Recovery Is Not Rosy – 3 Obstacles and 3 Opportunities To Expect in This Journey

In this context, recovery refers to returning to a normal state of life after suffering from Substance Use Disorder (SUD). For some clients, recovery just means ‘quitting or cutting back on the use of substances’. They do not understand the need to take care of other basic things like proper nutrition, personal hygiene, mending broken relationships, dealing with shame and guilt, money management and even something as basic as what sorts of leisure activities that are appropriate for them.
As a matter of fact, recovery is not complete until all those other aspects of life mentioned earlier are taken care of.
However, there are certain obstacles that may hinder a client form receiving timely and quality treatment. Let us take a look at a few.
Access to Treatment
Unfortunately, unlike other main stream health facilities, Substance Use Treatment Facilities are kind of hard to find in Ghana. Apart from the few concentrated in the capital Accra, and a few others in the Ashanti Region (New Hope Wellness Centre and others), there is one Psychiatric Hospital in the Central Region (Ankarful Hospital) which also does treatment of SUDs, one in the Western Region (Holy Family Health Centre), another one in the Upper East Region (LOAD Ghana) and as far as I know, there are not really any specifically dedicated treatment facilities in the rest of the other eleven (11) regions. Clients in those places therefore have to travel long distances and sometimes be on a waiting list to get into treatment.
This situation has turned off so many clients who may have gone into treatment immediately if there was a place ready for them as soon as they decided to go into treatment. You would ask, ‘why would they not wait to get in if they were really ready?’ The answer to that is, ‘Substance Use Disorder is a brain disease which affects all aspects of the clients life, including motivation, which is very necessary for anyone to make and sustain any decision.’
Cost of Treatment
Residential treatment is not free. Detoxification which is usually done to help clients handle withdrawal symptoms better and safer, then prepare them for treatment ranges from GHS 1,000 to GHS 2,500. Treatment which usually lasts for about 90 days, costs between GHS 1,000 and GHS 4,000 every 30 days. That’s something not every one can afford, making it practically impossible for some people desperately in need of treatment to get.
There are however a few ‘free’ treatment facilities around who are providing shelter, food and some form of security for people who cannot afford to pay for the treatment but are ready to get into treatment. Remar Association Ghana is one example of such facilities.
Quality of Treatment
The other day I was telling a colleague that, ‘drug addiction treatment is the only field in which most people of any background, without any training, certification or experience feel that they have a right to jump in and help because they think it is just about providing food, shelter and advice and that settles it. If they did that in any other areas of the health sector, they would be arrested and prosecuted for being quacks’.
Because of that mentality, some ‘treatment centres’ are just temporary shelters and some drug addiction counsellors are just caretakers. Other facilities treat clients like mental health patients; so its all about anti-psychotic medication all through the 90 or more days, both situations increasing the likelihood of relapse in clients exponentially.
I must admit however that, in recent years, some facilities have invested in training their employees and are doing excellently well. A good example is the Drug Treatment Facility at the Pantang Hospital in Accra.
Improved Health
Drugs are like slow acting poison, gradually destroying the internal organs and eventually ending the individual. The human body is however able to recover a great deal after drug use has stopped, leading to an improved health and a general feeling of wellbeing.
Improved Quality of Life
Good health brings with it the strength and power to pursue good jobs, educational opportunities and better relationships that will lead to a better quality of life.
Better Life Prospects
Good health and quality of life puts an individual in a position to access the very best opportunities.
I always tell my clients that, ‘no employer will employ or keep an employee who is deep in the throws of SUD, no sound man or woman will be in any serious relationship with anyone deep in SUD, nobody respects people who are actively using drugs. However, the hope of recovery, opens new windows of opportunities and possibilities that cannot be imagined’.
It is not too late, reach out if you need help. If you have no money, you can try Remar Association, a Christian NGO which tries to provide shelter, food and social support while you go through the process of recovery. Some people have gone through those doors and have been successful, why not you?

This article does not aim to promote or criticize any facility, it is just serving as a source of useful information for those who may require it.

Online Addiction Recovery Programs Can Help You Achieve Sobriety

Recently, during the COVID-19 partial lockdown in Ghana, I gained a lot of weight. So much so that I am in the process of getting new clothes tailored. Unlike most people, I wasn’t working virtually because I couldn’t meet with my clients at the rehabs for consults. All the work had to be handled by the staff in those institutions.
It took just a few weeks of isolation and inactivity from the last week of March to mid-June to start losing a body I had been so proud of. It was freely given to me by God, but I lost it in just a few weeks because I took what I put in it for granted and it messed me up.
After the lockdown, I was a little nervous to go back to work because I knew everyone would notice my weight gain. It happened exactly as I had anticipated. Everyone kept talking about it, I felt very ashamed in my skimpy old clothes. I had to hold my tummy in because it had protruded. In addition to the nose mask I was wearing, l felt very uncomfortable and out of breath. I spent the whole day of our new normal lives beating myself down because I had failed at something I thought I had a hold on.
After work that day, I decided that I had to do something about it. Going to the gym was out of the question; COVID-19 restrictions and honestly, I would not be comfortable working out in public.
I knew I had to find a program that would help me easily commit to a routine that I could follow, which had to be affordable as well. It was time for me to practice what I kept preaching to my clients and just about anyone who asked about recovery from drug use: Do something about it!
So in these normally strange times, I looked online and a found an app with a perfect thirty day challenge for me. It is filled with a lot of exercises that I can do daily; 20 minutes for one workout including tips for doing other things that could help maximize results. Most importantly, there was a soothing voice of encouragement throughout the workout which always congratulated me after each workout. I think it is pretty amazing!
I am 18 days into the 30 day weight loss challenge basic level work out, I feel better already. I have not quite seen any visible weight loss but I have hope because I still have a long way to go. After the basic level, I will graduate to the intermediate and advanced levels.
You will be thinking, what has weight loss got to do with drug addiction and recovery?

As a matter of fact, it has a lot to do with it. Making a decision to loose weight has a lot to do with making a decision to quit using drugs. It is both about making a decision to try new ways of handling one’s self in terms of the things we put in the body, learning new ways of doing things to keep it healthier and in better shape so as to live healthier and free of self-consciousness. Both have to do with deciding to do new things that will result in a healthier body and mind.
The conditions under which we live now in the midst of a deadly pandemic and restrictions are forcing us to live in isolation thus making life much harder. This could result in dire consequences for drug users because of probable job losses which could lead to hunger and even homlessness, as well as the likelihood of contracting the disease while going out into the streets to look for, prepare and use drugs. Fatalities may also occur in instances where an individual who lives alone overdoses in these times of isolation and social distancing, where there may be no one available to offer any assistance.
Unfortunately, it is also getting harder now to get into treatment due to Covid-19 restrictions which has prompted most drug treatment centres to also go into lockdown to prevent new clients who may have the virus from coming in to infect those who are already in the facilities. But in the midst of all this gloom, a helper remains and is offering a lot of assistance to many of us in various ways.
Like I found my weight loss app on the internet, you can also find treatment online for your drug use. Yes, you can.
You can check out the ‘SMART Recovery Program’ which is fully online. The ‘Celebrate Recovery’ program which has an app and can also be found online will be a good fit for you if you are a Christian. Or you can simply type in ‘Addiction Recovery Online’ and a lot of good options will pop up. You can also type in ‘Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous Online’ and you will find a couple of Zoom meetings to join.

Search for ‘Certified Addiction Counsellors’ in your area and you would be surprised at what you can find. You get to talk to a professional who would help you through the process.
Apart from all these, there are also a couple of Apps that you can find in the google play store that can be very helpful. Just type in ‘Addiction Recovery app’.
Take a leap of faith, take the step and do the search. You will be surprised about how helpful it can be for you.
Most of the time we try on our own and fail to make major changes in our lives because we often do not have any structured approach to it. This is the reason why we seek the help of professionals since they enroll us onto recovery programs with structured exercises and new routines that are likely to achieve better results.
Keep in mind that, it will take longer than you expect to be able to see positive results in the process to recovery, so please be patient, follow instructions of the recovery program you choose and it will work out for your good. Make up your mind that giving up is not an option!
When you fail and lapse, do not just get stuck there, just continue following the recovery program, gradually you will move through the stages and eventually get to the ‘advanced level’ where you will be able to maintain your sobriety and sustain your recovery.
Let’s go, the time is just right!

Take Responsibility For Your Recovery

Every time I go to a treatment centre, the guys keep asking, ‘If drugs and alcohol are not good for our health, why then are they sold everywhere? Let me try to address this question here, in case you may be thinking about it too.

If drugs and alcohol are not good for our health, why are they sold everywhere?

The simplest answer to this question is, ‘know thyself’. Not everything being sold out there in the streets including drugs and alcohol is good for consumption. Besides that, not everything which is good for consumption is good for everyone to consume. Some people can eat anything; others will die from eating certain things. Some people have deadly allergies and because they value their lives, they don’t go near those foods or things and they make sure that those around them also know about their allergies so that they don’t end up being ‘poisoned’ and killed because of a mistake or someone else’s ignorance.
From my previous article; “beat your allergies” I tried to explain that to someone who has had problems with the use of drugs and alcohol, these things were allergies to him.
To be able to break free from drug and alcohol addiction, get to know about the nature of your condition and try to learn about what you need to stop doing and the things that you need to be doing more of.
Change the way you think about how other people’s actions may or may not have been the reason why you started using drugs and alcohol in the first place. That has happened already; look forward to the future and the good things in store for you.
In addition, know thyself my friend, know about your problem and implement the healthy ways you have learnt to deal with them. Take responsibility for your actions from henceforth because you always have a choice as to what you put in your body.
As a final point, forget about what others are doing, think about your future. Come to think of it, I have never seen a person with substance use disorder still kicking and healthy at a good old age. “You either quit or it forces you to quit.” Jean Church once said, “You can come out of the furnace of trouble two ways: if you let it consume you, you come out a cinder; but there is a kind of metal which refuses to be consumed, and comes out a star.”

The Plague called Drug Addiction

I was talking to friend recently who unfortunately has been using drugs for a while now. A young beautiful woman who happens to be in a not so healthy relationship; unfortunately, it is a drug fueled one. Another unfortunate thing in this situation is that, she is expecting!
Apparently, the most important relationships in her life; that which she has with her siblings is also drug fueled. I do not know if it is appropriate to say this but, i think her whole life is ‘infested’ with drugs; cannabis, crack cocaine, heroin and others.
Infested, I hate that word, it makes me think of worms and parasites and locusts and the plagues of Egypt. Whenever someone, anything or place becomes infested with anything, it is almost always devoured. I just remembered the army worm infestation that hit our farms in this country some time ago. It was very bad, most of the affected farms were destroyed because the medicine needed to fight the army worms were not received quickly enough.
My friend used to tell me that she was not addicted to drugs, she said she was just an occasional user. But on this day she started telling me by herself how much weight she had lost over the years (i did not know that), how she used to be successful, had so many friends but had lost all those things now. Then she said, ‘drugs have spoiled my life. Someone I used to smoke ‘the grass’ with told me once that crack cocaine was the devil so I should not try it but I did not listen to her’.
‘The first time I tried it, I could not believe anything could make me feel this way; I felt good so I gave the people around me all my money to buy it with. That’s what I used to do. Eventually my business collapsed because I spent all my money on my friends and drugs, I am generally generous and I cant help it. I used to buy them food, clothes , hair, everything. When I lost everything, they left me, sometimes I did not even have anything to eat but no of them was there for me’.
‘Fortunately for me, I managed to stop but recently I have started taking it again once in a while, when I am hurt. I am always hurt when I remember those times, and also when I fight with my man. I did not even know that he used Heroin until he fell severly ill, I thought he was going to die, I felt helpless and I needed to feel strong and capable of taking care of him so I had to use. Then I felt strong and unafraid’.
We are always fighting so I am always hurt, I don’t know who to talk to. I am hurt, I am always hurt’.She was in tears all through her narration.
Then I asked whether she felt she needed help with the situation so that she could abstain and be a mother to her child, then she said, ‘I am hurt but drugs have hurt me baddest, it has spoiled my life. I want to stop’.
In summary, some people like my friend may use drugs because it is part of what they know and have been thought to be good when they were growing up. Eventually, it may become a solution to their hurts and pains and their need to do and perform better at certain things. However in the end, it becomes a problem when it takes over and infests their lives, slowing killing them. If they don’t receive their treatment soon and on time, they get devoured and perish.
They may be hurting, but drugs hurts them baddest and others around them especially the little babies that may be growing in them who will come out also infested. Or those already born who may be neglected because the person supposed to care for them is hurting baddest.
Help a friend to get help now!

Beat Your Allergies

Many of my patients have asked me, ‘Now that I have stopped using drugs, can I drink alcohol, since it’s not a drug?’

Because this particular question has become too common, it got me thinking about the best and easiest way to answer it thoroughly.

A couple of days later, with still no solution  to my common question problem, I went shopping then I bought a pineapple because my doctor had told me earlier to take a lot of fruits since I was lacking that in my diet. At home, I thoroughly washed the pineapple, peeled it, chopped it into cubes; which are how I like my pineapple and had some before my main meal.

A few hours later, I started having severe stomach ache, it was so bad I could not move for a while, when it got a little better, I went to the hospital.

During my interview with the doctor she asked, ‘what did you eat?’ ‘Fruits and rice, I said.’ ‘What sorts of fruit?’ she asked. I said pineapple. She took her focus off my folder, stared at my face and shook her head. Then I remembered immediately, she had told me several times not to eat pineapples and oranges. Then she reminded me again, “’you are allergic to that fruit, it will hurt you badly if you keep eating it’.

It was really funny how I remembered that I was not supposed to eat oranges but I always forgot that pineapples were not good for me. Truth be told, I have never liked oranges but I love pineapples. I love them so much!

This got me thinking about the question I have been trying to answer. ‘How can somebody who has used drugs and alcohol for such a long time, learn to live without it?’ Despite all the obvious negative consequences of drug use, it can also not be denied that drugs give certain positive effects to those who use them.

Most people start using drugs because they need it to feel better (those suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, pain); nobody ever plans to become addicted to drugs. Unfortunately, once they become dependent on the drug because of the actions that it performs in the brain, it becomes very difficult to stop using without professional help and social support.

My pineapple experience made it clear to me that, not everything we ‘love’ because of how it makes us feel or for whatever reason is good for us. We are ALLERGIC to some of them and if we do not stop taking them, they will hurt us badly.

Drugs may make us feel good, happy, confident, strong, aroused, alert, relaxed, have clarity of thought and help us do so many things that we feel we may not be able to do. But we need to believe that, we are allergic to them, they will hurt us badly if we do not stop running after them. They will eventually stop giving us all those ‘positive’ feelings and make us feel worse than before we started loving them. Later, take away all the other things that we love; our health, loved ones, wealth, dignity, status in society and finally our breath!

Last week, someone ask me again, ‘Now that I have stopped taking drugs, can I drink alcohol since that is not a drug? I said, ‘I know you know that alcohol is a drug. You want to drink it because of how it will make you feel. You should know that, no matter how it makes you feel, it will eventually hurt you badly if you do not stop running after it. Like all the other drugs, you are ALLERGIC to it. Your allergies will kill you if you do not avoid them’.

‘Ask me instead, how can I avoid my allergies, I love them so much and I see them everywhere?’