What to Do If You’re Worried a Loved One Has an Addiction Problem

 What to Do If You’re Worried a Loved One Has an Addiction Problem

 Coming to the realization that a loved one has an addiction problem can conjure up an abundance of emotions, but the worst thing you can do is ignore the issue. Blaming yourself for letting it happen is not a constructive use of your energy. If they’ve been lying to you recently, understand that you can’t take this type of behavior personally, as this one of the side effects of addiction. You’re dealing with a completely different person now, so you’ve got to support your loved one as they are now — not who they were before drugs or alcohol took over their life. While you can’t magically fix the problem for them, you can make an effort to help them move in the right direction. Here’s how to get started.

Familiarize Yourself with the Different Types of Treatment

 Before approaching your loved one, familiarize yourself with the different types of treatment available. It can be helpful to have talking points that could help motivate this person if you hit on a point of interest. For example, maybe the thought of a traditional 12-step program scares someone. In this case, pointing out other methods, such as those that are either more religious-based or holistic, can make treatment seem less daunting. However, it’s not uncommon for recovery survivors to have feelings of shame and guilt. There are also several alternative therapies (to be used in conjunction with a traditional program) that can help banish cravings, prevent relapse, and help patients start a new sober life. Some examples include yoga, exercise, gardening, pet and art therapies, meditation, and acupuncture.

How to Confront Your Loved One

 There’s no doubt that confronting a loved one may be one of the most difficult things you have to do, but make sure you go in with compassion, not anger or hostility. Giving a person with an addiction problem reasons to be hopeful has proven to be helpful when they’re in treatment. Before having the talk, consult with an addiction physician or certified addiction mental health professional for guidance. Try to come up with as many details as possible, including what they’re using, how often, what side effects you’ve noticed, behavioral changes, etc.

Avoid speaking to your loved one when they’re under the influence, as the conversation is liable to get you nowhere or turn violent. Don’t approach them when they’re running out the door, as you’re going to need a good amount of time to have a discussion. Emphasize how much you care, but list very specific behaviors and actions that prompt you to believe there’s a problem. Make sure that you ask open-ended questions to avoid a lecture-like feel. Be prepared for denial and revisit the conversation at a later date. However, if you notice a life-threatening situation, seek help immediately via a crisis hotline or 911.

If you’ve made several attempts to try to get your loved one into treatment without success, it may be time to stage an intervention, especially if you feel their health is in serious danger. At this juncture, loop in a substance abuse counselor or intervention specialist to help back you up and provide expertise during the confrontation. Gather a group of friends, family, and other concerned loved ones and make sure everyone clears their schedule for at least a couple of hours. Make sure everyone is prepared to communicate clear thoughts and feelings. Choose a location that feels safe for your loved one such as your home or theirs, but don’t hold them against their will. Offer love, compassion, and resources to help them through the recovery process. If they accept help, note that this is not the end of your support, but just the beginning.


Bethany Hatton, a retired librarian with 32 years of experience, created PreventAddiction.info after her oldest grandson became addicted to opioids.
As her grandson recovered from an overdose, the number of questions Bethany had about his illness swelled: How had his addiction developed? Could she and other family members have done anything differently along the way? And most importantly, how could she help him get better and ensure others in her family and community didn’t suffer the same fate? Using the research skills she honed during her work as a librarian, she dedicated herself to searching the internet to find the most reputable, reliable information to share on her site. She analyzed, compiled, and categorized hundreds of resources so that she could be sure she included only the best of the best for her visitors.
Though she discovered there is no guaranteed way to prevent addiction; she was able to find many helpful resources that can keep the public up to date on the latest prevention, addiction, and recovery information.

For more help and information about a wide range of articles and information you could visit my website: www.valentinotherapy.com– Pinterest: Ask This Therapist (new and building more info daily)or Instagram: Ask This Therapist (also new and building a few posts weekly).
I post several times a week to:
Facebook: Valentino Therapy
Facebook: Parenting With Help
Facebook: Ask This Therapist
Blogs at WordPress:
Valentino Therapy
Addiction Hurts
All this information and help is almost like having a therapist for free. 😉
Nothing is for sale unless WordPress or FB has slipped something of their own in, and I don’t capture your information or anything else. This information is solely meant to help and support people in their journeys in life. Sharon Valentino, CA LMFT


How Families Can Handle A Loved One’s Addiction

How Families Can Handle A Loved One’s Addiction

  Solemn, Pensive, Upset, Doubt, Depressed

So you’re ready for your loved one to get help for addiction, but he or she isn’t open to the idea. You’re not alone. Most addicts are unwilling patients. Usually, a life-altering event – such as a court order, divorce, loss of job, or hospitalization – pushes the addict into seeking treatment. There are ways that family and friends can help their loved one realize they need treatment before such devastating events occur.

From the Addict’s Point of View

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.” The addiction changes the structure of the brain and how it works, leaving addicts powerless and unable to make rational decisions and realize the severity of their disease. Addicts depend on drugs to function and make excuses to justify even their worst actions. Even in the face of losing a job, ruining relationships, and other negative consequences, addicts may still deny a problem exists and may resist treatment.

While the initial decision to try drugs or alcohol may be voluntary, when addiction takes over, the person’s ability to exercise self-control becomes significantly impaired. Through brain-imaging studies on addicts, experts have shown how drugs physically change the areas of the brain that are necessary for judgment, decision making, learning, memory, and behavior control.

From the Family’s Point of View

Addiction affects family and friends as much as it affects the addict. Family and friends may grow resentful of the addict or live in fear of the addict. Relationships with significant others and children are often in conflict. Many couples argue over money because the addict may lose his or her job, miss hours at work, make poor financial decisions, or spend a lot of money on drugs or alcohol.

Friends and family can suffer emotional trauma as the addict may yell, talk down to, insult, or manipulate them. Physical violence can occur in the household of an addict. Addicts may also engage in infidelity. All of these issues can lead to breakups, legal separation, or divorce.

How to Help

The first way to help your loved one is to get educated about addiction. Realize that addiction is a debilitating disease, and treat it as such. Educating yourself can help you provide support, patience, and understanding. Get support from groups or individual sessions with a mental health professional.

You can’t control your loved one’s behavior, but you can control how you react to the addiction and ensure you’re not enabling him or her. While you should certainly help your loved one in positive ways, such as looking for a job or choosing a treatment center, set clear boundaries around behaviors you deem unacceptable. For example, don’t allow him or her to hang around when they’re high or drunk. Likewise, don’t allow the addict to borrow money.

“Setting and enforcing boundaries not only allows loved ones to resume control of their lives, practice healthy detachment, and safeguard their own health and well-being but also helps the addict face the natural consequences of their actions,” says Psych Central. Staging an intervention works in many cases and can be a highly effective way to break through the addict’s denial and get him or her to agree to treatment.


Through intervention, friends and family get the addict’s attention and help their loved one understand the consequences of his or her destructive behavior before more serious consequences arise. A professional known as an interventionist helps to assess the situation, recommend treatment facilities and long-term after care plans, and ensure that the process remains productive and healing. There are specific steps that should be taken before, during, and after an intervention.

Your loved one may agree to receive treatment, but you and your family still need to seek professional help as well. Living with an addict can cause emotional trauma, especially in children, and as such, families of addicts should seek counseling. Each individual can attend counseling, or everyone can attend counseling as a family. When addiction recovery and therapy begin, the family can begin to heal and move toward a brighter, healthier, and happier future.

By guest author Adam Cook. Mr. Cook is the founder of Addiction Hub, which locates and catalogs addiction resources. He is interested in helping people find the necessary resources to save their lives from addiction. Adam’s mission is to provide people struggling with substance abuse with resources to help them recover.

Sharon Valentino, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.
Valentino Therapy
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (51746)
Serving individuals & couples in the San Francisco Bay Area
Psychotherapist, Registered Addiction Specialist, Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor, Masters Counseling Psychology,
Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Pain, Family & Couples Issues, Parenting Teens and Pre-Teens. Tech execs & engineers.
p: 415.215.5363
a: 3030 Bridgeway, Suite 108, Sausalito, CA 94965
w: http://www.valentinotherapy.com         e: sv@valentinotherapy.com

Addiction: Can You Really Make a New You for 2018?

New Year, New You: Putting Your Addiction Behind You

You may have been derailed, but now you’re in the process of getting your life back on track. It’s time to break out of your comfort zone and live the life you’ve always dreamed of. Here are a few ideas to make those dreams a reality while continuing to enjoy recovery and sobriety.

Take a trip. Recovery is the perfect time to enjoy life. Not only will you meet new people and see new things, you’ll gain a fresh perspective on the world. When you’re in the middle of your addiction, you lose sight of everything except your next fix. Traveling gives you something exciting to prepare for and will help you discover things about yourself you’ve never known. Recovering addict Carl Towns explains in this inspiring post how travel has helped him remain sober.

Get a dog. The reasons to get a dog in your recovery are almost endless, but for now, we’ll stick to the basics. Having a dog will give you a new sense of responsibility, something which you may have robbed yourself of when using. Dogs also provide unconditional love, another aspect of your life that you may have missed. Having a four-legged friend around encourages physical activity and can even be a great way to meet new people—people who will become positive influences on your life. Another notable benefit of having pets is that being with these creatures alleviates stress and anxiety and can stave off depression. Even if you’re unable to have your own dog, you can consider dog walking and even make a little money while enjoying some canine companionship.

Start your own business. Starting your own business gives you something to look forward to each day. It puts you in control of your own financial fate and holds you accountable for how you choose to spend your time and money. You might, for example, start with a pet-sitting or dog-walking service. As you struggle with regaining trust from others and yourself, this is a great way to lead into your new role as an active member of society. Additionally, starting your own business gives you an opportunity to pursue your passions, become a mentor, and create stability for yourself and your family, according to Entrepreneur.

Expand your social network. When you were using, you may have kept company that encouraged, or at the very least didn’t discourage, your bad behavior. Now that you’ve regained clarity, it’s time to expand your social network to include people who will build you up instead of bring you down. As a former user, you may find it easier to connect with new friends who don’t have any preconceived notions about you based on past actions. Networking isn’t only good for your personal life. Expanding your social circle is a great way to positively influence your business.

Face your fears. Often, we use drugs and alcohol as a way to hide from the things that scare us the most. Now that you’ve climbed out of that hole, it’s time to face your fears head on and with a clear mind and strong body. No matter what you’re afraid of, take it one step at a time. If you’re afraid of being alone, for example, spend the night away from home. Once you learn to control your reaction to fear triggers, they will no longer control you.

Living with addiction feels like being trapped in a bubble. Now that yours has been popped, don’t force yourself into another invisible prison by being too scared or ashamed to accomplish your goals. You’ve already done the hardest part by stepping above your vices. The key is to stay in motion and never lose sight of your end goals, no matter what they may be. Your life from today forward is a blank canvas; only you can paint it.

This post was guest written by Adam Cook of addictionhub.org

Image via Pixabay


Contact : http://www.valentinotherapy.com for help

Are You Mentally Strong Enough to Beat Addiction? — Valentino Therapy

You Need Mental Strength to Succeed. Are You Mentally Strong Enough? Do you struggle and lack success with exercising, losing weight, stop drinking or using? Many of my clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, California have struggled with developing the mental strength to stop drinking, to date, to try for a better job, to […]

via Are You Mentally Strong Enough? — Valentino Therapy

Why Alcoholics Crave Sweets

Why Alcoholics Crave Sweets

This is an excellent article written by Kristen McGuiness. I urger you to follow her work.

By Kristen McGuiness 08/03/11

When we put down the bottle and the blow, we often reach for the cookies and candy. But when does that last pint of Ben and Jerry’s become just one pint too many?


How sweet it is   Photo via

“My sugar problems started immediately after I got sober,” says Marie, a 35-year-old schoolteacher with long curly hair and a gymnast’s frame who has been sober over three years. “Before I really started drinking, I had the most enormous sweet tooth, but then by the end, the sound of anything sweet sounded disgusting to me. I was getting all the sugar I needed from booze. But then when the booze was gone, the sugar came back.”

Marie wasn’t allowed to have sugar as a child “so once I could finally access it in all its glorious formats, it was on,” she says. “By the time I could eat it, I had a full-blown eating disorder. Last night, I left a meeting early and went and bought a Danish and a donut and a cinnamon roll and a brownie and Skittles and an ice cream bar. I have been known to buy an entire pie and eat half of it for dinner. I eat really healthy otherwise, but then I go on sugar benders. It’s an emotional balm.”

“I tell myself that I’m going to abstain from processed sugar and limit my natural sugar intake—and then along comes a cupcake, and there I am, diving right back into it.”

According to Tennie McCarty, the founder and CEO of the eating disorder treatment center Shades of Hope, Marie is not alone. “Often we will see addicts switch off from one drug to another, whether that other drug is nicotine or sugar or other foods,” McCarty says. “Not everyone will take it to the depths that they have taken their primary addiction.”

McCarty mentions a man she treated whose addiction to sugar made him sicker than the one he had with alcohol. “Jim was a football player and a Gulf War veteran, and in general, was a healthy, athletic man, but then he started drinking and became an alcoholic,” she says. “Thankfully, he got sober but then he started smoking. He was forced to quit that for his health, and ended up gaining 150 pounds from eating sweets. If you ask him if he’s a sober, yeah, he’s sober, but he’s dying from the effects of sugar. And that’s the sad part of people not looking at the other addictions they might face.”

Forty-year old Jack, who is eight years sober after years of addiction to alcohol and crack, relates. “I battle my sugar intake every single day,” he says. “It’s demoralizing because I tell myself that I’m going to have a healthy and sober lifestyle that I see others having—that I’m going to abstain from processed sugar and limit my natural sugar intake—and then along comes a cupcake, and there I am, diving right back into it.”

According to Phil Werdell, the co-founder of ACORN Food Dependency Recovery Services and director of ACORN’s professional training program, it isn’t surprising that alcoholics transfer into food addiction. “All the research has shown that when people binge on carbs and sugar, and then restrict, the body creates an endogenous opioid. It is released in the body much like the chemicals released when people are doing other narcotics. The PET and CAT scans of food addicts look almost identical to that of alcoholics and drug addicts, showing that sugar creates a physical addiction. In addition, sugar addicts carry the same D2 dopamine receptor, the gene that identifies addiction, as alcoholics and addicts. In those ways, biochemically, food addiction is just like addiction to drugs and alcohol. When we talk to recovering alcoholics and addicts who are finding their way to Overeaters Anonymous, we find a very common refrain: I started using sugar or food just like I was using alcohol.”

That was Jack’s experience. “In the morning, I have a bowl of sugary cereal, and then I have two mini-apple pies, and that’s before I even start my day,” he confesses. “I consistently have the argument with myself, promising myself that I will quit the next day, and then I don’t. The longer I’m from alcohol and drugs, the more I realize how similar both addictions are. I understand the physical allergy of alcohol because I realize how powerless I am over sugar.”

Mary Foushi, a co-founder of ACORN and a recovered food addict, offers, “Alcoholism is simply another form of sugar and grain: it is just being drank as opposed to eaten. People we work with say that putting down the alcohol is nothing compared to putting down the food, and the dangers of sugar addiction can be just as bad if not far worse: obesity, diabetes, some forms of cancer, high blood pressure, degeneration of bones and joints.”

You can recover from sugar addiction, just like you can with alcohol and drugs, but first you have to be willing to admit and accept that it’s a problem.

Adds Werdell, “A major reason people don’t see their relationship to sugar as unhealthy is that most of the culture and the medical community doesn’t see that food is addictive in the same way as drugs and alcohol. Most of the food we are sold is contaminated with foods that are highly addictive, and this is why many people become sugar addicts at much younger ages than they become drug or alcohol users.”

Sugar addiction has been in Jack’s family for many generations. “My great-great grandmother was a diabetic with high blood pressure,” he says. “Growing up, we had healthy food but then at the same time, we were eating a lot of sugar. Soda, candy, sugary cereals and other sweets—we were never checked by our parents because they were just as addicted to sugar, and now they’re both diabetic.”

The good news, according to McCarty, is that since alcohol and sugar problems are so similar, so are their solutions. “You can recover from sugar addiction, just like you can with alcohol and drugs, but first you have to be willing to admit and accept that it’s a problem,” she explains. “The consequences from sugar addiction are different. With alcohol, it’s legal or family or financial problems. You’ll have some of that with the sugar addiction but it’s usually more the medical problems that will bring someone to their bottom.”

Cat, a freelance writer who battled her weight and sugar addiction for the first five years of her sobriety, had to come to terms with what was driving the addiction. “I used sugar to deal with people,” she admits. “I used it when I was lonely. I used it in all the ways I had used alcohol and drugs. When my weight continued to increase, I started remembering a friend who had decided to relapse so that he could lose weight through drugs. I began to wonder if that was a good idea, and that’s when I knew something had to change. I decided even though I didn’t go to rehab for my alcoholism, I needed it for my sugar addiction.”

According to Foushi, “If someone is addicted to sugar, they need to detox from it. They can be at all different stages of the addictive cycle, and still require detox. Afterwards, they have to decide what level of abstinence they need to stay healthy. There are some people who can have zero levels of sugars and they need to be very careful about what is in their food. Some people are so severe that they can’t eat fruit. Others might just have to say no to desserts. But people with severe sugar issues are going to need ongoing support through an out-patient or 12-step program.”

Cat’s trip to a treatment helped her to begin working on those underlying issues that she was eating over. “I realized that sugar was helping me cope just like alcohol once had, and I needed to start learning how to cope without any substances,” she says. “I have been able to eat sugar in moderation but any time I start overdoing it, I have learned to stop myself and see what is going on in my life and ask: what emotion or issue am I trying to avoid by eating sugar?”

Says McCarty, “If people are searching for something to medicate the feelings, they will continue to do that until they look at what they are using over. It’s about quality of life. Not everyone needs to use something. People live their lives, they deal with the issues, and they can recover…from all of their addictions.”

Kristen McGuiness is a freelance writer and regular contributor to The Fix who wrote previously about the 13th step and dreaming about drinking, among many other topics. She is a former intern for High Times and the author of 51/50: The Magical Adventures of a Single Life

Valentino Therapy is now offering online e-mail counseling.

Valentino Therapy

E-mail Online Therapy –  phpThumb_generated_thumbnail

Valentino Therapy is now offering online e-mail counseling for your convenience

By Sharon Valentino, CA LMFT #51746

What’s in it for you or those you feel may benefit?             


  •  Convenience. With e-mail counseling you compose your thoughts anytime, anywhere you want on your computer, tablet or mobile device. This can be especially effective for those who may be challenged to verbalize quickly or who like to think a bit before they speak.
  •  Online therapy is very convenient and affordable.
  •  Most people recognize the many documented benefits of journaling and that writing, itself, is a powerful form of therapy. Others say it is how they keep themselves mentally healthy and resilient.
  •  Online, or e-mail, therapy’s aim is to be therapeutic writing wherein you collect your thoughts and feelings unhampered by a clock about to indicate your in-person session is at an…

View original post 1,248 more words

THIS is the beginning of anything you want.

THIS is the beginning of anything you want.

What will you do today to start that in motion?

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.
Sharon Valentino
Valentino Therapy, CA LMFT, MA, ChT, Psychotherapist
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (51746)
E: sv@valentinotherapy.com
Web: http://www.valentinotherapy.com
ASK THIS THERAPIST BLOG: https://askthistherapist.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/valentinotherapy
Blog: https://valentinotherapy.wordpress.com
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/valentinotx/valentino-therapy/
3030 Bridgeway, Suite 108, Sausalito, CA 94965
Serving individuals & couples in the San Francisco Bay Area
Psychotherapist, Registered Addiction Specialist, Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor, Masters Counseling Psychology, Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Pain, Family & Couples Issues