My Sibling is an Addict

Siblings are your first friends, your closest confidants, and in many cases, the ones who know you best. No matter how much you fight, you want the best for them because at the end of the day you love them deeply. Due to the bond between siblings, they are often the first people to recognize addiction in their loved ones. They know their habits and goals and can usually tell when their behavior has become uncharacteristic and erratic. This is why it is vital that those who are living with a drug addict sibling know the most effective ways to find help. Phoenix Rising offers treatment services and resources that not only help those battling addiction but their families as well. 

Living with a drug addict siblingHow to Identify Addiction 

Addiction is a complex condition that looks different for everyone. Despite this, however, there are some common signs and symptoms that you can look for in your sibling. The individual will usually show behavioral changes such as becoming secretive and failing to uphold responsibilities. In addition, they may begin isolating themselves and expressing a lack of energy. They might also begin to look or act differently as it is common for those with addiction to experience changes in weight.

Consequently, they may become twitchy or jumpy, sweat an abnormal amount, and exhibit poor hygiene. Additionally, their personality may seem altered as they might be prone to mood swings, irritability, aggression, and depression or anxiety. Another way to identify whether or not you are living with a drug addict sibling is to look for the “3 Cs” of addiction.

The 3 Cs of addiction include:

  • Control lost. They are unable to stop using.
  • Craving and compulsive using. They are constantly wanting to use drugs or alcohol.
  • Continued use. Drug and alcohol use has obvious negative effects, yet they are unable to stop using them.

How Addiction Impacts Families

Drug and alcohol addiction drastically changes an individual’s life for the worst. The mental, physical, and emotional repercussions of addiction are not only tasking for the individual using substances but for their loved ones as well. Family members of addicts live in a constant state of fear and worry as they helplessly watch their child, sibling, or parent go down a dangerous path.

The effects of drugs and alcohol are often life-threatening and can lead to irreversible consequences. Understandably, this knowledge is difficult for families to accept. They want to help, but they are not always sure how to be there for their loved ones without enabling them

How Addiction Affects Siblings of Addicts

Living with a drug addict sibling is incredibly challenging. Siblings most likely will play a crucial role in getting them into a treatment program. Unfortunately, however, this is not an easy process and takes a toll on those closest to the addicted individual. Common ways siblings are impacted by their brother or sister’s addiction include: 

Feelings of Guilt and Shame

It is common for the siblings of addicts to experience guilt and shame due to their loved one’s struggles. Often, siblings will feel as though there was something they could’ve or should’ve done to help their brother or sister avoid developing a substance use disorder. It is a heavy burden to carry the weight of someone else’s addiction, and it is important to note that addiction is a disease.

The stigma associated with substance abuse is strong, and it is not uncommon for young siblings to be subject to ridicule or bullying as a result. Shame is also a common response to dealing with a family member’s addiction, especially if the loved one’s behavior is disruptive or occurs in public. But remember, addiction is nobody’s fault, so the best thing to do for your sibling is to stop any self-blame and move forward. 

Living with a drug addict siblingStrained Relationships With Siblings

You may find yourself drifting away from your addicted brother or sister as a result of their condition. This is not always intentional and is rarely meant to be hurtful. In many cases, it is to avoid enabling.

Distancing yourself from your sibling can be very painful. Nevertheless, family therapy can help you reconcile your relationship once your sibling is in recovery. Boundaries are important, but so is making the effort to fix this bond following treatment. 

Strained Relationships With Parents

Siblings of addicts may feel like they live life in the shadows of their brothers and sisters who suffer from addiction. Dealing with addiction requires lots of time and energy from the whole family and sometimes this can give a healthy sibling (child or adult) a feeling of unimportance. Over time, these feelings can lead to tension or even resentment towards parents or siblings. This further reiterates the need for family therapy/counseling and open communication. 

Siblings May Follow a Similar Path

Unfortunately, a sibling’s struggle can lead to a domino effect, possibly encouraging drug abuse in another sibling. It is not easy watching your loved one abuse substances, which might lead to another sibling using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. If this occurs, it is important to also seek addiction help immediately. 

How to Help When Living With a Drug Addict Sibling 

It may seem like helping your loved one with their substance use disorder is beyond your reach, but there is hope. There are resources, programs, and support groups that exist to treat addiction and help individuals achieve recovery. Furthermore, there are additional support groups and intervention services that empower family members to have the courage to help their loved ones overcome addiction. Phoenix Rising offers several drug and alcohol rehab programs in the Palm Desert area. Within our programs, we provide a variety of therapeutic modalities, such as family counseling. 

Another way you can help your sibling is by not enabling them. This can include not giving them financial assistance or not letting them stay with you until they are sober. As difficult as this might be, it is essential in showing your sibling how serious their problem is. 

Treatment for an Addicted Sibling in Palm Springs, CA

Our compassionate staff is ready to help your family get back on track and conquer addiction. We offer several forms of treatment at our Palm Springs facility including detox, residential treatment, three levels of outpatient programming, and sober living facilities.

The time to help your sibling is now. Call us to speak with one of our intake specialists or use our contact form today. We are happy to further explain our services as well as answer any questions you might have.