Today I spent time reading others’ blogs about their loved ones who are addicted to drugs. Many things that they had written rang home. To me sharing my experiences, is a part of the healing process. I really don’t know what were the triggers that caused my daughters addiction in the first place nor what were the triggers that caused the relapse. I refuse to analyze it anymore. I won’t accept that something I said or did at any particular time made something in her messed up chemistry click and drive her back to drugs. I believe we drive our own destinies.
The comments on the post on the Siblings post of Parents of an Addict blog made me think about my son and are an important understanding for any parent who has a child who is the sibling of an addict:
1. Addiction is a family disease. We have all heard that but what really does it mean. How far does it go?
The standard answer is that addiction effects the entire family. But it’s more complicated than that. Any decent mother or father gets severely affected by an addicts disease, same thing with a wife or husband. When it comes to brothers and sisters, a few different factors apply. The first and most important is how close the relationship is. In my case, my brother is 7 1/2 years older than me, so by the time I was 7 years old he was hanging out with the “thugs” (wannabe’s) and didn’t want anything to do with me, and I think the fact that we are not super close has helped me be less affected by it. If we were close, than I believe it would affect me more emotionally. What does effect me, and the second factor, is how they act around us. What makes his disease mine is having to listen to him scream at my mom, act aggressive towards me, and then come around 2 hours later begging for money that I know he won’t pay back. The fact that I had to study for my final exams having to listen to “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” and my mom cry all day is what makes it my disease. Honestly, if he didn’t live here, I don’t think I would give his addiction another thought.
2. Easily we as parents see how devastating it is to us…
Talking to other siblings and children of addicts, I’ve noted that there are really three reactions that can occur. Sadness, anger, and indifference. Sadness develops into depression, and these people may end up becoming addicts themselves. The sad children’s grades drop as their siblings addiction consumes them, and they try to cope any way they can. Unfortunately, this can include self harm, drinking, and even their own drug use, creating a bloody cycle. When the children react angrily, it’s usually from not coping at all with emotion. They become angry, may start fights at school or work depending on their age (don’t forget this will always affect them), and in general have a negative outlook on life, not so much as sadness but still significant. Finally, they can react with indifference, which is what I do. They try not to think about their siblings addiction whenever possible, and when they do they don’t really feel emotion. While this may seem like the best of the three, it’s not. People who react with indifference can end up becoming withdrawn from their relative. Before you know it it’s not your brother or sister its the guy or girl that lives in the same house or the person at Thanksgiving or the family reunion. No difference between them and the cousin who lives two states away and you see twice a year.
3. Unconditional love:
Unfortunately, I don’t think that unconditional love is automatically instilled upon siblings. Unconditional love develops over time, just like a husband and a wife. Sure, stumbles are okay, but if a sibling sees more bad than good, this unconditional love may never come to fruition. My brother is always going to be my brother and I love him, but if things keep happening we won’t be close at all. We are not really that close now. We’re not going to be the brothers that go out for drinks once a week. He’s not going to be Godfather to my kids. We’ll probably only see each other on Thanksgiving and Christmas, because God knows he won’t remember anything else. So to answer the question, unconditional love is possible between siblings, but it doesn’t naturally appear the way it does with parents and children.
I doubt these thoughts have ever entered my daughter’s mind, what she has lost and could have had with her brother without drugs. Her counselor at rehab said addicts are very selfish people. They don’t think about their families, they are very “me” orientated. The other thing I noted is the age difference of the writer of these notes is nearly identical to my families. I don’t know if it has any bearing, but it was curious.
Thanks to the many parents of addicts recovering and recovered who have shared their stories. I will continue to search the various blogs and forums for insights and guidance while I wait for my darling to return and hopefully to never use drugs again. Hope is what keeps me going. Thank you Mom and Dad at “Parents of an Addict for your very helpful insights.