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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

How can you become a mindful person, especially if you keep forgetting to stay mindful during the busy day?

According 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.’

How do you get an overweight 14 year old girl to lose weight without pressuring her?

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 yourself.  

Should you detox and go to rehab or should you go on Suboxone?

If you’ve got an opiate problem, this is a question you need answered.

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 getting addicted?

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 destroy it.

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!

My partner and I both have bipolar disorder – should we have children and risk passing it on?

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 risks.

How do I get my porn addiction under control?

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 social situations?

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.

How do we heal our hate-filled society?

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.

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Page last updated Jan 08, 2014

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