Watching any of your loved ones going through difficult phases in their lives is unspeakably devastating. Closer to home, having a sibling with an addiction is heart-breaking. You clearly see them struggling with the problem, you know that something has to be done and sometimes, you don’t even know how to help them get back on their feet. You’ve probably been feeling it: how your sibling is more distant than ever despite your unique relationship.
If you’ve been wondering about how to help your sibling get through the substance addiction chains, we will help you. Sometimes, we don’t even realize when we are enabling the addiction habits in our siblings’ lives. This piece will guide you on drawing a line on when you are helping your sibling and when you are making things worse.
What is enabling?
Substance addiction is a detrimental behavior with adverse effects on your relationships, education, medical and mental health, and even work. Enabling occurs when family and friends of substance abuse victims support the addiction through habits and thoughts. You may find yourself pushing the addict further into his or her addiction behaviors, sometimes, unknowingly.
How are you making your sibling’s addiction worse?
Staying in denial
Denial is a common enabling behavior among families that shy from the stigma revolving around substance addiction and treatment. It’s hard to accept that a loved one has already sunk into the deep waters of addiction. You may be blocking yourself and your sibling from embracing the reality that he or she has a substance abuse problem. You may convince them that addiction treatment isn’t necessary, or their level of addiction isn’t all bad and that it’s easy to control their drug use.
Condoning substance use
We understand that your sibling might be an adult fully aware of the consequences of substance addiction. You may think that you are exerting control when setting a few rules in the house like not allowing substance use and not letting in enabling visitors into the house, but in the end, you might regret it. Wear your tough gear on, because tough love will win, eventually.
Justifying their behaviors
Denial, as discussed above and justification, often work hand in hand. You may find yourself giving addicts reasons for their developing behaviors. For instance, one common argument given by families for their loved one’s addictive behavior is stress. You may use alcohol and drugs as a reason for your sibling to cope with stress at work or their divorce. Denial comes in as a subset of justification and makes you believe that the alcohol or substance abuse is only temporary and should stop after the difficult phase is over. In most cases, it only gets worse.
Not confronting the problem
Growing up, siblings share a very unique relationship where you wouldn’t rat out your sibling and would rather be punished for their mistakes than see them suffer. While this is often good, having a stable relationship with your sibling sometimes becomes a mental block. You might find yourself ignoring their addiction problem and calling them out of their deteriorating lives to cushion their feelings and maintain your relationship. Your sibling needs someone they trust to them the truth and reality as is, and that job must be yours.
When things don’t go as expected, it’s human to go back to the drawing board and find where the problem emanated. However, this shouldn’t be the way you handle your sibling’s addiction. Blame games only push substance addiction victims further away, which drowns them more into the hole. Pointing fingers during this period won’t help anyone.
Trivializing the situation
Insignificant situations don’t need a lot of attention. But abusing drugs and alcohol isn’t one of those trivial situations. You may be guilty of minimizing your sibling’s addiction by lightening the situation and making them believe that there are people in worse conditions and circumstances. Addiction doesn’t get better on its own. If you treat it as a problem that will get better with time, you are probably leading your sibling in the wrong direction.
Protecting their image using false narratives
One of the common barriers to seeking addiction treatment is stigma. Your sibling should never be ashamed of the condition. However, if you try to protect his or her image by hiding their true identity, your sibling will sink in shame and fall deeper into substance addiction.
Do you suspect that your sibling has an addiction problem that needs quick attention? Don’t worry; we are here for you. Call us at 772-266-5320.