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 Since we’ve moved, she’s become more withdrawn, angry, doesn’t sleep, doesn’t eat well, and missed four days of school because I couldn’t get her out of bed.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 (http://worksaside.com). 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.