DEAR HARRIETTE: I am writing to you regarding how to conduct myself when a touchy subject comes up: addiction. My family has a history of addiction, and when I was a teenager, my father committed suicide due to his reliance on drugs and alcohol.
I am not an addict, and thankfully no one in my family currently is, but I clearly have a connection and knowledge about addicts. Decades have passed since this tragedy, and I don't reveal this often about my past. However, when a celebrity is called an addict or there are rumors about substance abuse, I try to give my two cents. Many people don't know what addiction is actually like. People don't take my advice seriously, and they ask what I know about reliance on drugs and alcohol. That's when I get uncomfortable. I know I can't say I am a good source without sharing my story, but I think it's important someone with knowledge chimes in instead of just gossips.
Should I keep my story to myself? I don't know if my father's story would be sympathized with or sensationalized. -- Knowledgeable But Private, Albany, New York
DEAR KNOWLEDGEABLE BUT PRIVATE: The only way you will be considered a credible voice among your friends -- or others -- when the topic of addiction comes up is for you to speak your truth. It may be time for you to reveal your personal story, including how devastating it was for your family to lose your father. You may also want to check in with a therapist to ensure that you are in a good emotional space before you make such a huge revelation.