From Drinking to Drug Use

article top

“Suzanne Gelb Image”

”DUI – When Do People Learn?”


Dear Dr. Gelb:

My girlfriend got in trouble with the law last year for a DUI. She’s from a well-off family and now it’s all taken care of. But I see her drinking again and taking too many risks. I’m afraid she’ll get into trouble again. Why don’t people learn?


Dear Reckless:

Unfortunately a lot of young people reach an age of rebellion and want to try and indulge in the things that the grown ups are allowed to do. There is also a natural curiosity to taste the fruit of the so-called “No-No’s.” Many of us live through this phase unscathed and come to our senses soon enough so that we do not harm ourselves or others as we mature and begin to take the responsibilities of our social behavior more seriously.

One effective approach that can turn a young mind around is consequences that are stiff enough to motivate the rebellious individual to choose a more appropriate behavior. Many children continue to behave recklessly because either there are no consequences, or those that do exist are not strong enough to motivate the person to choose a more appropriate behavior. I am aware of one young woman who did not even take the consequences of a DUI and related offenses seriously as she casually (but defensively) remarked, “even if I have to go to jail, I get three hots and a cot, and probably a color television to sit and watch and contemplate the mischief that I can try to get away with when I’m released.” I think I have shared enough.

”Addicted – When Do Parents Let Go?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

My teenager has been in and out of rehab and therapy for drug addiction for quite some time. I have done everything I can to support him, but he is still up to his old tricks and is not serious about changing his ways. It’s hard for a parent to think of giving up on their child, but I think he really isn’t interested in having me in his life. Nothing I do seems to help. Is it time to bail out and wait for him to reach out if we are to have any kind of relationship?

Dedicated Mom

Dear Dedicated:

Parental love and the sense of responsibility one feels for bringing a life into the world are deeply ingrained. I truly wish I had an answer for you. I could admonish you and the father and suggest things you could have done from the moment your child was born that very possibly could have changed the course of behavior. I don’t believe you need that now because it could sound like a scolding. Now we can only pray that since his behavior has grown beyond your control, that you support the authorities in taking whatever action necessary in an attempt to rehabilitate him. We can hope that he may return to you some day and thank you for the tough, steadfast stand you took. Good luck.

”’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”

”’Email your questions to More information on Dr. Gelb’s services and related resources available at”’