Monday, 29 December 2014

Jefferson Airplane "White Rabbit" - used in therapeutic group as a reminder of what not to do.

Jefferson Airplane: “White Rabbit”                                     (1)


One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you, don't do anything at all

Go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you're going to fall
Tell 'em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call

And call Alice, when she was just small

When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go
And you've just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving low

Go ask Alice, I think she'll know

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen's off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head, feed your head


Drug & Alcohol Music - Once Used in Therapeutic Recovery Group 'A.B...Z of Making Changes'

Rolling Stones – Sister Morphine                                             (4)


Here I lie in my hospital bed
Tell me, sister morphine, when are you coming round again?
Oh, I don't think I can wait that long
Oh, you see that Im not that strong

The scream of the ambulance is sounding in my ears
Tell me, sister morphine, how long have I been lying here?
What am I doing in this place?
Why does the doctor have no face?

Oh, I can't crawl across the floor
Ah, can't you see, sister morphine, Im trying to score

Well it just goes to show
Things are not what they seem
Please, sister morphine, turn my nightmares into dreams
Oh, can't you see Im fading fast?
And that this shot will be my last

Sweet cousin cocaine, lay your cool cool hand on my head
Ah, come on, sister morphine, you better make up my bed
Cause you know and I know in the morning I'll be dead
Yeah, and you can sit around, yeah and you can watch all the
Clean white sheets stained red.


Drug & Alcohol Music - Once Used in Therapeutic Recovery Group 'A.B...Z of Making Changes'

(Album – When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold)

[27]           Lyrics – “Your Glasshouse”

Woke up to that familiar feeling,
Starin' at an unfamiliar ceiling.
Still got your jeans on, but you're topless,
Headache and the stomach feels nauseous.
Grab your shirt off the bedroom floor,
Recollect the night before.
How'd ya get from the bar to this matress,
And when ya got here then what happened?
And where's the who that lives here,
In this house wanna figure out how'd ya get here
But the though got cut by nature,
Find the bathroom the gut got anger
Here it comes can't avoid it,
Ain't the first time throwin up in this strange toilet.
Anyone else would leave,
But you, you crawled back to the bed and fell back asleep.

All we need is "because"!
Come and party with us!
Take care of you when your passed out,
Right there with you in your glass house.

All we need is "because"!
Come and party with us!
Take care of you when your passed out,
Right there with you in your glass house.

Woke up all alone with no friends,
But you had to throw up again.
Choke up the tears and the spit,
Grab some tissue to wipe off your lips.
And everything still spins,
And then the chills begin and then the
"God, please kill me, right now" hits,
And you still don't know whos house this is.
In between left over dry-heaves,
Your trying to check out your time piece
And you should call your job
But first gotta turn this hangover off
You dream that it's just a dream,
Until the phone in your pocket starts to scream
Shut it down, don't wanna hear a sound,
Heavy as the head that wears that crown now.

All we need is "because"!
Come and party with us!
Take care of you when your passed out,
Right there with you in your glass house.

All we need is "because"!
Come and party with us!
Take care of you when your passed out,
Right there with you in your glass house.

Hangover ain't a strong enough word,
It don't describe what just occurred.
Lookin' at a phone full of missed calls,
Probably all the people that you pissed off.
Everything seems so sour,
So you forced yourself into the shower.
Standin' up brings out the stars,
And the whole bathroom smells just like a dive bar.
Can't do it, better sit,
And let the tub be the catchers mitt.
Lay down face down,
Thank god whoever lives here ain't around.
Now what you need is silence,
And you don't want no one to see you like this.
Maybe you don't recognize it,
But this is your home this is where your life lives.

All we need is "because"!
Come and party with us!
Take care of you when your passed out,
Right there with you in your glass house.

All we need is "because"!
Come and party with us!
Take care of you when your passed out,
Right there with you in your glass house.


Sunday, 28 December 2014

Gabor Mate - The Hungry Ghost - The Biopsychosocial Perspective of Addic...

Dr Gabor Mate - as a Medical practitioner is it brilliant to hear him acknowledge the role of Western medicine and believes and outlines the broader realms of what can in the human being facilitate an addiction. He is not stuck in the medical model and explores and acknowledges the other realms of the human psyche to the development of addiction.

Friday, 19 December 2014

“Post-Traumatic Growth” — Three Words Every Depressed Person Should Hear | Leveraging Adversity

An interesting article on how we can react depressively to traumatic events within our lives in the initial stages but through trauma we can attain new meaning(s) in life. However, be assured it may not be experienced or feel that way during the dark time of the trauma - it may seem like the opposite - hell and no light at the end of the tunnel. 

Whilst the definition of trauma used in the article is, "anything that either causes a person to fear for his/her life, or the life of anyone else, or anything that causes a person to become emotionally overwhelmed" (Claire Dorotik-Nana). However, trauma is not necessarily generic and each individual experiences trauma differently. The loss of a relationship, the loss of employment or such events that causes a person to become emotionally overwhelmed. 

One of the terms used in the article, "illusory growth" - 'everything is great when the reality is different' -  is a strong defence mechanism I experience in working with men in coming to terms with trauma in their lives. Examples are, "she'll be right", "it's all good" are not uncommon responses in their therapeutic process. Whilst the defence mechanism is necessary it may and can serve to prevent positive self development as defined by Tedeshi and Calhoun. 

Learning to process trauma is important to our psychological growth and self efficacy. To sight the quote from Dorotik-Nana; According to Richard Tedeshi and Lawrence Calhoun, authors of, The Handbook of Post-Traumatic Growth: Research and Practice, “The struggle to find new meaning in the aftermath of the trauma is crucial to positive psychological growth, as well as the acceptance that personal distress and growth can co-exist, and often do, while these new meanings are crafted” (Tedeshi &Calhoun, 2004).

Whilst working through trauma is extremely painful and all of our defense mechanism want to kick in to protect us - Dorotik-Nana suggests the five positive realms of post traumatic growth being. To quote: 

- "A greater appreciation for life;

- An openness to new possibilities;

- A greater sense of personal strength;

- A deepening of relationships;

- A deepening of spirituality"

As we drag ourselves out of the darkness and pain of trauma - life does present itself with renewed possibilities or perhaps we are more open to attract such possibilities and deepening of relationships with ourselves and other

“Post-Traumatic Growth” — Three Words Every Depressed Person Should Hear | Leveraging Adversity

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Why We Justify Regrettable Actions: A Psychological Perspective | Healing Together for Couples

An interesting article on why we appear to have a need to self justify even when the evidence highlights clearly the error. The process is defined as cognitive dissonance - how we move past it is in accepting our mistakes and use them as tools for self growth. The need to self justify can be a significant trait to help us maintain some self efficacy - however how authentic is this self efficacy? The shame of a mistake in thought, deed or action - is meeting some inner need - being authentic to that need - will mitigate the ongoing need to self justify.

Why We Justify Regrettable Actions: A Psychological Perspective | Healing Together for Couples

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Addiction, Stress & Cortisol - not so good for....Recovery

 In addictions the person experiencing it generally can be known in mental health circles to be 'Acopic', poor impulse control etc.  The reality is life triggers plenty of stressors potentially impacting on all realms of our psyche - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. 
A massive stressor in early recovery at the pre-contemplative and contemplative stage is the internal fight to use or not use. The "no" and the "yes" fight that goes on the ones creates huge stress in the brain and mind. At this point does that trigger the brain to start producing cortisol? Ask someone experiencing addiction in the early stages and the "yes" invariably wins. Is this in part because they want to use or is it in part as well due to what such stress produces in the brain?
In a recent blog from The Cabin Chiangmai the following information about cortisol is noted:
"In response to a stressor, the human brain releases hormones, chemicals and neurotransmitters nicknamed chemical “messengers”. First corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) is released, which triggers adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), which stimulates the adrenal glands, and cortisol is produced. When cortisol is present in the blood stream, it tells the brain that CRF and ACTH do not need to be produced any longer (unless it is a particularly serious stressor.)
A study of addicts performed at Rockefeller University involved stopping the production of cortisol in both drug users and non-drug users. Each person was given a pill that stopped the production of cortisol. In those who were not using drugs, the lack of cortisol production caused high levels of ACTH. In those who had recently used heroin, ACTH increased only slightly. When researchers tested a group of people who were in withdrawal from opiates, the ACTH levels doubled that of the non-using group, showing that the brain of a drug addict in recovery is much more sensitive to stress, increasing the addict's susceptibility to relapse during stressful situations – especially within the first couple of years of recovery".

Whilst it's a double edge sword - I have also read the brain does not cope well with too much cortisol in the system. Does it make an addict acopic or due to life experiences they have more of a susceptibility? 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Happy Music

Pharrell Williams song Happy highlighted for possible use in helping patients to tackle their own problems. 

It is a wonderful tune and does have lifting qualities. In the addiction recovery group A.B....Z of Making Changes we always started the group with music and closed with music. I intend to put all the songs and lyrics we used for other people to use. Sadly, the group got closed down.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Helping Stepdads Adjust | Social Workers Speak

The picture taken from the article hyperlinked below - says it all - for a lot of men experiencing the joys of step-parenting. Today's stepparenting is coloured by unfavourable history. Men do play important roles in step-parenting and great to see research happening on this issue.

Stepfathers often get a bad rap. Communication is a key to their becoming good parents, a new study says. Photo courtesy of
Stepfathers often get a bad rap. Communication is a key to their becoming good parents, a new study says. Photo courtesy of

Helping Stepdads Adjust | Social Workers Speak

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Identifying unexpected strengths in adolescents

A powerful article looking at identifying the positives within an adolescent's world. Building on them from their worlds is important. If they good at mastering sport - that is transferable.

Identifying unexpected strengths in adolescents

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Crack Cocaine in the Headlines - 'Denial Is Used by Big People'

Fortunately for us in Australia we don't appear to have too many issues with crack cocaine.  What this article is expressing is the fact that when people who have the attached "celebrity" status it is important to recognise how their behaviour can influence people into modelling them.

This is something that when influential people are caught in their addiction - they too can't see what influence their behaviour has.  They too get caught up in the process of denial and that what they are doing is okay.  Took the Mayor a long time to reconsider his position.

Crack Cocaine in the Headlines

Monday, 31 March 2014

Tara Brach: Decide On Love

The practice of staying with "presence" is very important but it is not easy as when we get triggered our old stories can take over and with it - our associated hurts - hence we are in reaction to self protect.

The process Tara used in the counselling session is not always easy for men - "just keep feeling what's inside to the situation and see what unfolds".... What unfolds may not be more "rationalisation of the story" but the feelings that are evoked in the situation. Feelings - what are they men will ask?

Or, the most common response is, "I don't know". With practice and learning to listen within - the intuitive voice within "knows" - what feeling experiences are being experienced!

When we can each share the experience of the feelings - it is not about blame or counter blame - listening, hearing and bring presence to the feelings instead of reacting, defending or avoiding.

In the article, Jeff and his partner learnt to do meditation and to quote Jeff's experience:

......."Jeff nodded his agreement. “I realized that it’s not about getting from point A to point B,” he said with a smile. “It’s about bringing a full presence to point A, to the life of this moment, no matter what’s going on. The rest unfolds from there.”

Getting from Point A to Point B is so important to men because when it's fixed and moved onto Point B we don't have to experience the discomfort difficult emotions and feelings. Learning to be with them is growth and healing.

Enjoy the article.

Kind regards Mark

Tara Brach: Decide On Love:

7 Honest Reasons Why Addicts Lie | Addiction Recovery

The title of this article may seem like such a paradox!

Family members and friends associated with someone in addiction may simply experience the 'lying' with belligerent frustration.  When an addict, from a professional sense has been asked what they have been drinking or using - the general rule is add another 50% and multiply that again by 10. (A tad of embellishment!) but hopefully you might get the picture.

I believe all human beings need to have some form of "ego self preservation". The dynamic of lying can be part of (rightly or wrongly) our self preservation - because to be truly honest and acknowledge my "temporary flaws" would my sense of self truly collapse?

Unabated lying will eventually lead to the concept of 'rock bottom' - where the, then sense of self does truly collapse and it may need to do this several times over before a 'Phoenix phenomena' of change may arise.

I have wondered how much of the denial and lying is about hiding the inherent "shame". Nobody starts out recreationally using alcohol and other drugs to become addicts. You know, at the age of 16 years old - yeah, 'I think I'll become an alcoholic' - sure!

Unfortunately, what started out as "fun and party-time" becomes a pattern and when they recognise that other people have 'turn off' taps that they don't have the 'off-switch' - I wonder what might that do to their self esteem? Does the lying serve to self preserve a sense of self esteem? Or do they maintain a sense of denial to maintain the realms of euphoric fun?

One of the saddest things is that 'lying to others' is 'lying to oneself'. I firmly believe that at some level in the addict's psyche they know of this "unauthentic ness" and choose not establish insight but choose to avoid it with euphoric states of altered states of consciousness - 'Scotty beam me up there's no......down here'!

The article has some excellent strategies in addressing the lying.

A further strategy to address someone's lying is to work with our own 'powerlessness' and 'helplessness' - maybe then we can change the our dynamic? Perhaps it would cut at some level in our psyche, an energetic connection the addict needs and/or feeds off - offering them the emotional excuses and/or triggers to use. Take this away and what is left for the addict? The free-fall to pain and growth to self-responsibility or another drink?

7 Honest Reasons Why Addicts Lie | Addiction Recovery

Sunday, 16 March 2014

My Addiction, Through My Eyes

This photographic journey is an amazing story of his/their experience of addiction. It is his story and the "experts" all have their opinions.  It is an glamouring or telling "war stories" - just an honest account.

My Addiction, Through My Eyes

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Accredited Mental Health Social Worker Logo

The Australian Association of Social Work has recenty registered Trade Mark Logos.  As I am now an Accredited Mental Heath Social Worker we are now registered to use the following trade mark.  This is an important step for Social Workers in Australia.

Friday, 7 February 2014


This article is written by Randi Kreger in Psychology Today.  It is part of a series on narcissist personality disorder. I believe that we all have traits of narcissism however we are able to utilise our empathy and compassion - most people are ruled by their narcissist traits as their self esteem and self worth is in tact. Unfortunately in the narcissist's experience this is not the case and there is a lack of insight and awareness. Denial is safer - can't go there.

Envy is at the core of my being: seething, foaming-at-the-mouth, destructive, morbid, and potent. I envy other people's happiness, possessions, accomplishments, status, spot in the limelight, contacts, you name it. I disguise my envy. I rationalize and intellectualize it. I do my utmost to ruin the source of my frustration while pretending to be his or her friend. I lie sleepless at night, rebelling impotently against the injustice of it all, that any one should surpass me, perfect as I am.
My pathological spite drives me to extremes of behavior: I plot and provoke and collude and spread malicious gossip and strive to damage my opponent and reduce him. I imagine his downfall in great detail and revel in his forthcoming misery and humiliation. I spend inordinate amounts of time, resources, and mental energy on nurturing my envy and mollifying it.
Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited
Narcissists must be superior to others in every single way. So when someone else has something they don't have that they want: admiration, status, skills, objects, etc.--the narcissist sees it as a major threat. Like so much else in the narcissistic mind, it is unconscious, discounted and denied, which makes it more treacherous for the object of his envy. Sandy Hotchkiss, author of Why Is It Always About You, says, "To admit to envy would be to acknowledge inferiority, which no good narcissist would ever do."
So what he do? Unless he can take credit for the other person's good fortune (such as "my son must get that great quality from me") he:
  • Feels contempt for those he envies and puts them down vociferously--sometimes to their face, sometimes not. This restores his upside down world where he's always on top.
  • Can't share in the other person's happiness, which disappoints others or make them doubt themselves. Narcissists even envy others when they're the center of attention for a sad reason (deaths of loved ones, illnesses) and don't support them in their time of crisis.This is often a "light-bulb moment" and the last straw for partners who end the relationship.
  • Fantasizes about his own success (another DSM-IV narcissistictrait).
  • Indulges in self-soothing activity (gambling drinking, sex) to ward away feelings of defectiveness and shame.
 A vulnerable narcissist says:
When I see a plain-looking man with an attractive woman, I am instantly jealous. What the hell does he have that I don't that he gets that and I get nothing? When I am really down,  looking at couples--not even attractive couples--makes me feel hurt. It's like for all that I have seen and understand about how people work and use it to manipulate them, I can't do the very most basic thing and just find someone who likes me for me. People do it all the time! Everywhere! Anyone! Looks, background, personality (or lack of), job aside, people find mates. I swear if I wasn't a narcissist I would be totally invisible.
 Partners of narcissists say:
  • When an article about me was published in the local newspaper, he remarked that it was only in the community section that "only old people read." He will also remark negatively about people at his work who he thinks are unjustly in higher positions than he is, as he is 'much more intelligent' than them.
  • When I would go out with my coworkers, who didn't put him on a pedestal, he would constantly text me and want my attention. It was my perception he would do this because he envied me having coworkers who were respected by others.
  • All of the people he hung around with were younger than him and looked up to him. He never clicked with people his own age because they didn't think he was better than them.
  • To avoid being envious, he was always the first one to purchase a new gadget that came out, and he bought more than one so he could look like a big shot when he gave them away.
  • He has told me he is envious of my faith. I can have peace inside and a good attitude even if the world around me is a mess. I know he turns up the charm and brags to make women interested/envious of him and his lifestyle.

Monday, 27 January 2014

How to Deal with Difficult People Mindfully, Part 1

This is an ongoing practice particularly getting in touch with ourselves and what is being triggered within ourselves as we listen.

How to Deal with Difficult People Mindfully, Part 1

Saturday, 11 January 2014

LSU professor links anxiety, marijuana addiction | People | The Advocate — Baton Rouge, LA

Australian's & Social Anxiety

In the introduction to "A.B....Z of Making Changes" at the detox unit I describe Australian as a socially anxious culture. Not many functions happen without alcohol - even the child's Christening will see the alcohol flow & "Dry Wedding" are boring home by 9.00pm.

I would suggest that social anxiety is an inter generational cultural phenomena - we all carry it in our psyche' at some level. There was a brilliant television advertisement exposing this in Australia.

Sadly, 1 in 10 people may go onto develop an addiction to alcohol & other drugs. Culturally, how do we all make the appropriate change?

LSU professor links anxiety, marijuana addiction | People | The Advocate — Baton Rouge, LA

Thursday, 9 January 2014


Communicate clearly -

Communication is so important. Young people need to consider what  Richard Branson is suggesting.

Communicate clearly -

Mid-Life Mental Health Issues May Be More Common than Reported | Psych Central News

It would be interesting to note that men would probably be more resistant to 'owning' any  mental health issues. The trend is starting to change with more men beginning to accept that it is okay to get help.

The mid-life pressures are real it is not always easy to cope and getting support in the early stages may improve our mental health well-being.

Mid-Life Mental Health Issues May Be More Common than Reported | Psych Central News