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Feed Me - Sugar, Greed & Addiction. (A film displayed at the HOOKED Exhibition)

Feed Me – Sugar, Greed & Addiction. (A film displayed at the HOOKED Exhibition)

Feed Me by Rachel Maclean plunges you into a sickly sweet dystopian journey in a world of hardcore contrasts. Walking into the showing you are greeted by soft yellow bean bags, candyfloss pink shag carpeting and baby blue walls. At first, I admire how from the very moment you enter the room you are plunged into an atmosphere designed seemingly by a living angel cake; yet the sweet reception, much like the film, isn’t as it cute as it seems.   The character designs are unnervingly uncanny, dressed in infantile colours –  from chick yellow, barbie pink, to baby blue…

HOOKED  – An Exhibition on Addiction at the Science Gallery, London

HOOKED – An Exhibition on Addiction at the Science Gallery, London

I watch a rather world-weary woman reading aloud – a ‘goodbye letter to alcohol’. It is an exercise that I often use when working with patients at Castle Craig Hospital and will be familiar to anyone with experience of addiction therapy.  It is an effective recovery technique. Nothing new there. But this is an artwork, a video installation and what makes it different is that there is another presence in the video – a rather malign looking lady representing the drug alcohol, who gives a threatening yet poetic response to the goodbye letter. It adds something extra and gets me…

Hip-hop Teaches Millions About Recovery From Addiction

Hip-hop Teaches Millions About Recovery From Addiction

According to Phil Grant, an addiction therapist at Smarmore Castle, an Irish rehab clinic, “music is universal, whether it’s hip-hop, blues, rock, traditional Irish or ancient. Music is a way of communicating that doesn’t need words.” And writing about music is a good way to celebrate Recovery Month.   Phil facilitates a drum circle at Smarmore rehab clinic in County Louth (the clinic I’m working for). “We build community through rhythm,” he says.   At Smarmore, participants in the drum circle get hands-on experience of community building by learning: Respect for others in the group To listen and not talk…

Can Ireland Learn from Britain’s Drinks Lobby?

Can Ireland Learn from Britain’s Drinks Lobby?

There’s a useful lesson that Irish politicians can learn from Public Health England, the policy-making body of the NHS: watch out for the drinks industry lobby. In the British media there is a furore over the drinks industry’s influence over Public Health England’s policy on alcohol.   Professor Ian Gilmore, Public Health England’s adviser on alcohol, resigned because the agency refused to end its cooperation with Drinkaware — an NGO that is part-funded by the drinks industry.   In addition, 46 health experts sent an open letter to Public Health England saying “industry-funded messages and social marketing campaigns should not…

In Recovery, Focus on Essentials

In Recovery, Focus on Essentials

You’ll have no shortage of advice about what to do in recovery. People will tell you to eat right, exercise, go to meetings, work the steps, make new friends, get plenty of sleep, and the list goes on. Most of this is no doubt good advice, especially if it comes from someone you trust, like a doctor, therapist, sponsor, or just someone who is strong in recovery. The problem is that you can’t do everything at once. If you try, you might just get overwhelmed and make no meaningful changes at all. The important thing is to figure out what…

How to Deal With an Alcoholic Parent

How to Deal With an Alcoholic Parent

Dealing with an alcoholic family member is always a challenge, but it is even more so when that person is a parent. The issues of having a mother or father with alcoholism are way more far-reaching than one would think. If you’re still underage and living with your parents, you could perhaps ignore the problem or you might try to take responsibility. After all, family is family, right? You should take care of the people that take care of you. Once you turn 18, you’re free to live your own life anyway. However, not everybody thinks several steps ahead. There…

Is Alcohol Addiction an Allergy?

Is Alcohol Addiction an Allergy?

There is a belief in AA that alcohol addiction is an allergy. This stems from an explanation in the Big Book about why some people are incapable of drinking alcohol in moderation. Dr. William Silkworth describes alcoholism as an allergy in ‘The Doctor’s Opinion’. He writes, ‘We believe […] that the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy; that the phenomenon of craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperate drinker’. The characterization of alcohol addiction as an allergy is somewhat confusing because there is such a thing as…

What Causes Cravings?

What Causes Cravings?

Cravings are one of the biggest challenges of recovery. A craving is the feeling that you absolutely must use or you will go crazy. Even if you know rationally that using would be bad, that you don’t need to use, and you really shouldn’t use, you still obsess over using again. What makes you stubbornly refuse to submit to your own best judgement? When you’re first trying to quit, cravings make perfect sense. You are used to having a certain level of a substance in your system, and when that level drops, your body senses there’s something wrong and you…

How to Keep Cravings from Ruining Your Recovery

How to Keep Cravings from Ruining Your Recovery

Fighting cravings is perhaps the biggest challenge in recovery. A craving is no mere desire. It’s the feeling that you must have something. At first, cravings are triggered by the pain of withdrawal. During detox, you know you only need to use again and the pain will stop. Later on, cravings are triggered by anything you associate with drugs or alcohol. You may walk past a bar and even though you know you shouldn’t go in, the part of your brain that associates walking to the bar with drinking gets excited. Once you’ve triggered memories and anticipation of using, it…

How to Find Your Triggers

How to Find Your Triggers

A trigger is anything that provokes a craving. Cravings don’t usually come out of nowhere. Even if you aren’t always aware of a trigger, something stirred your memories of using. Staying sober requires you are aware of your triggers to you can avoid them as much as possible. If you can’t avoid them, being aware of a trigger makes it easier to brace yourself against cravings. Here are the main kinds of triggers to watch out for. Environmental triggers. These are usually obvious. If you walk into a public bathroom and it smells like marijuana, that could be a strong…

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Smarmore Castle is located near Ardee, County Louth, about 45 minutes north of Dublin, Republic of Ireland and 1.5 hours south of Belfast, Northern Ireland.