Grapevine Online Exclusive

Just Another Day in Paradise

A sister reflects on both her own and her brother's alcoholism and sobriety

In 1980 I played a part in getting my younger brother into treatment. He needed it—or so I thought. I attended family week on Jim's behalf and tried to listen, and was given a Big Book. I read it cover-to-cover but I didn't learn anything. I was focused on Jim's drinking and resolutely refused to look at myself. The entire time that Jim was in the treatment center, I was scared that he would turn on me and point out my own drinking ways. I was already privately questioning my own drinking. I drank a lot then and had drunk a lot with Jim. But, to his credit, he never once pointed out the hypocrisy of my behavior.

My brother didn't stay sober after his first time in treatment and an unspoken barrier rose up between us. Jim was not supposed to drink; he was an alcoholic. But I was not alcoholic, so I could and did continue to drink. But never again did we drink together.

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