The sober truth: are you drinking too much?

This week Alcoholics Anonymous celebrates 80 years of helping people with alcohol problems. The 12 step program originally eleos counselling_alcohol_counselling_12 step program.started by two men stockbroker Bill Wilson and an Akron surgeon merely known as Dr Bob, revolutionised help for people with drug and alcohol problems, the 12 step program has been adopted in many treatment programs, throughout the world.

The 12 step program helped millions of people stay sober. Problem drinking can affect anyone, from any strata of society, from the lowest to the highest jet setting international businessman or woman.

This week the Daily Express highlighted the increase in middle-class, middle age drinking, in women. What is not widely known in the UK is that you are actually binge drinking if you double your units, simply put if you’re double your units that is three units daily for a woman and four units daily for a man, your binge drinking. To ground this in real terms, for a woman if you have eight 125 ml glasses of wine, of 12% proof alcohol you are binge drinking.

This article is not meant to be anti-alcohol rather a plea for more sensible drinking. Alcohol can often help overcome embarrassment, depression, and stressful situations. This can set up a wrong relationship with alcohol, as it can be used as a crutch to help overcome stress, depression and social embarrassment. Using alcohol as a crutch can set up a reliance on alcohol in demanding situations, this could be a beginning of a problem.

The increased rise of home drinking has masked the fact that one could be drinking more than one should, the idea of three fingers of whiskey, is not unheard of as an example of how hard it is to monitor your drinking when you’re just pouring it for yourself, especially after the third glass.

A lot of people justify binge drinking saying that everybody else is doing it, yes everybody is. The increase in people being taken to A&E with drink -related injuries has increased dramatically, and so has the increase in people trying to find help for their drinking.

 

Here are some questions to ask yourself, if you think your drinking is becoming problematic.

  • Have you been missing work because you have a hangover, or to go drinking?
  • Have you driven after you have been drinking?
  • Has close relationships suffered due to your drinking (do you find you are arguing with your partner more).
  • Have you ever tried to give up drinking and those attempts have been unsuccessful?
  • Have you been drinking for long periods of extended time, more than you intended?

If some of the questions about above are yes, maybe you have a problem with drinking.

UK advertising standards take positive action to ban unhealthy body image advertisement.

Channel 4 announced yesterday on Twitter that the advertising standards authority has banned an advert for Yves Saint Laurent, featured in Elle magazine, in which a model which the advertising standards described as “unhealthily underweight”. anorexia-black-and-white-bulimia-eating-disorder_counsellingThe advertising standards authority upheld the complaint saying that the use of an underweight model was “irresponsible” but regrettably no action was taken in reply to this decision.

Using underweight models can promote an idealised image, which vulnerable and susceptible teenage girls and boys, have a propensity to aspire to. It is not just the advert by Yves Saint Laurent which is promoting an ideal body image, if one looks at the content of popular chat magazines, often displayed on supermarket shelves, they are full of bikini clad minor celebrities and are already to point  out deficits with their body image.

Recently, Google closed down a pro-one  website, unfortunately these pops up just as quickly as they are closed down. Young people are under a great deal of strain to aspire to a lot of standards, which are often reinforced by peer group pressure, social media, and Internet websites.

Unfortunately, there is a rise in the amount of teenagers with eating disorders with over 2,500 admissions to hospital A&E’s in 2014, and with the most common age being between 13 and 15.

Social media sites such as Facebook boosts a fixation with image, as girls and boys post photos of themselves so that friends can “like” them, or not she one has to admire Celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, who, herself has spoken publicly about her own battle with an eating disorder.

 

Unfortunately an eating disorder can follow a young person into adulthood, and becomes a learned behaviour when things become stressful for them. Many families find it difficult to deal with when a son or daughter refuses to eat, or become secretive and learns to hide food, which they are given to eat.  The eating disorder information web site Beat advises parents to actively promote a healthy attitude towards body image and body size. Often, an eating disorder is an indicator that something more is happening, for the young person.

 

New law to ban so-called legal highs

The recent news that the UK government is finally starting to close a loophole on the sale of so-called legal highs. This follows mounting pressure from experts such as mental health Legal_highs_eleoscounsellingprofessionals, not to mention the families who are affected by tragedies such as the one reported in the Daily Mail this week of a young promising student dying after taking legal highs with her boyfriend.

Unfortunately, the availability of legal highs has increased exponentially with admissions to hospitals. The NHS reported a 56% increase in 2012 of people being admitted to A&E’s suffering from the effects of legal highs. Furthermore, it was reported there was 97 deaths in 2012 from legal highs compared to 12 in 2009.

As reported in this blog, legal highs are untested, unpredictable and potentially fatal. Currently manufacturers of legal highs are able to get round the law by marking the drug “not for human consumption”. Also, altering the chemical constituent of any drug makes it potentially a new drug. Substances with such exotic names as Bliss, Mary Jane, clockwork Orange are sold openly in so-called head shops up and down the country.

The psychological and neurological effects of such drugs are completely unknown, as and if taking legal highs causes long-term damage to the brain. Certainly drugs like cocaine and heroin have been well documented for many years and people know the outcome, not so legal highs.

Unfortunately, making legal highs illegal will force the sale of these drugs underground. Furthermore, how the government monitor the sales of legal highs online is yet to be seen.

 

 

Eye contact: eyes really are the windows of the soul.

eleoscounselling, West Sussex_eye contact_blogJust recently we were sent a short video on Facebook, nothing unusual you might say, but this video was quite profound inasmuch as it commented on the very media it was posted on, social media. In the short video, it spoke of how people are becoming increasingly isolated, as we use technology to interact with friends.

One thing that struck us about this video is often people do not give eye contact. Recently we have been looking into creating an anger management program for young people, as part of that study we found how important eye contact actually is.

If a child is denied eye contact it can become socially isolated, and angry. The part of the brain that governs emotions, the limbic system and particularly the amygdala needs input from faces to judge whether something is a threat. Studies have shown that averting your eyes can be a form of silent treatment; basically you’re saying you’re not worth looking at.

Now think how many times you pick up that phone during the day, to look at emails, your head is pointed down and away from people, and people who are trying to make contact with you. You’re saying that this text message or email is far more important than you are or what you are saying, or what you’re showing me.

How many times have you been annoyed with someone who picks up a smart phone and starts texting, whilst at the dinner table?

Fundamentally, the lack of eye contact can make one suspicious and ultimately angry.

Conversely, averting your gaze from someone to look at your smart phone or tablet can actually have a negative effect on you. When you’re looking down at your smart phone you increase the chance of losing the respect and trust because you’re essentially you  are not communicating those attributes to others.

 

The next point we would like to raises is what are we telling  our children, albeit silently. A study carried out in the Netherlands suggests that an infant’s brain is rapidly forming connections and new pathways linking the ancient limbic system to the neural cortex and prefrontal cortex, laying down circuitry which becomes arterial roads for emotion. This delicate and vital infrastructure result in how we interpret social interactions. If part of that interaction is missing, because I contact is not made or given, we do not receive the right information and thus cannot communicate effectively.

Our brains compare the incoming data with memories of past experiences and ultimately facial expressions effectively this is our own trust mistrust gauge or scale. If the infant hasn’t built up suitable knowledge, the default will be to see things as a threat, and thus become angry.

Intimacy and the modern man (what intimacy means for men)

Mention the word intimacy with a man today, you will get a strange look, and a feeling that you should move on and talk about another subject. The word intimacy, for most men today, has become a 21st-Century Pandora’s Box.eleos counselling_blog post_intimacy and men

Metaphorically, the fear of the unknown keeps us from drawing near to the box and opening it up. Fundamentally, we hide ourselves from our wives and partners, therefore they tend to love what we do, not who we are.

As a husband or partner, you do not have to be a 10, you just have to be yourself. Often it is said that a woman doesn’t want a strong man, but a man who leads, and is sure of himself. Often, today, you hear of men who are not sure of themselves, this can often bring isolation, anxiety, and ultimately depression. It is well known, that the biggest killer of men between the ages of 18 and 34 in the UK, is death by their own hands.

Society tells us that we have to suck it up, grow a pair or man up. Furthermore, in the same breath, show tenderness, compassion and love. With dire posing messages such as this, no wonder most men feel confused and often end up with unhelpful behaviours, as a way of helping them deal with modern day living, such as drug addiction, alcohol problems, and extramarital/relational affairs, not to mention, problem gambling.

There are many outside influences telling men how they should be. Some these influences can be cultural, or media based. Often men put their identity in their jobs, but when their job is gone or lost, they struggle, never really knowing who they are.

There is a popular concept that most men have a midlife crisis, whether this is true or not is entirely up to your own opinion. But it is at these times when men try to find themselves, possibly after a loss or a loss of connection with themselves or, even worse, finding out that they were never truly connected to themselves, let alone their partner.

The incidences of depression in men in the UK are rising; as with all sectors of the population mental health is now being looked at by healthcare professionals and politicians, as a real issue. Often, men would like to talk to men about their problems, finding it difficult to relate to a woman, when they talk about intimacy, and what this means to them.

The word intimacy for most men means being exposed, this can be frightening, and talking to a professional, such as a psychotherapist / counsellor can often help men find their own meaning for the word intimacy.

 

If you would like to know more about the therapies eleos counselling offer, please click on the link below.

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Habitual gamblers see patterns where none exist

In a new report published by German researchers suggest that habitual gamblers see shapes or patterns, in random behaviour. Furthermore, seeing these patterns, combined with a lack of control results in compulsive behaviours. eleos counselling_gamblingThe research showed that people who habitually gamble our more willing to impulsively bet on, what they perceived to be a logical pattern of events, which are in fact random, compared to those who don’t gamble at all.

As humans we try to make sense of illogical and random patterns, as a way of making sense of our world. However, it is thought that gamblers see these random patterns in a more defined way than non-gamblers.

For instance, if one is gambling on a roulette wheel a gambler will see that Black has come up five times so therefore red is due any moment now, and thus bet on red. It is this perception of knowing that you may be right that can set up unhelpful behaviours.

Research participants consisting of 91 habitual gamblers and 70 non-gamblers, were shown a picture of a casino and two gaming machines. Over the period of time, the participants were asked to predict the outcome probability as to which machine was going to pay out next. In fact, the research showed that over time, the participants were effected by a false sense of probability and that they somehow could “predict the outcome. What is striking, is that the gamblers had a higher rate of probability matching.

 

The research also showed that gamblers a lot more likely to feel that they could perceive random behaviours.

 

If you have a problem with gambling Eleos counselling can help just click on the link below and you will be taken to the Eleos counselling web site.

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Pre-marriage counselling, before you get married

Before getting married many couples have different expectations about what marriage actually is. Each member of a couples expectations, are frequently never spoken about. Often, as a result, conflict becomes inevitable when those assumptions about marriage often collide. So it is wise that you both talk about your assumptions and understandings before you end up in a divorce court. Psychologist Archibald Hart asked the following questions of couples who come to his consulting room.eleos counselling blog_wedding preparation

  1. If I had never been introduced to the person you’re preparing to marry and had to be dependent on you to give me a description of who that person is, what would you tell me?
  2. If you could think of one thing that you would like to see you fiancé stop doing what would it be?
  3. What are the five or six main aims you have established for you as a couple in your first year together?
  4. Have you both discussed money together, and how finances will be handled?

These indeed asked tough questions, but if there is no agreement on them before you’re married certainly cannot argue about them after, you’re married. Since 50% of all marriages today end in breakup and divorce, you best be sure you know the answers. One of the biggest misgivings you can make is supposing that the future with your husband or  wife will be inevitably be better as a consequence of marrying you.

Often it is best for a couple to have pre-marriage counselling as a way of airing these expectations. It is certainly cheaper to pay a marriage counsellor for a series of pre-marriage therapy than it is to pay a divorce lawyer. As a result of pre-marriage therapy one can decide if you have common goals, often you both do, but how they are achieved is seldom talked about before the marriage.

Legal highs made convicted armed robber a online millionaire?

This week the tabloid newspapers reported, that a convicted armed robber had been taunting prison guards, by saying that he has become a millionaire through the sale of legal highs, on a website that he has developed. Whether this is fact is hard to determine, legal_highs_eleos counselling blog websitebut it is thought that Craig “lazie” Lynch, the prisoner in question, had access to a smart phone.

What is noteworthy is outside of the prison environment Craig “lazie” Lynch, could easily become a millionaire from the sale of legal highs, and it is only the fact that prisoners are not allowed uncontrolled access to the web, would stop him.

The point missing in this story is the sale of legal highs are on the increase, through such things as the Internet. Indeed, it’s hard to control any e-commerce, which the tragic story of the young girl who died from taking slimming pills,which were  laden with a dangerous drug ,exemplifies.

The fact that legal highs have never been tested, and the physiological and psychological impact on the mind and the body of the user, has neither been researched nor documented.

Effectively, this is what happens, a chemist takes a psychoactive drug, such as cocaine replaces a molecule, in the chemical structure of the drug, and bingo we have a new drug, this new chemical compound is then manufactured, somewhere like China and it is imported into the country as “plant food” and marked up not for human consumption. The effects of removing a molecule from a complex drug like cocaine and replacing it with something else are unknown. Fundamentally, the effects of cocaine are well documented, people have used cocaine for hundreds, if not thousands of years in one form or another. What is not known is the effects of this new chemical compound, brought into the country as “plant food”.

There has been many reports of people having psychotic incidences whilst on the influence of so-called legal highs. Quite literally taking illegal high is like playing Russian roulette with your mental health. Long-term effects of these drugs are not known as they are relatively new. Certainly the effects of drugs like methedrone or meow meow are now known, and this is now on the illegal drug register.

 

If you have a problem with legal highs or someone close to you has then Eleos counselling can help please click on the link below and you will be taken to the Eleos counselling is main website.

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Facebook drug dealer.

Hapless drug dealer Dominic Marshall landed himself with a 12 months’ community service sentence and three months supervision. After posting that he is selling drugs on Facebook.

What is interesting is the judge, justice Hilary Manley recognised that Marshall suffered with depression, due to his drug taking.

The judge pointed out in court, and to Marshall that there was a probable link between drug taking and his depression.

A recent paper by the medical journal The  7fd2df328018104852822dbbacabd4c8_631e35e_image_smoking-a-joint Lancet states that there is a 24% increase in first episode psychosis due to smoking skunk marijuana, the type that Marshall was selling.

Marshall advertised on Facebook he was selling a drug called Lemon Haze, a hydroponically grown, genetically enhanced marijuana that is sometimes up to 8 times higher in THC than normal block marijuana. The idea that this drug is harmless, is clearly not the case.

Marshall was only 20 years old, and although reporting on the article is unclear, there’s a good chance that someone like Marshall would have started using skunk in their early teens, it is at this time that the brain has a growth spurt, preparing for adulthood, as well as a normal hormonal alterations and bodily changes. In our early teens, synaptic connections in the brain are made and pruned back. Adding a chemical such as THC in the quantities skunk marijuana offers at this time in life, can have serious effects and psychological well-being.

Although there is no evidence to support that Marshall has a mental health problem, there is a good chance he may have. After all, what rational person would advertise on social media that he is selling an illegal drug.

 

If  you or someone close to you has a problem with skunk marijuana Eleos counselling can help, just click the link below and  you will be taken to  Eleos Counselling’s  Main website

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The loneliness for the Facebook generation

An interesting caveat was added to an article in the Daily Mail a few days ago regarding the loneliness of young adults. The article stated that loneliness is on the increase due to people using social media. The article stated that one in seven finds it difficult to make any lasting relationship either socially or romantically. Stating that young people are generally too scared to talk to strangers. An interesting aside of this is in the book by Dr Joseph Shrand Outsmarting Anger he makes an interesting comment, saying that lack of eye contact can be an indication that someone is suspicious. If we think about the amount of time people are looking at screens today obsessed with updating their Facebook status, or tweeting or generally keeping in touch with the world via email, people generally never look up from their screens and thus don’t make eye contact.eleos counselling_person using computer

Dr Shrand makes an interesting comment, in his book saying that averting our gaze can disrupt what is called the social brain network; effectively the connections in the brain are not made because we haven’t made eye contact with others.

Dr Rebecca Hart of the University of Bolton is stated in the article saying that our brains treat loneliness the same way as physical pain. Due to the advent of social networking one of the downsides is that we are spending less time on social interaction, making fewer real friends rather than cyber friends.

What is an interesting comment made by one young man is that he considers his friends online as friends but has never seen their faces. It is known that 80% of all communication is non-verbal, even though we have screens where we can see people’s faces we can’t really see their movements.

Technology is a wonderful thing, but if this report is true, living in a cyber-world can leave us lonely and isolated, without any real friends. Furthermore, according to Dr Hart it can also be physically painful.

Loneliness affects everybody, and are often seen as something that happens in later life, but if this report is true, it is happening earlier and earlier and social isolation is becoming more a fact of life.