Our approach is secular and science based; using motivational, behavioural and cognitive methods.
We run a network of self-help meetings and also partner with care professionals.
Hi Jon"First, I'm so impressed with what you are doing. Its amazing, and I really do wish you all the success in the world.
I've attached my bit - it is way too long I think for your blog, but I am sending it in its entirety for you to cast your eye over. I am happy to reduce it to something more suitable for the blog. It has been a valuable thing for me to write so you have helped me in my recovery and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that.
I'd rather it was published anonymously because I'm still ashamed. I haven't got past the shame yet - that's a work in progress.
Let me know what you think."
The biggest thing is frustration: frustration at the drinking, at not stopping, at the constant mix of major and minor illnesses which consume so much time, at the fact that all aspects of everyone in the family's life ends up revolving around ensuring that the addict is ok.
The other side of addiction:
My husband was to all intents and purposes a functioning alcoholic: he could dress himself (mostly); he could wash himself (but often didn't bother). Until the past few years he held down a well-paid and demanding job and was highly respected by his colleagues. I'm not sure what the turning point from heavy social drinker to dependent alcoholic was but I remember being shocked when the liver consultant told him that he must stop drinking if he wanted to be alive in five years. He didn't stop drinking.
There is a perception that alcoholics are drunks. Some are, of course, but while my husband was never sober, he was seldom drunk. If he woke in the night he drank; when he got up in the morning he drank. To bust another myth, he didn’t drink spirits from a paper bag. His drink was red wine; he wasn't a spirits fan at all, although he would drink anything at all if there was nothing else available.
He was a complicated man. I never doubted that I and our children were loved, but I did always feel that he loved access to his bottle just that little bit more. His entire routine focussed on having access to alcohol. If he drove he would always have wine in the car with him. If he went into hospital there was usually a small bottle of wine in his bag. If he went anywhere, there was always access to alcohol. Always.
His decline was gradual at first, but sped up towards the end and despite all the years that had passed with him being unwell, we were still not prepared. He was hospitalised on many occasions mostly under dramatic and unpleasant circumstances, including a run of 5 flashing blue light ambulance admissions over a 6 week period via the Resus Department of the local hospital where we were on first name terms with the staff, was particularly harrowing. Clearing up after episodes of vomiting blood was like a TV murder scene. Clearing up both him and floors and clothes after repeated episodes of foul smelling, oily diarrhoea was my worst nightmare. As you’d expect these episodes of diarrhoea in a variety of places - supermarkets, pubs & other social situations were mortifying for him. At one point in his illness he lost all but a small amount of vision. Almost miraculously his sight recovered but never fully and he always had problems with his eyes thereafter. He developed a narrowing in his throat which meant that for months at a time he would only be able to live by drinking prescribed fortified drinks. Periodically, he would have the scar tissue in his throat torn open by the very unpleasant process of dilatation to allow small amounts of food to pass into his stomach. He lost most of his body muscle so that at 6ft tall and weighing around 7 stone he looked dreadfully thin. He struggled to walk around the house; he sometimes had to crawl up the stairs. If he fell over, which he often did, then he had to wait for someone to help him get up because he didn't have the strength to do it for himself. His skin became like the paper-thin skin of the very elderly, so fragile that even the slightest knock could pull off several inches of skin or leave him black and blue. The bruises took months to heal. He was at the point of losing his teeth. Sometimes he would stay in bed for days because he didn't have the energy to move. He had to have a chest drain for one infection and on two occasions had excessive fluid drained from his abdomen (10 litres of fluid. 10 full litres. Think about that, on a 7 stone man).
My account is not meant to shock, but to highlight what we had to deal with on a day-to-day basis while still trying to function: to study (one child dropped out of university with the stress of his condition, the other delayed starting because she wanted to spend time with him in case he died), to work full time and keep food on the table, the house tidy, and maybe even occasionally have a bit of fun and a life of our own.
As this shows, living with an addict is hard. It is like watching someone commit suicide very slowly: death by a thousand cuts. I was ashamed of him and even more ashamed of myself that I should feel like that. Our children didn’t like to bring their friends home because they were uncomfortable with questions about why he looked so ill, why he didn’t work, why he always had a drink on the go. There is also terrible guilt that I couldn't help him, that I wasn't enough to make him stop drinking. I know that our children feel the same. They know it isn’t their fault, but they blame themselves nevertheless.
In the end, of necessity, all addicts are selfish. It isn't that they don't care or even that they don't want to change, but they are in the grip of something which is literally consuming them.
I knew at the time how difficult it was day to day (it brought me to the point of breakdown as I tried to hold everything together), but it is only now that he is gone that I guiltily realise how much more life I have. I don't worry that I will wake up and find him dead or get home from work and find him lying at the bottom of the stairs, get a phone call to rush home from work, or worse ring and get no answer then have to ask someone to call in and check on him. I don’t have to worry that our children experience any of this. There are not endless emergency hospital admissions and routine appointments to juggle around work; there will be no more avoiding family social events because he looks and feels so unwell. Avoiding awkward questions becomes an art form over time.
But you know what, I miss him, I miss him so much. He was a good husband in many ways and a wonderful father when the children were young. He was involved and active as a parent in all aspects of their lives. He loved me devotedly. He could be generous; he had a fantastic sense of humour and he had a brain the size of a planet. I miss our shorthand conversations, the serious and not so serious discussions that we had. I miss his physical presence. Ultimately the saddest thing about all this is that I was missing all of these things for the last few years of his life. That is the worst thing of all about living with an addict
I know you are looking for input on your blog about living with an addict or how addiction affects people around. My input may be too extreme, I'll let you decide if you want to use it.So I lived with an addict for 6 years. Drug addiction that is, although alcohol was used and depended on as a come down . First two years I had no idea he was using. Addicts are very manipulative and hide things well. I too, am a recovering addict, self harm via bulimia was my drug of choice, so I know how well we hide it and justify it to others! How did his addiction affect me? I can think of many ways ....Driving home after 10 hours at work and a 145 mile round commute to find myself locked out whilst he binged in his solitude ....Keeping an overnight bag in my boot and sleeping on the A6 in my car because I was too ashamed to admit it to anyone Getting to work an hour before anyone else so I could wash In the loo and make myself presentable so no one knew I had slept in my car ....Making excuses over and over for not attending family parties or friends’ houses Watching the devastation in my family when they found out I had hidden it all from them Watching someone you adore destroy themselves Breaking in to your home to resuscitate the man you live from OD Try to take theirs hurt away to stop them doing it again and realising you have no control ....Listening to promises you know they are not well enough to keep even though they mean them with all of their heart !!The spiral of addiction is shocking . I have recently lost my niece at 28 to alcoholism. Again, binging in solitude after 4 weeks sober to be found in a hotel room dead and alone ... That is heartbreaking. Her sisters, her parents, her friends, her grandparents grieving her loss and not comprehending how and why?? I know it's downbeat but it's the harsh reality of addiction. I really do think your blog is brilliant and I cannot express in words how much I want you to overcome this"
"Morning Jon, Karen sitting here on night shift reading blog, Well done so far but I have to agree about going to beerhouse way too soon, it is with regret I tell you to stay away as far & as much as poss !!!!this is coming from a very dry & happy alcoholic !!! I dropped most of my friends, visits to pubs/ bars/partied etc in order to achieve this ( got it all back tho ) with patience and dignity . I gained my strength daily in using these tools, I keep s tool bag in my shed ( head) and pull them out when I need to eg : social occasions , I told everyone I was recovering and to please be respectful of my wishes not to drink alcohol !!! My life !!! My rules !!! There's no need for you to have pressure put on . Your rules Jon only your rules !!!!! Stick with it mate your doing good , if it has to be moment by moment so be it it will get wider the gap , hrs by hrs ect , I know exactly where your coming from. Keep going and when the going gets tough !!! Bake lol by the way you will probably succumb to the sweet tooth this is you replacing the sugar you are losing from alcohol ( as you already know) . Thinking of you often
"With you and Sarah all the way! Have been thinking about next week and my own detox. I only have 2 late shifts at work to keep me safe so am anticipating it to be more difficult than I thought! But in it with you although quite scary the more i think about it! Also been seeing some clients / patients at work who have had alcohol issues in their lives - what can i say except i am so glad you have chosen this path for yourself and families. Much love"
"Hi Jon.I have recently gone through an inpatient detox, my cousin came to visit me and she was shocked with the state I was in, my mum had been diagnosed with terminal cancer that I couldn't deal with, I went from the alcoholic who had a skin full after work for a year or two to an alcoholic that couldn't get up off the sofa, had yellow eyes and felt so depressed my body hurt, she was really concerned for me. She tried to get me in to see my doctor to no avail, she called NHS 111 to ask for there advice to no avail, she ended up calling a local charity that I had registered with some months before that deals with addiction, they advised her to call 999 as they thought from the symptoms she gave them my body was failing. I was taken into hospital where tests were done and they found I had major issues with my liver, I explained to them about my addiction and they put me on a ward to do the week long supervised detox, this was the hardest thing I've ever done, not because of the addiction, but due to the fact that my mum was seriously ill and I couldn't see her.The tablets they gave me helped no end and made the detox quite easy, either that or my mind telling me I've got to sort myself out to be strong for my mum, I kept telling myself I couldn't/wouldn't see her while I was drunk and no way in this world would I turn up to her funeral in a drunken state, I was also put on drip to help re-hydrate my body. After being in hospital for a week I felt better in myself than I had in years, family members commented how good I looked and couldn't believe the difference. I stayed in the hospital with my mum until she died on the 10th June, I had all the support from my family and friends, I told work what I was going through and what I was doing to get sorted out and they have also been very supportive which helped no end, there support is still happening to this day and will continue until i'm fully recovered. I'm now 5 weeks dry, still on tablets to stop the cravings and don't feel like/want a drink at all. I've not used a support group as yet as my family are really close and are there for me 24 hours a day should I need them, I've also taken up fishing again (Not been for over 15 years) which I've found has helped me relax and get my head together. I'm not going back to being the person I was and if you go with that attitude you will be fine, its not going to be an easy ride but taking the 1st step that you have taken is awesome and I can only praise you for taking this step.
Be strong, be positive, be proud."
"Evening Jon. Been reading your recent blogs and have found them very interesting. You're doing really well, especially today. I doth my cap to you sir! I myself used to be an addict, but of cocaine. It never got in the way of work, but ruined my relationship at the time, and stressed my relationship with my mum, sister and nephews But here I stand, on the other side now. I have a loving wife, and a lovely house (which you, Sarah and Tess should visit some time) and drugs do not play a part in my life anymore. I'm having a 'first' for me next week. I'm, going to an old school 'rave' on Saturday. It will be my first since I stopped doing drugs 9 years ago. It will be strange, but I know I will be OK. I have far too much to lose now. Anyway, just wanted to say 'good job' and give you some encouragement."Finally for now, from Stephanie on Facebook
"Hey you. Please know that alcohol plays cheap tricks; it didn't give you balls, you are showing you already have them. You have a strong spirit and a big heart, they have always been yours. My dad was and still is an alcoholic; we've been through the violence, the denial, the apologies, the liver failure, the expensive and life saving treatment, the relapse and the stroke. But he is still in the pub and always will be. He is 61 but looks much, much older. He has lived his life saying he was living fast and would die young; until that day came and all that was left was a small, scared man, no different to anyone else. Life likes to replicate itself; at 19 I married a family friend much older than myself who was also an alcoholic. But it was safe - I knew what to expect, knew how life would be. Who knew that I would one day see I was a bit more than that but he didn't want to be. By the age of 40 he was living on benefits after having a very good job, with his elderly parents driving a 70 mile round trip to make sure he had food and was clean. He died of heart failure before his 50th birthday, discovered by his mum who had a massive heart attack and almost died herself. Life is hard, it's tragic, it's magic, it is worthwhile, no matter what. Be strong, prepare to win, prepare to fight, prepare to fail, and try again if needs must. Be you Jon, whomever you need that to be, one day at a time. Big love."If any of you have any experience of living with an addict and would like to share that would be most welcome.