A Guide for Siblings of Addicts
The relationship between siblings is typically a strong and special bond. There is a level of empathy and care when it comes to siblings and their livelihoods. More than just a close friend, siblings understand you more than anyone else and have a strong connection with your experiences and feelings. With all this in mind, siblings of addicts may have a tough time understanding and helping a loved one in need.
Dealing with an alcoholic sibling can be stressful and problematic. Addiction can completely change a person’s thought processes and behaviors, especially with those close to them. Seeing this dramatic shift in personality and behavior is not only painful but confusing as well. Oftentimes, it can be hard to deal with the unpredictable and unusual behavior of a sibling.
In many cases, there is a rippling effect that affects everyone when dealing with an alcoholic sibling. Seeing someone you idolize and care for fall into a cycle of addiction can be troubling. Fortunately, it is not too late to help them towards recovery without enabling or ignoring the problem at hand. There is no shame in reaching out for professional help, as our wonderful center at Free by the Sea. No matter how bad things may seem, there is always hope on the horizon.
The Effects of an Addiction Within a Family
Many different feelings and problems may arise for siblings of addicts. There are several different situations and scenarios that can create problematic and concerned feelings within the family. Some of the common reactions and effects on the loved one of an addict include the following:
- Broken trust – As time goes on, your sibling may promise certain things like stopping their substance abuse or attending special events. A feeling of broken trust may emerge as they fail to meet these promises or responsibilities. This can lead to you completely losing all trust in them making you doubt their promises even when sober.
- Sibling chooses addiction over you – Another feeling that may arise as siblings of addicts is the feeling that they don’t care about you. More specifically, they may care more about their addiction than they do about you. With this in mind, it’s important to know that their drug use has nothing to do with you.
- Not knowing how to act – Dealing with a sibling who’s addicted can be complicated and unpredictable. Many people may not know how to act or deal with the situation. Some may turn towards humor while making light of everything going on. Others may focus on themselves to the point of perfection to counterbalance the addict. Others may take another approach to help their sibling while dropping some of their responsibilities.
- A rocky relationship with your parents – Parents may push all their focus and willpower on your sibling who’s struggling with addiction. This can lead to an imbalance and tense relationship between you and your parents. Sometimes you may feel that you are being ignored or abandoned in some cases. With this in mind, it’s important to be open to other factors and family members.
It is not uncommon to feel some of these feelings and emotions when it comes to being siblings of addicts. It can be easy to feel concerned and hopeless when you see a loved one become something they are not. Feeling betrayed, frustrated, and angry are all normal reactions to have a sibling addict. Fortunately, there are different things you can do to constructively help a loved one in need.
How Siblings of Addicts Can Help a Loved One Without Enabling
There are things you can do to help a sibling who is struggling with addiction. While it may be a stressful and tense topic, it’s important, to be honest, and constructive with them and yourself. It’s also important to avoid behaviors that may enable a loved one to continue using. Enabling an addict means you don’t enforce any consequences for their actions. These behaviors tend to make a person continue their drug use due to the lack of consequences and boundaries.
Enabling behaviors include:
- Denial of drug use
- Justifying their drug use
- Blaming and criticizing the addict
- Simplifying or minimizing the addiction
- Taking up responsibilities on their behalf
- Enduring the situation (hoping for a change)
- Protecting their image or coming up with excuses
- Avoiding/ignoring the problem (not wanting to disrupt the peace)
While a person may not mean to enable their sibling or son/daughter, they can end up doing so unintentionally. We want the best for our loved ones but it’s crucial, to be honest, and open about the problem at hand (without being confrontational).
One of the ways you can help is to avoid blaming, lecturing, demeaning, or talking down to a sibling with addiction. This ends up pushing them away even further and doesn’t help the situation. You should also refrain from using drugs or substances around your sibling. Those who look up to their siblings may use substances for acceptance or approval. This can cause a number of issues that will only make the situation worse for everyone. Consider these pointers as a sibling of an addict:
- Don’t play the victim
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
- Accept what you cannot change
- Don’t forget to focus on yourself
- Create boundaries and stick to them
- Don’t isolate because of the addiction
In cases where a sibling or a loved one is struggling with addiction, intervention is often used as a way to get them towards treatment. The intervention involves speaking openly and honestly with the addict in hopes that they will seek out help. Interventions are usually conducted when a family feels they are falling down a slippery slope. Setting up an intervention (alone or with the help of a professional interventionist) can be extremely helpful.
It’s important to not be confrontational or demanding during the interventions. Additionally, you should not have too many people at the intervention, only you and a few close family members (and the interventionist if available). During the intervention, make sure to set boundaries, make goals, and commit to aiding them during treatment and recovery. At the end of the day, the goal is to help a person get the professional help they need. Drug addiction can become problematic and even dangerous the longer it is left untreated.
Getting Professional Help for Addiction
Drug addiction can completely tear a family apart and can cause rippling effects for everyone involved. This is why getting professional help is necessary for recovery and long-term sobriety. At Free by the Sea, we offer many different kinds of addiction treatment. We want to make sure your family goes back to a functional and happy state before addiction entered the picture.
Each case of addiction is different and no two cases will ever look the same. At Free by the Sea, we offer personalized and quality treatment with you in mind. Here are just a few of our comprehensive and quality options for you or a loved one struggling with substance abuse or addiction:
- Inpatient/Residential Treatment – This type of treatment offers quality treatment from a quality rehab center. These types of treatments last upwards of a few months and provide 24/7 support and surveillance.
- Outpatient Treatment – This type of treatment is better for more mild cases of addiction. Instead of staying at a rehab center, you only need to attend weekly sessions. This offers convenience and lets you keep up with life back at home.
- Quality Therapy Options – Therapy is an important part of addiction treatment. Therapy options like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical behavior therapy are crucial in the journey towards recovery.
- Detox – Detox is a vital part of addiction treatment and helps start your journey towards recovery. The process helps tame some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with immediately stopping drug consumption. Additionally, it rids the body of all substances so you can continue onto more personalized treatment.
- Telehealth – In this day and age, it’s essential to be able to get treatment no matter where you are. Telehealth offers a new way to get help from the sanctity of your own home. Free by the Sea offers whatever feels most comfortable for you.
Start Your Journey Towards Recovery Today
Dealing with an alcoholic sibling or a sibling with an addiction can be stressful and painful at times. Luckily, you don’t have to go through this alone. Free by the Sea offers specialized treatment for you or a sibling in need. It’s important to be able to get comprehensive treatment no matter what you and your family may be going through. Know that it is not too late to reach out for help.
Here at Free by the Sea, we are committed to serving individuals and families who are suffering from the impact of substance abuse. We’ll work to help you or your family member overcome addiction for good. Contact us today to learn more about all our resources and addiction treatment options.