like the same person anymore.


#13

I’m very sorry to hear that. I think you should call the police and say you’re concerned about your safety and describe the things he’s said and done in order to put him in a mental hospital. Speak to a social worker if you can find one for him and also try to get court proceedings to have him stay longer. My fiancé had a court order to be institutionalized for 90 days, he was only there for 33 days, but he changed a lot while he was in there for the better.