Bottled Up

Help and Support for people living with an alcoholicProfessional therapists bringing you their 
unique experience of both sides of the problem.

Public Blog

In this Blog we hope to be able to discuss some issues that are relevant to living with an alcoholic.  We invite you to make a contribution to the discussion through the comments facility on the Blog.  However we must make it clear that, much as we might like to, we cannot provide detailed answers to personal questions through this Blog.  So please do not leave personal questions in the comments section.

This is a website for people dealing with serious life issues.  Please be respectful and do not post spam or adverts for unrelated services.  If you do they will be deleted immediately!

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  • 28 Sep 2015 12:53 PM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    Best Advice For The Partners' of Alcoholics [EXPERTS]

    Living with an alcoholic often brings emotional overload, anger, frustration, disappointment, sadness and betrayal and many more. Some of these emotions are responses to the events happening at that moment or recently and they can pass. However there are other emotions that are often rooted very deep in the partners of drinkers in particular guilt and shame.

    Alcoholics have an amazing capacity to make others feel responsible for them, both for their welfare and as a cause of their behavior. Drinkers look for somebody or something to blame for their drinking and unfortunately, only too often, their partners will take on that role. They start asking themselves questions such as could I be more caring, do more to avoid arguments, be more attractive, more interesting, more exciting, more …? The truth is that it would not matter. The drinker drinks regardless of what their partners are or are not doing. It is not their fault.

    Read more

  • 22 Sep 2015 9:50 AM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    A central pillar of Alanon is the belief that you are powerless, in Bottled up we don't believe that

    One of the central pillars of Alanon is the belief that you are powerless over the drinker. For many who join Alanon this comes as a relief, as they are told – “you didn't cause it, can't cure it, and can't control it”. Anything that removes the guilt and shame that people living with an alcoholic feels is a good thing in our book.

    In Alanon they suggest that you to detach with love from your drinker. Alanon also suggests that you look after yourself and make a life that is separate and non dependent on the drinker. Again these are good survival strategies and we welcome them. Indeed we would like to stress that we have a lot of respect for the Alanon fellowship and are thankful for the people that it has helped over the decades. We also spent a lot of time studying Alanon when we wrote and created Bottled Up.

    So if we are in favour of Alanon’s program, is Bottled Up just a kind of Alanon group? The answer to that is no! While we like some of their program, the fellowship and support that they provide, we do however fundamentally disagree with the central tenet of powerlessness. We not only believe that you can influence your drinker but we show you how that may be achieved through the Bottled-up programTo read more click here

  • 17 Sep 2015 3:25 PM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    Does he have a problem with alcohol?

    This is a question we are often asked, we look at the issue in a different way, a way that is more useful.

    The scene is all too familiar. He has come home, late – again! And he is smelling strongly of alcohol, something that has been happening more and more often. You feel angry, disappointed, frustrated and powerless. You have tried to discuss his drinking with him but he won’t talk about it. In fact any time you raise the issue he just gets more and more angry and you end up in a fight. You suggest (strongly) that he might have a drink problem he denies it, so who is right? Does he have a drink problem? (Please note we do recognize that women can have an alcohol problem also, but it tends to be more common in men.)

    To continue reading click here

  • 24 Aug 2015 12:52 PM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    Recently we have been doing a bit of writing for YourTango, a large relationship website.  Our current approach is that Lou writes about her life with her alcoholic one week and John comments on it from the point of view of the expert and/or the alcoholic.  The intention is to gather all this material into a book with the provisional title of “The diary of an alcoholic’s partner”.


    Here are the links to the articles.

    If only someone had told me [The diary of a drinker’s partner]

    How A Woman's Tears Brought Hope To Families Of Alcoholics

    What It's Like To Be Married To An Addict Who Loves Me Completely

    How Alcohol Addiction Ended My Marriage

    Face The Addiction — Handling An Alcoholic Partner

    Denying That There's An Alcohol Issue DOESN'T HELP—Learn Why

    How I'm Overcoming Living With My Husbands Addiction

    Live with an alcoholic – don’t run you are NOT powerless!

    The way the articles are listed here reflects the order in which we published them.  Some of the titles have been changed by the YourTango editorial staff.  I'm not convinced that their titles are always better than the ones that we submitted.  Anyway it would be really great if you shared these articles as someone may be looking for help today or it would also be great if you commented and started a converation.

  • 16 Dec 2014 11:50 PM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    We have been considering writing another book, but the time just never seemed to be right. Well we have decided that this is not the right time either and it probably never will be! So having recognised that nothing ever gets done by waiting or wishing we have decided that we will start work on it now anyway.

    This book will be different from our previous ones as we want to include more real life experiences in it. We are particularly interested in the experiences of men who live with a drinking partner because, as far as we can tell, their issues have never been documented.

    Yes you guessed it, this is where we start asking for your input. We would really appreciate your input, however don’t worry, we are not asking any of you to write anything. What we are looking for is to interview you, preferably via Skype or telephone. Everything that we hear, see will be treated with complete confidentiality and we will not include anything in the book that could identify you.

    One thing that we do know is that privacy and confidentiality is very important to Bottled Up members. However we do ask that you agree to be interviewed anyway. We will not ask you to reveal anything that would make you uncomfortable and you will be free to end the interview at any time.

    If you are interested/willing then please email us at and tell us where you live (what time zone you live in), the best means of carrying out an interview (Skype, Telephone or what) and a good time to get in touch. We will then arrange to contact you at a mutually convenient time. We are aware that the Christmas period is very busy for everyone and will not be arranging any interviews until January.

    Please get in touch, the more people we can talk to, especially men, the more representative our book will be and the more help it will be to more people. That is our desire to bring some help to as many people in your position as possible; to tell them that “You are not alone”.

  • 04 Dec 2014 2:45 PM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    We published an article in Yourtango discussing how Thanksgiving is not always the wonderful happy occasion that it is generally thought to be.  The other theme of the article is to share the information that people who live with a drinker are not alone.  There is help and and support out there but many of them are unaware of how to access it.  So we are asking that people please share the article so that those who need help can find it.

    Click on the link to read the article - Happy Thanksgiving - Or was it?

  • 21 Nov 2014 12:01 AM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    Most of us will come across people who are drinking too much in social situations. And to be fair, who hasn't undefined from time to time undefined had one (or three) too many drinks at their own birthday party? The summer season is nearly upon us. It's time for holiday celebrations and barbecues at which keeping the wine and beer flowing is part of being hospitable.

    For some of us, however, this season highlights a much more commonplace and personal issue because our close relationships are already overshadowed by the spectre of problem drinking. We view celebrations with growing dread as they provide our problem drinker with what they consider to be a legitimate excuse for excess. 

    The following is a quick guide to managing drunken behaviour wisely and minimizing its destructive impact. If you are out at a social occasion try to remember that if your partner is behaving atrociously, he/she is embarrassing him/herself undefined not you. Don't give yourself a hard time if you decide to leave early, take the car and leave your partner some money for a taxi home later. It's simply putting up a boundary which is a very wise thing to do.

    However, the real problems accelerate behind closed doors. Your drunk partner enters the house where social norms no longer demand his/her natural restraint and the real problems begin. So what do you do? As a relationship expert, here's my advice:

    Avoid Confrontation In The Moment

    This is hard, particularly if you are in close relationship with the person who is drinking. For a start, you will be feeling understandably angry that your partner has moved to that point where the drink appears to be taking over. OK, we've all laughed at amiable, giggling drunks in our time, but the joke soon wears thin when it's your partner doing it over and over again. Amusement is quickly replaced by concern, annoyance and undefined if it goes on and on undefined a deep rage, which those who live with compulsive behaviors will really understand. At that point the temptation to sit your drunk down and give him a large piece of your mind feels almost irresistible, and it's highly likely you have done just that!

    However, more often than not, it's like sticking your finger in a wasp's nest. Out come the verbal insults and twisting half-truths that sting, frustrate and offend. You may feel better for a moment, but an argument with a drunk can quickly escalate to a new level of tension, aggression and non–compliance. And even if your drinker is amiable and garrulous and wants to "talk deeply" (how often I've fallen for that one) the chances are he/she won't remember a thing in the morning. There is a time to talk things through and express how disappointed, hurt and angry you are, but not when he/she is still intoxicated!Unknown Object

    Back Away

    Most people who turn to us at Bottled Up genuinely love their drinking partner and want to work at the relationship before walking away from it completely. So strategies to cope are really important. When you're in a situation where a loved one is drinking heavily, do a quick safety check to ensure he/she is not in needless danger, but then take remove yourself from the situation as much as humanly possible.

    You may not be able to control what is happening, but that doesn't mean you have to sit and watch it. Do yourself a favor! Go to another room or floor or leave the situation altogether. (Even if you get stuck in the same space, get your headphones on and listen to some nice music to tune out what's happening). Don't get further hooked into the already chaotic dynamics around the drinking behavior.

    Care For Yourself And Your Family

    When your partner lets you down you're hurt and angry, of course. However, if the problem drinking is a regular occurrence, then this is the time to do something nice for you. 

    Think ahead on this one. If it's the end of a long, hard day, make sure you pamper yourself with a long hot soak in the bath. Save your favorite book or TV program to retreat into. Be prepared to move out to the spare bedroom if you have one. A snoring drunk beside you is hardly a brilliant aphrodisiac! If it's daytime and you have a family, take them out for a walk or meal. Play a board or video game you put aside for these occasions. 

    That's why I love our Bottled Up forum, because if you are short of ideas other members may come up with some brilliant suggestions to help out here! It may be the worst time for your relationship with your drinker, but you can work on making it a good time for you. This may well feel counter-intuitive (and, in some ways, it is) but don't allow the alcohol to wreak even more damage than it already has!

    Be proactive, be creative or even take the offensive! This is your partner's problem undefined it doesn't have to be yours. This is where detaching in love is crucial, sensible and poignantly relevant.

    I've walked this path personally and these strategies are lessons painfully learned over a long period of time so go easy on yourself. Do what you can a little at a time and take back control of your life and situation. It won't always be easy but every new change brings a new sense of empowerment and a new hope for a more lasting change.

    Don't go into this summer season unprepared. If your partner regularly comes up with inappropriate behavior, figure out some appropriate boundaries and responses. You may not be able to control their behaviour, but you can certainly exert control over your family and your own  choices; and if, in the end, you decide that "enough is enough," know that you have applied all that is possible to make your relationship work.

    Find out more about how to live with an alcoholic by going to Bottled Up where you will find videos, articles and audios on this topic.

  • 25 Oct 2014 10:58 AM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    Hi All

    We just felt that we needed to make contact and let you know what is going on in our lives.  It feels, to us at least, that we have not been very communicative recently.  So it would be good to provide some sort of explanation.

     Some of you may know already that we are in the process of renovating Lou’s mum’s house.  We inherited the house when she died just before Xmas last year and decided that we would rebuild it and live in it.  It is in the sleepy little seaside town of Seaton in Devon and we both love the sea and want to get away from the noise of the city, especially the student population!!

     We sold our current home in Exeter earlier in the year and had hoped to move seamlessly to the new one.  You have to admire our optimism.  Well here we are sitting in rooms surrounded by boxes waiting for the removal men to come next week.  However we are moving to storage rather than our new place.  Oh well so it goes.  It now looks like we will not move into our new home until mid-January.  So for the next couple of months we are going to be a bit nomadic.

     Sorry we have not been around more but our lives have been a constant whirl of plans, seek planning permission, alter the plans, actually get planning permission, choose floors, doors, windows, lights, bathrooms, kitchens, colours etc etc etc.

     I have included a couple of photos of the place.  One is a before and the other is not quite after but it shows where we are currently – complete with scaffolding.



    Lou and John


  • 10 Sep 2014 1:23 PM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    We have published a new post on Yourtango.  It is about one of our central themes for Bottled Up - the nature of the problem and how looking at in the wrong way can be dis-empowering.

    It would be great if you could have a look at this post and 'like' it or share it so that it may get to someone who it could help.  Thanks

    Is my partner an alcoholic


    Lou and john

  • 26 Jun 2014 10:52 AM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    Recently we asked you what you thought about us providing a 1 to 1 service on Bottled Up.  We can honestly say that this email prompted the biggest response we have ever had.  All the responses were positive and thought it would be a good addition to the website even if you personally did not use it.

    So because of all this feedback we are now looking to see how we can incorporate a more personal approach to Bottled Up.  We hope to have an offering for you in the next couple of weeks.  So watch this space.


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All material copyright Lou Lewis and John McMahon © 2013

All photographs by Cassia Lewis
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