What It is Like to Grow Up with an Addicted Sibling (Family Member)

Contributor: Carla Mack, guest contributor for Addiction Hope

Sharing my personal experience with an addicted family member is difficult. So many memories flood in when you are thinking over events of one’s life; some sweet memories and some painful.

My nephew and I are only two years apart. I was born later in life for my parents, so he and I spent much of our childhood together, living as siblings.

We’d fight like kids do, and laugh like kids do. He was special to me; no one else would try my mud pies and enjoy them. We shared a unique bond.

Getting Involved with Drugs

He was, and is, smart. As a kid, he could figure anything out, but following rules was a struggle for him. He was frequently in trouble, with his teachers, with his mom. It wasn’t easy growing up for him.

He didn’t finish high school, he was partying and before we knew it, he was addicted to methamphetamines. He was able to get clean for a while; he married and had a beautiful son. He adored his family and we had hope that this was the end of his addiction.

But the lure of drugs overtook him again. He lost it all, his wife and his son. It was heartbreaking, it still is heartbreaking. He has been in and out of jail. Sometimes we would go for months without hearing anything from him, we knew he was using.

When word of him would pop up again we were relieved, because we knew he was alive. Even when he was arrested, we were more relieved, because we knew he’d be safe.

Supporting My Nephew

sunrise-432349_640I have found a way to cope with my feelings, and it works for me. When I see him, I hug his neck, and tell him I love him. I encourage him, if he’s clean, “great job!”. If he’s using, “I love you, you can do this!”.

I want him to know that he is worthy of love. Always. He is worthy of forgiveness. Always. He has made some bad decisions in his life, but haven’t we all? He has had struggles in his life, but haven’t we all? His struggles may look a little different than mine, but they are still struggles.

The Pain of Addiction for All Involved

The pain of having an addicted family member is raw. I ache for him. I pray that someday he will over power this addiction for good. I maintain that hope. Always. Right now he is in prison. He will be there for at least three years, and I am grateful.

I am grateful because at the time he was arrested he was homeless; tonight it was -15 outside. Today, I know he is inside, warm, safe and getting treatment for his addiction. He has had two other beautiful children, he’s a loving dad.

Find Help and Support

He is going to have three years without drugs and I am hopeful and prayerful that this will be the final step that brings him back to a place of recovery. I look forward to the day when he is home.

If someone you love is struggling with addiction, you can find support. Search for local Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, or Adult Children of Alcoholics locations in your area.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on November 27th, 2014
Published on AddictionHope.com