15 Jul When a Sibling Has an Addiction

Learning that a sibling has an addiction to drugs or alcohol can be extremely difficult, and it can leave you at a loss for how to help. You’ll find that you’re in a unique position because you are family, yet you don’t have the type of disciplinary responsibility that a parent does with a child. So how can you offer support to a sibling who is coping with a drug or alcohol addiction?

Educate yourself.

One of the best first steps you can take is to learn as much as you can about your sibling’s addiction. This will not only prepare you to better help your sibling but will also be an outward expression of how invested you are in your sibling’s recovery success. Moreover, it can help you to understand that your sibling isn’t deliberately hurting you but rather is seeing his or her life gradually becoming controlled by a substance. Learn as much as you can about the substance at hand, what might have led to addiction, and what treatment options are available for this particular addiction.

Participate in the recovery process.

Addiction harms not only the addicted individual but also the family as a whole. This is why many addiction recovery centers are complete with family programs and services, all geared toward offering familial support to the person receiving treatment and providing care for family members who have been affected by addiction.

Respect the need for self-reflection.

Some siblings enjoy a very tight-knit relationship with one another, and thus it can be difficult when one sibling needs to step back and be self-reflective during the early stages of recovery. Keep in mind that successful recovery from addiction often involves spending some time focusing inward and coming to terms with deeply-seated emotions. Your sibling might need some distance initially in order to be able to work on repairing familial relationships down the road.

Be mindful of enabling and codependency.

Sometimes those who seek to help a loved one with an addiction fall into the role of enabler, essentially helping an addiction to continue rather than encouraging it to stop. This can happen easier than you might think. In an attempt to help a sibling with an addiction, you might offer financial support, or make excuses to his or her employer with regard to absences. And while things like this might seem helpful in the short term, in the long run they are in reality enabling the addiction in your loved one to continue.

Author: Chastity Edwards
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