Tag Archives: Addiction

Guest Post: Telltale signs interactive quiz

I was contacted recently by Ella Jameson who wanted to share a new tool with me.  Ella is a freelance writer and contributor to many different websites, blogs and magazines.  After graduating from university, Ella worked as an editor and copywriter for several years before becoming a freelance journalist; specialist subjects include travel, food, health and fitness, and the environment.

The tool aims to help concerned friends or family identify and spot the first warning signs of potential drug abuse, and has had a very positive response so far. Aimed at parents (or anyone else concerned about the possibility of drug abuse in a young person) the quiz highlights the most common tell-tale signs of drug use through a series of questions. The answers suggest both medical and drug-based explanations; e.g. red eyes can be a symptom of marijuana/alcohol use, but also medical conditions such as conjunctivitis or eye allergies.

The teen years can be a minefield for parents as they battle resentful and secretive children, and one of the main concerns is the fear that their child may be drawn into a dark world of addiction and drug abuse. It would be a mistake to assume that your child would ‘never’ use drugs, but what can you do to minimise the risk of drug addiction in your child? If you are educated about the symptoms of drug abuse then you should be able to spot the warning signs as soon as possible, but during a time when physical and psychological changes are rampant in teens, it can be hard to discern what is a sign of drug or alcohol abuse and what is ‘normal’ teen behaviour. This ‘Tell-Tale Signs’ interactive quiz is aimed at helping parents determine whether symptoms are an indication of drug abuse or have a more innocent explanation. Have a look at a few of the most frequent warning signs and their possible explanations…

You can access here also: http://www.sobercollege.com/telltale-signs-of-drug-use/.

I would love to hear what you think, as I’m sure Ella would too 🙂

 

Research on CBT for alcohol use disorder

So I receive email updates from Alcohol Policy UK and recently one of them highlighted a new meta-analysis of published studies on the effectiveness of combining cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing (MI) to treat comorbid clinical and subclinical alcohol use disorder (AUD) and major depression (MDD) and estimate the effect of this compared with usual care.

The researchers conducted systematic literature searches in PubMed, PsycINFO and Embase up to June 2013 and identified additional studies through cross-references in included studies and systematic reviews. Twelve studies comprising 1721 patients met their inclusion criteria. The studies had sufficient statistical power to detect small effect sizes.

They concluded that combined cognitive-behavioural therapy and motivational interviewing for clinical or subclinical depressive and alcohol use disorders has a small but clinically significant effect in treatment outcomes compared with treatment as usual.

Let’s see if my anecdotal experience supports their research findings? I hope so 🙂  If you were prone to depression before when you were drinking has it improved if you’ve stopped?

Riper, H., Andersson, G., Hunter, S.B., de Wit, J., Berking, M. and Cuijpers, P. 2014
Treatment of comorbid alcohol use disorders and depression with cognitive-behavioural therapy and motivational interviewing: a meta-analysis. Addiction. Mar;109(3):394-406. doi: 10.1111/add.12441. Epub 2014 Jan 16.

Why me? Thinking and Drinking

This is the mother load for me.  Everything is my responsibility and my fault, good or bad, happy or sad.  Drinking was my personal stick to beat myself with for years.  I could ‘why me?’ about drinking ad infinitum.  Why am I the only one who can’t drink normally?  What did I do to make this happen to me? On and on and on.

Personalisation is where we attribute personal responsibility for something, including the resulting blame or praise, for events over which we have no control (source) Or, welcome to the world of parenting, I digress 😉

Nothing allows this better than drinking.  Imbibe lip loosening, inhibition dropping addictive substance in vast quantities and stand well back.  OK so I picked up the first glass that IS my responsibility.  But the cascade of events afterwards, however much the bottle of alcohol says ‘drink responsibly’ – sorry this is an oxymoron and paradox rolled into one.

Strategy, for the last time, involves – you guessed it – checking the evidence!  Not everything is our fault and it doesn’t always happen to me only.  I am just not that damn special or ‘terminally unique’ as AA would say 🙂

I should say everything was my responsibility because I’m drawing boundaries around this one and progress is swift when you put down the glass.  Maybe you’d like to join me? 🙂

Labelling Drinking

This is a real biggie in our world.  We use labelling to connect with people but also to distance ourselves.  So I am happy to be a member of the sober blogging community because that has positive connotations for me but am still stuck on the ‘am I an alcoholic?’ question because the label of alcoholic still carries and attracts very negative stigma.

“This is a more severe type of overgeneralization; attributing a person’s actions to their character instead of some accidental attribute. Rather than assuming the behavior to be accidental or extrinsic, the person assigns a label to someone or something that implies the character of that person or thing” (source)

Being unable to control our drinking is seen as a character defect rather than the reflection of an alcoholic substance that we have accidentally become addicted too because of our cultural acceptance and encouragement of us to drink.  For me it suggests that I am a ‘bad’ person and that I have ‘failed’ in some way.   But I am not defined by my ability to drink alcohol or not, this is just a tiny facet of me as a person, and yet I feel shame.

Strategies to manage:

  • Back to checking for evidence.  I am not the only person struggling with this issue and thanks to the sober blogging community I know this.  I could always go to an AA meeting in real life and check it there too.
  • Beware of labels as they usually hide the truth

What other labels need deconstructing and redefining?  Sober and what that means is the first one that springs to my mind.  What else? Chime in below 🙂

Guest Post: Addiction and Employment

Today’s post comes courtesy of James White.  He is a content creator for 12 Keys Recovery in the US and enjoys helping people find freedom from their addictions.

Comparing Drug Addiction and Unemployment in the UK and US

Both the United States and United Kingdom have experienced a correlation between unemployment and drug addiction. Studies have found that unemployment increases the likelihood of one bingeing on drugs. Similarly, those who are currently employed are likelier to become unemployed if they are suffering from substance abuse.

When further investigating the link between unemployment and drug addiction, it’s worth considering several aspects of drug addiction and unemployment in the UK that are both similar and different to their US counterparts:

Late 20s and Early 30s Are At the Most Risk

Studies show that, in the UK, the mean age of those unemployed and suffering from drug addiction is 28 to 31. This makes sense because, by that age, one can attain long-term employment while living independently. That factor, combined with potential extra income at that age, make that age group particularly prone to correlated drug addiction and unemployment.

The Harder the Drug, the More Severe the Impact

UK studies have shown that the link between unemployment and “soft drugs” — such as cannabis and amphetamines — is not as substantial as the relationship between unemployment and “hard drugs” — like cocaine and opiates. Although hard drugs pose more of a risk for both self-harm and potential unemployment, it is apparent that all types of drugs can impact one’s employment negatively.

Addicts in the US and UK Share Several Tendencies

Both in the US and UK, unemployment increases a person’s likelihood to binge drink or have a tobacco/drug addiction. There is little difference between the drugs of choice in both countries; the differences primarily involve alcohol, as 18 is the legal drinking age in the UK, while 21 is the legal drinking age in the US. This has little bearing on unemployment-drug correlation statistics though, since employment at these ages is not significant regardless.

Also, in both the US and UK, cannabis is the most popular drug, with millions using it per year. Still, recent studies have suggested that cannabis use is declining in England and Wales. On the contrary, cannabis use appears to be increasing in the United States.

Drug Addiction Is a Barrier to Employment

Even after a drug addict recovers, they will likely find it difficult to find employment due to a criminal record or diminished physical/mental health. Since many drug addicts deplete their funds to support their habit, it will also be difficult to afford aspects like transportation or housing that can aid in a job search.

These difficulties exist in both the US and UK. When one starts to become addicted to drugs, it’s highly recommended to seek treatment immediately. Long-term drug use can result in diminished health and/or criminal charges that can make it extremely difficult to find substantial employment.

Breaking the Cycle Is Universal

Although the US and UK differ in some drug tendencies, laws and treatment, the strategies for breaking the cycle of drug addiction remain the same. By educating people on the dangers of drugs and offering effective, accessible drug treatment programs, both the US and UK can decrease the amount of drug addicts, whose addiction can cost them employment, income and health.

Thanks James! 🙂  Plus when he first contacted me he shared this video too so I’m posting it up for you to enjoy also.

http://www.12keysrecovery.com/blog/unemployment-and-addiction-video/

Any thoughts?

PS I am aware that today was the day that Veronica Valli and I were due to share our first Skype conversation with you.  We recorded it and although the video quality was great, the audio was not and we aren’t happy publishing it until it’s right so we are tweaking the technology and will re-record again soon.  I guess that’s what happens sometimes when you are having a conversation and are 6000 miles apart!

The Power of Addiction

and the addiction of power is a TEDx talk given by Dr Gabor Mate in 2012.  I heard him speak this week-end as part of the Recovery 2.0 Online Conference and boy is he good!

Here is his TED presentation:

I love his explanation because it resonates with my experience.  I understand his viewpoint.  Completely.

To precis:

Addiction is universal, it is not just about substances, but can be behaviour too.  So shopping, gambling, sex, the internet, exercise.  Or in his case work and classical music CD’s.  All addictions are about a void inside of us that we try to fill externally.

His view is that we need to fill the void internally by feeling things from the past and acknowledging the emptiness that the absence of addiction creates in the present.  It isn’t just about changing our behaviour.  We have to address the underlying issues and find ways of letting go.

He sees the addiction as teaching us and that we have to ask questions, for example:

  • What did it do for me?
  • What does it mean for me?
  • Why was I missing whatever I was looking for in that behaviour?
  • Where might I find it?
  • How do I regain it?
  • What does the void represent?

This mirrors what I am learning about myself in CBT.  I thought I could address the drinking as a stand alone issue but the reality is that it is symptomatic of something much greater and more complex about my way of thinking and relating to the world.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and it generates reflection in you like it did in me.  Let me know what you think 🙂

Easter hiatus

Apologies folks for the interruption in service over this week-end.  As I mentioned in a previous post I am doing some work to my blog which involved moving servers and so some functionality was lost for a few days.  Thank you to those of you who emailed me to let me know about the 404 error messages and those who sent text messages to make sure I hadn’t drowned in a vat of wine,  you know who you are  😉  It hadn’t gone dark because I was off drinking – more like tearing my hair out as my luddite technology skills were severely challenged!!

Anyway I am happy to say that the normal daily blog service is now resumed 🙂

And with some news too.  In a couple of weeks I am going to do a Skype interview with Veronica Valli from Recovery Rocks.  If anyone would like to submit a question for Veronica then please let me know on email in the next two weeks.  I am planning on posting the interview up on Monday 12th May.

Here is her bio:

Veronica has worked as a therapist and life coach specialising in addiction for over ten years; her experience includes working with young people in the criminal justice system, primary care adult treatment, outreach services and private practice. Veronica has also worked in local government, delivering local drug and alcohol strategies.

As a recovered alcoholic, she has personal experience of what it takes to recover. Veronica struggled with alcoholism through most of her twenties. Never a daily drinker but a binge drinker, she was aware for some time that something was wrong but was unable to define what it was; a chance meeting led to her finally getting help and turning her life around.

At the height of her drink problem, Veronica was unable to go to work without the aid of a drink; her life and confidence were in tatters. She got sober in 2000 at the age of twenty-seven. She now uses this experience to help and inspire others. She fully believes that all alcoholics and addicts can recover if they have access to the right kind of help, and that they can then go on to live life to the full.

She is committed to educating and informing the public on problem drinking and addiction and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire as a specialist guest. She has also appeared on the Lorraine Kelly show on ITV, and an ITV programme entitled The Truth About Binge Drinking; she has also appeared in national magazines and publications, discussing recovery from alcoholism.

Her book ‘Why you drink and How to stop: Journey to freedom’ is available on Amazon.co.uk http://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-you-drink-How-stop-ebook/dp/B00EGD8T3M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382014004&sr=8-1&keywords=veronica+valli

Veronica is married with a young son and is currently working in private practice.

http://veronicavalli.com

http://twitter.com/veronicavalli

https://www.facebook.com/addictionexpert

2013 How to Stop Cover 960x1280

If you have a question you would like to ask an addictions specialist then drop me an email.  Or maybe you’d like to ask a question of me as a nurse?  Whatever we’ll try to accommodate and are really looking forward to it!

A river of tears

So last week-end I started on some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with an experienced senior practitioner.

Why?  Because I have this tiny little voice in my head that say’s ‘if I could get to the bottom of what my thinking around my drinking was and could fix it then all would be well and I could drink socially again’.  I know, I know – sounds like a wolf in sheep’s clothing right?

But this wolf/sheep is still struggling with how the rest of the flock get to drink and she doesn’t.  ‘Sheeple‘ is an oft used derogatory term for a person who follows the herd without thinking about their actions and this is part of my struggle too.  Am I wanting to drink again so that I fit in or is this just wolfie words to keep me struggling?  If the attitude towards drinking had changed as it has towards smoking, so that it was considered a more anti-social than social habit, would this decision be so hard?

These are all unanswered questions that I continue to struggle with.  I hate being a sheeple and feeling like one and usually rejoice in going against the flow so why is this issue different?  I struggle with the question of ‘am I an alcoholic?’ and that my inability to control my drinking isn’t a failing in me but a reflection of an addictive substance.  I know this isn’t new to any of you but that is what was going through my head when they asked me the question.

Then they asked me to scale/rate how hard this was for me to unpick and manage and that was a resounding 10.  This is some of the hardest shit I have ever done, and I’m doing it sober, and I am crying a river of tears.  It’s like a wine bottle cork was plugging the dam of tears that have been building up and been kept in check for as long as I can remember.   The no booze and tricky therapeutic conversations has finally forced the cork out of the hole and the full force of my tear ducts had been released.  As the lovely Mrs D would say ‘water keeps falling from my eyes’ and I feel unable, and unwilling, to control it like I did in the past.

I will share how the CBT goes and what I learn because I wonder if I am not alone in how I think and how it relates to my drinking and I find this therapeutic in itself.  I sense I know the answer to the question already but I’m just not yet ready to accept it and this is my way of delaying the inevitable.  But what a fantastic learning opportunity too and what doesn’t break us makes us stronger right?

Awakenings

Gotta love me a bit of Oprah! 😉

Another short clip of an interview with Eckhart Tolle about ‘Aha’ moments – something that I’ve experienced quite a lot since I quit drinking.  You know, those ‘light bulb’ moments of recognition?  Well he explains them 🙂

Killer lines for me:  ‘It awakens and it grows.  It comes to the surface more and the more you hear the more open you are and you begin to live it in your life’.  And that’s how this journey started.  An awareness that I was sick and tired of being hungover, of feeling like shit, of treating others badly because I was trapped in the boozer’s cycle of buy, consume, recover and couldn’t see a way out and was scared of changing.  But we always have a choice.

Mastin Kipp at The Daily Love also recently used an Eckhart Tolle quote which really resonated for me so thought I’d share it here (thanks Mastin!)

Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain. Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. Whatever the substance you are addicted to – alcohol, food, legal or illegal drugs, or a person – you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain.”

 

Thrive beyond addiction

I’ve nicked the title from that which Mastin Kipp on The Daily Love listed it under.

Although this video is called ‘9 ways to become more spiritual’ I read this in a wider sense of the meaning of the word spirituality – not the narrow religious meaning, and the Youtube description supports this.  It says ‘you don’t need to be religious to live a more spiritual life. Watch as up-and-coming spiritual teachers Gabrielle Bernstein, Mastin Kipp and Marie Forleo each give three simple ways to enlighten your life today’.

It’s really good and only 5 1/2 minutes long and the Gabrielle Bernstein segment is the reason it’s here on a sober blog as she talks specifically about addiction.

You’re reading this blog so: are you more willing to paying attention to your drinking and ready to do something about it or have you already? If you would like to share below I’d love that 🙂

PS Day 200 today!

PPS This blog is my bliss 😉