Living with drug or alcohol user? I can help.

Living with drug or alcohol user? I can help.

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve all had a happy Christmas/holiday. If yours has been affected by living with a drug or alcohol user, let me ask you:

  1. Is someone you love having a problem with alcohol or drugs?
  2. Are they refusing to get help or admit they have a problem?
  3. Have you tried to help but you’re not getting anywhere?

Want some help? Read on… (click on the links for more info)

 

The Vesta Programme

The Vesta Programme

The Vesta Approach supports families affected by a loved one’s substance use. I have created The Vesta Programme, a twelve-week therapeutic programme. It’s a programme that teaches ‘concerned others’ (that’s you!) how to change the environment to shape a loved one’s behaviour towards their substance use.  In other words, you cannot change their substance use but you can influence it by making being sober or drug free more rewarding than alcohol and other drug use. You can motivate and unmotivated substance user to get treatment for their alcohol and other drug use.

 

The Vesta Programme aims to:

  1. Help you to recover from a loved one’s alcohol or other drug use.
  2. Improve your quality of life.
  3. Get your loved one into treatment.

The Vesta Online Programme will be launched soon and is an amazing, unique and confidential service that people can access anywhere in the world. It’s based on an evidence based programme by Phil Harris.

 

Why work with the family member and not the person using alcohol or drugs?

 

When we look at the number one reason why people enter into a substance misuse service the biggest single factor is family pressure.  Studies show that 80% of people sought help for drug and alcohol problems because of family pressure to do so.  Families are a central force that drive change. Through working with people close to a drug or alcohol user, you are in a far better position to help them to change than many professionals! You just need to know how to do it. That’s where I come in.

As well as influencing your loved one to make changes to their substance use, the programme also works for the family members in other ways.   After what might be years of battling with the loved one and the incredible toll this can take, it is a huge relief to share this with someone who is prepared to understand and not judge.  It can help remind you of your own needs and sense of self after a long period of self-neglect.

I know, having worked with young people and families affected by substance use for a decade, how difficult it is to get out of the house and get support for yourself. It’s hard enough to admit you need help in the first place when you’re constantly looking after somebody else’s needs. That’s why I’ve taken this programme and developed it so that anyone living someone else’s drinking and other drug use can get the help they need to change their life.

I also offer my confidential programmes one to one via Skype, wherever my support is needed, and face to face in the Manchester (UK) area.

 

Five Days Towards Family Recovery

 

The Five Days Towards Family Recovery Programme is an introductory week-long programme. I’ve created this as my vision is to provide services and forge a community, helping as many families as possible live their lives fully and free from addiction. I realise that the Vesta Programme being twelve weeks long is quite a commitment, so I wanted to give you the opportunity to gain some wonderful learning and strategies to take away with you from the week so that you can start putting yourself first. It will also give you the opportunity to see how I work and a taste of what the complete programme looks like.

If you complete Five Days Towards Family Recovery, you will:

  1. Have an understanding of what addiction and recovery are.
  2. Have reviewed the strategies you have tried, to stop your loved one using drugs or drinking, and planned which to continue and which to stop.
  3. Explored the costs and benefits of your loved one’s substance use and why you need to know.
  4. To map the possible reactions of your loved when you make changes in your behaviour towards their substance us.
  5. To make a plan to lead a better life, regardless of whether your loved one chooses to use substances or not.

 

Who is it for?

 

  • The programme is for anyone who is worried about a loved one’s drinking or drug use.
  • The programme works best if you see them regularly.
  • You might be a friend, partner, child, parent, grandparent or any other extended family member. If you are worried about your loved one’s substance use, this is for you.
  • At the moment, this programme is for adult family members and your loved one must be 18 or over. If you or your loved one are under 18, please call me, email me or message me on my Facebook page. I will direct you to some alternative support.

 

How do I get more information

 

Call or text me on 07984 837302, email me or join my Facebook page and message me

 

To sign up

 

Contact me if you are interested. You can also request individual support from me.

When you complete the course, you will have access to a Facebook group where you will get ongoing support from others in the same situation as yourself and information and advice from me.

 

Make time for you

 

help for loved ones drug or alcohol use

When living with a problem user, it is really difficult to get time for yourself.  This is especially true if you have sought sanctuary from home life in work or other commitments.  Vesta offers the flexibility, ease and convenience to give you the help you need at a time and place that is best for you. The added benefit is that you will be accessing an evidence based programme of support. That means it has been tried and has

The important thing I want you to remember is that you are not alone. For every problematic substance user in the country, five people are negatively affected. Living with a problematic drug or alcohol users is the country’s best kept secret.  It is a not your fault that the loved one uses, but you can influence their use.

 

I can help

 

My service, The Vesta Approach, supports families affected by a loved one’s substance use. You can access confidential support from me wherever you are in the world. I will help you to get your loved one into treatment and lead a better life. I offer face to face sessions in the Manchester (UK) area. You can also get help via Skype  and an online group therapeutic programme.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Sign up to my mailing list here to keep up to date with Vesta news and get my free 10 Steps to Family Recovery download.

 

 

Take Care.

See you next week,

 

Victoria x

Boundary setting with a drug or alcohol user- a guide

Boundary setting with a drug or alcohol user- a guide

Last week, I focused on how to plan Christmas with a drug or alcohol user. I promised I would go into more detail about boundary setting this week. This is a crucial starting point for anyone who lives with a drug or alcohol user. Let’s get straight into it.

 

Principles to think about

 

The Vesta Programme is based on 4 key principles:

  1. To reward your loved one when sober- plan rewards in for when your loved one is sober, remove the rewards if they have used
  2. Use positive communication techniques- use I messages
  3. Disabling enabling behaviours (don’t do anything that makes their substance use easier like giving money or cleaning up after them)
  4. Withdrawing when your loved one uses (if they drink or use, remove your company from them using an I-message, this gives a message that you won’t be around if they choose to use. If you have planned a reward or to do something nice, leave them to it and explain that you love them but will not be around if they choose to drink)

Keep these in mind and if you can, memorise them or write them down, put them in the notes on your phone to refer to at tricky times. I cannot go through all the details here as it takes a full programme to explain but you can sign up to my Mailing list or my Facebook page for updates, information and advice here.

 

Boundary setting

 

The reason you need to set boundaries is:

  • Because you need them to look after yourself
  • It is beneficial to your loved one in the long run that you can take a step back and think about what you can and what you can’t accept
  • It keeps you safe from harm.
  • It prevents you from being in a vulnerable position so that you can start to live a better life and recover from your loved one’s substance use.
  • It gives you a baseline to refer to when your loved one oversteps the mark. It keeps the focus on you and gives you some control of the situation. It will also help you to tip the balance so that the benefits of your loved one’s substance use are outweighed by the consequences.

 

How to do it:

 

  1. Think about the last month. Which behaviours have been acceptable, and which haven’t? Make a note of these and how many times each have occurred.
  2. Think about what the consequences will be for your loved for each unacceptable behaviour. Keep these relative to the problem. For example, if they use in the house, will you ask them to leave? If they puke everywhere, will you stop cleaning up for them? If they ask for money, will you give it to them? What if they bring drug or alcohol using friends home? What about domestic or emotional abuse? Covering up for them?
  3. Will you accept substance using behaviour around you or in your home or not?
  4. Do not even think about setting boundaries when your loved one has used/had a drink!
  5. Plan a time when you know there is a pattern when they are sober and open to having a conversation without other people being present.
  6. Write down what you want to say and if it doesn’t work out at that time, keep trying.
  7. Use I-Messages to plan out what you are going to say.
  8. Say it calmly (shouting and nagging doesn’t work!)
  9. Put your own needs first but tell them you love them and care for them.
  10. Follow through with your consequences calmly if needed.
  11. Don’t give in to manipulative behaviours. This is part of problematic substance use and if you have made plans and your loved one doesn’t want to take part, carry on with your life.
  12. Now is not the time for conflict. Try and make your life as peaceful as possible and join my Five Days Towards Family Recovery programme to find out what to do next.

 

This will change your life. Why? Because regardless of whether your loved one chooses to continue drinking or not, you will start to gain the confidence to get on with your own life.

 

I can help

 

If you are living with a loved one’s drug or alcohol use, I can help you.

My service, The Vesta Approach, supports families affected by a loved one’s substance use. You can access confidential support from me wherever you are in the world. I will help you to get your loved one into treatment and lead a better life. I offer face to face sessions in the Manchester (UK) area. You can also get help via Skype and an online group therapeutic programme.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I share lots of great information and advice on my Facebook page.

Sign up to my mailing list here to keep up to date with Vesta news and get my free 10 Steps to Family Recovery download.

Take Care.

See you next week,

 

Victoria x

How to plan Christmas while living with a drug or alcohol user

How to plan Christmas while living with a drug or alcohol user

With Christmas approaching fast and the assumption that every man and his dog are going to get ‘merry’ aka hammered throughout, we need to have a think about people who have problems with alcohol and other drugs. Not only that, we need to think about the people who are living with their problems. Planning Christmas now will help you to gain a bit more control over what’s going to happen,

These times of celebration are so connected with alcohol intake or substance use in our society, that it’s not only a massive trigger time for people in recovery or those currently having problems with substances, but for their families and friends also. Can you stop them using or drinking? No. Can you say what you will and wont accept in a caring manner? Yes.

 

What might people with drug and alcohol problems be thinking?

 

(I’ll refer to drinking for the rest of the article but that’s just for ease! Include drugs in this too)

  • Oh no I’ve got to spend time with Aunty Doris who will try and offer me whiskey and tell me to ‘treat myself’
  • Everyone will be drinking (this might cause dread or excitement, depending on whether someone is in recovery or not)
  • I’ve got to face my family and I know they are a trigger for me drinking. Can I make a plan to get out of there?
  • Oh great, an excuse for free booze!
  • How much drinking can I get away with this Christmas?

 

What might families be thinking?

 

  • We’ve been invited round to my mums for tea but last time, my partner got wasted and started arguing with Aunty Doris
  • What if they have a drink? They’ve only stopped for a few months and I don’t want things to go back to the way they were
  • I hope they can manage to walk away if they feel like they need a drink
  • I just know they’re going to drink too much and I feel worried and anxious
  • I don’t want them drinking in the house

 

So, now what?

 

The best thing to do is have a conversation about what you will, and you won’t accept from your loved one’s drinking and what the consequences will be. Will this be a tough conversation to have? Yes. Will it cause conflict? Maybe, but you’re no doubt getting that anyway and this will be a baseline to what substance using behaviours you will accept, what you won’t and what the consequences may be.

 

What does a friend in recovery say?

 

I decided to ask a friend of mine about his thoughts on this as, although I have a great deal of experience in supporting families, he describes himself as an alcoholic and an addict for over 20 years and is now in recovery. He has more insight into what it’s like for a drinker or drug user at this time of year. This Christmas will be his second sober Christmas. Thomas says he hit his rock bottom (bear in mind that not everybody experiences this to change- see my previous blog on this here) but turned his life around and has set up his own hypnotherapy practice, specialising in addictions.

He suggests that to help a loved one who drinks or uses drugs over the Christmas period, we should:

  • Avoid going to places where they previously or currently use drink/use drugs
  • Encourage communication so that your loved one feels ok to say they are having a down day and that they don’t feel pushed to go and see Aunty Doris
  • Let your loved one have a get out plan, so there is a person there they can say they need to leave to and that this can take place without questioning with that person leaving with your loved one.
  • Be considerate of each other
  • Don’t use or drink in front of them
  • Plan in sober activities
  • Get an understanding of problematic substance use or addiction- this helps so much as you loved one won’t see any value in talking to you if there is conflict or lack of understanding
  • Don’t ignore each other hoping it will go away
  • Set clear boundaries (I’ll post more on boundary setting next week)

 

Thanks so much to Thomas for contributing to this post. You can reach him on Facebook or you can check out his website at his fabulous Hypnotherapy service.

 

I can help!

 

If you are living with a loved one’s drug or alcohol use, I can help you.

My service, The Vesta Approach, supports families affected by a loved one’s substance use. You can access confidential support from me wherever you are in the world. I will help you to get your loved one into treatment and lead a better life. I offer face to face sessions in the Manchester (UK) area. You can also get help via Skype and an online group therapeutic programme.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I share lots of great information and advice on my Facebook page.

Sign up to my mailing list here to keep up to date with Vesta news and get my free 10 Steps to Family Recovery download.

Take Care.

See you next week,

 

Victoria x

 

What is recovery?

What is recovery?

What is recovery?

 

In the substance misuse ‘world’ we talk about recovery all the time because this is what we and individuals using alcohol and other drug users mostly strive to achieve. The actual term means different things to different people and that is okay, because each person’s recovery journey is unique and individual to them. When you hear people say they are ‘in recovery’ this usually means that they are recovering from substance use (be careful, it can mean recovering from other things too!- like an operation).

 

A definition

 

I hate to tell you this, but there is no clear definition of recovery!

Recovery in the general sense is defined as, ‘a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength’. Okay, so if we can define ‘normal’ then we might be onto something, but this implies there was a baseline ‘state of mind’ that we can aim to return to. What if there wasn’t? What if someone has always needed help and never quite got it? According to our National Drug Strategy,’ up to 70% of people in community substance misuse treatment also experience mental illness’. I’m not sure whether this is as a result of their substance use or that substance users have not been diagnosed or have self-medicated with their particular substance instead of getting treatment for their mental health. What I do know is that this figure is extremely high and suggests that people cannot get the help they need while using substances.

Does it help us not having a definition? Not really. We do need to have an idea of what it means so that we can support our loved one’s to achieve it!

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) in the U.S.A. offers this definition:

“Recovery from alcohol and drug problems is a process of change through which an individual achieves abstinence and improved health, wellness and quality of life.”

This is a pretty good example of a definition.

There are a couple of points I would like to make.

1. Firstly, notice ‘abstinence‘ is stated here. This is the ultimate, but not the only, goal of recovery. Cutting down, having a bit at the weekend or any of those type of suggestions are more than likely going to be unsuccessful with problematic drug or alcohol users. an individual’s recovery journey is their own so abstinence cannot be forced on them.

 

Why do you think abstinence is preferred?

 

Well, if substance use is a symptom of something else such as masking pain or other problems, or is down to genetics or environment, cutting down is not going to alleviate the cause.  Substance use may be a symptom of one of these things, so, in order to address those problems, your loved one ideally needs to be sober. If they are not, then this work can still be undertaken providing their use is stable.

An example of this in my work has been with clients who have both substance misuse and mental health problems (this is called Dual Diagnosis). In order to support someone with mental health problems, they ideally need to be sober, so that an accurate assessment of their mental health can be made. If they are under the influence, then this is not always possible. Then, it’s a case of establishing whether the substance misuse has caused or increased mental health issues or that the substance user has been self-medicating with substances because of their mental health. Do you see what I mean?

Harm Reduction is an alternative way of supporting substance users who might not want to stop or reduce their use, but can learn to use safely. For example, injecting drug users can access needle exchanges for clean needles that reduces the risk of infection. Or, a drinker might slow down their pace, make sure they have eaten and have nothing planned the next day.

2. The second point is about ‘improved health, wellness and quality of life’.  Giving up drugs or alcohol is not the end of a substance users journey and cannot be done in isolation. In fact, addiction is a chronic relapsing condition, which means that it is unlikely that your loved one will give up on their first attempt and not have a lapse or a relapse. Don’t despair at this though, because every attempt brings them closer to recovery.

 

In order to be well and lead a quality life, what do we need?

 

We need people to help and support us, we need to address all areas of our lives such as relationships, home life, finances, physical, mental and emotional health, parenting, our ambitions and goals in life. This is called a holistic approach or supporting someone with their whole self. This doesn’t mean that you have to do all this work! This is your loved one’s journey.

It is important that you understand as a family member or friend that your loved one’s first step to recovery is being open to getting support and then, get treatment. Rehabs and other substance misuse services are well placed to undertake this work and will complete a full assessment with your loved one when they access treatment.

 

Recovery Communities

 

Recovery communities are often peer led support groups or communities which are led by people in recovery themselves. In these groups, people support each other by sharing their experiences of their own drug or alcohol use and can also help the community in which they live. Some of these communities are accessible online as well as face to face groups. There is so much variety of this type of support such as AA, NA or Smart Recovery so have a look and see what’s out there in your area and online. This type of support is fantastic following a period in rehab or detox. Some people attend them alongside treatment in their own community. Many people in recovery will continue to attend groups for ongoing support from people who have been through the same situation as themselves.

 

Family Recovery

 

With all the information around addiction and recovery in mind. Why is it important to help families to recover too? I’ve worked as a drug and alcohol practitioner for over ten years. I started working in prisons with young offenders who were there because of drug or alcohol related crimes. I worked with some fantastic young men who had so much potential. Some never came back but many did. Why? Because they were going back to the same environment, the same family, the same problems, the same peers, and coming back to prison with the same issues I had supported them with the last time they visited.

Substance users must learn to maintain their changes and the recovery in the environment in which they live, particularly following rehab, as they often go away for treatment. Families are vital in supporting the recovery of a substance user, whoever they are and from whatever background. It is you who are spending most time with them and it is you that can influence their environment. Changing the environment is the thing that is going to influence your loved one to change. Please note that I am not implying that your are responsible for your loved one’s substance use. This responsibility lies with them, but you can influence their choices.

You need help too! It is you that is experiencing your loved one’s substance use as well as they. You need help to meet your own needs and to help you recover from your loved one’s choices. This will take time and I can show you how.

 

In summary

 

To summarise then, we know there is no clear definition of recovery. The recovery journey will bring different challenges and benefits to different people. What we do know is that it is about overcoming the symptoms and consequences of drug or alcohol use. The starting point is accepting help, then working on cleansing the body of a substance. This is where recovery begins. The next part of the process is to explore the reasons why an individual has been substances problematically and unpick these. These issues can then be worked with, hopefully resulting in long-term abstinence from substance use. We should expect lapses and possibly relapse as addiction is a chronic relapsing condition. We know that finding other alternatives to find pleasure works and also finding a sense of purpose in life can help to create a new life journey for loved one’s and their families.

We also know that very few people are successful in this journey alone.

Recovery, in my opinion, is where we feel comfortable in our own skin.

 

I can help!

 

If you are living with a loved one’s drug or alcohol use, I can help you.

My service, The Vesta Approach, supports families affected by a loved one’s substance use. You can access confidential support from me wherever you are in the world. I will help you to get your loved one into treatment and lead a better life. I offer face to face sessions in the Manchester (UK) area. You can also get help via Skype and an online group therapeutic programme.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

I share lots of great information and advice on my Facebook page.

Sign up to my mailing list here to keep up to date with Vesta news and get my free 10 Steps to Family Recovery download.

Take Care.

See you next week,

 

Victoria x