Redwood City, Santa Clara, San Jose, S. San Francisco

Learning to live a happier life

Two years ago, Tom’s* wife was an active alcoholic. When drinking, she would sometimes become enraged and tear the house apart. She also had bipolar disorder and had tried to commit suicide more than once.

“Life was unbearable,” Tom recalls. “Everything I felt and did revolved around the fact that my wife was an alcoholic. Even though I thought I was controlling the situation, it was really controlling me.”

Today, Tom’s wife is still an alcoholic, though her behavior around drinking has improved. But the notable difference is Tom’s reaction to his wife’s behavior. He now realizes that he’s not to blame—nor is he responsible—for any part of his wife’s struggle with alcohol.

“In the past, I never saw myself as having any power,” he says. “But now I play an important role in my own life. I can decide what I’m going to do in any given situation, rather than believing I have no choice.”

Tom recently completed the two-year codependency group at our San Jose Medical Center, where he found common ground with wives and husbands and parents of addicted adult children.

“People who are codependent have a hard time believing that good intentions won’t change the situation,” says Lyn Pock, PhD, one of three psychologists who staff the Codependency Program, a part of Chemical Dependency Services.

“They tend to end up losing themselves as they focus on trying to fix, change, or control the situation,” adds Sharon Sclabassi, PhD.

Tom has learned that when he sets limits and focuses on himself rather than on his wife’s issues, it changes the dynamics of their relationship. His wife, for example, made a decision not to drink alcohol around him.

“Codependency is very treatable,” says Morris Mandel, PhD. “We’ve seen many people come to us in despair and hopeless, only to enact what they’ve learned and make huge turnarounds to a happier life.”

Chemical Dependency Services at San Jose offers a six-session Codependency class to learn about codependency and recovery, followed by an optional in-depth, two-year psychotherapy group. For more information and any fees, call (408) 972-3366.

Chemical Dependency Services are also available (without a referral) at:

• Milpitas (408) 945-2915

• Redwood City (650) 299-4778

• San Bruno/South San Francisco area: (650) 616-6200

• Santa Clara (408) 366-4200

For more on the topic, go to our health encyclopedia and search for “alcohol and drug problems.”

*Not his real name

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Pardon our dust in Redwood City

Starting April 2010, we’ll begin laying the groundwork for construction of a new hospital at our Redwood City Medical Center. Initial work will begin near the driveway leading up to the entrance of our current hospital off Veterans Boulevard.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. You can still enter the hospital from the front, but we encourage you to follow any construction signs and be alert to traffic when approaching the hospital driveway.

Designated parking spaces for people with disabilities will temporarily move from the front of the hospital to designated spaces at the lot next to the Laurel Building on Maple Street. Also, as part of the construction plans, we removed some trees earlier this year. As portions of the project are completed, we will plant new trees to replace the ones that were removed.

Ground-breaking for the new hospital is expected in mid-2011.

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