Care for Women with Substance Use Disorder

Treatment for women with Substance Use Disorder is in a class of its own.

When treating a woman, her whole family especially her partner and children need to be included.

Research has shown that treatment which does not include the significant others in the woman’s life is not effective because women always put their family first before, during and after treatment.

Keep in mind that over 70% of women seeking treatment have experienced at least one trauma in their lifetime.

Treat women with respect and show that you can be trusted. Women prefer to work with genuine people who care about their situation, show respect for them and empower them to make good choices.

According to SAHMSA, women do better in women only treatment facilities run by women.

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!

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..

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!

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.