The Impact of Addiction on Siblings

A guide to identify issues and develop your own recovery plan

The sibling relationship is unique, and when one sibling is addicted, it often brings with it alliances, violations of trust, secrets, hurt, fear, sadness,or resentments. Siblings have been ignored, hurt, manipulated or used by their using sibling. They have been stolen from by their using sibling or kept secret about their use or even been a go between for their parents. Whatever the case, no relationship is left unaffected, especially not the sibling relationship.

Parents have a critical need to understand how siblings have been affected, offer an open ear and support, and encourage them to seek resources for their own recoveries. Support for a struggling sibling could be individual therapy, family therapy, Al anon, Alateen, or another support group for siblings of addicts and alcoholics. Each individual in the family needs to seek support and recovery in order to restore the family unit as a whole.

Questions for Siblings

Questions for Siblings of Addicted Family Members

Have you had these thoughts or has this happened to you?

Thoughts and Experiences of Siblings of Addicted Family Members

Helpful guidelines for you as the sibling

Answering "yes" to any of these questions means your sibling's use is probably having a negative impact on you.
  • Do not isolate because of addiction
  • Focus on yourself
  • Accept things you can't change
  • Find support
  • Don't be a victim
  • Establish boundaries

Choose two that fit you the best and describe your plan to follow these guidelines.

Find outside resources like Alateen and Al-anon that can help you work through some of the feelings you're experiencing. Or seek out a school counselor, religious leaders or trusting adult to talk about what you're experiencing.

Read More
How grandparents can talk to teens about their addiction

Talking to Your Grandchild on Addiction

How grandparents can talk to teens Read More >

Read More
How how parents can talk to their college-age child about addiction

Substance Use in College Students

How parents can talk to their college-aged child about addiction Read More >

Read More
Teen Mental Health and Substance Use

Adolescent Mental Wellness

What to do when teens face mental health and substance use disorders Read More >