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!

2 Ways to Make It About Love

A while ago, I was having a conversation with someone who was referred to me by his mother. She said he was smoking too much Marijuana and was worried about his health so she wanted me to try and see if I could help him to start thinking about quitting.
It took a lot of tossing and evasive maneuvers from him but he eventually agreed to the meeting.

I tried to explain his mother’s concerns to him; how she was worried and why it will be helpful for him to start thinking about quitting. His response to me was, ‘It is true that I smoke a lot of Marijuana but I do not do it to commit any crimes. I only smoke it because it is something I like. I am not a bad guy’.

I did not know what perceptions or feelings his mother and others may have expressed to him about people who use marijuana but I could deduce from his response that, it was all negative.

This position taken by others towards him probably made him feel like, he had to continue using the drug to prove to them that, he could smoke and still not become a criminal. So I tried to help him see another reason why his mother was concerned about his drug use by looking at two dangerous consequences of continuous Marijuana use.

1. Do you know that continuous Marijuana use can lead to severe health consequences?
‘Extensive research has shown that Marijuana use can cause damage to the heart, lungs and mental health. It can also cause accidents on the road while you are driving by slowing your reaction time, impairing your coordination and distorting your perception’.

‘Since you use and drive, your Marijuana use does not concern only you but all other road users. You could hurt other people even when you do not intend to’.

2. Do you know that Marijuana use is illegal in Ghana?
‘According to the laws of Ghana, anytime you buy, possess or use any Marijuana product, you are breaking the law. So in the process of gaining access to, preparing and using the drug even once, you would have broken the law several times, which could land you in jail for at least ten years’.

‘You just told me that you do not engage in any criminal activity when you use the drug, but criminal activity is not limited to violent crimes like murder or armed robbery, it is any act which is against the laws of our country’, I said.

I continued to help him understand that, his mother is not interested in making him feel like a bad guy, she just loves him so much, she does not want to loose him to ill health or the criminal justice system. She just wants him to live a healthy and full life without any health or legal obstacles.

If you know anyone struggling with drug use, approach them from a place of love instead of condemnation. That is more likely to yield better results.

By the way, the guy agreed to go into treatment, and is taking it a day at a time.

Renew Your Mind About Your Drug of Choice: 4 Points to Remember

All decisions take place in the mind before manifesting in action. To eat or not to eat, to drink or not to drink, to bathe or not to bathe and the rest.
Many people go in and out of toxic relationships because they tend to forget the real reasons why they had to leave. They remember the good times when they are lonely, which eventually becomes a big trigger for their return into the bad relationship.
I always tell my clients to treat their ‘drug of choice’ like a toxic Ex, who hurt them, manipulated them, wasted all their money and totally destroyed their self esteem.
Here are four points to remember when you are lonely and contemplating about going back to the ‘toxic ex’.

1. Stop Romanticizing that Relationship

Stop thinking about the relationship you had with that drug as if it was the best thing that happened to you. If it was, you would not have ended up in jail, in the rehab, lost your friends, job, and health.
If something is good for you, it will make you better, not worse. Those brief moments of euphoria, cannot be compared to a lifetime of health and wholeness that is guaranteed outside of that relationship.

If it was not good for you yesterday, it will not be good for you tomorrow.

2. Remember the Bad Times

Never forget any of the bad experiences you had because of that drug. I do not know about them, no one can tell them to you, only you know them.
Remember the hangovers, the near death experience due to an overdose, remember that time when you had to sleep in the drug den because you lost your house, remember the Cirrhosis or Hypertension you have to deal with now for the rest of your life.
Anytime you feel like going back to that drug, think about those bad times.

3. Remember all the Money Wasted

No good partner will make you spend everything you have and even make you borrow more money to support them. This is what drugs do. If you have survived such a relationship, even though you may be feeling strong and confident now, going back in will not end up better for you because you have ‘experience’. Things will only get worse.
Take some time to calculate all the money you have ever spent on drugs, you will be surprise at the amount you will come to. Think about what you can do with all that money if you begin to save it instead.

4. Remember the Manipulation

A bad partner will make you think that, without them, you can do nothing! We both know that is a lie; before them, you were.
This happens with drugs too. You remember the withdrawal symptoms; how bad you felt when you began to quit, and it felt like the only way to feel better was to go back to it?

Withdrawal symptoms are temporary, like dealing with a bad breakup, and you will be fine eventually. You just need to be patient.


Your thoughts and feelings about your drug of choice are what will determine what actions you will take in relation to it: to go back to it or not to go back to it. To be certain that you succeed in not returning to it, stop romanticizing about the drug, remember all the money you spent trying to keep the habit going, remember how you were manipulated into thinking that the drug is the solution to all your problems and never forget all the bad times you had because of that drug.

Stay strong, everything will be fine.

5 Ways to Stop Anger from Eating You Up

Sometime ago, I was very angry about a whole range of issues. From work, to my landlord, and about some other things I do not even remember now.
I was particularly mad at work because, I felt the ‘system’ was not helping me to grow and develop my potential to the fullest. I chose to focus on everything that was not going well, instead of looking at all what was going very well. My thinking made me mad, sad and bitter.

One day, I was talking to a friend, then I said, ‘you know, I don’t even understand why I’m so angry. I think I should just try to fit into the system; I cannot do anything about it anyway, unless I leave, and I am not ready to leave. Maybe I can make use of my abilities elsewhere’.

That was it, I was awake! I realized that the system was not fashioned against me after all; (I find myself laughing at that).
Since that day, I realized that I could always choose to feel a certain way about certain situations and conditions in my life, no matter how dire they may seem.
Life is rough, we will surely feel angry sometimes but holding on to anger does not solve anything. It just eats at us, takes away our loveliness, definitely causes us harm and may lead us to adopt certain unhealthy coping strategies like drug use.

Let us explore healthy ways of managing anger instead of resorting to drug use and other unhealthy coping mechanisms.

1. Reframe your Thoughts
This is hard to do, but that is what worked for me. I decided not to let anger control me and destroy my loveliness, take away my beauty, destroy my relationship. I chose to allow myself time to do an honest introspection of the whole situation and the people I was holding responsible for my anger and bitterness. Then I decided not to be like them, I took responsibility for my role in the matter. I just have to do my part and hope others also hold up their end, after all, remaining angry won’t change a damn thing. Being able to let it go changes, everything.
It makes you see better, think better, look better, feel better and eventually be healthier. There are too many things one can possibly die from already, let’s take anger off the list.

2. Talk to Someone
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the best way to deal with this kind of anger that eats at you and makes you miserable is to see a professional. It is very important to talk to a neutral person who is trained to take care of emotional troubles.
Just like it is necessary to take your physical pain to the Medical Doctor, it is equally important to tend to your emotional pain: see a Psychologist, so you do not make things worse by self medicating with drugs.

3. Relax
Sometimes it is easier not to take things too seriously. Learn to take things easy when you have to, take time off work if you need to. Listen to music, go to a quiet place and think things through. Just do what you love. This is likely to take some of the negative angry feelings away.

4. Write it Down

According to research and through my own experiences, I have realized that writing your emotions down on paper is like throwing up unpleasant things that are stuck in your throat. It is an incredibly relieving exercise. Writing your feelings down helps you understand them better because you are forced to put them in words, to express them, which is very therapeutic.

5. Take the High Road
Sometimes some people just want to piss you off. They do that because they probably have problems with other people they cannot stand up to, so they think they can use you as a punching bag instead. Avoid those people if you can. If you have to deal with them on a daily basis, try not to engage in fights with them, ignore them. They don’t have power over you. If they are being consistently unbearable, report them to the authorities wherever you may be, whether it is at work or school. Do not be like them and get aggressive, be classy, let your ‘lawyer’ handle them.

Have a lovely weekend!

15 Inspirational Songs for Your Recovery Playlist

Music has always been an avenue for relaxation for most people. Some have a favourite genre of music that they listen to. Some do not have any favourites per se, they just enjoy the composition, others prefer lyrics that speak to them; which is my personal preference.

I always encourage my clients to listen to music to help them deal with their cravings and keep a clear head. I also remind them to be mindful of the lyrics in the music, since any music full of drug fuelled language could become a trigger and in effect, cause exactly what we set out to prevent: cravings which could lead to a relapse.

I have come up with a list of songs that I think are inspirational enough to help deal with cravings, relax the mind and inspire hope for recovery.

Here they are!

1. Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin

2. What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

3. Happy by Pharrell Williams

4. Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justine Timberlake

5. Try Everything by Sharika

6. Hall of Fame by The Script

7. Never Say Never by Justin Bieber and Jayden Smith

8. Firework by Katie Perry

9. When You Believe by Whitney Houston ft. Mariah Carey

10. You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban (Westlife Cover)

11. One Day at a Time by Cristy Lane

12. Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood

13. Adom by Diana Hamilton

14. I can see clearly now by Johnny Nash

15. Amazing Grace by John Newton

Enjoy them and let me know if you found them useful.

12 Daily Affirmations to Enhance Motivation in Recovery

A few years ago, I was part of a training group in which we had to do a lot of role plays. In one of those role plays, the exercise was to practice affirming each other. After the exercise, the instructor asked everyone how it felt to receive those affirmations. Each one of us reported to have felt very good and appreciated; these feelings stayed with most of us for at least the rest of the day.

What if you could do that for yourself everyday. What if you reminded yourself everyday about how amazing you are and about all the things you have been through and come out alive, and about all the more wonderful things you can go on to do with each day and the rest of your life.
The practice of using affirmations daily to boost motivation for success in any endeavour has become very popular in our time.

What are Affirmations?

Affirmations are positive statements that can be said to oneself to acknowledge a goal which has been achieved and also to encourage the achievement of future goals. When these statements are repeated daily and visualized in the mind, can eventually propel the achievement of those goals. If you are a spiritual person, you will call it FAITH.

It does not however mean that, any random affirmation will work to boost your motivation to remain in abstinence. Whatever you are saying to yourself has to be true to you and your situation.

Here are a few examples that could be useful.

1. I am alive and in charge, not my cravings
2. I can be confident all by myself, I don’t need drugs
3. I am sober and loving it
4. I can make it through today without drugs
5. I am strong enough, I can do without drugs
6. I went through yesterday without drugs, I can do it again today
7. Kings and Queens don’t do drugs, they rule. I am going to rule the day!
8. I am a champion, I won the battle!
9. I am too strong to let stigma get me down
10. I am a survivor, I will keep going strong
11. I am these number of days sober, hurray!
12. I will celebrate today with a, ‘Oh my, I am alright’.

Are you already practicing affirmations, let me know about them in the comments.

4 Reasons Why Consistency is Crucial in Recovery

Over the years, I have realized that consistency in my behaviour towards any person or thing, keeps me grounded, trusted, predictable and helps me achieve whatever I may be trying to accomplish. Being consistent defines me, the way I am, my character.
I have also realized that people who do not follow through consistently with what they say, are not able to achieve their goals. Their character is generally described as, unpredictable, untrustworthy, among many other negative adjectives.
Inconsistent behaviour in people makes it difficult for them to achieve success in different areas of their lives; all I am trying to say is that, inconsistent people do not succeed, they do not win, their efforts mostly end up in failure.
Let us look at four more reasons why it is important to be consistent in living the Recovery life (abstinence from all sorts of Psychoactive drugs, practicing coping skills, attending recovery meetings).

1. Allow the Brain to Heal

Psychoactive drugs cause a lot of damage to the brain. There is a protective shielding around the brain called the ‘Blood Brain Barrier’. This barrier is supposed to prevent toxic chemicals from getting through. Only substances composed of fat soluble molecules can get through; that is exactly what psychoactive drugs are made of.
They get through the barrier and cause dysfunction in critical areas of the brain like the cerebral cortex which is responsible for higher level processes like reasoning, memory, language and emotion. This explains why decisions made in active drug use are not very reasonable.
Consistency in living the Recovery life allows time for the brain to heal itself and get all those parts which have been damaged back to optimal functioning.
I always tell my clients that, ‘going on and off drugs and thinking that somehow your brain will heal itself is like scratching a wound over and over again and expecting it to heal. Wounds do not heal that way, just keep applying the prescribed medication and wait’.

2. Build Confidence

In the early days of recovery, dealing with triggers and cravings will seem like a battle, but as the months go by, working with your coping skills and staying out of situations where you may be compelled to use drugs, will only get easier and easier.
This realization will help build confidence in your ability to do what it takes to remain in recovery.

3. Build Trust

One of the problems that Substance Use Disorder causes is conflict and difficulties in relationships; at home, work and in the community. These problems arise from the mostly undesirable and unreasonable behaviour that is exhibited during active drug use, which leads to broken trust in these relationships.
A life in recovery gives you the opportunity to show the people around you that you are a new person. Let your new desirable and reasonable behaviour do the talking, not your words.
The only way to build trust again is to show consistency in this ‘new you’ that you want to show them. Going back and forth between your old and new behaviour will just make their mistrust of you run deeper.

4. It is the Key to Sustained Recovery

The only way to enjoy all the benefits of life in recovery is to continue working out your recovery a day at a time. Do not think that, you have stopped using drugs for a while now so from time to time, you can take a little break to enjoy yourself with ‘some little alcohol or drugs’ and expect that everything will be alright.
As long as you keep putting drugs into your body, they will continue to affect your brain negatively, which will in turn cause problems in your health, finances, relationships and with the law. Remember that psychoactive drugs like Cannabis, Heroin, Cocaine and others are still illegal in Ghana.

Stay consistently abstinent, practice your coping skills, stay safe, protect your brain. You need a healthy brain to live a healthy and sane life.