Siblings are not the first people thought of in a family when it comes to the impact of addiction. It is unfortunate that siblings are often left behind by loved ones to fend for themselves sometimes, both emotionally and physically. The sibling with addiction often takes priority and focus of attention and resources. Family members may love every sibling equally, but a loved one with addiction needs tremendous support and help. Often, siblings are caught in the crossfire and must learn to cope in different ways within the family to survive.
The Forgotten Ones
The family member to feel the most left behind is likely to be a sibling. They don’t often have an outlet of expression for their pain. Siblings are usually overshadowed by the drug and alcohol use of their sibling. They often take up most of the attention to get them the help they need and can be a negative influence on other siblings. Another way younger siblings affected by drug and alcohol use in older siblings is to idolize the older one. Sometimes the younger one thinks the attitude and behaviors of the older one are cool enough to emulate. Their needs are not often met in the way they need to be, so the other child gets the focus (for the bad behavior) and the other may compensate and try to figure out how to get attention the best ways they know how. It is easy to overlook their lives and complications that arise in the midst of the challenges.
Making Time for Everyone
All family members play a key role in a loved one’s life who struggles with addiction. It may be difficult but it is important to spend time with all the siblings. Counselors and family support specialists can come alongside families wrestling with addiction. Family therapy is key to finding out where the challenges are and supporting everyone equally. A child needs the parent there to help them through the formative years, including because of the neglect they face to their needs due to the other sibling’s addiction. Sometimes multiple siblings suffer addiction or the loss of a sibling due to addiction and everyone needs support. Life is not done alone. It is done with the help, support, and love of those who come together and love each other through one of the most difficult situations a family faces. When seeking help:
- Find a good treatment center to help the loved one that incorporates family counseling work
- Find outside help or support groups for loved ones of those with addiction
- Don’t underestimate the power of friends
The main thing to remember about addiction is that nobody gets a free pass. It is about helping everyone in the family through the challenges of dealing with addiction in a way that will support the loved one but also everyone else, including siblings who may feel left behind.
A Step in the Right Direction helps you navigate the intricate details of sibling relationships, family trauma, and coping with addiction. There are many moving parts in the fight against addiction. We are here to help you navigate detox and rehab with a focus on healing all the important relationships in your life for a long-lasting recovery. For more information on sober living programs for men and women as well as recovery programs, call (877) 377-3702.