DEAR HARRIETTE: I just learned about Wendy Williams living in a sober living facility, and it shook me. I don’t know her or anything, but I do know that she has been open about her past drug use. I thought that was behind her by a dozen or more years. She even started a charity to help people climb out of addiction.
It worries me that even if you have money and knowledge about the perils of addiction, you can still succumb to it. I used to use Wendy as an example for my niece who has struggled with drug addiction; I'd point out that Wendy pulled herself out of a terrible situation and made a good life for herself. Now I don’t know what to say. My niece continues to deal with addiction issues. I didn’t hinge everything on Wendy, of course, but I feel like this latest revelation about her vulnerability only helps to make my niece’s situation that much more fragile. -- Fighting Addiction
DEAR FIGHTING ADDICTION: The stats for people fighting addiction in this country are staggering. In 2017, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 19.7 million American adults (aged 12 and over) battled a substance abuse disorder. Further, 1 out of 8 adults suffered with both alcohol and drug use disorders simultaneously. In terms of relapse, 40 to 60 percent of addicts and alcoholics relapse within the first year, though the numbers do go down to about 15 percent with years of recovery under the belt.
Addiction programs and counselors will tell you that the way you fight addiction is one day at a time. For your niece, the best you can do is talk to her about her life. Make it clear to her that addiction is a disease and that she should get help to keep her strong.
It should be noted that Wendy didn't mention a relapse in her announcement, just that she had moved into a sober living facility. That said, she can still be an example of how hard it is to stay sober. Use her story to support your niece.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I talk to my goddaughter regularly, and she is a sweet young woman. She has been on her own for a couple of years now, and it sounds like she is building a nice life for herself. She has a good job, but she had a boyfriend who didn’t treat her well. She dumped him recently, but he keeps coming back. I tell her that she needs to expand her horizons, but when he calls, she jumps.
My goddaughter recently met a guy who is smart and kind and likes her a lot. They have been going out, and it sounds good. Still, she remains emotionally available to the other one. How can I help her to see that this guy is an opportunist and selfish, and he isn’t worth her time? -- Bad Boyfriend
DEAR BAD BOYFRIEND: All you can do is tell her what you know a healthy relationship looks like. Describe what she deserves, and remind her of her value. Try not to talk negatively about this man, as that might drive her closer to him. Instead, paint a picture for her of what you believe she deserves. Encourage her to give the other man a chance, too!
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)