The best of the best – an incredible collection of 12 comprehensive expert answers on subjects as diverse as the ethics of passing bipolar on to biological children, organ donation for alcoholics, talking to small children about addiction and staying sober at college as a freshman alcoholic.
Just under 700 people wrote in
this year with specific mental health and addiction questions and our crew of
experts responded with generosity to provide a ton of wisdom and
concern and all-around excellent professional advice.
The collective expertise they
bring to ChooseHelp and to our 1.5 million+ past year readers is just
astounding, so in recognition of their hard work and in
celebration of the lives altered, in ways great and small, from their responses
– here’s a collection of the year’s 12 very best expert answers!
The Year’s 12 Best Answers
In no particular order
you become a mindful person, especially if you
keep forgetting to stay mindful during the busy day?
to Art Matthews, though mindfulness isn’t complicated, the simplest of tasks
aren’t necessarily easy. Want to control your monkey mind? Start like this – consider
that you’re on a path to mastery but you just haven’t reached it yet – and with
determination and practice, you’ll get closer every day.
What do you tell a 5 year old about dad’s gambling binges?
Do you tell the truth or is it better to lie?
Rob Danzman says – why limit your options to only 2 choices?
If you put your head to it you can think of many alternatives that avoid deception
while also protecting the child’s feelings.
Forget black and white thinking. A small child can’t understand abstract
concepts, they just want to feel loved and safe and nurtured, so instead of the
literal blunt truth, tell a kind of ‘truth’ that’s understandable to a small
child. For example, ‘dad’s hurting and sick and that’s why he acts funny sometimes –
but once he gets some treatment he’ll feel better be back to normal again.’
The simple answer, according to David Johnson, is you can’t,
unless it’s her goal and she asks you for help.
At 14 she’s her own person and she needs to make up her own
mind. Though you can limit junk food in the house and model healthy eating and
activity, you can’t force her to do what she doesn’t want for herself. The best
thing you can do is offer total emotional support and safety, be interested in
her life, respect her opinions, and for the most part, keep your opinions to
If you’ve got an opiate problem, this is a question you need
Fortunately, resident MAT expert Anna Deeds has the
guidelines you need to help you make this very tough decision. According to
Anna, in most cases, if you haven’t tried rehab yet, go that route first. If
you’ve tried rehab and other forms of addiction treatment in the past without
success, consider Suboxone.
Also check out another of Anna’s responses which outlines the
differences between methadone and Suboxone for long term treatment.
Should you self-medicate anxiety
with Valium while quitting alcohol? How long can you use Valium for before
Self-medicating anxiety with alcohol can lead to alcoholism.
In such cases, does it make sense to use a short course of Valium while
quitting drinking to keep anxiety at bay during the first tough weeks?
According to benzodiazepine expert Dr. Stuart Shipko – adding
Valium to the early recovery process (not detox) isn’t usually a good idea.
Many people who do this find that after a short while and a relapse they not
only have a recurring alcohol problem, now they have a benzodiazepine addiction
as well. It only takes a couple of weeks
of regular benzodiazepine use to become dependent and stopping Valium once
dependent can be extremely difficult.
Should I give a kidney to an alcoholic family member who
might continue to drink? I feel like I have to help but I am worried she’ll
For this incredibly difficult and sensitive situation,
expert Jeannie Cameron advises that if a person feels they ‘have to’ help, they
need to donate the kidney free of expectations, or not do it at all.
She also strongly recommends working with a professional
first to come to terms with notions of obligation and family responsibility and to make sure that she takes care of herself as she would take
care of others.
I’m a teen alcoholic heading to college – how am I supposed
to stay sober? Do I need to tell everyone I am an alcoholic?
In typical fashion, expert Jim Lapierre delivers practical advice
and common sense, advising skipping all the partying and getting involved in
clubs, sports and organizations instead – an important one of which needs to be
a local AA group!
Wading into the ethical complexity of genetics decision-making with a comprehensive and thoughtful answer, expert Christopher Smith
advises looking at both the genetic heritability and environmental dimensions
and also considering what positives you and your partner are likely to pass on,
as well as any possible negatives.
For some people in this situation the best answer is
biological children, for others adoption makes the most sense and for some
couples, staying childless is the best course of action.
Should I get marriage counseling to tune-up my already satisfying
relationship? Am I risking making it worse?
According to therapist Emi Whittle, any time two people
engage in a process of introspection and change, there is a possibility of
unintended consequences. But that being said, marriage counseling
can help communication and relating skills and help transform a good marriage
into a great one. On the whole – the rewards justify the
It’s a delicate matter and a very widespread challenge.
Fortunately, certified sex therapist Dr. Jennifer Martin answers this common
question with a firm and easy-to-follow 4 point action plan that’s workable for
anyone having similar concerns.
I am so scared to vomit that I start to panic at the thought
of it. Now my partner wants to talk about having a family but I am terrified of
morning sickness. What can I do to get past this?
It’s a condition called emetaphobia, and it affects 4% of
women. To answer the question, Dr. Richard Schultz offers a very comprehensive answer
that describes the condition and its typical causes, and more importantly,
offers concrete suggestions for effective treatments to better the situation.
I have an incredibly exciting life but when I start talking
about it people are bored with me. How can I be a more interesting person in
The solution to this problem, suggests expert Penny Bell, isn’t
to be become a better story-teller, it’s to become a better listener – once you
do that, the rest will just fall into place. Helpfully, she offers several
workable suggestions for getting started on improving social listening skills.
According to Loren Gelberg-Goff, you overcome fear and hate
by speaking up with opinions of compassion and respect that counter those promoted
by fear-based media. Start locally by being a voice of loving kindness in your
community and focus on the good you can do rather than focusing on the toxic
messages that can otherwise overwhelm you.
Image Copyright: Kevin Dooley
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