When a loved one or family member is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it can cause significant problems within the family unit. The sibling of someone dealing with addiction may be conflicted about the situation. It is natural to want to offer assistance, but most people are unsure about how to help an addicted sibling.
Enabling an Alcoholic or Addicted Sibling
The love that a person feels for their brother or sister can lead to protective feelings. These feelings can lead to the act of enabling the addict. Enabling is harmful because it allows the addict to continue an unhealthy cycle. Covering up for an addict or lying for them may seem like an act of love, but, in truth, it is anything but helpful.
Recognizing the ways that you are enabling your sibling can help you to avoid engaging in this damaging behavior. It is important to know the difference between helping and enabling. When you help a loved one, you are doing something for them that they are unable to do. When you enable them, you are doing something for them that they should be doing for themselves.
You may be enabling your sibling if you answer “yes” to the following questions:
- Have you ever called the addict’s school or place of employment in order to make excuses for his or her absence?
- Have you lied to anyone to cover up for the addict?
- Have you ever bailed the addict out of jail or paid for his or her legal fees?
- Have you allowed the addict to blame you for any of his or her behavior that resulted from drug or alcohol use?
- Have you avoided talking to the addict about his or her behavior because you feared the response?
- Have you ever given or loaned money to the addict?
- Have you ever completed an assignment or project that was supposed to be done by the addict?
Many people who are dealing with a drug addicted sibling believe they are helping by doing these things. What they are really doing is making it possible for the addict to continue his or her harmful behavior with little or no consequences.
Did You Know?An intervention is an effective means of confronting a loved one or family member who is in denial about the seriousness of their drug or alcohol use. Knowing how to help an addicted sibling can be difficult, but planning an intervention is a good place to start.
Planning an Intervention
Confronting an addict can be a confusing process. Many families choose to consult with a professional intervention mediator. This streamlines the planning process and helps the family avoid common pitfalls that can accompany a difficult confrontation. An intervention team should be formed, consisting of the addict’s friends and family. They will each have a rehearsed message to give the addict about the effects of his or her behavior. Making a collective decision to follow through with specific consequences if the addict refuses to change certain behavior is an important part of the intervention. Moving away from the addict or limiting their contact with his or her children can be difficult, however, it is sometimes necessary for both the addict and his or her loved ones.
The outcome of the intervention should be to convince your loved one to become involved in a 12-step program, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. If the addiction is severe enough, prior arrangements should be made to transport the addict to a drug or alcohol treatment facility.
During the intervention, the addict should be asked to make an immediate decision. He or she should not be given the opportunity to think about the situation. Being prepared to transport the addict into a treatment program or facility immediately after the intervention is a crucial part of the recovery process.
Did You Know?The primary goals of an intervention are to destroy the system of enabling and convince the addict to seek treatment immediately.
How the Process Benefits Everyone
“Sometimes it is necessary to distance yourself from your loved one for your own mental health.” Even if the addict does not choose to seek addiction treatment, there are numerous benefits to staging an intervention. The process lays the groundwork to dismantle the system of enabling and establish consequences for the addict’s refusal to take action. This can lead to healing within the family. Sometimes it is necessary to distance yourself from your loved one for your own mental health.