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Is Your Son Or Daughters Addiction Consuming Your Life

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I had set some time aside yesterday to write a couple of articles but feeling a little tired and unmotivated I found myself instead scrolling through facebook tryng to avoid the inevitable task of knuckling down to the keyboard. Suddenly I came across a poem written by Canadian author Lorielie Rozzano. www.jaggedlittleedges.com.

It was titled I need to get high ‘ and in graphic detail outlined how a child’s (whatever age) addiction can consume the lives of parents. It ends with these words …

Your world revolves around one thing… ME

But will your love ever become greater than the fear? Would you be strong enough to reach out for help? Will you learn to say No? Will you allow me to experience the consequences of my actions? Will you love me enough to feel your guilt ridden discomfort and stop enabling my addiction?’

Reading it resonated so loudly with me that it lead me to read some more poems by her. Her work closely reflects the work that i am carrying out with parents in the Hale and Altrincham area of South Manchester.

I receive phone calls daily from family members that are desperate for me to help them get their children to stop using. They tell me that if only this child of theirs would stop taking drugs all would be well in their world. As much as I understand this way of  thinking my experience throughout my years of being a therapist informs me that you can not change anyone else but yourself. This is a particularly painful experience for parents as they believe that they should be able to make everything ok for this child of theirs.

When I gently start explaining to them that in fact every-time they try to make things better for their child what they actually do is take responsibility for them. What needs to happen is the grown up child needs to start taking responsibility for themselves if there is any chance of them facing their addiction. This process of handing over responsibility to the child helps them accept that only they can make that decision to start getting better. Sometimes things can seem to get worse before they get better. It is the job of the parent during this painful time to seek help through therapy and support groups and learn to remain strong during this period of their child’s addiction and continue to practice tough love.

Parents often feel extremely guilty about not stepping in to bail their child out every time there is a crisis. It takes a lot of work with a therapist to help them understand that allowing their children to feel the privilege of their rock bottom is what is most likely to get their child to seek help. Experiencing a painfull rock bottom is what motivates change. Why change if everything is kept comfortable for you by your parents and their inability to ‘let go’ of your addiction by sorting out every unpaid bill, drug dealer debts, car dramas etc….

I get questioned if this is not the parent abstaining their parental responsibility. NO ITS NOT. Often it is harder initially to not help than it is to help. What often happens though is the more the parent focuses on their child the more emotionally and sometimes physically unwell they become. Helping their child’s addiction becomes their obsession or in other words it becomes their addiction. Letting go of this and stepping back from enabling the child’s behaviour allows the parent to start getting emotionally better themselves. This in turn allows them to engage with the rest of the family in a more functional way. In time they are able to let go of the guilt and recognise how small their world had become and how this had not helped their child at all. In fact it had the opposite effect by preventing the child feeling enough pain that they might in fact want to make changes whilst at the same time making the parent very unwell by isolating them, causing stress, anxiety and depression.

If your son or daughters addiction is consuming your life and making you emotionally and/or physically unwell please contact me at Victoria Abadi Therapies for a free telephone consultation.

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Internet Addiction

The question on everybody’s lips ‘Is internet addiction real?’download

Everybody knows someone who forever has their head in the screen of their mobile phone, laptop, tablet or PC. Ever tried to have a conversation with that person whilst they are engrossed in this behaviour. Have you found that its impossible to get their attention or to get them to focus on what you are saying. Is that person you? Recently Chinese scientists have observed differences in the brains of people who obsessively use the Internet similar to those found in

people who have substance addictions.

The Chinese study found for the first time that internet addiction has been linked with changes in the brain similar to those seen in people addicted to cannabis, cocaine and alcohol. The study revealed how researchers used MRI scanners to reveal abnormalities in the brains of adolescents who spent many hours on the internet. This behaviour showed a significant decrease of performance and engagement in their social and personal lives. It is hoped that these findings will highlight the need for treatment for these adolescents in the hope that they can once again learn how to use the internet in a responsible fashion or alternatively have to abstain from the internet altogether for a period of time. It is estimated that 5 to 10 per cent of internet users are thought to be addicted – meaning they are unable to control their use. The majority of those that are addicted are games players who become so absorbed in the activity that they go without food or drink for long periods and their education, work and relationships suffer. It has been reported that some of those suffering found they were even unable to prise themselves away from the screen to go to the toilet and would end up either wetting or soiling themselves and still remain riveted to their screen.  

The Chinese study was published a few days ago in the online journal PLoS ONE and stated

‘Internet addiction disorder (IAD) is currently becoming a serious mental health issue around the globe. Previous studies regarding IAD were mainly focused on associated psychological examinations. However, there are few studies on brain structure and function about IAD. In this study, we used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to investigate white matter integrity in adolescents with IAD.’

We are becoming more and more aware that people can suffer profoundly as a result of overusing the internet whether they are gambling, obsessively using social media sites or playing online games. It is also apparent that it is not only the person who is compulsively using the internet that is suffering but also those people who love and care for them are being affected by their behaviour.

If you or someone you know is affected by internet addiction then call Victoria Abadi Therapies for a free telephone consultation or fill in the contact form.

Heroin linked deaths surge due to crack down on prescription drugs

The Rise of Prescription and Over the Counter Painkillers

centre for disease control and prevention have issued data stating that heroin related deaths have increased in America by 39% over the past year. This number is still increasing due to the cut down on prescription painkillers. Users of prescription opioid painkillers are shifting their use to heroin because of the difficulty they are experiencing getting their prescriptions from GP’s or illicitly buying these prescription drugs on the internet. This crackdown has not reached the United Kingdom yet hence the ever increasing amount of patients presenting at drug services or counselling for treatment for their use of prescription or over the counter painkillers.

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There has been a large increase of members attending mutual aid groups such as Narcotics Anonymous reporting that they have been abusing opiated painkillers. The number one offender is codeine closely followed by over the counter drugs such as co-codamol. There is now warnings on these packs sold over the counter stating the danger of forming a dependancy.

I am starting to hear more and more of my clients describing how they had stopped using alcohol, cocaine or heroin only to find that they had started to substitute with prescription or over the counter painkillers. somehow the disease of addiction had used its cunning means to convince them that something prescribed by their doctor or that they could buy at Tescos could not be dangerous for them. They described reaching a place of desperation exactly the same as they had initially felt when reaching the end of their original dependancy. It is important when working with these clients that they are informed of the dangers of going on to use heroin if their supply of prescription or over the counter opiates becomes compromised. This is a real danger as recently reported in The Huffington Post on the 12/1/2015.

It is not only users of other substances that are getting hooked on prescription and/or over the counter opiates. A study is currently being carried out by CRI on the prevalence of codeine use amongst the student population. The internet also provides an easy way of accessing opiated painkillers. It is time that we started talking to the public about this epidemic that is occurring. Education is paramount. Lets let people know that prescription and over the counter drugs can cause as much heartache and damage as heroin and cocaine.

If you know someone or indeed you yourself are struggling with opiate dependancy please feel free to call Victoria Abadi Therapies for a free telephone consultation. Alternatively fill in the contact form.

Family Counselling

It is becoming more widely understood that someone using substances can affect the whole family and how people behave and relate to each other. Often the family members suffering goes unnoticed or can be viewed as not as important as the ‘addicted persons’. Counsellors  recognise that the family as a whole, or individual family members can start to become emotionally unwell due to the stress of caring for their loved one who is using.
It can often be hard to know if what you are doing is really helping and how much you are being affected by someone else’s behaviours.
It is also sometimes difficult to recognise that the family might need professional help as the focus is often on the person using. Some family members may say things like ‘ it’s not me with the problem, it’s his or hers using that is the issue’. It’s hard to accept that their issues impact on everybody around them and consequently family members forget to look after themselves. This can result in stress, anxiety, depression, anger and a sense of hopelessness.
Counselling can offer the following services to people affected by a loved ones use of substances or addictive behaviours such as gambling, sex addiction, eating disorders and internet addiction :-
One to one counselling- where you can talk safely to someone about your situation. This is a confidential space where you can explore how you are affected by your loved ones using and look at ways of moving forwards.
Family sessions- where the family can come together to sit down and look at the problems and possible solutions with everyone involved.
Structured groups- an 8 week structured group to help the family both understand and learn more about addiction and gain support from other families in similar situations. There is great therapeutic benefit in knowing you are not alone with your problems. The group explores ways of staying emotionally well balanced whilst a loved one is using. It aims to teach members about detachment, enabling, codependancy and improve communications within the family. To find out more about the group and how to apply for a place on the next one please contact Victoria by email or telephone from the contact page.
Victoria Abadi has been working in the field of addiction for the past 21 years. For the past 17 years she has been working as a qualified MBACP counsellor. She is very proud to have been part of inspiring change within addicted families for the past 2 decades.
If you feel you need some help within your family either with or without the ‘addicted person’ pleas call Victoria Abadi Therapies on 07983726647 or email on victoriaabadi66@gmail.com
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How to avoid Relapse

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RELAPSE PREVENTION

Relapse is a process, it’s not an event. In order to understand relapse prevention you have to understand the stages of relapse. Relapse starts weeks or even months before the event of physical relapse. Within therapy you can learn how to use specific relapse prevention techniques for each stage of relapse. There are three stages of relapse.

  • Emotional relapse
  • Mental relapse
  • Physical relapse

Within therapy we are able to discuss with you where you feel you may be in regards to relapse. It may be that you have already started drinking/using again and are looking for some support to get clean and sober. It might be that you have not yet picked a substance up yet but feel close to doing so. relapse prevention can help you explore why it is you feel the compulsion to use has returned and explore strategies of preventing this mental relapse turning into a physical relapse.

Many people who become free of substances and embark on a journey of recovery feel very grateful to have stopped using. This is not always the case, for some people that process can be extremely painful as the drugs/alcohol were masking a lot of pain that was already there before and during the course of their addiction. This can mean that when they remove the dependancy they are still left with a lot of emotional pain. if this pain is not dealt with by either attending support groups and/or counselling the pain can leave them at high risk of using substances again.

If you feel at risk of using a drink or drug again or have already picked a substance up maybe its time to consider some extra support.

Contact Victoria Abadi Therapies for a free telephone consultation on 07983726647
or email Victoriaabadi66@gmail.com

Sex addiction ‘Is it real’?

Often people ask me if sex addiction is a  real thing? My response is yes watching porn has been shown to activate the same reaction in the brain as cocaine use. I have worked with many clients who have reported taking risks around their sexual behaviours that they would never dream of taking normally. They state that at the time that they are feeling the obsession to ‘act out’ sexually the thought of the possible consequences do not deter them. They talk about loss of marriages, police arrests and loss of jobs being amongst some of those consequences. Even with the threat of loosing all or some of the above ‘ sex addicts’ state that the compulsion to act out sexually is still stronger.

Addiction is a condition that consists of a repeated compulsive need for and use of a habit forming substance or behaviour despite the adverse social physical or emotional consequences’

There are other arguments that suggest sex addiction is not real but is in fact a smoke screen for what is really more about who you are as a person. These arguments suggest that for instance watching violent porn is unlikely to make you act out in a sexually violent way unless you already have a predisposition towards being violent and/or aggressive.

Lennard J Davies States that ‘it’s real in the sense that people say they have it. But it is invented in the sense that how much sex you have, how happy you are with that, how guilty you feel about what you do in the dark with whom are all heavily subject to culture and morality. Our culture is, after all, obsessed with sex, and obsessed with controlling sex. Sex addiction is the perfect poster boy to embody that dichotomy.’

My work has lead me to believe that there is a little bit of truth in both arguments. There is likely to be some underlying trauma that has predisposed a person towards acting out sexually but whatever the truth is the fact remains that if it is causing pain to the person or anyone else then change is most likely required. The first step is admitting you have a problem and then asking for help.

Sex addiction therapy works in a very similar way to drug and alcohol dependency therapy. A plan of action needs to be devised which more often than not will include the client figuring out what behaviour is causing them pain and learning ways to then abstain from it. Such behaviour is called a ‘bottom line behaviour’. Therapy helps clients work towards abstaining from unhealthy behaviours that cause them pain and work towards building healthy intimate relationships.

If you are worried about your sexual behaviours and think you might be a sex addict call me Victoria Abadi on 07983726647 for a free 20 minute telephone conversation.

Cited Lennnard J Davies, Pschology Today

Learning to Live with and Survive an Eating Disorder

eating-disorders-300x237_1Learning to Live With and Survive An Eating Disorder
A true account of one woman’s experience with dealing with her eating disorder!

I was 18 years old when I first started to dislike my body. I had spent the past 6 months living on a kibbutz in Israel. My diet for those 6 months consisted of hard boiled eggs, cucumber, apricots and bread. I had always been a picky eater and a kibbutz canteen is not the place to eat if you are in the least bit squeamish about what you digest! It was hard to tell what most of the dishes were, even distinguishing between animal, mineral or vegetable was tricky! So true to past form I stuck to the foods that were safe in my mind!!

On arriving back in Manchester my father greeted me off the plane with these immortal words ”oh look at you with your little footballers legs” a seemingly innocuous throw away remark which to this day I can still hear reverberating around my conscious mind! That comment was the beginning of years of pain, obsession and a never ending quest for perfection! I was 18, a size 8 and had my whole life ahead of me yet somehow I believed I was not good enough and the only way to be better was to control what I put in my body and be thinner.

Although it was that comment that started my obsession with my weight I recognise now that there were other factors at play way before then that pre-disposed me towards having an eating disorder. I grew up in a middle class family in the leafy suburbs of Hale and Wilmslow. The emphasis was very much on achieving and bettering ones self. Talking about feelings was something that did not happen in my family. There were problems in my family just like there are problems in most peoples families. It was a case of toughen up and get on with it as its a hard world out there and talking about it was just not the done thing. I believe I was always over sensitive and responded in a negative way to any form of criticism. Unfortunately I often heard my parents attempt to push me further academically as a form of criticism rather than encouragement. My self esteem always felt low due to this. It is important to note here that I do not attach blame to my parents but acknowledge that it was a combination of family beliefs and my own struggles dealing with any difficult emotions that I believe lay me open to using food and weight to control my feelings.

I became obsessed with looking at images of models in magazines and began to judge and condemn myself for not being strong willed enough to be as thin as they were. It was at this point that I first started to purge. I was never particularly an over eater but each time I ate anything I felt weak willed and this in turn made me dislike myself further. If I made myself sick then I would feel slightly better about myself as I felt then that at least I had a bit of control over what I was keeping in my body. I have since learnt that bulimia is an addictive illness as there is something about the ritual of eating and purging that fits into the obsessive/compulsive nature of addiction.

‘ Addiction is a primary, chronic, neurobiologic disease, with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors. . . . It is characterized by behaviors that include one or more of the following: impaired control over drug use or addictive behaviour such as gambling shopping and eating disorders, compulsive use, continued use despite harm, and craving ‘(Savage et al., 2003).

When I look back I can clearly recognise how I felt I had no choice but to rid myself of the food I had eaten. I was locked into a cycle of obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour patterns.

This behaviour continued into my early 20’s when I discovered that there were other ways of controlling my weight which did not include purging. The next few years of my life were characterised by drug use which I can now clearly see, through counselling, that I was using in order to control my weight. At the time I was only vaguely aware that the drugs I used kept my weight down, I was more inclined to think I was just doing the same as a lot of my friends, the only difference being I did not seem to have a ‘stop’ button. In the same way I had been locked into a cycle of binging and purging I was then caught up in the same obsessive compulsive pattern of behaviour with my drug use.

By the time I was 23 it was very clear to see that I was very poorly. My weight had plummeted to 6 and a half stone and my behaviours were erratic. It was at this point that I had my first psychological intervention. I saw a psychiatrist who recommended I enter into a detox facility to address my drug use. At this point I did not disclose that I had an eating disorder although my parents were aware that I would make myself sick every time I ate. The drug addiction seemed to be so much more the problem than the eating disorder that all the psychological help I had focused on that. Maybe if I had been more honest back then about my low self worth and insecurities I might have saved myself and others a lot of pain. As it was I continued to act out on my eating even though I was remaining abstinent from all mood altering chemicals. I had not addressed why I felt so much less than most other people.

This behaviour continued for another couple of years until I became pregnant with my first child. For the first time ever I knew I had to get honest with someone as I was afraid my purging was going to effect my unborn baby. I spoke to my obstetrician who suggested I speak to a counsellor about my relationship with food.

I entered into counselling and began to admit how much of my life had been consumed with my weight, my body image, thoughts of eating or not eating and how desperately I craved freedom from this obsessive way of thinking and behaving. The more I began to understand how much I disliked myself and how using food gave me some control in my life the more I became aware of what changes I needed to make. The first thing I needed to do was to start to like myself. To do this first of all I needed to forgive myself for my negative ways of behaving and to start practicing new behaviours that made me feel better about myself.

Through the help of counselling I learnt that I needed to take small steps towards improving my self worth. The first thing was to start talking honestly and openly about how I felt with people I trusted. It was suggested that I start attending groups where I could get identification with other people who had used food in the same way I had. This enabled me to feel less isolated with my problem and also to believe that I wasn’t a bad person but that in fact I was a sick person trying to get well. It was also suggested that I start exercising in a healthy moderate way. Yoga was very strongly advised due to the calming, meditative values it combines with keeping fit. Yoga became very dear to me and has continued to be an important part of my life even now 20 years later. I then had to learn how to eat foods that were healthy to my body. The more I practiced this the less desire I had to purge. After about a year of therapy and practicing healthy living combined with attending mutual aid groups I stopped purging.

I have continued to be free from purging for the past 20 years. That is not to say that I feel I am cured from my eating disorder. I believe I am in a recovery process that means I have to continue to take care of my physical, emotional and spiritual being at all times. There are times when this is easier than at others. I have suffered periods of relapse where my thinking pattern has again become obsessive around the food I put in my body and my body image. This is usually at times of high stress and invariably is when I am not talking to other people about how I feel. Counselling was always and continues to be a safe place for me to talk about my emotional difficulties without worrying those that are closest to me. Unfortunately those closest to me can be afraid that if I talk about my struggles too openly with them then I might be on a downward spiral. Therapy allows me to be really open and honest about my demons. It is my belief that you are never cured of an eating disorder but that you can learn to live a happy and fulfilled life without being obsessed with food and weight and also to loose the desire to act out on it in a compulsive and destructive way. It is all about discovering who you really are, accepting yourself and having the courage to take that journey that helps you learn to love yourself.

Are you struggling with an eating disorder, or are worried about somebody elses eating disorder? If you are and wish to speak to someone about entering into counselling to get help then you can contact me at victoriaabadi66@gmail.com or call me for a free 20 minute telephone consultation on 07983726647.