woman talks to an alcoholic sibling about getting help

Navigating a Sibling With Addiction: A Guide

Helping a family member with an addiction is never easy. But when you do nothing to help them, you’ll regret it later as their addiction spirals out of control. If you have an addicted or alcoholic sibling, our guide can teach you how to help.

Creekside Recovery Residences provides sober living programs for those in recovery from substance use disorders. Visit our admissions page today to get started.

Enabling vs. Helping Your Sibling

If you’re concerned about an addicted or alcoholic sibling, you’ve probably heard the term “enabling” before. While you know enabling isn’t helpful, you might not be aware of when it’s happening. Furthermore, you’ll need tips on how to help your sibling without enabling them.

Examples of enabling a sibling’s addiction include:

  • Denying the problem altogether
  • Blaming or criticizing your sibling for their addiction
  • Justifying your sibling’s addiction and the problematic behaviors that go along with it
  • Making excuses for your sibling’s addiction
  • Minimizing their drinking or drug use (ie, “It’s a holiday—of course, he got carried away!” or “She’s going through a breakup and needs to cut loose for a bit.”
  • Taking on their responsibilities when they are too high, drunk, or hungover
  • Hoping for a change (without doing or saying anything)
  • Avoiding or ignoring the addiction and the impact on your family

Oftentimes, family members have their loved one’s best interest in mind. For example, picking up the slack for your alcoholic sibling could shield them from detrimental consequences.

Unfortunately, your sibling won’t understand the weight of their addiction if they are protected from consequences. And, eventually, you’ll burn out and won’t be able to cover for them or clean up their messes.

The following are tips to help your sibling without enabling them:

  • Avoid blaming, lecturing, or talking down to your sibling
  • Don’t use drugs or drink when they are around
  • Don’t confront them about the issue—talk from a place of concern
  • Ask for help from other family members or friends (and don’t keep their addiction a secret from the rest of your family)
  • Reach out for help from community resources and support groups
  • Don’t talk to them about getting help when they are under the influence
  • Talk to friends, family, or professional counselors about any struggles you have as a result of your sibling’s addiction

Talking to Your Addicted or Alcoholic Sibling About Treatment

When you have an addiction in your family, you will feel a range of emotions—disappointment, anger, sadness—which influence how you respond to the issue. However, your knee-jerk reactions to lecture or scold a sibling won’t be helpful. Instead, you’ll need to talk to them about getting help from a place of caring—and hope for the best.

Talking to your addicted or alcoholic sibling about seeking treatment isn’t easy. And, all you can do is share your perspective on their behavior while presenting treatment options. The rest is up to them.

One of the best things you can do to help your sibling is learn more about addiction and treatment.

The more you learn about addiction, the more you’ll understand what your sibling is going through. Furthermore, by learning about treatment programs, you’ll know what they will need to get better. This will help you when you talk to your sibling about getting help.

Additional Tips for Family Members of Alcoholics and Addicts

You won’t have any control over what your sibling does about their addiction. However, if they are in danger or putting someone else at risk, there are laws regarding involuntary treatment under specific circumstances.

For example, in Florida, the Marchman Act and the Baker Act outline how to get someone into mental health or substance abuse treatment.

Additionally, here are some more ways to help you and your family:

  • Offer to take your sibling to a support group meeting. Support groups like Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous (NA and AA, respectively) have helped millions of people recover from substance abuse. SMART Recovery, a non-12-step program, offers an alternative to traditional support groups.
  • Attend an “open” support group meeting yourself. You can also attend support group meetings for recovering alcoholics and addicts to learn more about what your sibling is going through. Some support groups host “open meetings“—meaning they welcome outsiders to sit in.
  • Go to a support group specifically for family members of alcoholics and addicts. Al-Anon Family Groups offer support and 12-step programming for family members.

Helpful Resources for Family Members

The following resources can help you learn more about addiction, treatment, and how to talk to your addicted or alcoholic sibling:

Get Help For Your Sibling Today

Addiction in the family is always difficult to deal with. You might feel ashamed, embarrassed, worried, sad, or helpless. But, you aren’t alone.

If you have an addicted or alcoholic sibling, we’re here to help. Contact Creekside Recovery Residences today.

Tags: No tags

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*