I have often been asked to work with individuals with personal challenges for whom discretion due to their public profile is of immense importance. This means that traditional rehabilitation treatment and mixing with other patients, or any potential disclosure or leak of their situation to the press or public must absolutely be avoided. It's a deal breaker. For examples, Celebrities, Musicians, Politicians, Executives from large Corporations, etc.
But there was a particular gentleman who i'd like to put some context behind before writing this blog article, so let me just tell you a few things about him.
This was a non-European gentleman (being purposefully vague here), oozing charm, confidence and power, a Senior Politician within his own country and someone highly likely to achieve his very large ambitions within his countries political structure. And I could tell why. I liked him. I liked him a lot.
Remaining vague, I could tell this wasn't a man with addictive disease or even an addictive personality, but yet he was a serious Playboy who certainly gained some of his significance through his virility. Unfortunately for him, one of his mistresses had turned him onto the highly toxic drug Crystal Methamphetamine, which for a man of such self-control goes to show just how addictive it is, since he had been on a 3 month bender, had experienced an full on overdose (needing hospitalisation) and begun to repeatedly have physical seizures / convulsions as a result of this highly addictive drug.
I met with him and heard about his 3 months of full on smoking and the deterioration of his mental, physical and emotional health in such a short space of time. Here he was, before me for help and clearly scared and concerned for this deterioration in his wellbeing, asking for ways to never return to this poisonous drug ever again, and so I wrote him the following recommendations and delivered it to him in the form of a pamphlet.
I think it's relevant for anyone who wants to stop using a particular drug or behaviour to consider these following 10 recommendations.
10 Recommendations for a healthy future:
- Make changes
Change the people you’ve been spending time time with.
Change the locations you've been hanging out at too.
Change the things you've been doing.
This is easiest if you begin socialising with people who don’t engage in the destructive substances or behaviours at all. Remember, nothing changes if nothing changes.
- Safe House
Make sure there are no mementos in your house to remind you or clues that trigger emotional reactions to encourage you to return to previous pastimes. Have your home fully cleaned and get all paraphernalia removed by someone that you trust. Or do it yourself, but do it thoroughly. No lighters, no ashtrays, paraphernalia, etc.
- Be accountable to someone
Have a closed mouthed friend with whom you can be held (or hold yourself to) accountable to.
Let them know that you’ve made some changes and ask them to check in with you on a weekly basis to ensure you remain on target. This will encourage you to stick to the plan and to stay on track, in order to not lose face. Also, if you know anyone who’s previously made similar changes, now would be a really good time to raise the topic in a discussion with them and ask for their support.
- Replacement Therapy
Replace your harmful activity with something else - ideally something that isn’t harmful to you – An obvious suggestion is to return to the gym on a daily basis and hydrate a great deal. You can also add an enjoyable food into your diet, to feed your pleasure sensors, such as a nice fruit drink, or some chocolate (remember to only eat sensible amounts). Alternatively (or in addition), you could play music, or go to comedy shows, which release the endorphins whilst helping you smile and laugh.
- Imagine / Visualise / Dream
Visualise yourself in the future, feeling happy, joyous and free. Close your eyes and imagine a perfect world filled with all your healthy desires. Visualisation is often the best way to begin making any shifts or changes in your life. Visualise yourself enjoying yourself whilst having a great time doing something positive and healthy as a pastime.
- Keep yourself busy
Create an alternative structure to your day. Plan your free evenings differently. Ensure you fill yourself with activities well in advance and have back up plans in case they fall through. Essentially, make sure you’re never bored or lonely. Commit yourself to dedicating more time with your children and your wife. Give more focus upon your family and friends success’s as well as your own.
Educate yourself on the physical harms your episode has been causing your body. Consider yourself in the future if you did not change now. How will you look or feel in another year if you carry on? How will you be in a further 2 years of your life? Will you still be alive by the time you turn 40? Look at pictures of people ravaged in a physical sense by the long-term effects of such a pastime. Then consider the social impact this will be having on your career, your family and your life.
- Take notes
Write a list of all the times you’ve let someone down, or gone back on your word, or lied, cheated or manipulated from someone you care about. Consider whether you’re still able to tolerate yourself while you continue behaving in such a way.
- Keep things simple
Break the week down into manageable sizes, so you make a commitment not to misbehave for one week, day, or one hour, or 5 minutes or even just the next 30 seconds and then repeat this exercise the next week / day / hour / minute etc.
Set yourself a weekly goal of staying free from your destructive behaviour and write it down. Review the goal whenever you have doubts in yourself and remind yourself of your targets.
- Stay connected to a professional
Wherever you are in the world. you should be able to find a Professional to communicate with, either face to face or through a computer (Zoom or Skype are very popular for video calling). Consider taking someone on as your accountability buddy. This person will be someone you report to on a daily basis of your success or share your vulnerabilities and moments of danger or challenges. They need to be committed to your good welfare but this is the very best way to maintain your future healthy self, going forwards.
It's written in a simple to understand and dynamic manner to keep everyone engaged in the process, rather than spilling out data and complicated instructions. Though you may not relate with everything contained within the book, there will certainly be plenty of parts that do help you.
ADVANCED TIP - When you get a thought that you know to be negative, compartmentalise it and place it in a folder marked “Trash”. If you logically and cognitively perform this each time you think unappealing thoughts, this will help you build a much stronger defence system for the future and ensure you never return to previous bad habits.
During your early days, please stay safe and surround yourself with happy, cheerful friends who are able to enjoy themselves with positive pastimes. Often family gatherings that are focussed on children rather than adults are far more likely to be healthy events. Make your weekends and spare time about the children in your life - sons / daughters / nieces & nephews / cousins etc. But most importantly of all, make sure you’re enjoying yourself and whatever you’re doing.
If you’re still feeling miserable, it’s likely because you’re not engaging in fun activities, and if you’re not happy, then you’re far more likely to return to the previous behaviours for comfort.
Happiness is an inside job, which is immediately created quite simply by helping other people, most easily in our children or our elders. So see how you can make someone else’s day an enjoyable experience, rather than worrying about your own.
If you truly want to help yourself long term, try helping someone less fortunate than yourself.