What is Recovery Series Part 4: Clean your surroundings, Feel Good

‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’. This is not me trying to be overly religious because this is not a bible verse, you can find out. This expression is simply trying to say that if we want to be the best part of ourselves, keeping ourselves clean is just next to that.

Welcome Back! I’m glad you are here. Today we are continuing our series on Recovery. In this episode, we will focus on cleaning our self and surroundings.

There is a common saying which states that, ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’. This is not me trying to be overly religious because this is not a bible verse, you can find out. This expression is simply trying to say that if we want to be the best part of ourselves, keeping ourselves clean is just next to that.

Why is it so important to keep ourselves and our environment clean?

1. Improves Mental Health

Research shows that, keeping a clean self and environment does not only keep the body healthy but the mind as well.

Remember that, substance use disorder is a mental health disorder, which takes time and a lot of work to recover from. Keeping a clean environment helps to relieve stress, discomfort, makes the air fresh and clean, reduces anxiety and thus improving general mental wellbeing.

I experienced this first hand when somewhere this year my house got flooded and everything was messed up with mud and dirt. It took about a month to clean everything out of the house, throw out the spoiled and damaged property and rebuild the broken parts. During that time, I was frustrated, anxious and depressed. I only started feeling better when everything was finally cleaned and the house began to look normal again.

2. Improves Physical Health

When the environment and self is clean, there is a better chance of avoiding diseases and infections borne from germs, bacteria and viruses. This ensures a healthy physical body which will enable you have the energy that you need to support the mental exercises and activities that are required for attaining your recovery goals.

A healthy physical body means less frequent visits to the hospital which will eventually save you money and time to engage in activity that will be beneficial and profitable for you.

3. Boosts Confidence

A clean body and environment make you confident around others and makes it easier for you to make new friends as you reintegrate into the community. A clean body and environment also improve people’s opinions about you and goes a long way to determine whether you will get that job, apartment, business opportunity and any other new venture you may be trying to get into.

4. Build and Maintain a Positive Character

Living healthy is a positive character trait which you can cultivate and develop from here onwards. When you clean yourself and your environment, you inspire other people to do same and as a result you become a good example for other people to emulate. When that happens, you will be motivated to maintain that character trait that you are admired for; you would not want to ‘lower or drop the standard’. That is what will help you maintain the positive character you have initiated.

What areas should you particularly focus on cleaning?

Wash, Wash, Wash

Wash everything! Wash your clothes, underwear, sleeping sheets, towels. Towels should be washed after at most, every 3 days; you cannot imagine the number and types of germs hiding in there. Other clothes and sleeping sheets can be gathered and washed weekly.

Wash your body, mouth and hair. Change your underwear daily and shave your armpits regularly.

Wash your cups and bowls and kitchen equipment right after using them to avoid breeding bacteria in there.

Wash and scrub the bathrooms and showers, germs hide there too, especially the toilet, wash it every day.

Sweep, Dust, Mop, Weed

Sweep the room and surrounding areas. Dust surfaces to avoid dirt from getting on yourself and to avoid inhaling dust which could cause respiratory irritations and flaring up allergies in the nose and eyes.

Mop the floors at least once a week with disinfectants to prevent germs from hiding there and also to leave it looking clean and fresh.

Weed any bushes that may be growing around to prevent mosquitoes and other dangerous insects and/or reptiles like snakes from infesting your environment and putting your life at risk of getting stung or bitten, which could become a matter of life and death.

Straighten, Press, Tuck In

Lay your bed, tuck the sides into the bed frame if you have that kind of bed, press your clothes, arrange your room properly. Keep yourself and house organized, it relieves a whole lot of stress and makes it easier to find things and get other things done.

Always wear your clothes ironed, it gives you an enlightened look.

Cut, Trim, Comb

Cut your hair if you are not wearing an afro or braids or dreadlocks. If you do have locks or are keeping any style of hairdo, keep it clean. Trim your beard if applicable, and your nails too.

Try these and experience good mental and physical health, see your confidence jump to new heights and experience a stress-free new life. Let me know what you think in the comments.

What is Recovery Series Part 3 : Economic and Financial Recovery

After all the skills sharpening, new training and education and putting out your best work, do not spend everything you earn. Invest some of the money for a ‘rainy day’.

Most of the time, the storm of substance use for many years results in deep economic recession in your life as well as that of your family.

I remember a quote, which is also a fact that I heard for the first time in primary school, class 6 in a science lesson; ‘we eat to live, we don’t live to eat’! I did not understand it back then, so it sounded a bit odd to me. I was thinking that the statement should be reversed, because I thought, ‘If you are not alive, how can you eat?’

But how wrong I was. The big questions are; how long can you live without food? Can you get any food without money? Can you make any living without financial resources?

Maybe you can live on charity from your family, friends and neighbours for a while, but how sustainable can that be? How long will that last? To make a good and decent living (to eat well, have a good place to call your home, good clothes to wear) for yourself and dependents, you need to take matters into your own hands. You must do it yourself.

Let’s look at 3 basic ways to start recovering financially.

Get a Job that can Earn you an Income

Nowadays the best way to get a job is to be referred by someone who knows you. Start asking your friends, family members and neighbours to tell you about any job that they may hear about which matches your job and skills.

Some of these people may be in a position to offer you a job, why don’t you go ahead and ask. Do not be afraid of rejection because of your substance use history. You will never receive help if you do not ask for it. So just ask and see how it goes.

Your drug treatment programme may even be able to assist you in getting a job, find out from them whether any of those services are available or whether they can refer you to any recruitment firm which may be able to match your skills and experience to a job which may be available.

If you already have a job, this is the opportunity to ‘resume with renewed energy and good attitude.’ This is your opportunity to do your best job, to show everyone that you are a new person, living a new life. Your hard work will eventually lead to a promotion and raise in salary, as well as other opportunities that will make your life better.

Some jobs even come with packages like health insurance for you and your dependents, paid vacations, vehicle maintenance allowance and rent allowance, imagine if you were to get one of those…..

Get Your Skills Updated/Get Yourself Trained

You may have been out of commission for a long time and thus may not be abreast with current trends in your industry. Take the opportunity to learn about what is new, sharpen your skills so that you can put out good work which would eventually bring you good fruits.

Look to trusted colleagues and supervisors for help. Nowadays, so many free training can be found online, use that avenue if necessary.

If you do not already have a job or career to rebuild or sharpen, then get yourself trained in something that you believe you will be good at. You have skills or passions that may not have been developed; get yourself enrolled in some formal education or a vocational trade; whichever you prefer is fine.

Do something with yourself, give back to the community. If along the way you encounter any challenges; maybe financial, look for help in the community in the form of community free training opportunities, scholarship opportunities, entrepreneurship and other mentorship opportunities around you. You will not find them if you do not seek them. So please seek for these opportunities, they are out there.

Invest

After all the skills sharpening, new training and education and putting out your best work, do not spend everything you earn. Invest some of the money for a ‘rainy day’.

Beware of suspicious investment schemes who try to double your money in a few weeks or months, those are never reliable and always end up being fraudulent.

The hallmark of any good investment scheme is that, you get returns on your investment gradually and at ‘reasonable’ rates. Do your research, look for a reputable financial institution, let them tell you about what options are available and suitable for you.

Investing in insurance policies especially health insurance, will serve as a cushion for you in times of health emergencies such that, you wouldn’t have to liquidate your investment account to take care of that. There are other insurance policies that you can explore, talk to a reputable insurance company for advise.

This is the end of part three, I hope you are enjoying our time together as I am. I will see you soon with part 4. Until then, stay safe, work hard, make money, eat well, live well.

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

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.

Online Addiction Recovery Programs Can Help You Achieve Sobriety

Recently, during the COVID-19 partial lockdown in Ghana, I gained a lot of weight. So much so that I am in the process of getting new clothes tailored. Unlike most people, I wasn’t working virtually because I couldn’t meet with my clients at the rehabs for consults. All the work had to be handled by the staff in those institutions.
It took just a few weeks of isolation and inactivity from the last week of March to mid-June to start losing a body I had been so proud of. It was freely given to me by God, but I lost it in just a few weeks because I took what I put in it for granted and it messed me up.
After the lockdown, I was a little nervous to go back to work because I knew everyone would notice my weight gain. It happened exactly as I had anticipated. Everyone kept talking about it, I felt very ashamed in my skimpy old clothes. I had to hold my tummy in because it had protruded. In addition to the nose mask I was wearing, l felt very uncomfortable and out of breath. I spent the whole day of our new normal lives beating myself down because I had failed at something I thought I had a hold on.
After work that day, I decided that I had to do something about it. Going to the gym was out of the question; COVID-19 restrictions and honestly, I would not be comfortable working out in public.
I knew I had to find a program that would help me easily commit to a routine that I could follow, which had to be affordable as well. It was time for me to practice what I kept preaching to my clients and just about anyone who asked about recovery from drug use: Do something about it!
So in these normally strange times, I looked online and a found an app with a perfect thirty day challenge for me. It is filled with a lot of exercises that I can do daily; 20 minutes for one workout including tips for doing other things that could help maximize results. Most importantly, there was a soothing voice of encouragement throughout the workout which always congratulated me after each workout. I think it is pretty amazing!
I am 18 days into the 30 day weight loss challenge basic level work out, I feel better already. I have not quite seen any visible weight loss but I have hope because I still have a long way to go. After the basic level, I will graduate to the intermediate and advanced levels.
You will be thinking, what has weight loss got to do with drug addiction and recovery?

As a matter of fact, it has a lot to do with it. Making a decision to loose weight has a lot to do with making a decision to quit using drugs. It is both about making a decision to try new ways of handling one’s self in terms of the things we put in the body, learning new ways of doing things to keep it healthier and in better shape so as to live healthier and free of self-consciousness. Both have to do with deciding to do new things that will result in a healthier body and mind.
The conditions under which we live now in the midst of a deadly pandemic and restrictions are forcing us to live in isolation thus making life much harder. This could result in dire consequences for drug users because of probable job losses which could lead to hunger and even homlessness, as well as the likelihood of contracting the disease while going out into the streets to look for, prepare and use drugs. Fatalities may also occur in instances where an individual who lives alone overdoses in these times of isolation and social distancing, where there may be no one available to offer any assistance.
Unfortunately, it is also getting harder now to get into treatment due to Covid-19 restrictions which has prompted most drug treatment centres to also go into lockdown to prevent new clients who may have the virus from coming in to infect those who are already in the facilities. But in the midst of all this gloom, a helper remains and is offering a lot of assistance to many of us in various ways.
Like I found my weight loss app on the internet, you can also find treatment online for your drug use. Yes, you can.
You can check out the ‘SMART Recovery Program’ which is fully online. The ‘Celebrate Recovery’ program which has an app and can also be found online will be a good fit for you if you are a Christian. Or you can simply type in ‘Addiction Recovery Online’ and a lot of good options will pop up. You can also type in ‘Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous Online’ and you will find a couple of Zoom meetings to join.

Search for ‘Certified Addiction Counsellors’ in your area and you would be surprised at what you can find. You get to talk to a professional who would help you through the process.
Apart from all these, there are also a couple of Apps that you can find in the google play store that can be very helpful. Just type in ‘Addiction Recovery app’.
Take a leap of faith, take the step and do the search. You will be surprised about how helpful it can be for you.
Most of the time we try on our own and fail to make major changes in our lives because we often do not have any structured approach to it. This is the reason why we seek the help of professionals since they enroll us onto recovery programs with structured exercises and new routines that are likely to achieve better results.
Keep in mind that, it will take longer than you expect to be able to see positive results in the process to recovery, so please be patient, follow instructions of the recovery program you choose and it will work out for your good. Make up your mind that giving up is not an option!
When you fail and lapse, do not just get stuck there, just continue following the recovery program, gradually you will move through the stages and eventually get to the ‘advanced level’ where you will be able to maintain your sobriety and sustain your recovery.
Let’s go, the time is just right!