Rage Spread Thin: Myths About Depression

Alongside addiction, issues regarding mental health are commonly misunderstood by both the media and the public in general. It is this misunderstanding that keeps those that need help from getting or the help that they need, and stops many from searching for help in the first place. I would like to take the opportunity to dispel some myths about depression.

No#1: People suffering Depression have a sort of ‘moral’ flaw. They would be fine if they would just ‘pull their socks up’.

A common misconception. Depressed people are not bad people, or unfortunate people, or even in many cases, unhappy people. What they are is de-pressed, held down, not living the life they deserve because of a medical condition. If somebody has a tumour, or Cancer we make space in our understanding for them. We attempt to understand. We provide medical treatments and rehabilitation to make sure their condition improves. We do not tell them to ‘get a grip’. Depression is a disease of the spirit, but often physically hurts just as a wound does. It should be treated as such.

No#2: People Suffering Depression just have a ‘case of the blues’ and do not need to waste a doctors time. It is not a medical issue.

This is one of the most common misconceptions around. Depression is not only a distinct medical disorder but a regularly studied and re-evaluated one. It is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the Journal used by the American Psychiatric Association and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. It has a set compilation of symptoms and thorough guidelines have been set out for its’ treatment. ‘Thorough Guidelines’ may seem a little vague, but no disorder of the brain is simple to quantify or solve. Like the common cold, depression affects different people in different ways, even if the underlying disorder is the same. Status as a medical disorder does not mean that it can be treated with medication alone. Seeing your doctor for a course of medication is the first step, but integrating the meds into a shift in lifestyle and perception is the key to recovery.

No#3: Depression is genetic and is passed from parents to children.

Despite various scientific studies spanning many years, there is no scientific evidence that clinically depressed parents make for clinically depressed children. This is not to say that children of depressed parents will or will not become depressed themselves. Everybody is of course their own individual person, but the child of depressed parents is more likely to mimic that parents reaction to difficult circumstances. If this reaction involves heavy drinking/drug use leading to addiction then it is not out of the realms of possibility that the child will also choose this route. So, paradoxically, although depressed adults does not equal depressed children, addicted adults get depressed and have depressed, addicted children. What has evolved from the study of depressed adults/children is a greater emphasis on the nature/nurture debate, whether a child’s genetics or environment affect their maturation more. If a parent has acknowledged their depression and is concerned about it passing genetically to their children, the best approach is to show the children that they can accept their own disorder and educate the child on proper conflict resolution. Then there is no need for the child to become depressed at all, and should they become affected then they are in good stead to cope with it effectively.

No#4: Depression is part of getting older. It is normal to go through depressed ‘phases’ when you are young and as you get older.

Here are some of the symptoms of depression, as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

  • diminished pleasure of activities
  • insomnia or hypersomnia
  • feelings of worthlessness
  • excessive, irrational guilt
  • diminished ability to think

Which part, which one in particular, would you say is normal? It is a fact that the body goes through certain physiological changes at different stages of life. Some hormones become more active, some diminish. Bodies grow, then stop, then (appear to) shrink. The same can be said about processes in the brain and their relation to our thought processes. Constant change is the only thing in life that stays the same. Human change is a form of progression, a microcosm of evolution. Change should be about brand new and exciting experiences. Saying that depression is an entirely normal part of that seems entirely abnormal.

No#5: Depression will always stop you achieving. Only losers get depressed.

 

Depressed

 

 

Depressed

 

 

Some of the greatest and most instantly recognisable names in history have been diagnosed as clinically depressed at some time, or we can infer it from their histories and biographies. These great names include: Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Florence Nightingale, Dolly Parton (!), Newton, Darwin, Hawking, Van Gogh and Beethoven.

Beethoven continued to write awe inspiring music after he went deaf. Florence Nightingale founded the profession of Nursing, Charles Darwin rocked the scientific world with his theories on the origin of man and evolution, and Steven Hawking has been awarded the highest civilian award in America; the Presidential Medal of Freedom, even though he suffers from muscular dystrophy and talks using a computer. Nobody could accuse these people of letting depression stop them achieving.

No#6: Depression is only a ‘womans issue’.

Casual misogyny aside, depression is commonly seen as a woman’s issue simply because women are more likely to report it, to tell others! It is generally perceived as far more socially acceptable for women to admit to struggling with life’s trials, whilst men would be seen as somewhat weak both by themselves and their peer group. Therefore the levels of clinical depression in men is under-reported and the figures show disproportionately high amounts of women suffering depression.

What is a major issue is that men are more often successful at committing suicide than women (because of their methods, rather than by any gender specific skill) and so need the intervention of help and support more acutely.

The more myths and unhealthy attitudes about depression surface the more they need debunking. The ideas touched upon here are only a few of the more common misconceptions, but there are more, and all they do is take emphasis away from the study of depression for what it really is; an unhealthy coping mechanism that can be treated and replaced for the benefit of all.

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, Psychology, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Butterflies in the Brain: The Amygdala and the Science of Anxiety.

Anxiety is a function of the brain, as indeed all aspects of knowledge, intuition and personality are. The brain is a vastly complex organic machine, home to the various glands and neuro-connections that give us our reactions, memories and thoughts; maybe even the very ‘human’ part of us.

When a stimulus is experienced, or as is the case with Chronic Anxiety not experienced, then it is the Amygdala (pl: Amygdalae) that is in action. The Amygdalae are found in the medial temporal lobe, one each side of the mid-line and very central to the brain as an overall construct. They consist of clusters of nerve cells and function to create and store memories associated with emotion. Of course, they have other responsibilities and tasks but to fully describe the daily life of any single part of the human brain would take a blog all on its’ own.

When born, humans are quite notably without ‘experience’. We are not wise to the world around us and have to learn everything from scratch. Whether we carry genetic memory, the existence of the Collective Unconscious whether we are pre-disposed to certain traits is for another time. Important in our learning and understanding of our place in the world is the experience of pain and the skill of anticipating pain so as to avoid it in future. It is the role of the amygdalae to respond to pain and store the memory of the experience for future reference.

When stimulated, in a bad way, the receiving nerve cells send a message to the brain via two separate pathways. One travels through the Cortex for processing of the stimulus and appropriate reaction planning in the Pre-Frontal cortex. The other skips straight to the amygdala which in turn stimulates the Sympathetic Nerve system via the Hypothalamus. It is this two pronged approach that means that should you touch a hot surface, first you whip your hand away and only then do you go oooogghhhyyyaagghhh!! And then you think ‘mustn’t do that again!’

The beauty of the amygdala, but also it’s major flaw when discussing anxiety, is its accuracy, or indeed lack of it.

The amygdala is designed only to be quick. The ‘fight or flight’ response that we have evolved with ha to be instantaneous. Over time (our lives) the response we have to situations is altered to be more appropriate. This is why in general, adults are generally less ‘afraid’ than infants, they simply have more experience and their amygdalae have less reason to fire. This is not to say that sufferers of chronic anxiety have under-developed amygdalae, nor that they are in any way infantile. The personal evolution process, and conditioning of stimulus/response that keeps adults from persistent fear can become negatively programmed, leaving people more afraid of everyday occurrences.

Remember, the brain cannot tell the difference between a real danger and a perceived danger. Whether or not a threat exists or not is irrelevant to the amygdalda, it will respond anyway. The symptoms of anxiety are the by-product of the body going through extended bouts of amygdala stimulation.

What this all means is that the majority of anxiety disorders are learned behaviours, and may therefore be ‘unlearned’. An important aspect of Recovery from Addiction is this unlearning process, bringing unwanted/unnecessary behaviours into the light in order to put them in the past. By recognising that the levels of anxiety that you may be experiencing are due to a tiny part of your brain firing on all cylinders, you are able to ‘put a name to a face’ and increase your knowledge of the situation. Great comfort can be found in just knowing the reason for the Fear. It stops becoming an irrationality, as you become aware of the context and physiology of this response. The unnatural becomes natural.

In everything we do knowledge is power, but never more so than when we are learning to experience our ‘selves’.

Peace.

Rake, progressed.

Posted in Anxiety, Physiology, Psychology, Recovery, Science | Leave a comment

Addiction Recovery and Classical Conditioning.

There is a disturbing tendency for people who have just left an Addiction Treatment Centre, whether for drink, drugs, sex or anything else, to believe that everything is now sorted and life can pick up where it left off. This misses the essential point of getting into Recovery, that life is now irreversibly different. Nothing is as it was and neither should it be.

Finally ditching the drink or drugs is a life changing experience akin to becoming an entirely new person. The outside remains the same (changing itself as your health improves) but the internal wiring must be consciously altered to eradicate the negative thinking that brought you to addiction in the first place. This is a major stumbling block for many, and a reason many slip and relapse back into addiction.

With only a grasp of the practise of Classical Conditioning you can give yourself a leg up however. Many alcohol and drug addiction treatment clinics use a system of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to allow their clients to confront the underlying issues, but may not give them ample advice on self-counselling in order to, if not tackle the stress/anxiety/cravings as and when they come up, then to tackle the issues before they even present. Recognising the patterns is like fighting a battle on your own territory, it is infinitely better, and more likely to bring you success.

What is Classical Conditioning?

Although it sounds slightly intimidating, almost Orwellian, classical conditioning is the ‘Pavlov’s Dog’ scenario. You may have heard of the experiment to make the dog salivate?

No?…. well;

Introduction of classical conditioning basically involves training a subject to perform a particular action in response to a specific stimulus. If an action is already ‘learned’, it may be altered or swapped for a more positive action through repetition of the desired stimulus/action and rewards for success.

A neutral stimulus, one that does not evoke any particular response either positive or negative (the bell in the famous experiment means nothing to the dog initially) is presented to the subject. Pavlov called this the Conditioned Stimulus (CS). Also, a stimulus guaranteed to inspire a reflexive, involuntary reaction in the subject (dog food) is presented. This stimulus is the Unconditioned Stimulus (US) and the reaction (salivation) Unconditioned Response (UR).

Nature dictates that, in the case of Pavlov’s dog, when the dog saw the food (US) it salivated (UR). When the neutral stimulus (CS) is presented alongside the US the dog begins to relate the two together, until the same UR presents for both.

Finally, when the US is removed and the CS remains, the UR sticks as a response to the CS and a new involuntary reaction is learned. The dog now salivates when he hears the bell, regardless of food being present or not.

It may seem mind boggling now, all will become clear.

Now to relate this to addiction. Life as an addict revolves around certain actions, tasks, people, places and things. As a drinker/user you may have used a particular local shop to buy alcohol at, or may have gone to the supermarket at a particular time of day. You may have enjoyed the ritual of drinking while watching a particular television show or just recognise having a drink as part of the ‘winding down’ part of the evening.

Although they may not appear ritualistic, the process of repetition will have become imprinted in your memory, and recently sober, your thoughts and feelings are particularly susceptible to influence. Recovery is a life shifting event and it demands that these people, places and things are changed, replaced for more positive actions and thoughts.

Example: As an alcoholic, you isolated yourself all the time. Getting out seemed a really big deal and the thought of actually meeting others filled you with dread. As a replacement, Friday night was a night of Rose wine, bought from the local supermarket, a early evening shower and delivered take away pizza in front of one of the myriad of television talent shows. Of course being an alcoholic, the night would involve a lot more drinking than that, and would be distinctly less glamorous than that sounds. The drinking takes centre stage every night of the week and it doesn’t seem to matter what was on the TV, but Friday was a special night because your special show was on.

*Fuzzy – Fast Forward – Rehab Montage*

Fresh out of the Alcohol Treatment Centre, you travel home, drop your stuff and reflect on your new life. The experiences of your stay away have you walking on clouds, and the first step is to plan the day ahead, a Friday.

First, it would make sense to re-stock the cupboards as you have been away. So a trip to the local supermarket. Then, as it’s Friday and the new Humiliation/Talent show is on, better get an early shower and curl up with…

People will fall into their recognised, comfortable patterns regardless of new influences if they do not stay vigilant of their new ‘conditioning’ and how it is meant to help them. Re-enforcement of the patterns is vital in recovery. How long do you think the person in the Example above will manage to go on keeping to that routine without slipping back into old ways of thinking? It does not take a genius to see that in the case of the person in the example;

The Television show is the US, Unconditioned Stimulus. The UR, Unconditioned Response, is to desire a drink to accompany the show, and eventually get drunk. Where the Conditioning occurs is when the stimulus UR appears, to instantly (nobody else is going to help, exercise your choice) do something else, something more beneficial. This is your self-imposed Conditioned Stimulus, CS. It could be anything you want, preparing a home-cooked meal or some baking, starting an exercise program or planning and going for a brisk walk. Any of these things will benefit your life and keep you sober. At first it may seem like a sacrifice to miss the show, before long it will become second-nature. The healthy progress your new life takes will become self re-enforcing and you will begin new projects automatically. This is you transcending your ‘training’ and really living Recovery.

This is the essence of Classical Conditioning and self preservation in Recovery. Recognising an old pattern as it emerges, and putting in place measures to overcome it, until the initial stressful reaction, i.e. drinking/using is replaced and long-forgotten.

Peace.

Rake, progressed. www.rehabguide.co.uk




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The Web of Lies: Excuses We Tell Ourselves and Others to Justify Addiction.

Addicts and Alcoholics are Masters of deception. Merely to keep their circumstances under the radar they must employ and combine the skills of an MI5 Officer, a Hostage Negotiator and Shakespeare himself to justify the slow death of addiction.
At least, these are the roles they believe they embody. In reality, drunken/drugged rambling excuses only worsen the situation. They trick the addict into believing that they have got away with their deadly scheme by pulling the wool over other’s eyes, or simply fool the addict further into denial by re-enforcing the destructive behaviour. This constant negative reinforcement only ever makes things worse for the addict and those around them, but nobody ever calls them on it! By allowing an addict to lie to you, or by lying to others about the situation, therefore enabling it to continue, you only hasten the addicts trip to the boneyard.
So, below and to follow are examples of the most common excuses and downright lies that are out there and are commonly used. If you recognise that you have used them, you may want to consider carefully your next step, you may very well have an addiction problem yourself. If you recognise them in others, do unto them as you would wish they would do unto you! Help them and point out that you know what they are doing. They are rationalising the drink/drug use that will kill them. They are very slowly committing suicide.
So, without further ado:
No#1: ‘I’m only doing it to help me stay focussed at work; and work is really hard theses days’.
Has it not occurred to them that work may be increasingly harder because they keep turning up a little more ‘refreshed’ than everyone else? Or that starting each day with a hangover is never going to lead into a productive day? Careers are often the first thing to take a hit once drinking or drug use becomes an issue, and that is because they are easier to escape from than families. Maybe once, you may have had a great idea when drunk and followed through on it. Trying to recover that experience is a game you cannot win, and will lead you ever deeper into addiction.
No#2: ‘I need a couple of drinks before I feel social, before I can really loosen up’.
Having a couple of drinks may loosen the gears of office politics and gel people together, at least that is the general consensus. How often though do things become out of hand? The disastrous office ‘do’ is so common as to be archetypal in the public consciousness, everybody knows it happens or can remember it happening.
There is a direct correlation between an increase in drinking/drug use (using) and self isolation. So the argument that it increases your social prowess is negligible, once you are on the way to addiction the trap is set. You are at your most sociable before your very first drink, after that is is a downward spiral. The psychology that tells you that ‘one drink helps’ says that ‘two drinks helps more’. It is only a matter of time before you do something, publicly, that you regret and will keep you away from social situations, drinking or using alone.
No#3: ‘I’m not hurting anyone else, why shouldn’t I have a drink?’.
Oh really? You think that your continued self destruction is only hurting you? What about the relationships that have been collapsing around your feet?  Or the friendships ruined by small misunderstandings that should have been cleared up years ago?
Stereotypes are generally unfair and biased, a one-sided viewpoint of a given culture. I’m not about to list any, too dangerous, but they exist because of societal norms. When you think of an ‘Alcoholic’ or ‘Addict’, do you picture a happily married person, living their dreams with their supportive family gazing lovingly on?
Nope! Addiction saps the strength from everybody it touches, especially those closest to the addict. When the drink/drug becomes the Mistress it takes strength and courage to return. Strength and courage that addiction drains away.
No#4: ‘I CAN STOP ANY TIME THAT I WANT, I JUST DON’T WANT TO’.
In capitals to draw attention to it’s absurdity, this is the mother-load. The first thing we can infer from this statement is that you don’t want to stop, that in the face of all the evidence and all the guidance you would rather poison yourself into an early dirt-nap. This is classic Denial.
Denial is the true killer in Addiction. The drink and drugs destroy your internal organs, but the denial keeps you doing it. The body will re-build itself and can recover from most of the worst cases of disease, but it is powerless in the face of denial.
If you truly didn’t want to stop, how come you have read this far?
No#5: ‘I have Depression/ am Bipolar / Chronic Anxiety etc; and the drink/drugs make me better and calm me down.
More denial I’m afraid. True, there are some medications that are medically indicated for the treatment of the above orders. It is also true that it is possible to misuse these drugs and become addicted, as easy as it is to drink alcohol alongside them and negate their use entirely. Should you actually suffer from these conditions, or something similar, then to self medicate with drink/drugs is to only numb your perception of the underlying issues, the physiological equivalent of painting over a warning sign!
If you do not suffer from the aforementioned disorders or something similar, then who are you kidding? Genuine sufferers of these disorders struggle to get through each day safely, and you use their plight to justify your self abuse.
No#6: ‘If you were living my life, you would be drinking/using too’.
The fact that everybody has there own problems, there own individual cross to bear escapes the addict utterly. I have my own problems the same as everybody.
By trying to ‘smooth out the edges’ with drinking/using all you do is further complicate matters. Just as we said earlier, you don’t make life easier at work by drinking/using, so why should life be any different? In fact your life, your very existence is much more important than any job is worth. By persistently playing the victim you further set yourself up for trouble down the road.
Das Conclusion.
What you are in fact doing is justifying and rationalising something that you know in your heart to be wrong. There is no ‘Nuremberg Defence’ in this matter. You call the shots and you have a choice when it comes to addiction. If you are somebody living with the guilt of these lies hanging over you then it is time to act. Help is everywhere, but you have to make the first move. If you hear these excuses day in, day out, it could be time to make yourself heard instead.
Peace.
Rake, progressed.

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Anxiety and Addiction: A Chicken and Egg Dilemma.

Anxiety and Addiction are so commonly associated as to make their symptoms constantly overlap and become confused with one another. Also, chronic stress manifesting as anxiety may convince someone to drink to ‘calm their nerves’, ending up with a drink problem unwittingly. So the question becomes whether someone is anxious because they are addicted, or got addicted to calm their anxiety. Not only is it a Chicken and Egg situation, but a Catch 22. Whichever way you look at it, you end up scrambled.

The lifestyle choice (and it is a choice) of narcotic use, or long term heavy drinking often has various illegal aspects, as well as the general underlying mistrust and suspicion that go along with the narcotic trade. It is the reason why you came to be involved in that lifestyle that is the focus of drug or alcohol treatment, and it is by discovering these vital facts that you will be able to break addictions back. Nobody sets out to become an addict, they inadvertently become them as a result of various factors of which anxiety is a major player.

Addiction is a symptom of anxiety. Anxiety is a symptom of addiction. The two go hand in hand, are inseparable and work together to inflame the worst aspects of the human condition.

That is not to say that all those who feel anxious are, or will become, addicts. Far from it, many people suffer from bouts of anxiety their whole lives and do not feel the need to over-indulge. The issue, as Rehab Guide see it, is that many do and we believe that coping with anxiety is fundamental in addiction treatment.

What is essential to understand, whatever the stage or intensity of any anxiety that you may be experiencing is, is that no matter how long you may have been suffering anxiety, by simply learning to recognise it you are half way to beating it.

Anxiety is loosely defined as ‘a state of uneasiness and apprehension’. Therefore feeling anxious about something may be perfectly natural. In fact, feeling slightly uneasy about something is an evolutionary by-product to defend us from things that are new and may hurt us. It is safe to say that everybody experiences periods of anxiety as part of the natural course of daily life. When the course of daily life becomes disrupted by the periods of anxiety however, or when periods of anxiety become the natural course of daily life then the issue must be addressed.

We each become stressed or anxious for our own reasons. Each of us has our particular cross to bear and our personal pet-hates to cope with.  Noise, traffic, children, bills, weather, and on, and on…  Essentially however it is our thoughts, or more precisely the way we think about these things, that determine our anxiety and stress levels. Determining how we think is not something (ironically) that we are usually able to do ourselves. But learning that as a skill is essential for long term addiction treatment. It is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that is often used in Addiction Treatment Centres to unearth the ‘thought behaviours’ and reveal them to the client, who will more often than not be surprised. Dramatic realisations are common in addiction focussed therapy sessions as clients learn to re-align their thoughts, replacing automatic negative thoughts with positive ones.

Often, addiction can be treated effectively by focussing on the anxiety alone. The reasons for and manifestations of anxiety are complex and smothering, but to unravel them is free the addict from slavery.

More…

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Being Addicted: Giving up the Ghost.

There’s too much stigma attached to having an addiction. Anyone that has one will tell you that. Ironically, some among us (I’m thinking celebrities!) manage to not only overcome this stigma, but ride it out on a wave of good luck wishes from the public, the same public that refuse to see it in their own houses, in front of their own noses, at the bottom of their own bottles.

The point is that addiction can be overcome, but the first step, the unavoidable first measure has to be an acceptance of the clear facts. Knowing that you are addicted to something is actually quite a load of your shoulders. Giving a name to the stress can help a great deal in making it subside. If you hang on to old perception there is no chance for Recovery. To make it happen, the facts must be faced. Give up the Ghost.

For example; if you continually refuse to believe that someone in your position, or of your social standing could become an addict, then you are reinforcing your denial, which will only blind you more completely to the fact that your ‘position’ has been gradually weakening since you began drinking. At this point it is only a dramatic realisation that can save you, a ‘Damascus moment’. If you think that you don’t drink enough to be an addict, how much do you need that drink? If it seems that you cannot get by without a tipple, who are you kidding?

The acknowledgement is naturally, the hardest part about beginning Recovery. There are ways however of giving yourself a leg up.

  • If you have come this far into researching Recovery then the cold facts are most likely very clear to you already. So why not begin to acknowledge them? Chart them, by which I mean write them down. Even just take a note or draw an X on your hand every time the thought crosses your mind that something must be done about your situation. I’ll bet it’s not long before you run out of space!
  • There are short, mini tests all over the internet (like Here or Here) to gauge how far along your issue may be. Beware though, these tests may make you rationalise. They are a useful tools, but use your discretion.
  • Talk. To. Somebody. Maybe a family member is being a bit ‘blinkered’ or is having trouble understanding your situation. Help lines are not just for kids, having somebody there to voice your issues to can take another metaphorical monkey off your back. Get in contact with advice services.
  • Be realistic. Grandiose schemes about how you are going to kick the habit, get back your job and driving licence and rule the world, all before Easter, are only setting yourself up for failure. Take things one step at a time and pace yourself. Recovery is a life-long process, there are no short cuts.

There are more hints and tips that I could give, but I run the risk of contradicting myself. Recovery is not something that you read and then understand. It is an evolving concept, constantly changing and adapting to influence.

So, give yourself the best chance. Throw up your hands and surrender, there are no side effects to getting sober. Give up the ghost.

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The New Rehab Guide Blog Launches.

Alcohol Treatment in the UK and Scotland is a tricky subject to approach with any sort of pre-planning in place. For one, the goalposts keep moving due to ever-shifting requests or perceived demands from the public on the Government to ‘do something’. They have done something of course, nothing. Nothing is Something in Physics and it is all that we in the UK appear to have received for our troubles with national addiction levels.

In the UK and Scotland addiction is epidemic. A cursory glance into any, any UK city centre at almost any time of day would support this fact. Life expectancy in the UK and Scotland is rapidly worsening. Quality of life is persistently getting worse for the poorest among us and the richest among us seem to spend the majority of our time under relentless stress and waves of anxiety, fighting for the latest gadgets, willing ourselves to think that with each new purchase we take a step closer to Grace.

How it got like this.. I could right about for months. Why it has to be this way.. again, months.

The Rehab Guide Blog is not about these things though. It is about HOPE. It is about getting advice and help to those that want it and will fight for their lives to get it. Alcohol Treatment is accessible in the UK and Scotland and Recovery is attainable.

With some advice and some opinion, some facts and some guidance your journey along the path of Recovery will be much easier. This Blog is about being part of the Recovery Community, as well as just ‘getting better’.

www.rehabguide.co.uk

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Recovery: Why One Method is Rarely Enough.

Be honest, Alcohol is everywhere these days.

For the few among us who have held up our hands and admitted an Addiction Problem, the prevalence of alcohol consumption in the modern world is a hell of a sore point. Once you have woken up to the lies of the advertising and to The Great Lie itself, that a few drinks makes you wise, popular and sexy, the constant barrage of alcohol influence is like a permanent white noise. Like Tinnitus it rings in the ears as a constant irritant. At once both a reminder of our past and a warning for the future.

Recovery is a journey. It is not the first time this has been said. These irritant aspects of modern living are a part of that journey and the reason for diligently planning your recovery, sometimes down to the finest detail. In effect, you are going to war with your addiction, no General would attempt conflict without setting in place a contingency plan.

Picking your tools to go to war with addiction is a very demanding task and nobody should attempt it alone. Not only may you not get all the options available to you but you run the risk of just picking the first one you come across and sticking to it dogmatically, at the expense of another method which may suit you better.

Recovery is about experience. Those of us in Recovery have already experienced the worst of life, certainly of our lives, and we deserve to give ourselves a chance at improvement. Getting into Recovery is not something you ‘do’ as such, but again something you experience. Many who think that they are there, are not.

If you are at the beginning of your battle, it is time to review your options. By far the best approach is to spend time in an Alcohol Treatment Centre at the start. You may find that you can come up with a thousand reasons not to, but you must give yourself a chance. Recovery is like a trade and a skill that embodies you and that you must personify. Imagine that you want to know how to fly. Would you think, for one minute, that you could pick it up by reading blogs? Watching online videos? Even going to presentations by guys that have flown? No.

Finding an Alcohol Treatment Centre in the UK is not as difficult as you might think. Getting help in your own home, on your own terms, is more often than not much harder to arrange and stick to. Treatment in a centre is a chance for you to not only detoxify and ‘re-group’, but to explore yourself and really find out what it is that has driven you to drink. That will be the subject of some other posts.

An important aspect of Addiction Treatment in a centre is that the methods and tools you can use to combat addiction are laid out in-front of you. You don’t have to source them yourself, potentially missing the most relevant one for you. In your own time you can ‘test the water’, trying combinations of approach to find the one that best suits your needs.

For example:

Jerry B may find that the underlying cause of his addictive behaviour is not in-fact stress like he thought, but chronic anxiety masquerading as stress. The counselling sessions he receives in treatment help him deal with the emotional aspects of this new awareness and the centre is on hand to source the best coping methods for him. He might find that alongside his individual therapy, meditation or light yoga eases his through life and removes his anxiety.

Kerry D on the other hand, finds that the source of her addiction is a long passed trauma that she has not faced up to because she simply didn’t realise. The best approach for her might be a combination of focussed exercise (after detox) alongside group therapy with people that have suffered similar. Yoga might be a disaster for her, as the meditative aspects bring emotions to the surface that she needs to face in therapy first.

Would either of these people, heads firmly in the sand of Addiction, have had the time, inclination or resources to discover these methods and turn them into a Recovery plan? Not a chance. The addiction rules the head and the head would say ‘I will not meditate, I will look silly’. At that would be an end to it.

Knowledge is Power in Recovery, as it is in all aspects of life. Getting the tools together that you need to have a successful recovery is not easy when you go it alone. So do it once, and do it right. Make it easy on yourself and open yourself up to help.

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