How to Help a Sibling with Addiction

How to Help a Sibling with Addiction

How to Help a Sibling with Addiction

Guidance and Resources to Support a Sibling’s Recovery

Do you struggle with knowing how to help a sibling with addiction? Your brother or sister is caught amid a raging storm, but there are a few things you can do to help them find their way into recovery. The only problem is that it often feels challenging and overwhelming.

What is the best way to support a struggling loved one with a substance abuse issue?

The first thing you can do is educate yourself on substance use disorder and addiction and for this, you have found the right blog! Our latest article will help you to know what the available resources are and how to offer support when they are finally ready.

In the meantime, set boundaries to minimize enabling behaviors, engage in self-care, and attend your own support groups. If the circumstances allow, try to make sure that the whole family is involved in treatment and on the same page in terms of setting boundaries and offering effective support.

In short, there is a lot that you can do to support a sibling with an addiction, and Ingrained Recovery can help. We offer a luxury rehab facility in Georgia where they can focus on improving and embracing a sober lifestyle. Keep reading to learn how you can help your sibling along the way!

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7 Tips for Helping Siblings with Substance Abuse Issues

A substance use disorder can change the family dynamics irreparably, but there are a few things you can do to minimize its long-term impact. Here are seven tips that can help you manage a sibling’s addiction with greater ease — though the process may not always feel easy.

1) Get Educated on Substance Use Disorder and Addiction Treatment

When you have a family member who is struggling with substance use, it can help everyone involved to know more about the condition. You might already have seen firsthand how drug or alcohol addiction can radically wreck a person’s life, even when they never intended for their life to revolve around substance abuse.

You can do your part by educating yourself on why they use and how to help.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as well as the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, offer helpful articles and resources around these issues. The SAMHSA resource guides are a great place to start learning about what you can do to help a drug addict sister or brother. You can also read up on studies about the various types of treatment available in your local area.

Not all therapies are proven to be effective for your addicted sibling. Give them the best chance of a successful intervention by knowing what researchers recommend for substance abuse. Ingrained can walk you through our evidence-based treatment program to put your mind at ease.

2) Know What Resources are Available

Family Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Siblings of addicts might feel extremely helpless in the face of addiction in the family. However, you may be able to play a crucial role in encouraging your adult siblings to take control of their lives. When they feel ready to seek treatment, have a short list of available options where they can get help.

This minimizes their need to do the research which can delay the moment when they first decide to get help. It can take days or even weeks to find a qualified treatment center near them that specializes in substance use. By the time they land on a facility, they may have changed their mind.

Ingrained Recovery is located in the heart of Georgia, and we would love to make it on your list of resources for your sibling’s addiction. We provide affordable self-pay rates and accept many types of private insurance. Our facility is upscale and provides amenities they will want during their recovery.

3) Protect Yourself and Other Family Members

Of course, there is going to come a time when you have to set boundaries with your sibling. You and the other members of your family are going to have to be clear on what you will and will not do to help an addicted sibling. Covering for them or making excuses for them only enables their behavior.

What does it look like to set hard boundaries with a sibling who can’t stop using?

You could refuse to be around them while they are drinking or using drugs, just as a starting point. They should know that you won’t indulge them in this habit or give them your tacit support for it. Never offer to help them with financial support or legal troubles as this starts a cycle of enabling behaviors.

Make sure that all other family members are on the same page about what is acceptable behavior for the loved one who is struggling. When you can create a united front, it makes it that much harder for them to play family members against one another and gives them a clear view of the issue.

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4) Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself

When a family member is struggling with addiction, it has far-reaching consequences for your own life. You may become obsessed with how to help your sibling. While it seems like a good thing on the very surface of things, it won’t be beneficial long-term if you burn out.

Drug and alcohol addiction takes a real toll on your mental health, even if you aren’t the one struggling. Always make sure you’re prioritizing your self-care in the form that most energizes you. That may mean hitting the gym, going for walks, taking a bath, painting, writing, coloring, or anything that allows you to relax and focus on something else for a change.

It gives you a source of joy that isn’t dependent on the progress or behavior of your loved one. Siblings of addicts often only feel happy when they know that everyone is sober. Make sure you do other things so that you don’t lose sight of yourself.

5) Address Addiction Directly

Conversations With family members

While your sibling may not be in a position to seek treatment right now, that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel when it comes to trying to get them to see the light. Address their addiction clearly and draw their attention to concrete examples of how substance use impacts the family.

Many people are prone to want to sweep this under the rug because they’re embarrassed by the behavior of their family members. However, this isn’t going to move you any closer to the ultimate goal of getting them into an addiction treatment program.

Be gentle but firm in your approach to confronting a family member’s addiction. Be clear on the impact on the whole family and even the long-term consequences for their own health. The more educated you are on substance use, the more you can present them with the hard facts.

If they refuse to listen to you, make sure that you’re setting boundaries in these hard conversations.

6) Involve the Whole Family in the Treatment (if Possible)

When you’re finally able to convince addicted siblings to get the help they need, don’t just abandon them to do all of the heavy lifting on their own. For those with a supportive home environment, family life is going to be a rock that they can build a sober life around, and you want to ensure that you’re being as supportive as possible.

Family therapy sessions should be included in a comprehensive treatment program for clients who are able and willing to involve their loved ones. Make sure that your therapist understands your availability and willingness to participate in helping your sibling get the care they require. Together, you can start to mine through the rubble of your family and rebuild.

Be open to the fact that your sibling’s suffering may not be easy to hear. At times, you may have even contributed to their substance use. Don’t shut down. Remain open during these sessions. Plan a fun self-care activity after family therapy so that you have an outlet for tough feelings that arise.

7) Attend Your Own Support Groups

Attend Support Groups

While your struggling brothers and sisters might be in a residential treatment program, you may also want support for yourself and camaraderie from people who understand. Al-Anon programs offer the same Twelve Step approach as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

You’ll be surrounded by other people struggling to heal their families and take care of themselves in the face of a loved one with an alcohol or drug addiction. Some people may be parents, siblings, cousins, or just close friends of an addict.

For younger siblings, they may benefit from the teen version of Al-Anon known as Alateen. This gives them a developmentally appropriate place to discuss a sibling suffering from addiction and to ask the questions that they might be scared to ask of parents.

If these support groups aren’t enough for you, then you may be able to best help your family heal by signing up for individual or group therapy on your own. You never know — it could set an example that your sibling eventually mimics to get help for their addiction.

Reach Out For Immediate Help At Ingrained

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Prepare for a Sibling’s Treatment with Ingrained Recovery

When you’re gathering up local resources, siblings of addicts may want to explore Ingrained Recovery. We are an upscale treatment facility that offers a robust and customized treatment plan for our clients. They can enjoy the best of our sprawling, 50-acre campus alongside evidence-based treatments like CBT, DBT, and equine therapy.

Our team of medical professionals offers medically supervised detox programs to help with withdrawal symptoms as well as inpatient treatment. They won’t have an opportunity for alcohol or drug abuse in our care. We also work with the entire family unit to help your sibling maintain their sobriety after they leave.

We accept many forms of private health insurance and offer affordable self-pay payment plans. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can support your sibling in their recovery!


  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (n.d.). Publications and Digital Products. SAMHSA Publications and Digital Products.
  2. Al-Anon. (2021, August 18). Anon family groups.
  3. Al-Anon Family Groups. (2023a, August 11). Teen Corner (Alateen) .
  4. McHugh, R. K., Hearon, B. A., & Otto, M. W. (2010). Cognitive behavioral therapy for substance use disorders. The Psychiatric clinics of North America, 33(3), 511–525.
  5. Dimeff, L. A., & Linehan, M. M. (2008). Dialectical behavior therapy for substance abusers. Addiction science & clinical practice, 4(2), 39–47.
  6. Diaz, L., Gormley, M. A., Coleman, A., Sepanski, A., Corley, H., Perez, A., & Litwin, A. H. (2022). Equine-assisted services for individuals with substance use disorders: a scoping review. Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy, 17(1), 81.