Sibling Drug Use

It is no exaggeration to state that the dynamics that exist between brothers and sisters are some of the most potent and powerful forces known to mankind. The bonds between siblings last from birth to death. Likewise, when there is a rift in that relationship, it can make for lifelong strain or estrangement. It is a sad affair when two brothers do not speak for decades – even sadder still when familial strife follows them both to the grave. Sibling drug use, alcohol dependence, addiction – any of these things can and do cause considerable turmoil, grief, and anger among members of the same family.

Let us say you suspect sibling drug use, but you are not certain. The first thing you should do is ask them. Take them aside – undisturbed by others – and ask them point blank. Hopefully they’ll tell you the truth right then and there. You should, however, know some of the signs and signals of drug abuse. If you observe some of these things, you can point it out to them in a non-accusatory manner and get them talking about it. Here are some of the signs and signals of sibling drug use:

Signs and Signals of Sibling Drug Use

  • Sinus congestion; Runny nose
  • Bloodshot or glassy eyes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Poor skin complexion
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Loss of interest in job, career, sports, hobbies, etc.
  • Loss of interest in life in general
  • Unusual weight loss (or weight gain)
  • Uncharacteristic sexual behavior
  • Neglect of personal grooming
  • No longer communicates with family
  • Erratic behavior
  • Mood swings; Exhausting emotional ups and downs
  • Paranoia; Distrust of friends and family
  • Depression
  • Anxiety; Aggression
  • Secretive behavior; Won’t let others into their home or in their room
  • Creates secret stashes of drugs or alcohol
  • Self-destructive behavior (such as cutting oneself)
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Hostility; Violence

In addition to being aware of these signs and signals, it is worthwhile to know how to approach the subject. “Denial” is very common among drug users and addicts. They will downplay the situation or refuse to admit that their drug abuse is a problem. An alcoholic will say they drink because they “choose” to do so, not because they are physically or psychologically dependent on alcohol. Here are some of the ways to approach the matter and what to discuss:

Know Your Facts

Drug education – aka KNOWLEDGE – is an immensely powerful tool in raising awareness among youth and adults alike. When people know the facts about drugs – how they destroy brain tissue, cause decay in internal organs, bring about poor judgment and stupidity, deaden minds and ambitions, and a myriad of other adverse effects – they are far less likely to even try them. If one has already started to experiment with drugs, getting the facts can mark the difference between continued abuse and the decision to quit. For an addict, education is a component of the rehabilitation process. When you know your facts, you’ll be able to communicate with others much more easily.

Deal In Truth

A drug pusher deals not just in drugs, but in lies. They tell people that “One hit won’t hurt” or “You won’t get addicted” or “It’ll make your problems disappear.” They lie in order to get more business. Your job is to deal in truth. Be honest with your brother or sister. The more truthful you are, the more you’ll reach them. There is also a balance to strike between truth and emotion. Even if you’re angry, you may not want to vent all of that anger as it could create the opposite of the intended effect – they might storm off or kick you out and not want to talk about it. On the other hand, you know your own family better than anyone. It may be that raw, brutal honesty (possibly at higher volume) is the very thing you know will make a positive impact on your brother or sister. For others, they may want to dial down their emotions and simply have a conversation. But you’ll have to be the judge.

The Roots of Sibling Drug Use

Why does someone start doing drugs? There can be many reasons. But they can be distilled down to the fact that people do drugs in an attempt to solve a problem. The problem could be boredom, physical or mental pain, difficulty communicating, failure – any number of reasons. The “mechanism” is essentially the same. They look around for solutions and see drugs as a possible answer. They learn sooner or later that the solution becomes the problem – whether they care to admit it or not. Discus with your sibling why they want to use drugs – what are they trying to solve? The answers may surprise you. You’ll probably have to do some digging to get to the roots of it. Once you start digging some of these things up, discuss drug-free solutions. There a more than enough solutions that do not involve chemicals. Two heads can also be much better than one.


When you have these talks with your brother or sister, it would be a good idea to do so in as relaxing and non-threatening environment as possible. If the two of you have great memories in a certain field in the country, drive out there and then have the talk. Their usual environment – even their own home – could be fueling their drug and alcohol abuse. They may have grown up on a block with drug-user friends and dealers. The point is to get out of the normal surroundings so you can get some peace in which to talk about it. The same theory holds true for drug rehabilitation. In order to really deal with the problem of sibling drug use, many people need to be completely out of the element that contributed to their problem – one of the principles of an inpatient program.


It may be necessary to perform an intervention. A real intervention is not necessarily as dramatic as you might imagine. It is the friends and family of a drug user communicating from the heart. They tell the user or addict that they can no longer stand idly by while the person destroys himself or herself. They are seeking to get a person’s agreement to do something about it. It’s really just an appeal to someone’s innate and inner common sense. It can mark a turning point when followed up with effective rehabilitation.

What To Do About Sibling Drug Use

One important thing to know is that there are effective methods of medical detoxification and holistic approaches to rehab. Through a comprehensive program, a person can get free from drugs and deal with the issues that led to prolonged abuse.

Another important thing to realize is the difference between drug or alcohol USE, ABUSE, DEPENDENCE, and ADDICTION. To complicate the matter, the lines between these behaviors can appear completely blurred. For example: A person using drugs insists they can quit, but they never do.

Contacting an addiction specialist would be an excellent part of your strategy to see if your brother or sister – or anyone you know and love – is dependent or addicted and needs professional help.

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when help is so close.

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