DR. WALLACE: My older sister is pregnant and she is addicted to alcohol. She’s determined to keep the baby, but she can’t seem to get her addiction under control, regardless of all of the treatment she’s tried.
I know she has been drinking while pregnant, and I’m so concerned for her baby. I’ve talked to my sister about this at length, and she always agrees to stop drinking, but then something will end up triggering her emotionally and she’ll turn to alcohol again. I don’t know how to help her, and I’m constantly worrying about this situation. Is there anything I can do? — A very worried sister, via email
A VERY WORRIED SISTER: See if you can arrange to take your sister to a medical appointment with you. Have the doctor explain to her the risks her unborn child is facing as a result of her behavior.
Sometimes having a professional like a doctor make this case can create more of a lasting impact than simply the words of a family member. And, if possible, you might want to see if your sister would attend counseling regarding her alcohol dependency. You could do some advance legwork by researching facilities in your area.
There are likely good social workers who have dealt with many similar situations like the one your sister is presently going through. Do your best to seek these people out and introduce your sister to them.
You can’t control your sister’s behavior, but you can provide her every opportunity to step forward to accept great help if she’s willing to do so. Speak to as many people as you can to solicit ideas as to how best help put your sister in a position that would be conducive to helping her gain more control over her daily life.
THE TIME FLIES BY!
DR. WALLACE: Recently, I noticed how much time that I am spending on my phone. I looked at my average screen time for the week and it is about six hours a day. I was shocked to see this! I guess all the small snippets of time do add up, but I never dreamed they would add up to that high a total.
I know a little time here and there checking my phone is not a problem, but I really need to break the habit of having to look “one more time” at something new. How could I be spending so much time on my phone and not even noticing? Being on my phone this much is a really bad habit for me now that I think about it in more detail.
But when I am bored or uncomfortable in a social situation, I have the habit of pulling out my phone to entertain me or distract me. Sometimes I do not even realize that I do it.
I really want to start spending less time on my phone and want to break this habit of constantly checking it. What should I do? — Too much screen time, via email
TOO MUCH SCREEN TIME: It’s a good first sign that you noticed this. Now capitalize on your clarity by putting together a plan to keep your phone time under control.
Start by deciding what time limit per day you think is reasonable. Set up that time and plan to stick to it. Make it a commitment that you’ll take personal pride in adhering to. Allow yourself exceptions only for emergencies or world events that may affect your safety or the safety of your family and friends.
Write out a journal entry about this matter. Seek to sort and separate what you are actually looking at. Is it important to your studies? Your life? Your most passionate hobbies? Or are you just scrolling through internet feeds, clicking from random video to random video?
Make a commitment to yourself that you will only use your screen time on topics that are important to you. Eliminate all the frivolous screen time you’ve been wasting previously. This will help you stick to your goal.
Another suggestion is to always bring some reading material, homework and research paperwork with you whenever you spend time outside your home. Fight the urge to spend frivolous time on your phone and instead take out these materials and engage in small doses of reading about matters that truly are important to you and your life.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.