Tuesday, April 28, 2009

EAPs Needed to Improve Productivity

The five-day training programme on Addiction, Recovery and Counseling ended last Friday at the National Museum in Accra with a call on management in public and private organisations to recognise the need to set up vibrant Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) to deal with, among other things, alcohol and drug abuse. This was the consensus formed by participants at the training course when the discussion was opened on a role play on how EAP managers could best handle persons with alcohol and drug problems.

EAPs consist of policies and procedures aimed at assisting employees with their personal problems and enhancing their performance at work. Participants in the training were drawn from Customs, Excise and Preventive Services (CEPS), Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Ghana Health Services, churches, councellors and other interested organisations. Participants confirmed that alcohol and drug problems have overwhelmed many organisations and have become the major cause of lowered productivity levels .

In his address Dr. Akwasi Osei, Acting Head of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, reaffirmed his view that addiction to drugs or alcohol should be seen as a clinical disease which calls for treatment and management rather than condemnation due to moral failure or criminal offense. He added that research has proven that there are genes in some people which make them prone to become addicts. Dr. Osei informed the participants that 10% of the world’s population falls within this category. It means that when such people first take their drug of choice they are likely to continue until they become addicted. He therefore debunked the idea of stigmatization of addicts by families, communities and especially by employers. Dr. Osei advised that EAPs be established at workplaces to assist staff with problems related to drug and alcohol use. EAPs would affsord employees the opportunity to seek intervention, treatment and management of their disease. The result would be improved productivity and performance at work.

Submitted by
Chris Darkinson

Friday, April 24, 2009

Final Day of Training

24 April, 2009 Summary/Remarks on the Fifth Day –

The final day of the training began with a question related to EAPs. Participants were asked to answer the question: “If you recognized that a coworker was drinking too much, would you initiate a conversation with him/her and suggest that they seek professional counseling? Why or why not?”

Participants had numerous answers. Except for those already involved in counseling, most of the participants said that they had not had such a conversation with drinkers in the past but will do so now armed with the knowledge that alcoholism and addiction to drugs is a disease. Two participants used their new information and skills this week. One picked two pregnant women at the tro tro stop and took them to the clinic. He asked them, “Do you drink?”, and they both replied “Yes”. Based on his knowledge learned about FAS, he advised them about the dangers of consuming alcohol during pregnancy. Using skills learned in the role plays, another participant had a conversation with two drinking friends about alcohol and addiction. One participant replied to the question by saying, “I am a crocodile coming out of the river” meaning that he is a recovering alcoholic. He went on to say that he regularly discusses drinking with his friends and colleagues. The GNAT participants said they would return to their stations and spread information about addiction and organizing EAPs.

Mr. Amegashie then spoke about the many attitudes which lead to relapse including the following:


Mr. Amegashie ended his presentation talking about the use of the Twelve Steps of AA & NA, saying, “People in AA use the 12 Step programme like a survival ship or lifeboat, to save their lives”.

Pastor August then spoke on pastoral counseling which is generally regarded as a form of therapy or counseling in which a pastoral counselor, as a representative of a religious tradition or community, uses the insights and principles of religion, theology and behavioral sciences in working with addicts. An important ingredient which makes pastoral counseling different from other forms of counseling is the conviction that life’s problems are best met by both wisdom of religious teachings and the knowledge and skills of the human behavioral sciences such as psychiatry and psychology.

Pastor Auguset made reference to numerous Bible passages, including those from Proverbs reminding us that addiction is nothing new. “How wine is sweet . . . at last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper . . . your heart will lead to perverse things.” “Where there are no counselors the people fall.”

Pastor Augustt then led a discussion on the “addictive cycle” which goes from the addictive activity to dissatisfaction, to moral resolve to stop the addiction, to the return of pain and then back to the addictive activity. A participant referred to the Liberian proverb that says, “Those of you who drown your souls in alcohol, know that your souls can swim”.

A session evaluating the training and “the way forward” brought numerous comments including: “I was amazed about alcohol and what I learned from Dr. Osei; we cook our brains”. “We need to network, keep in touch regarding EAPs and efforts to deal with addiction.” “Our first step is to meet with the general secretary to discuss this alcohol problem and the idea of setting up an EAP”. “On Mondays, people come to the clinic at the refugee camp, and I will be there to inform them about alcohol and drugs and AA.” “My people need to know that alcohol is a dangerous drug and that alcoholism is a disease.” “We will intensify our public relations work in Wa, even if it is done under a tree.”

The week ended by reviewing the expectations of the training and the handing out of certificates. Participants were assured that the papers presented during the week will be available on the Hopeful Way web site. Participants will write reports on the training and send them to their sponsoring organization.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

23 April, 2009 - Summary/Remarks on the Fourth Day –

Today’s sessions covered employee assistance programmes (EAPs), motivational interviewing and the addictive disease nature of addiction. Mr. Dan O’Laughlin said that EAPs are employee benefit programs offered by employers, typically in conjunction with a health insurance plan. EAPs are intended to help employees deal with personal problems, including addiction, that might adversely impact their work performance, health and well-being. EAPs generally include assessment, short-term counseling and referral services for employees. The programmes can be very simple or very complex. The simple EAPs require only a policy, a person responsible and place to do business. Issues covered during the presentation and discussion included confidentiality, referrals, cost and cost savings, involvement of workers’ organisations, self-referrals and the percentage of the workforce who may need help, particularly with addiction. In the afternoon a role play was done on EAPs, and discussions were held on the delegations returning to their places of work with strategies for possibly setting up of EAPs.

Mr. Nortey Dua conducted a session on motivational interviewing (MI), a client-centered, semi-directive method of engaging internal motivation to change behavior by exploring and resolving ambivalence within the client. Motivational interviewing recognizes and accepts the fact that clients who need to make changes in their lives approach counseling at different levels of readiness to change their behavior. Clients may never have thought of changing the behavior in question. Some may have thought about it but have not taken steps to change it. Others, especially those voluntarily seeking counseling, may be actively trying to change their behavior and may have been doing so unsuccessfully for years.

Motivational interviewing is non-judgmental, non-confrontational and non-adversarial. The approach attempts to increase the client's awareness of the potential problems caused, consequences experienced, and risks faced as a result of the behavior in question. Alternately, therapists help clients envisage a better future, and become increasingly motivated to achieve it. Either way, the strategy seeks to help clients think differently about their behavior and ultimately to consider what might be gained through change.

Dr. Akwasi Osei led a session on the disease nature of alcoholism and told the participants that alcoholism is a disease. Not everyone who drinks alcohol is or will become an alcoholic. It is similar to the fact that not everyone who is bitten by mosquitoes will get malaria. It is also important to note that one doesn’t always have to drink excessively to be an alcoholic. If all you can think about is how and when you’ll get your next drink - even if it’s only one - and getting that drink rules your life, then it’s likely that you suffer from alcoholism.It is also widely believed that alcoholism is the fault of the alcoholic; that such persons are responsible for their own condition because they suffer from weak moral character. The fact of the matter is that alcoholics don’t choose to be alcoholics - they just are. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to know if someone is an alcoholic until they start drinking. There is no “magic pill” to cure alcoholism. Dr. Osei made a number of other points, saying that people who drink excessively over a long period of time are like people who are cooking their brains, like frying an egg. The brain will shrink and eventually die if enough alcohol is drunk. We sometimes drink alcohol to gain courage. A Ghanaian saying says that “If I want to insult my mother-in-law, I take some gin and go do it.” In Ghana traditional herbalists are being examined with interest for their successes in overcoming alcoholism.

In the afternoon, short presentations were made by GNAT and CEPS. Dr. Howard K Gershenfeld of the U.S. Embassy also made remarks about motivational interviewing and efforts to overcome alcoholism and addiction to drugs.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Training in Addiction and Recovery

The Hopeful Way Foundation and the Addictive Diseases Unit of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital are conducting a training course in addiction and recovery from 20-24 April at the National Museum in Adabraka-Accra. The course is intended to improve the counseling skills of those dealing with addiction, and to open the possibility of organisations putting in place employee assistance programmes (EAPs) or systems that will help prevent and deal with addiction.

20 April, 2009 – Summary of first day –

It has been confirmed that children as young as fourteen are being recruited to “push” hard drugs in the country, especially at vantage points in the Central Business District of Accra. Teenage peddlers are not likely to be suspected of selling drugs and less likely of being arrested by the authorities. This was said at the opening of the five-day training which was opened by Dr. Joseph Asare, Chairman of Hopeful Way Foundation and retired Director of Psychiatric Hospital in Accra.

The course has as its theme “Addiction, Recovery and Counseling and is designed to impart knowledge to counselors, trainers and those who are interested in establishing employee assistance programmes to deal with problems of employees, including the abuse of alcohol and drugs. The twenty participants in the course come from such places as the Ghana National Association of Teachers, Customs, Narcotics Control Board and the Buduburam Refugee Camp.

Dr. Asare lamented the fact that little attention had been given to demand reduction of illegal drugs, while more efforts have gone into supply reduction. He mentioned school dropouts, street violence, unruly behaviour and the difficulty of providing rehabilitation facilities. He praised the effort by the British Council called “Ghana Against Drugs”. He gave Mexico as an example to be avoided by Ghana. Mexico once considered itself to have only a small problem with drugs but has developed into a huge problem, including drug wars and contract killings.

Dr. Asare made a presentation on the drug abuse in Ghana, followed by Dr. Eugene Dordoye and Mr. Logosu Amegeshie who spoke about the “Change Cycle” in overcoming addiction and the “Comprehensive social data Questionnaire” used with patients. Numerous discussions and questions were entertained before an open meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous was held to better inform the participants about AA.

21 April, 2009 – Summary of second day –

Speakers on the second day included Dr. Araba Sefa-Dedeh, Dr. Sammy Ohene, Dr. Dordoye and Mr. Amegashie. Various aspects of addiction and recovery were covered by the resource persons who were enthusiastically received by the participants. Participants and resource persons shared examples of recovery efforts in numerous places from Wa to Obuasi, Tema and Accra. In Wa some patients walk several kilometers for counseling and AA meetings are often held under a tree. Dr. Ohene emphasized that more attention needs to be given to “primary prevention” in order to protect our children from alcohol and drugs. Brief presentations were also made by participants representing the Ghana Organisation of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the Ghana Mental Health Association. Regarding FAS, it was reported that a survey recently conducted with 500 women in Accra, Cape Coast and Takoradi showed that 436 women drank alcohol before becoming pregnant and 365 during pregnancy. The day was ended with three role plays by participants who played the roles of counselors and persons with drug and alcohol problems. In addition to practicing and learning good counseling skills, a good time was had by the performers and the evaluators of the role plays.

22 April, 2009 - Summary/Remarks on Third Day -

Day Three of the training began with a case study where Mr. G came for counselling because of numerous problems, including his drinking one to two bottles of wine per day, complaints from his wife, hangovers and increased drinking to maintain the desired effect. The participants examined the case, made diagnosis of early-late stage of alcoholism which included denial, depression and mood disorder. Mr. G was probably someone who goes "to clear the ghost" or someone who takes "an eye-opener" in the morning said a participant. It was agreed that the best way to help Mr. G was to have him admit that he has a probem with alcohol and to get him to professional help.

Mr. Amegashie then spoke about the AA Twelve Step Counselling Paradigm and responded to numerous questions, including a participant's question about the difference between a drunkard and an alcoholic. Another comment was that "we often hear from alcoholics that there is a spirit behaind the drink, therefore the only way I can stop drinking is to have someone take the spirit away". "The problem is not me but the spirit."

Dr. Araba Sefa Dedeh later spoke on Cognative Behavior Therapy which is a therapeutic approach to helping drug-dependent people overcome their addiction. Cognitive behavior therapy is based on the idea that feelings and behaviors are caused by a person's thoughts, not on outside stimuli like people, situations and events. People may not be able to change their circumstances, but they can change how they think about them and therefore change how they feel and behave. The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to teach the person to recognize situations in which they are most likely to drink or use drugs, avoid these circumstances if possible, and cope with other problems and behaviors which may lead to their substance abuse. The therapist's job is to help the patient understand what is going on in their minds and to help develop new coping skills. Dr. Sefa-Dedeh ended her session by sharing numerous ways of helping patients overcome their addiction.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hopeful Way and AA

While Hopeful Way House is independent from Alcoholics Anonymous, we do collaborate and we plan to have AA meetings in the House. Below is an e-mail that we received from an American AA who was visiting Accra last month.

"Dear Friends in Accra, I have told everybody who would listen about my amazing experience with A.A. in Accra, Ghana. When I walked into the meeting on Friday March 20 at 11:30am and saw the Big Books lying on the table, I had this overwhelming sense of comfort and good will. I thought, "I'm going to have a wonderful time in Ghana and I'll be safe!" All of which was true. Thank you so much for being there for me, so that I could attend not one BUT TWO meetings in Accra. I talked to Charles C. since I've returned and told him of my awesome experience.If you need anything at all - Big Books, Twelve and Twelve, anniversary coins, etc. - please let me know and I'll see that you get them.Thanks again for being there for me so that I could attend A.A. in Africa. Ghana is an amazing country - so rich in culture, history and heritage, which we hear very little about in the USA."

Your sister in sobriety,

Saturday, April 11, 2009


In order to provide and receive more information on alcohol and drug issues, Hopeful Way Foundation has set up a web site: http://hopefulway.webs.com. The site is being established with the assistance of Dr. Shawn Reynolds. This Blog will be maintained in order to encourage communication but the web site will enable us to provide longer and more technical information. Dr. Reynolds will explain in more detail how the web site will be useful and how it will work. Please go to the web site and make comments.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Training Course in Addiction & Recovery

The Hopeful Way Foundation and the Addictive Diseases Unit of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital will conduct a training course in addiction and recovery from 20-24 April at the National Museum in Adabraka-Accra. The course is intended to improve the counseling skills of those dealing with addiction, and to open the possibility of organisations putting in place systems that will help prevent and deal with addiction. The draft programme for the training is as follows:


At the end of the training, participants will have adequate/working knowledge of alcohol and drug abuse with its associated physical, psychological & social complications and will be able to:

1. Easily identify persons with alcohol and substance/drug use disorders in their organisations
2. Determine which persons with the disorders will need hospitalisation and refer appropriately
3. Adequately manage most cases of alcohol and drug abuse in their organisations to improve productivity
4. Put in place measures to maintain sobriety of addicts and prevent relapse
5. Adequately manage most cases of relapse

Monday, 20th April, 2009
9:00 – 10:00 am Introduction of Participants and Facilitators
10:00 – 11:00 am Overview of Drug Abuse in Ghana - Dr. J B Asare
Snack Break
11:30 – 1:00 pm Drugs, Brain & Behaviour - Dr E K Dordoye
Lunch Break
2:00 – 4:00pm Comprehensive Social Data Construction - Mr L Amegashie

Tuesday 21st April 2009
9:00 – 10:00 am General Guidelines & Types of Psychotherapy - Dr A Sefa-Dede
10:00 – 11:00 am Identification of The Addict/Misuse &
Techniques to get Clients accept their misuse of drugs - Mr Amegashie
Snack Break
11:30 – 1:00 pm The Effects of drugs on the Brain,Body & Social Function – Dr Sammy Ohene
Lunch Break
2:00 – 4:00pm Workshop on Identifying and Getting Clients to accept – Mr Amegashie
Management for Substance Misuse Disorders

Wednesday 22nd April 2009
9:00 – 10:00 am The Disease Nature of Addiction (& the 4 “P”s) – Dr Akwasi O Osei
10:00 – 11:00 am Laboratory Investigation of the Addict - Dr A Puklo-Dzadey
Snack Break
11:30 – 1:00 pm The 12 step Counselling Paradigm - Mr L Amegashie
Lunch Break
2:00 – 4:00pm Workshop on the management of Addiction - Dr Dordoye
Synopsis on Hospital Management of Addiction

Thursday 23rd April 2009
9:00 – 10:00 am Introduction of EAP, AA, NA & Al-Anon - Mr Dan O’Laughlin
10:00 – 11:00 am Motivational Enhancement Therapy - Mr Nortey Dua Edwin
Snack Break
11:30 – 1:00 pm Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy - Dr Sefa-Dede
Lunch Break
2:00 – 4:00pm Workshop on Formation of EAPs, AA, NA & Al-anon

Friday 24th April 2009
9:00 – 10:00 am Causes of Relapse, Prevention & Management – Mr L Amegashie
10:00 – 11:00 am Pastoral Counselling of alcohol & Drug Misuse Pastor H P N Augustt
Snack Break
11:30 – 1:00 pm Assessment & Feedback


It has been over a month since our momentous event at the Embassy of the Republic of Ghana. Among our distinguished guest speakers that evening was Mr. Lee Manley. Mr. Manley hosts a local radio show called “Lee’s Happy Hour” on Rock the Flow’s website at http://rocktheflow.com. The show airs from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. (EST) each Saturday. The show’s themes center on treatment and recovery, with an emphasis on living happy and productive lives without alcohol or drugs. On Saturday November 10th, Byron Merriweather and some of the residents from the House of St. Francis will call into the show from Ghana!! We encourage you to tune in if you can! Dan called into the show last week.

The direct link to Lee Manley’s show (please scroll to the bottom of the page):


Friday, April 3, 2009

United Methodist Publishing House - Oxford House

The Oxford House Model for Treatment of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

WHEREAS, 12.1 million U.S. citizens have one or more symptoms of alcoholism; and
WHEREAS, Oxford Houses are self-run, self-supporting, nonsubsidized shared-residence programs utilizing ordinary rental housing in order to provide effective peer support (rather than governmentally, or institutionally, or staff-dependent support) for persons in recovery; and
WHEREAS, a 1988 poll of some 1,200 persons who had lived in Oxford Houses for some period during the previous twelve years showed that some 80 percent had maintained sobriety (as contrasted with the 20 percent rate of the abuse-free maintenance that is customarily reported for those who have completed rehabilitation programs without subsequent residence in Oxford House); and
WHEREAS, a 1991 survey of forty-five residents of six newly formed Oxford Houses by Dr. William Spillane of the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., indicated a relapse rate of only 9.3 percent;
Therefore, be it resolved, that General Conference hereby encourages each of its member congregations to become knowledgeable about the Oxford House model so that these congregations might provide all feasible support and assistance in the creation and maintenance of such recovery houses in their respective local communities.
Be it further resolved, that the General Conference direct the Health and Welfare Department of the General Board of Global Ministries to provide appropriate informational assistance in this effort, within the constraints of the current budgetary allotments.

Copyright © 2000 The United Methodist Publishing House.