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How Can I Help My Cousin?

My cousin/step brother (male aged 19) has depression, anger issues, is addicted to narcotics, is a compulsive liar, rebellious and self-destructive. He needs help, but everybody in my family has already tried.

His father left him when he was a baby and his mother died a couple of years ago from a long battle with cancer. My mother adopted him and his sister to come and live with us when I was ten. He was kicked out of several schools, using drugs and harmed himself. My mother tried everything to help him, but she didn’t really understand what he was going through. My father was impatient, and lost his temper a lot, while my mother denied him proper therapy(she didn’t understand how depressed he was- this parenting hurt him even more) and put him in military school for his rebellious streak, where he tried to kill himself and was admitted to a psychiatric facility a hospital. He then was released and sent across the country, because my parents could not help him. (I did not agree with how they tried to ‘help’ him whatsoever- I was twelve, I couldn’t do anything) At the other end of the country, he lived with his older sister, who later kicked him out. Now he is young, with nobody- no one to love him. He is using a lot of drugs, self harming and he is constantly in trouble with the law.

Who can blame him, he has had it horrible. I am not allowed to see him, but I want to help. I don’t know what to do, but I can’t just leave him on his like everybody else has. He needs help, but like I said, he is depressed, unmotivated, arrogant and drug addicted. If I can talk to him, I feel that I can convince him to get help. I have a job, and I can pay for therapy. What kind of programs would help in his case- if any?

Again: young male- Depression, drug addiction, anger issues (can be violent), dealing with severe emotional trauma and difficult passed. (From Canada)

How Can I Help My Cousin?

A.

I can deeply emphasize with your cousin’s situation and admire you desire to help. But paying for therapy isn’t the answer because he isn’t ready. This type of concomitant issue — with depression and narcotics, is very difficult to break and unless the person is motivated himself the therapy and recovery process doesn’t work.

I know this is very hard to watch, but the best thing you can do at 16 years old is let him know you care, believe he will find a way to deal with it when he is ready, and can be there to support him emotionally. There are plenty of free programs available (not the least of which is narcotics anonymous and if there is Alcoholics Anonymous. Your job is to get some support for yourself from free organizations like Nar-Anon, Al-Anon and Al-Ateen. Finally, I would strongly suggest not giving him money for therapy as the money typically gets used for drugs and not therapy. Your cousin has to want to turn his life around — and until he does the most important thing you can do is have compassion.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

How Can I Help My Cousin?

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). How Can I Help My Cousin?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 15, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2018/08/05/how-can-i-help-my-cousin/

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 3 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Aug 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.