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 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!

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.

Happy New Year Resolutions: 4 Ways to Achieve them

What if you actually did everything you plan to do?

What do you have on that resolution list?
Total abstinence, cutting down on substance use, practicing your coping skills, learning new coping skills, learning something new you have always wanted to?

Whatever it is, I am sure it is something that will change your life for the better. I suppose you were not able to do it in 2021 because of ‘certain reasons beyond your control’. Well that is in that past now, so what are you going to do to bring it into your control in 2022?

1. Set Realistic Goals

Are you sure you can achieve whatever goals you have set for yourself? Or is too big to reach. It is good to be ambitious, but being overly ambitious is one of the reasons why people are not able to achieve most of their set goals. Do not bite more than you can chew and get choked in the process. For instance, a person who had just been in recovery for a few weeks decided that he was healed and wanted his friends to also get healed so he started visiting them in the ghettos and encouraging them to get help. He relapsed in under a week! That was a good goal but was too ambitious for him to achieve because at the level of his recovery, he had not been grounded enough to achieve that goal, so he failed. Do not be in a hurry to do too much, do a proper assessment of your strengths and know what you can do and what you cannot do.

2. Break your goals down into objectives

Start with little things like for instance, if the goal is to learn and master five new coping skills a year, you can start by reading about one of them, then learn about it, then you can practice a couple of times, then you can move to the next one. Do not try to do everything at once, it may be confusing and overwhelming which may frustrate you and eventually cause you to abandon the goal.

3. Set realistic timelines for your goals

Do not be in a hurry to achieve your goals too quickly. Take it a day at a time and little by little, before you realize it, you have achieved it. Do not give up too easily, just keep working at whatever you are doing, keep practicing, you are almost there.

4. Make a promise to yourself

You can make a long list of things you want to do in 2022, that is nothing new, you have probably made such a list before but did not follow through with it. This time, promise yourself that you are going to actually do the things you said and set a ‘Promise Prize’, which you will give to yourself once the goal or goals are achieved. Have a trusted person who cares about you keep the Promise Prize which will be given to you when the goal is achieved. If you are true to yourself, the Promise Prize should be a powerful motivation to keep you going.

Have a fruitful year. I know all your dreams will come true because you will actually work at getting them to become a reality. Do not give up, you can do this!