How-To Guide: Helping as Siblings of Addicts

Addiction doesn’t just affect individuals that abuse drugs. It also affects close family members and friends of addicts. Oftentimes, this is because it becomes the burden of close family and friends to convince addicts to receive the help that they need. Sometimes the person that has the best shot at convincing an addicted loved one to attend rehab is that person’s sibling. Siblings of addicts are peers that have grown up with the addicts.

In other words, siblings of addicts are a hybrid between parents and friends. To learn how to best help a person that is suffering from addiction receive the help that he or she needs as that person’s sibling, follow this guide.

We Believe in Treating the Individual, Not Just the Addiction

Dealing With an Addict

Make sure that you’re using effective tactics when learning how to deal with an alcoholic brother or drug addict sister. This is because trying to help your sibling with a substance addiction achieve sobriety in the wrong way could do more harm than good for both you and your sibling. Therefore, instead of confronting your sibling who’s acting recklessly, make sure that you have a plan in place first.

How to Deal With an Alcoholic Brother

Men and women differ in many ways. As a result, the reasons for why men and women abuse substances often differ. Even the way that substances affect men and women can differ due to the genetic differences between the two genders. Therefore, some of the ways that you would deal with a brother with a substance use issue may differ from some of the ways that you would deal with a sister with a substance use issue.

How Men Experience Alcohol Use Disorder

It’s important to remember that the male body can consume more alcohol than the female body can before getting drunk. One reason for this is that male bodies contain more water in them to filter out the alcohol. It also helps that men have a lower proportion of body fat in their bodies that can absorb alcohol.

Men also have a smaller liver volume per unit of lean body mass than women do. Because the liver is the bodily organ that metabolizes alcohol, male bodies can’t metabolize alcohol and send it to the bloodstream and brain as quickly and directly as female bodies can.

Even though male bodies don’t metabolize alcohol as quickly as their female counterparts, they do break alcohol down more efficiently. This is because male bodies contain more alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). ADH is the enzyme in livers and stomachs that break down alcohol.

1. Confirm Whether or Not Your Brother is Truly an Alcoholic

With all the ways that the male body is able to process and handle alcohol more effectively than the female body, it’s important to double-check if your brother truly suffers from a drinking problem before confronting him. If your brother simply gets too drunk occasionally when out with friends or he is always having one or two beers after work each day, he likely is not an alcoholic. He may just be a little reckless with his drinking. This is especially true since men tend to take more risks and give in to peer pressure more often than women do.

To make sure that your brother is truly an alcoholic that needs help, first check to see if he is dependent on alcohol. By this we mean does he experience withdrawal symptoms whenever he minimizes or discontinues his use of the substance. If he does and he struggles to stop drinking, then he likely suffers from an alcohol addiction and needs help.

2. Come Up With a Script for What You’re Going to Say When Confronting Your Alcoholic Brother About His Addiction

Once you’ve confirmed that your brother suffers from a drinking problem, you need to come up with a detailed plan and script that tells you what to do and say when you confront him about it. That way you don’t accidentally say the wrong thing while confronting your brother that may trigger him.

3. Confront Him Directly, With the Assistance of an Interventionist If Necessary

You then need to confront your brother directly about his drinking problem. Just make sure that when doing so, you come across like you aren’t judging or attacking him. This is important because siblings are supposed to be on the same team. Therefore, confront your alcoholic brother about his drinking from a place of compassion and understanding.

Siblings of addicts that need help confronting their alcoholic brothers should enlist the help of professional interventionists. Professional interventionists will work with you to create an effective intervention plan. Professional interventionists will even take the lead during interventions so that everything goes smoothly.

4. Refer Him to Alcohol Addiction Treatment Centers

As siblings of addicts, it’s important to be part of the solution—not part of the problem. This means referring your alcoholic brothers to rehab centers with high-quality alcohol addiction treatment programs. This step is important because it makes it easier for siblings with substance addictions to receive the help that they need.

How to Deal With a Drug Addict Sister

As we mentioned earlier, men and women often develop substance use issues for different reasons. Therefore, while the foundational steps for helping a sister who’s an addict may be the same as those when helping a brother who’s an addict, the tactics by which you conduct these steps may differ slightly.

1. Figure Out What Type of Drug Addiction Your Sister Has and How Intense That Drug Addiction Is

The first step to learning how to deal with a drug addict sister is to figure out what type of drug that your sister is abusing. This is important because the ways that you would confront, or deal with, a person who’s addicted to a milder and legal substance, such as marijuana, may differ from the ways that you would confront or deal with a person addicted to a highly addictive and/or illegal substance, such as heroin.

Make sure that you aren’t comparing how intense your sister’s addiction is with a man’s substance use habits. This is because men and women often differ in their substance habits.

2. Come Up With an Individualized Plan and Script That Tells You How to Confront Your Drug Addict Sister

Women can be complicated. Therefore, there are a wide variety of reasons why your sister may have developed a drug addiction.

Make sure that you confront your drug addict sister in a way that caters to her specific reasons for abusing substances. Also, make sure that you confront your drug addict sister in a way that caters to her level of addiction.

This means coming up with a highly individualized plan and script for any possible intervention. For assistance with coming up with an effective and individualized plan for confronting your sister who’s a drug addict, consult a professional interventionist.

3. Directly Confront Your Drug Addict Sister

Siblings of addicts should confront their drug addict sisters directly, but with compassion and understanding. By confronting a drug addict sister with some compassion and empathy, she will more likely consider the advice that you give her during interventions.

4. Refer Her to Drug Addiction Treatment Centers Nearby

Like when confronting alcoholic brothers, it’s important to refer drug addict sisters to high-quality addiction treatment centers during interventions. That way, your drug addict sisters can easily receive the help that they need.

Refer Your Siblings With Addictions to Grace Land Recovery

Grace Land Recovery is a dual diagnosis treatment center located in the Memphis, Tennessee area. Here at Grace Land Recovery, we understand how much addiction impacts families, including sibling relationships. That’s why we encourage siblings of addicts to retain their bonds with their brothers and sisters by attending family therapy for addiction.

Here at Grace Land, we also understand that family often has the most impact on people’s habits, good or bad. That’s why we encourage all siblings of addicts to learn how to curb their behaviors. So siblings don’t contribute to their brothers’ or sisters’ addictions. That’s even why we encourage siblings of addicts to help stage interventions for their brothers or sisters that suffer from addiction.

Grace Land offers a wide variety of high-quality addiction treatment programs, therapies, and services. These addiction treatment programs, therapies, and services are specialized by substance and individualized by person. That way each Grace Land patient can receive the exact help that he or she needs to achieve sobriety and maintain it long-term. Thus, siblings of addicts can confidently refer their brothers or sisters with substance addictions to our treatment center.

To learn more about Grace Land Recovery and all the different addiction treatment programs, therapies, and services that we offer, contact us anytime. Our phone lines are open 24/7 and our offices are open Monday – Friday, from 9 am – 5 pm.

Other Ways to Help a Sibling Who’s an Addict

There are many other ways that siblings of addicts can help their brothers or sisters overcome addiction. Some of these ways are described below.

Actively Stop Enabling Your Siblings

To help your brother or sister overcome a substance addiction, stop enabling him or her. Oftentimes, siblings of addicts enable their brothers’ or sisters’ drug addictions without realizing it. They often do this by covering up for their siblings with drug addictions whenever they mess up.

If you want your brother or sister to overcome addiction, you need to make it so that he or she has to deal with the consequences of the drug addiction. By having to deal with the consequences of drug addiction, your siblings who are addicts will be more motivated to get help.

Attend Family Therapy

Another way that siblings of addicts can help their brothers or sisters overcome addiction is by attending family therapy. By attending family therapy, you are teaching yourself more about your sibling’s addiction. That way you can better support your sibling as he or she enters addiction treatment and recovery.

Family therapy for addiction will also help you learn how to stop contributing to your sibling’s addiction issues. Family therapy can even help repair any brokenness in your relationship with your sibling due to addiction. This will only make it easier for you to confront your sibling about his or her substance use habits when necessary.

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