Drugs, Mental issues and Suicide. What avenues are available to bring someone back from the brink?

My sister just turned 23 and has serious mental health issues (bipolar possibly). At 17 she ran away from home and shacked up with some dirtbag who got her started on drugs. For the past 3 years she has been in and out of rehab. My family are enablers and like to pretend that everything is good. She has been “ok” since October but after talking to my brother last night it turns out that in the past couple of weeks she is back to her crazy again. Stealing from the people she was with, pregnant apparently and has disappeared again. That usually means she is binge using again.

For the past few years I have been paying for pretty much everything since my family is not able. In April of last year I demanded that the family start stepping up and finding a way to get her into a real facility where she can get both medical treatment for her addiction and help with her mental issues. My Mom believes just pills to manage the mental issues and a 30 day rehab is all she needs. This has failed every time.

I texted her last night and she is talking about suicide and this morning texted that she has been suicidal for the past year. Our system in the US is a joke for people like this. She needs help but there is nothing anyone can do until she harms herself or someone else. I’ve said for a year that I would pay for a facility that had at least a 90 day intensive program but due to stupid laws the only way is for her to admit herself (no junkie will) or to get arrested and after the 3rd or 10th arrest she MAY be forced into a program like this.

My question is, now with the messages of “suicide” is there some way to prompt intervention by some local or state organization? There is so little information about this and all you ever get are these halfway houses and 30 day treatment centers.


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  • There is little that you can do. She chose this road and is well along it. She has to want to change and there is no way around that. What she needs is a friend who will not judge her, who will not be confrontational, and who will not lecture her. She already knows she's messed up and it won't do any good to remind her of it. Give her an ear when she needs one. She needs an anchor. So be that anchor. There is nothing more that you can do until she is ready to do something for herself.

    • This has been my position all along and it has created a lot of issues within the family. They expect me to pay for everything but don't want to acknowledge that throwing money at the problem won't fix it until she is ready. I thought maybe with all this talk of suicide that someone else can interject. Thanks for the response.

    • Have you talked to a lawyer or the courts? I don't think there is enough to institutionalize her by force, but it might be worth a try. I think it's viewed in a similar way as innocent until proven guilty. A judge won't take it lightly taking away somebody's freedom. I don't think it really requires proof that she's in danger of harming herself, but it takes some good evidence to take her freedom away.

      Even if she's institutionalized and/or given meds, that's only something temporary. She still has to change on her own. I know that sounds cleche, but it's totally true. Some meds can really help with bipolar, but it still requires some effort on her part. If nothing else, she needs to admit how much the drugs are messing her up. She needs to admit that her lifestyle has to change.

      Just stick with her. Bipolar can be a roller coaster.