From Concerns of a Child to Staying Sober

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

Dear Readers:


As an added resource, over the next few months I will supplement my answers with self-help materials. Supplemental reading for today’s answers can be found in my book “Welcome Home. A Book About Overcoming Addictions” (pp. 59-60 for Answer 1; pp. 61 for Answer 2). For more information visit my Web site at

”Hectic Schedule – Why the Panic?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

I’m 12 years old and my mom works part time as a salesperson when we’re at school, and she cares for my little sister and me the rest of the time. When mom’s around she is always busy and it is hectic at home. She is always rushing and at night sometimes I go downstairs when I’m supposed to be asleep and I peak in the kitchen and most times she sits at the kitchen table and pigs out. I’m learning in school about how obesity is bad for people’s health, I worry about her.

Concerned Kid

A: Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Concerned:

Oh 12-year-old, what it would be like to be 12 again and be as smart and observant as you are. You obviously love your mother very much and even at the chance at being scolded, if I were you I would mention to her how much I loved her and that I wish she wouldn’t eat so much. I would tell her that I am studying in school how unhealthy it is to be obese and I certainly don’t want to lose her as my mother before I go to college. Then I would give her a big hug and go back to bed.

”Good feelings – Will They Last?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

For three months now I have kicked a drinking habit. I feel good about it, but stress gets me riled up. I’m determined not to go off the wagon, but I wish that upsets would not get to me the way they do.


A: Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Drinker Who Doesn’t Drink:

I believe that it is so important for people who have kicked an addictive habit such as drinking to remember that they are drinkers who don’t drink, rather than ex-drinkers. I urge them to remember how easy it was to blame others for their habit — “they made me mad or frustrated; they were doing things wrong and relying on me to do everything for them; they are making mistakes that I have to correct.” Then there are “the road hogs, bad smells, bad food in restaurants, and uncooperative wife and children.” These excuses have been used by many to justify an addictive habit.

I can only say that in my opinion many addictions are by choice, and no matter how painful withdrawal and abstaining may be, it is worth it. You have obviously kicked the habit or at least refused to succumb to it for a while. I hope that you never allow the reasons above or similar self-talk to con you into taking another drink. Some individuals who have found themselves at a similar point of recovery such as you describe, have later found that they developed the ability to have a social glass of wine or their favorite beverage and not succumb to a habitual need for it.

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

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