The risks of alcohol misuse

New research from the Australian Alcohol and Drug Foundation reveals that one in five Australians ignore the harmful effects of alcohol. Young people especially remain unaware of the multiple risks associated with alcohol misuse.

More than half of the 1000 Australians polled by the foundation in May 2021 did not know what a standard drink was, and most were unsure or only had some idea of the recommended alcohol consumption guidelines per day or week.

The National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines recommend 10 or fewer standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks in one day to reduce the risk of injury, accidents or the potential for addiction.

With over 20 per cent of Australians not associating any harm with drinking alcohol, the Foundation’s conclusions are worrying.  A particular concern is that young Australians are at risk of long-term effects which will impact on their lives and continue to put pressure on exiting health services and specialised services dealing with alcohol misuse and other substance dependencies.

The Pandemic is thought to have been a significant contributor to the alarming attitude to alcohol and its effects. Australians spent over 15 billion dollars on alcohol last year, an increase of close to 27 percent compared to 2019.

If a people continue to drink and risky levels, they run the risk of physical illness such as cancer and also the risk of becoming addicted.

Drinking at any level contains some risk.  If you think alcohol misuse is a problem, you can seek treatment. Our team at Retreat South are skilled professionals in this area. You can contact us to discuss how we can provide a program to help you.

Treatments that work for you: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Therapy is one of the most important parts of a residential program at Retreat South. There are many types of therapy to help us in mental health treatment. So, finding the right therapy or combination of therapies is important to you.

A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed that between 2014 and 2019 nearly seven thousand people had more than seven episodes of treatment for alcohol and other drug (AOD) issues.

AOD treatments help people reduce harmful AOD use. In the Institute’s report counselling was cited as the most common main treatment type. Treating substance dependancy can be difficult. Sometimes, people need more intensive treatment to develop strategies to help them on their path to recovery. There are many types of therapy they might encounter. One of the most often used types of therapy is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or CBT for short is a ‘talk therapy,’ that is used to help people to change their behaviour or their feelings. It is based on the idea that our behaviours are influenced by thoughts. Often these thoughts can be ones we are not even aware of, but they can be negative thoughts that can make us thing the worst about a situation.

CBT has been shown to be effective for many mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, issues that many people seek to overcome by using alcohol or other substances.

With the therapist a person begins to rethink negative thoughts, examining how and why they are unhelpful, and then replace these with more realistic, positive thoughts. Call us to find out more about our treatment programs and the types of therapy that help you on your path to recovery.

Sleep routines for wellbeing

Thanks to COVID, 2020 was a year like no other. For a lot of 2021 is a year like no other as well (except perhaps, like 2020). The lockdowns and stay-at-home rules changed so much for so many people. That changed a lot of things in our own personal lives. One of them was our sleep. Working from home meant no travel time so we might have started going to bed later, knowing we didn’t have to get up so early to prepare and travel. Now, returning to the workplace means going back to the previous patterns and that can be a hard thing to do.

People are finding their sleep routines are so out of kilter, they are finding it hard to get to sleep or stay asleep. Just going to bed and trying to does not work for many of us. Not being able to or stay asleep can be a sign of poor ‘sleep hygiene.’  Find that time to stop whatever you are doing to get ready for bed. Cut back on caffeine, especially at night. Start limiting screen time on your computer and media devices. Making your room dark, quiet and comfortable. These are helpful things for good sleep hygiene.

Some of us don’t get to sleep as easily as others. Some of us have interrupted sleep and long periods of wakefulness. Sleep doesn’t come easily to some people too. In fact, trying to do all the things that can make us sleep has a reverse effect. Specialists note that sleep responds negatively to effort — the more you try to sleep the harder it becomes. Losing that nightly battle to get to sleep can cause negative thoughts about having insomnia and can cause problems like anxiety and depression.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

One of the best treatments for anxiety-fuelled sleeplessness is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT. This type of therapy helps by changing the negative thought patterns that cause certain behaviours. CBT can help change the way we think about sleep by identifying the beliefs we develop about our inability to get to sleep or stay asleep.

Sleeping is just one of the ways therapy can help. Poor sleep can also be part of another health condition. But it is curable with treatments like CBT.

Avoiding risky drinking

In the three years leading up to 2019, nearly a third of Australians surveyed had reduced their alcohol consumption for health reasons. Despite that, there was been little change in the number of people drinking at risky levels. In 2019, one in four people drank at a risky level. Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) study the physical and mental health of the country.  The NHMRC has guidelines for safe alcohol consumption.  Because there is no change in the level of risky drinking, they revised the levels.

The recommended number of standard drinks was reduced from fourteen down to ten standard drinks a week (and not more than four on any one day), in order to reduce the risk of harm. Risky drinking is when a person exceeds those guidelines.

Risky drinking and problematic alcohol consumption still remain a major health problem for many Australians. Large amounts of alcohol are difficult for our bodies to process.  Long-term damage to the body can be severe, and regular drinking above recommended levels can lead to chronic illnesses such as dementia, liver, and heart disease and increased blood pressure.

It can also damage our immune system. With the increasing awareness of reducing the risk of infection during the COVID pandemic, we should be very careful about how much and how often we drink.

Sometimes that is harder to do because of alcohol dependency or addiction.  At Retreat South, we provide individualised program to assist you with dependency and other mental health issues.

For more information and to speak with someone about how Retreat South can help you,  call us on (03) 5568 4155 or contact us here.

A Single Solution to Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis is how mental health and alcohol and substance use is understood and the way it is treated.

When someone has mental health issues and problematic drug or alcohol use the road to recovery can be complicated.

Sometimes that mental health condition can lead to alcohol or other substance use as a way of helping the symptoms of that condition. And, sometimes using or misusing alcohol or other substances can bring on a mental health condition. It can also make an existing one worse.

There are different ways that each person with a dual diagnosis is affected. This can often mean it is difficult to make an assessment and to treat the dual conditions.  The way a person recovers can be different too and have more likelihood of relapse.

It is common for people with mental health conditions to turn to alcohol or other substances as a way of self-medicating their symptoms. But, addiction is a mental health condition in itself. Having an addiction to any substances can be associated with changes in the brain which can cause depression, anxiety and some other, often very severe conditions.

Because dual diagnosis can be so complicated, it may require a higher level of medical and psychological support. When someone has dual diagnosis, they could need treatment from more than one type of health professional.

When someone has a dual diagnosis, residential rehabilitation with a multi-disciplinary treatment team provides a structured environment working towards recovery. At Retreat South we provide that team of highly qualified, health-care professionals with backgrounds in psychology and counseling, hypnotherapy and exercise to provide a residential program for you with daily therapies to fit your needs.

Why not talk to us today to discuss our comprehensive approach to dual diagnosis treatment. Call 61 3 5568 4155 or email at

Healthy Holiday Season for 2021

Healthy Holiday Season

2020 has been a challenging year for everyone. Even though COVID and its fallout is still upsetting our daily lives, as the year comes to a close it is possible to take some time for the new year ahead.

Covid may have changed our routines but over the holiday season you can choose to take. break from the routine and unwind and refresh yourself.

We can never say this enough times, but it is just as important to look after our mental wellbeing as our physical health.

The holiday period has always been a time to unwind. So try and make this time, a time to do exactly that. It is one routine we will all be happy to stick to.

Here are a few things to make this ‘routine’ relaxing time a way of reenergising yourself to prepare for the year to come.

Eat well. Christmas day has come and gone. One day of festive food and indulgence. Now it can be a time to be mindful about what we eat. Try some healthy alternatives. Enjoy the Summer fruits on offer. Cut down on alcohol, choose to eat what you really want and what temps you, but spare a thought for healthy foods too. They will help prepare your body for the new year while you prepare your mind with rest and recreation.

Get yourself outdoors too! Take your family or family friends and head to the beach, park or countryside. This is one of the easiest ways to be physically active and getting out in nature is a proven way to reduce stress. Don’t forget to keep in mind social distancing restrictions if they apply in your area.

Good mental health during the pandemic

At least one million Australians sought mental health support since COVID-19 began changing our lives. In Victoria, one of the most strickly controlled lockdowns was put in place to control infection. Enfornced isolation and other difficulties saw a surge in the use of mental health services, with a demand for services rising over 60 percent. The importance of looking after our mental health during this difficult time has been shown to be very important.

Even with eased restrictions on family and public gatherings, travel and holiday celebrations are likely to be smaller affairs.

Zoom and online meetings have become the norm in business and in the workplace. Virtual get-togethers have replaced many family occasions as well.

During the holiday season it is important to make these virtual get-togethers fun and meaningful. Cook and prepare meals together, open gifts at the same time and think of ways of making that online experience as meaningful as possible.

After such a longtime spent indoors and with fewer opportunities to spend time outside and meet with family and friends, making the most of holiday get-togethers is especially important.

Plan an outdoor excursion with family and friends. That way you will all get plenty of exercise and activity.

When spending time alone over the holidays, don’t let it turn into a repeat of self-isolation and risk depression. Make the most of the outdoors. Spend time doing your favourite outdoor hobbies or take up new outdoor hobbies. It’s easy to go hiking or walking or explore parklands and national parks. Even being open to new experiences like that helps avoid depression.

Life, COVID and mental health

So much of our daily life has drastically changed during 2020.  The changes have come quickly too. When COVID emerged, the changes it made to every aspect of our lives and society were quick and often confronting.

Anxiety suddenly became something that affects us all. For those of us already suffering from anxiety, the last few months have been very challenging.

Being in lockdown in a place like Melbourne in Australia, where the ability to go outdoors was severely restricted. Like most people, being able to go out for social, recreation and other reasons is so normal that when it can’t happen, we feel like we have lost control.

When a situation is beyond our control, it is essential to focus on what we can control. Most of us have routines. If the amount of time we can spend outside becomes limited, it really helps to rethink the situation from one where you feel trapped and not in control to one where establishing a routine can give that feeling of control. Concentrating on our mental health as an important part of a daily routine can do that.

Having a routine can bring about a change of attitude to the situation too. A positive attitude. Being positive about the situation and understanding it as a situation that improves as well as overwhelms will help us in our routines. Stay focused on informed health reports too and follow their guidelines. Knowing that you are doing something to reduce infection spread boosts our feelings of being in control.

Mental Health Month in unprecedented times

October is Mental Health Month, with World Mental Health Day taking place on 10 October each year. The World Mental Organization uses Mental Health Day to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and the initiates that support mental health.

The day provides an opportunity to discuss what is being done, what needs to be done and raise specific mental health topics on a global scale.

2020 has been a challenging time on so many levels and has seen an increase in anxiety and depression.
Anxiety can take several forms as a mental illness condition. While we can all have feelings of stress, worry and uneasiness by a confronting situation, an anxiety disorder causes much higher levels of anxiety.

The global effect of COVID-19 on people’s anxiety has been significant. In Australia, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problems. In Australia, people experience some form of anxiety more than twice the rate of depressive problems. Around one million adult Australian experience depression, while over two million have anxiety.

Depression related issues are also a significant problem in their own right.

2020 continues to be a challenging time for Australians. Health and mental health facilities continue to operate and it is important for all Australians to still think about their physical and mental wellbeing. Retreat South is an Australian Service Excellence Standards (ASES) accredited provider of mental health-related treatment. During this time, Retreat South is still here to help you with your well being. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you take control of your mental health and wellbeing.

How to Beat Depression, Anxiety and Stress with Garden Therapy

The therapeutic benefits of garden and natural environments have been well-known for centuries.

We have a number of gardens at Retreat South as well as the natural surroundings. Our gardens provide a tranquil environment for you during your stay. They also support many of the therapeutic, treatment and rehabilitation processes. Our treatment and activity rooms are set among the gardens and can even be treatment areas.

At Retreat South we use proven therapies as part of our client’s individually tailored programs. In addition to psychology our team bring together a number of therapies.

Our location in Victoria’s South West countryside allows us to use that location to provide another effective therapy.

Garden based therapies have shown to be beneficial in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other stress related conditions. In recent years ‘garden therapy’ has been proven to be an effective treatment for the stress recovery process. Recent studies involved participants performing a stressful task. One group read indoors and the other gardened outdoors for 30 minutes. The group that read still felt stressed, while the gardeners no longer felt stressed and even had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Here in Australia, researchers are finding many links between parks, gardens and natural settings have a positive benefit on depression and anxiety.  There are benefits in other areas too. One study found people in their 60s found who regularly gardened had a 36% lower risk of dementia than the non-gardeners. So gardening activities can be a way of maintaining good health throughout life.

Call us today to talk about how we can provide you with a treatment program for stress, anxiety, depression.