The purpose of this research was to gain an understanding of the sibling relationship when one sibling abuses drugs and/or alcohol. It was hypothesized that a sibling relationship with a substance-abusing sibling would have lower levels of closeness and trust than non-substance abusing sibling relationships. Nineteen young adults aged 19-47 were interviewed regarding their perceptions of the sibling relationship. Nine participants had a sibling they perceived as abusing drugs or alcohol, 1 participant was a substance abuser with a non-abusing sibling, and 9 participants had a non-substance abusing sibling. The sample was not randomly selected with participants recruited from Rochester Institute of Technology psychology, sociology, and social work classes and through acquaintances of the researcher. Siblings with a substance-abusing brother or sister were found to have more distant relationships, less trust toward his/her sibling, and poorer communication within the family. Both the participant and his/her sibling were found to change their behavior after the substance abuse began.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Substance abuse--Family relationships; Alcoholics--Family relationships; Addicts--Family relationships; Brothers and sisters
Department, Program, or Center
Department of Psychology (CLA)
Garney, Kellee, "How substance abuse affects sibling relationships: A Qualitative study" (2002). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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