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Welcome to the bottled-up 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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  • 24 May 2018 10:05 AM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    Guest post by Kimberly Hayes

    Traditional addiction recovery normally involves going through a 12-step program. Some people suffering with addiction may feel a disconnect with the 12-step methodology. For those individuals, pursuing an alternative addiction recovery model, such as a holistic therapy or different version of a mutual support system may be appropriate.

    The 12 steps

    The traditional 12 steps encourage an addict to take responsibility for their actions, while simultaneously recognizing a degree of powerlessness that accompanies the disease of addiction. Over 12 consecutive steps, progress is made towards attaining a level of maturity in personal affairs as well. Often these steps are navigated through mutual support of other people in recovery, including support of a sponsor who makes themselves available for one-on-one attention. For some, the social aspect of these programs, such as in Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, help them manage. Although these programs have been useful for millions of addicts in recovery since they were created in 1935, some people look for a different road to recovery.

    The alternatives

    Alternative recovery can mean a few different types of treatment. Often when people discuss alternative recovery, they may be referring to areas of alternative or new-age medicine. Addiction professionals sometimes calls these complementary treatments, since they are often employed as part of a self-care regimen that works alongside a traditional 12-step program. Some of these complementary treatments include:

    -       Acupuncture

    -       Reflexology

    -       Herbal Therapy

    -       Hypnosis

    -       Meditation

    -       Prayer

    -       Yoga

    -       Exercise

    Alternative treatments, however, are not all necessarily new-age therapies. Exercise, for example, has been the vehicle for some to self-manage addiction successfully by increasing health and targeting the triggers of addiction, which contributes to breaking the cycle of addiction. Physical activity can have a similar effect on our brains as certain substances. When someone gets high, their brain releases feel good chemicals that create euphoria and other pleasurable experiences. The same brain chemicals and feelings are possible as a result of exercise.

    Exercise also occupies space on our schedules. If a workout routine clicks for someone and becomes a part of everyday life, there is less time to spend on unhealthy activities like drinking or doing drugs. Unlike exercise, the down after the high can be a miserable feeling that is not conducive to working out, so when addicts catch a workout bug, they may be less likely to mess up their good post-workout feelings with hangovers.

    Some alternative treatments are more similar to the structure of a 12-step group. Some critics of traditional 12-step groups take issue with its spirituality component, so a secular version has emerged. In addition, some alternative groups take issue with the powerlessness that is central to traditional 12 steps, believing that personal responsibility is key to recovery.

    Another alternative to the 12-steps is a newer approach called SMART Recovery. SMART Recovery allows for more variation in its delivery and participation. Participants are allowed total anonymity by using a screen name online. Although many steps similar to AA are followed, SMART Recovery avoids using the terms “addict” or “alcoholic,” and allows more flexibility in participants perspectives on whether or not addiction is a disease.

    Alternative recovery methods are not always advisable. Some of the medical community questions whether or not new-age alternative medicine derived therapies are effective. Others point to the longevity of the programs used by AA and NA, saying that those who are uncomfortable with 12-step programs are simply avoiding directly dealing with their problems.

    Experts suggest sticking with a traditional 12-step program and adding alternative therapies as complements to their recovery. This way, you get the comfort and health benefits of alternative treatments along with the evidence-based usefulness of a 12-step program.


    Kimberly Hayes enjoys writing about health and wellness and created PublicHealthAlert.info to help keep the public informed about the latest developments in popular health issues and concerns. In addition to studying to become a crisis intervention counselor, Kimberly is hard at work on her new book, which discusses the ins and outs of alternative addiction treatments.

    Photo Credit: Pixabay

  • 09 Apr 2018 6:09 PM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    Bottled Up has started a new blog, although most of the articles are old ones at the moment.  We felt that we needed to create a new blog as the software at Wild Apricot was very limiting.  You can find the new Blog at the link below

    New Bottled Up Blog

  • 30 Nov 2017 5:36 PM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    Xmas is surrounded by hype, with the media presenting it as a magical time when everybody is happy and love and joy abounds.  For many, expectations run high that the festive season will be wonderful.  However, for people who live with an alcoholic the lead up to Xmas can be a time of dread.  How much is she going to drink this time, when will he start arguing and shouting at the kids?  Expectations and reality seldom match up.  So to help you survive Xmas we offer 4 tips.

    1/ Don’t build your expectations too high.  If she has been drinking all years then this is not a time when she is going to stop.  Much of the world over-indulges at Xmas so to expect that he is going to become abstinent at this time is unrealistic.

    2/ However this is not to say that you should give him permission to drink to intoxication all day.  Instead it might be useful to say something like – “I know that you are going to drink at Xmas, I am not asking you to stop at this point.  However, I am asking you to observe some boundaries so that we all have a peaceful day”.  Then, depending on her style of drinking you can negotiate some rules, for example no drinking till after Xmas dinner, no spirits only beer till evening.  Whatever you negotiate will depend on the drinking style.

    3/ Be prepared!  Think back to the past problems and put plans in place to avoid them.  For example if you go to a party and he always wants to stay much longer than you then before you go tell him that you will drive the car home when you are ready to go.  Just make sure he has someone who will drive him home or the money for a taxi.  Or if you have people over who drink a lot, instead of inviting them in the evening, invite them to lunch.  Plan ahead, you know where the flash points are, think of ways to reduce the effect.

    4/ As we often say in in Bottled Up – Look after yourself.  Remember its your Xmas too.  Use the resources in Bottled Up, the program, the videos, the forum to get help and support for yourself.  And if you are not a member of Bottled Up then maybe that is a Xmas present you should give yourself.

    Have a happy and peaceful Xmas.


    Lou and John

  • 22 Nov 2017 2:44 PM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    We have now been running a Bottled Up family group in Axminster for about four months.  At first it started very slowly but is gradually building to a supportive, although still small, community.

    There are people in the group whose family members are at various stages of the recovery process, from not engaged with services at all to approaching a year of recovery.  

    The group has welcomed Mothers, Fathers, Wives, Girlfriends and just friends.  Their loved ones have been using alcohol, cannabis and heroin as well as assorted other mind altering substances.

    If someone you love has a problem with alcohol or drugs and you live in East Devon and can get to Axminster then you are welcome to attend the group.

    We meet at Pippins Community Centre, Lyme Road, Axminster EX13 5AZ from 10.30am till 12noon every Tuesday.

  • 07 Sep 2017 4:14 PM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    An alcoholic affects at least 3 other people. Here 2 of them talk about the aftermath of alcoholism.

    Ironically, it all started with Big Bang Theory - The Guitarist Amplification (Season 3, Episode 7).

    Relating to a character in a comedy isn't something I expect to happen. Even more so something that would emotionally affect me in the way it did. What I'm talking about is Shelden Cooper's problems with arguments. The whole episode revolves around everyone he knows arguing and him bailing or trying to block out the noise. There is also mention that his dad drank (and was probably an alcoholic), his parents argued a lot and also, while not mentioned in the episode but still relevant to me is his dad died when he was young. It's the only time in the show's 10 seasons that I've really related to him on a sense of alcoholism and his parents’ behaviour affecting him. What for most people would seem like a laughable collection of incidences of Sheldon blocking out arguments for me was a truly relatable 20 minutes. Showing how events from your childhood can imprint on you. I recently found myself zoning out while watching another TV show in which two adults (parents) we're arguing.  I ended up turning it down and focusing on something else, because the whole scene made me uncomfortable… no, anxious, terrified. 

    I'm not a confrontational person, I hate arguing and I hate being around arguments. In any format or sense. Even outbursts of anger or frustration towards menial things can be a trigger. For me it's a strange experience, it's almost like I lose 20 years. I'm a child again trying to find any way to block out or escape the noise. I remember as a child I'd either go to the top of the stairs, shut the door and just try and zone out, or I'd end up in my mum's music room because it felt like a safe place. I could not tell you how many times I had my head buried under pillows while I curled up on the sofa. Even now at 28 when I feel remotely attacked or like someone is trying to argue with me I feel myself shrinking into my childhood state of fear. I'm crying before I can even register it, I'm scared, so scared of the situation I'm in. 

    In a way I think it's beneficial that I'm not argumentative, that I will try to solve problems by talking. I have been known to get really snappy and scream in these situations because I'm so freaked out that it's almost a reflex reaction. However, if it's reciprocated in any way I almost find it unbearable. At this time, I always try and remove myself from the situation. What often looks like me snapping and then refusing to actually address it is my way of not only defending myself but protecting other people from my reactions.

    On the other hand however, I think it's very unhealthy to be this way, I think it leaves you open to being taken advantage of. Which without going into detail, I have been in this situation many times. It also leaves me unable to fight for or defend myself, because the fear or raised voices is worse than setting someone straight or worse, losing them completely. 

    But where does this leave me? I let myself get bullied because it's easier then defending myself, I've lost partners because It's easier to walk away than to challenge them and find out why. I'm scared to make eye contact with strangers in case they take it the wrong way and try to start trouble.  I've resorted to snapping when I'm anxious and then wishing more than anything I could take it back. I'm terrified of having children, for many reasons, one of which is how would I challenge them, or discipline them? I've joked to my husband numerous times that'd I'd leave him in an instant if he cheated on me. Would I? Would I even fight him? I don't know, but I'm trying and that's what's important. It's a problem that I need to overcome, I will not let it defeat me.  Not today anyway.

    Lou (mum) writes

    Hard though it is to read what my daughter has written, as a therapist I know it is time for her to process those very painful family years of my late husbands’ alcoholism. For a long time, because she adored her father and greatly mourned his death, maybe it felt disloyal to his memory to own these tangled and difficult emotions. Sadly though, the psychological toll of our family life is still painfully present in the depression and anxiety she has courageously battled. Like all of us, she is a survivor. Like all of us she needs to process the pain and let it go. So the therapist within me rejoices.

    The mother heart of course dances to another tune!! To view how much she struggled, of course is a great ache and distress to me. In the end, I learned to stop those endless remonstrations with my drinker; the “punishing” and “pleading” that I realised were making matters worse not better.

    But I was often beside myself with what I can only call vexation at a deep level. Let rip I did; and long and loudly at times. The fact that my hurt, hurt her, was another awful aspect of an already awful situation. My daughter (with whom I thankfully have a deep and close relationship,) understands I did the best I could in often horrendous circumstances. Just as we both understand that it wasn’t enough to protect her from those times that she now eloquently and agonisingly expresses in her reflective writing.

    However; I choose to protect her now. I choose to stand steadfast of heart whilst she expresses her pain and not allow myself to go into self-recrimination, or deepen the feelings of guilt that were so much a part of being the parent whose partner is a problem drinker. If I use her confessions to salt my old guilty wounds she will pick it up as she knows me very well, and loves me enough to close down her growing self-awareness.

    No. She needs me to be strong. Strong in my love for her and more importantly strong in my love for myself. If she does not blame me then I will not blame me either. ‘What was’, may be far removed from what should have been, but we both did the best we could with what we knew at that time. Looking back, I wish I were more contained and that she had been more able to reach out to me. However, we share our story now so that your stories may turn out a little better than ours

  • 16 Aug 2017 5:19 PM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    The self-help field has become exactly that - self help. But I want to help my drinker instead!

    If you have been around the field of recovery for a while this may not be a question that you would ever verbalise in public. You cannot change your drinker (drones the Greek Chorus in the background); change must be centred around yourself and your own world. ‘What can I do for them’ has become an outlawed question. We are told that the proper and correct question in this chaotic world in which we attempt to survive is ‘what can I do for me?’

    Don’t get me wrong here; I personally think the latter is a really good and potent question. Answering this question wisely will bring a bit of health back into our exhausted bodies, a bit of calm into seemingly endless anxiety and a bit of fun back into the intense battleground that is often our  relationship and families.

    I am a great believer in self care, even if I am, like many therapists, slightly more adept at the theory than the practical. I believed we were worth it long before L’Oréal took affirmation to a new marketing level and turned it into make-up for healthy egos!!!

    But the real truth; if we dare to get it out on the table, is that our partners drinking is our true North. Send us on that relaxing walk crucial in our new search for well-being and half way through we’ ll be wondering if cousin Trudy could persuade our wife to go to AA because our entreaties have fallen on deaf ears. Walk out of our friend’s anniversary party and go home alone cos he s drinking too much. (Hooray for us!!We finally managed to achieve that firm boundary we’ve recently been in training for,) but almost immediately after a moment of triumphant self-congratulation we start worrying in case he is too hung over to get to work tomorrow. He is still there in the party but also coming home with us in our head. We diligently train ourselves to stop rescuing our partner, putting his congealing meal in the bin as we promised him we would but then we’ll spend half an hour trying to find the Chinese Takeaway menu so its around when he comes home hungry.

    In short; we may have learned our lines………I need to care for ME. I need to address my OWN needs. It’s MY life that is important……… but our heart beats to a different tune deep down inside. Give us a healthy self esteem, a firm approach to boundaries and a PHD in emotional literacy and recovery but  many of us would trade it all in a heartbeat for some powerful answers for our alcoholic.

    Perhaps its time to ‘live out’; and scream it loudly from the top of a city skyscraper……


     My particular story is that I lived with an alcoholic for many years, and now work as a therapist with partners and families of problem drinkers. Maybe I’m sticking my neck out a bit but I fear at times, that in highlighting the self care that is so obviously lacking with those that partner with alcoholics we have (by mistake) enforced a silence upon the true desire that motivates most searches for help. The spouse, the partner, the son, the daughter, the mum, the dad, the person we loved that used to make our hearts sing and our life better is being lost; stranded in dependence and WE WANT THEM BACK. Treasure hunters is not what we do, to be analysed and put away with; its who we are!!

     So maybe its kinder and wiser to work with what we know than the perspective we hope to produce. To point out to our beleaguered clients that they are not going to get very far with The Quest in the exhausted state they are in. That it would be good to take time to eat, rest and equip themselves for the journey ahead.

    Maybe its kinder and wiser to explain that some of the paths they have been taking are circular routes that bring them back to the same place again and again and that there are other maps that have been navigated previously that can take miles off their journey. It is definitely kinder and wiser to explain that they can’t actually force their drinker to join them on the recovery trail but certainly he’s more likely to consider doing it if he sees them empowered and confident and picks up that they actually WANT him to come along because they care for him and miss him.

    And if I may return to the initial subject of our self care, I confidently predict that if we also take on board the firm endorsement to spend more time with our mates, our family and ourselves we will remember how good it is to engage with life and some of the meaningful things that got lost along the way. There are many sorts of relationships that make our world a good place to be, other treasures that could be hunted and found, and other journeys to be taken. Believe me; I am right about this one. If we can find life in the middle of drink-chaotic relationship then of course we can find life beyond it.

     Whether we stay or go; or end up in the very common position of emotionally swinging wildly between these two, there are some very helpful lessons we can learn along the way that can form and shape our inner lives richly in the years ahead. Compassion and healthy anger; commitment and loyalty balanced by health boundaries and appropriate letting go. We don’t have to be stuck just because our drinker is, but nor do we have to walk away and let them squirm just because someone has told us that we should. The heart that loves, tries to find a way, before it walks away and there is no shame in that.

    However; I urge you to ‘love well’ and to take time to find out what that looks like in a drinking environment. Much that is most helpful to promote change where there is alcohol abuse is counter intuitive to what works in the normal arena of a loving relationship. If we’re determined to make our drinker our specialist subject, then we must make sure we have the knowledge and understanding that you need to make it through.

    Except of course for the caveat that must always be heeded. If your partner is abusing you or your children with physical or sexual violence the way is not through but out. As soon as you possibly can.

    For more thoughts, strategies, help and support join Bottled Up.

  • 19 Jul 2017 6:14 PM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    Related image

    If you are reading this then you have probably found Bottled Up when you were searching for information.  Most people who come here are looking for two things that they believe can change the alcoholic in their lives.  You are probably looking for the same things.

    The first thing that most people want is information on whether their partners are actually alcoholics or not.  Deep down, they believe that they are but they just want confirmation to be absolutely sure.  So, if they already know the answer then why are they still asking the question, are they hoping that the answer will change?

    Nice as that might be, they are not actually expecting a different answer this time.  Really the reason they keep asking that question is linked to the second reason they come to the website, to find a tool, a strategy, a word, a phrase, anything, that will help to change their drinker’s behaviour.  Because, if they can find the ‘ultimate truth’ that their drinker is really an alcoholic then maybe this time they can convince him/her that there is a genuine problem there that needs to be addressed.  That, with this proof they can break through the denial and influence the drinker to seek help.

    Most of the people who come here are, understandably, looking for that precious bit of information, that lever that will change everything.  You see for most people who come to this website, and other websites like it, they believe that the key to a happy future lies in the drinker changing, no other changes are required.  So, the total focus is often on that goal which means that they miss the best strategy that they have at their disposal, the strategy that has been shown to have the best chance of achieving the change that they want.

    The Best Way to Change an Alcoholic

    Does the above description of visitors to our website sound like you?  Are you here to find information and tools to diagnose and change your drinker?  Well the good news is you can find them here.  We have lots of information in articles, ebooks, how to guides, videos and audios; so no shortage of information.  However, for that information to work for you, or for you to even look at it and consider it valuable, may require a change of mindset on your part, not just your drinker’s.

    Our experience of working in this area for a decade now, which is strongly supported by current research, is that drinkers are more likely to change when their partner gets help and support for themselves.  I know that was not what you came to Bottled Up to hear but before you click away from this website to some other that will tell you a different story, just give us a minute.

    Whether you want the role or not, you are the adult in the relationship.  It is you who holds the relationship and/or the family together, you are the anchor.  It has been found that when the anchor gets help then there a number of positive consequences.  Firstly, for the children you getting help will result in:-

    • ·         Increased aspirations for the future
    • ·         Increased self-esteem and confidence
    • ·         Increased ability to deal with change
    • ·         Improved educational attainment

    Second for the drinker there is an indirect but strong effect that results in:-

    • ·         Increased likelihood of entering treatment
    • ·         Increased likelihood of remaining in treatment
    • ·         Increased chances of recovery
    • ·         Increased social responsibility and engagement
    • ·         Increased stability and opportunity

    Finally - for You

    • ·         Increased positive relationships inside and outside the home
    • ·         Increased participation in society
    • ·         Increased productivity at work
    • ·         Improved health and well-being

    If you look at this list and compare it against the wish list that you came to this website with, we guarantee that there is a very strong match between the two, if they are not actually identical.

    Come and Help for Yourself and the Rest Will Follow

    Come and get the help that Bottled Up has to offer; this is almost certainly the best piece of advice we can offer.  When you have help and support you are able to make better decisions and take actions that you would find difficult otherwise.  So, come and join Bottled Up and let us help and support you.  You are worth it and the results are what you are looking for – even if the method of achieving them are not.

    Join Bottled Up Now

    An alcoholic's motivation to change

  • 28 Apr 2017 11:46 AM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    An Alcoholic's Motivation to Change is part of the video series about an alcoholic's drinking and recovery from alcoholism.  These videos are a very personal account of my (John's) relationship with alcohol and why and how I eventually changed my life around.

    Please share this video with anyone you know who might benefit from seeing it or add a comment if you found it useful.

    Other videos in this series are.

    Why did I drink?

    An alcoholic says sorry

  • 09 Mar 2017 4:04 PM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    Lou recorded this video for you to play when you are having a bad time.  Remember, she has been where you are and lived with an alcoholic for many years (29 to be exact).

    If you are having a bad day, play this and know that we are thinking about you, know that you matter to us.

    Warmest regards

    Lou and John

  • 27 Feb 2017 12:11 PM | John McMahon (Administrator)

    Jo Huey has launched a business in Bournemouth, UK, helping people who are affected by someone else's drinking.  Her aim is to raise awareness of the damage that someone else's drinking can do to families and businesses.  She has plenty of experience of the issues having grown up as the child of an alcoholic.

    We have been in contact recently for a number of reasons, mainly work related.  However I could not let miss the opportunity to interview her, especially since she had just been interviewed by the BBC as part of National Children of Alcoholics' Week.  So here is her interview, completely unedited so you get the full impact of the way alcoholism affected her family and herself.

    Jo tells us in the interview that she has participated in a number of healing avenues that have helped her to deal with the past traumas.  A big thank you to Jo for being willing to be so vulnerable in this interview and for all the work that she does for others.

    Here is the interview.  The interview was carried out over Skype, so there may be some background noise.  Sorry about that but the speech is pretty clear.  Click on the link below and a new page will open and the audio will automatically start.  If you want to download the audio to listen to later then click on the download button on the right side of the audio player.  The file will download as a Mp3.

    Interview with Jo Huey

    Leave a comment to let us know if you found it useful.

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