Cocaine is the second most abused drug globally after cannabis; with around 23 million users worldwide. Even one-time use can lead to cocaine abuse, which brings many issues due to its harmful effects. Cocaine addiction not only brings various physical and mental health risks, but an increase in violent tendencies.
But... We only do it occassionally
Importantly, the connection to violence starts with the first use of cocaine, as the drug’s effects can significantly impact mood and behaviour. You might say to yourself, “Well, we only do it occasionally and we are not addicted.” That maybe so, but for people considering couples counselling due to escalating arguments, there is some information that you may need to know if you partake in recreational drugs like cocaine...
Cocaine, Dopamine and Chocolate
The brain’s mesolimbic dopamine system, or reward pathway, is stimulated by all types of reinforcing stimuli, such as food, sex, and many drugs including cocaine. Besides reward, this circuit also regulates emotions and motivation. If you think of the chocolate reward scene on the TV show – ‘Big Bang Theory’, you are on the right path. Cocaine is positive reinforcement. (Research Pavlov’s Dog Experiment on positive reinforcement.) You are literally training your mind to think this substance is like a chocolate reward.
Cocaine Rewires Your Brain Just Like Porn
Many people seek the drug in response to stress, but the more they take the drug for stress, the more stress affects their behaviour and creates a cycle of dependence. Just like porn, it rewires the brain to work at getting dopamine faster and is therefore highly addictive and hard to kick.
Dopamine is known by most people as the love drug. It offers a wonderful euphoric high. However, because the neurotransmitter systems in the limbic system are affected afterwards, the ablity to subdue aggressive and violent behaviour is weakened and not everyone knows that.
Some Shocking Statistics:
Low Success in Couples Therapy
At Ghita Therapy, we don’t generally take clients for couples counselling where one or both take recreational drugs that incite mood swings and aggression. I am not talking about pot smoking, but cocaine, crack cocaine, ice, heroin, speed and performance steroids.
The reason for this is because of the low success rate of couples therapy and because we have our own reputations to consider. This is why we like to look over the intake forms before the session begins. We also don’t take couples where there is family violence. So you see, one thing will inevitably lead to the other: For example cocaine use often leads to violence and divorce.
So what to do if you use drugs and you are in a relationship (de facto or married) and you want to try Couples Counselling?
The best case scenario is to stop using and pretending it is a soft drug. It is not. At Ghita Therapy we recommend individual counselling and/or addiction therapy instead. Specifically, the person who uses sustances. Most Gold Coast couples counsellors will discontinue therapy if they are informed that recreational drugs are used. If you are unsure, have a chat to me (Ghita Andersen) about your situation.
Ghita Andersen Counselling
Sources: Google: Cocaine and Violence. Cocaine and Psychiatric Symptoms: Studies by National Library of Medicine.
When we are small, it is often our role models or parents who validate our behaviour. When our parents acknowledge what we are feeling and validate these emotions as okay, we feel seen and heard.
- Hearable/ vocal
- Worthy and valid
As humans, being seen, acknowledged and understood gives us a sense of belonging, an emotional and physical feeling of safety and connectedness. Knowing one is validated is vital for our emotional evolution.
However, when we grow up with many experiences unvalidated or misunderstood by our parents we can feel unworthy, alienated and different - without a sense of belonging. This may be because of circumstances or a lack of awareness/ parenting skills from our guardians.
Children generalise everything beause they are building short-cuts and schemas in their brains. Children make assumptions and have to have a ‘why’ answer for everything to help them to make sense of a big world. They do not know that what adults say to them is not concrete truth. Before the age of six, a child does not analyse what adults say, they do not have the cognitive ability. In fact, they are very black and white and spin every situation to be about them personally. Young children read correction, dismissal, ignorance, neglect and lack of validation as, 'It must be me. I must not be good enough.' When parents don't validate their efforts, a child interprets this to mean that they are not enough, or 'Not a Valuable Person.'
How many children blame themselves for their parents separating?
When we have a limiting belief set in our minds that we are not valued, it creates a domino effect throughout our lives. Low self-esteem, self-sabotaging behaviours, depression and anxiety are particularly common adult symptoms of a low-self-worth belief system that we have constructed as children. We often don't remember when we made it up either.
It is not the job of children to validate unhappy parents either. That is a therapist's job.
What validation is not: Agreeing, Judging, Correcting (or Punishing), or Teaching. Nor is it arguing why someone's experience is wrong. Children are naive, impulsive and sometimes naughty, but they are often acting out because something they have wanted validation for has not eventuated. While it is true, that as parents, we don't want to validate bad behaviour, if we back-track to the trigger event before the behaviour, we will find the answers. If a child feels belittled, unvalidated, shamed, fearful, vulnerable etcetera., they may act out in anger or frustration. They often don't know how to express what they are feeling, so anger is a common reaction. But if a child's experience is validated at the time they need it, the negative behaviour is unlikely to eventuate.
What validation is: Active listening (Really listening. Repeating back what the child is saying" "So, I am hearing that you....." Then being curious and asking questions to get more information.). Honouring what the child is saying. Communicating your understanding and asking if you have got it right.
Sometimes, it is easier for kids to write down what they are feeling if they can’t formulate the words. This is why many teenagers like to keep diaries. Our job as parents is to help our children feel that their challenges are understood. Even missteps are part of the journey and that is alright.
Remember, children are like little sponges - watching you for how you parent, how you manage stress and conflict and how you validate them and your own achievements. They will model their parenting style after yours. When we understand and validate our child’s experience we make it safe for them to understand and validate themselves.
(Great advice shared from Mr Anthony Hopkins facebook page. I hope he won't mind me sharing this. - Ghita)
Quote by ANTHONY HOPKINS
′′Let go the people who are not prepared to love you. This is the hardest thing you will have to do in your life and it will also be the most important thing. Stop having hard conversations with people who don't want change.
Stop showing up for people who have no interest in your presence. I know your instinct is to do everything to earn the appreciation of those around you, but it's a boost that steals your time, energy, mental and physical health.
When you begin to fight for a life with joy, interest and commitment, not everyone will be ready to follow you in this place. This doesn't mean you need to change what you are, it means you should let go of the people who aren't ready to accompany you.
If you are excluded, insulted, forgotten or ignored by the people you give your time to, you don't do yourself a favor by continuing to offer your energy and your life. The truth is that you are not for everyone and not everyone is for you.
That's what makes it so special when you meet people who reciprocate love. You will know how precious you are.
The more time you spend trying to make yourself loved by someone who is unable to, the more time you waste depriving yourself of the possibility of this connection to someone else.
There are billions of people on this planet and many of them will meet with you at your level of interest and commitment.
The more you stay involved with people who use you as a pillow, a background option or a therapist for emotional healing, the longer you stay away from the community you want.
Maybe if you stop showing up, you won't be wanted. Maybe if you stop trying, the relationship will end. Maybe if you stop texting your phone will stay dark for weeks. That doesn't mean you ruined the relationship, it means the only thing holding it back was the energy that only you gave to keep it. This is not love, it's attachment. It's wanting to give a chance to those who don't deserve it. You deserve so much, there are people who should not be in your life.
The most valuable thing you have in your life is your time and energy, and both are limited. When you give your time and energy, it will define your existence.
When you realize this, you begin to understand why you are so anxious when you spend time with people, in activities, places or situations that don't suit you and shouldn't be around you, your energy is stolen.
You will begin to realize that the most important thing you can do for yourself and for everyone around you is to protect your energy more fiercely than anything else. Make your life a safe haven, in which only 'compatible' people are allowed.
You are not responsible for saving anyone. You are not responsible for convincing them to improve. It's not your work to exist for people and give your life to them! If you feel bad, if you feel compelled, you will be the root of all your problems, fearing that they will not return the favours you have granted. It's your only obligation to realize that you are the love of your destiny and accept the love you deserve.
Decide that you deserve true friendship, commitment, true and complete love with healthy and prosperous people. Then wait and see how much everything begins to change. Don't waste time with people who are not worth it. Change will give you the love, the esteem, happiness and the protection you deserve."
Ideally, you want to find a couples therapist when you’re not in a real crisis. It’s nice in theory, but of course we are all busy. Most of us aren’t going to bother doing preventative work if there’s nothing urgently wrong.
Anyhow, here are 20 things to consider if you are the one booking in for couples counselling (Recommended Reading List is at the bottom):
High fives to both of you for taking this important step towards repairing your relationship! So long as you're both committed to putting in the work, you’re off to a great start.
Call or text me (Ghita Andersen) on 0439 888 070 if you have any questions about therapy or if you would like to see if I would be a good fit for you.
One of the best things I was ever taught in my psychology classes at university was by professor Dr Jodie Bradnam, who taught the 'Love, Sex and Relationships' class.
Jodie taught me her secret for marriage and it really stuck with me. So much so, that I use it with my couples counselling clients.
The Behavioural Marriage Jar
Anyhow, the 'Marriage Jar' is a simple concept that the mind can easily 'get.' It is amazing how this simple idea can adjust one's behaviour every day. Basically, it works like this: When you are first together, the jar is full. As time goes by, the jar empties. For every kind gesture, kiss, supportive comment, intimate moment, lunch pack made, etcetera, two marbles go in. For every sarcastic remark, episode of not listening or avoidance of connection, five marbles come out. (Ratio 2:5)
The Love Note Marriage Jar
The “Marriage Jar” can even be a real jar. Some people put post-it notes of gratitude in a bowl or jar for the other person to read. So that the partner knows they are appreciated and the little things don't go unnoticed. Notes that say, 'I love it when you bathe the kids without me asking.' 'You looked so hot the other night when we went out. ' I was impressed at your skills changing my car battery.' 'Thanks for paying that parking fine.' These little notes can mean so much to a couple that are under financial strain, have little time for date nights, or have a multitude of pressures.
The Empty Marriage Jar
When the marriage jar is running on empty for long periods, it cannot be sustained. One person will inevitably ditch the relationship, or release the pressure of conflict with a third party (cheating). These simple concepts are preventative measures. The marriage jar needs to be replenished regularly. It should be cherished and FED DAILY.
What Fills the Marriage Jar?
Kindness, thoughtfulness, appreciation, nurturing and encouragement are just a few things that can fill a marriage jar.
Say, "Thank you." Say, "I fancy you." Say, "I think you are beautiful."
Instead of noticing what your partner does not do, focus on the positives. We can't control another person, but we can reinforce behaviour that we like
Couples Counselling: Get some new strategies for conflict resolution. Better communication. Do a workshop. Invest in your relationship.
Learning your partner's Love Language will also give you brownie points. Go to: www.5lovelanguages.com
Remember the golden rule for our base needs from our partners. Think of it as the bottom (foundation) of a relationship pyramid: The currency for men is Admiration and Praise. The currency for women is Safety (emotional, physical, financial, spiritual, personal growth) and Protection.
Let's have a chat over a cuppa.
It is an interesting phenomenon when people problem solve for us with phrases like, "You should..." It usually reveals the motives, fears and aspirations of the person talking.
Now, I know it can be annoying when parents and authority figures say it. My Mother's favourite mantra was. "You should..." It often annoyed me and gave me pain - especially during my teen years when I was super insecure about myself, my body, my place in the world. I did not feel like I was enough by myself. I saw it as unwarranted, constant criticism. It was offered whether I wanted it or not.
I wish I had have known what I know now about 'should' phrases. If we are clever, we can learn from these phrases and take the personal out of the statements we hear. Did you know that people often project (unconsciously) onto us what they are thinking or judging about themselves? If you exchange "You should..." with "I should..." it makes more sense.
For example, my mother was quite dominatng and gave out advice (criticism) like it was her job to correct the world. My mother was very unfulfilled in her life. She never worked after she married and it is obvious to me now that Mum needed something more to achieve than being a mother and a wife. Her hobbies did not fill the gap inside of her. But I think that she lost her confidence to go back into the workforce or to follow her dreams.
My mother's favourite mantras were probably similar to the ones you hear. They went like this:
"You should lose some weight." "We were proud of you when..." "Your natural hair colour is so beautiful..." "Never be a housewife..." "You should be an artist..."
But... What was she saying really?
"I should lose some weight."
"I wish I never left europe."
"My hair is going grey and thinning."
"I hate being a housewife."
"I want to go live in an artists' colony."
I really noticed this phenomenon of projecting (acutely) recently during a visit with a family member, because her mantras of unsolicited advice sounded exactly like my mother's. This lady's projections were very similar. She was obviously feeling unfulfilled being a housewife. It was a case of deja vu indeed. She said, "Ghita, you should buy a place in Tasmania, find a rich farmer husband and..." (Note: I have never been to Tassie and I have no interest in farming. Which she would know if she knew me at all.)
But you see, she was sowing her unconscious/ semi-conscious thoughts. (Hold this space for whether this family member does in fact end up being married to a Tasmanian farmer.)
Importantly, no one likes unsolicited advice, right? But consider that it is just projection. When your parent, family member or righteous friend/ colleague takes captaincy of what you should do with your life, remember that you can rebel, feel annoyed, feel oppressed and dominated OR... You can look at it in a different way and reframe the statement that they offer as wistful thinking. Not "You should... but "I should..."
You might say to yourself, "Eureka! I wish I had have thought of that before."
Sometimes, "You should...", "You must...", You ought to...", "You seriously..." "You never...", and "Why don't you...?" are projections of that person's limiting beliefs, career ceilings, beliefs about money and status, unfulfilled dreams, fear, self-doubt, feelings of insecurity etcetera. And sometimes people would rather throw a solution out than to really listen to you.
Anyway, I hope this blog helps to deal with people who offer unsolicited advice.
Happy May! You know, most people find that one hour is not enough for a first counselling session, because there is so much to their story to tell. So, this month's offer is perfect for new clients. During my birthday month of May, the 3for2 Special offers three hours for the price of two (a great deal) which is especially great for couples on a budget - A saving of $200.
For individuals, it works out better than the GP Referral Concession fees for an individual having three sessions.
Couples $400 - Save $200
Individuals $200 - Save $100
The offer is valid for three months from purchase to give you plenty of time to use it. Best method for getting the best from your session is to have two 1.5 hour sessions. Although, naturally you can decide how you want to structure it.
Examples of How to Best Use These Hours:
3 Hours for the Price of 2 Special: This special is valid for Counselling and Couples Counselling only.
Note that this deal is offering 3 hours, not necessarily 3 sessions and is a prepaid website offer only.
Please read the terms and conditions on my website: Expires May 24th 2021.
Let's chat over a cuppa.
GHITA’S CLONE METHOD
Oftentimes, we react to events because our minds automatically make value judgements and negative assumptions. Over our lifespan, our minds make filters, schemas and all sorts of shortcuts to reduce the workload. This negative self-talk likes to pick fights, runs on old, well-used tracks of negativity, and tries to protect us from harm; even when it is wrong.
It is often not the event itself, but our response to it. A person with another perspective or alternative filters would see the same scene very differently. Also, the more self-esteem we have, the less we take things personally.
It is said that 99% of events are situational, not personal. Anger for example, is the common emotion delivered when fear is the underlying feeling. Fear of not being good enough, fear of being seen as incompetent, fear of seeming stupid, fear of not belonging, fear of being unlovable, etcetera.
A great method that I use in my practice is the CLONE METHOD. When I was young, I was very sensitive to criticism. I was always taking things personally that really had nothing to do with whether someone liked me or not. So, when I became a counsellor and learned all about schemas and filters, I invented this method – which many of my clients have adopted.
Imagine if you will, an upsetting event which occurred for you recently. Now see your part in the play. See your part being switched out for a clone. You MKII.
Replay the scene with the clone and ask yourself if it plays out the same way with your replacement.
It does? 100% the same?
So, if the person treated your clone the same way, does that mean that it was not personal?
It cannot have been personal. It was a response to the situational stresses. Chances are that you triggered their insecurities, their coping mechanisms (or lack thereof), and mental filters.
I am not saying that your part in the scene could not have been better. Or that the other person was entirely to blame. But people are not their behaviours. People can always behave better than they sometimes do under pressure.
Furthermore, using the clone method can help you to stop and consider the following:
These days, many people are time-poor, stressed out by the media and government, covid warnings, unemployment, insecure finances, and more, adding up to an unknown future. This causes high cortisol levels and less serotonin to cope with it.
We are all just doing the best we can with the coping mechanisms that we have learned.
AKA: It’s not you, it’s mental filters.
So in summary, consider your behaviour first, and if you are moderately well behaved then it is likely to be the other person’s life stressors. Try the clone method for yourself. It may just stop your fight or flight system (red flag) from going off and wasting 20 minutes to reset – or wasting hours of your mind stewing on a personal insult. Life is too short for grudges and to be angry or hurt all the time...
Ps: Check out my Anger Management page if you want to improve your temperament.
Strategies to help both partners get what they need out of their relationship
Everyone deserves to have a healthy relationship. But healthy relationships don’t just happen on their own. Each party actively shapes a dynamic that’s either healthy or unhealthy.
Oftentimes, people disempower each other with complaining, berating, and shaming (aka ‘parenting’ our partners), and not understanding what each gender requires as a baseline to feel safe. The best strategy for making sure that both partners get what they need out of relationships is to understand as much about the other person as possible – including their triggers, wounds, sore points, and Achilles heels. In fact, this knowledge is gold and a lot less work in the long run, because we can keep our partner's love chemistry running like well-oiled machines – giving them what they need to feel loved, special, and understood.
So, exactly how can men and women empower their partners? Here are several ideas.
1. Women and Men Disempower Each Other By Accident: Gender Currency
Over the years as a counsellor, I have noticed that couples often neglect knowledge about the opposite gender and therefore don’t make use of brownie points: They wonder why their marriage jar runs on empty (See Marriage Jar Blog). Gender currency is that thing that is the baseline need of your partner:
Men need admiration and praise from their partners. Women need safety and protection first and foremost.
This is before any other good stuff, like hot sex or compatibility. Without these basic requirements from you, your partner is going to become resentful and hurt and state their disappointment often. The next important element is a person’s love language...
2. A Partner’s Love Language
There are five categories of Love Language: Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, Gifts or Tokens, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. If you know your partner’s love language you can love them accordingly and score extra big bonus points with them when you give them what they want in the way of demonstrated love. It is vital that you know your own Love Language and can tell them how you want to be loved also.
5lovelanguages.com has a great quiz for free.
Unfortunately, few of us are ever taught how to practice healthy behaviors in interpersonal relationships in the same way we’re taught how to drive a car or use a mobile phone. This lack of knowledge leaves us vulnerable to getting caught in unhealthy relationships, something that can happen without us even consciously realising it.
3. Empower Yourself: Personal Empowerment
While it is great to empower our partners, most of their power doesn’t come from us. It comes from having a strong sense of self. With this in mind, decide who you want to be in your relationship. In my own relationship, I want to be considerate, affectionate, caring, supportive and honest with my partner. These are the values that ultimately empower my other half - even if he doesn’t know it.
We have to start with ourselves and consider what we bring into the relationship. We don’t have to completely overhaul our lives in order to see improvements. Just taking even the smallest step to empower yourself in a relationship can have a huge impact on creating a healthier dynamic. Here are a few simple ways you can start practicing healthy behaviors to empower yourself:
Exercise Boundaries: Say “No” Unapologetically
In a balanced relationship, both parties should feel that their needs are recognised, valued, and addressed. There should be no dominance of one over the other; where one person always gives in and feels compelled to say “yes” when they want to say “no,” especially when doing so conflicts with their needs or values.
However, it is not easy to say “no” to someone you care about. No one likes conflict. Most people want to keep the peace. But being overly agreeable to seek approval and to avoid confrontation consistently minimises our needs in favour of satisfying the needs of others. This has a detrimental effect on your personal well-being and that of your relationships.
People-pleasing causes resentment over time and can be very disempowering. You will eventually feel like a doormat. Negative feelings of resentment, powerlessness, anger, and frustration bubble under the surface of relationships, unrecognized until they boil over. Over time, people-pleasing can also prime you as a target for more dangerous manipulation tactics – such as by a narcissist.
Saying “no” doesn’t make you a bad person. What it means is that you respect yourself enough to honor your own needs, boundaries, and priorities. This display of self-respect is a powerful signal to others to treat you with the respect you know you deserve and is behaviour that helps pave the way for a healthy relationship.
How to Say “No” Examples:
“I’ll get back to you.” “Let me check.” “Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for me.” “I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I’m not going to be able to.” “No, I’m unavailable.”
4. Take Turns Making Decisions
Taking turns at decision making is normal and takes the pressure off one person always making decisions. Being overly agreeable with decision-making, however, can also set the stage for unhealthy relationships to flourish. Constantly delegating minor decisions (like deciding which movie to watch) may also seem inconsequential, but it becomes a habit. For if you habitually delegate decisions, it sets a precedence for potential manipulation and abuse. For example, let’s say you always end up letting your friend pick the movie for your weekly movie night. Eventually, she stops asking and makes the decision on her own. Then one day her boyfriend shows up to your movie night and she explains that she thought it wouldn’t be a big deal since you’re so chill—you don’t even care which movie you watch. And even though you’re annoyed he’s crashing your BFF time, you let it slide because you are so easygoing. Haven’t we all had that happen at some point?
In healthy relationships, one person shouldn’t make all the decisions; even if it’s been that way in the past, you always have the ability and the right to change it. Some healthy challenges may occur, particularly if you’re stepping out of a very passive role and becoming newly assertive. However, a supportive friend, partner, or family member will listen to and respect your opinion.
So the next time a small decision comes up, don’t pass it off, make the decision. Even if it doesn’t turn out great—for example, the movie you choose is a dud, you’ll begin to develop a new sense of empowerment that you can carry over to bigger and more important decisions when they arise.
5. Be Honest With Each Other: Speak Up When Something Upsets You
In relationships, don’t let the “small” stuff slide when it upsets you. Doing so poses the same potential danger as deferring small decisions to someone else, for it is a slippery slope that can move undetected into unhealthy territory when not speaking up becomes a habit that another person can take advantage of.
A big reason people don’t speak up when the small stuff upsets them is because they question their right to be upset at a situation that seems trivial. You have the right to feel whatever feelings come up. Whatever negative emotion you feel is valid and a signal to you that you need something that you’re not getting.
When these negative emotions arise in a relationship, it’s an opportunity to discuss needs and boundaries with the other person. Try broaching the subject in a non-blaming way so the other person doesn’t feel attacked or get defensive. For example, “I felt [insert negative emotion] when you [insert their action that the caused emotion].” The formula is to speak from the “I” perspective and to include feelings and state the issue. This is called Reflective or Active Listening. This is a Gottman exercise and workshop that I do with couples who have problems communicating.
6. Laugh at Your Partner’s Imperfections as Well as Your Own
The nature of being human means that we all have imperfections, flaws, make mistakes, etc. And anyone close to us, whether in the shape of a partner, friend or family member, can use our greatest fears and weaknesses to manipulate us. Therefore, it is natural that we might try to hide these imperfections from the world. But the best thing you can do is own them proudly. Openly making light of your flaws takes away powerful ammo from anyone who tries to use them to hurt, manipulate, or control you.
Laughing at your personal imperfections also communicates to others that you accept yourself as you are and you expect them to do the same. It’s like saying, “Here I am, take it or leave it!”
All relationships, even ones that are already healthy, require active work to get and stay that way. With practice, you’ll become more empowered and better equipped to lead healthy relationships with others.
Blog: Ghita Andersen Counsellor
The gender ‘CURRENCY’ of Relationships is what motivates the other partner to remain in a relationship. It offers an idea for how to repair conflict and maintain a connection. When the currency is absent it has often been replaced with ‘CONTEMPT.’
Each Partner's Relationship Needs Based on Gender:
Women: Beloved: A ‘Special’ Damsel in Distress
Men: Hero: Dragon Slayer
TIP: Use a person’s gender currency combined with their love language for a bonus effect:
There are 5 Love Languages:
Words, Quality Time, Touch, Acts of Service, and Gifts.
Copyright 2020 Ghita Andersen
Print out available: https://www.ghitaandersen.com/ebooks-for-couples.html