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Helpful Information for Families

If you love someone who is battling an addiction and you are wondering what to do, please keep the following in mind:

  • Treating an addiction is about more than just about breaking the addict’s physical dependence on the substance – It is a common misconception that curing an addiction simply means abstinence from the substance or behaviour for a long enough period that it is eliminated from the addicted person’s system. This assumption fundamentally misunderstands the nature of addiction and the neurological processes that keep it alive.   As an addiction develops, new and distinct neural pathways are formed in the addicted person’s brain, establishing powerful linkages between the pleasure and relief provided by the substance or behaviour and the routines and triggers of everyday life.  This process might be compared to the formation of a well-trodden hiking trail.  The more we use the path, the faster, easier, and more familiar it becomes.  As we travel it more and more, it becomes wider, smoother, and easier to use.  It becomes a preferred route. The same is true of neural pathways. Over time, the brain forms familiar neural pathways, and these become habitual routes.   Recovery from addiction is about laying new paths and equipping the addicted person with sufficient coping mechanisms and motivation to tread them for a long enough period that they become the preferred route.
  • Sometimes medication is necessary – When treating addictions to opioids (prescription pain relievers or drugs like heroin or fentanyl), medication should be the first line of treatment, followed by some form of behavioural therapy or counseling. Medications are also available to help treat addiction to alcohol and nicotine. Medications are also used to help people detoxify from drugs, although detoxification is not the same as treatment and is not sufficient to help a person recover. Detoxification alone without subsequent behavioural therapy or counseling generally leads to resumption of drug use.
  • Be optimistic – If the addiction is acknowledged and decisive action taken, there is good reason to be optimistic about the future.  The last two decades have seen great strides in the development of effective evidence-based treatment methods and research shows that most people who consciously pursue recovery do ultimately succeed.   A substance use disorder is considered “a good prognosis disorder”. 
  • Be realistic – Expect recovery but be prepared for relapse. Although some people achieve recovery on their first attempt, for others it requires multiple attempts over multiple years.  Family members should also maintain realistic expectations in their interactions with the addicted person.   Your loved one is going to lie to you, and you will want to believe them. They might actually believe themselves. But what they are doing is protecting their illness, because the addictive behaviour or substance has come to seem as vital to them as air. This isn’t to say that you should excuse lying, only that you should understand where it’s coming from so you can take it a little less personally and avoid getting sidetracked by pain and resentment. Instead, keep the lines of communication open, but set clear boundaries that protect you and them, and that encourage a turn toward treatment.
  • You are not to blame – It is not unusual for the immediate family members of a person in active addiction to feel guilt or responsibility for the way that the situation has developed. This is not productive, and it is almost certainly not a true reflection of reality. No matter what you did, how you parented or whether you argued, you did not wish this life for your loved one and you did not cause the condition.  Whatever the circumstances were that led your loved to start using drugs or alcohol, you need to know that addiction is a complicated condition influenced by many factors, including genetics.  It is more than just an emotional or psychological phenomenon.  The structural changes that occur in the addicted brain exert an extremely powerful influence on that person’s behaviour – crowding out reason, common sense and even love. 
  • Educate yourself about treatment options and seek out support networks – A vital first step in moving towards a permanent solution for your loved one and your family is shining a light on the problem.  AlcoholicsNarcotics  Anonymous,  Sex Addicts Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous are well-established non-profit organisations with a robust global network of support for family members of people suffering from addiction.   If your family member is willing to undergo an assessment, Cherrywood House offers this service for free

The effects cocaine has on the body

How does Cocaine Affect the Body

To really understand the gravity of cocaine addiction, we have to get real about its effects on the body. All drugs wreak havoc on an addict, but the long term effects, even after you’ve stopped using, can be truly devastating. No matter how many times you dabble in cocaine, it’s going to have an adverse effect on your body. 

Even the shortest-lived high on cocaine can have lifelong consequences for your health. And there are no two ways about it, those consequences can be deadly. Not only will you quickly become addicted, but it alters the way your brain functions, which makes it all the harder to fight your addiction and find normalcy through sober living.

Here is the impact cocaine has on an addicts body, both short and long term.

The Long Term Effects of Cocaine Abuse

It changes the way your brain functions

Cocaine is as addictive as it is thanks to the intense high it brings, creating an excess of the neurotransmitter dopamine that creates that feeling of euphoria and confidence. This overload alters your neurochemistry, weakening the circuits responsible for joy and pleasure as your brain craves this dopamine reward.

This transformation makes it harder for the addict to experience happiness and pleasure naturally, and additionally, the neurocircuits involved in stress become increasingly more sensitive, raising your levels of displeasure and anxiety. This is what drives addicts to use, and soon enough the only way to feel normal at all is to use. The addict’s brain becomes dependant on cocaine to function, and natural stimulants for joy cease to make a difference, including family, friends, interests, and food. 

With extended use and higher doses, addicts develop a full-blown psychosis, experiencing severe paranoia, panic attacks, hallucinations, restlessness, irritability and more. An addict is not in their right mind, and can even turn to murder to find their fix.

The damage inflicted on the brain also makes addicts susceptible to strokes, seizures, and brain damage. You’ll also permanently experience degradation in your cognitive abilities, resulting in memory loss, a lower attention span, and trouble with decision-making. 

It severely damages your major organs

Cocaine damages many of the essential organs we need to function, most alarmingly the lungs, heart and cardiovascular system. When cocaine thins the blood, it causes a severe drop in blood pressure and causes your heart to beat fast and erratically. Even after use, an addict’s heart beats faster than it should, and the heart becomes damaged with inflammation. The heart loses the ability to contract sufficiently, and addicts will be prone to heart attacks, severe chest pain, and aortic ruptures.

Your gastrointestinal tract also suffers from cocaine addiction; with reduced blood flow to the digestive system, your intestines tear and develop ulcers. This results in a loss of appetite, leading to addicts appearing dangerously thin and malnourished.

The Short Term Effects of Cocaine Use

Cocaine doesn’t just affect you in the long run. As you’re using, your heart will beat erratically, and your brain function and muscle ability slow till even natural things like breathing become difficult. While high, you can experience:

  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Trouble Breathing
  • Abdominal heart rhythm
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Paranoia
  • Tremors
  • Bloody nose

Even during first-time use, cocaine use can cause sudden death from seizure, stroke or cardiac arrest. 

What does a Cocaine Overdose Look Like

A cocaine overdose is a life-threatening situation, and if you suspect you or someone else experiencing an overdose, seek medical help immediately regardless of the situation. Here’s how to recognise an overdose when it occurs

  • The victim will have difficulty breathing, with shallow breaths or no breathing at all.
  • They’ll have difficulty focusing, and struggle to speak or keep their eyes open. They may even be unconscious. Their minds will be dangerously overstimulated
  • Their skin will turn blue or grey from lack of oxygen, and their lips and fingernails will darken from lack of blood flow. Their heart will beat dangerously fast and erratically. Their body temperature will spike alarmingly.
  • You’ll be able to hear snoring or gurgling noises coming from their throat.

If you find yourself in this situation, you can do your best to help the situation by trying to keep the person calm if they are still conscious, as you don’t want to aggravate their already strained heart with further stress. Keep reminding them to control their breathing and remain calm, encouraging them to keep trying to breathe deeply and regularly. 

If they aren’t conscious, you can apply CPR, or press down on their chest and rub. Move them onto their side and keep them cool with ice packs and cold blankets to lower their body temperature. Don’t leave them alone until emergency medical help arrives.

The chaos drugs wreck on our bodies is nothing to be taken lightly, and even on the road to recovery, the effects of withdrawal are painful to bear. 

These are the consequences of drug abuse, and if you suspect someone close to you is using, don’t hesitate to seek help and guidance. At Cherrywood House, we’re always prepared to answer any questions and provide the best possible advice for the way forward.

How to help someone going through depression

Depression is a debilitating mental illness, one that doesn’t receive nearly as much attention as it should, especially here in South Africa. When a friend or loved one suffers from depression, it’s natural to want to help them, even if the prospect is a touch daunting.

Depression is a complex issue, and there’s no simple cure to it as much as we wish there was one. Simply telling someone it’s going to be okay or to ‘try to be happy’ isn’t enough, and is actually counter-intuitive.

If you want to help someone suffering from depression, there are a few ways to go about it. Here are some things you can do to reach out to them.

Take the time to listen to them.

We all just want to be heard, and listening to someone with depression can really help them. Let your loved one know you’re there for them, and let them know you’re concerned. Ask them what’s on their mind, and open up the conversation for them to share with you.

Don’t try to give them any advice as you listen to them, unless they want your advice. Really try to engage with them to show you’re listening, like asking questions for more information rather than assuming you understand. Validate their feelings, and show empathy and interest through your body language. Just avoid being pushy, and always try to have these conversations face to face.

Additionally, be sure to stay in touch. A short message every other day to let them know you’re thinking of them and value them is helpful and appreciated.

Help them get the professional help they need

Whether they don’t know they have depression or they’re not sure who to turn to, it’s important to support them to seek out therapy. It can be daunting to have to look for one and even to open up to them, but therapy is a great step on the road to happiness again. If they seem interested in therapy, offer to help them review potential therapists to find the right one for them, and if they’re open to it you two can come up with a list of things to asked and brought up in the first session.

Encourage them to keep going

On bad days it can be difficult for those with depression to leave the house, or to even get out of bed. It takes away all your energy, and pushes you to isolate yourself from others.`

If they intend to cancel their therapy session for that day or avoid going to something, gently encourage them to stick to it. Especially if the sessions help. Saying something like “You said you felt better after seeing your friends last week, what if today helps you too?”`

The same thing goes for medication. Antidepressants can have some unwelcome side effects, but antidepressants should never be stopped suddenly without the supervision of a health care professional. If your loved one says they want to stop taking their meds, encourage them to talk to their psychiatrist about changing their antidepressants or getting off the medication.

Help them with everyday tasks

Depression is insidious and creeps into every area of our lives. When we can’t motivate ourselves to do anything, daily tasks become overwhelming and tend to pile up. We can’t bring ourselves to go buy groceries or do the dishes, and the more there is to do, the less we want to do it.

So, offer to help them! They’ll appreciate it, especially if it’s done clearly. Offer to take them grocery shopping or grab some things for them, or offer to come over and help them with chores around the home. Putting on music and starting a conversation as you work together can make chores go by faster, and uplifts that little bit more.

Be patient, keep extending loose invitations

It can be frustrating when someone close to you has depression, as they often can’t bring themselves to reach out to friends or go out. Many stop extending invites or stop talking to them, but no one wants to be left alone. Don’t blame yourself or take offence to their silence; keep reaching out to them with little messages of support, and loosely extend invites to spend time together, letting them know that it’s okay to not respond or not join. As long as they know you look forward to seeing and talking to them again when they’re ready.

When it comes to depression, you’ll often feel like you’re carrying the majority of the weight of the relationship. It’s important to take time for yourself and to set boundaries so as not to be overwhelmed with caring for another.

Also, remember that depression isn’t cured overnight. Your loved one may battle with depression throughout their lives. Don’t take one good day as the end of their ordeal, or make a bad day mean it’s hopeless for them. Be there to support them as much as you can, and keep an eye on them. Suicidal thoughts often arise with depression, but you can prevent a tragedy by remaining observant and open to talking to them.

If you have any questions on depression or know a loved one who may be suffering from depression and you’re not sure of the way forward, feel free to message us. At Cherrywood House, we’re always on hand to help wherever needed.

A Guide on How to Deal With a Tik Addict

Tik is renowned as one of the most addictive drugs in South Africa, an ‘upper’ drug that induces intense but short-lived euphoria, confidence and paranoia. Officially known as Crystal Meth, it’s an extremely addictive substance that hooks its victims more often than not from the first hit, making it extremely dangerous.

The mind-altering and addictive nature of any drug, makes dealing with an addict a monstrously difficult task. If you’re faced with a loved one suffering from addiction, it’s important for them, and for yourself, to handle the situation appropriately. Forget everything you think it takes to support that person as you normally would; while this process is normal and nothing to be ashamed of, what you can consider the norm for your loved one no longer applies, and you’ll have to alter your way of caring for them accordingly.

Here’s our guide to dealing with a Tik addict. Remember that you are equally vulnerable in trying times like this, and you should seek as much support and guidance as you need when dealing with the hardships of addiction and recovery.

Watch out for bizarre behaviour

It’s horrible to watch a loved one’s behaviour change erratically. When repeated patterns of negative behaviour and events start occurring, it’s not unreasonable to suspect it could be related to drug abuse. A drug addict will do all that they can to hide their drug use, so pay attention to those long unexplained absences. Follow up on excuses, and you’ll find the real reason for their behavioural change.

Take note of irregular spending

Drug addiction doesn’t come cheap, and when large sums of money start disappearing without a trace, it’s not unrealistic to suspect drug abuse. It’s not wrong to question a family member on where the money is going when they start frequently running short on funds, constantly needing financial help. Do some investigating, ask the hard and tough questions, and don’t feel guilty for making money a matter of contention.

Don’t enable their bad behaviour with kindness

This is a trap we often fall into; as friends and family of an addict, you’ll want to help them. Lending an addict the car after they’ve crashed theirs to get to work, or giving them money, only enables them to pursue their drugs. To help them it’s better to be firm in your kindness; don’t supply them with money when you don’t know exactly where it’s going, and don’t make it easier for them to acquire drugs by finding them new jobs every other day.

Resist the lies and manipulation

Something we have to come to grips with is that an addict, no matter their prior disposition, is a slave to their drug of choice. It’s all-consuming, and they’ll do whatever it takes to push people away or take from them to facilitate their drug use. They’ll lie to you to get what they want, and even attempt to manipulate you into agreeing with them or take the fault for their addiction. If an addict turns on you with lies and manipulation when you question them for their behaviour, stand firm. You don’t need to be taken for a ride, and you have the right to question them.

Protect your home and valuables

If it’s established or you have suspicions that your loved one is suffering from drug addiction, don’t feel guilty at the prospect of needing to protect your values and possessions. As much as it hurts to believe, an addict is not the same person they were before they started using. Addiction is all-consuming, and an addict will not be above stealing family heirlooms, cherished possessions, or electronics to pay for their habits. Change the locks at home, install a new security system, cancel your shared accounts and have a real discussion with your bank about protecting your finances. By cutting off any opportunity for them to acquire money for drugs, you are preventing them from continuing their bad habits.

Don’t approach the problem alone

You’ve finally reached this point of absolute certainty; your loved one is abusing Tik, and you know they’re a slave to their addiction. They’re not the same person, and they can’t fight the drug on their own.

It’s often hard and even shameful for families to admit to others that they’re dealing with an addict, and they don’t want to admit to friends, family or community members that they need assistance confronting the addict about their addiction.

Don’t be afraid to seek help. Community leaders and ministers are always on hand to assist in these matters, and holding a meeting with the addict to present your findings as a group is more powerful than confronting the issue alone. Especially if the addict has already turned to manipulation or dangerous behaviour.

Research the best rehab for them

Now that the abuse is out in the air, you may be lucky enough to have your loved one agree to pursue treatment. This is a monumental first step towards recovery, and it’s easy to feel urgent and desperate to get them in the nearest rehab as soon as time will allow.

But bear in mind that rehabs offer different approaches to the road to sobriety. Some offer short term treatment, others long term, and some offer post-rehab support while others don’t.

Closer is also more often than not the worst possible option, as they may run into familiar abusers from the drug community. By sending them far away from a familiar environment, you set them up for recovery free from triggers

So take the time to do your research; make phone calls to the rehabs you have in mind, speak to the parents, friends and family of those who have gone through treatment there. Ask the important questions about treatment, their methods, and what you can realistically expect from that treatment.

Once you’ve chosen your rehabilitation centre of choice, make a contact there, someone you can turn to for an honest opinion on their performance for your own peace of mind.

And most important of all… Don’t give up.

We come to our last and final piece of advice. Don’t give up hope.

The road to recovery for an addict is a long and difficult one, not just for the sufferer, but for the family as well. Relapse is an ever-looming threat for any addict, but Tik is an especially addictive ‘upper’ drug, and moments of stress, depression and breakdown are dangerous.

Your loved one may go through several relapses and stints in treatment, but don’t give up on them. Choosing the right drug rehabilitation treatment is key to breaking the cycle of addiction, and with time and love, your loved one can return to you.

Next Steps

We hope that you found these tips helpful and equipping when it comes to dealing with Tik Addicts.  If you are struggling with an Addiction or know someone who is. Please feel free to contact us and we can help you with your next steps.

Cherrywood House is a rehabilitation centre for people suffering from substance and other addictive disorders. It is situated in the tranquil, semi-rural environments of Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa. We offer  Residential Programmes, Aftercare Support Services, Outpatient Programme, Family Support Groups. For more information. Visit our Website Here.


So often we hear people sayingBut why don’t they trust me? I’ve been clean for a few months now, I’ve done 3 months of rehab, surely, they should trust me already.

Firstly, I think we need to look at what a relationship looks like with an addict before we start expecting anything from anyone. If we take a moment and reverse our roles, we might start to see things a little differently.

In Addiction: The Hostage

It has been said that addicts and alcoholics don’t have relationships, they take hostages.

This might sound extreme but if we look a bit closer, this statement has many areas that ring true.

People in relationships with us are often held or controlled by our behaviour, they feel frightened, they are often manipulated, cheated on and lied too. When they threaten the connection between us by saying things like “if you don’t stop using, I will leave you” we take it a step further. 

Here’s the thing, we don’t even need to say anything, even though addicts often do. Things like “well then I’ll drink myself to death” are often used as emotional blackmail to keep people around. 

But we don’t even have to say anything because the people around us know that addiction is fatal, they know that the way we use or drink will one day kill us and their belief is that if they are not around, that process will be accelerated. The fear is gripping; they love us, they don’t want this life for us. They stay because they think they can help.

All of this sounds like a hostage situation, the problem is, it’s their loved one who is holding the gun.

Broken Promises, Broken trust


The saddest thing about this statement is that at the time we meant it. It was a real promise we made, we feel that promise in ourselves. We promise ourselves often that this will be the last time. 

Just one last time”. What our loved ones don’t know is just how out of control we really are, they don’t know that addiction hijacks the brain, they don’t know that its main control center is where our survival instincts live. Just like the need for food and water, our brain tells us we need to use/drink in order to survive. 

If you want to test out your survival instincts, find a very dry place with no water and hang around there for a while, then put yourself in a place with lots of shade and water and see if you can control yourself not to drink the water when your life depends on it. It will reach a point where will power alone will not be enough and you will drink the water. 

The same is said for drugs and alcohol. The primitive brain once hijacked will make sure we use or drink regardless of feelings, relationships or promises.

So we do mean the promise, we ourselves don’t want this life. For every promise, we break to someone we have already broken hundreds to ourselves.

Above are two of the many, many different reasons why people have a hard time trusting us. It’s not hard to understand if we take an honest look at ourselves. We have done some major damage, people are left with trauma after being with us while in addiction.

Time is the best healer here, we have to prove ourselves worthy of trust again. Our behaviour and actions are in line with our words and people will start to see the new you that is starting to shine through.

Finally, be gentle with yourself, but also be gentle with others.

Their love for you has hurt them in the past, they need to do the healing in THEIR own time, not yours.

If you fear yourself or a loved one is addicted to substances if you want yourself/them to stop using and sabotaging relationships, feel free to contact us. We’re here to help. Admitting there is a problem is the first step on your road to recovery



Image source: https://www.everydayhealth.com

Drug addiction triggers uncontrollable behaviors that person becomes unable to control their abuse of medications, cigarettes, alcohol or grubs without taking into account its legality. The main problem relies upon their addiction towards these drugs. It triggers wild practices and renders a man unfit to control their utilization of prescription, liquor, cigarettes, or medications. It doesn’t end here but it becomes a massive problem turning into anxiety and depression. It doesn’t just play with the lives of the ones who battle with it every day but it also affects their family, colleagues, and friends. According to the survey in 2016 by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, they concluded that 8.2 million people suffering from drug addiction with mental disorders and anxiety.

The vocabulary of anxiety is still limited; we need to look at the other consequences of it. It may lead towards Hypoxia that is the low blood oxygen level, in the event that extreme enough, is deadly. In order to combat this situation, the use of oxygen concentrator is a great idea. They take in the air and deliver it in a purified form to level up their blood oxygen requirement.

1-    End your relationship with caffeine:

Image source: https://lunginstitute.com

Some bars of chocolates, a cup of coffee or a soft drink may give you pleasure but it plays a vital role in triggering your anxiety levels. Caffeine gets a hold on your nervous system and gives you a boost of pleasure full energy. Even the idea of termination of your favorite caffeinated products gives you a mood of anxiety. But that’s not that idea all you have to be to modify it.

As opposed to some espresso daily, downsize to a couple of ordinary estimated containers daily, simply reduce it to half. Give it a trial and perceive how you feel. As you wean yourself, gradually bring different drinks into your eating routine, for example, decaffeinated natural tea, which can quiet your psyche and nerves.

2-    Don’t Hesitate to say NO:

If you only care about everyone else’s plate, your anxiety also will worsen. We’ve all heard the aphorism, “There’s more bliss in giving than accepting.” But no place in this sentence does it say you ought to kick back and let others encroach on your time.

Notwithstanding whether you’re driving someone around their home, getting their kids from school, or listening precisely about their issues, you’ll have little solidarity to consider your very own endeavors in case you burn through the entirety of your essentialness pondering others. This doesn’t mean you should never energize anyone, yet know your obstacles, and don’t be reluctant to express “no” when you need to.

3-    Exercise:

Image source: https://ivoiregion.net/

Make exercise your best friend as it is considered as an anti-anxiety medication. If you battle to practice consistently, overlook the training camps and marathons. Start smaller than normal exercises. Do little measures of activity in your lounge room or take a concise stroll outside. Maintainability is vital. Yoga and swimming are the best exercises to reduce anxiety but the most important thing is to find your happiness in it.

Anxiety plays a significant role in affecting personal satisfaction. Keeping up your sugar levels right, diminishing caffeine, getting enough rest, mending the gut, getting some activity and filling the body with magnesium are sheltered strategies that go far toward lessening uneasiness. In the event that your uneasiness does not react to these way of life mediations, still if you don’t feel relaxed Consult a psychologist to clear your doubts.

4-    Neuro Feedback:

Do what you love. Neurofeedback is an extremely compelling treatment for anxiety that helps you in assisting how to react to your on edge sentiments properly. It utilizes an electronic instrument to show automatic physiological procedures so you can figure out how to impact those procedures by changing your points of view willfully. It is an exceptionally visual and trial process where you are a functioning member in the treatment. It gives you the glance of your physiological reactions to stretch and figure out how to oversee and control them without the utilization of medication therapies. I cherish this technique because with this customers become enable to figure out how to control their tension and train their mind to deliver less of it.

5-    Cognitive Behavioral Techniques:

Prepared analysts and wellbeing experts frequently utilize psychological conduct treatment to distinguish, challenge and modify the perspectives to lessen nervousness indications and avoidant conduct. CBT, for the most part, includes an organized treatment plan inside a predefined time period. It is objective arranged and regularly requires the member to participate in homework exercises to rehearse outside of treatment.  CBT works a ton on reframing contrary convictions and thinking examples to enable individuals to decrease their emotional experience of tension. There is a long history of investigation into CBT and its constructive outcomes on uneasiness and despondency.

6-    Commitment with yourself for Recovery:

Most of the given techniques are to relax, self-assess, being able to cope with your anxiety using different ways. When you know how your brain works and what it wants, you can easily handle it with controlling your mind.

By learning these techniques to actually learn to manage your drug addiction.

So why Wait for tomorrow to give colors to your depressed life. Give any technique a try and enjoys your peace of mind.

Early Recovery Demands

There are a few “suggestions” for people in early recovery. I say suggestions in the same way that it’s a suggestion to pull the cord on a parachute when you jump out of a plane.
The first thing to realise is that recovery has to come first. Recovery, recovery, and more recovery.
So, the question is how we keep recovery at the forefront of our lives when there is so much going on.

  1. Have a morning routine/structure in place. Keep in mind we are not saints and are on a path of progress not perfection. Forgetting to follow your morning routine doesn’t mean that it’s the end of then world. As long as we are doing better than we were doing before and are making small but definite gains in our recovery then we are on the right path.
  2. Having connections with other recovering people. Don’t underestimate the power of these relationships or connections. ‘ONE ADDICT HELPING ANOTHER IS WITHOUT PARALLEL’. There is a good reason they mention this in the Narcotics Anonymous Blue Book, and that’s because it’s true and it works. Having literally an army of recovering people who have done this before you is a major benefit and would be a waste of their and you’re time not to use them.
    Plus you need someone who has been through the steps to take you through the steps, so if you want to continue working this program of change you are going to have to make the connections.
  3. Support Groups
    Have you heard of the suggestion, 90 meetings in 90 days? That’s right a meeting everyday for 3 months. So many people don’t think this is “necessary”.  By the end of the 3 months you will most likely have a decent support structure in place.
  4. Being accountable.
    Accountability protects us from ourselves. In the early phases of our recovery, we can’t really trust ourselves to make the right decisions all the time. We can’t solve the problem with the thinking that created the problem. Therefore, a sponsor, therapist or counsellor is a major benefactor for us. Setting goals and making commitments to someone makes our jobs a bit easier. Almost forcing us to act on our new-found life. Safeguarding us from the insanity that is spoken about in step two.

There are loads more demands that we must face in early recovery. Please comment below this post on what you might be facing or struggling with.

Surviving the Silly Season

As we fast approach the holiday season and Christmas time, many people in recovery start to feel the anxiety. They have a lot of spare time, they have to attend family reunions where alcohol is usually involved, and financial pressure rears its head. These are a few of the stresses that come with this time of year.

So the question is:


There are a few key points we can look at.

  • Being accountable / responsible

Having someone to reach out to is very important during this time. Calling a sponsor or a recovery friend before and after can be great protection if you are going to be in a high-risk situation. We have to take responsibility for our recovery and part of that is having an “escape” plan. It is suggested that if possible you have your own vehicle so that you are able to leave on your own terms should the situation warrant that. People might view this as selfish but remember that your recovery comes before anything else.

  • Having realistic expectations of yourself

Don’t fall to the pressure of others and what you might perceive their expectations of you will be. Chances are your family will already know that your recovery comes first and with that, they will also more than likely try to limit your interaction with triggers and possible problematic situations.

It’s important from your side to remember the key factors that make you an addict/alcoholic.

Once you use/drink, you lose control.

Once you lose control, you hurt everyone around you.

When you hurt everyone around you, you disconnect from the vital support system you have in place.

After disconnecting you feel isolated, alone and misunderstood.

The feeling of uselessness and self-pity returns and the cycle starts again.

You have to be gentle on yourself during this time; rather not take the risk and stay clean/sober, than take the risk and land up drunk or high. Your family will understand and appreciate it when you all wake up on Christmas morning and you are present and clean/sober.

  • Engage with your support system

Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, any of the anonymous programs out there are good places to frequent during this time. Staying connected with like-minded people could be the difference between a New Year filled with dread, shame and guilt and a New Year filled with renewed hope, love and possibilities. We as addicts have the ability to think that we are normal people and can engage in festive activities like normal people forgetting that just under the surface we are minutes from our next relapse. The reminders and discussions with other addicts can be used to reinforce our goals and desires for our lives, priority number one always being our recovery.

  • Take time out of your day to reflect on your life and recovery.

Some might suggest meditation and prayer, but taking some time out for you is very important. Processing and reflecting on our lives gives us the guidance we need to maintain recovery. Find a space and a place where you can spend some time and evaluate what you need for yourself and your recovery. This time will pay off for those around you when you partake in your own life.

  • Keep to your systems and structures as much as possible.

Experience says that addicts of any kind are not fond of change. Attempting to stay in your recovery routines as much as possible can make this time easier. Regardless if you are away on holiday or just extra busy. Most recovering addicts have a morning routine that sets their day on the right path, don’t suddenly change that routine and forget to do the thing that works for your life and recovery. Try to maintain step work if you were busy with it before the season. As stated before, continue meetings and speaking to your sponsor. Working a daily program is a key factor to long term sobriety/recovery.

These are but a few points to look at during this time. Please feel free to comment below on what you might need to do during this time, or contact us directly for advice.

Recovery isn’t just about stopping the using

Many people come into treatment  and think this is recovery, if I could just stop using/drinking/acting out my life would be fine, it would go back to “normal”. Here’s the thing, what’s normal?
Is normal that life you had before you started using/drinking? Is normal the way your life was as a child?

Here are the facts, if you walk into our treatment centre it tells us several things.

  1. Your life is no longer working.
  2. You are slowly or quickly dying.
  3. Your family and or loved ones around you are sick and tired of your behaviour.
  4. You, at some stage needed drugs/alcohol to cope with life.
  5. If you could have stopped on your own, you would have by now.
  6. Lastly you are not here by mistake.

Take note of point number 4, your normal didn’t work for you in the past why would it work now?
We understand that using and or drinking had become the major coping mechanism in your life. The question is not why the drugs/ alcohol, the question is why the need for mood and behaviour altering substance? What has happened in your life that made it okay to cope with such a self-destructive behaviour pattern?
Right here things start to get real for our clients. We go into the past and the present and work with them on as many of the “what’s” and “whys” as we can find in our limited amount of time with them.

We address the denial. Without fully conceding that there is a problem, the clients cannot fully concede that they need help. The need for support and help in early recovery is paramount to the ongoing process.

Recovery starts to take on another form. The old ideas and false expectations fall away. We instil the drive that recovery is not a side-line job and it isn’t an event but rather a program of continual action. We delve into the spirit and hope that clients come out the other side refreshed and with a new lease for life. We are in the life changing business and we might not always reach someone, but there is that one, two or three that get it and make the necessary changes and adjustments to live a full and happy life. This by no means is easy, but we suggest struggle, through the hardships come the growth, through the growth comes the freedom.

The freedom is there, waiting for you to grasp it and make it your reality !

Recovery Actions have Expiry Dates

Expiry Dates during recovery:

Many people come through our treatment centre and believe that the work they put in here is enough and that the work they put in here is going to carry them for the rest of their lives. This is a dangerous myth and one that could lead many to relapse.
Like the title states, Actions in recovery have expiry dates and what we mean by this is that the last counselling session you had, has a “half-life” of about a day. That Just for Today reading you did this morning can set you on the right path for the day but still, it’s not enough to keep you clean and sober for the rest of your life.

If you understand the fundamentals of early recovery you’d understand that to convince yourself that using or drinking is a clever idea and won’t hurt anyone is a simple task. “no-one will know”, “just this one time” and then my personal favourite, “this time will be different” are all slogans addicts in early recovery on the road to relapse use. There is no neighbourhood more dangerous than an addict in early recovery left to his/her own devices for extended periods of time.
Another fundamental principle of early recovery is powerlessness, just because I’ve written out the theory of step one does not necessarily mean I grasp the principle of what that step should offer.
If you find yourself alone with the means to use your drug of choice and you are bargaining ‘should I use or should I not use’ you are in a seriously dangerous situation that in my opinion will end in your power of choice diminishing and eventually lead to relapse. The solution here is to remember the principle we are talking about, powerlessness. Asking for help is imperative in this situation, remembering that reaching out means that you care enough about yourself and your recovery to make the right decisions.

I believe what most people get wrong in these early days sounds like this, they don’t view recovery as a lifestyle, a new culture to take part in. They keep life and recovery separate, eventually allowing the “life” side to take priority, smothering out any hope of recovery surviving, this might take a year or 3 weeks but eventually, people lose sight of what’s truly important.
The actions we put in daily last for that day, maybe more. But one thing I feel sure about is that without recovery becoming a lifestyle, the chances of living in long term recovery get smaller. Time and life become the enemy, we can only deal with what we are willing to face and being able to see these simple but powerful facts could be the deciding factor in your process.

Next Steps

We hope that you found this article helpful. If you are struggling with an Addiction or know someone who is. Please feel free to contact us and we can help you with your next steps.

Cherrywood House is a rehabilitation centre for people suffering from substance and other addictive disorders. It is situated in the tranquil, semi-rural environments of Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa. We offer  Residential Programmes, Aftercare Support Services, Outpatient Programme, Family Support Groups. For more information. Visit our Website Here.