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Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2568
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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A dear friend of mine was a drug addict for some years and

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A dear friend of mine was a drug addict for some years and managed to rehabilitate herself on her own. She has been “clean” for over 10 years now.
She is haunted by memories of what she did and filled with guilt and regret. She hasn’t seen a psychologist because she doesn’t want to speak to strangers about her issue, but the problem is that she hasn’t spoken to anyone – only her husband and now me.
A few weeks ago, she unexpectedly saw the person that “introduced” her to drugs which led to her addiction and this has brought back all the memories of the past life. She isn’t sleeping and has lost her appetite. She wants to get something to help her sleep, but understandably is really worried about anything that could be addictive in any way and possibly trigger a relapse.
I can listen and reassure and hopefully convince her to get some proper psychological help, but the lack of appetite and lack of sleep is worrying me. Do you think I should try and get her a script for some kind of meds to help her sleep? Maybe if she is able to still her mind enough to rest, she will be in better frame of mind to be able to make a decision of how to best deal with her problems?
I would be very grateful if you could give me some advice….. I don’t know how to help her

Part of the problem is that she may be suffering from mixed anxiety and depression - depression is causing her to feel bad, and the other part is that her negative thinking about her life situation is just adding to that.

Both these things can be dealt with by a combination of proper medication and a course of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is a form of therapy that addresses problems in a direct and targeted way and is brief compared with most other therapies.

The first thing she needs to do is to see her Doctor – he will give her a full diagnosis and if appropriate, start her on a suitable anti-depressant medication. He will also want to rule out any physical cause of what she is experiencing.

Depression is seen as a chemical imbalance in the brain, just as diabetes is a chemical imbalance in the body. Diabetics take medication to stay well, why shouldn’t she?

She should not be afraid of taking medication – it could really help turn her whole life around

Two important issues about this - when she is on medication, she must take it at the correct dose and as prescribed. It is no use missing doses or messing around with the dose.

Secondly, she should know that anti-depressants can take up to 8 weeks from the start of therapy before they begin to show beneficial effects, so it's no use quitting after two weeks.

I mentioned CBT - is based on the fact that what we think in any given situation generates beliefs about, and reactions to that situation, and also cause the behaviour and feelings which flow from those beliefs and reactions.

These ‘automatic thoughts’ are so fast that generally, we are unaware that we have even had them. We call them ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) for short.

If the pattern of thinking we use, or our beliefs about our situation are even slightly distorted,the resulting emotions and actions that flow from them can be extremely negative and unhelpful. The object of CBT is to identify these ‘automatic thoughts’ then to re-adjust our thoughts and beliefs so that they are entirely realistic and correspond to the realities of our lives, and that therefore, the resulting emotions, feelings and actions we have will be more useful and helpful.

Cognitive therapists do not usually interpret or seek for unconscious motivations but bring cognitions and beliefs into the current focus of attention and through guided discovery encourage clients to gently re-evaluate their thinking.

Therapy is not seen as something “done to” the client. CBT is not about trying to prove a client wrong and the therapist right, or getting into unhelpful debates. Through collaboration, questioning and re-evaluating their views, clients come to see for themselves that there are alternatives and that they can change.

Clients try things out in between therapy sessions, putting what has been learned into practice, learning how therapy translates into real life improvement.

Please visit this website for much more detailed information on CBT:

If she cannot afford to see a therapist, there are good free CBT based self-help resources here:

Make the first step NOW – get her to make an appointment with her Doc, and she can start to get better.

You’ll also find some very good help here:

Norman M. and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you