Sibling Struggles

This week I’ve been pondering an import topic that doesn’t get enough attention:  the struggles of siblings of addicts.  There has been some research, and I started to look up a few things, but I think it will take awhile to put a decent article together.  I do recall learning that the siblings – especially (but not exclusively) younger siblings – often enter adulthood with lasting trauma because they do not get the help and attention they need to deal with their issues in relation to the addiction.

This is playing out in my house now.  My daughter, Lynn (I think that’s the name I’m using for her – I’ve changed everyone’s names here) … anyway, Lynn has been having a very hard time.  As some of you know, we moved 1800 miles away from her brothers to give her a chance to finish high school away from the addiction chaos.  Since we’ve moved, she’s become more withdrawn, angry, doesn’t sleep, doesn’t eat well, and missed four days of school because I couldn’t get her out of bed. 

It took three months, but I finally got her to agree to counseling.  After two sessions, I already see an improvement.  She really needed someone outside the family to help her sort things out.  I doubt if they’ve gotten close to the deeper issues, but I’m confident that this will bring her to a better place in herself, where she can begin to deal with the deep stress that comes with having brothers who are addicts.  She loves them deeply, and is afraid of losing them, and yet is angry as well, at them, at me and her dad … it’s a lot for a young girl in the prime of adolescence!

The other reason I write this is that there’s another blogger who’s sister is a heroin addict (  It’s difficult to comprehend the sadness of a sister who has to accept her sister’s addiction.  I’m going to visit my sister for Thanksgiving and I know how grateful I am for her.  And so I’m just caught up today in the emotional journey that siblings have to take as a result of  this tragic twist of fate.

I have no conclusion right now.  I just wanted to share the thoughts.  Thanks for being here.

7 responses to “Sibling Struggles

  1. My addict has 3 sibs. After 12 years, none of them can stand to be around her. It started when the 22 yr old was 10. It took lots of counseling and increible work to hold r family 2gether. Its not broken, but we r still sprained. Even now.

  2. I hear you! My daughter, 17 attends her 2nd counseling session today, which she is very much looking forward to. In addition she has been put on an anti-depresant, which seems to be working well. All of this was preceeded by some experimentation with a couple of substances. It’s obvious to me that kids don’t always learn from the mistakes of their older siblings, even when they hate what they’ve seen and lived through with their older siblings…frankly, it defies logic in my mind, but I suppose it’s just the way it is. I think we’re on the right road now, at least I pray we are!! I hope your daughter finds some peace within as well.

  3. Kristi – they might put my daughter on anti-depressants as well. I think that, despite what logic would dictate, as teens – they are trying to deal with pain in the only ways they know how. Ten years from now, they’ll know better. Ha – found myself wanting a drink at 11AM yesterday just to deal with it all. Took all the logic I could muster to choose not to – and I’m 50! Life just doesn’t make any sense sometimes. I sure wish you the best and pray that you and your daughter are indeed on the road to health and happier days.

  4. I have just had the chance to catch up your posts . Your daughter’s feelings towards her brothers have reflected mine towards Hannah. Its so hard being a sibling because you just DONT GET IT. Why are they addicts and not me? How can they self destruct while I strive to survive? How? Why? I remember wondering those things – and now I know there is no simple answer.

    Thank you for mentioning me. Since I started writing my blog almost a year ago I have only ever found one other sibling to talk to online. It has been a great comfort to find someone who is dealing with the complexities of the sibling relationship. If Lynn ever wants to contact me please feel free to send her my way…

    Counselling will be an excellent support. Well done for getting her to it!

    All the best,
    Nora x

    • Thanks, Nora. Lynn doesn’t know about this blog yet — but sometime, somehow, I’ll let her know that your blog exists and that she can contact you if she wants to. I really appreciate that! I will be writing more about Lynn’s journey soon. And you should know that your blog helps me understand her a little more. So we all help each other. I’m sorry for the reason you are here — but I’m really glad you are here 🙂

  5. Your blog is well done…

    siblings get the emotional crap kicked out of them as we ( as parents ) smarten up ..takes some of us longer than others…

    I had blogged about the sibling issue….take a look at

    Thanks for your blog
    Parent of Addict

    • Thanks for your comment and for sharing your blog. Yeah, it’s so tough on the siblings. I’m glad I’m getting help for my daughter now. God bless.

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