Do You Cringe When You See a Photo of Yourself?

If you cringe at your own photos, you’re not alone. I have an immediate physical reaction of repulsion when looking at myself. I recently had professional videos created of myself for advertising purposes. It took me two weeks to even glance at the videos, then I couldn’t sit through the entire presentation. What’s going on here?

Some people have body dysmorphic disorder. It is an obsession with a part of your appearance that you think is flawed. People with this disorder can dislike any part of their body and will distort the importance of that flaw. The most common features people obsess about include face (nose, complexion, wrinkles, acne and other blemishes), hair (appearance, thinning and baldness), skin, breast size, muscle size, and genitalia. The flaw is more in their mind than in their body. While others may not notice it, the person with body dysmorphic disorder will obsess over it to the point of severe emotional pain and interference in their lives. Imagine how painful photos are for these people.

There are numerous other reasons that people may dislike their own photos. It could be the photographer’s fault in that the angle or lighting is bad, or you are caught with an unflattering facial expression. However, it can also be explained by the mirror. What we see in the mirror is different from what the photo captures. Most faces are asymmetrical and what we see in the mirror is reversed in a photo. We know that something is off. It doesn’t quite look like us. Robert Zajonc, psychologist, says that people react more favorably to things they see more often. Since we see ourselves most frequently in the mirror, this is our preferred self image. When we see a photo, we see an alien version of ourselves.

Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort we experience when we hold contradictory beliefs or ideas. For example, I know that I am in my 60’s but internally I feel like I’m in my 40’s. Photos are a harsh reality check that my body has aged. “I look like that?” We consciously or unconsciously hide what we don’t want to see. For example, we may not look in a full length mirror if we are uncomfortable with our bodies. And we certainly won’t look at our bodies in a full length mirror while naked!

Photos are still and don’t capture personality. When we speak to a person, our focus is on the eyes and mouth, not their moles, wrinkles or freckles. But we’re much more likely to see these aspects in a photo. The good news is that you probably look much better in real life when you are your normal animated self.


Are You Deceiving Yourself?

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was recently accused of physical violence and sexual abuse by four women. He will step down from his job but denies the charges on the grounds that everything he did to these women was consensual. He said “While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time.” With this statement he is drawing a line of separation between his public life and private life. In spite of what other’s perceive as abusive behavior he believes himself to be a champion of women.

It is not an unusual human trait to consider ourselves good when we are not. Self-deception is a process of denying or rationalizing away the relevance or importance of opposing evidence and logical argument. One theory is that humans are susceptible to self-deception because we have emotional attachments to beliefs, which in some cases may be irrational.

Schneiderman would like to believe that what happens privately has no bearing on his professional life. Except that he was an advocate of the #Me Too movement and women’s rights. He was involved in a civil rights lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein. He praised the “women and men who spoke up about the sexual harassment they had endured at the hands of powerful men.” And he wrote many laws, including one for making life-threatening strangulation a grave crime for domestic violence perpetrators.

The allegations come from four women that he was in romantic relationships with. They all accuse Schneiderman of nonconsenual physical violence. It is alleged that he repeatedly hit, often after drinking, frequently in bed and without consent. It is also alleged that he abused alcohol and sedatives. Two of them sought medical attention after having been slapped hard across the ear and face, and choked. He threatened to kill them if they broke up with him. You cannot be a public champion of women when you are hitting them and choking them in bed privately unless you have deceived yourself into believing your behavior is normal and healthy.

Schneiderman’s self-deception is rooted in rationalization. He told one woman “A lot of women like it. They don’t always think they like it, but then they do, and they ask for more.” One of the accusers, Tanya Selvaratnam, disagrees. “It wasn’t consensual. This wasn’t sexual playacting. This was abusive, demeaning, threatening behavior.” Schneiderman refused to be influenced by the women’s tears, pleas and protests. He maintained his perception that they enjoyed it. He preferred to believe they wanted it, rather than believe that he was a perpetrator of lethal domestic violence.

Vecina, Chacon and Perez-Viejo conducted a study called “Moral Absolutism, Self-Deception, and Moral Self-Concept in Men Who Commit Intimate Partner Violence.” In it, they found that perpetrators of domestic violence are uninhibited by concerns over the moral consequences of their actions. They consider their own point of view as more correct and are more affected by self-deception than others. They feel they are moral enough and they strongly deceive themselves.

In Schneiderman’s case, it is no surprise that he blurs the line between his public and private life. He truly perceives himself to be a good and moral person in spite of the evidence. If this is a human trait, we could all benefit from shining a light on our own self-deception. Ask for feedback from others. In what ways are you deceiving yourself?

Who’s More Generous, the Haves or the Have Nots?

I attended a Rotary Auction last week which raised money for scholarships and support to the ARC; Galena Arts and Recreation Center. It was a great success.

I have never seen so much generosity as after relocating to Jo Daviess County, Illinois. I’m a city girl from Chicago and was unaccustomed to such displays of generosity within a community. For example, I received a call from a local pastor and parishioner who asked how they could be of service to our clinic’s substance abuse population. They donated more than $9,000 for Narcan kits to keep them alive in the case of an opioid overdose. As another example, our county public transit system agreed to help our clients access treatment by crossing county lines which is something they had not done before. And a third example, when someone in this town suffers an injury and are uninsured, or under-insured and lacks financial resources, someone from the community organizes a fund-raiser to help cover medical costs and living expenses. It’s really quite moving and makes me proud to live here.

So it made me wonder, who’s more generous, the haves or the have nots?

In 2010, 40 billionaires announced that they’ll give at least half of their fortunes to charity. It collectively totaled $125 billion. That will make a huge difference to people in need. The rest of us non-billionaires can’t compete with that kind of money, but it turns out that we are more generous. Poor people are actually more charitable than the rich. Lower income Americans give proportionally more of their incomes to charity than do upper-income Americans.

The main variable that explains the differential pattern of giving and helping between the upper and lower class is compassion. Compassionate feelings among the lower class is seen to provoke higher levels of altruism and generosity toward others. Perhaps people in the middle and lower class spectrum have experienced hardship and are quick to help. People who have not suffered hardship may be less compassionate.

It’s not that the rich are selfish or focused on their own advancement. Members of each group will identify with other members of the group to which they belong. The rich will find it easier to give to the cultural institutions they frequent such as their preferred hospital or university. The poor will give to the people and activities they rub elbows with. For either income group, someone who has been affected by cancer will be more likely to give to cancer research.

An interesting twist is that a new study that shows that higher-income people are less generous only when they live in a place that has high levels of inequality between rich and poor. When the gap between rich and poor is low, the rich might actually be more generous. Robb Willer of Stanford University theorized that feelings of entitlement might help high-income people justify their extreme good fortune to themselves – and may, in turn, reduce their generosity because people who believe they are more important than others also believe that resources rightfully belong to them. High inequality might lead higher-income people to worry more about losing their elevated status, and therefore hoard their money.

When it comes to giving to charity, women are more generous, especially when it comes to decisions about volunteer time and smaller financial donations. Large financial donations are often made jointly with men.

Generational differences affect the type of giving. Millennials are giving to educational and art/culture causes at higher rates.

For those without the financial means to give, volunteering can be a great way to be generous without writing a check. This may be true of retirees who might be on a fixed income but have free time and valuable skills to share.

So, are you feeling generous? There is plenty of need out there.


Why Do We Not Follow Advice?

Have you ever been given sound advice and disregarded it, only to regret it later? Have you been diagnosed with a disease, been prescribed medication, and fail to take it as prescribed? Have you been given step by step instructions for constructing a piece of furniture or a recipe, only to throw out the directions and wing it? As it turns out, this is a common human phenomenon. What’s up with this noncompliance or refusal to adhere to instructions?

There are few consequences for refusing to follow directions on assembling a piece of furniture or follow a recipe. However, there can be severe consequences for medical noncompliance. A third of people will not fill their prescription, and half of the remaining group will fill it but will not take their medication correctly. They’ll miss doses, stop it prematurely, or not take it at all. Medication noncompliance is responsible for 10% of all hospitalizations in the US and costs the health care system up to $289 billion per year.

Interestingly, a study found that US women are more likely than men to be noncompliant with medications for even serious diseases like heart failure and HIV. This has consequences for women’s health. We tend to be compliant when it comes to others, but not ourselves. If a child or a pet is in your care, you follow directions as prescribed. Twenty percent of women said they were more likely to follow the prescription plan for their pet than for themselves. But when it comes to self care, humans are more likely to fail.

Some medication noncompliance is the fault of the prescriber but the vast majority will fail of their own accord due to their environment or lack of resources. You cannot expect someone to fully comply if they have to choose between food, housing and medication. Or perhaps they distrust doctors. Or simply fail to understand the necessity of the medication.

There are many factors that affect adherence. These include having the intellectual ability to understand what is being advised and it fits your belief system. If you have a belief about the subject that runs counter to the advice given, you will act according to your own beliefs. You need sufficient memory to follow through on the advice. Confusion may follow too much detailed information. If you don’t respect or trust the opinion of the advice giver, you won’t follow their advice. There are certain personality traits that lend themselves to non adherence. Contrary, stubborn, passive-aggressive, and conduct disordered people will not easily accept the advice of others.

Admittedly, not everyone gives good advice. Michael Hyatt says “Never take advice from people who aren’t getting the results you want to experience.”

Jordan Peterson, in his book 12 Rules for Life, says “Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.” He also says “Just take the damn medicine.”

Can You Take Criticism?

No one likes being criticized. We cringe when we hear the words “We have to talk.” Sometimes we don’t even get a fair warning of what’s coming. It’s natural to get defensive. It’s even healthy to defend ourselves against an unfair character assassination that could devastate our self esteem. But if we value this friendship and want to maintain a relationship with the critic, we need to engage in non-defensive communication. This requires maturity on our part while we are on our best behavior.

Harriet Lerner, PhD, lists 12 keys to non-defensive listening in her book Why Won’t You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts.

  1. Recognize your defensiveness. This will allow you time to get some perspective rather than lashing out reactively.
  2. Breathe. Calm yourself.
  3. Listen only to understand. Do not interrupt, argue, correct facts or state your own criticisms.
  4. Ask questions about whatever you don’t understand.
  5. Find something you can agree with.
  6. Apologize for your part in the spirit of collaboration.
  7. Let the offended party know they have been heard and that you will continue to think about the conversation.
  8. Thank them for sharing their feelings.
  9. Take the initiative to bring the conversation up again.
  10. Draw the line at insults.
  11. Don’t listen when you can’t listen well.
  12. Define how you see some things differently. A premature apology from an overly accommodating, peace-at-any-price type of person is unsatisfying.

If we are the one doing the criticizing, we need to watch our words and understand the difference between a complaint, criticism and contempt. According to researcher John Gottman, PhD, 96% of the time, the outcome of an argument can be predicted based on the first three minutes of a conversation. Starting a conversation in a soft manner is far more effective than a harsh start-up. A complaint is specific, limited to one situation, and states how you feel. Example: “I’m upset that you didn’t pay the gas bill.” A criticism is global, includes blame, and often has words like always and never. Example: “How can I ever trust you?” Contempt is a verbal attack on your character. Example: “You stupid jerk.”

Before you confront someone on a point of contention, remind yourself of the value of this relationship. If you value them, it is worth taking the time to frame your complaint in a manner that they can hear.

Substance Abuse Prevention

You can’t teach “just say no” and expect good results. Prevention has to be experienced throughout one’s life.

Perhaps you participated in a DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program through school. Typically, police officers talk to a class of students for an hour once per week for 10 weeks. DARE has a zero-tolerance agenda and teach that all kinds of drugs, including alcohol and marijuana, are equally bad. They make use of scare techniques such as photos and videos of the negative consequences of addiction.

One would think this education would be a deterrent to addiction. However, it turns out that beginning in the late 1990s studies showed that DARE had no effect on whether or not students would go on to use or misuse drugs and alcohol in the future. After 20 years of implementing this program in schools, long term studies proved its ineffectiveness. Some evidence even suggests lower levels of self-esteem and a higher risk of substance misuse of students who went through DARE.

There are other curriculums with more promising results. The following are evidenced-based programs.

NOPE (Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education) is designed to combat opioid addiction.

PROSPER (Promoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience) is designed for middle school students that is based on resiliency concepts via strong families.

Shatterproof is designed to stop drugs from shattering the lives of families. They focus on inspiration and anti-stigma efforts. They address addiction as a disease.

High school drinking and drug use is the lowest it’s been in 15 years. However, addiction often begins in adult years. Rather than rely on a 10-week school-based program, some programs are designed for families. Parents can be helped to communicate in positive ways, improve relationships with their children, and support academic and extracurricular activities. While Big Brother/Big Sisters doesn’t focus on substance prevention per se, they serve as a protective factor in youths lives.

A comprehensive prevention program will address risk and protective factors for substance use problems. Risk factors include early aggressive behaviors, lack of parental supervision, alcohol and drug use and easy availability, and poverty. Protective factors include good impulse control, parental monitoring, academic competence, anti-drug use policies, and strong neighborhood attachment.

People who become addicted to a substance often have underlying issues such as poor emotion regulation, insecure attachment, and may have a history of trauma. They may have repeated failures, helplessness, hopelessness and feel demoralized. These issues are not going to be addressed in a 10-week class.

According to SAMHSA, some prevention interventions are designed to help individuals develop the skills to act in a healthy manner. Others focus on creating environments that support healthy behavior. Research indicates that the most effective prevention interventions incorporate both approaches.

So, what can you do? Do your part to create a healthy environment for people from birth through adulthood.

What’s the Deal with Internet Trolls?

An internet troll is a person who deliberately tries to disrupt, attack, offend or cause trouble in an online social community. They may post offensive or hateful comments, display upsetting photos or videos, or subtly attempt to sway opinion with falsehoods. They may start quarrels or upset people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages. The intent is to provoke readers into an emotional response of disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement. These are not people who have bad manners. They are purposefully disruptive.

The effects of trolls can be simply annoying or can be fatal. Some victims have killed themselves. It can be damaging to an entire nation as may be the case of Russian interference in swaying US public opinion toward a particular outcome.

Trolls flourish within anonymity. They are not likely to behave this way in face to face encounters due to social barriers. Eye contact is shown to inhibit negative behavior by increasing empathy. Trolls can express themselves online without regard for a moral code where there are no repercussions for bad behavior. They may hide their identity through fake profiles.

Internet trolls are horrible people as found by a Canadian study. They compared people who said that trolling was their favorite internet activity with people who don’t troll. The trolls score high on personality traits of narcissism, Machiavellianism (sneaky, cunning, and lacking a moral code), psychopathy and sadism. The authors of the study are quoted as saying “Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others. Sadists just want to have fun . . . and the internet is their playground.” It is your suffering that brings them pleasure. They may also be motivated to troll by boredom, craving attention or revenge.

How do you stop them? They can be banned or blocked from individual user accounts or they can be reported to authorities. The most effective way to discourage a troll is to ignore it. Engaging in the dialog invites further disruptive posts. Their intention is to humiliate anyone who attempts to strike back. Unfortunately, personality traits of narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy and sadism cannot be cured. They can alter their behavior if it serves them in some way, but they cannot be cured. There is insufficient research on the number of trolls, but statistics indicate that only one to 3 percent of the general population has these personality traits.

The lesson for the general population is to be aware of your online behavior and seek to be courteous toward others. I’ll end with a quote attributed to Ian MacLaren “Sir–A thought to help us through these difficult times: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Don’t be a troll.

Let’s Talk About Self-Injury

Imagine that you are a fourteen-year-old who has a history of parental abuse or neglect, is struggling at school, has few friends and is vulnerable to peer pressure. You are in frequent conflict with your parents. Some of your friends are known to intentionally harm themselves and say that they find relief in doing so. Do you have the skills to manage intense emotions? If you do the same by cutting your arms and legs, is it a cry for help, or a precursor to suicide?

What would lead someone to harm themselves? These are people who have problems regulating emotions. They don’t know how to cope with intense or overwhelming emotions and find relief through damaging their skin. It is most common among adolescents with an onset around age 13 or 14 and increases as they reach older adolescence up to age 17. It offers a temporary escape from intolerable feelings. The intent is survival rather than death.

How does creating pain by hurting your body help someone who is already in psychological pain? The self-injury may provide a distraction for someone who is better able to tolerate physical pain than emotional pain. It may give them a sense of control over their feelings. It is an attempt to express internal feelings in an external way. It may communicate intense emotions to the outside world. And it may serve as punishment for perceived faults.

Most people who harm themselves are not doing so for attention or making a cry for help. They typically wear long sleeves or long pants to hide the scars or cuts.

Self-injury is the deliberate destruction of body tissue without suicidal intent. It is listed in the DSM 5 as a diagnostic disorder. Its criteria are five or more days of self-inflicted harm over the course of one year without suicidal intent and, the individual was motivated by seeking relief from a negative state, resolving an interpersonal difficulty, or achieving a positive state.

However, a spectrum of behavior exists from self-injury on one end progressing to suicide attempts on the end. Self-injury is a strong predictor of future suicide attempts. It is important not to assume that someone who harms their body wants to kill themselves, but keep in mind that there is increased risk for suicide.

The goal of therapy is to help clients learn to tolerate uncomfortable feelings and find healthier means of managing overwhelming emotions. They can benefit from learning to control impulses. Increasing family and social support is a buffer against these intense states. Research shows that strong parental bonds can differentiate those who think about suicide from those who actually attempt suicide.

If you know someone who self-injures don’t panic or become angry. Although this behavior is alarming, understand that this is someone who is struggling emotionally. Ask them what you can do to help them from injuring themselves. Realize that this is a coping strategy, not a weapon against you. Model healthier coping skills. It is a treatable condition.

Can Mental Health Treatment Prevent Mass Shootings?

19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire on a Florida high school on Valentine’s Day, 2018. He killed 17 people. In an attempt to understand why this occurred, and how to prevent it in the future, many focus the debate on lack of gun control and mental illness. Could mental health treatment have prevented this?

Nikolas Cruz participated in mental health treatment, but we don’t know what type of treatment he received. He stopped his treatment for unknown reasons. He is described as having had “emotional problems” since childhood, a quick temper and anger problems. These often led to property destruction, odd behavior toward other students in school, and expulsion from school. The expulsion was related to fighting and/or carrying a knife in school. It was said that he struggled with grief or depression related to the death of his mother who died in November from pneumonia. The couple who took him in after his mother died said they did not see any warning signs. They thought he was doing well at his new school and was working hard to get his high school diploma.

Would Cruz have committed mass murder if he had the right kind of treatment, or if he had continued treatment?

It is my opinion that mental health treatment will only minimally stop mass shootings. Research demonstrates that mental illness is not a predictor of violence. There is some association between mental illness and violence, but the association is weak. One study, from Annals of Epidemiology, states “evidence is clear that the large majority of people with mental disorders do not engage in violence against others, and that most violent behavior is due to factors other than mental illness.” Anger is a problem for people with and without mental illness. Anger can be, but isn’t always, a component of mental illness. Also, many people with anger issues do not have a mental illness. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent 1% of all gun homicides each year.” Counseling can be helpful toward anger management, but only for people who are motivated for change.

It has been said that President Trump revoked former President Obama’s executive order barring mentally ill persons from gun purchases. Congress did revoke regulations preventing some people from purchasing a gun, but it was already limited in scope. People prevented from purchasing a gun have been determined by a court to have marked mental illness who are a danger to themselves or others; or lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs; who has been declared insane by a court in a criminal case; and those people who are found incompetent to stand trial or found not guilty by reason of lack of mental responsibility. This is a very narrow subset of mentally ill people and would not apply to the vast majority of people who commit homicide.

The mental health system in America is broken. Treatment is not readily available to those who need it, particularly in rural areas. More than 50% of Americans who suffer from a mental illness do not receive treatment. High cost, limited health insurance, resistance and stigma are all barriers to help.

President Trump has said when someone is obviously disturbed they should be reported to authorities. Fair enough, but police officers rely on mental health providers to assess dangerousness and place people in the most appropriate level of care. Multiple levels of care include outpatient, intensive outpatient treatment, partial hospitalization, inpatient hospitalization, and residential. Persons with mental health disorders should be provided with health care which is the least restrictive. The aim is to preserve the patient’s dignity, rights and freedoms as much as possible. One is not easily or quickly committed to seclusion or restraint for their own or other’s safety. Most states have a 72-hour period in which an assessment is completed for emergencies. Once the 72-hour hold is lifted, patients can request a discharge. Or, if the hospital team believes it is necessary, they will start the commitment process. This process begins after a threat to self or others has been substantiated. It is not a highly effective prevention measure.

It is critically important to institute an action plan against shootings. The number of mass shootings is increasing. A national organization that tracks school threats says there are 10 threats a day on average. After the Parkland, Florida incident there have been about 50 threats a day on average.

When assessing potential lethality, professionals ask if the patient has access to weapons. If they are deemed dangerous, they take action to limit access to weapons. That’s a first step in decreasing risk. In the case of mass shooters, gun control is the first line of defense.

So what else can we do to prevent violence? Adopt and teach emotion regulation skills. Emotion regulations are measures taken by an individual to monitor, evaluate and modify intense emotional reactions. Deficits of emotion regulation are linked to depression, anxiety, substance abuse and other conditions. Improving emotion regulation skills can serve as violence prevention. For example, one skill is to accept and tolerate negative emotions. I would like to see these skills modeled by adults and taught across all levels of education.

Perhaps if Nikolas Cruz practiced emotion regulation skills he would have found healthy ways of expressing his anger and grief.

What People in Opioid Addiction Recovery Want You to Know

Chances are you either know someone with a substance abuse problem, or have a problem yourself. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 21.5 million Americans (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2014. There are more than 23 million Americans in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs.

Addiction, by definition, involves negative consequences to the person’s life. It is often devastating to families and friends. It’s often said that addiction is a family disease. That means that everyone in the family is affected by one member’s addiction. Addiction affects the stability of the home, the unity of the family, mental and physical health, and the overall family dynamic.

They desperately want the addiction to stop. Once a person who misuses alcohol or drugs starts a recovery process, the family is greatly relieved.

A person who becomes dependent upon an Opioid, such as heroin or prescription pain killers, has special challenges in recovery. By mid to late stage Opioid addiction their fear of withdrawal has caused them to act in ways they would never have otherwise behaved. In recovery, they may suffer intense guilt over their behavior. They want the support and trust of their family but can’t be fully open about their recovery because the family may have certain assumptions about recovery.

I talked with a group of Opioid dependent people in recovery who discussed their families’ assumptions. Here’s what their family members and loved ones want to believe about the recovering person:

1. Recovery is a decision, not a process.

2. The addiction is in the past and they are “all better now.”

3. They will never slip.

4. All of their days are sunny. They should be grateful and have a positive attitude.

5. If they were really motivated, they wouldn’t need medication for Opioid addiction.

The recovering addict wants to reestablish relationships with their family and don’t want to disappoint them. They may hide their true feelings from family. But if they could be really honest about their recovery they would say the following:

1. I’m not always happy. My life is infinitely improved in recovery and I have every reason to be happy. But I struggle with depression, anxiety and feelings of worthlessness. The underlying issues that contributed to my addiction are not gone simply because I stopped using substances.

2. I miss the drug’s warm blanket that numbed my pain, gave me energy and euphoria, and provided a distraction from life’s stress.

3. I still have cravings from time to time. I am perpetually on guard against relapsing.

4. I feel judged by my past. I am often misunderstood. For example, when I excuse myself from your presence, am tired, or behave badly, it is not evidence that I am getting high.

5. I may never have used a needle or heroin. Your assumptions, based on media sensationalism, may be wrong.

6. MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment) such as Methadone or Suboxone is the gold standard of treatment for Opioid dependency.

7. I’m tired of having to explain that MAT is not substituting one drug for another.

8. I’m not interested in tapering off my medication. I may choose to stay on MAT indefinitely. I have a chronic lifelong disease and will never be cured.

9. It’s not over. Although I’m drug free, the damage done can take years to repair.

Recovery support groups are a safe place for members to share their innermost thoughts and feelings. They are understood by others who have walked a similar path. But sharing their recovery journey with family members can be healing to the entire unit.

Can you ever again return to normal? With treatment, both the addict and family members can go on to live full, happy, and productive lives.