Our Love Affair with Alcohol and Other Drugs

Have you ever paused to consider just how deeply your lifestyle and those around you have been affected by alcohol and other drugs?  In this infographic provided by the Australian Drug Foundation, we are shown the facts about our nation’s love affair with alcohol and other drugs. No matter what your age or socio economic factors, it is evident that these substances have negatively impacted our lives and will continue to do so unless we better educate ourselves and our families in these areas. This fascinating infographic shows us that we can no longer put our head in the sand- we must take responsibility for our own use of alcohol and other substances as the effects are more wide reaching than we ever imagined.

Our Love Affair with Alcohol and Other Drugs

Do you struggle with alcohol and/or other drugs and are concerned about their long-term effects on your life and those around you? If so, contact Watersedgecounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or press book now to book in our online diary.

What’s the Big Deal About Cannabis?

Cannabis has long been a popular recreational drug due to its relaxant effects and ready availability. For many people, cannabis is a form of self-medication; serving to dull the impact of physical and emotional pain. The chances are that you and/or someone you know have used cannabis at least once or more in your life- potentially on a regular basis due to its highly addictive nature.

Cannabis is Australia’s most popular drug and is most often smoked in a joint or a bong. A National Drug Strategy Household Survey conducted in 2008 by The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that one-third of all Australians aged 22 or older (33.5% or about 5.8 million) have tried cannabis and 1 million had used it in that past year.

So what’s the big deal about cannabis? There are many ‘baby-boomers’ who recall the days of relaxing with friends and sharing a joint with no apparent side-affects. However, the belief that cannabis is a ‘safe’ drug is a myth.

Consider the facts:

A small amount of cannabis may produce the following effects:

  • Feeling relaxed and sleepy
  • Spontaneous laughter and excitement
  • Increased appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Quiet and reflective mood

A large amount or a strong batch will produce these further effects:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Blurred vision
  • Clumsiness
  • Slower reflexes
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Seeing and hearing things that aren't there
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Mild anxiety and paranoia

Regular use of cannabis may eventually cause:

  • Memory loss
  • Learning difficulties
  • Mood swings
  • Regular colds or flu
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Difficulty having children (low fertility in males and females)
  • Needing to use more to get the same effect
  • Dependence on cannabis
  • Financial, work and social problems

As a professional, I witness the long-term impact of cannabis use in many of my clients, including young adults. Their self-determination and motivation has been steadily eroded by the impact of their long-term habit. Normal functionality, even within the context of the home environment, is impaired; self-confidence and hope are lost and life becomes a daily struggle to survive from one joint/bong to the next.

While a once-off or occasional use of cannabis can sound safe, the facts show that it can lead to a path of destruction. If it sounds scary, it is! However there is help available for you and the people you care about. Visit Headspace for more details on cannabis and to contact their local support services in your area.

This blog was compiled using resources from the Australian Drug Foundation Fact Sheet
To find out more about cannabis, please click here 

Do you struggle with cannabis use and are concerned about its long-term effects on your life? If so, contact Watersedgecounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or press book now to book in our online diary.

64 Ways To Cope With Cravings

64-Ways-To-Cope-With-CravingsDo you struggle with cravings? Do you feel as though they are limiting your ability to live life to your utmost potential? If so contact Watersedgecounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or press book now to book in our online diary.

Managing Alcohol and Other Drugs in the Workplace

When a person develops a dependence upon alcohol and/or other drugs, to the observer it is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Each ‘still' may only be a small degree of difference, but the end result is devastation and destruction. When a person becomes dependent on alcohol and/or other drugs, they are rarely aware of the claim their ‘habit' has already made on their lifestyle: personal health and wellbeing; relationships with partner, family and friends; employment; accommodation; these are all compromised. In an interview with Ken Burgin from Profitable Hospitality and Colleen Morris from Watersedgecounselling, they discuss the issue of how an employer inhospitality manages an employee whose behaviour is compromised by alcohol and/or other drugs. Colleen gives some valuable advise for employers to consider on this podcast.

The Facts about Ice

Ice user’s road-rage fury

Shotgun aimed at two kids

What do you feel? Rage? Shock? Alarm? Physically sick?

This was the headline that caught my attention as I opened my local paper last week. The story went on to describe the incident: the lawyer for the defendant stated there was a simple explanation for his irrational behaviour.

“In a word that explanation is ice – an all too common excuse…at the time of this offending he was on a bender and would not have produced the firearm if he had been thinking rationally.”

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of VictorHabbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Increasingly the drug Ice is drawing community attention due to dramatic incidents such as this. However, not all Ice user’s will automatically be violent. In fact many people in the community rely upon Ice recreationally, circumstantially and for the physical health benefits. However, where a person is using two or more drugs in combination or is already dealing with serious physical and/or mental health issues the combination can have major risks for the user and for other people.

What is ice?

Ice is a stimulant drug, affecting the Central Nervous System by speeding up the messages travelling between the brain and the body. Bodily functions such as heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure and body temperature are so impacted that an individual’s mood, behaviour and physical functioning change dramatically.

Reading these headlines, you might want to ask, ‘If Ice is such a harmful drug why do people use it?’ As a recreational drug, people enjoy the positive effects of Ice.

Positive Effects of Ice:

  • Euphoria
  • Increased pleasure
  • Alertness
  • Confidence
  • Stamina
  • Increased strength
  • Increased libido
  • Long periods awake
  • Appetite suppressant
  • Talkative

The stimulant effect of Ice is also attractive for purposes where a circumstance requires long periods of mental alertness: the long-distance truck driver, the shift worker or the young single mother doing two jobs might use Ice to deal with the demands upon them. The drug is readily available but also highly addictive and dependence is likely to develop rapidly if an individual relies upon it.

There are also some very negative effects.

Negative Effects of Ice:

  • Increased Blood pressure
  • Increased sweating
  • Higher body temperature
  • Rapid, irregular heart rate
  • Chest pains
  • Jaw clenching, teeth grinding
  • Dizziness
  • Inability to sleep
  • Appetite suppressant
  • Repetitive actions
  • Picking, scratching of skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Dilated pupils
  • Facial sweating and redness

Typically, whilst the user is aware that Ice changes their behaviour they are frequently unaware that these negative effects can also be attributed to the same drug. Over time, increasing dependence makes it very difficult to cease use of the drug and any individual who wants to come off the drug will require much support, encouragement and understanding.

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


How do you know if someone is using Ice? Here are the signs and symptoms to look for:

  • Movement: twitching, restless, fidgety, moving about
  • Facial: may be flushed and/or sweating, pupils dilated
  • Speech: loud, rapid, may be tangential, unable to keep on topic
  • Skin: in long term users, may have scabs, if injecting may have abscesses
  • Body: long term users, thin, undernourished, and also very active
  • Teeth: may be discoloured, ground down, gums receded
  • Behaviour: Irritable, anxious, may be aggressive

If you use Ice yourself or know someone who users this drug, it is helpful to be aware of these facts and do frequent ‘mental checks’ as to the safety level for the individual and/or other people. If you believe that you or someone else is ‘at risk’ you can seek help through your local government health service provider or go to the following websites for further information: www.bluebelly.org.au/; www.meth.org.au/  

Talking about your concerns and acknowledging that you may have a problem, is the first step to recovery. Colleen Morris, at Watersedgecounselling, is able to talk with you about your issue and offers support, encouragement and advice when you are ready to take your next step to recovery. You can contact her for a FREE 10 minute consultation on 0434337245 or you can make an appointment to see Colleen go to the online scheduler by pressing the BOOK NOW.

10 Tips To Slow Down Your Drinking and Enjoy The Seasonal Celebrations

With Christmas and New Year celebrations upon us it is a good time to give thought to your drinking behaviour at party celebrations. Alcohol is a feature of a good majority of social occasions; it causes people to become relaxed and lower their inhibitions so that you can ‘let your hair down’ as it were. At the end of a long year, we are generally feeling a little tired, tense, disgruntled and ready to have a good time.

After the first couple of drinks you feel happy, more relaxed and have less concentration and slower reflexes. However it is early in the evening and parties generally go well into the night. The alcohol is on tap and your friends encourage you to have another drink.

This is the critical moment. You see, a few more drinks and your inhibitions are lowered, confidence heightens, you are less co-ordinated, speech begins to slur and your moods are more intense. You will feel intensely happy or conversely sad or even mad. Your judgement becomes increasingly impaired as you continue to drink throughout the night. People are happy and having funbut there can come a point where someone, maybe you, behaves inappropriately and out of character. That’s the effect alcohol has on us.

Disagreements become fights, sexual harassment is all too common, while physical and sexual assault is also a common feature of alcohol-fuelled parties. At best you can lose your licence as consequence of failing to organise alternate transport. At worst, you can find yourself charged for an action that you can’t even remember happening. If you think it couldn’t happen to you, I urge you to think again.

So at this year’s Christmas party, try some of these strategies to slow down your drinking:

  • Start with a soft drink
  • Use standard drinks
  • Drink slower
  • Eat before and while you are drinking
  • Avoid salty snacks
  • Avoid shouts
  • Don’t let people top up your drink
  • Pace yourself
  • Try the low alcohol alternative
  • Be assertive and say ‘no’

This info graphic from SOBER.com called Blood Alcohol Content outlines the changes that occur in you when you drink over an extended period of time. You will find the information sobering!

If you want to talk to someone about your drinking behaviour and/or would like support to change your behaviour, you can contact Colleen for a free 10 minute consultation on 0434 337245 or go to the online diary at full slate to make an appointment with Colleen in the New Year.

5 Myths About Drug Abuse And Addiction

5 myths about drug abuse and addiction


If you have a drug and/or alcohol dependence issue and would like to access support to address your issues and reduce your substance use then here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or go to the orange tab to Colleen's online diary to make an appointment.

5 D’s to De-Stress

What_are_you_thinking__by_captivatedimagesMy least favourite time of the day is when I wake up in the morning. I always set my alarm the night before to ensure that I wake up with enough time to prepare for the day ahead. Inevitably, I convince my self that I can ‘crib' another half hour in bed before I finally crawl out and go to the kitchen. I make my breakfast (always tea and 2 pieces of toast), turn the morning news on T.V. and sit in my arm-chair to eat my breakfast and attend to my social media status updates. Next task is to shower and dress, feed the animals, make my lunch, hop in my car, go through a drive-through coffee for my daily take-away, park the car and walk a block to my office in the CBD.

This ‘typical morning in the life of Colleen Morris' is most often enacted automatically and unconsciously, just as your own typical morning is likely to be. Our brain is a highly efficient organ that is capable of  performing  many familiar tasks repeatedly without having to rely on a conscious reminder.  The brain then has the space to take in new information even as we are enacting familiar tasks, so that we can be focused and adaptive.

Recently, with the death of my father, I noticed that my usual normal routine was interrupted. Instead of moving through the motions of my routine quickly and efficiently, I went first to my arm-chair, switched on the T.V. and sat…not thinking anything, not doing anything, just sitting. With the stress that the experience of bereavement brings, my ‘poly-vagal nervous  system' was interrupted so that I was having a ‘freeze' response.  Neural pathways were triggered in my unconscious mind, giving expression to real thoughts and feelings that live in my body and brain that I  don't have words for. The freeze response is a reflexive, adaptive response to feelings of sadness and loss that served to put me into a dissociative state, raising my pain threshold.

Experiences of trauma and heightened stress events can literally ‘derail' your brain in such a way that it becomes stuck and unable to do the task of emotional regulation. When this happens, a person may find themselves reacting to environmental and relational stimuli, often unconsciously, with the same heightened response, that creates ongoing emotional distress.  A person will automatically look for a strategy that they believe, will calm them. Often the strategies that a person applies appear to work in the short-term but have long-term risks: alcohol and drugs, gambling, cutting and pornography are just a few of the ways a person tries to de-stress. These behaviours are also addictive and produce other negative impacts.

If you identify with this, here are 5 D's to De-stress:

1. Drink water.

This is the quickest way to calm down your poly-vagal nervous system  that has been activated by the trigger event.

2. Deep Breathing.

Deep breathing slows down your heart rate which will have a calming effect. If you associate your trauma with the mouth or you have asthma, try humming as an alternative.

3. Delay

Saying to yourself, “I am going to (addictive behaviour) in an hour” may delay long enough for your symptoms to settle, so that you do not need it.

4. Distract

Dancing to some happy music, jogging on the spot, ringing a friend, or cooking are all examples of the distract tactic.

5. Do something Different

Focusing on doing something different immediately turns your mind to focus on this new task or experience.

If you are experiencing trauma or heightened stress and would like further support you can contact Colleen on 0434337245 or go to her online diary at www.watersedgecounselling.com


Geelong Counselling: How To Support Your Child’s Recovery From Addiction and Stay Sane At The Same Time

YoSee_the_sun_by_captivatedimagesu feel helpless, desperate and exhausted from lack of sleep and your constant ‘vigilante’ activity. You constantly question ‘what did I do to deserve this’ and, weighed down with the feeling that ‘I must have done something wrong’ you spend restless nights reliving all your greatest parenting catastrophes, wondering if ‘that was when things fell apart’.

You are a prisoner to your child’s unpredictable mood swings and anti-social behaviour. Your trust given is a trust broken and dangerously verging on irreparable. Repeated failed attempts to ‘fix the problem’ and a declining bank balance which is challenged only by your declining physical and/or mental health, have a ‘ripple effect’ on the wider family unit. Family relationships suffer as they are forced to take a back seat to the child whose substance issue demands complete attention. Family conflict erupts as the substance dependant member catapults the family from one crisis to the next.

If you identify with this experience, then this message is for you:

You did not cause your son or daughter’s alcohol or other drug problems.

You cannot ‘fix’ their problem.

 So here is how to  support your child's recovery from addiction and stay sane at the same time:

 1.  Try to provide support to your child rather than judging or criticising them. Criticism and judgemental words are powerful, having the effect of wounding your child further and creating distance. Your child will feel isolated, misunderstood and defensive.

2.  Avoid contributing to the situation, or colluding with your child’s behaviour by making excuses for them, paying their bills or apologising for them. Support your child not their drug use.

3.  Trying to avoid verbal and/or physical confrontation with your child will only worsen, not help, the situation. If you have fears for your own or your family’s safety, you should contact the police. You can discuss the possibility of taking out an intervention order.

For further information on alcohol and other drugs and Family Drug Support, go to the following links:

Information on alcohol and different drugs: DrugInfo.adf.org.au
Family Drug Support: fds.org.au
Family Drug Help: familydrughelp.org.au


If you are experiencing difficulties in your parenting or  need  support and encouragement, then here’s what you need to do, contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or you can make an appointment to see Colleen by booking online now.

5 Tips That Grandparents Who Support Their Grandchildren Due To Substance Abuse, Need For Self-Care

i_love_blossoms____by_captivatedimagesAre you a grandparent raising your grandchildren as a result of their parents’ inability to care for them due to a substance abuse problem? At a time of life where you anticipated being free of the responsibilities that come with raising a family, your daily life is preoccupied with the school routine, transporting children to extra curricula activities, time constraints, discipline, parent/teacher interviews and financial sacrifices (to name just a few). It can be a very lonely and isolating experience, observing your friends as they enjoy their ‘life after children’ and the freedom to pursue activities that you can only dream of!

It is normal to experience a range of conflicting emotions as you grapple with your present reality:

  • Grief and Loss – The hopes and dreams you held such as travel, financial freedom, work satisfaction, a richer social life, a new hobby has taken a ’back shelf’ to the necessity of providing a home for your grandchildren.
  • Happiness and Joy – The unexpected pleasure of being connected in a more intimate way with your grandchildren and experience their own development milestones and achievements.
  • Disappointment and Anger – You adult child cannot take responsibility for their children or their own wellbeing. Promises are repeatedly made and broken.
  • Sadness – You witness the sadness, disappointment and confusion that your grandchildren experience at the hand of their parent.
  • Helplessness – You are aware of your physical and health limitations having to parent for ‘a second time’ and you feel powerless to change the situation.

As care-giver to your grandchildren, you have a responsibility to access the support you need to care for your health and wellbeing.

Here are 5 tips that will provide you with the support you need as you raise your grandchildren:

  • Talk with a friend or counsellor. This may help to clarify things in your mind and help you to work out how to handle the situation.
  • Join a support group. Sharing your thoughts and experiences with other people who are facing or have faced the same issues, can help you to cope better and feel less isolated.
  • Familiarise yourself with the relevant drug and its effects. Understanding how it works and why people become dependent on drugs will help you understand what your child is going through.
  • Try to balance supporting your child with making sure the grandchildren are safe, happy and secure.
  • Look after yourself, both physically and mentally. It’s important to look after yourself so you can be a good carer and can support your grandchildren.
If you are experiencing difficulties in your parenting or  need  support and encouragement as you parent, then here’s what you need to do, contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or you can make an appointment to see Colleen by booking online now.