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How to Help an Addict or Alcoholic Sister

  1. Article SummaryPrint
  2. Considerations
  3. Family Support Groups

Alcoholism and drug addiction are known as family diseases. This means that they affect every single member of an addict's family. If you have a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you may wonder if your efforts are helping or hurting the person. In the book Addict in the Family, Dr. Andrew Byrne lists several things family members should avoid when trying to help someone with an addiction.

  • Giving cash to the addicted person
  • Making moral judgments
  • Setting unrealistic goals for recovery
  • Pitying the addicted person
  • Cutting off communication
  • Influencing addiction treatment

"Alcoholism and drug addiction are known as family diseases."
If you are wondering how to help your addicted sister, there are several actions you can take that will help her without enabling her. Offer your sister the support and sympathy she needs. If you want to help with living expenses, make payments directly to creditors instead of giving her cash. Since addiction is a disease, do not try to help your sister without seeking expert advice. A physician or addiction counselor can give you the information needed to help your sister make good decisions. If you need help finding the best private addiction treatment center for your sister, call our free helpline at 1-888-287-0471.


addict sister People with drug and alcohol addictions do not often readily admit that they need help. Some addicts even refuse help when it is offered, leading to addiction-related medical and psychological complications. In fact, untreated addiction costs the United States a total of $400 billion per year, according to the McShin Foundation. The first step in learning how to help your addicted sister is making sure she is ready to accept your help.

There are several other factors to consider if you want to help your sister who is on drugs. If your sister is pregnant, you will need to find expert resources specifically designed for pregnant women. The use of alcohol or illicit drugs may slow fetal development and cause other health problems. Nutrition and weight are also important considerations for women addicted to drugs and alcohol. Some drugs interfere with normal appetite, so your sister may not be getting the nutrients she needs. A nutritionist or dietitian can help you develop a healthy eating plan to meet your sister's specific nutritional needs.

If you have children or a significant other, you also have to think about how helping your sister will affect them. As much as you want to help your sister with her addiction, it may not be a good idea to offer her a place to live if you also have children living in your home. Dealing with a drug addict sister may also affect the relationship you have with your spouse or life partner.

Family Support Groups

Family Support Group When you are learning how to help your addicted sister, it is important that you get the support you need. Having a family member addicted to drugs or alcohol can take a toll on your own life. Al-Anon is a support group designed for the family members and friends of alcoholics. Group members do not give each other advice; instead, they share stories and personal experiences. Al-Anon has group meetings all over the world, so there is a good chance you can find a meeting in your area. This organization also has electronic meetings, making it easier for people with mobility issues to get the support they need. This organization helps members determine if they need to seek professional help. In fact, 63 percent of people who attend an Al-Anon meeting seek professional treatment at a later date, according to Al-Anon Family Groups of Arizona.

If you are dealing with a drug-addicted sister, Nar-Anon or Narcotics Anonymous may be the right support group. This organization is for the family members and friends of people addicted to any drug or combination of drugs. This group has no member fees or dues, so it costs nothing to participate. During weekly meetings, members encourage one another and share their experiences. If there is no Nar-Anon group in your area, you can start your own group. Once you find a meeting place and at least one other person to join the group, you must purchase a new group packet from Nar-Anon.

If you need more information about addiction support groups or rehabilitation options for your sister, call us at 1-888-287-0471. Our confidential helpline is available 24/7.


  • The rate of substance abuse in American women was 5.9 percent in 2010, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  • A 2004 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 4 percent of females admitted to substance abuse treatment programs were pregnant at the time of admission.
  • Women are at a greater risk for alcohol-related problems than men, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Since the body composition of a woman differs from that of a man, a woman will have a higher blood alcohol concentration than a man who weighs the same and drinks the same amount of alcohol.
  • Someone with a family history of alcoholism has a greater chance of becoming addicted to alcohol than someone without a family history of the disease. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and Alcoholism says that children of alcoholics are four times more likely than others to develop problems with alcohol.

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  • Enabling an Alcoholic or
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  1. Question: What is a physical addiction?Submitted By: Arlene B.

    • S.F.

      A physical addiction is where the body becomes tolerant to a drug and requires more to function normally. The body stops producing certain chemicals because the drug is creating them. Once the drug is withdrawn, the body will take a while to restart production of these chemicals.

  2. Question: What is a psychological addiction?Submitted By: Gordon B

    • Project Know Answer:

      A psychological addiction is where person feels as though he or she cannot function without the drug, particularly in stressful or social situations.

  3. Question: Why is cough medicine addictive?Submitted By: KY

    • Regina G

      A number of cough medicines contain dextromethorphan, also known as DMX, or codeine, which are addictive substances.

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  6. Question: What do you do if you know for a fact that a loved one is addicted to pain killers, is stealing & lying to get them, but won’t admit it? How do we get them to admit it and get help?Submitted By: Charlene Schultz

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      Call 1-888-287-0471 now and get the help you need.

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