Summer 2017 Celebration of Recovery

Dear all.

Please consider yourself to be cordially invited to attend one of our “celebrations of recovery”

We will be having two events, one at Gladstones London on the 16th September and one at Gladstones Cotswolds on 30th September. Both events start at 1pm and finish at 5pm.

We would very much like you to come and join us at either event, we are aiming to have a fun day of recovery celebration where we can meet friends old and new whilst relaxing with some good food, guest speakers and much, much more. We are very keen to make this an inclusive event so friends and families especially welcome.

group-of-friends-having-outdoor-barbeque-at-homeHow To Register Your Interest?
• If you have received a text message from us please reply to that!
• If you haven’t you can contact the clinics directly: London on 020 8964 8516, Cotswolds on 01453 890184

You are obviously welcome to bring your friends and family, please let us know in advance so we can make sure there is enough for everyone.

We look forward to seeing you all.


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Who Am I? … And Who Are You? …

Mark HWMy name is Mark

I am a 53 year old man who has drunk excessively, with varying degrees of success, for over 30 years, well actually the the successful bit was probably about 5 years worth in my early twenties, even then I was often described as the “nicest drunk people could wish to meet” – if only it were true. I tried to manage every single aspect of my life I found to be uncomfortable by medicating with alcohol.

See how addiction works? I actually said “with varying degrees of success” at the beginning of my first blog, I was going to edit it out but thought it an excellent example of how the addict brain twists and distorts facts.

I have been successfully sober for three years, after entering Gladstones rehabilitation clinic in February 2014.

I have been encouraged to start this blog and I’m not sure how it will pan out yet. I could tell you my life story and make you laugh a little, cry a little, get mad a little and make you feel sorry for me, that would be great for me, but the story would be a version of one familiar to alcoholics, addicts, their friends and loved ones the world over, and maybe you reading this!

I’m gonna try and raise a few topics which will strike a chord with any who have had their lives touched by addiction or currently in active addiction. Especially drawing on the issues we help clients work through at Gladstones Clinic.

I guess if you are gonna take your time to read what I have so say I should tell you a little about my background, that way you can get a bit of a feel of who I am. I was raised in Kent, Margate to be specific, and was fortunate enough to have the sea on my doorstep. I went to an all boy’s Grammar School then attended a Polytechnic (University for less intellectually inclined people) in London. Had a few dodgy jobs and then a 30 year career in the world of metals processing ending as a Key Account Manager. I am currently studying part time and volunteering for a few organisations including as a Peer Mentor here at Gladstones Clinic.

Over the coming weeks I will no doubt give you more detail but this is all you need to know right now.

I could wax lyrical about how great life is in recovery and how grateful I am for being sober, dispense advice and feel I am making a difference but that’s just not me and who I am. This brings me back nicely to – “Who Am I?”, or better “Who I Am”

I do not truly know – do not be alarmed, I’m ok with that, I’m enjoying the journey of finding out.

It’s much easier for me to tell you how I want to be – I just want to be loved and for everybody to be happy!

I guess I am to others as they see me and this is a world of difference to how I see myself. I find it incredibly hard to see the good in me or accept compliments. I dismiss them as they could not possibly apply to me often to the point of thinking that the person must be going through some sort of mental aberration to entertain the thought that I may be good at something, even when the evidence is pointed out I cannot make the connection. (A bit of honest reflection there yikes!)

So seeing good things about myself is a problem, according to the therapist in my head the next course of action is to stand in front of a mirror and give myself positive affirmations (I am beautiful, I am intelligent, and my favourite, I am precious etc…) every day until I believe them. For me this does work but only if I am in a “good place” frame of mind.

One of the most distressing things I have to do in my life is going to the barbers for a haircut – 20 minutes of sheer hell looking at my reflection in the mirror.


When I come home from the barbers I try a little self analysis, something we encourage clients to do at Gladstones. What is so difficult about looking at myself? What do I want to see? The reality is I see a lot of different Marks looking back, sometimes a lost little boy, sometimes an old man, sometimes a sad person but never a confident, comfortable, accomplished man…yet…


The old Mark was a great guy, superficially, he was the life and soul of the party etc.. I call bullshit, the old Mark did not talk about how he was feeling, wasn’t able to express himself, had unfulfilled needs. All the while the addict in him formulating an attack plan to finish him off, a world of pain, isolation, self imposed self-pity and worthlessness.


So let me try to introduce myself again.

Who I Am? Hi, my name is Mark.

I am a recovering alcoholic, I am enjoying life exploring my own strengths and weaknesses finding out who I am. Until recently my only way of getting through life as I saw it was to drink. I now do not have to be afraid of my feelings, my fears, my beliefs nor what others think of me.

I am Mark, who are you?


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Is addiction really a disease?

Treating addiction as if it is a learned pattern of thinking gives addicts the chance to stay clean.

A counter argument is gathering momentum. Many are coming to see addiction as a learned pattern of thinking and acting – a pattern that can be unlearned. As a neuroscientist, I recognise that the brain changes with addiction, but I see those changes as an expression of ongoing plasticity in an organ designed to change with strong emotions and repeated experiences. Similar changes have been recorded when people fall in love, become obese, gamble compulsively, or overindulge on the internet. And as a developmental psychologist (my other hat), I see addiction as an attitude or self-concept that grows and crystallises with experience, often initiated by difficulties in childhood or adolescence. Indeed, addiction is in some ways like a disease, but that’s only half the story.

The debate rages on, and it has propagated a good deal of antipathy among addiction experts and the populations they serve. I had a taste of that conflict just last month. I was invited to join a radio discussion that turned ugly when a scientist and proponent of the disease model claimed that anyone who didn’t recognise addiction as a disease was trivialising it. To back this up, he spoke of several of his close friends who had died because they could not stop drinking. While cases like these are heartbreaking, I am compelled to ask: how can we say addicts can’t stop when so many of them eventually do?

It’s an argument that seems endless. But if there’s no right answer, the best answer might be the one that generates the greatest benefits and causes the least harm. For me, that scorecard is filled in by addicts themselves. Many take comfort in the disease label, because it helps them make sense of how difficult it is to quit. But for others, the disease label isn’t just wrong, it’s repugnant – it’s a rationale for helplessness and an obstacle to healing.

I hated being told I had a disease,” wrote a recent commenter on my blog. “I am not diseased… I don’t have a disease. I had past traumas, environmental factors and learned behaviours… I feel I have learned new things… new skills opened up… new pathways that were underdeveloped.” That’s the crux of the matter for addicts who reject the yoke of fatalism implicit in the disease definition. The first of the 12 steps, admitting that one is powerless, is their point of departure. That’s when they leave their first meeting. And they don’t come back.

Research suggests their intuitions are correct. Several studies have shown that a belief in the disease concept of addiction increases the probability of relapse. And that shouldn’t be surprising. If you think you have a chronic disease, how hard are you going to work to get better?

If we can acknowledge that addiction is like a disease in some ways and very much unlike a disease in other ways, maybe we can stop trying to label it and pay more attention to the best means for overcoming it.


Read More about Heroin Addictions and Rehab options by Gladstones Clinic

Original Article by Marc Lewis for The Guardian, published 24th July 2016 – Original
Image: ‘Choose a life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family…’: Ewan McGregor as a heroin addict in 1996’s Trainspotting. Photograph: Allstar/Channel 4 Films

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What Happens in Rehab?

Many people unfamiliar with rehab have questions about what to expect from the rehab experience. Private residential rehabilitation for drug and alcohol abuse, as well as other addictive disorders, is a multi-stage process. The entire course of rehab treatments, from day one all the way through the mandatory and optional phases of rehabilitation, are described below.

Clinical Assessment

Assuming that a client is physically capable, upon arrival they will be risk-assessed and given a standardized medical and psychiatric screening. It is crucial to have a thorough understanding of the client’s state of mind, and physical and emotional health before they undergo the drug or alcohol detox phase of rehabilitation. The following protocols are fairly standard in a typical risk assessment:


  • Confirming the patient is taking drugs (history, examination, drug testing).
  • Assessing the client’s degree of dependence.
  • Treating any emergency problems.
  • Identifying any physical, psychological or mental health problems.
  • Identifying any particular social problems: housing, employment, domestic violence, offending.
  • Assessing and qualifying any risk behaviors.
  • Determining the clients’ expectations of treatment and their inherent desire to change.
  • Determining the need for medications.
  • Dual diagnosis screening.
  • Assessing the competency of young persons to consent to treatment and involving those with parental responsibility as appropriate.



The Detox period for drugs and or alcohol is an intensive period that lasts for about two weeks. In many ways this is the most traumatic and difficult period for clients to get through. There are very real issues relating to withdrawal symptoms and side effects that can be unpleasant to experience. Clients are given round the clock medical support, guidance, assistance and advice by all members of staff. Care support workers often sit up with clients through the night holding their hands during the first few days of often fidgety or restless withdrawal. A short course of medication is made available to clients at their request. This will help to calm the nerves and get them through the worst of their withdrawal symptoms.

A medically supervised detox is the safest method of detox for chronic drug or alcohol users. A client’s vital signs are closely monitored to reduce risk and make the experience as comfortable as possible.

Primary Care

The Primary phase of treatment lasts four weeks. This is where the client is exposed to an intense phase of group and one-to-one therapies. The purpose of Primary is to uncover the root of addiction, process it and then build healthy strategies and coping mechanisms to face life sober. Expect to encounter cognitive and dialectical therapies, transactional analysis and creative psychodrama. Also expect to be exposed to alternative therapies like meditation, acupuncture and psycho-dynamic techniques for clearing emotional and psychological blockages. Expect a lot of hard work and inner pain and even suffering as painful memories and events are brought back into the light of day to be processed and healed. There are no easy short cuts. Nobody can ever do the hard work for anyone else here. The more each client can put into their own recovery, the more they are going to get out of the Primary phase of rehab.

Secondary Care

Secondary Care period is for those who have successfully completed Primary rehab. Programmes are individually tailored to each client’s needs and degree of independence. Lasting a minimum of four weeks, Secondary care is usually a residential programme. Clients spend their mornings in group and one-to-one counselling. Afternoons are devoted to lifestyle enrichment projects like music, volunteer work, college training, sport and group tasks. Clients stay at one of our sober Living residences but there are exceptions to that rule depending on individual circumstances.

The Secondary phase encourages independence but also maintains a daily regimen of rehab related therapy and group work. It is an ideal arrangement for clients who need a little extra time to lay down new habits and test their coping strategies before finally leaving rehab for good. Consider Secondary as a sort of half-way house with sober-living arrangements by night with daily classes, therapies and activities.

Tertiary Care

Tertiary care is conducted as either an inpatient or outpatient programme, depending on each client. Some clients prefer to remain in our sober living accommodations, while others have returned home to their own families at this point. Each programme will be designed to fit the individual needs of each client. Tertiary care usually includes some or all of the following elements:

  1. Group, one-to-one or family counselling sessions. Frequency to be determined.
  2. SMART meetings
  3. Physician appointments
  4. Regular “check-ins”
  5. Outpatient treatments

Re-connection with friends, family, work and other forms of social re-integration are core elements of Tertiary care. The early days of return to society at large can be risky times for the newly sober. Temptations to relapse can be avoided by having a tertiary care system in place to provide a strong support system and guidance at key moments.


All clients who complete a rehab programme at Gladstones are invited to FREE Saturday afternoon Group Aftercare meetings for life! Meetings take place at our Bristol clinic on Berkeley Square. Clients are invited to participate in weekly shares and to benefit from the group experience as part of their lifelong sober living strategy.


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Johann Hari TED Talks Video

Johann Hari’s 18 minute TED Talks Video, based upon his 2015 New York Times best selling book, “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs”. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-620-408902.

In this enlightening video Johann Hari asks some very common sense questions about the institutionalized assumptions that have been in place for decades around the issue of addiction. He highlights contrasts between the standard “War on Drugs” incarceration model and recent developments in how Portugal treats and rehabilitates its’ own addicts.

Hari points out how the “chemical hook” model for addiction is contradicted by evidence that suggests that addiction is actually related to disconnection. Healthy, happy, relationships-connected individuals who look forward to getting up in the morning somehow possess an immunity to the standard model of chemical hook addiction. Hari shows how this is reflected in both human and animal studies dating back to the Vietnam war where regular heroin users returned from war and simply stopped using heroin without any negative side affects or standard rehab treatments. Hari’s motto: The opposite of addiction is connection.

Gladstones Clinic applies this same attitude about addiction in our own treatment model. It makes no difference whether our clients are addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, social media or eating disorders. We treat all addictions the same and the purpose of our rehab programmes is to get to the heart of the pain, the wounds and the disconnections that allowed the addiction to take hold in the first place.

We highly recommend this TED Talk video. Take 20 minutes out of your life and prepare to have your assumptions and beliefs about addiction challenged and hopefully be inspired to apply a new perspective.

For more information on TED Talks:
Find closed captions and translated subtitles in many languages at

Follow TED news on Twitter:
Like TED on Facebook:

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Drugs Don’t Cause Addiction

Gladstones Clinic has always believed that the root cause of addiction lies in inner pain and trauma. Unhealed pain and trauma sets up negative feedback loops and coping mechanisms that express themselves through addictions of all kinds. Drugs don’t cause addiction. The cages we place ourselves in due to unhealthy disconnection is what really causes addiction.

The accompanying short video was compiled from the work of Johann Hari in his New York Times best-selling book ‘Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.’

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london clinic london exterior

London Drug & Alcohol Rehab

Gladstones Clinic has launched it’s newest Drug and Alcohol Rehab Clinic in Notting Hill, London. Located in a Victorian townhouse on St Charles Square, the clinic is a fully residential 8 bed detox and primary care facility. Specializing in drug and alcohol detox and rehab, the clinic also treats addictions to gambling and sex, as well as eating disorders.

The treatments and services offered to all clients follow the Gladstones Clinic model and philosophy in every detail. By combining traditional medical, psychiatric and counselling techniques with the latest alternative remedies and therapies, the London Clinic is able to deliver a uniquely effective Recovery Programme to all clients.

What To Expect


Gladstones Clinic has a fully abstinence-based treatment policy. Upon admission, clients will undergo a medically supervised alcohol or drug detox programme that usually lasts two weeks. During this period a short course of doctor prescribed medication may be administered to take the edge off of the worst of the withdrawal symptoms. Successful completion of detox is necessary before the Primary Care stage of Recovery treatment can begin.

Primary Care

The Primary Care phase of treatment lasts for four weeks. During this stage clients are exposed to a range of group and one-to-one counselling, cognitive and dialectical behaviour therapies, creative psychodrama, transactional analysis and alternative therapies like meditation and acupuncture. This unique combination of therapies is aimed at getting to the root of the addiction and healing it at the base level. Coping mechanisms and effective strategies for maintaining long-term sobriety are essential to any lasting recovery back in the real world. Clients leave Gladstones Clinic London armed with the knowledge and skills necessary to face life’s challenges without reverting back to old, damaging habits.


Should clients wish to continue their association with Gladstones after successfully completing Primary Care, Our Bristol Clinic offers a range of Secondary, aftercare and half-way services. Additionally, all clients who complete the Primary Programme are offered free Saturday morning group aftercare meetings for life.


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fight those cravings

Tips For Dealing With Addiction Cravings

As anyone who has ever faced beating an addiction will tell you, one of the peskiest aspects of “withdrawal” would have to be the “cravings”. Cravings are an unavoidable hurdle on the road to Recovery. They can be extremely powerful and can be triggered by obvious or unrelated events, thoughts or experiences.  In the early days of Recovery, cravings can be triggered by almost anything and hit with the emotionally compelling force of a powerful tsunami. Remember: your addiction does not want to release it’s hold on you and will use every emotional trick in the book to trick you into using again. But also remember that cravings frequency, power and duration tends to diminish over time so there is a very real light waiting at the end of the tunnel.

What Triggers a Craving?

Almost anything can trigger a craving to relapse back into addiction. The following list of potential triggers is by no means exhaustive but does demonstrate the range fairly well:

  • Seeing someone “use” on film, tv, music
  • Bumping into a friend who still uses
  • Passing a pub, casino or pizza shack serving your fix of choice
  • Arguing with just about anyone about anything at all
  • Feeling particularly happy (believe it or not)
  • Feeling particularly down/sad
  • Apparently from nowhere and for no reason at all (yes it happens too)
  • Feeling lonely, hungry or tired

Positive Steps To Counter Cravings

It is incredibly important to have a plan and coping strategies in place to combat cravings. Do not leave things to chance, especially in the early stages of withdrawal.  Get as cunning as possible and be prepared to manipulate your cravings with the same zeal with which they attempt to manipulate you! The following list is suitable for the early stages of withdrawal and recovery:

  • Avoid known triggers ie people, places, events – at least initially
  • Keep your Sponsor close and speak with them as soon as your craving rears its head
  • Change your activity – take a walk, wash the dishes, try press-ups
  • Deconstruct the thought process that led to the craving
  • Apply positive coping strategies learned in rehab
  • Never ever just sit there allowing the full force of the craving to wash over you without taking some form of positive action
  • Do not succumb to an impulsive “what the heck” reaction. You will only regret it later
  • Use positive affirmations like post it notes. Scatter them about the house accordingly with messages to yourself to remember why you are in Recovery in the first place.

Long-Term Coping Strategies

Long term coping strategies for dealing with cravings incorporate the above tips with more measured and stable mechanisms and lifestyle changes. These strategies are generally taught during primary care rehab and reinforced more deeply during the secondary or half-way house stages of addiction rehab.

  • Meditation
  • New friends, pets, activities, interests or hobbies
  • Physical fitness, nutrition
  • Regular contact for group shares
  • Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques



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Chocolate as Addictive as Heroin?

Multiple studies find that typical sweets like chocolate or cookies can be as addictive as cocaine or morphine. So is chocolate the gift that keeps on giving or is it merely hysteria?

A university of Michigan study found that chocolate locks a rodent’s brain into an addictive cycle of addiction, joy and despair, much like other addictive drugs. Rats fed M&Ms produced a naturally occurring opioid-receptor binding compound called enkephalin which binds to similar reward pathways in the neostriatum area of the brain as opiates like heroin. The neostriatum region is linked to food and drug addiction in humans. When these same rats were given an opioid injection to this area of the brain, they proceeded to eat double the amount of M&Ms as previously. Even exposing a human food or drug addict test subject to photographs of their desired “fix” will stimulate the neostriatum, so this particular study shows a strong correlation between addiction and the enkephalin receptor site to be valid.

Another non-invasive “maze” study conducted by Connecticut College revealed that rats chose the cookie side of the maze as often as they chose the cocaine side. Later when the researchers “used immunohistochemistry to measure the expression of a protein called c-Fos, a marker of neuronal activation, in the brain’s ‘pleasure center,’” they discovered that “the Oreos activated significantly more neurons than cocaine or morphine.”

Researchers at the University of Tampere in Finland found that people who identified themselves as chocolate addicts salivated more profusely when exposed to chocolate, as well as showing elevated levels of anxiety.

Chocolate undoubtedly contains biologically active ingredients that have the potential to stimulate behaviours and psychological sensations similar to other addictive substances. It must be pointed out however that so does broccoli. In fact broccoli possesses these chemicals in higher concentrations than chocolate and few people, if any, would claim an addiction to broccoli. This would suggest that smell, texture, taste and possibly other cultural phenomenon, together with hormonal and mood swings play an important role in chocolate cravings.

A balanced view of the whole nature vs nurture and how it relates to chocolate cravings would take a holistic view. Massive advertising budgets and glossy chocolate displays compete with size zero expectations and swirl around in a world full of the stresses of modern living. We seek comfort, often in the form of food, then punish ourselves with restrictive diets and administer lashings of guilt when we fail to achieve our perception of perfection. To make matters worse, when we restrain our inner chocolate cravings before we are satisfied we inadvertently increase our desire for more chocolate, creating a viscous cycle of reward and guilt.

Top 10 tips to control chocolate cravings

  1. Replace chocolate with healthy snacks. Eat less more frequently to balance out blood sugar levels.
  2. Avoid those “trigger events” that you naturally associate with consuming sugar/chocolate.
  3. Cut back on coffee. The crash is inevitable and will require yet another “pick me up”.
  4. Identify whether your cravings are actually related to emotional/comfort/self-esteem issues and take action accordingly.
  5. Avoid boredom. Go for a walk, call a friend or read a book to take your mind off cravings.
  6. Increase exercise levels to burn calories and release helpful endorphins.
  7. Apply a ten minute rule to satisfying cravings. Give yourself ten minutes to come up with a better plan.
  8. Avoid the food/consumption/guilt/over consumption wheel of pain. If you blow your plan the worst thing you can do is to eat another tub of ice cream as punishment. You already know how that ends.
  9. Ban chocolate from the house if necessary.
  10. Explore the world of natural healthy treats like yogurt and honey. Get a recipe book and get inspired!


Research Shows Cocaine And Heroin Are Less Addictive Than Oreos

Is Chocolate as Addictive as Heroin?

Control Your Cravings for Good

The Peril of Palatability


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rehab for cannabis addiction at gladstones clinic

Study: Nicotine Changes Marijuana’s Effect On Brain

New research is changing the way that science evaluates marijuana’s effects on the brain. Until now, marijuana research tended to neglect tobacco users from the research studies.  However, a study just completed at the Cognitive Neuroscience of Addictive Behaviors at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas may change all that.  New results demonstrate significant differences between the brains of those who use both cannabis and tobacco and those who only smoke cannabis.

“Approximately 70% of individuals who use marijuana also use tobacco,” according to Francesca Filbey, Ph.D., the study’s principal investigator and Director of Cognitive Neuroscience of Addictive Behaviors at the Center for BrainHealth. “Our findings exemplify why the effects of marijuana on the brain may not generalize to the vast majority of the marijuana using population, because most studies do not account for tobacco use. This study is one of the first to tease apart the unique effects of each substance on the brain as well as their combined effects.”

The hippocampus is that part of the brain associated with learning and memory. It tends to be smaller in marijuana smokers compared to non-using control subjects. In non-users, the size of the hippocampus has a direct relationship to memory: the smaller the hippocampus, the worse the memory function of the test subject. So far so good, however users who smoked marijuana and tobacco together demonstrated an inverse relationship between hippocampus size and memory. In their case, the smaller the hippocampus, the better for their memory and learning functions. The role of nicotine in the relationship was directly proportional to hippocampal size. The more tobacco was smoked alongside marijuana, the smaller the hippocampul volume and better the memory performance. Most interestingly, there were no significant  associations between hippocampul size in individuals who only use tobacco or only use marijuana on its’ own.

Scientists have always been aware of the physiological affects of tobacco and marijuana but now they are becoming interested in the compound interactions between the two. For now, the study may offer hope for users who fear their marijuana use has done permanent or irreparable damage to their memories. Don’t throw in the towel or give up hope just yet!

Gladstones Clinic has a specialist cannabis detox and cannabis rehab programme that successfully empowers clients to break their addiction to cannabis.


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