Loving an addict is one of the toughest experiences you can go through. If your have a family member struggling with addiction, you may be uncertain of how to help them. You may also be fearful of them and the people they are surrounded by. What can I do to help my sister’s drug addiction?
Addicts may be ashamed of their behavior. If you notice your sister becoming secretive, avoiding physical connection or becoming deceitful, she may be feeling extremely isolated and afraid. Keep reaching out, but let her know that you are there for her no matter what. Until she reaches out to you, educate yourself on how to support her by providing her with safe community.
Addiction Changes the Brain
You and your sister may have experience with an addicted parent or other close family member. Depending on your family attitudes about addiction, your sibling may be unable to be honest with themselves or with you. The attitude that addiction is simply a lack of personal strength can be extremely destructive and increase the isolation the addict is already feeling.
Be ready to be honest with yourself about your feelings. If you see addiction as a personal failing, you will struggle to help your sister effectively. You may start to treat her as a dependent or a burden. Addiction is a disease that alters how the brain works. Just as you would not condemn someone with depression or dementia, condemning the addict is unhelpful and ineffective.
Find Your Own Support Structure
If you have a difficult family history of addiction or unhelpful views of the condition, you will need support before you can support your sister effectively. As possible create time and space for her to be safe in your presence. Prepare a meal and invite her to join you. If you find it tough to talk, order pizza and watch a movie together. Being in a community doesn’t have to mean having a tough conversation.
You’re not alone as a family member of an addict. Joining a support group can help you keep your focus on what matters: You love your sister and want her to be well. You want to do whatever it will take to make that work. You also need support for yourself so you can fully commit to your sister’s needs without losing yourself in the process.
Consider Family Therapy
Should your sister choose to go to rehab, be aware that there may be family counseling available. This may require you to travel. The investment in your family may be a challenge; travel to a Florida rehab facility or making the time for electronic therapy connection will create disruption in your life.
Therapy of any sort is stressful and can be exhausting. Schedule in some down time after these sessions just for yourself to relax and soothe your spirit. If your sister’s addiction is a continuation of an addicted family history, you may struggle with
- raw emotions
- bad dreams
- a short fuse
Old childhood tensions may resurface. Take the time to journal, to meditate, or to pray as needed for your own mental health.
You may find that you need more help to successfully support your sister. You may find that you also have to change up your relationship with your parents, particularly an addicted parent, to be there for your sister. Addiction is an illness that doesn’t have to be a family secret. Breaking that shame connection will be a great step in supporting your sister effectively. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day. Call 866-963-7200.