WakeUp Carolina’s Siblings Group started after WakeUp Carolina began its work with mothers and fathers impacted by substance use. After we began helping parents, the demand for a sibling group was too obvious to be overlooked. There is no question everyone is impacted in the family system once substance use hits. More often than not there seems to be a common thread of the silent suffering of a sibling. You’re not alone, there are siblings all over the country that log in for this meeting that has come to find contentment in their family system.
- Who Attends: Siblings of substance users
- Who Leads: Hope Aldred
- Why: Discover support, unity, and resources
- What To Expect: Conversations and real-life advice
- When: the second Wednesday of every month at 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. EST
- Where: Virtual Zoom (Meeting ID: 760 770 5003, Passcode: 842976)
After working with families individually and in groups for many years, Hope Aldred has identified a need for a safe place for the “sibling” in the family to gather, process, heal and ultimately grow in a confidential group setting. This non-twelve-step peer support group begins with Hope asking each participant to check in (if they choose to) about how they’re doing. Topics of group discussion are solution focused and are directed at situations only siblings encounter.
Although family dynamics can be discussed during the group the focus shifts to how the sibling is being impacted. The design of putting the focus on the sibling is because the last thing they usually get to talk about is THEMSELVES. By engaging the sibling impacted instead of the substance user we can assist siblings in establishing actions that can help THEM live more balanced lives, no matter the chaos they may encounter. This group is a safe space for them to be heard.
One of the most interesting concepts of working with siblings is the family role they identify with the most. When a substance enters the family system, these roles begin forming around the siblings. The complexity of these roles can lead to unresolved issues for siblings that need to be addressed. Feelings of loneliness, fear, and anger can take over as these different roles take shape.
Also known as the enabler, this person often covers the addict’s problems and responsibilities to keep the rest of the family happy. The caretaker is known as the “martyr of the family” because he or she not only supports the dysfunctional behavior but shields the substance user from the consequences of his or her actions.
Similar to the caretaker, the hero devotes his or her time and attention to covering up for the substance user’s mistakes to maintain the appearance that the family is “normal.” The hero will do whatever he or she can to restore the dysfunctional home life behind closed doors. This individual is typically portrayed as over-responsible, self-sufficient, or even a perfectionist. However, by being the “golden child/parent,” the hero may struggle with living up to the status and experience the pain of seeing the addict’s suffering up close.
The scapegoat is the problem child — the opposite of the hero. Through acts of defiance or hostility toward other family members, the scapegoat provokes negative attention that ultimately distracts from the substance user’s behavior, thus diverting the family’s attention from where it should be.
Known as the comedian of the group, the mascot often tries to lessen the stress caused by the substance user with humor or silliness. He or she feels powerless with what’s happening and aims to prevent any family unpleasantness with antics or comedy. Negatively, the mascot is often in constant motion and becomes anxious or depressed when he or she slows down or stops.
The Lost Child
The lost child is the quiet individual who flies under the radar while other family members play their own adopted roles in dealing with the substance user. The lost child stays out of the way and eventually avoids all interactions and essentially disappears.
WakeUp Carolina is a 501c3 non-profit Recovery Community Organization. Our programs and services are supported by donations and grants, resulting in zero cost to our community. Although some of our services are provided by credentialed clinicians and recovery coaches, WakeUp Carolina is NOT an accredited substance use treatment facility. We operate as community advocates for those impacted by substance use.