Sis­ter wres­tles with ad­dic­tion, home­less­ness

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - Con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email at askamy@

I al­lowed my sis­ter, her dog and her friend to stay at my house in­stead of be­ing home­less and sleep­ing on the street. The prob­lem is, they are both al­co­holics and will not try to get help or try to get a job to pay some kind of rent.

I asked them both to make other liv­ing ar­range­ments. They de­cided to sleep out­side my house on the ground. This breaks my heart and makes me an­gry at the same time. What can I do to solve this is­sue with­out call­ing in the po­lice?

— Sad and Mad in Cal­i­for­nia


MAD » Loved ones of peo­ple in the throes of ad­dic­tion draft on hope, but look­ing for a sure­fire so­lu­tion to this is like try­ing to solve for heart­break. If your sis­ter was ba­si­cally home­less when she landed with you, I won­der how re­al­is­tic it was for you to ex­pect some sort of turn­around.

There is no real so­lu­tion here, but only a process of you de­cid­ing what you can and will tol­er­ate. When the prospect of los­ing shel­ter pro­vides no in­cen­tive to grasp at re­cov­ery, you know that things are about as bad as they can get.

If you want these peo­ple off of your prop­erty, you will have to ask them ex­plic­itly to leave and give them a cer­tain dead­line. If they won’t leave, then you will have to call the po­lice. There might be a shel­ter nearby where they could find beds (al­though the drink­ing and the dog might pre­clude this).

One al­ter­na­tive might be for you to get them a tent or a sec­ond-hand camper, to at least shield them from the weather. How­ever, you should look into any pos­si­ble li­a­bil­ity re­gard­ing hav­ing these campers liv­ing on your prop­erty.

This is a very tough and sad sit­u­a­tion for all of you. You are not in a po­si­tion to po­lice their drink­ing, and you don’t seem to have enough lever­age to force your sis­ter into re­cov­ery. This does not mean that you should be forced to watch her heart­break­ing downslide, how­ever. How your sis­ter chooses to live is up to her. You gave her an op­por­tu­nity, and now she will have to scram­ble to find an­other. I hope you will get your­self to a “friends and fam­ily” sup­port group. Be­ing around oth­ers who are walk­ing this path will help.

Amy Dick­in­son

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