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My younger brother has gone to jail, and I'm struggling to hold it together

Community Member

I was referred to the beyondblue website to read a thread about a mum and her pain that she was going through after her son had gone to jail. It's crazy, because when I was reading it, I could very much see the same pain my mother is currently feeling.

I needed to come here and put out how I'm feeling about the whole situation as well, from an older brothers point of view, but to be honest, I don't even know where to start.

My brother, with the biggest warmest heart, with physical and mental heath issues, developed an ice addiction, he neglected his health and in the last year, my mum and I have done nothing but tried our damn hardest to help him, both professionally, personally, financially, the whole lot.

He got himself into a fair bit of trouble about a year ago, and in lead up to his sentence, his smoking of ice increased, as did his lies, and everything was spiralling out of control for him and everyone around him. I left my well payed job to be more closer to my mum and brother in need.

The whole process has been so stressful, and it's been so hard to now see my brother get taken away. He's such a vulnerable person, a "gentle giant", who without pointing the figure, influenced to trying ice, became hooked and majorly lost his way. His bedroom became his haven, he never left it, and my poor mother who became so submissive to his behaviour, did her best to care for him while he was in the darkest time in his life.

I'm feeling fragile.

I'm finding myself withdrawing. Having a hard time sleeping, and when I do, I instantly wake up with a cracking head ache. I start crying at unpredictable times, I've somewhat distanced myself from my boyfriend, I have my mum staying with me until she's going to be ok living alone.

My brother has left behind some financial stress, and I'm left to now collect the pieces, to cancel his accounts, and to work out a ways to pay back all these "Afterpay" type transactions he's made over the last several months on top if fine reminders in the mail.

The whole thing is just hard, but there's that glimmer that this is perhaps that divine intervention that he's needed, as nothing I or my mum did worked.

I've been seeing an amazing psychologist for since this all began about a year ago, my GP has suggested I get on anti depressants which I'm almost contemplating.

Are there any other siblings out there who's maybe been in my shoes who might be able to give me some advice? I'd appreciate it immensely.

183 Replies 183

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Leth~

I'm afraid both you and your mum will have had a terrible time and although you have tried your very hardest an ICE addiction simply is not responsive to care, love, common sense or hard work. The brother you love was consumed by that addiction. While I would like to say he will re-emerge it is by no means certain. It depends on may factors including facilities in prison and professional support on discharge.

Now is the time to rebuild your life, and I guess as far as possible help your mum rebuild hers too. You are a caring and sensitive person and have used yourself and your resources up. When we love somebody we tend to regard ourselves as bottomless wells of strength and support. Sadly this is not true as you are finding out.

I'm glad you are seeing that psychologist and your GP. If medication is suggested it might be worth considering, at least for a while. Headaches, no sleep, crying and distancing yourself are all signs you have pushed yourself too hard.

Is it possible to get back on good terms with you boyfriend? Now is the time when you need support and being with someone who loves you helps do this.

I'd question trying to be responsible for all your brother's debts, even if you feel you should. I would guess many fines can be shelved and taken out of Centerlink payments later on. Leaving your job would have placed you in a difficult situation and you have to survive, and maybe help your mum until you can get another job.

Hopefully your mum will not have gone guarantor on anything.

I do not know you brother's situation however have you investigated the possibility of prisoner drug rehabilitation and what happens when he is discharged? If he is not too far away it may be possible to visit him, something that may well be very welcome. Our 24/7 Help Line (1300 22 4636) may be able to steer you towards prisoner and their families support organizations in your area.

Although you may think it selfish please put yourself first now before your brother. That particular support phase is over. You need to be well for the long term for yourself, your mum, boyfriend and your brother. If dealing with anything relating to him or going for a visit is too hard on you please shelve it, at least for now.

You are welcome here, and of course in that other thread, whenever you would like

I presume the thread you mentioned was:

Forums / Long term support over the journey / Sadness,grief and regret over sons incarceration

(There are others).


Community Member

Hi Leth

my younger brother went to jail twice, he abused alcohol and other drugs when he wasn’t under the influence he wouldn’t hurt a fly, was kind and put others first etc. the substances change people, it gets a hold of them and they don’t hear anything even what family say, we tried to get help over the years sometimes it would work but only for short periods, when he went to jail we visited regularly, they need to be given hope, it’s the only thing that gets through as hard as it was for us, we still got to talk about it afterwards. We had to accept who he was and set boundaries ie Keep your substance use until after we have had the family function, didn’t always work though

as for the fines, it’s no good you taking them on - your brother can let the Prison know he has fines outside, they contact SDRO and put them all together, this includes Afterpay , as easy as it is to just pay it, you need to take a step back and not to own that part

Community Member

Thank you so much for the detailed response Croix and Cindy Ooooooh, it's very comforting know that someone has heard me.

Today is a new day, my mum has gone back home to face the fact that she's still got things to do around her home, and surrounding areas like grocery shopping, seeing friends etc, which is positive.

My partner has been a tremendous support, but my distance is driven by shame I think, embarassment as well? And I almost can't believe that my partner would even want to be around me knowing what has happened, I fear that he might have gotten put off from me, but I know it's not the case.

Im really worried about my brother ultimately, I'm scared that due to be sever social anxiety and his strong attachment he had with my mum, that he's going to have difficulties accepting what is happening to him, and what he has done.

I know that prior to this, both my mum and I would "jump" at any time he showed distress, anxiety, fear, and I know now he's going to still need that sort of comfort/validation, but he's not going to get it, and eventually he's going to have to learn to essentially grow up in there. Will this make him better? Or will it make him worse?

As for his repayments and fines, I don't know where to get advice on freezing his debts, and I'm worried that neglecting them is only going to further get him into trouble.

I know I have to let it go, but the fresh reality of it all is so debilitating and makes my mind overthink nonstop, and I'm feeling extremely depressed by it all.

Community Member

Once hes been sentenced he can have his sheriff warrants (fines) called in, and can have them added to his sentence.

I believe it's like $300 per day in prison. It's the best way to clear them

I work in a prison if you need information on what to do

Community Member
That would be a tremendous help if you could provide me with more information?

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Leth,

I don't have any information to add, only a caring heart and a listening ear. If you have been reading the thread by July about her son, you may recognise I have popped up on that thread a few times for support.

You have received some great, caring replies here. It sounds like The borderline may be able to provide you with more advice. People here are very obliging with their time and care for others.

Hoping your family find all the help and advice they need right now. Best wishes from Dools

Community Member

Thank you Doolhof, yes, I have read the thread by July.

Its still very fresh, and I have moments where I'm in disbelief, and then I get a bit of reality and that's when my anxiety really spikes.

Ive read an interesting article on "how to prepare for jail" online, and I really wish I could somehow pass on that information to my brother. It's very useful information and I feel it might help him.

As much as I'm trying to move forward, I'm feeling extremely stuck for him, and it's really hard to accept it, but I know that's the only answer.

Community Member

Warrants cant be called in until a final sentence has been given, prisoners can apply for them via a form (available from there unit staff).

They can also speak to the "offender services" team within the fail.

I have seen people with $30k citylink tell fines spend time clearing them.

If you need info on anything inside the prison and how it works let me know

Community Member

Sorry I did include a link but they removed it from my post.

Try googling "calling in warrants" or "using warrants to pay fines during prison sentence" etc

Otherwise tell him to talk to his case load manager or offender services.

Let me know if you need answers about prisons