Help! My Adult Brother is an Addict

My Adult Brother is an Addict – What Can I Do?

"My adult brother is addicted to heroin and alcohol. Honestly, I feel like I'm at the end of my rope."

Addiction and Your Brother

"This has been going on for a very long time. It started when we were in high school. He's my younger brother, so I've always felt like I had a duty to look out for him. That hasn't changed now that we're in our thirties. He started by binge drinking with friends on the weekends. Eventually he started using marijuana. I tried to steer him away from that life. He just wouldn't listen to me.

"It wasn't until we were in our late twenties that he started using heroin. Now, it's an everyday thing. I'm worried about him. I don't know what's going to happen to him. I'm scared that he's going to overdose one day, and then it's going to be too late to help him.

"What can I do?"

My Grown Brother is a Drug Addict or Alcoholic. I Need Help and Support

Whether you've known for years that your brother was an addict, or you just found out, you're scared. You can't help it. You may have known of people who have died from overdoses. You may know of people whose lives were ruined because of drugs and alcohol. More than anything, you need help and support right now. You need to know what to do. Here are a few tips to help you.

Tip #1: Avoid Enabling the Addiction

This isn't always easy, but it's so important. Addicts are master manipulators, and they'll do or say anything to get to use substances. Your brother may accuse you of not loving him anymore if you don't allow him to use. He may tell you that you were once best friends, but you're not because you're not supporting him. Be prepared for anything, and stand your ground.

Tip #2: Get Help for Yourself

What you're going though is very taxing on you both mentally and physically. Please don't ignore yourself in your quest to help your brother. You need to be in a good place to help him. You should consider joining at least one support group. Al-Anon is an organization for families of addicts that can be so helpful to you. Nar-Anon is the same type of organization, but they are targeted toward families of drug addicts.

If you're looking for online support, you may want to consider joining a group like SMART Recovery. Their website is filled with some really great information. They also have online meetings. You may also want to thinking about talking with a therapist one on one. This can be so incredibly helpful to you as you maneuver this situation with your brother.

Tip #3: Educate Yourself About Addiction

You may not know very much about addiction at all. Did you know that alcoholism and drug addiction are diseases? Millions of people suffer with them, and so many want to stop using. They just don't know how. If you learn as much as you can, you'll be in a better position to help your brother.

Recognizing the Signs of a Drug Addiction or Alcoholism

It's possible that you know your brother is using alcohol or drugs. However, you're not completely sure he has an addiction. This is actually much more typical than you might think. It is important for you to be able to recognize an addiction, so that you know how to help.

You may want to take a family member addiction quiz. This quiz will ask you a series of questions about your brother's behaviors. You can also look for these signs of alcoholism or drug addiction:

  • Becoming isolated from loved ones
  • Not caring as much about favorite activities
  • Not being able to fulfill responsibilities
  • Spending a lot of time needing to recover from drinking or using drugs
  • Placing drugs or alcohol as the most important thing in his life
Addicted Brother

How to Bring Up Alcohol or Drugs with Your Addicted Brother the Right Way

Maybe you've put off talking with your brother about his addiction for a long time. You want to bring it up now, but in the right way. Here are some tips that can help you:

  • Prepare for your conversation ahead of time. Know what you're going to say, and do your research.
  • Talk with him when he's not drunk or high.
  • Let him know that you're only bringing it up because you're concerned and want to help.
  • Give real-life examples of the problems you can see substances are causing for him.
  • Be firm and set limits. Let him know you won't be enabling the behavior any longer.
  • Ask him to get treatment.

Talking with Your Adult Brother About Addiction Recovery

It's possible that your brother has thought about getting treated for his addiction himself. If he has, he might want to know more information about it. You should be prepared with a couple of things to tell him. For example, let him know that:

  • At alcohol and drug rehab, he'll have a lot of time to focus on his recovery.
  • During substance abuse treatment, the focus will be on healing the source of his addiction.
  • He'll be able to talk with other addicts and get their perspectives on recovery.
  • He'll be able to work on his overall health in the process.
  • He can get help with the physical side of his addiction to help with withdrawal.

Maybe he'll be open to your suggestion, or maybe he won't. It's hard to tell how he will react. If he isn't open to it, there's no need to worry. There's still something else you can try.

Choosing to Have an Intervention for Your Brother May Be the Best Option

Intervention services are there for you if you need them. An intervention is a meeting between your brother, a professional interventionist and other friends and family. You'll be there too, and you'll all get a chance to talk with your brother about the addiction.

These meetings can become very emotional, and that's a good thing. Your brother should see the damage that's being done to him and to those who love him.

You'll prepare what you're going to say ahead of time, but don't worry. You'll get some coaching from the interventionist on what to say. The interventionist may want you to put some boundaries in place that may be difficult for you to adhere to. For example, maybe you've been watching your brother's children after he binge drinks. Or, perhaps you've been bringing food to his apartment everyday to ensure that he eats enough. These things will need to stop. You'll have to be the one to tell your brother that.

Once everyone has spoken, your brother will need to make a decision. The offer will be made to him to go to alcohol treatment or drug treatment. Many times, addicts do decide to get help, which is wonderful.

Alcohol Treatment and Drug Treatment Offers Help to Addicts and Hope to Families

The situation you're facing right now is a difficult one. There's no doubt about that. You spend so much of your time worrying about your brother. Maybe you've always been too scared to bring up the addiction to him. Or, perhaps you've brought it up several times, but nothing you say to him seems to matter. Both scenarios are actually very typical. It helps to know what to say, and how to go about saying it. It's also helpful to know that you have other options in case talking to him doesn't work.

At Northpoint Washington, we want you to know that we understand how you feel. What you're going through is so hard. You feel like you need to act, but you also feel stuck. We want to help you through this situation as much as we can.

First of all, be sure to take care of yourself. Look into some of the support groups that we've listed above. Consider talking with a therapist. Secondly, if just talking with your brother doesn't make a difference, consider an intervention.

Drug and alcohol rehab can make such a difference in your brother's life. Not only will it help him to get to the reasons behind his addiction, but it will bring healing. During his addiction treatment, he'll also have family meetings. These will be important for the two of you to help put the pieces of your relationship back together. Professional treatment is going to be the key for his recovery.

Are you struggling with an addicted brother? Do you need help or information about addiction treatment services? Please contact us today.


  • (2017). Help for Family & Friends. Retrieved from:
  • (2017). Al-Anon Family Groups. Retrieved from:
  • (2017). Nar-Anon Family Groups. Retrieved from: