How to Deal with a Drug Addict Brother

In healthy family dynamics, sibling relationships can be incredibly close. You love your sibling and also often depend on them as a friend, a confidant and someone who understand your life perhaps better than anyone else because of your shared experiences.

However, when addiction impacts your brother or sibling, it can become confusing and painful, to say the least. How to deal with a drug addict brother or sister is one of the hardest questions out there, particularly if this was someone you at one point looked up to or idolized.

All family members are impacted by the ripple effect that addiction creates, but siblings often feel the hurt in different ways than other members of the family, and they may be more reluctant to open up to others about what they’re experiencing.

Some of the common scenarios that happen when you have a drug addict brother or sister include:

  • You feel like your sibling chooses their addiction over you. That can start to feel like your sibling doesn’t care about you or cares about drugs more, but a big part of understanding how to deal with a drug addict brother or sister is knowing that their addiction has nothing to do with you.
  • You likely experience a feeling of broken trust. You may believe your brother or sister the first few dozen times they say something, such as making a commitment to get clean, but eventually, you lose all trust. Even when they say they’re sober, you don’t believe them, and it’s hard to envision that trust could ever be rebuilt.
  • If you’re learning how to deal with a drug addict brother or sister, you may find that your parents are enabling them, creating tension and frustration between you and your parents. You may start to become angry with your parents for facilitating the addiction of your sibling, and it can lead to dysfunctional relationships between you. You may also feel like your parent’s focus is entirely on the addicted sibling, leaving you to feel invisible or abandoned.
  • Often when people are figuring out how to deal with a drug addict brother or sister, they may go one of two directions. They may try to turn it into a humorous situation and make light of everything, becoming somewhat of the family clown, or they may strive to become a perfectionist to block out some of the shame and pain of the addicted sibling’s behaviors. Some people with addicted siblings may also go the other direction and let their school work or career slide, in an effort to take the negative attention off the addict.

So, how can you deal with a drug addict brother or sister?

How to Deal with a Drug Addict Brother

First, it’s important to avoid enabling behaviors. You need to learn about addiction and also about enablement so that you can take steps to prevent this dangerous cycle from happening in the relationship you have with your sibling.

You can maintain a sense of trust and communication with your brother or sister without being an enabler. Even when you become frustrated it’s important to avoid blaming, nagging, lecturing or demeaning your sibling. This is only going to push them more into their addiction, and away from the people who love them.

Also relevant to discussing how to deal with a drug addict brother or sister is the fact that you shouldn’t try to use drugs or alcohol around your sibling. Often with siblings, particularly if they look up to their brother or sister, they may use substances around them even if they’re not addicted, as a way of seeking acceptance or approval. This is not only unhelpful can quickly become very problematic for everyone involved.

When you’re considering how to deal with a drug addict brother, speak to the rest of your family about the potential of staging an intervention. Then, if your sibling opts to enter treatment, you can play a key role in that process as well, if it’s something your sibling is open to.

By participating in your brother or sister’s treatment and recovery, you can work toward rebuilding your relationship and finding functional, healthy ways to communicate with one another as siblings.