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How To Get Help For My Sister’s Alcohol Or Drug Addiction

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

February 26, 2019

Confronting a sibling about their addiction can be difficult and may place an added strain on the relationship, but it can be one of the most important conversations to have. Learn how to confront a sister and get her the help that she needs below.

Sisters are beautiful women that have a lot of love to offer their siblings. Unfortunately, if your sister is suffering from addiction, there’s a good chance her behavior has changed for the worse. She may have started treating you poorly, committing crimes, or ignoring her personal responsibilities. Getting her the help she needs will be complicated by your personal relationship and any emotional difficulties the two of you may share. However, it is still possible to get her the help she needs.

Assess Your Relationship With Your Sister

Sibling relationships are often the most complex relationships on the planet. Your gender and your birth order are particularly important to how your sister will react to you when it comes time to discuss her addiction.

Firstborn sisters are often lavished with attention from their parents, attention that is disrupted when you are born. For some sisters, that break is often enough to cause a lifetime of resentment. However, other sisters may have developed a protective feeling towards you, one that will make it hard for her to take your attempts to protect her seriously.

Younger sisters, on the other hand, often fall victim to being spoiled, meaning she may resist your attempts to help her simply because it feels like an attempt to take something she likes away from her. However, younger sisters often look to older siblings for protection and may turn to you in times of need.

That dynamic changes heavily if you are a boy or a girl. Brothers are usually considered “protectors” of the sister, regardless of birth order, meaning it may be easier to discuss rehab with her. However, sisters are often more emotionally connected, which makes it easier for her to share her problems.

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Utilizing That Relationship Dynamic When “Breaking The Ice”

Once you understand the dynamic you share with your sister, you can approach discussing her drug addiction from the right angle. For example, let’s say you’re an older brother to whom she has always turned for protection. Sit down with her and discuss your concerns and let her know that you are here to help her through every step of the process.

That particular dynamic is probably one of the easier ones in this circumstance. However, let’s say your sister is older than you and resents the way your parents lavished attention on you as the baby girl. How do you approach her? First of all, you should try to mend any emotional resentment she may feel towards you by honestly and openly discussing it.

Open up to her and let her know that you’re sorry about the way your parent’s behavior changed and that you still love her. Let her know that you’re worried about her addiction and want her to get help. Approaching her with love as a concerned little sister who feels out of control is likely to activate her protective tendencies. This may compel her to want to change her life for the better.

Breaking the ice when discussing drug addiction is always going to be a hard process. You may not be able to do it alone. There’s no shame in looking for friends and family for help. In fact, they are likely to want to help you by holding an intervention.

Creating A Successful Intervention For Your Sister

Studies have shown that interventions have a success rate of nearly 90 percent when it comes to getting a person to attend rehab. Holding a successful intervention for your sister requires surrounding her with loving and caring friends and family who aren’t going to show her aggression or anger. Interventions are most successful when the person is overwhelmed with familial love and is compelled to attend rehab.

Picking A Treatment

When selecting a treatment, it’s important to consider their pros and cons. For example, outpatient therapy will let her go to work or even stay at home to take care of children, but it won’t offer constant medical surveillance. For that service, she’ll need inpatient care, but attending one of these centers will isolate her from children and family members for an extended period of time.

Treatment types that may be suitable for your sister include:

  • Inpatient recovery
  • Outpatient visits
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Spiritual recovery (including the 12-Step program)
  • Personal counseling
  • Group or family therapy

The latter type is particularly essential if you or anyone else in the family wants to continue assisting her on the road to recovery. It can give you a positive influence on her therapy by giving her the vital guidance she needs to regain a life of sobriety.

Reaching Out In Times Of Need

Once your sister has committed to rehabilitation, you need to be there for her every step of the way to ensure success. However, if you’ve tried this process and she still resists rehab, please contact us at We can help guide you through breaking through her defenses and can gently guide her to rehabilitation.

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