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Expert Q&A: The Best Mental Health and Addiction Answers of 2012

The Best Expert Answers of 2012

You asked and they answered.

Over this past year more than 60 experts offered their time, experience, insight and compassion to answer over 700 questions on everything from finding no-cost addiction treatment to understanding sex addiction to dealing with combat-PTSD linked family violence.

They did a great job - a lot of people got the answers they needed; and hopefully many of those who asked were able translate this excellent advice into meaningful life-changing actions.

So in recognition of this remarkable body of work, here’s an appreciative list of the year’s most helpful expert answers.

ChooseHelp’s Very Best Expert Answers of 2012

In no particular order

What do you do when you’re broke, addicted to cocaine and you just snorted all the money your parents gave you for college tuition?

  • Behavioral therapy expert William Anderson explains where to go (today) to get help and how to break the news to parents in a way that that preserves the relationship.

My husband has a 50% chance to get Huntington’s disease. I need to know before we have kids. We can live with any result but we need to know. How can I convince him to get tested?

  • Counselor Arthur Matthews’ reply urges restraint and patience… “Does one want to know how they are going to die and what the circumstances will be? Not always.” He suggests research, processing time and even conversations about adoption or artificial insemination.

Should an 18 year old crystal meth addict go to an adolescent or adult rehab?

  • Based on his experience as a past director of an adolescent substance abuse treatment program, John O’Neal recommends that you ask the adolescent where they'd rather go, saying, “Believe it or not, the 18 year olds usually made the right decisions about which age group to be in treatment with.” He also suggest that in most cases, teens still in school fit in better with adolescents and teens already out of school often relate better with adults.

I have a drinking problem. My daughter saw me making-out with a woman. I was drunk at the time. Should I ask her to keep this secret from my wife?

  • Not if you want to maintain a good relationship as a responsible father, cautions David Johnson. He recommends honesty backed up by significant action (treatment, counseling) as the only way forward.

If I rejected God will He still give me another chance?

  • Christian counselor Penny Bell says there’s nothing in scripture to suggest that God ever abandons – in fact most of scripture is filled with just the opposite sort of evidence, such as (Deuteronomy 31:6 and 31:8, Isaiah 54:10, Psalm 136, Titus 3:5,6, 2 Timothy 2:13…).

My wife is very depressed. I work long hours and she’s a stay at home mom. How is her illness going to affect our 2 young children?

  • In a very comprehensive answer Psychologist Richard E. Schultz recommends different forms of treatment that might alleviate symptoms of depression. He also suggests that dad become a spouse and parent that the family can count on, saying, “It is unlikely that you will ever look back with regret at the fact that you sacrificed work to attend to your wife and children. And it sure does seem as if they need you now.”

Should I fire an employee for being an ex-junkie?

  • No way…”give the guy a chance” states counselor Lita Perna. She says “I’ve worked with old ladies who are addicted to opiate pain medicine. I’ve worked with ‘regular family guys,’ psychologists, nurses, a nuclear power plant worker, a dentist and responsible PTA parents who are in recovery. You’d never be able to identify any one of them as a person who once used drugs excessively or illegally. “

Small town, no money to go anywhere, getting high/drunk every night…How to change when everyone I know parties all day every day and I can’t resist when it’s right in front of me?

  • It’s time to grow up – writes substance abuse expert Jim LaPierre. He says you might succumb when it’s in front of your nose but if you make an effort you can see what’s coming and to move out of the way... He asks, “Ever watch the Karate Kid movies? Mr. Miyagi said, ‘best defense - when punch comes, no be there.’"

Sexually abused as a child. Don’t want to talk about it. Don’t want to take pills. So angry and ashamed I need to drink myself to sleep every night. What do I do?

  • Counselor and life coach Ari Hahn says pills won’t work, alcohol won’t help - and if you’re not comfortable talking about it - then a therapist can’t help either. He recommends getting used to talking about the abuse on internet support groups and finding community support at AA – and then ultimately (when ready) finding a sensitive therapist and digging into the issue for real.

I was a drunk and an addict as a teen. Now I’m in my 30s. I don’t crave at all. Is it safe for me to drink again now?

  • Mental health counselor Jeannie Cameron says don’t risk it. She writes that although it may seem like time can heal addiction, “Scientific Research and overwhelming evidence has proven that addiction is a brain disease. That areas in the brain have been changed to a point that is irreversible. This is organic, biological changes that time cannot heal. Once one crosses the threshold of addiction there is no return. There is no cure for addiction, it is a life-long disease.”

Mom died and 67 year old dad went to Cambodia and plans to remarry 26 year old woman. How can I stop him?

  • Reverend Christopher Smith says that although dad might not be making a sound decision – he might also be doing what brings him happiness. He suggests that son needs to keep an open mind and to look at his own motivations for wanting to stop the wedding.

Saw my neighbor smoking marijuana with his 14 year old son. Should I report him?

  • Bringing his experience as a social worker to the question, David Shannon suggests caution, a respect for differing parenting styles and a frank conversation before an anonymous phone call that could have unintended significant consequences for the family next door.

I don’t believe that addiction is a disease and I don’t like AA meetings? What are my other options?

  • Addiction counselor and alcoholic and addict in recovery Anna Deeds says that whether or not you accept the disease model of addiction, what’s most important is finding a support group that makes you feel comfortable - and she gives a great outline of 5 alternative community support groups.

Sexually abused as a child - Do I need to forgive to move past it?

  • According to therapist Emi Whittle, burying memories of childhood abuse “is like having a broken leg, knowing that it hurts a ton, but still hobbling around on it, never telling anyone, and never getting it set.  Now, after many years of unaligned healing, the bones have healed in a position that makes it difficult to walk or even sit or sleep without pain - and forget about running because that would be far too difficult and painful!” She says forgiveness isn’t necessary but past abuse issues need addressing before healing can begin.

Getting deeply in debt from online poker? Owe money I can't pay. How to get back in control?

  • They say with addiction there are only three consequences of use” says Donna Hunter, “go insane, die or recover. You are experiencing the insanity; trying to continue to use, feeling helpless, frustrated and knowing the shame of use.” She recommends recognizing the problem for what it is – an addiction – and heading to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting as soon as possible.

2 months sober – I want to play hockey again but it triggers an urge to drink. What if I just ask my teammates to make sure I don’t go for beers with them after the game?

  • Counselor Melissa Borlie speaks with personal recovery experience when she encourages anonymous to take responsibility for his own recovery, writing, “our sobriety is your own responsibility and will be from now on. This will not be the only situation you will encounter in recovery in which you will have to make a decision about whether or not to attend an event because there will be drinking involved. Normal people drink and it is our job as persons in recovery to adapt to their world, not the other way around.”

My niece won’t leave the house because she’s too embarrassed by her acne. I think she looks fine. How can I help her?

  • Counselor Cynthia Klatte says the niece’s behaviors raise red flags for one or more mental illnesses, such as body dysmorphic disorder, depression or anxiety. She recommends the uncle communicate his concerns without challenging her perception of reality and that he help her to locate and make an appointment with a qualified counselor.

My alcoholic brother lives with me. I only let him stay after he agreed to get help. I can still smell alcohol on him all the time. How can I know if he is trying in his recovery?

  • Counselor Rob Danzman says you can’t control anyone else, but you can decide for yourself what you’re willing to tolerate and then set your own boundaries. By focusing on what you can control rather than on the drinking (which you can’t) you encourage him to take more responsibility for his own actions, protect the relationship and you protect your own sense of control.

I’ve had depression for 4 years. Nothing is working. Am I going to stay like this forever?

  • Counselor and neurofeedback expert Loren Gelberg-Goff says that no matter what you’ve tried already, you probably haven’t tried all of the proven effective treatments for depression, and it’s just a matter of finding what’s going to work for you. She lists and explains several ‘alternative’ treatments for depression.

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