How to Convince an Addicted Sibling to go to Rehab

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The relationship between siblings is unlike any other. Brothers and sisters may fight, argue, compete against one another, or get jealous. But, through all of the obstacles, siblings stick together and have a seemingly unbreakable bond. If you have a brother or sister, you know just how difficult it is to imagine living without him or her.

Sadly, when addiction comes into the picture, the idea of living without your sibling may become a painful possibility. With more people dying from drug-related overdoses today than ever before, it’s completely normal to be fearful for an addicted loved one’s life.[1] You may find yourself begging your addicted sibling to go to rehab only to be met with denial, refusal, and resentment.

Dealing with an addicted sibling isn’t easy, but there are actions you can take to convince your brother or sister to go to rehab.

How Addiction Affects Sibling Relationships

When one person in the family is struggling with addiction, everyone else in the family is impacted in some way. For example, siblings often feel guilt and shame because they feel as though there is something they could have done to stop the addiction from forming. Others feel like they are to blame for their brother or sister’s behaviors. Some get angry, resentful, and frustrated with the lying and addictive behaviors.

If your brother or sister is struggling with addiction, you may find yourself overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and shame. You may also experience a lot of fear and anxiety about the future of your sibling’s substance abuse. Left unaddressed, these emotions can be exhausting and can contribute to mental health problems of your own.

According to Family Systems Theory, siblings of drug users usually find themselves in one of the following categories:[2]

  • Extremely involved in their addicted sibling’s life to the point where they are consumed or enmeshed with it
  • Extremely disengaged from their sibling and avoidant
  • Parentified to the point where they almost become the caregiver or protector of their sibling
  • Extremely successful and overachieving

Regardless of how your sibling’s addiction has affected you, you’ll want to know how you can help your sibling realize they need professional treatment.

Learning How to Deal With an Addicted Sibling

Whether you live with your sibling or not, the first thing you should do is put an end to all enabling behaviors. Enabling behaviors are actions you take to protect, help, or shield your sibling from consequences. Common ways siblings may enable each other include:

  • Lying to your parents about your brother or sister’s substance use
  • Loaning money to your sibling
  • Making excuses for your sibling’s bad behavior
  • Bailing your sibling out of jail

Next, you shouldn’t use drugs or alcohol around your sibling. Even if you are able to smoke marijuana or drink in moderation, you should do so in private, or consider getting sober yourself to lead by example. Similarly, make it known to your sibling that you will not tolerate his or her substance use. Let them know they cannot come to visit you while intoxicated, use substances in your presence, or ask you to do something to help them obtain substances, such as driving them to the liquor store.

By setting healthy boundaries and stopping enabling, you will force your sibling to face the reality of his or her addiction head-first. When the consequences begin rolling in, your addicted sibling will become more willing to go to rehab.

If your sibling comes to you for help, be prepared to help them locate a treatment facility. You should also be willing to participate in your sibling’s treatment and recovery because doing so can improve treatment outcomes and retention.[3]

Three Steps to Take to Convince an Addicted Sibling to go to Rehab

Many people who struggle with addiction are very reluctant to seek treatment, especially in the early stages of their addiction. This is unfortunate because the earlier a person enters treatment, the easier it is to address his or her substance abuse and underlying issues.

Even after setting boundaries, you may find that your brother or sister continues refusing to go to rehab. In situations like these, there are three steps you can take:

  1. Confront your sibling and offer help getting them into rehab – Sit your sibling down when he or she is not intoxicated and express how concerned you are about their well-being. Have resources ready and offer to help your sibling begin their recovery journey.
  2. Get the family together to stage an intervention – If a simple confrontation doesn’t work, it’s time to go to the next step: staging an intervention. An intervention is a formal and planned meeting where you and other loved ones express your concern for your sibling. A drug and alcohol interventionist is usually present to guide the intervention and encourage your sibling to get help.
  3. Consider involuntary commitment through the courts – Interventions can be extremely successful, especially when they are well-thought-out and professionally lead. However, some defiant individuals will still refuse help. If your sibling is of danger to themselves or others or incapable of caring for themselves, you can petition the court for an involuntary substance abuse commitment. This allows you to force your sibling into treatment via a court mandate.

Find Help for a Drug or Alcohol Addicted Sibling Today

Now is the best time to make a positive change for yourself, your family, and your sibling who is suffering from addiction. With the proper guidance, intervention, and support, you can get your sibling and yourself the help you all deserve.

If you have found yourself dealing with a brother or sister who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, our team at New Jersey Addiction Interventions can help. Our team can talk with your sibling, evaluate their needs, stage an intervention (if necessary) and help your entire family get the support they need. Call now to get started.



Medically Reviewed: November 29, 2021

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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