WHILE the coronavirus pandemic has been hitting the headlines,there has been a whole raft of ‘COVID victims’ who have suffered the consequences of the virus, without actually catching it.

These are the people who have almost imperceptibly found themselves drawn into the world of addictions without realising it – and are now having to find help.

On the frontline treating and aiding these people are the dedicated health staff and carers of Marbella-based Villa Paradiso Rehab Spain who find that their hard-won skills in treating people with addictions are more needed than ever before.

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The long hours of lockdown and remote working have taken a toll on the mental health of many people, who often turn to self-medication in the form of drugs or alcohol. This is where Villa Paradiso Rehab Spain can bring its long experience to bear. It offers a safe and healing environment with a mixture of therapeutic and holistic therapies in the natural surroundings of nature, with daily fresh and healthy food cooked by a private chef.

Ruth Arenas Mata, the inhouse psychiatrist of Villa Paradiso, has many years of experience in addiction treatment and has been nominated for the Doctaralia Awards for the best psychiatrist in Spain.

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Ruth Arenas Mata, the inhouse psychiatrist of Villa Paradiso

She explained: “As a result of the COVID crisis, a higher incidence of obsessive problems is observed. Patients feel more anxious and fearful. On the other hand, social and family relationships are limited, leading to feelings of loneliness and hopelessness. This results in increased alcohol and drug use at home.”

Mathew Idle, Villa Paradiso’s lead therapist, explained: “In the case of alcohol people have found themselves drawn into abuse and reliance almost by accident. Where before they might have had a drink after work, they now find themselves reaching for the bottle at lunchtime – and not stopping.

Ruth added: “In people who had a risky but previously non-problematic use of alcohol, the amount and frequency of drinking increases significantly. All this leads to more depression and suicidal thoughts, family and relationship problems and economic difficulties.”

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Mathew Idle, Villa Paradiso’s lead therapist

Matthew has over 15 years’ experience supporting people with addiction and obsessive compulsions, teaching them how to use positive coping skills and developing new ways of living a positive and fulfilled life and supporting them to achieve their goals.

“Every addiction or negative behavior has an underlying reason, whether it’s dealing with emotion or core emotional trauma. Until you deal with this the addiction will always resurface. “It’s not stopping these negative behaviors which is difficult, it is staying stopped that is the hard part.”

The staff at Villa Paradiso have formulated their own treatment plan that is distinct from other clinics. Each and every person is different so each addiction is too.

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Matthew explained: “We keep our group to only five clients at a time, which gives us more time for a personal approach and to really concentrate on the core issues. We are able to help people achieve a lifetime of recovery. There is an answer for everything and we find the right solution.”

“Too many clinics focus on the substance or behavior. We focus on the person and how best we can address their negative behaviors and show them positive coping skills.”

This approach is nothing new at Villa Paradiso. Ruth said: “We work on the whole package, from detox to treatment and recovery planning. Treatment at Villa Paradiso starts with a consultation, then an induction plan which may include a detox in the calm surroundings of the villa. The detox are overseen by me supported by medical staff 24-hours a day who ensures the well-being of each client.’’

Matthew said: “The recovery team will work on teaching the client how to identify their own feelings and emotions, which we know is the key to long term recovery.’’

The professionals at Villa Paradiso have an individual care and recovery plan drawn up for each client. We are able to help people because we adapt all our expertise to their personal situation.

“We also involve their family or significant others to understand that this negative behavior is not always done consciously but has become more of a dependency and a way of dealing with their issues. “

It is important that everybody close is involved and understand the recovery journey so they can support them when they leave.”

The care does not end with the client’s departure from the villa. The team keeps in close touch with the clients for a full 12 months aftercare. by a full 12 months of aftercare. This involves 1:1 sessions and online Villa Paradiso recovery support groups.

Villa Paradiso also offers treatment in Tunisia for any Arabic and French speaking clients, in a beautiful, luxurious private villa overlooking the sea. Matthew added: “In Villa Paradiso Tunisia we are using the same model as we use in Spain, including recovery planning and ongoing support. All programs are written in French and Arabic to support the emotions and feelings in their languages of choice.”

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