Addiction can cause significant harm to every aspect of a person’s life. Their mental and physical health can suffer, and many people face serious legal and financial trouble that follows them for years.
Watching someone you love–especially a sibling–can have a profound effect on your own wellbeing. You may worry about your addicted sibling, feel angry at them, struggle with guilt or hopelessness, or have other complex emotions.
If your sibling lives with substance abuse or addiction, it’s likely you want to help them get the help they need to overcome it. Understanding what to do to help an addicted sibling while keeping yourself safe may prepare you to support them.
For more information about helping an addicted sibling or starting addiction treatment, reach out to the Sheer Recovery staff today.
What Are the Effects of Having an Addicted Sibling?
Watching someone you love live with substance abuse or addiction can be devastating.
Younger siblings may react differently to an addicted sibling than the older family members. Sometimes, younger siblings may not have the information or context to understand what is happening to their addicted sibling. They may face confusion or anxiety, especially if older family members keep information away in an effort to protect them.
Younger siblings of addicts may also struggle with unmet needs. They may want attention or acknowledgment for their interests and accomplishments. Their addicted sibling’s needs may overshadow school performance, sports, friendships, or their blossoming interests. Younger siblings experience anxiety, anger, or depression, or try to get the attention they need in other destructive ways.
Older siblings of addicts may have some of the same feelings as their younger siblings. They may resent that major life events, such as getting married or having a baby, are overshadowed by the needs of their addicted siblings. They may also feel unsupported during hardships like going through a divorce or losing a job. Some may come to resent the time and attention their parents spend managing their sibling’s crises.
Some older siblings may resent needing to act as a caretaker for their addicted sibling. They may shoulder extra responsibilities and have needs that go unmet. They may be involved in their addicted sibling’s care or required to offer input about how to meet their sibling’s needs.
In some cases, an older sibling may feel guilty if they introduced their sibling to drugs or alcohol. This sense of blame or responsibility may add to the sense that they need to “fix” their sibling.
How Can You Help an Addicted Sibling?
If you have an addicted sibling, you likely want to help them get the treatment they need to recover from addiction. Actions you can take to help them include:
- Learn as much as possible about addiction, appropriate treatment options, and recovery. The more you understand about addiction, the better able you will be to offer your addicted sibling support.
- Keep up your connection with the addicted sibling. While your sibling may seem angry, indifferent, or resentful of your attempts to reach them, it is important to make it clear you are available to help them.
- Remind yourself often that your addicted sibling did not choose this way of life. Addiction is a complex condition with severe consequences.
- Talk to your addicted sibling about starting treatment. Speak to your sibling about your concern and let them know how important it is to you that they get professional help. Sometimes, a compassionate, understanding conversation is all someone needs to accept help.
Stage an Addiction Intervention for a Sibling
Often, family and friends of a person with addiction find that holding an intervention can be an effective way of communicating their concerns and setting boundaries together. A trained interventionist can support families before, during, and after the intervention to ensure the best chance of success. Together, family and friends voice their concerns, provide the opportunity to begin treatment immediately, and give the consequences of not getting help. The process of planning an intervention gives family members the opportunity to have their own needs heard and met.
The majority of interventions are successful in convincing someone to begin addiction treatment. While they are effective, interventions require a lot of time, energy, and work. Family members, including siblings of addicts, must find their own sources of support. When supporting an addicted sibling, you must consider individual counseling, family therapy, support groups, or another outlet for your emotions.
You must plan and practice an intervention for it to be effective. Here are some general steps to follow when planning an intervention.
- Choose who will be there. Include only close family members and friends. Do not invite anyone living with an active addiction.
- Plan what you will say. Write it down and practice saying it beforehand.
- Choose a location that will allow you to have the time, space, and privacy you need.
- Select a time when your loved one is unlikely to be under the influence of substances.
- Hold the intervention.
- Help your sibling get into treatment or enforce your boundaries if they decline treatment.
- Follow up with the others involved in the intervention.
Siblings and other family members can be powerful sources of support and encouragement for their addicted loved ones. Stay focused on your love and concern for your sibling instead of the anger or disappointment you feel. Get the professional support you need to keep going. In time, your sibling may get the treatment they need so you can have a healthy, loving relationship again.
Get Help Now
At Sheer Recovery, our team of qualified, compassionate addiction specialists is available 24 hours a day to assist you or a loved one in getting the help you need. If your brother or sister is struggling with addiction, reach out to the Sheer Recovery specialists today.
Still have questions? Give us a call today.
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