Tag Archives: alcohol

How do I help someone with addiction?

One of the most frustrating things on earth is watching someone you love throw their life away on an addiction.

It seems like nothing you say or do gets through to them. In fact the more you try to help them, the deeper they seem to sink into their addiction.

Sometimes that’s just annoying. Other times it’s a life and death situation.

If someone is addicted to coffee, you may not approve, but the chance are they’ll be ok. If they’re addicted to smoking, it may well be killing them, but it’s happening slowly and it may or may not affect them. If they’re addicted to alcohol, illegal or legal drugs they could be in more imminent danger. If they’re addicted to starving themselves, you may be watching them die.

Yet, despite this they don’t seem to be able to get their heads around the damage that they are doing to themselves. It’s as though the connections between what they ‘know’ is happening and the consequences to them are entirely gone.

I know this from personal experience.

I was a smoker for 17 years. I started when I was 21 (entirely old enough to know better) and quit 5 years ago. I can remember people saying to me “you know it’s bad for you right?” as though I was a moron or lived under a rock or something. People on the street would come up to me and say things like “It’ll stunt your growth you know”. I think they thought that was funny as I’m 6ft tall and a grown ass woman. My mum (an ex smoker) hated the fact I smoked and would ask me repeatedly to quit.

None of that made any difference.

It wasn’t about education either. As I said, I started smoking when I was 21. I was working as a microbiologist in Liverpool having been to University studying Biochemistry. I knew what smoking did to a body. I knew what it ‘could’ do to me. The thing was, it didn’t really do anything nasty at first. It was just a laugh with mates when we were out drinking. By the time I’d developed a smokers cough, I was already well into the addicted part.

So what made me try to quit? For me it was my best friend. I was complaining to her about people moaning at me about smoking and she said “So, are you just going to smoke until you die?” That was it. No attitude, no lecture, just a question. A question I had to think about. As I thought about it over the next couple of weeks I realised I didn’t want to die a smoker. I could visualise what my old woman self would look like smoking and coughing, wheezing along, maybe with an oxygen tank….and it horrified me. So then I had to think, well if I don’t want to die smoking, I’m going to have to quit at some point. Why not now? I mean it’s not like it’s going to get any easier?

Here’s my advice.

Don’t

  1. Don’t Nag – it’s annoying and it just makes people dig their heals in.
  2. Don’t lecture – it just makes the person being lectured at think up opposite arguments, which then helps to persuade them that what they’re doing is OK
  3. Don’t promise rewards for abstinence – study after study has shown that offering rewards convinces the psyche that it must mean that thing they are being asked to do is difficult.

Do

  1. Model the behaviour you want them to adopt. If you have someone in your life who is drinking too much, don’t drink around them. Don’t make a thing of it, just don’t do it. If you do what you are asking them not to, it just normalizes it for them and they think you’re an idiot.
  2. Spend time with them. Show them they are loved and worth loving. One of the main reasons people self harm (and addiction IS a form of self harm) is because they don’t like themselves very much
  3. Do fun stuff that distracts from their addiction. The more good stuff they have going on in their lives, the less room there is for bad stuff.
  4. Ask questions. Get them to think about what they are doing, in their own time, in their own way
  5. Be prepared for the fact that you may never get through to them. Ultimately you have to accept that it’s their life to live.

One final note – don’t forget to look after yourself. Don’t get obsessed with their addiction. It won’t help you or them. Take care of yourself and model healthy, social behaviour. It’s more powerful than you know.


If you or someone you know has an issue with addiction, get help. You do not have to deal with this on your own. There are plenty of support groups online and in person. There are also thousands of professionals out there who can help you.

Good luck on your journey

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Am I addicted?

Have you ever wondered if you are an addict? Chances are that you probably have some form of addiction or another. If you smoke, drink daily, can’t start the morning without a coffee or end dinner without dessert then you may have an addiction.

An addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you.

So let’s think about that for a moment. We know smoking is harmful to us so it’s easy to see that as an addiction, but other things are sometimes more difficult to see that way. Did you know that you should go at least 3 days a week without drinking any alcohol in order for your liver to recover? So drinking alcohol every day is damaging, even if it’s only a small glass of wine with dinner. If the idea of giving up booze for three days a week is uncomfortable – you have an addiction.

How about sugar? We know that too much sugar in our diet causes obesity and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Still fancy a doughnut? Then you, my friend, are addicted!

Is there such a thing as a healthy addiction? Looking back at the definition, no there isn’t, but it’s not quite that simple.

Some people go to the gym every day. Exercising is good for us right? Yes, of course it is, but exercising every day is not. Your body needs time to recover and heal from exercise too. If you can’t have a rest day, you have an addiction. If you are exercising against doctors orders, you have an addiction. if you are exercising when you are unwell, you have an addiction. If you are exercising on an injury ….you guessed it.

How about a healthy diet. If you read my blog regularly you will now that I am always banging on about eating healthily. Veggies are good for you, nutrient rich food is important, eat you fibre blah blah blah. But if you are out with friends and can’t order off the menu because there’s nothing on it you can eat (and you don’t have specific allergies related to the foods) then you may have a type of addiction. It’s known as orthorexia, and it’s where people restrict their food choices in an unhealthy way.

Addiction is everywhere. I would suggest a few things.

First – Recognise your own addictions. If you don’t know you have them it’s very difficult to do something about them. Look at your day in a critical way and ask yourself is there any part of it that you would be unhappy if you couldn’t do. Then ask yourself – is that a healthy habit?

Second – ask those you love, and who love you, for their input. You may be surprised that they come up with things you may never have thought of. Things like excessive personal hygiene, excessive cleaning, watching too much porn and gaming often come up from other people.

Third – Try to change your routine to cut out your addiction.

Finally – Remember PEOPLE QUIT STUFF THEY ARE ADDICTED TO ALL THE TIME. Let that sink in for a moment. Just because you are addicted now, does not mean that you have to stay addicted. Yes it will feel uncomfortable. Yes it will be tricky and Yes, you CAN do it.

If people can quit heroin, you can quit smoking. If people can quit crack cocaine, you can quit sugar. I know you like it – they probably liked their heroin too.


Some people can kick their addictions on their own, and I would always suggest that as a first try. If however you struggle, that does not mean you have no other choices. Get support and help to quit your addiction from professionals who have the skills to help you.

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 2

On the second day of the advent calendar we will continue our steps of basic self care.

Having read day 1, you should already be up, clean and dressed. Now we need to make sure you are fed and watered!

I’m a firm believer in food as medicine. Your body is a machine – a beautiful, complex, wonderful machine. In order for it to work well, it needs the right fuel inside of it. It needs enough to work well, but not so much that it becomes overladen. If you give your body the right fuel it has a much better chance of working the way it should.

So start your day right. Have a scrumptious, healthy breakfast.

It’s not for me to tell you what is best for you – maybe it’s bacon and eggs, maybe avocado on toast, maybe it’s a bowl of porridge – what ever it is, make sure it’s something tasty which will give you the fuel you need to have a great day.

If you are overweight, self care involves changing that. I’m not suggesting that you suddenly go on a crash diet, but making healthy choices and reducing your portion size will gently reduce your weight and make you feel better. I’m not talking about feeling bad about being overweight – you should love and appreciate your body whatever size or shape it is – but you will help it to work at it’s best if you are not overweight.

If you are underweight, self care involves changing that. Again. I’m not suggesting you should start pigging out on junk food, but you should make sure that you are increasing the amount that you are eating to give your body all the energy and nutrients it needs in order to be at it’s best.

If your weight is perfect – brilliant, well done you! All you have to do is keep it in that range whilst giving your body all the fruits and vegetables it needs to function at it’s best. Whether your an omnivore, carnivore, vegetarian, fruitarian, vegan or a raw food fan your body needs a range of protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water. Make sure you are giving it what it needs.

So many health problems can be fixed or improved with diet. Changes can be made to skin conditions, dietary problems, joint pains, fibromyalgia, kidney stones, urinary infections, cramps and even epilepsy. Some things like Type 2 diabetes, IBS and coeliac disease are very treatable with managing food choices. What you fuel your body with is important – choose the things that are going to care for your body.

Part of what you eat is what you drink – or at least it should be. If you are trying to reduce your weight, make sure that you are not drinking your calories. Whether that comes in the form of fizzy drinks (about 140 calories in a can) sugary tea/ coffee or alcohol (about 600 calories in a bottle of wine), you need to keep those calories in mind. Those calories don’t really fill you up – so you still eat more. Also, the fact that most of them come from sugar means that you are creating a sugar high, which is followed by a sugar low. This is bad news for your body and what’s worse is the sugar low will make you crave more of the evil white stuff – have you ever noticed how hard it is to stop snacking once you’ve started?

December is the month to eat, drink and be merry – so eat well, hydrate and be happy with the choices you are making!


So many people struggle with weight management, but it is so important to your health – both mental and physical. If you need some support to get your head in the right place to manage your weight effectively give a professional a call and get on the right path.

 

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Hangover Help

Did we have a good night last night?

Alcohol is often part of a big night out or a celebration, but it can leave us feeling a little less than sparkly the next day.

Some people will tell you that it’s self inflicted, that it’s all your own fault, but that doesn’t change the fact that you feel sicker than a parrot that’s been lying on the bottom of it’s cage for three days.

So what can you do to try to reverse the effects of the poison that your body is suffering from.

1. Take aspirin or an aspirin derivative like Ibuprofen (If it is safe for you to do so). Avoid paracetamol as your liver is already under performing as it’s trying to process the alcohol you drank, and it needs a bit of a break

2.Get some fluid into you. Part of the reason for the headache you’ve probably got is dehydration. Despite drinking lots last night, the alcohol has a diuretic effect meaning that you’ve probably lost more water than you’ve taken in, so you need to replenish it. Avoid tea and coffee as they have caffeine in them which won’t improve your dehydration. Instead go for water or water mixed with fruit juice. The water will hydrate you and the fruit juice will boost your blood sugar and give you a dose of vitamin C which will help your liver out and potassium which will replace some of the electrolytes you have lost.

3.Eat something. Depending on how you are feeling this could be some dry toast or cereal which will help to boost your blood sugar, or a bacon sandwich which will not only boost your blood sugar but will also help to replace salt and brain neurotransmitters that were depleted by the alcohol. Eggs are a good choice as they contain an amino acid called cysteine which helps counter the effects of acetaldehyde, which is known to create worsened hangovers.If you feel sick it’s worth trying to eat some ginger as this is know to reduce the feelings of nausea and if you really can’t face anything else, try a packet of crisps.

4. Be Happy. A 1997 study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) suggests that guilt about drinking, a neurotic personality, becoming angry or depressed while drinking, and having suffered “negative life events” in the past 12 months are better predictors of symptoms of hangover than how much or what you drink!

5. Do some gentle exercise. Going for a walk is a great idea. It might not seem it at first, but getting out in the fresh air and getting the blood circulating will help to alleviate your symptoms, just make sure you have had some water and food first.

6.If all else fails, go back to bed. Sleep is one of the most essential treatments for a hangover, as your body in most cases does not get a chance to go into the R.E.M. (rapid eye movement) state of sleep which provides proper restoration for your brain due to the rebound of glutamine in your body. If you have to be up, make sure you get to bed early tonight.

Wishing you a Happy, Healthy and Hangover free weekend 🙂

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