Mind hacks, strategies and ways of getting on with life – part one

Mind hacks, strategies and ways of getting on with life – part one

Psychologists love metaphors, ways of converting intangible ideas and concepts into real life 3d representations.

One common one throughout my first degree was of a mental toolbox filled with different skills and techniques we can draw on. After all, if all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. Rather than a toolbox, hopefully, this is a small van full of ideas that can be drawn on to help with the challenges involved in defeating addiction – or other issues in life.

Perfect and dull, or imperfect and interesting?
I’ve mentioned before the Japanese art of restoring broken pottery and porcelain using metallic, ending up with a restored piece arguably more beautiful than before. A similar idea would be to imagine two very similar Georgian pieces of furniture in a shop window. One is in mint condition, having been preserved in storage since it was made, the other has burn marks, even a big hole in it, and is generally the worse for wear. Yet it is the second piece that commands the higher price and by a considerable margin.

Going inside to find out why, the shopkeeper explains why – the burn marks are from the time when the piece was caught in the fire at Windsor Castle – it has a royal provenance, and the hole was made by a musket ball during the time it was owned by Sir Arthur Wellesley (before he came to the Duke of Wellington). So one piece was made and then languished unused and unloved, the other has been at the heart of history and has a full and rich story behind it. I suggest that we are the same, knocking around life (and being knocked about by it) ends up giving us greater value than those who are never tested, who avoid at all costs any risks or unconventional experiences.

Small, regular celebrations
Sometimes it is easy to focus on the negatives and miss the positive experiences in life. Small celebrations can reinforce progress and help shift our focus on our successes, as well as bringing a little joy along the way. I have permission to share the method developed with one client who grappled with and overcame issues that had previously dominated their life. Due to their childhood upbringing, candles and cakes both had positive meanings and significance so once a week they would celebrate the success in reaching goals by having a ceremony of having a small cake with a candle in it to mark their progress. I asked in our last session what they would do after a year – ‘Big cake, lots of candles’. We each need to find our own rituals and ways to celebrate moving forward, things that have both significance and a resonance to who we wish to become – and are becoming.

Large celebrations
Again, another story I have permission to share. To mark the end of a bad part of their lives and to celebrate a new future, this client went on holiday with their new partner to a favourite spot – a beach in the sunshine. Using a felt marker to write initials on to stones to represent all the parts of their life that were being discarded, these were thrown into the sea one by one – timed with the sunrise to mark the transition between the old and the new. I still have and treasure the stone they brought back for me to mark the occasion, perhaps moving on from a therapist represented another step forward?! Again, whatever we do has to have a strong meaning just for us – even if no-one else. I have a longstanding agreement with a friend that we mark particular milestones by treating the other to a meal on a train, together with our partners. Although these trips are rare (the milestones being pretty big ones), the trips are more significant, more memorable because of that.


Panic box
This was a technique I learned very early on in a placement from a client who put together a box full of reminders about all the things that had value and meaning in their life pictures, souvenirs, old toys – anything that had a positive significance for them. When they could feel cravings creeping up on them, temptations to dive back into a bottle, they would pull the box out from under the bed and go through all the item in turn. Each and every one of them was a reminder of the good things in their life, what they stood to lose by reverting to old habits, by the time they had finished going through the box, the temptations would have been defeated.


Along the same lines, anything that redirects our focus away from cravings and on to something to do can help break the cycle of negative thoughts. In the same way, a sound system can catch a particular frequency and amplify it back through itself again and again until it feeds back and turns into ‘howlround’, left by ourselves negative thoughts can chase around our minds in a self-reinforcing pattern – becoming stronger all the time. Finding something distracting to do can break the cycle, cutting the power to the unwanted thoughts as we give our mental resources a constructive task. Adult colouring in books have become popular recently, jigsaws have a long history and there are many crafts that can either provide the comfort of a regular action or else demand so much attention to detail that we have no time left to worry about anything else. These crafts can be as creative, demanding, professional, intricate and as large or small as you want – just so long as you are absorbed by them, and gain a sense of achievement on completion.


Paul Hurst

Nick Conn / 7th May 2018/ Posted in: Latest News

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    Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

    The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

    Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

    • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
    • Lorazepam (Ativan)
    • Diazapam (vailium)

    Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

    There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

    • Naltrexone
    • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
    • Nalmefene
    • Acamprosate (campral)

    Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

    There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

    Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

    A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

    Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

    The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

    Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

    Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

    Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

    *based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

    There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

    If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

    If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

    Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

    How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

    There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

    Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

    There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

    Local treatment

    Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

    Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

    Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

    Treatment Away

    Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

    As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

    When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

    There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

    Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

    There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

    Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

    Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

    Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

    Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

    Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

    Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

    How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

    The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

    Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

    Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

    Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

    You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

    The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

    There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.