This Human Condition

We are always preoccupied with eating, drinking, sleeping and exercise.
We are so high maintenance.
Failure to do any of these maintenance activities results in deprivation which prevents the human body from functioning properly.
Overindulgence in these activities floods the system with unnecessary junk and also causes the human body to malfunction.
The human body will function at optimal capacity only when a good balance is found between indulgence and deprivation.
There can never be perfect balance of course, but a careful balance at both ends is essential.
I know you have heard all this before, but sometimes I think about it a lot, and realize how so basic this life is, how it can easily be destroyed if not properly cared for.
Take care of yourself, like you would care for your little child.
If you would not over feed or over exert your child, do not do the same to yourself.
Recovery from Substance Use Disorder is not only about Abstinence, it also has everything to do with Self Care.


Take good care of Yourself.

5 Basic Reasons why it is not too late to get back on the Good Road

Sometimes in life, most people think that they may have gone so far off down the wrong road, they think just continuing on the wrong road and getting lost forever will be easier than making it all the way back unto the good road.

I spoke to a man once, about five years ago at a drug rehabilitation centre who said that, he will never quit drinking because he had drunk almost all his life, that is what he is used to; even though he does not like it very much any more. He believes his family is just wasting money keeping him in that rehab centre because to him, it does not make any sense to quit now and have to face living life trying to catch up with his other siblings who have married, have kids, good careers, enviable bank statements and property.

Each one of us has a different path to walk and it does not matter how fast you walk that path. The most important part of the whole matter, is actually realizing that you are going down the wrong road and turning back around unto the right path.

The path of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) may have derailed you from the good road but it is definitely not too late to turn around. Depending on your personal ambitions, the good road may mean different things, however, there are some basic things you can have on the good road which will make it worth coming back to, instead of just going off and getting lost on the bad roads forever.

1. Abstinence

The most important state of being that almost anyone who has SUD desires to achieve is abstinence, because obviously, continuous drug use is what got you started on the wrong road in the first place. Being able to maintain abstinence, is the beginning of all the other ‘perks’ which is found on the good road.

2. Wellness

When abstinence is achieved and maintained for a period of time, you will begin to feel a general sense of wellbeing which cuts across physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. Getting back on the good road does not mean that every problem in your life will be automatically resolved, in fact, there will be a lot of ‘mess’ (broken relationships, trust issues, among others; depending on your individual circumstances) that you may have to start cleaning; but this will be the beginning of your healing, which will eventually lead to a situation in which you will feel that your are finally getting well.

3. Basic Needs

On the wrong road, you may not have been able to take care of yourself in terms of getting yourself basic things like food, clean water, shelter and clean clothes regularly: probably because you could not hold down a job long enough to afford all these things. Coming back on the good road will make it easier to be able to get all these for yourself.

4. Dignity

One of the challenges that you may face as a person with SUD is that, unfortunately, some people forget that you are a person just like them! That is sad and unfortunate but that is the big, fat, truth!
People will treat you according to how you look, smell and present yourself, they will not take time to think about what you could be after SUD or what you may have been before SUD. Society will only treat you as worthy of respect or honour if you treat yourself that way first. You can begin to do that on the good road.

5. Life

Health is wealth, wealth makes life easier and better. The good road leads to life, the bad road leads to misery and eventually death. You can choose life again, and have all the good things that your siblings and neighbours have that you also wish you had. As long as you have life, there is still time.


I have said a lot by all these words; and all I am saying is that, it does not matter how long you have had SUD, you can get well again, be able to buy your own food, water, clothes and pay your rent again all by yourself, regain the respect of family and society and live life to the fullest, that is , if you realize that it is time to quit using and actually take the step towards abstinence.

Keep in touch, let me know how it goes.

Do you Have to become a Pastor?

I am not trying to be controversial here, neither do I have anything against Pastors, I just want to talk about something I have observed.

I have been privileged to work with people in recovery from Substance use Disorders for a number of years and still counting. I noticed a trend right from the outset of my career which seems to be dying down a little but has not quite died off yet; not that I want it to die. I just think it puts a lot of unnecessary pressure and stress on people in recovery who may feel obligated to go on this path probably because that is what their treatment programme of choice requires or simply because that is what everyone else is doing.

What I am talking about is the trend of people all of a sudden being called to become men of God, to Preach the gospel after leaving treatment.

Maybe you are thinking about going that same way, but before you do, here are a few questions to help you do a little introspection before you get on with it.

Why do you want to do it?

Is it because that is what you have always wanted to do? Or it is just because you feel becoming a Pastor will encourage you to live a moral life full of righteousness and thus help you overcome your temptations to take up the drug again?

What you should understand if that is your mind-set is that, substance use disorders have a lot more to do with ‘works’ than wishes. Becoming someone who admonishes and encourages other people to stay away from temptations does not give you automatic immunity from your own. You need to learn about the nature of your sickness and work hard at dealing with it.

Do you know what you are doing?

Does it give you joy to do what you do? Or are you are just doing it because your treatment program says so? This happened to someone I know.

After treatment from that particular facility, he was made to believe that, becoming a Pastor was the only way to ‘freedom’ from his disease. He went along with it for a few months, preaching to all of us about the immorality of our ways and the sure fact that we were all headed to hell. He however did not understand how to take care of himself because he was not taught how to do that at the facility. Not long after, he could not handle the stress and pressure of being the leader of a new congregation struggling to grow, he burned out and relapsed. He has not been seen in a while.
I am not saying this will happen to everyone, but do you understand what you are getting into?

Are you ready for the role?

Being a Pastor comes with a whole lot of expectations. You have to help other people deal with all sorts of problems; financial, marriage, health. You have to be prepared to be there and present for everyone at all times and at all occasions.

You may not be ready to get into all that stress and take up all that responsibility just yet. Assess your stage of recovery and be sure that you are ready to take up all that work.

Take Away

All I am trying to make you think about is: are you sure that becoming a Pastor is the next step for you? Maybe you feel there is a ‘calling’ for you to do that, or maybe you are just very passionate about sharing the gospel. If those are your reasons, go right ahead, prepare yourself by getting the necessary training that is needed to fulfil your purpose. However, if you are doing it just because you feel it is a good avenue to hide from your temptations, then think again; Jesus was tempted by the devil, He prevailed because he had ‘eaten’ the word of God and was ready to do the work.

Are you ready?

5 Ways to Stop Anger from Eating You Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Write it Down

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

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

Have a lovely weekend!

15 Inspirational Songs for Your Recovery Playlist

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

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

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

Here they are!

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

2. What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

3. Happy by Pharrell Williams

4. Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justine Timberlake

5. Try Everything by Sharika

6. Hall of Fame by The Script

7. Never Say Never by Justin Bieber and Jayden Smith

8. Firework by Katie Perry

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

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

11. One Day at a Time by Cristy Lane

12. Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood

13. Adom by Diana Hamilton

14. I can see clearly now by Johnny Nash

15. Amazing Grace by John Newton

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

12 Daily Affirmations to Enhance Motivation in Recovery

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

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

What are Affirmations?

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

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

Here are a few examples that could be useful.

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

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

The Beauty of Relapse – 3 Points to Consider

Whenever beauty is mentioned, we think about pleasant things, places and experiences, women. People do not refer to anything unpleasant or undesirable as beautiful, at least as far as I know.
Concerning the word ‘Relapse’, What do we think of when it is mentioned? Let me know in the comments.

What does it even mean in this context?

Relapse in relation to substance use disorder simply means that, an individual who had stopped drinking or using drugs for a period has returned to a total state of using, which has started to affect every area of their life and thus is causing them not to function optimally.

So, you would be wondering, what could possibly be beautiful about relapse? It depends on what you choose to see. The Beautiful or the not so pleasant side?
Let’s look at some of the beauty in it.

1. The Individual is Willing to Make a Change

For someone to be said to have relapsed, the person must have been abstinent for a period. That is good news! It means that, the individual thought carefully about his/her life and realized that it was not going in the right direction and therefore, made the decision to get into treatment.

This fact is a good foundation to build on. Now the individual has experienced ‘life in active drug use’ and ‘life in active abstinence’, and has the ability to assess both situations. This assessment when objectively done sometimes with the help of a professional or a loved one, will highlight the benefits of ‘life in active abstinence’, (examples are improved health and well being and others which may differ for each person), which will eventually serve as motivation for someone to go back into treatment.

2. It is Not as Disappointing as it sounds

Yes, exactly, it is actually very kind of common in all chronic diseases.
If you are not new to my blog, you would know by now that substance use disorder is a chronic disease.
As a matter of fact, the statistics on relapse for substance use disorders are not as gloomy in comparison to other chronic diseases like Asthma and Hypertension. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), percentage of clients who relapse for substance use disorder ranges from 40% – 60%, for Asthma and Hypertension, relapse is likely to occur in 50% – 70% of patients.
Relapse in persons with substance use disorders should be seen as a need to offer another round of treatment, just like it is done in other chronic diseases and not seen as a failure in treatment.

3. An Opportunity to Try Something New

Substance use disorder is a very complex disease. It does not only affect an individual’s physical body, or brain. It affects the individual emotionally, mentally, socially, spiritually and in many other ways that can not be imagined.

This is generally so because, the reasons why people may start using substances may be borne from a need to satisfy certain physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual needs.
These factors, in addition to the fact that, every individual has unique needs and therefore needs very specifically tailored treatment means that, an initial treatment plan may become inadequate or redundant when initial needs with which the individual entered treatment changes.

Instead of looking at relapse as a failure of the individual or the treatment program, it should be seen as an opportunity to try out new techniques and coping skills to address current needs.

After a storm there may be flooding, there may also be a beautiful rainbow. The storm of a relapse is no different!

5 Ways to Become Your Cure Pill

‘Madam, if you say Substance Use Disorder (SUD) is a disease, can’t you give me a pill to take away all these cravings and make me better so that I can be cured from it?’
Many people I have encountered in my practice in Ghana have asked this question.
This is a very genuine question because if there is medication for treating and curing other diseases, why can we not provide same for those suffering from SUDs.
In other countries like the United States, Europe and some African countries, there are pills for treating Substance Use Disorders. These pills are given to reduce or stop cravings so that patients can go to work and perform their daily functions. This is referred to as Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT). They are mostly combined with Psychotherapy (counselling) for better treatment outcomes.
This therapy is mostly used for Opioid, Alcohol and Nicotine use disorder. However, medication is available for Cocaine Use disorders as well in some places.
In Ghana, we do not have these medications for treatment (except for alcohol and Nicotine in some health facilities). However, most treatment facilities do have psychotherapy available for clients to help manage cravings and live normal lives as well.
The difference here though is that, some clients find having to go through therapy without medication a very daunting task, especially at facilities that do not provide access to detoxification.
The point which must be emphasized here is that, medication does not guarantee that a client will not relapse; SUD is a very complicated disease which is surely going to be properly managed if the client is not able to follow coping skills that will help him/her work out his own recovery. Medication without, ‘working out’ one’s own recovery almost certainly leads to relapse.
So, what can you do to work out your own recovery in the absence of pills and do for yourself what the pill could have done for you?

1. Find a good Treatment Program

The first step to becoming the pill is to pick out a treatment program that can get you started in the right direction. This should be a program with highly trained staff who can help you understand the disease you are suffering from. What a pill does is to treat a particular disease for which it was made. Knowing your disease, how it came about, what is happening in your brain and body will make you aware of what to do and what not to do so as to have the best treatment outcomes. This will also help you understand some of the reasons why certain rules that are put in place at the treatment program are necessary.
Contact me for a list of good programs available in Ghana if you need one.

2. Commit to the Treatment Program

The pill does a job. To become the pill, you have a job to do. You have to be consistent in meeting with your counsellor, speaking truthfully about your drug use history, which will allow for a proper assessment to be done so as to help write up a good treatment plan for you.
Then the next job is to follow the treatment plan to the letter; nothing should be ignored or seen as irrelevant. The counselor cannot do for you what you are told to do. Doing it yourself is how you work it out; look at it as ‘swallowing the bitter pill’, that is how you get results.

3. See the Rules of Recovery as a New Way of Life

Some of the rules you will hear in treatment are; avoid triggers (people, places and things that may directly or indirectly lead to using drugs again), practice coping skills to deal with cravings and other unhealthy emotions, share your experiences, learn from others in recovery.
These so-called rules are not just noise, they actually work and should be practiced all the days of your life if you want to remain abstinent. Take charge of your life and improve your general wellbeing.

4. Join a Community of People in Recovery

One of the usefulness of the pill is to help maintain retention in treatment. The aim of the recovery community is to find support and growth from a group of people going through the same disease. This community of people will not only serve as your support in treatment but also throughout your whole journey of recovery.

5. Read, Read, Read

This is very important! Your counsellor will definitely not know everything there is to know about Substance Use Disorders. New information is coming out everyday that you can learn about. New ways of coping with cravings are coming up every day. Read books, articles like this one, journals and research on SUDs. Knowledge is not just power; it is incredible power. Look for it, empower yourself, improve your life.
Do you not go looking for relationship tips in books and online to improve your love life? Do the same for all other aspects of your life!

4 Reasons Why You Should Tell Someone About Your Recovery Journey

Most of us want the people closest to us to know about any new journey that we decide to embark on. We may even invite them to come along with us.
Why do we do this? Tell me about your reasons in the comments.

A couple of the most popular reasons are that, we want to have someone to share our experiences with. Also, we want someone to kind of watch our back. Another reason may be that, we want to have someone to share the costs with (for instance, you want to go on a trip but can’t afford it by yourself so you invite a friend and then share costs ). It could also be that you want to cheer them up, that is why you are taking them along on a trip.
On the recovery road, you can equally ‘invite someone to come along with.’ This simply means, you can rely on a spouse or partner, trusted friend, sibling, professional SUD counselor or a support group who will give you all the help and support that you would need like on a literal journey with them.
Why then is it necessary to let tell someone about your recovery journey?

To share your Experiences

Bringing someone on your recovery journey gives you the opportunity to have a good and safe outlet to talk about your struggles, successes, failures, wins, insecurities, flaws, the good and exciting days and any other subject you may wish to discuss.
Substance Use Disorder is a disease that many people do not understand and do not care to learn about, they are satisfied with their understanding of it and use those mostly inaccurate perceptions to judge people who are suffering from the disease.
Whoever you bring along on this journey should be open minded and ready to learn about the nature of what you are going through and be ready to attend recovery engagements with you if necessary. This is the only way that the person can truly understand your unique experiences and be able to listen without judgement so as to give you the support that you need to enjoy the journey.

To watch your back

Sometimes we need trusted friends around us to protect us from getting ourselves into dangerous situations or give us advice about some bad habits we may be engaging in. In the same way, we need friends to come along with us on the recovery journey to ‘warn’ us when we seem to be driving off onto a road which is not going to lead to our destination; roads which may lead to people, places and things which could be a trigger for relapse, turn you around and take you back to where you were before the journey began.

To share the costs

Treatment, which is mostly the beginning of the recovery journey is not free, it could be expensive and therefore you may need support from someone to help take care of the financial costs. Other costs may come in the form of taking time off work to get into treatment; in this case, you will need permission from work, meaning you have to tell your supervisor about your journey so that you do not end up loosing your source of livelihood while trying to get well to become a better employee. Even if you run your own business, you will need someone to take care while you are away. Another cost may be child care. If you have children, you may need your partner’s support to cater for them while you are away or you may need to get another family member or trusted friend to care for them if you are a single parent.

To have fun and cheer them up

When you are in the throes of substance use, you tend to ignore most of your responsibilities and obligations to your family, job and community; that is a symptom of the disease of substance use. This situation tends to bring about a lot of tension between you and everyone around you.
Bringing the very closest ones with you on the recovery journey and allowing them to see the amount of work you put in to become yourself again, will definitely serve as a source of joy which will cheer them up and make them extremely happy, which will in turn make the journey fun and cheerful for you too.

So why not bring someone special on your recovery journey today, it will surely be something worth looking forward to.

5 Values for a Sustainable Life in Recovery

What are Values?

These are principles that an individual holds dear and runs his/her life by.
The way a person lives life can certainly determine the type of values the person has.
For anyone in recovery, it is very important to live by values that will seek to help the individual fit in and be acceptable into the society.
Some important values to consider are;

  1. Independence

A person in recovery should be ready and willing to stand on their own two feet and do things for themselves.
Depending on people all the time for food, clothing and shelter is not sustainable. Find something profitable which can earn you the ability to acquire your most basic needs.

Do not become a burden!

2. Honesty

In everyday life, the people who are seen to be truthful, genuine and consistent in that behavior are the ones who are given opportunities.
The goal of recovery is not just to stop using drugs but an opportunity to turn a new leaf and build a new life.
Choosing to be honest, is not just a way to reintegrate into the society but also a way of getting new doors open so as to start building life again.

3. Patience

Giving up drugs will eventually bring about benefits such as good health, job opportunities, rebuilding of broken relationships and making of new and healthy alliances.
However, these things take time. Some people think that, just a few weeks after stopping drugs, they will get all these things in place and therefore often fall into despair when it takes longer.
You need to understand that, it takes time to make quality happen. Patience is very vital in these situations.

4. Integrity

What do you do, where do you go, who do you talk to when you know you will not get caught?
Always do what is right even when no one is watching, that is the key to remain abstinent.
Integrity will protect you from doing sketchy things which could lead you into trouble with the law or into relapse.

5. Courage

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma associated with drug use even if a person has been in recovery for a long time. Persons in recovery have to therefore be very strong and develop a ‘thick skin’ to discrimination and stigma.
That is the only way to move forward.

Bonus : Commitment

The road to recovery is neither straight, smooth, nor short, and that is life. Anyone interested in succeeding in any venture or undertaking in life must be committed to staying true to the mission until the goals are achieved.
Stick to your guns, practice your coping skills, attend recovery meetings with discipline and diligence.

Stay on the road and you will surely get where you want to be!