I just discovered that my adult sister is an addict. Now I don't know what to do.
"I knew my sister had been acting strangely, but I had no idea what she was up to. I never really thought of her as being someone who would use substances of any kind. That was why I was surprised when I went to her house and found what I found on her coffee table. There were beer bottles everywhere, and I found empty prescription pill bottles too. It was probably the scariest moment of my life.
I couldn't keep silent about it. I had to say something to her. I asked her why, and all she could say to me was that she didn't know. She said she just wanted to feel better. I knew that wasn't the way to do it, but I didn't know any more than that. I need to know how I can help her. She's a grown woman, so she's able to make her own decisions. But, there should be some kind of way for me to help her, right?"
It's devastating when you find out that someone you love has an addiction. When it's your sister, it can be even worse. Your sister may have once been your best friend. You two shared everything when you were growing up. Now you only want to be able to help her.
The first step is to learn how to tell if your sister is actually an addict. You'll need to know what signs of addiction to look for. These include:
Have you noticed any of these? If you have, then your sister is probably addicted. Maybe you've noticed many of these signs of addiction, but you're still not sure. Taking a family member addiction quiz can help you even further.
The most important thing you can do is to identify if there is an addiction present. Only then will you be able to help.
Perhaps your sister is adamant that she is not addicted. She may be abusing drugs or alcohol, but it's not an addiction. This is something that is known as denial. It often presents itself in different forms. Your sister might say something like:
These are classic statements from an addict. Your sister does have an addiction. Being convinced that she doesn't won't change that fact. It's not easy to talk with someone who is convinced that they don't have a problem. You have to be prepared with the facts.
You love your sister, and you'd do anything for her. You know you want to talk with her about her addiction, but you're not sure what to say. This is hard if she's convinced that she doesn't have an addiction, but it is possible.
The first step you should take is to prepare yourself. You need to have the right information to present to her. If she's in denial, you'll want to show her how she can know if she has an addiction or not. You may even ask her to take an addiction quiz. This quiz may help to open her eyes.
When you talk with her, be honest about how you feel. Bring up specific examples of how you've noticed the changes in her. Don't be afraid to let your words sting a little if they need to. Perhaps she's lost custody of her kids, or maybe she's gotten a bad health report. Let her know that you're aware of these things.
Most of all, let her know that you won't be enabling her addiction. If you have been enabling it, that has to stop. Set some boundaries in place and stick to them.
After you talk with your sister, it's very possible that she will continue to resist treatment. It's so hard to make that change in your life when you're an addict. It's much easier for her to continue to use. If that's the situation you find yourself facing, you'll want to consider an intervention.
An intervention is a meeting between you, other friends and family, your sister and an interventionist. The interventionist will be in charge, and will ensure that the meeting stays on track. He or she will help you to know what to say when you talk with your sister during the meeting. The interventionist may advise you to use some tough love, so be prepared for that.
She may also be angry once she finds out why. Still, most people listen to what everyone has to say during the meeting. Interventions can become quite emotional.
At the end, your sister will be given the opportunity to accept treatment. Most people accept that opportunity. Hopefully, your sister will too.
This is such a difficult time that you're facing. Chances are pretty good that you're not entirely focused on taking care of yourself right now. You need to care for your own needs in order to help your sister recover. This cannot be stated enough. You might not be used to doing that, because you tend to put others first.
You may want to consider talking with a therapist in a one on one setting. You're probably not fully aware of the stress that your sister's addiction is causing for you. However, it can be very difficult once it catches up to you. You could develop depression, anxiety or another mental health issue. Sometimes, family members of addicts will even turn to substances themselves. Talking with a therapist will help you so much in the long run.
There are a lot of online resources available to you as well. Learn to Cope is an organization that offers online support to families of addicts. There are other support groups you can research too.
Finally, Al-Anon is definitely one option you should consider. Al-Anon is an organization that is set up to help families of addicts. They have in person meetings all over the country. Their website is filled with some great addiction information as well. This will help you understand what your sister is going through.
Drug and alcohol rehab can do so much for your sister. Perhaps she's never been in treatment before, and she's feeling nervous about going. This is completely understandable. Most people are nervous about what to expect.
Right now, your sister is looking to you for reassurance. You're one of the most important people in your life. You can share with her that at alcohol and drug treatment, she'll be able to:
More than anything, alcohol and drug rehab offers your family hope. Your sister can get the help she truly needs to recover successfully.