2 Ways to Make It About Love

A while ago, I was having a conversation with someone who was referred to me by his mother. She said he was smoking too much Marijuana and was worried about his health so she wanted me to try and see if I could help him to start thinking about quitting.
It took a lot of tossing and evasive maneuvers from him but he eventually agreed to the meeting.

I tried to explain his mother’s concerns to him; how she was worried and why it will be helpful for him to start thinking about quitting. His response to me was, ‘It is true that I smoke a lot of Marijuana but I do not do it to commit any crimes. I only smoke it because it is something I like. I am not a bad guy’.

I did not know what perceptions or feelings his mother and others may have expressed to him about people who use marijuana but I could deduce from his response that, it was all negative.

This position taken by others towards him probably made him feel like, he had to continue using the drug to prove to them that, he could smoke and still not become a criminal. So I tried to help him see another reason why his mother was concerned about his drug use by looking at two dangerous consequences of continuous Marijuana use.

1. Do you know that continuous Marijuana use can lead to severe health consequences?
‘Extensive research has shown that Marijuana use can cause damage to the heart, lungs and mental health. It can also cause accidents on the road while you are driving by slowing your reaction time, impairing your coordination and distorting your perception’.

‘Since you use and drive, your Marijuana use does not concern only you but all other road users. You could hurt other people even when you do not intend to’.

2. Do you know that Marijuana use is illegal in Ghana?
‘According to the laws of Ghana, anytime you buy, possess or use any Marijuana product, you are breaking the law. So in the process of gaining access to, preparing and using the drug even once, you would have broken the law several times, which could land you in jail for at least ten years’.

‘You just told me that you do not engage in any criminal activity when you use the drug, but criminal activity is not limited to violent crimes like murder or armed robbery, it is any act which is against the laws of our country’, I said.

I continued to help him understand that, his mother is not interested in making him feel like a bad guy, she just loves him so much, she does not want to loose him to ill health or the criminal justice system. She just wants him to live a healthy and full life without any health or legal obstacles.

If you know anyone struggling with drug use, approach them from a place of love instead of condemnation. That is more likely to yield better results.

By the way, the guy agreed to go into treatment, and is taking it a day at a time.

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!

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.

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!

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?’

7 Goods for a Healthy Life in Recovery


During active drug use, you may have forgotten about how to take care of yourself in order to maintain a healthy and more enjoyable life. But during recovery, keeping structure and order in your life is very vital to living that amazing life you envision.

That said, how do you sustain your good health? It’s achievable with these 7 goods that are assured to help you enjoy a good life in recovery.

The 7 Goods

  • Food and water
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Healthy Relationships
  • Medical Attention
  • Personal Hygiene
  • Spirituality

Let’s look at how these 7 goods will help you enjoy a good life in recovery.


Food and Water: Why this is good for you

  • Try as much as you can to avoid getting hungry; it intensifies cravings
  • Eat balanced meals; a portion of carbohydrates should be balanced with some protein and vegetables
  • Breakfast is very important since it helps you start your day so don’t skip it
  • Avoid eating too much processed foods
  • Also, avoid taking in junk food
  • Stay away from fizzy and sugary drinks; take fruits, juices and smoothies instead
  • Drink lots and lots of water; it helps to flush toxins out of the body


Exercise: Why this is good for you

  • Exercising regularly boosts energy and improves mood
  • It also helps prevent health conditions such as stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and others
  • Exercising keeps us fit and generally feeling strong thus it is important to exercise at least three times a week.
  • You can jog or go for walks – anything that will make you sweat and or work the heart muscles is good for you.
  • You can get a trainer at the gym to help you through if you can afford the time and money


Sleep: Why this is good for you

  • Sleep is very important in helping relieve stress and improving general well being
  • Every normal adult needs about eight hours of sleep to feel fully rested for the next day’s activities


Healthy Relationships: Why this is good for you

  • Any individual in recovery needs the support of family and friends – Keeping a good relationship with them is key in sustaining abstinence
  • Avoid keeping in touch with ‘old-using’ friends and dealers
  • Try hard not to jump too quickly into romantic relationships because they come with a lot of stress which you may not be ready to deal with



Medical Attention: Why this is good for you

  • It is very dangerous to self-medicate, especially when you have any form of pain because some pain killers are made from opium derivatives which work like heroin and thus can be very addictive.
  • Always consult a medical doctor for treatment when you are sick and do well to take the exact dosage prescribed to you to avoid having any complications


Personal Hygiene: Why this is good for you

  • For a general feeling of well being, keep your body and surroundings clean
  • Take care of your mouth by brushing your teeth at least twice daily
  • Wash your clothes and underwear regularly
  • Keep a generally clean outlook and don’t forget to keep your private areas clean too.


Spirituality: Why this is good for you

  • You cannot beat your addiction without totally turning your life around for the better; one sure way to do that is to become closer to your Maker.
  • Make time every day to pray, read the holy teachings and have regular fellowship with people of the same faith
  • Make sure you practice the Word you read and hear at fellowship


Keep in mind that recovery is not just aimed at maintaining abstinence, but achieving total well being, transformation and improved quality of life. Therefore, diligently practice these 7 goods needed for a healthy life in recovery and you will begin to see a transformation in your life.

Addiction as a Disease: What is Addiction?

Have you ever looked down your nose at a drunken or high individual and blamed them for allowing themselves to be in that state? Or have you looked at such an individual and thought there’s no way you could ever end up in that state? A state where you abuse alcohol, marijuana, hallucinogens such as LSD/ PCP, Inhalants such as paint thinners, stimulants such as cocaine/ methamphetamine, opioid pain killers such as oxycodone/ codeine/ heroin or sedatives, hypnotics and tobacco?

The truth is, that drunken or high individual never thought s/he could ever be in such a sorry state. Why? The answer to drug addiction and substance abuse is unfortunately no easy one and it is linked to science and psychology.

For years, most people have associated addiction and substance abuse to morality. It was the notion of most people that having high moral values and standards could solve this problem. However, through scientific advancements, experts have found out that sheer willpower and strong morals alone cannot solve the problem of drug addiction. This is the reason why addiction and substance abuse has ceased to be classified as a social problem but rather a disease.

Whiles drug addiction and substance abuse have been classified as a disease, unlike other diseases, it is tricky to notice the onset of it’s symptoms including strong cravings, risky use or drug effects but like other diseases, it has its fair share of accompanied ailments like mental illness.

So, if drug addiction and substance abuse is a disease, which part of the body does it affect? Well, it’s the brain. Drugs such as those mentioned above changes normal brain functioning and distorts certain roles of the brain when it comes to judgement, learning, behavior control, decision making and memory capabilities.

In the initial stages of this disease, many people take drugs due to curiosity or peer pressure, to relieve stress levels, to feel good or better or to improve performance levels. These drugs are able to give individuals these desired feelings when they become intoxicated. Overtime, the body builds tolerance to these drugs and needs larger amounts to produce the desired effects and this when the drug addiction rears its ugly head.

At this disease state, it is a very long road to recovery but the good thing is that, outpatient programs, hospital interventions, therapeutic environments in addition to willpower can be helpful in managing the condition.