A Guide for Siblings of Addicts

While alcoholism and drug addictions can take a terrible toll on your life as an addict, it also takes a toll on the people around you. This is especially true for your family members. The effects of addiction on each particular family member of a struggling individual will vary.

This is because the role that each family member plays is different. For example, the effect that your addiction will have on your mother is different from the effect that it would have on your child. Often, people forget the toll that addiction can play on siblings of addicts. 

To understand what it is like to be siblings of addicts, there are many things to consider. The dynamic between siblings is complex as it can involve jealousy, resentment, competition, love, and other emotions. When you add addiction to the mix, it can create a world of complex emotions between siblings. 

Siblings are supposed to be on the same team and help each other grow. Therefore, having too many negative emotions between siblings can create a storm of troubles within a family. The only way to prevent or help manage the negative effects addiction can have on siblings is to address it.

To help bring the effects addiction has on siblings of addicts to light, we’re providing you with a thorough description of what it’s like to be siblings of addicts. Here, you can also learn more about how to help your struggling sibling as he or she battles addiction.

The Effects of Addiction 

Addiction has a plethora of effects on the person suffering from it. For example, addiction can cause an individual to start to lie, cheat, and steal. Some individuals may lie to obtain substances. They may bring prescriptions to multiple pharmacies or clinics to gain more prescription drugs than they should be receiving. 

Those suffering from addiction may also often lie about their whereabouts in general. For example, a struggling individual may tell you that he or she is going to a friend’s house while actually planning to meet a drug dealer. 

As addiction gets worse and worse, people tend to spend all of their time and money getting more drugs. Therefore, they may quit doing activities that they used to enjoy in order to spend more time obtaining and using substances. Struggling individuals may even steal from the people closest to them to buy more drugs. Immediate family members are often the first people that addicts steal from. 

As individuals get deeper into their addiction, they begin to exhibit risky behavior. This causes them to get into legal trouble. This is especially true if they’re performing risky behavior to obtain illegal drugs. When an addict is always getting into legal troubles, it brings shame and stress to the entire family. Often, family members are even the ones that have to spend money paying for the legal fees that an addict accrues.

Effects of Addiction on Siblings of Addicts

People often think about the parents and the children of addicts but not the siblings. In fact, people seem to just assume that the effects of addiction is less severe on siblings of addicts, but this is not the case. 

Emotions Addiction Causes Siblings of Addicts to Feel

Because siblings are often looked over in care when addiction hits a family member, they often suffer in silence. It doesn’t help that the parents of the child with addiction may spend all of their time and energy worrying and caring for him or her. This leaves siblings of addicts alone to deal with feelings of shame, guilt, and resentment. 

Siblings of addicts are often shamed from their peers for having a sibling with an addiction. This could cause the siblings of addicts to close themselves off from other people. This could also cause siblings of addicts to resent their addicted sibling for putting them in such a social situation. Siblings of addicts often even feel shame within themselves. This is feeling is due to having a family member that’s an addict.  

Individuals who are siblings of addicts also often resent their addicted brother or sister due to them feeling abandoned by the individual. Feelings of resentment towards their addicted brother or sister are due to them feeling this sense of abandonment. This is especially the case if the sibling of an addict is younger. This is because younger siblings look to older siblings for guidance in life. 

Siblings of addicts also tend to feel guilt within themselves. This is due to them wondering if they’re part of the reason why their sibling has an addiction. This is particularly the case if the sibling of the addict is older. Brothers and sisters of addicts also often feel guilt due to feeling like they don’t have the ability to help their addicted sibling.

Another emotion that siblings of addicts often feel is fear. This is due to them fearing that the addiction that their sibling has is genetic. This can lead to paranoia or other negative emotions.

Family Roles That Addiction Causes Siblings of Addicts to Take On

Siblings of addicts often take on roles that they normally wouldn’t have if their sibling weren’t an addict. For example, an addict may take on the role of an extra caretaker in the household. This could cause the siblings of addicts to become exhausted and resent their addicted brother or sister for causing them to miss out on their youth.

Another role that siblings of addicts may start to take on is the role of the enabler. Siblings of addicts often take on this role because they’re not used to being responsible for their addicted brother or sister. As a result, siblings of addicts might want to stand up for their addicted brother or sister. They also may want to hide their addicted brother’s or sister’s secrets from their parents. 

Brothers and sisters of addicts often feel that they must be a perfect child. This is to make up for the fact that their sibling is struggling so much with addiction. That is why it is not uncommon for siblings of addicts to become overachievers. Unfortunately, because so much attention and care needs to be put on their addicted sibling, the brother or sister of an addict may develop the need to downplay their accomplishments. 

How to Deal With an Alcoholic Brother 

The way that a sibling of an addict has to deal with an alcoholic brother or sister slightly differs from the way they may have has to deal with a drug addict sister or brother. The way that you deal with an alcoholic sibling may also differ based on whether your sibling is a male or female. This is because men and women often start abusing alcohol for different reasons. Also, the effects that alcohol abuse may have on a person will vary depending on their gender. 

When dealing with an alcoholic brother, remember that males can physically handle drinking more alcohol than females prior to it spiking their blood alcohol levels. As a result, most men can handle having a beer or two after work each day and be fine. 

Prior to dealing with an alcoholic brother, you must also make sure that your brother is truly an alcoholic. There is a difference between being an alcoholic and having a drinking problem. When a person just has a drinking problem, he or she has the ability to easily stop drinking without having withdrawals but chooses not to.

On the other hand, a person that is an alcoholic will have a dependency on alcohol that causes him or her to experience withdrawals whenever that person stops drinking. When a person is truly an alcoholic, that person is unable to stop drinking without some form of treatment

Getting Your Brother to Attend Addiction Treatment

The best way to help your alcoholic brother is to refer him to an addiction treatment center. Make sure the center you choose has a high-quality program for alcoholics. If you’re persistent and tell him that he needs to attend rehab the right way, you’ll have a sober brother in no time. 

To review, there are three key steps to dealing with an alcoholic brother. The first step is determining that your brother is an alcoholic. The second step is helping him realize that he is an alcoholic. The third step is getting him to go to treatment. 

How to Deal With an Alcoholic Sister

siblings of addicts

When you’re dealing with an alcoholic sister, the three basic steps are the same. Still, some of the things that you should pay attention to are different. For example, you should remember that the female body cannot handle drinking as much alcohol as the male body.

This is due to the female body having less body water but more body fat than the male body. Water dilutes alcohol and body fat absorbs it. Therefore, the female body increases its blood alcohol level at quicker rates when drinking.

The female body also reaches a high blood alcohol level quicker than the male body does due to having less alcohol dehydrogenase and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase enzymes in their stomach and liver. These enzymes help metabolize alcohol more efficiently.

Therefore, you should not decide whether or not your sister is an alcoholic by comparing her drinking habits to that of a male.In fact, you should primarily measure whether or not your sister has a drinking problem based on if she seems to have a physical dependency to alcohol that causes her to experience withdrawal symptoms. If not, she likely just has a drinking problem. 

Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism in Women

A higher percentage of women develop mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety than men. As a result, the co-occurring disorder of alcoholism and a mental illness are also more likely in women. Therefore, you should look into whether or not your sister appears to have a mental illness on top of a drinking problem when determining if she is an alcoholic.

You should also look into whether your sister is upkeeping her appearance as not doing so is a common sign of alcoholism. This is especially true for females since many women pride themselves on their appearance. 

Other common signs of alcoholism in men and women include risky behavior and no longer participating activities that they enjoy. Sudden problems at school or work, a high tolerance for alcohol, and not being able to stop drinking are also signs of alcoholism.

Getting Your Sister to Attend Addiction Treatment

Once you’ve determined that your sister is an alcoholic, you need to help her admit to having a problem. Then you can convince her to receive treatment. Like when dealing with a brother that is an alcoholic, you should send your sister to a rehab facility that has an addiction treatment program for alcoholics. You can even send your sister to an all-women rehab center if that would make her feel more comfortable.  

Helping Your Struggling Sibling

When dealing with a drug addict sister or brother, the steps and things you must look for are similar to those that you would look for in your alcoholic sibling. For example, you should look to see if your sister or brother has a physical dependency to drugs that causes her or him to have withdrawal symptoms. You should also look to see if your sister or brother is unable to go without drugs or not for a long period of time. 

Other signs that your sister or brother may be a drug addict include displaying risky behavior, no longer participating in activities that they enjoy, having sudden problems at school or work, and not being able to stop using drugs.

Once you confirm that your sister or brother is exhibiting many of these signs, you need to convince your sibling to receive treatment. You should get your sibling to agree to receive treatment at a rehab facility that has specialized treatment programs for people addicted to the substance that your sibling is addicted to. 

Siblings of Addicts: Helping Your Struggling Family Member

You may need to stage an intervention to get your sibling to attend addiction treatment. To stage a proper intervention, you need to consult a professional interventionist to help guide you and facilitate the intervention. You’ll also need a small group of your addicted sibling’s family and friends to participate in the intervention. 

Some of the main steps for conducting an intervention are:

1. Make a Plan

2. Gather Information

3. Create an Intervention Team

4. Choose Specific Consequences

5. Take Notes

6. Hold the Intervention Meeting

7. Do a Follow Up

Once you’ve conducted all the steps of an intervention with the assistance of a professional interventionist, your sibling will likely agree to attend addiction treatment. 

Let Coastal Detox Help Bring Healing to Your Family Today

Whether you’re the sibling that needs to attend rehab or you’re the sibling of an addict, you can receive the addiction treatment services that you need here at Coastal Detox. At Coastal Detox, we provide residential and dual diagnosis treatment for alcoholics and drug addicts. We also provide a wide variety of high-quality detox programs, if you need it. 

Siblings of addicts shouldn’t have to suffer for their brother or sister’s addiction. To avoid that problem, you or your sibling should receive addiction treatment at Coastal Detox. To learn more about our facility and the treatment programs that we offer, contact us today. 

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