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The Forgotten Ones: Siblings of Substance Abusers

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Although factors shaping sibling relationships and the developmental dynamics of such consanguinity have been addressed by various scholars, investigations questioning how the risky behaviors of one sibling, specifically substance abuse, may impact brothers versus sisters are few. The current study explored non–substance-abusing siblings’ reports of their mood, attitudes, feelings of social support, and emotions if one of their brothers or sisters was perceived to be a substance abuser. Surprisingly, 22% of a college-aged convenience sample (N = 312) described one or more of their siblings as a substance abuser and reported being exposed to drugs at an earlier age than their non–substance-abusing counterparts, in addition to other differences. Sisters, more than brothers, were also affected. These exploratory findings, although limited by potential sampling bias, highlight potential areas for future research that could clarify and perhaps improve the experience of the “forgotten” siblings in a risky family constellation.
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Keywords: Attitudes; effects; siblings; substance abusers

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Social Sciences Division, Lewis-Clark State College, Lewiston, Idaho, USA 2: Division of Neuropsychology, Department of Neurology, Baylor Scott and White Health, Round Rock Specialty Clinic, Round Rock, Texas, USA 3: Department of Psychological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA

Publication date: February 17, 2017

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