Eric Maisel
Source: Eric Maisel

The following interview is part of a “future of mental health” interview series that will be running for 100+ days. This series presents different points of view about what helps a person in distress. I’ve aimed to be ecumenical and included many points of view different from my own. I hope you enjoy it. As with every service and resource in the mental health field, please do your due diligence. If you’d like to learn more about these philosophies, services, and organizations mentioned, follow the links provided.


Interview with Rosemary O’Connor

EM: What are the special emotional and mental health issues of women in recovery?

RO: Most women in recovery suffer tremendously from shame and guilt, which causes emotional and mental health issues. The feelings of “I’m not enough, I’m not lovable and I’m not deserving” are some of the lies that haunt most women with addictions.

In addition to shame, mothers have an overwhelming feeling of guilt due to the harm they caused their children while in their addiction. These feelings of guilt and shame fuel many unhealthy relationships where you often find women trying to prove their worthiness.  Many often have difficulty setting boundaries and saying “No” to unhealthy requests.

I also see a lot of anxiety with the demands that are placed on women and especially mothers to be Superwomen or Supermom.

EM: You’ve written a book called A Sober Mom’s Guide to Recovery. Can you share with us some its headlines?

RO: In my book, A Sober Mom's Guide to Recovery, there are twenty-six short chapters where I combine inspiring stories of recovering moms and offer guidance on vital topics.  Some of these topics include:  stress, relapse, relationships, sex and intimacy, spirituality, shame, gratitude, dating, and, of course, parenting.  

EM: What are your thoughts on the current, dominant paradigm of diagnosing and treating mental disorders and the use of so-called psychiatric medication to treat mental disorders in children, teens and adults?

RO: I think we are living in an age which we are so fortunate to have clinicians who are excellent in diagnosing mental health disorders and help addicts tremendously and not only improve people's lives but actually save lives of many.  This not only improves the lives of addicts but also improves the lives all family members but society as a whole.   

On the other hand there are an astonishing number of clinicians who are diagnosing incorrectly and handing out medication like candy while offering the patient little to no education.  I believe addicts should be re-evaluated after one year of sobriety because some symptoms can appear to look like a mental health issue but could be a consequence of their disease.  

For example I often see untreated love addiction have similar traits of depression such as: restlessness, irritability, or excessive crying; or feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, and pessimism.  I also see similar characteristic of anxiety such as: feelings of panic, fear, uneasiness, and problems sleeping. Once the dysfunctional relationships are addressed and the addict enters recovery many of the symptoms lessen significantly.

EM: If you had a loved one in emotional or mental distress, what would you suggest that he or she do or try?

RO: Seek help ASAP.  I would let them know they are not alone and they don’t have to live this way because help is available. I would suggest they see a psychiatrist, a therapist, attend a support group and residential treatment if necessary.  Time off work and or break from everyday life stressors, which might include parental duties.  Most women and especially mothers have a difficult time giving themselves permission to do this.


Rosemary O’Connor is a leading pioneer and spokeswoman for mothers in recovery; and is frequently consulted for her expertise.  She is the author of A Sober Mom’s Guide to Recovery. Rosemary is the founder of ROC Recovery Services, which offers comprehensive care for women suffering from addictions.  She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from St. Mary’s College, is certified professional life coach, and has a specialty certification as an Addiction Coach.


Eric Maisel, Ph.D., is the author of 40+ books, among them The Future of Mental Health, Rethinking Depression, Mastering Creative Anxiety, Life Purpose Boot Camp and The Van Gogh Blues. Write Dr. Maisel at, visit him at, and learn more about the future of mental health movement at

To learn more about and/or to purchase The Future of Mental Health visit here

To see the complete roster of 100 interview guests, please visit here:

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