Dr Neill Neill gets head shaved for Cops for Cancer

It’s nothing new for me to be supporting organizations that are raising money for cancer research or support of those living with cancer. It has become a more personal matter in the past few years as cancer took my son Richard, two sisters-in-law, two uncles, two first cousins and several clients. On the positive side, with the advancements in cancer detection and treatment that our funding has assisted, I have increasing numbers of relatives and others close to me that have survived cancer and got on with their lives. This did not used to happen. The numbers of Cancer Negligence Claims have gone down, that´s why many more patients have gone through treatment much more peaceful.

Neill loses his hair on September 26 in support of Cops for Cancer

However, having my head shaved in support of kids with cancer is something new for me. On Thursday, I and other members of the PQB News team are having our heads shaved as a fundraising effort.


This is me before.neill 13-9 (Watch for the “after”)






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Dr Neill Neill Interviewed by Kenneth Anderson of HAMS

Kenneth Anderson of HAMS (Harm Reduction for Alcohol) interviewed me as a guest on his radio program on Thursday, August 30. The recording of the show is below. If there’s any problem with the recording, you can go directly to blog talk radio: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/harm-reduction/2012/08/31/if-your-spouse-drinks

Listen to internet radio with Kenneth Anderson on Blog Talk Radio

Stay Focused on What you Want

blue eye

I knew a young middle-aged man I’ll call George, who had a drinking and driving problem, like quite a few others I’ve met in my recovery mentoring work. George stayed way too late at the pub and had far too much to drink. However, the 3 km road home was straight and flat with no traffic at that time of night, so he decided to drive. There were no houses on that stretch and only one tree.

As he drove home he kept reminding himself that if he does go off the road, he must not run into that tree. You know the rest: he lost control and crashed into the only tree on his route. George wanted to get home safely but he had focused on what he didn’t want…and got it.

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Alcohol Abuse Effects on the Family-Part One

Jekyll vs Hyde

I have been deeply moved by the depth of despair and confusion you are expressing in your identifying your most important question about alcoholism. I feel your pain. I am also aware of the presence of great moral strength.

Here are questions from two women whose struggle is almost universal among women who live with drug and alcohol abuse and addiction:

1. How do you live with high functioning alcoholic? He has a good job and he tries to be involved in the kids’ lives, but you cannot rely on him. He acts like we are the crazy ones; he is the Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll. I have stayed with him because of our vows and children. If I cannot face him, it wouldn’t be fair to divorce him and force the kids to face him alone.

2. Should I stay in the marriage? And what are the impacts on my children and how can I neutralize them?

Each woman’s question highlights two moral dilemmas. They are big life questions I suspect underlie the majority of the responses sent in. You married with the belief and intention that your marriage was going to be a lifelong relationship. Now your partner abuses alcohol, and his drinking is severely impacting your sense of wellbeing and, if you have children, probably theirs as well.

Dilemma One: You

Do you break your vows to protect your own sanity, or do you stay and just do the best you can in the hope one day he’ll wake up?

Some women manage to create a life for themselves while staying in their alcoholic marriage. They develop their own interests, friends, family connections, work and so on. It can be a lonely path, but they consider the alternative of leaving the marriage to be worse.

My sister-in-law decided in her later-in life marriage to take this route. She had wide interests, good friends and a great relationship with her adult daughter. Her older, alcoholic husband had lots of medical problems and was generally in poor health. Sadly, she died ten years before he did.

Other women with alcoholic partners find themselves spiraling down emotionally, mentally and often physically, especially if he is abusive. So they leave, but there may be guilt to deal with, and often difficult financial pressures and other problems.

Dilemma Two: Your Children

Do you stay because your children need a father, or do you take your children out of the unhealthy environment? But will separating them from their father do them more harm than good?

Children learn by modeling their parents. If you take the children away from the model of their alcohol-abusing father, will they be less likely to adopt his drinking lifestyle, but resent you for abandoning dad? If you keep them there, will they resent you for not rescuing them? As adults, will they adopt the model you provided, that of staying in a marriage no matter what?

I know a woman in her 40s who remembers at nine years old praying daily that her mother would leave her dad and take the kids. I know another about the same age who recalls as a young teen her constant worry her parents would split up. Both are now dealing with resentment towards their mothers, not their fathers.

There are no easy answers. There are no answers that apply to everyone. It’s little wonder you sometimes feel stuck and unhappy.

Happiness, Therapy and Money: Psychological Well-Being

We all want to have a sense of psychological well-being, that is, we want to be happy. So what do we do to gain happiness? We work harder. We buy lottery tickets. We invest. We do anything we can to improve our economic well-being, because we believe it translates directly into happiness. Furthermore, we do this as individuals and as a society.
Over the past half-century developed countries have made gigantic economic gains, based at least in part on the premise that economic well-being produces happiness. The movie with Will Smith, “The Pursuit of Happiness,” epitomizes this view.
Unfortunately, over the last half-century the evidence is that there has been zero increase in national happiness among the developed countries.
Researchers at the University of Warwick, Great Britain, in studies involving thousands of people, found that a four-month course of psychological therapy had a huge effect on psychological well-being. In fact, they calculated that it would take an increase of $48,000 in income to achieve the same increase in happiness that came from $1500 worth of therapy. Their conclusion: “The research therefore demonstrates that psychological therapy could be 32 times more cost effective at making you happy than simply obtaining more money.”
It is a sad fact, that in the developed countries, including Canada and the United States, government spending on mental health services has declined, not increased. Access to psychologists and trained counsellors has decreased.
Locally, large sums of money are being spent on the 2010 Winter Olympics. It is seen, probably correctly, as an investment in economic stimulus. However, BC governments of the 1990s and 2000s have reduced “spending” on mental health services to save money. Mental health dollars are treated as an expense, not an investment.
If our primary collective goal is economic growth, then we are on course. If on the other hand our goal is collective happiness, we as a society are going about it in an extremely cost-ineffective manner.
I support economic growth; it is essential to maintain our place on the world stage. However, individually and collectively we need to find a better balance if we want to increase our happiness.

To achieve balance, change will have to come about at many levels, not just at the government level. Courts and media, for example, will have to change. When the court makes a financial award to someone for “pain and suffering,” it makes the news. But what if the court were to award access to as much therapy as needed, including travel costs? That would not be newsworthy. And worse, with the current collective mindset of ‘money trumps all,’ the plaintiff might even feel that he or she had lost the case.

How sad!