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Siblings & Substance Abuse

Siblings & Substance Abuse

Addiction has been known to tear families apart. Often times it shown through the lens of a parent, and the desperate struggles they go through to help their children get clean. But the truth of the matter is, siblings also suffer and are often left out of the bigger conversation. The website WHYY.org hopes to change that though, with a moving (now viral) piece about brothers and sisters impacted by dependencies.

Their article highlights the broad spectrum; from younger siblings traumatized by drug abuse, to older brothers and sisters facing tremendous guilt after introducing their loved ones to substances. There are endless scenarios and they all deserve attention.

WHYY writer Jen Kinney also highlighted the support groups available for loved ones in these situations, welcoming in siblings of all ages. Tim Portinga, a local psychologist and recovery advocate, was profiled in the piece. He hit upon the emotional struggles children in the home face when there’s an addicted brother or sister. Feelings of resentment, anger and grief are quite common among this set.

“Kids aren’t prepared for the kinds of emotions that they’re experiencing watching a sibling go through these kinds of crisis,” Portinga told the site. ““I hear this just consistently over and over again from siblings: that nobody understands how painful it was to have their brother or sister not show up at their basketball games, or to see their brother or sister intoxicated and passed out on the floor, or to try to understand why their brother and sister are in trouble with the legal system again. They don’t know why this is happening. They love their brother [or] sister. They just can’t understand what this is all about.”

Neglect is also common among younger siblings, as parents are often forced to deal with the older addicted child and have less time to nurture others in the home.

Sadly, as these brothers and sisters reach adulthood major rifts can begin to develop. Dependencies drive people to lie, steal, and even become physical with a loved one. For those in the home, these types of betrayals can be devastating. And if you’re on the younger side, you make lack the maturity to see that it is the addiction disease causing these destructive behaviors.

At Valley Recovery Center, we work closely with all family members throughout the addiction and recovery process. So if this sounds like a familiar scenario in your household, please do not hesitate to reach out.


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