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Together we can make a difference in the lives of those who are suffering from addiction! This was the message that the OASI Foundation, the Ministry for the Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity (MFCS) and the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS) wanted to pass on today.

This was confirmed by officially signing the Public Social Partnership, which sealed the commitment towards ensuring professional services to those persons suffering from addiction as well in the provision of Prevention Programs and Social Awareness, professional Therapeutic Services in the Community and Residential Therapy and Rehabilitation. This PSP of €1.6 million guarantees the OASI Foundation service provision for the next 3 years.

During the ceremony, the OASI Foundation announced that it is happy to welcome new residents who are to start the OASI Residential Therapy & Rehab program, Covid-19 free. In fact, a group of five persons have gone through a quarantine process to be screened and secured they are free of the Corona Virus. This process was necessary to keep the current residents safe, thus ensuring the continuation of therapy and avoiding a lockdown situation.

This was possible with the help of FSWS, especially the Gozo branch, and with the continuous support of MFCS where all understood the needs that people suffering from addiction are facing, even more so, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Press Coverage

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The OASI Foundation was invited to attend a meeting of the Standing Committee for Gozo Affairs to discuss the impact that Covid-19 is having on our beneficiaries and services.  A recording of the meeting can be listened to on the Parliament website.

 

More information can be found in this article by Hon. Dr. Justyne Caruana, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee for Gozo Affairs.

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Denial is the greatest enemy of the truth;

It puts you in a bubble and cuts you off completely from reality;

Makes you extremely sensitive to the least important thing;

Whilst continuing to seek attention endlessly!

 

I lived my life with very low esteem. I was bullied, cut myself to physically relieve myself from anxiety, negative emotions, self-hate, loneliness and confusion of doubts.

I got lost in a world where I felt like no one wanted me not even my own family and I ended up alone finding refuge in poetry with the hope that someday someone would see them and understand me. In the state of fear, betrayal and abandonment I was in, I made bad decisions and found myself into bad relationships, where I made myself liked by others in the hope of bringing them into my own distorted reality. What was perfect in my eyes at that time, today is completely different! My body was the resemblance of beauty. Today it’s just an anorexic illusion; a destructive state of mind in which, no matter how thin I am, I am never thin enough and will continue to shrink until finally I break and disappear.

Someone once told me: “smile and the world will smile back to you” My reaction back then was No way!  But today, I think otherwise. Yes, it true! The world would react according to how you act!

I got married at the age of 19, with the impression that I finally found someone who would love me unconditionally. In the rush to get out of my loneliness, I thought I married the man who would solve all my problems back then. But it was too late when I realized that the person I married did not have the security I needed. In the rush to escape my difficult past, I married a man who was still struggling with himself to get rid of his own problems. Nor was I aware that, as a young and immature girl in the body of an adult woman, urging for love and attention, I chose as my husband a man who was nothing but the mirror of my own childhood problems.

Obviously, my marriage didn't work out! The shortcomings and indifference of my spouse to what I was going through affected me so much that I ended up seeking attention elsewhere. My life had become a locomotive, a crazy run from one adventure to another, sometimes feeling good other times feeling down. I took strange decisions and wrong choices in the group of people I used to mingle with.  At first, I felt good, because this time I got the attention I so much wanted. During the same time of this relationship, I remained with my husband faking my marriage for months until I got pregnant by my husband. I decided to end the extra marital relationship but things turned bad because my partner did not accept me breaking up with him. He became obsessed and started following me everywhere I went, blackmailing me with photos and threatening to expose my secret to my husband. One day, out of the blues he lost his mind, became violent and raped me. Thankfully I escaped from his grip and ran home, agitated and in fear.

This dramatic experience has sparked flashbacks from my past. Suddenly, the poems I was writing seemed to make sense and I started to ask myself…. why!? Why now!? I couldn’t understand what was going on, except that something kicked in me. My mind started to see things from a different perspective. I stopped paying attention to what people thought of me. I started to feel like a stranger in my own home. I was frustrated and started to hurt myself physically and cut myself to ease the tension and get rid of the stress that I had. My relationship at home got worse and my husband gave up on me and left. It was then that something clicked the thought of leaving my home and my husband for good. Yet I remained and my husband returned home.

In the meantime, my daughter was born and that’s when I went through a positive period in my life. My daughter was the best thing I ever had and she gave me hope to seek a better future. I had a lot of time to reflect on my past and the current situation I was in. I realized what a big mistake I did when I rushed into marriage…whom I married and how young I was for such a commitment. It was then when I started to feel down again and relapsing into the negative emotions I had forgotten for a while. My relationship had a turn to the worst and after a heated argument I decided that this time I will leave home for sure. I started another extra marital relationship behind my husband’s back, this time with a man who seemed timid and kind. A gentleman who also helped me financially. I thought that this time I found someone reliable, especially since he recommended that I go and seek some sort of guidance before leaving my home and my husband for good. And that is what I did.

I went to a therapist with the thought that everything will be ok once I vented out all the anger I had inside due to the problematic marriage I was experiencing, including the hate I had towards my husband. But the therapist didn’t take long to realize that any matrimonial advice given was not going to be of any help. He realized that my issues were deeper than the actual marital problems I was putting the blame on.  These profound issues needed better attention than any other therapy advice.

The sessions were of great help and helped me stop resorting to self-harm. This saved me from losing custody of my daughter. In the meantime, my therapist helped me empower my self-esteem and became confident and strong enough to have the courage to eventually leave my husband and my home without taking anything I owned, except for my daughter.

My new partner accepted me and my daughter with open arms. My therapist recommended not to stop the therapy sessions and therefore I continued as suggested. By time I realized how judgmental I used to be and how I always rushed into decisions without evaluating the repercussions. It transpired that my new partner, whom I always saw as a quiet, timid person, also suffered from a form of compulsive disorder. He was obsessed with cleanliness, keeping everything in an orderly manner, punctual and abides strictly according to plan. Eventually, he started insulting me since I was nothing to what he was like. Slowly slowly I felt retracting back to my troubled adolescent years. I was once again being bullied and felt like I had lost everything I had built lately. I even tried to attempt suicide on various occasions. Obviously by time, my new partner left me and once again I felt abandoned. Without knowing, I was back into my anorexia disorder and I am very lucky that I am alive!

The only support I had left was that of my therapist on whom I relied heavily. He patiently worked on the anger and bitterness I had towards my mother and all the partners I had encountered. One day, I started to have this weird, turbulent dream, with a 5 or 6-year-old girl playing with friends - all having clouded faces. I could even hear my mother panicking and screaming in the background "Where is my daughter?". I remember cutting short my dream and waking up scared, and going back to sleep and dreaming again and seeing this girl hiding again. Other times I dreamed of my mother staring at me and angrily asking me "What did you do? What did you do?" while I was terrified because I couldn’t understand and remember what I had done wrong.

It was during one of the sessions with my therapist when I came to my senses. Encouraged by my therapist to recount my dream, I began to remember clearly this girl and the other children when suddenly, as though a veil had fallen from their faces, I began to recognize them. They were two much older children whom I, being such an innocent girl, trusted blindly. I immediately remembered them betraying me while we were having fun playing in my grandmother’s back room.

The confusion and panic that ensued between my mother and grandmother unfortunately shocked me and frightened me a lot. I lost all confidence in myself and for many years I entered into a turbulent sense of guilt and rebellion. The panic that arose after the abuse was so great that I suddenly lost my innocence over something I did but didn’t actually know what it was. So as not to feel the emotional pain, my mind just pushed this ugly experience in me into my subconscious. That is the reason why I couldn’t remember the incident. I was so irritated and uncomfortable with my mother's presence that as a result I made her life a living hell and, in the process, I unknowingly hurt myself a lot.

After that extraordinary therapeutic session, I spoke to my mother about what had happened to me. She did not deny the story, on the contrary, I felt that she understood me a lot and we grew closer and since then she has become my best friend. As a mother myself, I could understand that she too was young and inexperienced and because of that she had made her own bad choices in life. However, I still believe that it is ultimately the parents’ responsibility not to leave their children out of their sight.

I continued with my therapy session that helped me throughout my recovery while being constantly in the life of my daughter whom I love with all my heart. Looking back, I feel lucky to have managed to put all my past trauma behind me. I waited patiently for the right man to come along without having to rush myself searching for him.

Today I am very happy in another stable relationship with the man I love and the father of my second daughter. Yes, there will be moments when life will be difficult and where we will feel weak, but my partner of today understands me, supports me and helps me win over these moments with his great love and genuine stability. And when life gets tough, I look at my daughters and realize how lucky I am to have them and therefore I have to be strong for them as well and do my best to come out of any tough situations I may come across occasionally.

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Anger is a normal human emotion, and can be beneficial in the right context. For example, righteous anger can help us defend ourselves from other people. Unfortunately, inappropriate and frequent episodes of anger can undermine your relationships, career, and health. Shouting, swearing, and throwing objects are all obvious signs of pathological anger, but did you know it’s possible to have a hidden anger problem?

Here are 6 indicators of pathological anger: 

You get regular headaches

When you carry unexpressed tension around in your body, it will manifest itself as aches and pains.

You might suffer tension headaches, migraines, and neck-aches.

Other physical symptoms of excessive anger include digestive disorders and teeth grinding.

If you suffer from eczema or any other condition that is exacerbated by stress, the symptoms might worsen if you have a particularly intense bout of anger.

You avoid conflict

You’d be forgiven for thinking that everyone with an anger problem revels in conflict, but this isn’t always the case.

For instance, if someone knows they get angry but is scared of the intensity of their own feelings, their preferred strategy might be to avoid conflict altogether.

You self-harm

Angry people who can’t or won’t express how they feel to others will frequently take their anguish out on themselves.

If you have an anger problem, you may drink, take drugs, binge eat, or hurt yourself in other ways.

Chronic anger is often accompanied by depression. As Sigmund Freud noted, depression is “anger turned inward.”

Symptoms of depression include a lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities, changes in sleep and appetite, feelings of hopelessness, and excessive guilt.

If you get angry at others, you might feel guilty and ashamed, which will make your depression worse.

You spend a lot of time thinking about people who have hurt you

Do you nurse grudges against others, even if they’ve apologized or it’s been several years since they offended you?

Being unable to release past hurts or grievances is a sign that you struggle to process negative emotions, which can be associated with anger problems.

You are often sarcastic, apathetic, and act against your best interests

Passive aggression is a sure sign of anger.

It manifests as apathy, sarcasm, or a tendency to criticize others.

If you are passive aggressive, you usually feel as though others are taking advantage of you or abusing you in some way, and you don’t have any means of fighting back.

Instead of addressing the problem head-on, you resort to passive aggression instead.

Self-sabotage is another indicator

For instance, someone who is angry at themselves or the world might arrive at work late every day, miss deadlines, or start arguments with their partner.

Note that passive-aggressive people often lack insight into their own behaviour.

You might not feel as though you have an anger problem, but those around you will have noticed your negative attitude and self-destructive actions.

What to do if you have an anger problem

Don’t dismiss your anger as a minor inconvenience or a fixed personality trait. It can have serious consequences if left unaddressed. For example, chronic anger can compromise your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to infectious disease. Volatile anger can lead to fights, which may even be physical in nature. If you are often angry, you are at increased risk of additional mental illnesses and distress.

First, try self-help measures

Regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and meditating can lower your stress levels and reduce the risk of angry outbursts. 

Working on your assertiveness skills and learning how to set firm boundaries can help resolve passive anger, because you will be able to work with others to work through problems instead of suppressing a sense of injustice.

In some cases, you may need to seek out professional help

There are specialist anger management programs. Some offer guidance to people in particular fields, such as those in high-stress professions, or specialize in working with people who have other mental health problems.

One-on-one counselling is another option.

For help choosing the right treatment, ask your regular healthcare provider for advice.

If you are employed, your employee assistance program is a good place to start.

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“A CLEVER person solves a problem, A WISE person avoids it” - Albert Einstein 

 

Prevention means: recognizing the possibilities of harm and preparing oneself beforehand or take action to stop it from happening. The main focus here is for every citizen, adults and especially school children, to never have any reason to resort to any dependency. This “dependency” path starts off as an “experimental adventure” but, when abused, it will eventually lead to the only way of living.

There are two main reasons how one can be prevented from substance abuse:

EDUCATION, where you teach the person that there is no need to resort to drugs to function well in life. Concrete knowledge and moral persuasion about the repercussions of substance abuse, will help immensely in the future formation of the individual; the choices, attitudes and desires of one’s own future.

REALITY, with which you make the person aware of the consequences and repercussions of addiction. It is important to stress on the fact that the price one pays for substance abuse is way higher than the pleasure one feels when using.

It has been proven that the strategic idea of education/persuasion was to lessen its market while the strategy used to emphasize on the repercussions and hard consequences was to deter use. As a matter of fact, both strategies helped in reducing demand and sale, therefore both strategies were an essential and effective form of prevention. 

In every prevention program, just giving information on the harmful effects of drug and alcohol abuse, hardly helps to reduce demand. There is the risk of having the opposite effect by stimulating natural curiosity our youngsters have towards that which is forbidden and enticing to experience.

The most effective method is a combination of both strategies, where all facets of the problem are exposed and discussed openly. There are other factors in life that effect people, mostly youngsters. These are the positive and negatives factors that determine how one would tackle the issue. People experiencing these opposite factors should be given the opportunity to be involved in various strategies regarding prevention.

The latter also include the family, the school, the work place and also places of entertainment. Parents, neighbours and the social community have to stress on the fact that drugs and alcohol abuse are unacceptable. Employees have to give their input as well in this fight against dependency by stressing on the fact that substance abuse and work are absolutely incompatible.

For this collective mission to be credible, the same message needs to be conveyed continuously to both adults and youngsters – that drug and alcohol abuse is wrong. Every substance abuse is detrimental and abusing use will bring negative consequences on both the user and society as a whole. Immediate, serious and effective intervention needs to take place as soon as the first signs become visible.

To conclude, as a society we have to admit that alcohol abuse is the most abused substance in our country. And every prevention program, to be really credible and effective, has to look at this issue in a collective manner.

 

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The OASI Foundation continued to experience an increase in people who used its services due to drug-related problems that are considered recreational.

The Foundation’s Therapy Team works with over 200 cases a year. In 2019, 44% had problems directly related to cocaine use, while 25% asked for help due to alcohol-related difficulties and 9% due to Cannabis. There has been an increase in the use of crack in particular.

These types of drugs are all considered as recreational drugs that are used especially in entertainment settings. But when the use becomes problematic, one starts using these types of drugs even when alone. Many people who abuse recreational drugs, would say that they are not at risk of developing an addiction problem, because they are of the impression that only heroin causes addiction.

On the other hand, heroin use remained low - in fact 16% turned to OASI in this regard.

40% of cases in 2019 had post-secondary education, and 16% studied at university level.

The therapy team carried out extensive therapy work with the relatives of these clients. Apart from specific programmes on both residential and appointment-based services for those with addiction problems, the Foundation offers therapy and programmes for relatives of addicts. It also helps and offers support to employers to help a person with an addiction problem so that the business is not affected as much. The Foundation’s programmes are based on the 12 Steps for Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, and help the individual become aware of himself/herself and build skills and strategies to comprehend a way of living and appreciate life.

The Foundation also offers community outreach and information services on substance use prevention as well as how to live a life away from drug abuse. In addition to the use of social media, these include conferences, publication of articles, talks and courses in local councils and parishes and also activities of a social nature that offer relaxation, such as sports and culture. In total, more than 3,000 hours have been invested in this Social Awareness work.

Through specially designed therapy, the OASI Foundation also helps people who have started experimenting with substances or who are at risk of becoming addicted.

Recently, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the immediate intervention team activated a Helpline, so that people who are going through difficult moments or feel anxious due to what is currently going on, can refer to the help of a professional team. This service also serves to help families going through issues such as poverty who are directed to the services related to their needs.

OASI has the continued support of over 50 volunteers who offer their time and energy in the Foundation’s various programmes and activities. They are also very instrumental in fundraising activities.

The OASI Foundation offers all its services free of charge. And therefore, the recent agreement with the Ministry for the Family, Children’s’ rights and Social Solidarity will be instrumental, as this will enable us to strengthen and increase the services of the Foundation, and add on to the professionalism and skills of the Foundation’s staff.

Anyone wishing to seek help or want more information for a prevention programme tailored to one’s particular needs, can call 21563333 or find us on social media.

Press Coverage:

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Caritas Malta, Sedqa, the OASI Foundation and the Maltese Association of Psychiatry are in agreement that:

  1. There needs to be more sensitivity towards persons who use cannabis.
  2. The Law of 2015 – Drug Dependence (Treatment Not Imprisonment) Act – was an effective law and a step forward so that those persons caught with small amounts [of drugs] for personal use are decriminalized and depenalized.
  3. The law on medicinal cannabis was another step forward, as cannabis has medicinal properties which, when used on the basis of research, are beneficial to the patient.
  4. A person that uses cannabis or other substances should not end up with a mark on their police conduct certificate, or be sent to prison.
  5. It is not fair for these persons to be stigmatized.

At the same time we are concerned that the use of cannabis is being normalised and popularized. The use of the definition recreational cannabis passes on and confirms the message to society that this substance has recreational value.  From our experiences with smoking and alcohol, we know that when a drug becomes more popular, and even legal, there is a tendency that the substance will be used more widely and its negative effects will have greater impact.  This does not mean that if more people are using cannabis this is no longer something we should be concerned about.  On the contrary, we should be asking why this substance is becoming more ingrained in our culture.

We want to give voice to many parents' concerns that their children justify the use of cannabis as medicinal, or due to “everyone using it”. 

We also wish to give voice to research that was published recently, and which replicated [the results of] previous studies, and confirmed that the use of cannabis by adolescents causes great harm to the brain and exposes it to risks of dependence on other drugs. 1

We appeal to all persons of influence, from all backgrounds, to ensure that while they continue to aid in decreasing the stigma against persons who use substances, they also always pass the message to children and adolescents that no drug has recreational value and every drug, including cannabis, has its harms. 

In Malta, there is extensive work in the areas of drug prevention and rehabilitation by authorities, through education, Government agencies and voluntary organizations. We see extensive work done by the Disciplined Forces and the Judiciary. We continue to hope that the laws that are proposed in this respect, strengthen the Law of 2015, to give more leeway to the Judiciary, so as to ensure that no  person who is dependent on drugs ends up in prison, but is helped to find a lifestyle that does not include the use of substances. 

The laws serve as a guide and message to society, so that it can develop fully and to the benefit of all its members. We continue  to hope that the proposed laws do not open windows or doors for people to access drugs legally, and that there is deep consideration of the social consequences and the disadvantages that this can bring upon the most vulnerable members of our society. Among these are adolescents, those with dependence or at a risk of developing dependence on cannabis or other drugs, those who develop paranoia and psychosis through the use of cannabis, those who develop amotivational syndrome (lack of motivation in life) and those who already have intellectual difficulties.  

  1. https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/04/16/1920866117

Press Coverage:

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How can I notice the signs?

Most parents often ask this question to themselves and also to professionals who work in the sector of prevention of drug, alcohol and other related substances. Some adults, as well as parents think that they are not capable to distinguish the signs as they do not have enough awareness or knowledge to enable them to realise that there is in fact a problem.

A not so easy situation

This is a situation where even the people who studied on addiction might get some doubts especially if the person involved is a family member. It is true that often parents do not have the basic objective knowledge related to addiction of chemical substances. It is also known that some do not see seriousness the of such addiction, especially when consumption is of small amount. It is also a known fact that it is more difficult to detect the signs when one is too close to the person with the problem. Children have a way of hiding these signs from their parents.

Addiction, especially in adolescence, is difficult to detect during their developing stage. Most adolescents are preparing themselves “to leave their nest” when they are passing through their rebellious stage by unfounded arguments for self-independence. It was stated by a lecturer at the University of Tucson, USA, that excessive attitude and rebellious conversations are the alarming signs that something else is behind this attitude and are not always related to the developing stages. Mood swings are more visible than the average where substance use is involved.

Gradual Development

Substance abuse develops gradually and these can be divided into five steps:

First step: consists of the potential use leading to abuse already existing within the individual.  This includes very common factors in our society, such as children with parents using drugs or alcoholics themselves. Easy excess to these substances at home make it easier for the children to start using as well. Low self esteem in children and personality disorders are also dangerous factors in this regard. Most times, personality disorders develop from careless upbringing and unstable childhoods.

Second Step: is the experimental stage, a phase which is dramatically minimized by the person using. The person sees nothing wrong in smoking cannabis occasionally. Same applies to alcohol; one sees nothing wrong in drinking alcohol on daily basis as long as one is within the limits according to the drinking by laws.

Third Step: is when the person is exposed to what is on the market and experiments in various types of drugs and even consume with a mixture of alcohol.

Forth Step: consists of being actually addicted to substance use or alcohol. The main aim of the user would be solely to get high and feel better.

The fifth and final step: is the result of a typical drug addict or alcoholic – the physical and psychological deterioration of the individual.

It is wrong when we say that drug and alcohol abuse start during adolescence, when children reach the age of sixteen or eighteen. Various studies have shown that some sort of drug and alcohol use start during the secondary school years (as early as 11 years of age).

Patience and an open mind are highly required

If a family member is a drug or alcohol addict, you should not expect that person to be honest with another family member. Therefore, it is very important that you remain calm, patient yet strong and determined to use a positive strategy towards the issue. Addiction can be fatal and the lives of your child can be in danger. It is very important to take immediate action when you are certain that your child is abusing substances.  You must not think twice and hope that the child will come out of this addiction alone. You have to act fast!

Mistakes that should be avoided

You might ask: but what should I do? First off, you should not waste time.

ꓫ Do not pity yourself.

You can do this at a later stage, should you really want to.

ꓫ Get angry.

It will be more worth using your energy in a positive way.

ꓫ Explain and emphasize.

Nothing changes with repetitive advice.

ꓫ Blame yourself for the current situation of your child.

Parents full of guilt are not effective parents.

ꓫ Argue inside the family.

Arguments gets one nowhere.

Confrontation based on help and guidance

The best action you can take is to confront the addict, only if you are sure that there is abuse taking place, whether it relates to drugs or alcohol. You must not forget that the aim is to help your son/daughter and not create confrontation where you accuse and blame him/her for his/her own problems.

You need to be well prepared before confronting the user. One recommendation would be to get hold of four pieces of paper; on the first paper, jot down the physical and emotional signs you would notice. On the second paper, write down what you would think would be the effects of drug or alcohol abuse, such as car accident, illness, loss of money, poor examination results, excessive complaints related to work and unemployment.

On the third paper, write down your own feelings towards the situation. Simple terms should be used such as anxious, weary, angry and hurt. On the fourth paper, write down a list of consequences related to drug and alcohol abuse, which can include memory loss, unable to concentrate, failing to solve issues and physical harm. You should keep these notes as reference.

You must find the best time or moment when to talk to your son/daughter – the same applies should it be your husband/wife.

Prepare yourself in advance

  • You should speak to your son/daughter when and if possible, he/she is not under the effect of substance use. It is useless to try and reason out with someone who is under the influence of substance use.
  • You should always remain calm and honest, using simple clear words during confrontation. If your son/daughter has been using for a while, it is likely that long conversations, using strong language, will not work.
  • You should not speak out of anger. To keep calm is probably the biggest challenge in this situation.
  • You should discuss only what you have observed. You should not be sarcastic or state what other people would think about this situation.
  • You should describe the dangerous repercussions when someone is a drug addict or an alcoholic. You should be clear and concise in the words being used, especially if this is advice forwarded by professionals in the field.
  • You should recommend outside help. It is important that when you refer to professional guidance, you should go together as support.

 The First Step

This is when you would realise that your son/daughter is afraid. Afraid of his/her peer group, afraid that they will be defined as weak individuals. All this fear is due to the damage he/she would have sustained through drug and alcohol abuse. If ever there was a time where your son/daughter really needed you…...NOW is the time! With your help, your son/daughter will be on his/her first steps to recovery.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19) is an infectious disease that has limited our daily activities and confined us to our homes. For some, this dramatic change in lifestyle can be tough and isolating. Those of us who enjoyed going about their daily business, now find themselves stuck at home. We all eagerly await the news that this new terror, which has forced us to stay inside, is over.

For those of you who are feeling overwhelmed with the new limitations Covid-19 has imposed on us, this article may help you to make use of this time to reap benefits for a healthy lifestyle inside our own homes. A healthy lifestyle does not merely imply being physically active, but also being aware and mindful of your mental health.

Let us therefore start with how caring for our mental health is necessary. We are social creatures and thus require human contact. It is one of our fundamental basic needs. Being unable to leave the house will limit the amount of contact we have with others and the outside world. At times, total isolation tends to leave us feeling lethargic and unmotivated, and in turn we lean towards isolating ourselves more.

This threat is even more pronounced for people who are already vulnerable to becoming isolated such as the elderly, people in care homes, those who live alone or those who are struggling with mental health issues. Thankfully, technology can be useful in this regard and it would be wise to speak with loved ones on the phone or through video calls. For those recovering addicts who also feel that this time is testing their recovery process due to the temporary shutdown of meetings and groups, make sure to keep in touch with your counsellor, sponsor or Higher Power. Remember to stay grounded and to communicate your feelings rather than allow them to get pent up and explode.

Furthermore, keep your hobbies alive, and if your hobby is virtually impossible to maintain at home, think creatively on how you can transform this hobby into something that can be done indoors. Hobbies do in fact have the power of therapy and can be used as an aid for mental peace.

This is also the perfect time to engage in new interests that you may have wished to have had the time for in the past. So, think big. Is there something you have always wanted to do? Can you do it now? Not only would you be killing boredom, but at the same time discovering new skills and interests feeds a more positive attitude. Who knows, perhaps your new way of thinking might serve as a model for others to follow.

It is important that we remain calm and focus on what we can control, rather that what is out of our control, since otherwise this would be energy lost. Time dedicated to news should be limited to reputable and reliable sources. All too often too much information can be overwhelming, and some online news can be fake and lead to panic.

If you have read this and are indeed feeling particularly lonely, do reach out to people whom you trust, or to foundations like OASI, to help you through this challenging time.

 

OASI Foundation

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The following story is a true refection of a young, married woman, who with no fault of hers, found herself in a situation where her husband became a victim of alcohol and drug abuse. She tries to find a reason and searches for help and a solution to the problem. When one reads the story and reflects well its content, one will realise what it actually means to find oneself living with someone who is a drug and alcohol dependent.

 

Here I am, in a new and confused situation, feeling at a cross road.

What shall I do? – Should I file for divorce or separate him or should I wait?

What shall I do? – Should I seek the help of Family Services or should I wait?

Where is this situation going to take me? How am I feeling right now?

What is this feeling? Is it fear of the unknown? I wonder.

I still have feelings for this man whom I married nine years ago – I still love the one with whom I shared laughter and fooled around the house with as a married couple – a young free spirit full of love. I still love the man with whom I shared my dreams, my hopes, my first love and my first steps towards the unknown.  I still love the man who spent Christmas eve expressing his emotions and trying to guess what gifts I got him for Christmas.  I still love the man who shared with me the birth of our first born, encouraging me throughout the process and finally exclaiming to everyone in the room “it’s a girl! It’s a girl!” I still love the man who used to visit me at hospital, bringing the children with him and taking care of them whenever I was ill, who cried when he saw me in that state and took care of me, fearing that he was going to lose me forever.  Oh God, where is that friend, that soul mate that I loved so much?

Today I look at this man whom I’m living with, tough and cold hearted, a man that hates my body and ignores me except when he wants to fulfill his sexual desires.

Today I look at this man, whom I wish to hug and wrap my arms around him. Instead I find a lost, drunken person. A cold, sweaty person whose arms would not hold when I try to wrap them around me as if I’m an animal trying to keep warm – So I start crying.

I pray to God to bring him back home safe and thank him every time I see him in the doorway. At the same time I curse the same moment that he is back with him not even giving me a glance and slumps himself drunken on the sofa or else swears at me for something frivolous I might have done in that moment.

Alas! Maybe if I love him more, I can help him out of this problem. If only I could help him! Look at me, begging, crying, shouting, getting angry and praying. Look at me blaming his family, God and also myself.

My God when will this story ever end? Sometimes I unload all the pain on God but then I take it all back to carry it by myself again. I love, I hate, I feel ashamed; I close up within myself feeling unloved, unwanted and alone.

But God every now and then, through his love and infinite mercy, finds a way of placing the right people in my path; good people who truly love. He listens to my prayers; He sends me love and peace to help me make it through each crisis.  Sometimes I feel Him wrapping his arms around me telling me “My child, you had enough” and I feel uplifted until the next bout of crisis comes along. And once again, I would grab my children and leave everything behind. I feel lost and confused.

I still love the man who is eventually killing himself because of his alcohol and drug addiction, yet I don’t want him to take me down with him and drown me further. I turn to God for help – for the last time, I am ready to help the man I love, this other man who is hidden, buried in the grasp of alcoholism; the man behind this crazy, irresponsible, drunk, heartless individual.

Even if I integrate well within the assistance and proper guidance of Family Services, I will still turn to God to help me go through this road of pain and uncertainty because I trust in Him.

If the man I love, the man who is hidden behind the mask of this heartless individual, pleads for help, both the children and myself will be behind him all the way and help him make it through his recovery. We will thank God for His gift, for giving us back the man, the father we have known, the real man behind that mask.

Yet, should he refuse help, I will take hold of my children’s hand in one hand and the other hand in God’s hand and day by day we will face whatever comes our way, conscious of the fact that the love we lost to alcohol and drugs, gave us the chance to learn, helped us grow and gave us the strength and the courage to go on without the man we love.  And through God we learn that the feeling of compassion is always given to those who are truly suffering yet with God’s help, they will survive.