How to help somebody who is recovering from an addiction: praise and why sometimes this can have a negative effect.

We must apologise for not put in a blog up since the beginning of the year, Ewhat price can be a bad thingleos counselling has undergone a revamp of its website, which has taken us away from blogging, we intend to rectify this right now with this blog, hope you enjoy.


Recovering from any form of addiction can be hard, we have already discussed in another blog post how one of the overarching feelings that a person has when he or she is recovering from addiction is shame.

Recently while reading a book completely unrelated to counselling, I  was to find an interesting quote in the book  “the practice of practice”(Harum, 2014).The author quotes research carried out by Peter Gollwitzer into the subject of motivation; motivation is certainly one of the key ingredients that someone who is recovering from a substance misuse difficulty or behavioural problems such as gambling, needs.


Often what will happen is, that the person who is recovering, will not feel particularly encouraged by their support system ( the same people that encouraged them in the first place ). Often, a few months into their sobriety or change of habit a recovering person feels de-motivated as encouragement dies down, as people think that they are over their problem. In fact, this is often the hardest part of their recovery, and when relapses happen the most.

What often happens, the recovering person will state their goal to their support system which is often family and friends and people who wanted them to give up drinking, using drugs or number of other things such as, overeating, under eating, using drugs, or any number of negative patterns of behaviour. What in fact Gollwitzer says is that people need “ advance praise”, If we again return to the subject of shame and compare it to praise. Praise can be seen as the opposite of shame, so why wouldn’t a person in recovery want praise instead of Shame, with its added feelings of condemnation and judgement.

Unfortunately looking for “advance praise” can have a negative effect on recovery. Often a recovering person will gush about their goals, to others, and they would often be praised for setting such goals. The reason why a recovering addict would do this is that praise feels good, it fulfils their desire to identify as someone who is recovered, rather than in recovery. What Gollwitzer says is that our imagination is good at hamstringing the, a person who wants to change.

In fact, when somebody has been recovering, a short time their imaginative brain takes the praising which falls on them and tricks them into believing he or she have already done what he or she said he or she would do to recover;They believe that in fact  have fulfilled their goals by staying sober or making change into their negative behaviour but, unfortunately for some people, this can take many years. Moreover, it can also take many years to recover the trust that they had lost when they were indulging in negative behaviours.




Harum, J. (2014). The practice of practice. New York: Sol Ut Press.




How do I help somebody who is living with an addiction? Part II


As mentioned in our last article thinking. again, of how one views addictions can, indeed help the person you love and want to help. Thinking of addiction as a compulsive behaviour rather than a disease or a character flaw can reap benefits when trying to help somebody with an addiction. An addict is not blind, a significant amount of the time they feel ashamed and guilty of what they’ve put their loved ones through. Someone with an addiction will convincingly tell you they are trying to stop or will never drink or do their addictive behaviour again, but will often do their behaviour nevertheless. On the surface, this looks like an outright lie, but at the heart of it, they are trying to stop. Often, the drive to relieve psychological pain it too much great; thinking of addiction as just a bad habit is a wrong assumption.

Another assumption often made, by people trying to help an addict or someone with a compulsive behaviour that if they try hard enough, they can fix the person with the addiction. Often this will cause the addict to lie about their addiction all the more, this lying is a source of shame, causing more psychological pain pushing them more and more into that addictive behaviour.

Something to  bear in mind, for anybody helping somebody with an addiction, is that guilt and shame are powerful drivers for addictive behaviour. Furthermore, if the addict, is lying that does not mean that they no longer love you or respect you. Fundamentally lying is a part of addiction. Often, addictions are driven by a powerful and necessary drive to fight against a sense of helplessness.

A way of understanding this is to imagine a person trapped in the cave, and battling out of the cave with a broken wrist. This is not self-destructive is just a sense of overwhelming powerlessness and the need to battle, that helplessness.

This article originally appeared in counselling directory


How do I help somebody who is living with an addiction?


Looking addiction in a new way, one would realise that the idea of “tough love” makes little or no sense. If it were so easy for a person to stop an addictive behaviour, after “a good talking to” there would possibly be nobody with an addiction in this country. Furthermore, if addictions were some bad habit or even some form of moral weakness, it might make sense to give the person “a good talking to”. In fact, this becomes sensationalist television in the US. One only has to look at YouTube to find various “fly on the wall” documentary series of families of people with addictions, trying to help them. Indeed, one could say this is the worst form of sensationalist television. If a person was lazy or unfocused giving them a good kick up the back side may work, but unfortunately doesn’t a great many times.

If I could ask, you take a different view of addictions a look at this, not as a bad habit, a moral weakness, genetic fault, or some personality trait but looking at addiction as a psychological compulsive behaviour.

Indeed, traditionally, addictions are never considered as a compulsive behaviour, such as compulsive washing of hands, cleaning, exercising or even compulsive shopping. However, looking on these, forms of actions, as emotionally driven behaviours in an effort to manage particularly challenging feelings, may shine a different light on how one can help someone with an addiction.

Dr Lance Dodes MD, director of substance abuse treatment centre at Harvard Maclean hospital, suggest that our traditional view of dependencies needs to change if we were to help someone struggling, with an addiction. Furthermore, he suggests that the psychological drive to be free of pain and be liberated from the sense of helplessness, is a driver behind all addictive behaviours.

This blog originally appeared in counselling directory


Is it time you de- stressed ?????

Christmas; a tifogme for re-evaluation, and de-stressing?

Christmas and New Year is often a time when we take a good look at what happened the previous year. Also, it’s a time when we rest, and spend time with our family. But for some this is not so.

As we fast approach the Christmas season, we thought it may be good to look at tiredness, and how there are two distinctive types.

The two types of tiredness are not too dissimilar to different types of clouds, the large clouds you see on a sunny day, or spring clouds bringing rain. The other is the type of cloud that predicts a storm front or sometimes bad weather, high winds, and all too frequent hurricane force winds.

The first type of tiredness is normal, it’s temporary and it comes after you finished a good job. Furthermore, after a time of rest, you bounce back ready to go again.

The other type of tiredness is a type of chronic fatigue, this builds up over many months, of stress and strain. Unfortunately, this type of fatigue doesn’t manifest itself as exhaustion. In fact, it is often masked by frantic activity, alongside impulsive behavior. Here are some of the signs to look out for.

Six warning signs that you’re stressed, and need to rest.



  1. If You or someone you know is finding it difficult to relax over a meal or coffee. They may be a sense that the person has to get on with something, but seems to lack direction or planning.
  2. If You or someone you know is finding themselves checking and rechecking emails, constantly looking, at their mobile phone tablet or laptop.
  3. If Your office desk, or workplace is piled high with literature, that you are about to read, designed to keep, you or someone you know one step ahead of their competitors, but it never seems to get read.
  4. If You or someone you know is not having time off, as it seems impossible to have a break or they may be constantly keep putting off having days off work.
  5. If You or someone you know may be having trouble sleeping.
  6. If You or someone you know, has spent any time “escaping” this may be drinking, eating too much mind sitting watching television.

If any of this sounds familiar? Then maybe it’s time you took some time off and re-evaluated.


Stresses is like boiling a frog


The truth is that stress is rather like boiling a frog, if a frog is put in a boiling pan water, it will jump straight out. The frog knows it’s hot and has enough sense to jump out of the boiling water. But if you put a frog lukewarm or tepid water, put it on the stove and slowly turn the gas up the frog and stay there till its boiled alive.

Stress can be quite like this, sometimes we don’t know we’ve been stressed or tired until we have a break.  Sometimes we can be poisoned by the belief that we are doing good things by working hard, but actually there is a point of diminishing odds.


Overindulging at Christmas: is your brain fooling you?

overindulgence at Christmas_eleoscounselling blog



As we are fast approaching the season for overindulgence, overeating and over consumption of alcohol. We thought it would be good to look at how food alters your mood.

Latest research in mood and food


It has been well recognised and researched, that certain foods, can alter your mood, but how much of that is actually true? In recent research published by Prof Kathy Magnusson at Oregon State University.

Prof Magnusson’s research has found that feeding animals, a sugary diet can cause changes in their gut bacteria, Prof Magnussen found that there is a direct correlation to cognitive ability- the ability to adjust to changing situations, and diet.

The significance of this is important, as your gut bacteria, actually weighs as much as your brain. It has been postulated that these microbes can actually affect your mind. Research carried out, using rats and mice, found that when rodents were fed a particular food type (a broth), containing a microbe that is linked to reduced signs of stress and anxiety It was found that the mice show less signs of stress, the more signs of well-being; this particular microbe is known to release an anti-anxiety neurotransmitter GABA.

Two reward systems, in food consumption: one based on mood the other based on want

Scientists have found that we have two basic systems, regarding food one of them is hunger, the other one is reward, the hunger system, is generated by hormones from your gut, and from fat cells, which sends information to your brain, telling your brain that you are hungry. Conversely, the reward system is more concerned with the type of food you eat, the key to this is a dopamine pathway which seems to respond more strongly to foods which are high in fat and sugar, scientists postulated this is because historically, certain types of food would only be available at certain times of year, and the and sister would stock up on, high calorific foods knowing that it would be unavailable later on in the year. Unfortunately, our modern environment, has an abundance of such types of food high in fat, sugar and calories. When studied in an MRI scanner, researchers found that certain areas of the brain light up when certain foods are offered, these are usually high in calories and thus greater activity in the brain’s reward center.

Do your genes predict that you will be obese?

An interesting byproduct for these studies, is that scientists now have discovered that the hunger and reward system are not too dissimilar, as there is now a growing awareness of how interconnected they are. Genetics has a lot to do with, our propensity to overeat, maybe something to do with a gene called FTO; strongly linked with weight gain. Scientists predict that there is a 70% increase in becoming obese should this gene be present in a person.



A recent study also showed that people with a higher level of a hormone called ghrelin, which is released by the gut, when we become hungry, also has a great deal to do with increased weight gain. The study found that, an increased level of this hormone, tells the brain that you’re still hungry, even after you’ve eaten.

MRI studies of this group, with increased levels of hormones, of found something quite startling, in that, this group of people’s brains responds differently when they show pictures of food, with increased activity in the reward area of the brain; the reward pathways and these people have been shown to be weak. Thus the drive to seek out more and more food.

Think again before overindulging

So, at this time of overindulgence, is interesting to bear in mind whether you are actually hungry or not, or is your brain fooling you.



Why we need sleep, and the science behind not sleeping.

why we need a good light sleep_eleos blogOne of the natural functions of us as humans, which has puzzled scientists for thousands of years, is why do we sleep? Sleep is an incredibly important part of our biology, and its function is beginning to be revealed by neuroscientists fundamentally, in the past, there are 3 different consensus regarding why we sleep and its function, these are.

  • Sleep helps us restore mental energy

    : This is the idea that we have to restore our energy back to levels which will enable us to function mentally. Recent discoveries are shown this hypothesis to have some validity, in as much as, there are certain genes within the brain that switch on and off neural pathways, when we are asleep. This idea is nothing new in fact it was quoted by Greek philosopher Aristotle.

  • Sleep helps us conserve energy: the idea that we need to recharge our batteries so that we can work the next day. This is doubtful, as there is no real evidence to say that we are saving energy when we are sleeping. In fact, we save about a hundred calories when we are asleep. So there is very little evidence to support this hypothesis.
  • Sleep helps mental health: this hypothesis says that we need to sleep to help us process memories, and makes sense of our world as a whole. There is some validity in this hypothesis. As certain areas of the brain are switched on only during sleep. There is an exciting by-product of this  brain activity, in that after a good night’s sleep, we are able to think more creatively. Neuroscientists have found that we have a threefold advantage in thinking creatively, about a problem, when compared to broken or no sleep.

Sleep is an incredibly important function for us as human beings, and its importance is only now being recognised. The idea that sleep is for wimps, as Margaret Thatcher once quoted, is now itself, to be scoffed at.


The effects of sleep of overstretched shift workers

In the nineteen fifties the average person got, on average, 8 hours sleep a night. Today, this is now greatly reduced with the average being one half to 2 hours sleep less. The typical teenager needs around 9 hours sleep a night, unfortunately this demographic falls into one of the worst offenders, for lack of sleep, with the average teenager getting around 5 hours a night, that’s 4 hours less sleep than they need.

Shift workers, are on average, the most sleep deprived people, as when they feel tired, after working a night shift their clock body wants them to wake up. Therefore, the quality of sleep they get is generally very poor.

The effects of lack of sleep have been well documented, particularly in the US, where it is well documented that on average hundred thousand people, each year fall asleep that the wheel of their car.

One of the contributing factors in two of the worst accidents in human history, the challenger space shuttle and the nuclear reactor incident at Chernobyl was sleep deprived shift workers, making catastrophic mistakes.

Physical effects of sleep deprivation; how lack of sleep can really affect your health.

From above information we can work out that most people do not get enough sleep. One of the  ways that we keep ourselves awake, when we should be sleeping is  by using stimulants, the most common being caffeine. Often caffeine is added to with another stimulant nicotine. After staying up all night, it’s then hard to get to sleep because the caffeine in our system is making us stay awake, often people will resort to a sedative the most common being alcohol. This is okay short-term but long-term it can have devastating effects. Unfortunately, alcohol only mimics sleep by sedating the user, it actually harms some of the neuro processing which happens during sleep.

Another factor for loss of sleep is weight gain, if you sleep 5 hours a night, then you have a 50% likelihood that you would become obese. One of the side effects of sleep loss is the increase in the hormone, leptin ghrelin: the hormone that makes you hungry, or increases appetite, this hormone actually seeks out carbohydrates in the form of sugars, so thus increases your likelihood of eating sweet.

Another factor, from lack of sleep, is stress, and with it loss of memory, also suppressed immunity due to your body being stressed.

Another factor for sleeplessness is increase glucose in your blood, after a time you could become glucose intolerant, and thus there is a propensity for diabetes.

There are certainly some studies that show that nightshift workers have an increased cancer risk, due to suppressed immune systems.

Another by-product of sleeplessness is stress on your cardiovascular system, thus increasing your chances of cardiovascular problems.

Overall, poor sleep is bad for you, not only short-term but long-term. What some people don’t realise is it’s not just impaired memory and functioning, but long-term health problems, such as mentioned above.


Samaritans suggest and new look at the causes of Male suicide

depressed man_eleoscounselling_blog pictureA report released by the Samaritans organisation, in June this year (2015), highlights the problem of men turning to alcohol instead of talking about their problems. What is more worrying, according to the report, this increases the risk of suicide.

The Samaritans suggest that the government should reconsider their response to the nation’s unhealthy drinking culture.

It is well known that the biggest killer of men between the age of 18 and 34 is suicide. What the Samaritans are suggesting is that there should be more communication between mental health teams and drug and alcohol teams. Unfortunately, with recent austerity measures, agencies such as drug and alcohol and mental health teams are being cut to the bare bone. The question here is how one gets men to engage, in talking about themselves (fundamentally, how does one get men talking).

An interesting point is raised in the report, commenting that masculinity plays a great deal in the way men see themselves. The report suggests that men will often compare themselves, to their perceived model of what a man should be, often this can be a distorted image, of a man being powerful, white, rich, good-looking, and heterosexual. The reports suggest that when men are not reaching this model, often they can become filled with a sense of shame guilt and ultimately defeat.

Being a breadwinner is often central to being a man, particularly for blue-collar workers. Frequently, the loss of control due to a depressive episode or crisis will make a man feel chaotic, this often, can push men towards suicidal behaviours in an effort to regain some sort of control over their life. Regularly men, searching for relief from the psychological pain and the feeling of loss of control, will seek out substances such as drugs or alcohol, or both, as a way of coping.

Throughout childhood, boys are taught to be a man, looking to his father for guidelines, for how this is. Undoubtedly some of these messages can be, mixed. Furthermore, if the young boy’s father is not around, some of these messages can come from external forces, such as culture, social media or TV.

The report suggests that men in midlife, often seek out their partner as emotional support, suggesting that the man loses support from his peers after the age of 30. The report goes on to say that men traditionally seek out companionship, in doing an activity, but these relationships can often be superficial.

Traditionally, men have a poor view of psychotherapy/ counselling, coming to therapy only in extreme circumstances. This is something that we at Eleos counselling are working very hard to correct.

At the time of writing, unemployment in the UK is higher amongst men than it is amongst women. Traditional jobs, such as manufacturing are changing rapidly, with the onset of new technology. Added to this uncertainty, such factors as zero hours contracts, temporary employment, and for some, self-employment, to name but a few.

Perhaps one of the ways to engage men in any of form meaningful communication regarding their feelings, is to offer group therapy. The idea of self-supporting groups is not a new one, you only have to think of the 12 step program, and the tremendous support that gives, to see this could work, if marketed correctly.

Traditionally, men in the UK are Conservative bunch, the report suggests that men in the UK are caught between the strong silent type and the new man; being able to speak about one’s feelings openly. At Eleos counselling, we are looking at new ways of engaging men in therapy, rather than being reactive, we would like to be more proactive.

If this article has raised questions for you and you would like to talk to someone, then possibly Eleos counselling can help. If you would like to clink on the link below to be taken to the Eleos counselling main website. 

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.

Does substance misuse cause mental health problems?

Alcohol and drug addiction have historically always been linked to mental health problems. Mental health problems do not necessarily cause addiction. Nevertheless, some mental health problems, those which have not been diagnosed quickly, can cause alcohol and drug problems, for the person with a mental health difficulties.

Having a depressive disorder can cause a feeling of being overwhelmed by life, social isolation, sleeplessness, a feeling of psychological unconnectedness, and thus the person feeling this symptoms’, will often self medicate with either alcohol or drugs, in order to feel some relief from these feelings.

Recently a paper published in the Lancet has linked skunk cannabis misuse with a 24% increase first incident psychosis. The research was specifically aimed at people with no diagnosis of mental health problems before using the drug. Effectively, this shows a link between using a drug and a mental health problem. For some, this would not be a revelation, as often people have anecdotal evidence, knowing someone close or in the close circle of friends, who suffered a mental health problem and has used or in the past used drugs or alcohol.

One research paper by the University of Lancaster has linked the use of skunk marijuana and people who are self-medicating for symptoms of bipolar disorder. An interesting comment was made in this research saying cannabis use increase when somebody was in a positive or manic mood.

In fact, smoking marijuana can make depression worse. Temporary relief may be found in a line of coke or a drink, but when the chemicals, except the body depression can worsen to a new low. These so-called “withdraw depressions” happens after somebody has come down from using drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, many people do not experience chronic symptoms at first. Furthermore, the depression felt from using recreational drugs and alcohol can lead people to reuse, can lead into a problematic cycle.

These symptoms can be made worse when somebody who is on prescribed medication uses drugs or alcohol. Mixing Street drugs and alcohol with prescribed drugs can be deadly, putting the person in danger.

A question often asked for people with an alcohol or drug problem is “did my drinking or drug taking cause me to have depression?” It Is often the job of a psychotherapist/counsellor to help the client find the source of the depression. Furthermore, gain insight into the possible causes of their problems. Whether that’s passed problems unresolved, or fear of failure in the future.


It is often the case client who comes to therapy for an addictive problem are able to track back to when he or she first felt depressed, and gain insight into why they turned to their drug of choice, whether that be alcohol or street drugs.

At Eleos counselling we have had many years helping clients with depression, and a drug or alcohol problem.  We work in a Humanistic  way to help the client  come to terms with life’s hurts and the wave come to cope, if you would like to know more, please click on the link below and you will be taken to the Eleos counselling website.


Is it time to rethink addiction treatment protocols in this country?

A recent article in the Daily Mail, newspaper, has raised the profilealcohol-black-and-white-eleos counselling of treatment for alcohol-related addiction. The article highlighted the case of one woman, in Liverpool who has had several bouts of rehab, and now has stopped drinking due to her deteriorating health.

The story is so so familiar and typifies, how one can easily slide into an addictive behaviour, as a way of coping with life’s pressures. The person in question went from having a few drinks night, to help her fall asleep to a full bottle of vodka and finally to drinking from the moment she got up, in the morning.

It is estimated that treatment for alcohol-related problems cost the UK taxpayer 3 ½ billion pounds last year. Experts have stated that there is an epidemic of binge drinkers in the UK, which is putting the NHS and recovery agencies under enormous stress. One hospital in Liverpool is quoted as saying that they see 20 to 30 people in various stages of alcohol-related health problems, such as oral cancer and liver disease.

One interesting fact to come out of this article is there is little known about the socio-economic effects of so-called binge drinking. It is estimated that binge drinking is costing the UK taxpayer £550,00 an hour.

There are no quick fix solutions in answer to this epidemic, but education at an early age could be one thing we do as parents and adults. Showing young adults and younger, the effects of binge drinking could pay dividends in the long run.

Of course over stressed drug and alcohol agencies have little or no time for such educational, Yet proactive work. Nevertheless, Could it be possibly be a time to rethink our treatment protocols in this country. Incorporating so-called withdraw drugs as well as psychotherapy /counselling, could be one of the ways of helping people on the road to recovery. My own total evidence would suggest that people often want to talk about, and come to terms with some of the damage that they have done whilst they’ve been in the depths of their addiction, unfortunately counselling/psychotherapy is really offered, to help people deal with these fallout effects.

Counselling and psychotherapy can play a large part in the recovery process, unfortunately locally this has to be paid for by the person with the addiction.

My question is, could it be that some of that money (£550,000 an hour) would be better spent helping people in a different way rather than offering at NHS bed in a drying out Ward.

Sending trained professionals into schools to help young adults understand exactly what a unit of alcohol is, and looks like, the effects binge drinking, and the effects of drink -related diseases.


Eleos counsellor has been working on a new program,to help children manage their anger. This will be rolled out for the new academic year. We hope in the future to be involved with more educational work, such as helping young people have a healthy attitude to alcohol.

If you have problems with drinking you may like to go to our website

Just click the link below