Scared My Brother is Abusing Alcohol

Published: November 07, 2016
Dear TeenHealthFX,
Hi, so I think most teens have had their fair share of alcohol at some point or the other. I'm not saying that it should be praised and I'm definitely not saying it should be routine or something to be proud of, but I'm just saying that underage drinking happens. I've had my fair share of alcohol at house parties, but I hated it and I know that that isn't the healthy way to live life. Yesterday I was thirsty and I asked my brother - who is two years younger than me - if I could have a drink of his water. He kept resisting it, and he does that just to bother me sometimes, so when he wasn't looking, I took a small drink, and it was clear alcohol. It smelled and tasted exactly like it, I know it. He was drinking alcohol out of a water bottle and pretending it was water. Now I'm scared he's abusing alcohol. Alcoholism and drug addiction runs in my family. My mom has struggled with both. My brother isn't the best actor, but he is so so good at hiding things when he wants or needs to. I'm scared for him, but at the same time I don't think anyone would believe me if I told them about him. What should I do?
Signed: Scared My Brother is Abusing Alcohol

Dear Scared My Brother is Abusing Alcohol,

Underage drinking definitely does happen. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s healthy or that we should resign ourselves to believing that that is just the way it will always be. TeenHealthFX thinks that it is important to educate teens and young adults so that they can consider why they drink and how it may be impacting them so that they can make healthy choices for themselves when it comes to decisions around drinking.

As for your brother, FX does think you have reason to be concerned. It is important for someone to assess how much your brother is drinking, how long he has been drinking for and what is contributing to his desire to drink. It is also important that your brother be educated about alcohol abuse, especially since you stated that there is a family history of it.

TeenHealthFX thinks that it would be beneficial to your brother for you to tell a trusted adult about this. It is important for your mother to know what is going on so she can take appropriate measures to deal with his drinking. If, for some reason, you are hesitant to talk to her directly about this, you could always start by talking to your school nurse, school social worker or a guidance counselor. A school staff member could provide you with the support and guidance you need and could also intervene on your brother’s behalf to ensure he gets the help that he needs.

FX is wondering why you think that nobody would believe you. Since we do not know what is causing this concern for you, all we can say is that if the first person you tell does not believe you, then you need to find alternate trusted adults to tell until you find someone who does believe you.

If your mother needs a referral for treatment for your brother, you could give her the following information: If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

Signed: TeenHealthFX