Sunday, 31 July 2016

Get Smart, fight the urge


I`d like to tell you a little more about SMART recovery, the providers of the group I attend, and the organisation I am training to be a meeting facilitator for.

Here’s a bit of stuff stolen directly from their website, outlining the approach and ethos of the company.

We help people recover from addictive behaviour and lead meaningful and satisfying lives.
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.

• Teaches self-empowerment and self-reliance.
• Provides meetings that are educational, supportive and focussed on open discussions.
• Supports the use of prescribed medications and psychological treatments where appropriate.
• Can be used to tackle any form of addictive behaviour, including drugs and alcohol, gambling
• Evolves as scientific knowledge in addiction recovery evolves.

SMART Recovery (SMART) is a science-based programme to help people manage their recovery from any type of addictive behaviour. This includes addictive behaviour with substances such as alcohol, nicotine or drugs, or compulsive behaviours such as gambling, sex, eating, shopping, self-harming and so on. SMART stands for ‘Self Management And Recovery Training’.
SMART began in 1994 in the United States. It has grown into a worldwide network of self-help meetings, both face-to-face and online, where participants can get help from others in recovery. SMART operates as a non-profit organisation in many countries including the United States, the UK, Canada and Australia.
There is no single approach to recovery that is right for everyone. Research into various recovery methods and therapies suggests that mutual aid can help recovery and so can treatment – a combination of the two is probably even better for many people.
SMART Recovery helps participants decide whether they have a problem, builds up their motivation to change and offers a set of proven tools and techniques to support recovery. This is the SMART Recovery 4-point programme:
Building and maintaining motivation
Coping with urges
Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviours
Living a balanced life
People can stay with SMART as long as they wish. There is no requirement to make a lifetime commitment to the programme, just to their recovery and leading a healthier life.
Many people find that continuing to participate in SMART after they have recovered helps them avoid lapses or relapses. Some will volunteer to train as Facilitators and set up further meetings. Others simply continue to attend meetings and share their experiences with others.
Within SMART, labels are not thought to help with recovery and are avoided. People are not called ‘addicts’, ‘alcoholics’, ’druggies’, ’overeaters’, ’sex addicts’ or other disparaging labels within meetings.
SMART Recovery will not be able to help with every kind of problem, and participants are encouraged to seek professional help when needed.
There are degrees of addictive behaviour and almost everyone will experience this, to some degree, at some point in their life. For some, addictive behaviour will overwhelm their life and SMART Recovery can be an important and effective part of their recovery journey.

Just recently in the SMART group we have been discussing urges and how to deal with them. I still get plenty, varying intensities and triggered by varying things. I generally use a mixture of mindfulness and thoughts about what would happen if I gave in to the urge to keep me on the straight and narrow. Sometimes easy, sometimes hard but so far all manageable. Over the weekend I received a letter bearing bad news. The subject of the news doesn’t matter here, suffice to say it was quite a blow. Stopped me dead in my tracks it did. The first thing that came in to my head was “Christ I need a drink”. It actually took most of the tricks and skills I have been taught so far to fight the urge. Made me realise that I may be over a month dry but there’s still no room for complacency. That urge can turn into a lapse in no time at all. Without the skills I am acquiring from SMART who knows what could have happened. Luckily today I seem to back to “normal” whatever that may be.

In other news we completed week 3 of our couch to 5k today, every time we go out it seems a little easier. Week 4 sees a fairly big step up in running time but neither of us feel at all daunted by this. Bring it on!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Group, running, food and a shrink.


Yesterday I attended the group. Another great meeting, came away feeling on a bit of a high.  If you feel the urge to read more about the Smart recovery programme you can do so here. I have been discussing the possibilities of peer mentoring and also training as a facilitator which would allow me to run meetings myself. Not only would this give me the chance to give something back with the benefit of my experiences, but also gain continued support from a peer group. Things are underway, forms have been filled in, I`ve ordered a book and watched several videos of an annoying American in a baseball cap. If I can survive that then I`m up for anything. The book contains a lot of the “tools” used within the meetings to try to rationalise and motivate etc. I`m not normally one for such bumf but the whole process and rationale behind Smart seems to make such sense. More about this as the book arrives.

Couch to 5k is progressing nicely. I now have a pair of shiny shorts to go with my running socks and bottle. Sarah has proper running shoes. We are turning into THAT couple. I have always been very dubious of people who espouse the benefits of exercise but now I have actually tried it I am starting to understand.
Returning from our week 3 runs and there is a real feeling of accomplishing something and a great feeling of well-being. The fact that we are already running for 3 minutes at a time without dying is quite an achievement. I`ve started comparing stats on my phone app and charting our progress, I feel a spreadsheet coming on. Maybe even graphs.

Last night I approached and passed a major milestone. A social event with old friends but no beer. Two friends came round for a barbecue. An event that would normally of course involve a huge amount of beer, as they always do. As it happens we had an ace evening, great food, great company and a great assortment of different flavoured fizzy water. This may seem like such a trivial thing but it was a huge event for me, affirming that a social life can still exist whilst sober. Also to be able to relax with close friends and talk comfortably about recovery was a great help. Cheers Bren and Ian, lovely evening and helped me a lot.

Today I had an appointment with the Consultant Psychiatrist about my anxiety and depression issues. Still early days to tell the effects that stopping drinking have had but we have increased one med to try to help with the anxiety surrounding the thoughts of a life without. Seems one of the causes of relapse is worrying about what would happen if you relapse. Makes sense I suppose. Will plod on with the meds for now, give my recovering liver a chance to start processing them and see what happens once they start having full effect. All in all, a positive couple of days. Let’s keep it like that.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Vive La Revolution


Just a quick one tonight. 
I was googling around a few nights ago, looking at other recovery blogs and sites and I happened upon one that really grabbed my attention. It was loud. Lots going on and very very bright. 

“The Recovery Revolution” is not what you expect from a site about addiction recovery. I read on and found that I was relating to a lot of the articles. The positivity was the main thing to strike me. I liked the site a lot and thought I would approach them and see if they might be interested in some of my ramblings. Lo and behold I received an email from Chris asking me to submit something. This is exactly what I did, I compiled the first two episodes of this blog and added a bit ore backstory and sent it off. You might like to read what I wrote and also have a look around some of the rest of the site. There really is some good reading there.

The link to my article is here.
The homepage for the site is here.

How would you fancy having something published on "A Life Without"? If you have a story about addiction or recovery told from either side and you would like to share please email me

In other news Couch to 5k continues. Week two is over and on to week three. 22.22% of our journey to running 5k and both still feeling good. We even purchased some proper running socks and a water bottle to mark the event. That is the level of commitment we have achieved.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Gis a Job.


A week or so ago the company that supply my care package changed over from Swanswell to Turning Point. Surprisingly, as rarely happens, the changeover went fairly smoothly, only took a couple of days to get new phone numbers and the like for all involved and all back up and running. Credit where its due as these sort of things usually result in utter chaos for weeks.

Yesterday, Friday, I realised that one of my meds was going to run out over the weekend. At the moment this med is prescribed by my care provider not the doctor so this resulted in all round panic on my part. Turning point to the rescue though, posted out next day delivery to Boots and arrived there ready to be picked up Saturday afternoon. Probably no need to panic but there you go.

My cravings are getting fewer and further between, but when they do arrive they can still be strong, anything can trigger them, smells, sights, a passage in a book, anything. This is common and knowing how to deal with them is key. Distraction techniques are good, mindfulness exercises, physical exercises even mental exercises all help. Our exercise regime is still ongoing. I actually enjoy the run/walk as we do it and completing it gives a great feeling of satisfaction. Especially when the most extreme exercise you have had for years has been the walk to the bar.

Tomorrow, I will be four weeks dry. Quite an achievement I think. Four weeks. One lunar month. 28 days. 672 hours. I`m still amazed by how many hours there are in a day and its time I started putting them to good use. Therefore, I have decided that I am now ready to relaunch myself into the world of work. I applied for a job last week. CV sent off on Tuesday am, phone call Tuesday pm, interview Wednesday pm, rejection call Thursday noon. Not bad turnaround really. Felt deflated for the afternoon, would have really enjoyed and excelled at the job but it wasn’t to be. Onwards and upwards. I`ve since been offered some part time work at Dog Days Inn, the ace place that Tess goes on Holiday. Quite looking forwards to this, spending days with mental dogs is right up my street. To be honest I`ve still no idea what I want to do when I grow up. If you know of any other full or part time positions in and around the Market Harborough area my cv is available HERE, please feel free to share around. 

Oh…one last thing, if you are a Photoshop or other package wizard and fancy designing a banner and a couple of buttons for me I would be eternally grateful. No money I`m afraid but you`d have the satisfaction of making an old hippy very happy. 



Due to circumstances beyond my control Google seems to have moved this blog entry to HERE. Please click on the link to be redirected. 

Ta. Jon 

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Group day


A quick update.
30 degrees today, lovely day to be sat in a pub beer garden next to a river knocking back a few beers.

Also, it’s a lovely day to sit in the garden with your feet in a paddling pool drinking ice cold water and writing.

The group met today, a great turnout and very interesting discussions. Turned out that one of the group I hadn’t met before knows of this blog via his daughter. She reads it as a help to understand her father`s addiction and how he deals with it. Always nice to get some “real world” feedback. I had a tough decision to make about something I can’t mention yet and by bouncing ideas around the group managed to come to an answer that fits the bill brilliantly. More on this at a later date. The difference of backgrounds and recovery states of the members of the group really helps to keep things in perspective, and to see yourself going forward. John and Mandy you should be proud of yourselves, you do an amazing service, although I’m sure your whole experience has been enriched by my participation.

Our couch to 5k project enters week 2 today so the runs are stepping up a bit. Waiting till this evening though as I don’t fancy passing out in the heat and Sarah having to carry me home. We are both actually looking forward to our runs now, discussing new routes and locations to try to keep it interesting. Tess the dog seems to be working on couch to 500k and is thoroughly enjoying all the extra exercise.

Signing off for now today as I am working on my guest post for another blog, hopefully a condensed version of everything here so far as an introduction should readers choose to read more. Also something I can then expand on as my first few chapters to send to Unbound to try to sell them on the book idea!

Friday, 15 July 2016

Run for your life!


Getting on for three weeks’ alcohol free and most of the time feeling mentally strong and determined. Early days yet though. The physical urges are still as frequent and strong as ever but I`m constantly finding better methods to deflect them. It’s amazing how many times a day you encounter alcohol in one form or another, I challenge you to find an episode of any major TV drama that doesn`t feature a pub.  I still find myself drifting off in the daytime looking forwards to the evenings session then having to settle down with a lovely glass of Aldi fruit flavoured sparkling water. Physically, the shakes and other symptoms are still there, albeit in varying intensities but the Pabrynex injections should go a long way to sorting them out. The group meets again next Tuesday, so hoping to hear something before then.

You may remember Sarah and I starting couch to 5k? Well after the initial false start we are back on it. I now own a pair of what I believe are known as “training shoes.” Purchased them from The British Heart Foundation shop brand new and unworn for the princely sum of £6.99. Now you see the financial commitment you know just how serious we are about this. Returning from our half hour`s exercise this evening we both feel surprisingly fresh and relaxed. I am beginning to see how exercise will play a massive part on the road to recovery. It is a wonderful diversion, can be used anywhere and the feelgood factor is quite long lasting. We are aiming to do our first 5k parkrun at the beginning of September.......Sometimes I read this back and wonder who the person typing it is...

This newly discovered interest in exercise is probably a good thing as my rekindled passion for baking cakes carries on as strong as ever. This is apparently partly to feed my new found sweet tooth. A side effect of stopping drinking, especially beer drinking is your body is used to the huge amounts of sugars that are contained in beers and looks for a replacement. My replacement of choice seems to be cake. Lots of lovely sugary cake. At the moment this is fine as the whole baking process is very cathartic, just have to try to keep it to one cake a day for now, and hope the running offsets the extra calories.

In other news I have been asked to write a guest piece for another similar blog, hopefully that will be up next week, I`ll let you know when and where it is once it happens.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

AD15- Wordpress,Symptoms and Mindfulness.


Had a little break from posting to have a wrestle with the interweb and other technologies. I intend to move to my own web address and hosting and am in the process of building a WordPress site to feature this blog and a couple of other ideas I have up my sleeve. The blogger platform I use at the moment is fine but just not customisable enough. If you are a WordPress wizard with the odd half hour to spare for some serious brain picking, then please let me know.

15 Days dry now. Still getting some odd symptoms, shakes, dizziness and clumsiness, struggling with words and sentences and terrible forgetfulness. Those of you who know me personally may well think this is nothing out of the ordinary, but these are more pronounced than “normal” Had a visit with my GP this morning and we`ve ordered blood tests for liver function, diabetes and thyroid.
Also it was group day today so I brought these symptoms up and discovered they can be a sign of Thiamine deficiency, a common side effect of alcoholism that can lead to “Wernicke’s encephalopathy”. It has been suggested I may need to be treated with Pabrinex as the Thiamine tablets I take at the moment may not be acting quickly enough.

Very interesting group today, talked of meditation and mindfulness and how they can be used of part of your coping strategy. I still get very strong urges to drink, when they hit me they tend to last 5-10 minutes and can be incredibly intense and challenging, so looking at strategies to deal with them. Mindfulness is a great tool that has been incredibly useful in my battle with anxiety. See no.2 below.

I intend to waffle on about mindfulness at a later date as I investigate it further.

Another thing I have mentioned previously is the possibility of doing some voluntary work as a peer mentor for others on the same journey as myself. It may involve sitting in on groups like the one I now attend, or helping on individual cases where my first-hand knowledge and experience can be invaluable, as can my ability to talk the hind leg off a donkey and listen at the same time. We have set the ball in motion so will keep you informed as and when, it would be great to be able to give something back and also get some useful training too.

Finally, for this episode, in my previous entry (if you missed it you can read it here) you will remember I intend to turn all this into a book of sorts. I have a near complete first chapter and a good outline of the timeline and what I hope to achieve so I am getting close to submitting to Unbound. My target for submission is late this week or early next depending on my variable attention span. The working title is “A Life Without..” and it will of course be a Man Booker prize contender.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Of books and stuff.


A brief update tonight. 
First day Librium free went ok. No apparent increase in urges. Managed a circuit of Sainsbury`s passing the alcohol section with only a minor wobble. Starting to realise just how much booze is pushed upon you as a shopper. Rack ends with bargains prices, multibuys offers by the truck load. Displays right in your face as soon as you enter the establishment. All these things I had never really thought about. All devices designed to make you purchase more alcohol than you ever intended to. I fully appreciate that shops have to promote items to sell them, but encouraging people to take home twice or even three times as much alcohol as they intended can only result in disaster. If joints of beef are on a bogof then you are unlikely to have just one more before you go to bed, but a fridge full of beer is a different matter. Trust me, I know.

In other matters It seems this blog is attracting a lot of attention and I am struggling at the moment to keep up with replies, so apologies if I haven’t got back to you, I will eventually.

I aim to keep updating as I carry on trying to remain dry. I have also been having serious thoughts of turning this into a book of some sort. Maybe each chapter starts with the post then I write more about the back story of what was going on at the time. Also maybe a little more history before the first post. I have signed up with and am in the process of trying to write a chapter or two and an outline to pitch to them. Please wish me luck with this project, I`ll update if and when anything happens.
If any of you have any first-hand experience of Unbounded and have a little spare time it would be great to pick your brains a little if possible.

Back in a day or two.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

AD9-Detox over, the story begins.


Final day of the detox today. Ten days have just simply flown by. Two more Librium to take before bed then I`m fully recovered.
If only.
Getting dry is just the beginning. Staying dry is the challenge. I have a lot of defence mechanisms in place now and my attitude and confidence are at a level I haven`t felt in years. Thanks to all the people who decided to give up various things for the week, your support is very much appreciated, I intend to write a little about you folk at the weekend, especially my wonderful wife who decided to give up cakes the very week I rekindled my love for baking!

I had my final meeting with the nurse today who complemented me on the way I have handled things. This blog, my interest in the actual workings of the meds and the effects on the body and mind the detox can have, the fact that I have been an active participant in the group have all been positive points.

Now the actual detox is over I intend to reduce the frequency of my posts to a couple a week, as and when I think I have something useful or interesting to share about the maintenance process of staying dry. I have also been sent quite a few stories to share so I`ll pass these on as and when. Please feel free to email anything you feel could be relevant and would like to share with others.

As part of my recovery process I am seriously considering volunteering for some peer mentoring within the organisation, there are a lot of training opportunities and maybe even work through the ranks to be a fully-fledged paid councillor. Early days yet but my contacts within in the organisation believe I could be a great help for others, first hand knowledge of an addiction is obviously a great advantage when helping to advise other addicts.

Oh, it would seem that this blog has somehow passed 12000 views! Incredible really when all I set out to do was vent a little steam and keep a few friends informed about my progress!

Finally, the story I published last night has created a huge amount of interest. The author has asked me to thank you all for your amazing words of support, and to let you know that things are getting better for all of them all the time.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

AD8- A hard read.


Slept well, woke up shaky and wobbly but my head seemed to clear quickly today. Only 4 detox tablets, 2 morning and 2 evening, alongside my normal tablets. Spent most of the morning getting the kitchen back into shape after the weekends visitors. It’s not much of a kitchen but I’m a little OCD about everything being in the right place.
Group meeting today. Just two punters and one councillor. Still managed to have a very interesting discussion. Did an exercise, can’t remember what it was called now, where you list 10 things that you would really like from your life in the future. Then discuss the chances of achieving any of them whilst still drinking. Very interesting. Helps with the understanding that alcohol is in control, so many things you want to achieve will never happen while you let it remain in control. Interestingly enough, when making the list very few people include being dry as one of the 10.
Sarah and I managed day two of our couch to 5k challenge this afternoon and I have a feeling I am going to be rather stiff in the morning. Tomorrow will be a bit of a challenge, Sarah is back at work for the first day since the start of the detox. My first full day completely on my own right up till the nurse arrives around 4 oclock. Also, it’s the last day of my current medication. Completely dry and relatively drug free from Thursday. That’s the point that all the defence and coping strategies really come in to play. Al that time on my own to fill constructively. Feeling fairly confident, one of my man projects will be job hunting, so watch this space for more details.

Today I received an email from someone I chat with on twitter. I had asked for stories from people who lived with addicts and the affects it had on their day to day to lives, partly to see the kind of affects my addiction could have had on others. Addiction is generally a fairly selfish thing. Well this email left me reeling. It is one hell of a story, very well written, straight from the heart and absolutely no punches pulled. It’s a long story but would like to include it in its entirety, with no judgement or narrative, just as it arrived to me.. Please set aside some time to read it all and take it all in. Its not a bedtime story so maybe try it tomorrow.

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 other side of addiction:

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.
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

Monday, 4 July 2016



Usual start to the morning, slight hangover, shakes and a fuzzy head. Sleep seems to be improving greatly as the days go on though. Visit from the nurse today, very happy with my progress and also impressed with what I have been writing here. Positive mental attitude goes a long way. Had a brief chat about my flying visit to Beerhouse and we are both in full agreement that it wasn't the brightest of ideas and I must keep away from such establishments and surroundings for quite a while yet.

Yesterday I briefly remarked on some comments I have been receiving via this blog and on Facebook. I would like to have a look at a few of these today. Not the bad ones, they have been conscribed to the scrap heap but ones that show the view of addiction through the eyes of others. I`d like to make this a regularish thing here, hopefully get some views from people who have lived with addicts as well as addicts and former addicts themselves.

First this from Gail Bellingham on Facebook. An interesting but challenging read as it tackles the problems from both sides and shows there doesn’t have to be a drug involved for addiction to take hold. 
"Hi Jon 
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"  

This from “Karen” on the blog.
"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 
Kindred Karen"

This, from my sister-in-law who decided to do a week’s detox herself as a mark of support.

"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"

This from anon on the blog. Quite hard hitting, but also inspiring hope.

"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."

This comes from an incredibly unexpected source on facebook:

"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.
Hope I haven't overloaded you today, but I feel some comments are well worth sharing, they can give so many different ideas as to what addiction involves, and it doesn't need to be drugs, alcohol or nicotine to take a stranglehold. 

EDIT: It would seem that adblockers may block
the comments box on some of the entries on this site. If you wish to comment you can either pause your adblocker, or email your comments to and I`ll add them for you. Jon.

Sunday, 3 July 2016



160 odd hours dry.

Wobbly morning again, head still full of clouds but in general not too bad. 

Some family still here for the day today so had a walk into town for a coffee and a look at the sights, we also visited Beerhouse. We were passing so we thought we`d give it a go. Glass of lemonade sitting outside, not too bad. Strange feeling being in there even briefly but great to say hello to a few friends and Brad the barman. Brad has been there since pretty much day one so always great to have a proper catch up. Coming away sober was a very strange feeling indeed.

Barbecue leftovers for tea then fond farewell as the last stragglers depart for home. 

That`s three big achievements in two days. A big family do, a barbecue and a visit to Beerhouse all completely sober. As much as I know it to be utter bollocks my mind still tells me I would have had so much more fun at each occasion with a skinful of beer. 

I think the pub visit may have been a little too soon, the smell as soon as I entered stirred far too many memories, looking at the choice of beers available I promptly decided that I should try at least one of each (of course didn`t). I think if I had been on my own in a strange pub that would have been it. Common sense now tells me to avoid as many alcohol vendors as humanly possible for the time being. At least I know I can be comfortable in social situations where there is no alcohol present.

As this blog reaches out further and to more people I receive more and more comments here and also direct messages on Facebook. The majority are lovely words of encouragement from people who have been or are in a similar position. But….I have also been receiving a few very negative messages. “You think you have a problem,” “Stop whinging and get on with it” Seem to be fairly common. Another common one is asking for facts and figures on my alcohol intake in the past. This is irrelevant, no matter how large or small your intake is if it has a negative impact on your life or the lives of others around you there is a problem. Luckily I have fairly thick skin and wont rise to the goading of the keyboard warrior. 

Whilst on the subject of messages I have had a few from people who have had to deal with addiction from the other side. Tomorrow I intend to try to write something about a couple of these. If I get it right it could be interesting reading. If you have a story about living with an addict, be it drugs, alcohol, food or any other subject that you think could be useful to others please feel free to share in the comments or email to

Anyway, I`m knackered after such a busy two days and full of beef, chicken and sweet fizzy soft drinks so I must now go and try to sleep. Wish me luck.

Saturday, 2 July 2016



Well what a lovely day.

I`ll skip the boring morning details, pretty much the same as yesterday. Woke up to the smell of a chunk of beef that had been cooking for 8 hours. If that’s not a reason to get up then I don’t know what is. Threw myself 100% into preparing food for our family do, found chopping has to be executed with the utmost care as the shakes make knife work a little unpredictable. Still suffering with the short attention span, had to do a little work then wander off round the garden or have a sit down for a while to stop the mind from wandering. Still, somehow managed to produce a huge bowl of homemade slaw, a tropical fruit and veg salsa, and some amazing pulled beef. In fact, here’s a picture of some of it all on a homemade roll.

My idea of a second blog to run alongside this for stories from people who have had to deal with addiction of any sort from the other side seems to be gaining a little momentum. Some ideas coming in via facebook, I may try to start this next week. Be interesting to see some opinions from people who have had to live with an addict. If you wish to leave a comment on here for this second blog idea or message me on facebook please feel free. Please bear in my mind I am trying to keep this all fairly upbeat and positive, to show there can be a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how faint.

This week so far has been made so much easier by the support from so many friends who offered to give up something for the week as a mark of support. If any of you would like to share a few words about your experience and allow me to put it on here it would make very interesting reading I think.
Here’s one facebook post that really touched me this week from Gail, one of the “abstainers”

Comments on here seem to be working ok now, if you are one of the folk on Facebook that mentioned that you couldn’t post please try again.

Managed to get right through past 7 o’clock tonight before I even thought about a drink, keeping busy is definitely the answer. Tomorrow my meds drop again, so we`ll have see how that goes. 

Friday, 1 July 2016



Very shaky day today physically but slightly better mentally. Managed to go into Harborough on my own to meet a friend for a coffee. Stuart will be a valuable ally going forward as he is, and almost always has been tee-total. 

The urge for a drink has been fairly strong for most of the day today, so thrown myself into some cooking again. Two loaves of bread for the weekend and a chilli chutney hot enough to provide sufficient energy to power a small town for a week.  

The urges today have given me an idea of how things will be going forward. Its always there at the back of my mind, just have to make sure it stays at the back. I need to get more defence mechanisms in place or my cake and bread mountain will only be scalable by Ranulph Fiennes.

Big nerves about the family do tomorrow. Mid-afternoon into early evening. A few family members I have not met before causing a little anxiety at the thought of no alcoholic crutch to support me through the day. Plenty to do in the kitchen though to take my minds off things.

My idea for a separate blog to run aside this to show the problems and tribulations of living with someone with a drink or other addiction problem seems to be popular. I`d like to try to keep this not too heavy but informative as I hope this is. If you have any ideas or fancy writing something for this, please email me and I`ll see if I can get the ball rolling next week.

On another matter it seems that some people are experiencing difficulties leaving comments on here. I have changed a few settings that will hopefully sort this out. If some of you could comment a few words so I can check that would be most appreciated. You can comment any old rubbish if you like as I don’t have to publish on here. I know a couple of you tried last night to no avail, please try again or email your comments direct.

Anyway, must go, I have a rather large piece of beef to contend with.