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What is the true cost of alcohol at Christmas?

The festive period is here again, with a full diary of Christmas events and office parties. The time of year when you can let your hair down and speak freely and simply blame the alcohol.

If we do we actually take a moment to think of the bigger picture and really understand the risks and damaging effect this period can have on your health and well being.

Do we support friend and work colleges who may struggle during this festival period? Ask yourself would you wish any of the below on to anyone?

Alcohol-related hospital admissions can skyrocket over Christmas when excessive drinking costs the NHS millions. An estimated 1.8 million married couples and cohabiting partners will consider splitting up, with drink-fuelled rows often finally bringing things to a head.

An average of 30,000 people die each year from alcohol misuse-related illnesses and incidents, with many of these fatalities occurring between mid-December and early January.

Interestingly, 3.18pm on Christmas Day is the specific time when the majority of family drink-driven arguments start behind the front doors of Britain over the festive period, which proves that alcohol-related incidents are not solely night-time events!

Extreme alcohol consumption (and related behaviour) makes Christmas a time when domestic abuse peaks; this can be both physical and emotional abuse committed by both sexes
According to the Association of Chief Police Officers, drink- (and drug-) driving arrests over Christmas and New Year in 2017 amounted to over 7000 across England alone. That is 7000+ potentially deadly law-breaking acts in about a fortnight

That last statistic is particularly alarming, isn’t it? With the celebrations seeming to start earlier and earlier each year, police forces everywhere are now forced to launch and enforce month-long drink-driving monitoring campaigns (which often extend into early January, when New Year revelry can sometimes last an entire week).

Maybe make this Christmas one to remember and celebrate it responsibly with your loved ones.

And always think of the people who might be struggling and offer them support. Maybe give them the gift of recovery and support them to begin their journey.

If you feel that you, a friend or loved one are affected by any of these issues please do not hesitate to reach out to us for support. Our team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week including over the festive period. Call our helpline on freephone number 0808 1646848 or +34 689 806769.
Email info@villaparadisospain.com. All calls and emails are completely confidential.

Be safe and have a peaceful Christmas from the team Villa Paradiso.

An unlikely hero? Challenging stigma through community engagement.

According to Goffman, stigma extensively discredits a person, reducing them “from a whole and usual person to a tainted, discounted one” (p. 3). The current paper shows how an innovative partnership model to employing excluded and vulnerable populations has not only provided hope and purpose for participants but has, through the resulting social enterprise, challenged stigma and exclusion. One particular incident is described as part of a broader process of challenging exclusion and stigmatisation, in this preliminary analysis of a recovery project that attempts reintegration through community improvement.

There is considerable evidence that stigma is a major problem for alcohol and other drug users and their families, with the World Health Organisation (2001) reporting that illicit drug use is the most stigmatised health condition in the world with alcohol dependence as the fourth most stigmatised. The UK Drug Policy Commission (2010) define stigma as “an indelible mark or a stain, and the term is generally applied to an attribute that makes a person unacceptable in other people’s eyes” (p. 1). The UKDPC goes on to suggest that stigma goes beyond stereotyping in that it often leads to prejudice and active discrimination. In a recent study on public attitudes to stigmatised behaviours, Phillips and Shaw (2013) not only demonstrated that substance misuse was more stigmatising than either obesity or smoking, but also that the general public have limited faith in recovery or desistance. Thus, participants retained a preference for social distance even towards those substance users who were described as being in recovery.

To read the full article please Click Here

Recovery, Ambitions, and Aspirations: An Exploratory Project to Build a Recovery Community by Generating a Skilled Recovery Workforce

A fundamental barrier to recovery is “negative recovery capital” in the form of barriers to access to housing and paid employment. Stable recovery rests not only on overcoming acute dependence, but also subsequently on developing supportive social networks, a safe place to live, meaningful activities, and a sense of purpose and hope. In the United Kingdom, the recovery movement has faced a huge challenge in translating early recovery into stable recovery because of limited access to housing and employment, and because of stigmatization of those in recovery. This article reviews a social enterprise model for engaging recovering people with an addiction in a building program linked to recovery housing, which also provides employment. The article is based on observations, in-depth qualitative interviews, and focus groups with participants in the program, and describes the social contagion of hope and the elevated aspirations associated with working and generating recovery housing. This model offers inspiration about personal transformation and aspiration that also contributes to the development of a therapeutic landscape of recovery.

To View the Full Article: Click Here

David P – Marbella, Spain

I started looking for help for my long-term cocaine use problem after realising i couldn’t just stop stop using on my own. I had been using for around 18/19years with the last 5 years or so being what I think anyone would describe as heavy use.

I was not sure what I was Looking for but as | Live in the Marbella area I wanted somewhere in Spain that I could go for treatment 24/7 for a bit as hourly sessions occasionally (like a dentist appointment)  just don’t work.

I emailed four places initially to find out availability and costs etc. Three emailed me back a PDF with costs and ways to pay. two within in an hour, one within 4 hours. Villa Paradisio was not one of the three that emailed me back.

Instead Charlotte called me on the phone. My initial response was not to answer but let it ring. Then I realised that maybe that meant I was not tackling my problem. I asked her to call back on txt. She did and I am VERY glad she did.

She asked me what was wrong and what could she do to help me, she didn’t talk to me about costs and she didn’t try and force anything on me, she listened and instantly I knew this was where I needed to go. 1 Day later I checked in and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The villa, the setting and all the staff made me feel at ease and not embarrassed to be there.

Over my time there the treatment I received from Charlotte has allowed me to leave there and not only not use Cocaine again but I can genuinely say I don’t want to anymore. I was not sure what to expect from this experience as I have never done it and hopefully thanks to everyone there I will never have to in the future. It is not an exaggeration to say Charlotte saved my Marriage and I will be forever grateful. I didn’t think ‘therapy’ would be for me and I am not the type to talk about my feelings or problems. I wanted to get better though and thanks to the way the sessions were with Charlotte I made great progress and got to the bottom of a lot of things.

Chris the Operations Director is one of there most genuine and stand up guys I have met in years and I was frankly taken aback but the way he looked after me and how much he genuinely cares about helping people. This is not some throwaway glib comment about nice staff,  too be clear  I mean the rare thing of someone who has actually decided to try and help other people and gives his focus and time on helping you what ever it takes.

I couldn’t not mention my friend Ricardo who took take me walking in the Hills and on the beach. The man makes a mean Brazilian barbecue and is one of the nicest guys I have ever met.

In conclusion if your reading this and think you need help then you do. If you are not sure were to go then I wasn’t either but trust me this is the place if you want to change your life.

Over a month now since I left and life is good. I don’t want to use and I don’t think I ever will again. THAT is down to my time here. Simple as that. Good Luck.



Emma – Ireland

What started out as casual drinking and cocaine use at weekends gradually increased and escalated into everyday use. I dealt with the come downs from using crack cocaine by smoking heroin. This unfortunately turned into a habit! I initially tried to seek help in but no help was available other than a substitution programme of daily methadone and sleeping pills, which only made me worse and more dependant. I couldn’t find a way out, this continued for 9 years.

I was also trying to deal with the loss of a family member, which was making my addiction worse than ever. At this point I was using heroin, methadone, smoking crack and taking Benzo’s daily to numb the pain – I was existing rather than living. As a result of this I ended up in hospital due to my drug use and nearly died. However, this did not stop me from using. I felt so desperate and helpless.

With the help of family, who supported me in getting the help I needed at Villa Paradiso rehab, I am now completely drug free for the first time in 20 years. This is due to the support and therapy that I have received here. The setting is very conducive to healing and I know I have my life back again. I feel this place is “home from home”. The food has been amazing. This has been the first time in years of eating healthy and appreciating food again. I can’t remember the last time I felt so physically and emotionally well.

I cannot stress enough that it’s never too late to take control of your life again and if I can do it so can you. This is the real deal!

Emma, Ireland

Actress Danniella Westbrook feels “strong and happy” at Villa Paradiso

Fans of Eastenders will remember Danniella Westbrook’s role as Sam Mitchell in the long-running soap opera. The star has been struggling with addiction for a number of years, but she is determined that 2017 will be the year when she “kicks all addictions and demons once and for all”, and she chose Villa Paradiso in the Mijas hills as the place to do it.

It is evident from everything the press has published about Danniella that she has not had an easy time. As she told the Metro newspaper, taking part in Channel 5’s ‘In Therapy’ series “cost me a lot of heartache, painful childhood memories and trauma that the show didn’t fix.” Combine something like this with a disastrous marriage, health issues and the loss of a baby, as well as the break up with the love of her life, and it is understandable that Danniella has reached the point where she feels the time has come to be make a commitment to her health, for her own sake as well as that of her children, family and friends.

She confessed on her Twitter account that making the decision to return to rehab was scary, but she needed to face her fears to gain a new quality of life and the freedom to live without addictions. Volunteering to enter a rehab programme is never an easy decision for anyone struggling with addiction and when they do decide, it is necessary to support them because, as Danniella said, “We all make mistakes– that’s life –but it’s what we choose to do about those mistakes that counts.”

Danniella has spent almost one month at Villa Paradiso and told the media that she was not only drug-free, but also feeling happy and strong. As part of the rehab process, she had one-on-one meetings with therapists and undertook some intense work on her past issues. As she came to the end of her process, she told everyone, “I’m having a great time. I’m in a wonderful place here at Villa Paradiso and I’m truly blessed again, but thank you one and all for everything.”

Please contact us at Villa Paradiso if you’d like to turn your life around.

What is sex addiction?

Sex addiction is often discussed as if it is a joke, but for those who suffer from it, their partners and families, it is a real and serious condition. Unfortunately, this form of addiction is not very well understood by the wider population, which is why we’d like to briefly outline what sex addiction is and its general symptoms.

Sex addiction is best described as a progressive intimacy disorder characterised by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts, where as with any addiction the addict has to increase their addictive behaviour over time in order to fulfil their needs.

Typical sex addict behaviour

Usually, sex addicts confine their compulsive behaviour to masturbation and extensive use of pornography, phone or computer sex services. The diagnostic manual DSM IV puts sex addiction under ‘Sexual Disorders’ and defines it as “distress about a pattern of repeated sexual relationships involving a succession of lovers who are experienced by the individual only as things to be used.” According to the manual, sex addiction also involves “compulsive searching for multiple partners, compulsive fixation on an unattainable partner, compulsive masturbation, compulsive love relationships and compulsive sexuality in a relationship.”

However, for some, their addictive behaviour is more serious and can involve illegal activities such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls, child molestation or rape. It is important to point out that sex addicts do not necessarily become sex offenders, and sex offenders are not typically sex addicts. They are different conditions.

The problems of addiction

A sex addict noticeably continues to engage in certain sexual behaviours despite facing potential health risks, financial problems, shattered relationships or even arrest. In this respect, one can see the similarity with other addictions.

What causes sex addiction?

The cause or causes of sex addiction are poorly understood. It may be that a biochemical abnormality or specific brain behaviour increases the risk, and the fact that antidepressants and psychotropic medicines can often help addicts seems to support this view. Research also shows that sex addicts often come from dysfunctional families and are more likely than non-sex addicts to have been abused.

Treatment is always on an individual basis when it comes to establishing the root causes of a person’s sex addiction and deciding on the best treatment approach. Sex addiction deserves to be taken seriously – it is certainly no joke for those who have to live with it.

Opioids, trauma and addiction

Endogenous opioids naturally occur in the body and play a vital role in our emotional health. It is a system of neurons that produces three opioids – endorphins, enkephalins and dynorphins. These opioids act as neurotransmitters and neuromodulators and they regulate our pain response. For example, a runner may feel pain towards the end of a long run, but the exercise also produces endorphins that reduce the pain and make the person feel uplifted. However, in people with trauma disorders such as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), opioids function differently.

PTSD puts people at risk of developing addictions due to the biological behaviour of opioids in a body and mind that has suffered trauma. In Judith Herman’s book ‘Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence’.she says endogenous opioid regulation is altered significantly by trauma and that “traumatized people who cannot spontaneously dissociate may attempt to produce similar numbing effects by using alcohol or narcotics.”

The effects of dissociation

What does she mean by dissociation? It’s a tool the mind uses to protect us from the effects of distressing events. Children are at high risk of developing dissociative disorders after trauma, but adults may also suffer from dissociation. When the traumatic event is occurring, then dissociation is a good and helpful human response, but the problem comes when the traumatised person can’t disconnect from the dissociative state and continues to live in a kind of suspended reality.

Some sufferers describe it as a feeling of being disconnected from themselves and from the world. Someone who is dissociating may be unable to move or speak. Other symptoms include amnesia, confusion about their personality and taking on different identities.

Opioids create a dissociative state where emotional responses are altered and pain is numbed. For example, when scientists tested stress responses in already-stressed animals, they discovered that the animals became desensitised to the stressors, because endogenous opioid production automatically kicked into high gear.

It is important that we recognize the relationship between addictive disorders and trauma so that we can adjust treatment programmes to include regulation of the body’s endogenous opioid production. This will help the person to heal faster.

What is co-dependency?

What is co-dependency?

Though not as common a term as depression or anxiety, co-dependency is a far more common problem than you might think.

When we aim to treat addictions to drugs, alcohol or other substances we have to look at the emotional background that very often acts as the trigger to substance dependency and many other types of personal problems.

Co-dependency is a common cause among them, and it is at the heart of problems that emanate from a poor sense of self-esteem. Since a great many of the people we treat suffer from poor self-esteem it is important to get to the root of the problem.

Self-esteem and Co-dependency

We all like validation from other people – to be liked, be told we’re beautiful, smart or fun, but ultimately you can only be truly contented in life when you are content with yourself and accept yourself for who you are, recognising your strengths and your weaknesses.

The idea that we should somehow be perfect and live up to impossible expectations – our own, or those of others – is not only damaging but unrealistic. Everyone is fallible and endowed with their own strong and weak points, and it is the latter you have to accept as a normal part of being human.

Too many people, however, fall prey to living their lives in the shadow of real or perceived expectations from others, criticising themselves for not being perfect and/or defending themselves against unspoken criticism from those around them. Many think they are talentless, ugly or somehow undeserving, but fail to see that most people around them – including very happy and/or successful ones – are just the same in most ways.

When your self-esteem is low in this way you inevitably seek the approval of others to validate yourself and somehow feel like a whole person. People in this situation align their personalities and actions to receive validation, but they can just as easily become defensive and overreact when faced with criticism. We should all be able to deal with criticism and setbacks, but people who are co-dependent are too easily swayed emotionally by the reactions of others.

Living your life in the shadow of others is never good, be it your parents, friends, colleagues or partner, and as it doesn’t make for good, evenly balanced relationships it only serves to lower your self-esteem further. Moreover, the emotional swings and inherent dislike of themselves makes co-dependents more vulnerable to substance abuse as a means of escape and dealing with the results of unhealthy interpersonal relationships.

Co-dependent people are also more prone to becoming fixated on others, harming themselves, committing acts of extreme desperation or using alcohol or drugs to enhance their personality and effectively become the person they want to be. In essence they are desperately trying to send a message that they just want to be loved and accepted. But whereas others might be willing to do this, the co-dependent is very often the actual obstacle to breaking the cycle, as they are locked in the wrong dialogue with themselves.

Overcoming co-dependency

The first step to overcoming co-dependency is to stop making someone else your facilitator – the person you blame for your drug abuse, behaviour, lack of energy or ambition, or any of the other factors that stop you from being a whole and contented person. Having the strength to recognise this takes you to the next, all-important step – the process by which you stop rejecting yourself (for it is you and not others who do so) and begin accepting yourself for the normal human being that you are. Complete with good and bad sides.

Look around you and realise that you are, after all, not so different from the rest of the world, many of whom battle with the same insecurities. You have to forgive yourself for your shortcomings and be proud of your strengths, learn to look at yourself in the mirror and not shy away but be able to love yourself. It is only once you feel contented with who you are that you can truly love others. Friends and family can support you but it has to come from within, for only you can recover your self-esteem and become whole.

Loss on the road to recovery

Loss Recovery

Loss on the road to recovery

Everyone experiences loss during their lifetime, but for the addict in recovery, loss, and the grief that accompanies it, is more complex and multilayered. However, going through loss recovery is an essential part of the road to rehabilitation.

An addict may encounter loss in two ways; there is loss caused by addiction, for example; loss of family, work or home, and there is a sense of loss that drives the person to become an addict in the first place. In this case, an addicted person uses alcohol or other drugs to numb the pain of sadness, grief or anger aroused by life events. It is a vicious circle that amplifies the pain in a life of addiction, making the need to remain addicted a necessity. It is difficult to break out of this behaviour and the addict newly in recovery often finds the early days especially tough, because they become aware of a multitude of losses. This is the time when people are most likely to relapse into addictive behaviour again.

The avoidance of distressing emotions is only ever a temporary relief measure. These feelings need to be acknowledged and talked about, otherwise they tend to come out through other behaviours. When we express feelings through behaviour, we often do it unconsciously and that means we have no control over them. As a result, they can be damaging and self-defeating.

Feeling loss is therefore a natural part of the recovery process. It may involve losing certain friends, giving up a lifestyle or a career, and relinquishing any possessions that trigger a desire for addictive behaviour. The grief of the loss of each of these has to be expressed and worked through in order to achieve and maintain recovery.

Another type of loss the addict experiences is that of the addictive substance or behaviour itself. Despite the fact that alcohol or drugs may be causing chaos in many dimensions of a person’s life, he or she will miss the comfort that the addictive substance brings. Addicts also have an intimate relationship with their preferred substance and this is a tough bond to break; it is like being in a bad divorce and has the same emotional effects. This loss is one of the most misunderstood aspects of recovery and the one least adequately treated in addiction centres.

Loss recovery and addiction

The addict also loses their certainty about daily life during recovery. An addicted life’s day is mapped out clearly in fixed routines, but in recovery every day is an unknown and the distress of strongly suppressed emotions emerging after years is an enormously challenging part of recovering. However, the most powerful way to stay on the road to recovery is by developing the skills to deal with and manage these emotions so that a new life can be built. That is one of the skills we help you develop at Villa Paradiso.