Afghan poppy farmer

Cold Turkey & Shackles

In Uruzgan, a rural province in southern Afghanistan, a private home is the only drug rehabilitation clinic in the entire, impoverished southern region. Considering that a recent US study suggests that up to 11% of the Afghan population use drugs and that this year’s opium crop is supposed to break all previous records, it seems fair to wonder if western NGO’s and governments are doing their fair share to help.

A patient in ankle shackles waits for treatment with others at the drug rehabilitation centre in Tarin Kot. Photograph: Andrew Quilty/Oculi

Photograph: Andrew Quilty/Oculi

The only drug rehab clinic in Uruzgan is run by Hamidullah Bawari, who opened his home to addicts three years ago. Despite having only four days of rudimentary training from the Afghan ministry of counter narcotics, Bawari felt compelled to open his clinic after Save The Children recently closed the only rehab clinic in the region after treating nearly 500 patients free of charge. Jennifer El-Sibai, spokesperson for Save the Children, says that the closure was an indirect result of aid cuts in Australia which funded the clinic.

Treatment at Bawari’s clinic costs $100 a month and some might find the treatment model to be rather basic, but patients agree that it is effective and necessary. Upon arrival, they are shaved and placed in leg shackles to prevent escape. “If we didn’t have chains on, we would escape like this,” says patient Agha Shahi as he snaps his fingers. Treatment mainly consists of pain killers purchased from a local pharmacy, and a cold turkey philosophy which even bans cigarettes. For anyone familiar with the drug detox experience it is easy to see why the chains are necessary, as giving up the tobacco and the opium at once must surely require some form of monumental strength or at least an inability to do anything about obtaining that fix in the first place.

While many westerners might find the idea of a drug rehab shackling its’ clients to be a bridge too far, there can be no doubting that there is simply no other option for some addicts in the poorest regions of the world. It would  also be fortuitous if westerners were able to apply pressure on their regional governments and NGO’s to contribute more towards organisations like Save The Children who were forced to depart for lack of funding.


A quick word of warning. Some of you might find the following news alarming or even slightly scary. Especially if you fall into the category of a long-term alcohol dependent person or alcoholic.

89377_web-217x300A joint study between scientists from the Department of Psychotherapy at the University of Bonn Hospital and colleagues from the UK reveals that alcoholic patients die earlier than non addicts. And they die quite a bit earlier too. Almost 8 years earlier than their sober peers in fact. That’s nearly a decade trimmed off the life a victim of alcohol dependency.

The study happens to be a long-term observational study conducted over a 12 year period. 23,371 alcoholic patients were compared against a control group of 233,710 randomly selected patients who were not alcohol dependent.

The research team used statistics gathered from seven general hospitals in Manchester UK. The data clearly showed a correlation between alcohol dependency and multiple physical illnesses and morbidities. The data also showed that alcoholics treated in Manchester’s hospitals for health problems died an average of 7.6 years earlier than non-alcohol dependent patients.

27  Physical Illnesses Occur More Often in Alcoholics

The study results show that 27 physical illnesses occur at a higher frequency in alcoholics. The most affected conditions relate to the liver, pancreas, digestive tract and nervous system. The data did reveal one ray of sunshine for alcoholics however. Incidence of heart attacks and cataracts were lower than the control group.

More Screening and Quicker Application of Therapies

Conclusions drawn from the study  are that alcohol dependent patients must be treated at an earlier stage. There must be an increased awareness of multiple physical consequences in alcohol dependents. Diligent screening for both mental and physical illness in patients affected by alcohol dependency must be aware of the link between alcohol and multiple health issues and these must be addressed as a whole and not as separate parts.

Reach Out For Help Now

If you or a loved one are suffering from alcohol dependence consider seeking help before the long-term consequences to health set in. It’s never too late or too early to seek advice and begin your journey back to sobriety.



Is The Scottish Methadone Programme Out of Control?

Methadone Dispensing Increases in Scotland

Methadone-245x300Whatever is going on up in Scotland? Despite a general trend of decreasing drug use throughout the UK, the Scottish government handed out 22,980 more prescriptions of methadone in 2014 than they did in 2013. A staggering 470,000 doses costing the tax payer more than £17.9 million disappeared into what Dr Neil McKeganey from the Centre for Drug Misuse Research called “literally a black hole into which people are disappearing.”

Community Safety Minister Paul Wheelhouse told the BBC: “Fewer Scots are taking drugs – numbers are continuing to fall amongst the general adult population, and drug taking among young people is the lowest in a decade.” So how to explain the methadone increases?

Data obtained from National Services Scotland under a freedom of information request may hold an answer. The number of methadone prescriptions increased in more than a third of all Scottish local authorities in the period covering the last two years. The largest increases were found in  Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and East Ayrshire.

Methadone has been central to drug treatment strategies since the 1980’s. Despite widespread criticism by recovering addicts and drugs workers it is by far the most widely used opioid replacement therapy. Most recipients take it for years without being weaned off it altogether.

Some doctors like Dr Neil McKeganey fear that the long-term approach to prescribing methadone must be re-looked at. He believes that methadone has a role to play in helping the addict to wean themselves off heroin, but it should not be so widely prescribed, or for so long as it is now. He says that a two year assessment period would be ideal. If the “highly addictive” methadone isn’t getting the addict to quit after two years they could either try the more expensive suboxone or be admitted to a drug-free residential heroin rehab facility to kick the habit.

Figures released by the NHS in 2012 show that methadone-implicated deaths increased dramatically in cases where the addict had been prescribed methadone therapy for more than a year. This lends weight to the call for a timed review and reassessment evaluation to determine whether the methadone use is leading to decreased use or merely parking the addict on an endless cycle of addictive prescriptions.

Gladstones Clinic has a policy of complete abstinence from drugs during the primary treatment phase of heroin rehab. Our clients need to be sober and fully functionally aware in order to benefit from the intense group and one-to-one therapy sessions. Intensive psychoanalysis, cognitive behavioral therapy and complementary therapies work best when the individual receiving treatment is 100% involved in their recovery. For these reasons we do not prescribe methadone therapy to any of our clients. Our goal is to eliminate addiction, not redirect it to another unhealthy addiction.



Actor Jon Hamm

Mad Men Star Jon Hamm Completes Rehab for Alcohol Addiction

Mad Men Star Completes Alcohol Rehab

Actor Jon Hamm Mad Men star Jon Hamm, plays the troubled advertising executive Don Draper in the hugely successful television series Mad Men. The role has made Hamm an international celebrity and earned him several Emmy Award nominations at the same time.

Yesterday his publicist announced that the actor had just completed a 30 day course of alcohol rehab with the support of his long term partner Jennifer Westfeldt.

Hamm checked himself into the upmarket Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan Connecticut at the end of February. The couple have called for “privacy and sensitivity going forward.”

Many will find the story ironic, as Hamm’s character Don Draper in Mad Men also happens to suffer from drinking problems. The actor and his alter ego share similarly conflicted backgrounds and what many might consider a troubled past with a fair portion of bereavement, loss and grief. Hamm had lost both of his parents by age 20 and spent many years living in and on friends basements and couches in what he refers to as “not a rooted existence.”

There are compelling aspects to the story of Jon Hamm and his struggle with alcohol dependency that are worth noting. Firstly, inner pain and unresolved conflicts are often hallmarks of the alcoholic. Self-medicating to dull the pain is probably something many many alcoholics would relate to and understand. It makes a certain sense that addicts will attempt to fill an inner void of emptiness and pain but inadvertently make the hole bigger by filling the space with unhealthy habits that only worsen the problem.

The second striking element of the story is the firm support and understanding he has received from his long term partner and colleagues. The protective circle of support and encouragement from friends and loved ones can make the all-important difference between success and failure in beating addiction and finding lasting recovery from addiction.

The staff at Gladstones Clinic would like to wish Jon Hamm success in his latest project and hope that it will lead to his most important role yet: that of sober man of the year!

Friends, family and colleagues of an alcoholic should be aware that there are numerous ways that they can participate in the recovery of their loved one. For those drinkers still in denial phase, this can start with getting them through the door of a good rehab clinic via an intervention. For more willing participants, the road to recovery should begin with a medically supervised alcohol detox. Once you’ve helped them into alcohol rehab you will find that good facilities encourage family and friends to support the client, or even offer family support services and counseling.

Feel free to contact Gladstones at any time to discuss our discreet and private, residential alcohol rehabilitation services.


A cure for binge drinking and alcoholism?

Latest scientific discovery a cure for binge drinking and alcoholism?

The journal Nature Neuroscience has just published the results of a unique study on binge drinking and brain chemistry. Scientists at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine have discovered a natural protein in the brain that shows potential for suppressing episodes of binge drinking. It  may even prevent some people from becoming an alcoholic. The protein Neuropeptide Y (NPY) acts in the part of the brain known as the extended amygdala, or bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. This area of the brain is associated with stress and reward.

The anti-drinking affect increases inhibition on a group of cells that produce a pro-drinking molecule called corticotropin releasing factor (CFR). Scientists introduced synthetic NPY using engineered proteins and were able to suppress binge alcohol drinking in mice.

Scientists also discovered that the normal NPY production mechanism is altered by long-term alcohol consumption in multiple species. This could either indicate a useful diagnostic marker or even a treatment for alcohol dependency and abuse.

According to professor of psychology Todd Thiele: “The identification of where in the brain and how NPY blunts binge drinking, and the observation that the NPY system is compromised during early binge drinking prior to the transition to dependence, are novel and important observations.

The gist of their findings is restoring NPY to normal levels may not only be useful in treating alcohol abuse and dependency, but it may also protect some people from alcoholism in the first place. The findings also seem particularly suited to combating episodes of binge drinking

Previous studies relating to NPY have shown that mice who lacked NPY receptors were less likely to consume alcohol than control groups who had the receptors. Other studies have pointed to other proteins like RGS6 that may influence alcohol craving as well.

It is too soon to make any predictions as to when or if drug manufacturers will capitalize on this research.

Detoxing from alcohol without professional medical help can be extremely dangerous without the correct medical help. Call us today on 080 774 7024 now for more information on binge drinking, alcohol dependency and whether or not you are at risk.


Cannabis Most Abused Teenage UK Substance 2013

Cannabis Most Abused Teenage UK Substance 2013

Public Health England has just published the results of its’ 2013-2014 “Young people’s statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) and some of the results are enlightening to say the least.

Executive Summary

  • 19,126 young people (under 18 years) accessed specialist substance misuse services. This figure is actually down 7.6% from 2011-2012.
  • The most common routes into specialist substance misuse services were from youth offending teams (27%) and mainstream education (19%).
  • The majority of young people accessing specialist services did so for problems with cannabis (71%) or alcohol (20%) as their primary substance.
  • 82% of young people accessing specialist services stated they were living at home with parents or other relatives.
  • of the 19,126 young people in treatment, 66% were male and 53% were aged 16 or over.

Teenage Cannabis Use

Although teenage cannabis use has been dropping for several years in the general population, treatment for cannabis abuse has seen a steady rise since 2005. This contrasts to alcohol and opiate use and treatment which are both falling across all ages, especially younger people. So what makes cannabis use different and why are more young people in treatment for cannabis addiction?

Cannabis and alcohol are considered gateway drugs. Cannabis differs from alcohol because because there is no such thing as a standardized unit of thc that one can “safely” consume. Varieties of cannabis are becoming stronger and, in the UK, users also combine cannabis with an even more addictive substance – tobacco. Could this perfect storm of addiction be the cause of the worrying trend in treatment admissions for young people?

At Gladstones Clinic, our treatment model uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, individual counseling and group therapy work to address the root cause of addiction. Our private, residential Cannabis Rehab Programme has proven to be incredibly successful, especially with younger people. If you or a family member are suffering from a compulsive addiction to smoking cannabis and you would like to discuss treatment options, feel free to give us a call.


Is Cannabis Addiction being taken seriously?

Is Cannabis Addiction being taken seriously?

180px-Cannabis_PlantDoctor Adam Winstock, a leading drugs expert and founder of the Global Drug Survey believes that “cannabis can be as tough to give up as heroin”.

Cannabis use is actually falling in the UK, however the number of people seeking help for cannabis addiction is rising. In 2005 the number of 18-24 year olds seeking treatment for cannabis addiction was 3,328. That figure had risen to 4,997 by 2013/14.

According to Winstock, 50% to 60% of all dependent cannabis users face serious withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to come off of smoking cannabis products. Many become irritable, sleepless and ultimately violent. For those who believe cannabis is not physically addictive, Winstock responds that:

“I think people get confused with physical withdrawal symptoms and equating those to being addicted.

“Addiction for me is a loss of control and when you stop you feel uncomfortable.

“[It] could be you feel miserable, you can’t sleep, you lose your appetite or it can be very physical as it is with heroin or alcohol”.

Compounding the problem for many users may be the fact that the younger the user, the more likely they are to experience problems withdrawing from use in the future.

According to Dr. Winstock:

“About 10% of people who use cannabis are dependent and two-thirds of those people, when they stop, will experience withdrawal symptoms.

“They last seven to 10 days for most people. You are more likely to run into those problems if you start using early.”

For young people addicted to cannabis, social pressures compound the problem. Many feel it is impossible to avoid because everyone else is doing it. Some may fear loss of social connections or status if they stop using.

Cannabis is currently a class B drug, carrying a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison for possession and up to 14 years for supply and production.

Gladstones Clinic understands how difficult it can be to beat cannabis addiction. Please do not feel that you have nowhere to turn for help. Feel free to call us today.

BBC Newsbeat

Top Tips For Staying Sober this Christmas

The fact that it is difficult to stay sober during the Christmas Holiday period is not disputed by anyone who has been there. It is the notorious season of office parties, family gatherings and other social events that almost inevitably involve alcohol. And food. And more alcohol and festive cheer. Staying sober can feel like an impossible task to achieve but that feeling is all just a state of mind stemming from years of habits and routine that can be changed.

The following is a list of top tips to keep you sober and clean over the Christmas holidays:

1) Make sure you plan your time every single day. Ensure that you spend time only with those who support your recovery and never “accidentally” wind up with a group intent on celebrating the Christmas cheer down at the local pub.

2) Get support from family and friends. Close friends and family who truly support you in your recovery should have no problem banning alcohol from any festive gathering you attend. If not, don’t go.

3) Stay Busy. The importance of staying busy can not be over emphasized. Do not wind up sitting around with time on your hands dwelling on the fact that you are not drinking. Stay so busy that time just seems to fly by.

4) Create new, healthy habits. Like getting a new haircut can make you feel “different”, changing your festive routines and habits can help to define the new sober you. Try some new activity that has no associations with alcohol and make it your new Christmas tradition.

5) Keep your sponsor close. Make sure you have a list of sponsors you can rely on for those dark moments. Keep your list and your phone on you at all times and ensure that your sponsor/s are aware that you might be calling at any time.

6) Give something back. Consider volunteering at a charitable organization. Volunteering not only helps those less fortunate than yourself, but it also keeps you busy. The combination is good for the mind and soul!

7) Attend local meetings. Wherever you might be, attend local meetings in your area. If you will be in an unfamiliar city, check local papers before hand so that you are prepared.

8) Daily affirmations. Count your blessings every morning and give thanks. It really helps to write out this list and review it to remind yourself of all the good things happening in your life and how grateful you are to be sober.

9) Stay away from “old haunts”. Absolutely avoid old haunts and groups of friends or associates who are not intimately involved with your recovery. If they are not already involved in your recovery process that need to be avoided at all costs right now.

10) Physical exercise. Don’t underestimate the importance of physical exercise. Working up a good sweat and burning calories will undoubtedly have a beneficial effect on your mood and state of mind. And burning more calories over Christmas is usually a good thing too!

11) Take it one day at a time. Just like it says, take things one day at a time. Don’t confuse the forest for the trees. Just keep stepping over those tiny stones on your way to the goal.

12) Consider an alcohol rehab. If it all gets to be too much temptation or too stressful, consider checking yourself into an alcohol rehab facility. There is no shame in sitting out the season, and completing a detox or course of rehab is something you can be proud of. What better gift to yourself for the new year ahead than sobriety?

The staff at Gladstones Clinic would like to wish everyone, particularly our past and present clients a healthy, happy, prosperous and sober holiday season and New Year. We are always available to assist with support, admissions or concerns. If you or a family member require assistance for alcohol dependency feel free to call us at any time. We are here to help.




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