Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
I have a sister that has a drug problem. We have never been close because of our age gap, and our parents divorced when I was very young. She also lives in another state. The thing that bothers me most about it is that she has a child. She has it in her head that because her life was hard, she deserves to have fun. I wrote her and let her know that I was concerned, and I wanted to help. She got very defensive, and said she only uses them recreationally. I don't know what to do.
Dear Any Advice,
Dear Any advice,
It was good that you wrote your sister, and that she became defensive because it shows that: 1) you care, and 2) defensiveness indicates she knows her drug use is not okay.
However, since you live so far from your sister, you would not be able to gauge how dependent she is on the drug(s). Drug abuse can range from experimental or social use to dependency and addiction. At the addiction level, people will be debilitated physically, emotionally, socially, and/or financially. At this obvious addiction phase, her coworkers, supervisor, her child's daycare workers, formerly unaware friends or relatives begin to take notice. Treatment is necessary for those who become chemically dependent and are unable to control their use.
If your sister is at the social drug use phase, she may not need treatment. She might not progress beyond social use, and may decide to stop altogether when she finds the drugs are a drain financially and also have unpleasant side effects.
Keep letting her know you are worried, so she is aware of your knowledge and concern. You could also get your parents to write or call her as well. However, do not threaten, bribe, or try to punish your sister. Just let her know you are aware, concerned, and do not condone it. Family pressure may help in her decision to limit or stop her social drug use. If your sister progresses to the addiction phase, you and your family may have to intervene as described below. Remember, you are not responsible for your sister's behavior.