What is Recovery Series: Part 2; 4 Steps to Regaining Your Social Health

If you say you are going to do something, do it. Be consistent. Don’t flip flop on your decisions. Inconsistency breeds mistrust. Don’t be that person anymore. Be honest.

Hello, welcome back. This is part 2 of the ‘What is Recovery Series’. I hope you found Part 1 insightful. Let’s get right into this one.

If you did read part 1, you would know that recovery is not only about achieving and maintaining Abstinence, it is all about making a better life for one’s self. I always tell my clients, ‘It is an opportunity to rebrand yourself. Do all the good things that you did not have the time to do before. Reinvent yourself into a far better you’.

One of the sure ways to become a better version of yourself is through proper conduct of yourself in social situations. In active addiction you may have spent all or most of your time doing not-very-credible things, hanging out with not-very-credible company, hanging out in not-very-credible places and just basically being a not-very-credible friend, parent, partner, employee, neighbour and citizen.

This is one of the major reasons why persons with substance use disorders are Stigmatized and discriminated against; the not-very-credible behaviour they exhibit.

So now that you are in abstinence and have taken care of your physical, emotional and spiritual health, let’s look at 4 ways in which you can begin healing your social life as well.

1. Stay off Roads and Connections that will Not Take you Where you Want to Go

There is this old saying ‘show me your friend and I will show you your character’. Another one says, ‘birds of a feather flock together’. Another one in the Bible says, ‘Do not be deceived, bad company ruins good habits.’ (I Corinthians 15:33).

I don’t think I need to say more. The point I am trying to make is, the best way to reinvent yourself is to do things differently than you used to. The company and connections you were used to keeping are not going the way you want to go now, unless maybe this journey is something you are taking as a group.

People who are not trying to leave drugs behind are not going to be able to inspire you to continue being abstinent, they will try to get you to remain in their company, continue to do things the old way. The question you should ask yourself is, why would you take a journey on a road going to Kumasi when you are trying to get to Cape Coast? It doesn’t make sense.

It will be hard because these old connections may have been in your life for such a long time, however these old connections could serve as triggers that if not properly handled, will lead to relapse.

Ask yourself this, ‘You have been on those roads for so long, have they taken you to any good place?

2. Build New Connections

Go ahead and make new friends.

Find people also on the recovery journey who can support you and guide you in this new endeavour. When undertaking any new venture, it is always easier to have a guide who can walk you through their own experiences, which could serve as an example to guide you, instead of bumping all around in the dark until you finally find out what works.

Also, try to meet new people not just in the area of your recovery but in any new direction you are trying to go. You may be interested in a new hobby; find people in those circles that you can share those things with. Or simply just find new people of good character, who can inspire you to achieve your goal of being the better you.

3. Mend Broken Bridges

Living the not-so-credible life means that you may have hurt some people over the years, these people may be very important to you.

At this point, the most honourable thing to do is to apologize to the people you have hurt. This is important! Don’t just move on and pretend as if everything is well and good now. Acknowledge your mistakes, own up to them and ask for forgiveness. This when done sincerely will show to the people around you that, you are being responsible and are more likely to give you another chance to prove to them that you really mean what you are saying.

This means that you are also going to have a lot more support for your recovery from all these people who are now back in your life.

 It may take more than one try to be totally forgiven by these people, don’t give up too easily.

4. Put on a New Garment

Don’t just plead and ask for forgiveness saying you are a new person and just leave it at that. Show everyone that you are truly a new person. Stop doing the not-so-credible things you were doing.

If you say you are going to do something, do it. Be consistent. Don’t flip flop on your decisions. Inconsistency breeds mistrust. Don’t be that person anymore. Be honest.

At this point, re-evaluate your values and see whether the principles you are running your life by are going to make you the better version of yourself that you are aspiring to be. If not, well, then you have some serious thinking and decisions to make.

Are you going to decide to run your life by values that make you into a better and credible person? Or are you just going to keep living by the same ‘old codes.’

The goal is to improve your life and become the very best version of yourself. Make the right choices, try these four steps, start your social healing journey, live your best life in the society!

Stay alert for Part 3, coming soon!

What is Recovery Series: Part 1 – Healing

What is Recovery?

In a real sense of the word, it means regaining everything you have lost.
I am currently enrolled in a course specifically designed to teach Evidence based approaches to giving specialized care for women with Substance Use Disorders. There was a question about an example of what recovery is. Most of the options were talking about someone who had stopped using drugs but could not hold down a job or could not maintain a healthy relationship with other. The correct option was the one describing someone who had stopped using drugs, had a job and could pay for her apartment and was in good terms with her neighbours and was also a volunteer at her local Community Centre.

To paint a clearer picture about recovery, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defined it as , ‘a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life and strive to reach their fullest potential.’
The example and definition suggest therefore that, for someone to attain full recovery from Substance Use Disorders, a lot more than abstinence is required.

In the next few weeks, we are going to look at this topic in great detail. This will be a five part series. Let us get right into part one which I have titled, ‘Healing’.

The beginning of recovery is starting to gain your health back. Substance Use Disorder does not only negatively affect the physical and mental but also spiritual health. Now that you are in abstinence, the first order of next business is to pay to your health.

Physical Healing

You need to have a general physical health check up to find out whether everything is working at optimal levels. Take medications that may be prescribed properly.
Maintain a healthy eating habit. Make time to prepare your own meals with healthy ingredients to avoid acquiring other diseases which could arise from unhealthy food choices.
Maintain a good sleeping habit, drink a lot of water.
Do not forget to get some physical activity. Move the body, do not sit around all day. Go for walks, get some chores done and maybe do some gardening.

Mental Healing

Substance Use Disorders can induce some mental disorders like anxiety or depression, which usually resolves when substance use is stopped. Anxiety or depression can also be a sign that your body is in withdrawal from the drugs that have been taken. This situation is also likely to resolve by itself after withdrawals have ended.
However, in some cases, these may not be resolved without treatment, probably because the mental health disorder may have already been an issue independent of the drug use which was not diagnosed earlier. It could also have come about as a result of a long period of exposure to drugs.
Whatever your situation may be, you need to make an appointment with a mental health care professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Other mental health disorders like bipolar disorder and personality disorders can also affect the quality of your life. See a specialist for assessment and treatment so as to start your new journey with a sound mind.

Spiritual Healing

Just like you neglected your physical and mental health during active drug use, you neglected your spiritual health.
Your spiritual health is the sum of self-care, treatment of others, what values you have and how you treat the environment.
If you treat yourself well by eating well, washing your body well and regularly, think good thoughts about yourself, you treat all others with respect and dignity, you live your life with good values that make you walk in integrity, and take time to care for your environment, then you have quite a decent spiritual life. Love of self and others is the key!
Living a good spiritual life guarantees peace, love and freedom of mind.

Your Take Away

If you want to realize the full benefits of abstinence and enjoy your life in recovery, start by taking care of any medical conditions, mental disorders and pursue a good spiritual life. These will ensure a sound body, mind and spirit, which will help you to achieve the other aspects of recovery.
This is just the beginning, stay tuned for more..

World Drug Day 2022

Today is International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, 2022, also known as World Drug Day.

26 June has been set aside by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), to create awareness about the world drug problem. It is also meant to advocate for strengthening of action and cooperation in the creation of a world free of drug abuse.

Every year, a theme, which usually is centered around current world happenings is chosen by the UNODC, which becomes the focal point for which campaigns, rallies, advocacy programs among others are built.
This year’s theme is ‘Addressing drug challenges in health and humanitarian crises’.

In the mist of a pandemic and other diseases, severe flooding, a war which is affecting the world economy, the massive exodus happening across South America into North America, the perilous journeys from the Sahara Desert through Libya and Morocco into Europe; which dangerous criminal organizations who traffic people are heavily exploiting, no better theme would do.

These world crises are some of the factors which can cause trauma and in turn lead to the initiation of drug use or the escalation of an existing drug use problem.

People who use drugs want to get help. They will receive help when it is offered them. Most of the time however, most people think that people who use drugs and have developed Substance Use Disorder prefer to remain in their present condition, and thus most of the time, they are not included in many relief programs.

This reminds me of a scene from a news item which was aired during the Covid-19 lock down period in Ghana; March, 2020. During that period, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection had taken up to distribute ‘hot’ meals to homeless women working as porters in the Central Business District in Accra (they are popularly called Kayayei).

In the news interview, some of the women were furious that some of them were not getting the food because whenever they queued up to receive the food, ‘the drug users’ will also join the queue and take part of it. She said it in Twi, it sounded as if the people she was referring to were not human and so did not deserve to eat.

It is really unfortunate that most people behave this way because they do not know better. On a day like this, let us take time to explain to them that persons who use drugs are also human, they deserve to eat, get treatment for their disorder, get employment, and also enjoy all the privileges that the rest of us in society are due.

Do it today with your voice, your face, your influence and any resource you can spare.

#CareinCrises #WorldDrugDay2022

Happy Fathers’ Day

For you in recovery, this is an opportunity to ‘mend fences, build broken bridges and strengthen wobbly ladders’ with your fathers. This is the time to get closer to such figures who are capable of being there for you physically, emotionally, financially as well as spiritually.

Father’s Day. Yeeeiiiii!

Today, I saw a lot of social media posts of pictures of fathers, pastors, husbands, brothers and father figures in general. The first thought that crept into my mind is this, ‘‘most of these people are posting pictures of father’s they probably have not spoken to or been good to in weeks or months, just to keep up appearances’’.

I am not saying you are one of those people. I was just wondering whether we have taken time to actually reflect on what this day is supposed to be about.

I personally think this is a day to be grateful to the fathers in our lives for their love, care and guidance.

For you in recovery, this is an opportunity to ‘mend fences, build broken bridges and strengthen wobbly ladders’ with your fathers. This is the time to get closer to such figures who are capable of being there for you physically, emotionally, financially as well as spiritually.

If you do not know how to go about that, here are a few suggestions.

Say Thank You

It is important to express how grateful you are to your father or father figure for what they have done for you. Be specific in what you are thanking him for. There may be a lot of things you can say but listing them specifically will have a greater impact than just saying, ”Thank you daddy for everything’’. How do you think something like, ‘‘thank you daddy for paying my hospital bills last month’’, will make him feel? Even if he has done nothing for you according to your expectations, you can still thank him for giving you life (that is if he is your biological father).

Saying ‘Thank You’ attracts more of everything. You will get more of whatever you appreciate, so thank him more often.

Say Sorry

If you have offended your father in any way, apologize to him, not just today but today can be the beginning of a better relationship between the two of you. 

If he is the one who has offended you, you can forgive him and try to start a healthy relationship with him again. 

Humility, forgiveness and letting go of bad blood between close relatives and associates is the beginning of a healing process which will eventually help in your general recovery.

This does not however mean that you should hold on to relationships that are toxic, abusive or drug fueled which could eventually set you back in your recovery.

Forgive, let go, but only hold on to fruitful and nourishing relationships; father or whoever.

Make Amends

This applies in situations where you can make up for a loss you have caused. Let us say, during the time when you were actively using drugs, you took some money from your father without his permission. This will be a good time to return it, that is, if you can afford to.

Try it, it could be a wonderful surprise, but if by your assessment you think this gesture will cause any form of trouble, it is better to just move forward and forget about the past.

Now Do the Social Media and Other Things

Post pictures and beautiful poetry about your father. I am sure this will make his day when he sees it.

You can also organize him a small party, buy him a gift or take him to a nice restaurant to treat him to a wonderful dining experience. 

All these will go a long way to let him know how much you appreciate him and also help you develop a deeper bond which in turn will be beneficial for you as a source of unconditional support.

Let me know how it goes!

Mind Your Own Life: 5 Strategies to Help you Focus

There can be a lot of pressure to conform to living the life that everyone else is living and measure success according to certain common standards. Nowadays, most people measure success by looking at what house one has, what car one drives, whether someone of a certain age is married with children, where they go out to eat, where they go on vacation, what clothes they wear and a whole lot of superficial things.

This ‘eye service’ style of living has brought a lot of people up to their neck in debt yet they still continue borrowing just to keep up appearances. These same people accuse others who do not want to go down this path as being frugal or stingy.

It is not a bad thing to live a luxurious life if you can afford it, however, for someone in recovery, massing up huge debts just to live to impress other people may serve as a source of stress and potential trigger for relapse.

By all good means and with patience, strive to achieve success which should be measured by your own goals and where you envision yourself in a few years from now, then work towards those goals: your own goals, not those of your friends and neighbours.

Lets look at a few strategies that can be used to live a satisfying life while striving to achieve your goals without getting into unnecessary debt.

1. Live Within Your Means

This should be very basic knowledge for everyone but somehow, it is very difficult for many to follow. In an age where loans are being shoved in our faces here and there, it is very difficult to resist the temptation of taking advantage of these credit facilities.
It is however easier to manage whatever you have, to live within your own means, accruing as little debt as possible so as not to add the stress of servicing huge debts to the other stresses of life.

Make it a rule: Borrow only when it is an emergency.

2. Be Grateful for Where You Are

As you may have heard before, ‘we are all walking different paths in the same world’. Some of the people you started life with may seem to be miles ahead of you. The truth is, how do you know that is true? You may just be where you are meant to be and they may also be just where they are meant to be.
Be grateful that you are on the recovery road right now. There is hope that every other thing in your life will eventually fall in place soon.

3. Have a Clear Picture in your Mind’s Eye about where you are Going

To be motivated and driven to achieve anything in life, you need to have it very well drawn in your mind. Then you need to express that picture in your mind on paper, add up projected timelines with which you wish to achieve these goals, then start working towards them.
Focus hard on these goals, avoid any distractions and diversions and with determination and hard work, you will definitely reach where you want to be.

4. Believe in Yourself, Not What Others Say or Think about You

Most of the time, those people who do not conform to living the life that everyone else is living are tagged as odd or strange. The people in your inner most circle may even call you slow, boring or even stingy. They will tell you that life is short, so spend your money. They will not tell you to save. Yet ask them for assistance in times of crisis and you will most of the time be very disappointed.
Remember, no one will take care of you better that you can. Only you know why you have decided to live your life this way. Believe in your cause and no one can derail you from your path no matter what they say or think about you.

5. Have a little more Faith, it is already done, You just can’t see it Yet

Someone once said that, without faith, we would not be able to do anything, not even something as mundane as sitting on a chair. You sit down on the chair because you believe it is strong enough to hold you up.
If you live life based on the principle of the chair, it would be much easier for you to achieve anything you put your mind to. You would be very confident, questioning the possibility of nothing, because you are sure that whatever enterprise you engage in will succeed.

Your Takeaway

It is true that sometimes you may feel left behind but do not be deceived, a life may look pretty and glamourous but may also be full of debt and stress; just keeping up appearances. Do not get caught up in debt trying to follow that crowd, you do not even know where they are going. You know where you want to be, focus on your goals, and do not give up or allow yourself to be distracted for any reason. Slow and steady always wins the race, just ask the tortoise.

This Human Condition

We are always preoccupied with eating, drinking, sleeping and exercise.
We are so high maintenance.
Failure to do any of these maintenance activities results in deprivation which prevents the human body from functioning properly.
Overindulgence in these activities floods the system with unnecessary junk and also causes the human body to malfunction.
The human body will function at optimal capacity only when a good balance is found between indulgence and deprivation.
There can never be perfect balance of course, but a careful balance at both ends is essential.
I know you have heard all this before, but sometimes I think about it a lot, and realize how so basic this life is, how it can easily be destroyed if not properly cared for.
Take care of yourself, like you would care for your little child.
If you would not over feed or over exert your child, do not do the same to yourself.
Recovery from Substance Use Disorder is not only about Abstinence, it also has everything to do with Self Care.


Take good care of Yourself.

5 Basic Reasons why it is not too late to get back on the Good Road

Sometimes in life, most people think that they may have gone so far off down the wrong road, they think just continuing on the wrong road and getting lost forever will be easier than making it all the way back unto the good road.

I spoke to a man once, about five years ago at a drug rehabilitation centre who said that, he will never quit drinking because he had drunk almost all his life, that is what he is used to; even though he does not like it very much any more. He believes his family is just wasting money keeping him in that rehab centre because to him, it does not make any sense to quit now and have to face living life trying to catch up with his other siblings who have married, have kids, good careers, enviable bank statements and property.

Each one of us has a different path to walk and it does not matter how fast you walk that path. The most important part of the whole matter, is actually realizing that you are going down the wrong road and turning back around unto the right path.

The path of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) may have derailed you from the good road but it is definitely not too late to turn around. Depending on your personal ambitions, the good road may mean different things, however, there are some basic things you can have on the good road which will make it worth coming back to, instead of just going off and getting lost on the bad roads forever.

1. Abstinence

The most important state of being that almost anyone who has SUD desires to achieve is abstinence, because obviously, continuous drug use is what got you started on the wrong road in the first place. Being able to maintain abstinence, is the beginning of all the other ‘perks’ which is found on the good road.

2. Wellness

When abstinence is achieved and maintained for a period of time, you will begin to feel a general sense of wellbeing which cuts across physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. Getting back on the good road does not mean that every problem in your life will be automatically resolved, in fact, there will be a lot of ‘mess’ (broken relationships, trust issues, among others; depending on your individual circumstances) that you may have to start cleaning; but this will be the beginning of your healing, which will eventually lead to a situation in which you will feel that your are finally getting well.

3. Basic Needs

On the wrong road, you may not have been able to take care of yourself in terms of getting yourself basic things like food, clean water, shelter and clean clothes regularly: probably because you could not hold down a job long enough to afford all these things. Coming back on the good road will make it easier to be able to get all these for yourself.

4. Dignity

One of the challenges that you may face as a person with SUD is that, unfortunately, some people forget that you are a person just like them! That is sad and unfortunate but that is the big, fat, truth!
People will treat you according to how you look, smell and present yourself, they will not take time to think about what you could be after SUD or what you may have been before SUD. Society will only treat you as worthy of respect or honour if you treat yourself that way first. You can begin to do that on the good road.

5. Life

Health is wealth, wealth makes life easier and better. The good road leads to life, the bad road leads to misery and eventually death. You can choose life again, and have all the good things that your siblings and neighbours have that you also wish you had. As long as you have life, there is still time.


I have said a lot by all these words; and all I am saying is that, it does not matter how long you have had SUD, you can get well again, be able to buy your own food, water, clothes and pay your rent again all by yourself, regain the respect of family and society and live life to the fullest, that is , if you realize that it is time to quit using and actually take the step towards abstinence.

Keep in touch, let me know how it goes.

Do you Have to become a Pastor?

I am not trying to be controversial here, neither do I have anything against Pastors, I just want to talk about something I have observed.

I have been privileged to work with people in recovery from Substance use Disorders for a number of years and still counting. I noticed a trend right from the outset of my career which seems to be dying down a little but has not quite died off yet; not that I want it to die. I just think it puts a lot of unnecessary pressure and stress on people in recovery who may feel obligated to go on this path probably because that is what their treatment programme of choice requires or simply because that is what everyone else is doing.

What I am talking about is the trend of people all of a sudden being called to become men of God, to Preach the gospel after leaving treatment.

Maybe you are thinking about going that same way, but before you do, here are a few questions to help you do a little introspection before you get on with it.

Why do you want to do it?

Is it because that is what you have always wanted to do? Or it is just because you feel becoming a Pastor will encourage you to live a moral life full of righteousness and thus help you overcome your temptations to take up the drug again?

What you should understand if that is your mind-set is that, substance use disorders have a lot more to do with ‘works’ than wishes. Becoming someone who admonishes and encourages other people to stay away from temptations does not give you automatic immunity from your own. You need to learn about the nature of your sickness and work hard at dealing with it.

Do you know what you are doing?

Does it give you joy to do what you do? Or are you are just doing it because your treatment program says so? This happened to someone I know.

After treatment from that particular facility, he was made to believe that, becoming a Pastor was the only way to ‘freedom’ from his disease. He went along with it for a few months, preaching to all of us about the immorality of our ways and the sure fact that we were all headed to hell. He however did not understand how to take care of himself because he was not taught how to do that at the facility. Not long after, he could not handle the stress and pressure of being the leader of a new congregation struggling to grow, he burned out and relapsed. He has not been seen in a while.
I am not saying this will happen to everyone, but do you understand what you are getting into?

Are you ready for the role?

Being a Pastor comes with a whole lot of expectations. You have to help other people deal with all sorts of problems; financial, marriage, health. You have to be prepared to be there and present for everyone at all times and at all occasions.

You may not be ready to get into all that stress and take up all that responsibility just yet. Assess your stage of recovery and be sure that you are ready to take up all that work.

Take Away

All I am trying to make you think about is: are you sure that becoming a Pastor is the next step for you? Maybe you feel there is a ‘calling’ for you to do that, or maybe you are just very passionate about sharing the gospel. If those are your reasons, go right ahead, prepare yourself by getting the necessary training that is needed to fulfil your purpose. However, if you are doing it just because you feel it is a good avenue to hide from your temptations, then think again; Jesus was tempted by the devil, He prevailed because he had ‘eaten’ the word of God and was ready to do the work.

Are you ready?

6 Benefits of Exercising for Recovery

The nature of human life suggest that the body was made for Exercise. Years ago, an individual needed to move in order to gather food, hunt for food, cultivate food, draw water, go from one place to another. These activities kept the human figure upright and in shape. These days, getting things done has become very easy because of technology and that, has reduced the activity levels of people. This has necessitated the need for exercise to be added to the daily routine in order to help keep the body upright and in shape.

According to research, Exercising does not only help keep the body in shape, it also has a whole lot of other benefits, which has been proven to be helpful in early recovery from Substance Use Disorders. Let us discuss a few.

1. To Help with Cravings

Cravings are a normal ‘side effect’ of early recovery, which when not properly understood and handled, causes many people to relapse. It is important to remember that, cravings do not last as long as they may seem. At any given time, a craving may last between 15 – 20 minutes; a simple Exercise could help serve as a way to take your mind off the craving and prevent you from giving in to your urges.
Going for a walk, is a form of Exercise that can be adopted to deal with cravings.

2. To Help Reduce Stress

Another potential trigger for relapse in early recovery is stress. There are a whole lot of expectations and demands that may be placed on you at work, by family and the community in which you may find yourself. These expectations coupled with dealing with triggers and cravings could become overwhelming and cause a lot of stress. If you do not find healthy ways to step away from all that stress, you may be tempted to go back to your old unhealthy ways of coping.
Taking an Aerobics class with a group of others or doing it by yourself at home will be a good way to wind down, relax and get all that pressure off your shoulders.

3. To Help Improve Physical Fitness

You may have experienced some loss of muscle mass or just may be feeling physically unfit after a long period of drug use. Taking up some physical Exercise to boost your muscle growth and make you feel generally strong and fit is a good way to go.
Some examples of Exercises you can take up to achieve this goal are; Hiking, jogging and weight lifting.

4. To Reduce Depression

Depending on the kind of drug you were using, some of the withdrawal symptoms may linger on for a while. If you were dependent on stimulants, some of these withdrawal symptoms will include Depression.
Along with medication, counselling, and time, dancing is a good exercise which can be helpful.

5. To Clear the Mind

A lot of things may just be going on in your mind at the same time. It may be personal relationship issues or new responsibilities that you are facing now that you are sober. Whatever it may be, you need to clear your mind of all the clutter so as to be able to think clearly to solve the problems you may be faced with.
Yoga, swimming, cycling, boxing may be helpful to you.

6. To Boost Confidence

Your confidence levels will be enhanced when your body is fit, your stress levels are reduced, you are dealing with your cravings well, and are also able to fit into society and interact freely with other people.
Playing a team sport like Football, basketball, volleyball is a good way to ‘get fit’ physically, mentally and socially.

What I want you to take away is that, Exercising regularly will improve your physical fitness, help bring your stress levels down, help your mental health to improve; which will help you keep your life ordered and that, is what will give you the confidence to keep going and knowing that, you can and will continue to be abstinent if you keep working at it.
All this Exercising is only a complement to taking your medication and talking to your Substance Use Counselor regularly and truthfully!