After Addiction Treatment: Why Sibling Relationships Might be the Hardest to Mend
Arguably, a brother or a sister is the person who knows you the best. In most cases having grown up in the same household, and thereby aware of the family dynamics that shaped you, a sibling could be a great advocate during addiction treatment. He or she might be aware of any underlying emotional or social issues that complicate and deepen addiction’s hold.
But of course sibling relationships – especially those affected by addiction – are more tangled than that. If the sibling has never suffered from addiction to substances or alcohol him or herself, he or she might feel that the brother or sister who struggled with addiction monopolized the parents’ energy, and diverted emotional and financial attention from the rest of the family.
Moreover, often in sibling relationships the idea of comparison between the two can either create tension or healthy competition. If one sibling is an addict and the other is not, the addict might feel that his or her insecurities and failures are magnified in relation to his or her sibling’s successes. Yet, in another way, a sibling’s sober and healthy lifestyle could serve as a model for a sibling struggling with addiction.
A sibling has the potential to provide an excellent support system during addiction treatment. Often closer in age than other family members and having grown up in the same home, a sibling can help an addict reflect on his or her relationship to the family, and hopefully serve as a confidante and model of healthy living.
Like all relationships that suffer through addiction, it is important that both siblings be forgiving of one another; closeness can be both straining and relieving, and only through substance abuse rehab can one begin to understand the potential emotional foundation a brother or sister can provide.