(Lost) Memories Of Christmases Past

Pre-sobriety I always looked upon the ‘Festive Season’ as a period of acceptable drinking excess as everybody, well not everybody, over-indulged.

man-person-snow-cold-winter-wood-596926-pxhere.comMany Christmases were ruined due to my drinking with some amusing and not so amusing antics.

I always started the day with the best intentions, as most of us alcoholics do, but inevitably by around lunchtime I was either merrily drunk or at best rather tipsy, but I always insisted that I was capable of serving up the Christmas dinner, often with disastrous results.

The most embarrassing incident was where I took the turkey out of the oven, which had been pre-carved and then re-heated in its gravy, and I proceeded to drop the lot onto the kitchen floor.

Undeterred I simply scooped the whole lot back up on to the serving dish and took it through to the dining room where the assembled family were waiting patiently and merely said that the ‘bird had flown the coop but now it had been recaptured!!’

I was always aware that I would be under extreme scrutiny by my family but no matter what I resolved the drink would, as ever, totally consume my thoughts and as we say, “all bets are off!!”

I would always try and laugh it off, but I became aware that the family were becoming more and more worried and annoyed at my behaviour, and friends would stop inviting us round for social events or gatherings.

The festive season was now a time of dread for my family and I suppose I eventually lost all interest in it as it had just become another day in my chaotic, alcoholic life, and I can’t really remember the last few Christmases when I was in full-blown alcoholism.

I left my rehabilitation treatment centre, Abbeycare Scotland based at Murdostoun Castle, on Christmas Eve 2015 and to say that I was fearful would be an understatement, but armed with the ‘recovery tools in my toolbox’, I decided very quickly that the only way forward was to tackle it head on and that is indeed what I did.

December 2015 was the first sober Christmas I had had in a long time, and it was probably one of the better ones.

The family were kind of walking on ‘egg-shells’ for the first few days, but at least they saw their dad sober for the first time in many years, and if nothing else they had a Christmas dinner that had not ‘visited the kitchen floor’ before being served at the table!!

man-person-snow-winter-girl-white-933333-pxhere.comThe experience of that Christmas was to stand me in good stead for the remainder of that festive season and the following year (2016) held no fears or trepidation whatsoever.

In hindsight I think that it was indeed a blessing that I was allowed home at the time I was, and the fact that I survived and coped, helped me to continue thereafter, and up to today I have remained sober and my resolve is probably even greater now to keep and enjoy my sobriety, as in the two years since I have found and totally enjoyed my new life.

When I heard people talking and sharing at recovery meetings about how good life was I just couldn’t imagine how on earth I was going to manage without my ‘best friend alcohol’, but in truth I know that it was NEVER EVER a friend, let alone a ‘best friend’, and I am continuing to absolutely enjoy my life.

Family and friends rallied around when I most needed them and I also gained a whole new army of friends in the various mutual aid groups I am involved with, and they are indeed FRIENDS, like-minded people, who understand the daily rigours of sobriety that give us all a totally new and fruitful way of living.

Now, Christmas time is not a fearful prospect but one which I embrace with great joy and anticipation and I even look forward to preparing and cooking all sorts of meals, knowing full well that they will manage to get from the cooker to the dining table without making a detour via the kitchen floor!!

The family also know that I won’t ‘make an idiot of myself’ at any function or party and indeed I am quite happy now to offer to drive anyone to any place at any time of day in the full knowledge that I have nothing to fear with regards to drink driving, and that alone is quite a change.

Sobriety has given me a fantastic new way of life and I will do everything in my power to maintain it, but I am only too aware that it is only ONE DAY AT A TIME.

If I continue to use the ‘recovery tools in my toolbox’ that the staff gave to me on the steps of Murdostoun Castle on the 24th December 2015, I know I am in with more than a chance of success.

Peter H, Glasgow // Abbeycare Scotland Client, 2015


Rehab Questions? Ask An Addiction Specialist (…Immediate Response)

Naltrexone For Recovery From Opiate Misuse

RecoveryNaltrexone is a ‘blocker’ solution for heroin or opiate users who need the extra support during recovery, of an antagonist drug.


This acts as a deterrent, such that, if an individual using Naltrexone relapses into opiate use, they do not experience any of the ‘highs’ or feelings of euphoria normally associated with such drugs.


Instead, they experience no feelings at all, and hence will lose the positive association paired with opiate use over time, thus discouraging relapse, and helping maintain positive recovery.


Listen to our Radio 5 Live interview on Naltrexone for Opiate Misuse Recovery:


Antagonist drugs such as Naltrexone operate by occupying and blocking opiate receptor sites in the brain, meaning that any new opiates in the system cannot populate these sites and trigger the associated chemical pathways and associated feelings.


Naturally, chemical solutions such as Naltrexone aren’t intended as a solution to the cause of the addiction, merely a deterrent to further use, and encouragement on the bigger journey of recovery.


Naltrexone is normally available in both oral tablet and implant form. The Naltrexone implant itself is normally fitted in the lower abdomen, under local anaesthetic, and lasts for a period of 12 weeks. Longer durations are sometimes obtainable dependent on current regulations and availability.


However, prior to Naltrexone use, the individual must undergo a full supervised detox from opiate use t avoid any abreactions and ensure safe and comfortable use of Naltrexone.


Currently, Abbeycare are the only UK clinic to offer both opiate detoxification and Naltrexone under one roof, in the same residential clinic.


To enquire about Naltrexone or opiate detox, or arrange admission, call Abbeycare direct on 01603 513 091.


SEMINAR: How abstinence based 12-step recovery with CBT helps to treat addiction

How abstinence based 12-step recovery with CBP helps to treat addiction

Dates & Venues:

Thursday 5th November – Apex Hotel, Dundee

Thursday 12th November – Renfield Centre, Glasgow

Thursday 19th November – Apex Hotel, Edinburgh


12-step, combined with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), has many benefits when it is incorporated into addiction treatment. This seminar, aimed at therapists and health professionals dealing with alcohol and drug addiction, will give you a further understanding on how to utilise and integrate these two frameworks and the proven benefits of doing so.

By discovering and identifying negative, irrational thought patterns; the underlying core beliefs and rules; how these past experiences and programing effect the present; and confronting the consequential need for mood altering substances or behaviours – all of which play a role in the development of addiction – we can break denial and instill hope that change is possible. CBT and other modalities help fast track the core ideas and principles of the 12-step approach. Without effective treatment and rehabilitation, alcohol and drug dependency can cause serious long-term problems and may even be fatal.

Abbeycare, a leading residential addiction treatment centre, uses the 12-step recovery process as the backbone of our treatment programme, with which we hope to springboard clients into life long abstinence and a more complete overall recovery – the 12-step fellowships providing continuous and long-term support. Therapists at Abbeycare integrate the 12-step approach with CBT and techniques from other approaches to help treat addiction, and in this seminar we hope to show you how you can do the same thing by examining the fundamental aspects of CBT and 12-step, and considering how therapists who treat substance abuse disorders can use these methods. It will highlight signs of when further care is required, when the addiction problem becomes too extreme, and look at what a residential rehab can offer that one-to-one therapies cannot. It will also present how Abbeycare deliver our recovery programme, including our supervised medically assisted detoxification process, and why we use the above therapies and approaches.



9.15am – tea/coffee and registration

9.30am – How to integrate 12 step with CBT and other therapeutic approaches Dave Fidler

10.00am – The Abbeycare programme Liam Mehigan

10.30am – tea/ coffee break

11am – Medical intervention Chris O’Shaughnessy

11.20am – When do you need to consider sending an addict to a primary rehabilitation? Liam Mehigan

11.30am – Questions and discussion



Dave Fidler – Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist, MSc Addiction, Dip CBT

Dave worked for the Department for International Development for 20 years, jobs included HR Manager, Programme Manager and member of the Advisory Group on Diversity – he travelled the world, working full time in Bangladesh, South Africa and Afghanistan. He has a degree in Psychology and Biology (London University), a diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and an MSc in Drugs and Alcohol: Policy and Intervention (Imperial College). Dave, a recovering addict/alcoholic/compulsive gambler/codependent himself, is one of the senior therapists at Abbeycare.


Chris O’Shaughnessy – Dip HE RMN, BSc. IP

Chris qualified in 2000 from University of West of Scotland and has worked in the mental health field for a number of years. Now a specialist in addictions (with a BSc in CBT and Addictions), Chris has responsibility for primary care drug and alcohol interventions and treatment options for people with addiction related problems in one of Scotland largest health boards. He has been involved in active research in addictions in recent years, alongside working in the private sector of addictions for the last 2 years also.


Liam Mehigan – Operations Manager, Abbeycare

Liam is the Operations Manager at Abbeycare and is instrumental in developing our alcohol and drug treatment service in both our Murdostoun and Newmarket clinics.

Liam has a postgraduate certificate in drug and alcohol studies from Glasgow University and has also completed his RMA. He is a qualified CBT therapist and has over 12 years experience in mental health and addiction services.


Raymond Blin – Chief Executive, Abbeycare

Raymond is a qualified CA. In 2010, along with John McLean, Raymond helped to set up and establish Rehab Guide and identify opportunities to develop more alcohol treatment centres. Raymond is responsible for ensuring that Abbeycare delivers the highest levels of care to its clients and that our service meets and exceeds standards set by the regulatory authorities, the Care Commission in Scotland and the Care Quality Commission in England.




RSVP – Places are limited. To reserve your place, please RSVP to info@abbeycarefoundation.com or call 01698 386 013.

Abbeycare Scotland Recovery Gathering – 6th September 2015

Abbeycare Scotland’s Recovery Gathering will be held at our new clinic at Murdostoun Castle in Wishaw on Sunday 6th September. This is a free, open event for all our ex-clients and their families.

Abbeycare’s Recovery Gathering provides our clients with an excellent opportunity to celebrate recovery, meet up with former fellow clients and share recovery experiences with others in recovery communities.


1pm:              Meet & Greet and BBQ Lunch

2pm:              Welcome – Liam Mehigan

                         Therapist Presentation – “Family” Dave Fidler & Marie McGuire

                         Open meeting – Ex Clients – Kevin Dodds

3.30pm:        Guest Speaker – Kuladharini, Director of the Scottish Recovery Consortium

4.15pm:        Guest Speaker – Tony Pace “Recovery Spiritual Principles”

4.45pm:        Ex – Client Recovery Experiences – Open Mic

5.15pm:        Family Support Group – Lynda Dickie

                        Aftercare Group – Kevin Dodds

5.30pm:       Closing comments – John McLean

If you would like to attend please email info@abbeycarefoundation.com or telephone 01698 386 013.

Naltrexone Treatment To Help Beat Alcohol Addiction

Naltrexone_Implant_UKFollowing recent news from the Irish Times, Irish people suffering from alcoholism are travelling to the UK to be fitted with pellets which block the euphoric effects of alcohol.


Naltrexone pellets are fitted into the lower abdomen, lasting 12 weeks.


These block the “high” individuals experience from alcohol intake, thus discouraging continued use.

Importantly, individuals must undergo a full alcohol detoxification, before such implants can be fitted.



Abbeycare are the only UK clinic to provide both the required detox, and the Naltrexone implant, in the same clinic.


First Step Of The Journey

Naturally, Naltrexone should be viewed as the first step toward long term addiction recovery, rather than a solution in and of itself. Abbeycare always advocate the importance of multiple aftercare supports for the best long term recovery outcomes.



Nevertheless, interventions like Naltrexone can provide the much needed emotional breathing space individuals need, as part of a full aftercare plan.



For more info on detoxification, Naltrexone, and aftercare, or to complete detox and Naltrexone in the same UK clinic, contact us at Abbeycare direct on 01603 513 091, or click here to email us.


Naltrexone questions? Ask an addiction specialist now…

Psilocybin .v. What’s Required

11_RecoveryApproachesMaybe you’ve seen recent press on the psychedelic substance Psilocybin as the next line of addiction treatment.


Whilst these substances and new approaches will always have their place, perhaps what’s most troubling about these approaches, is not the substance itself but rather the mentality or beliefs they can cultivate.


Most modern rehab clinics, including us, are proud to say that we’re 12 step, fully abstinence based services. We stand for the long term emotional work on the self, and mutual aid supports approach, to long term recovery.


Behind these meetings, and therapeutic work, and mutual support, lies the genuine ongoing desire to reconcile ourselves with our personal history, with our previous wrongs during addiction, and to guard against these recurring in future. We recognise these as part of the base cause of our addictive patterns, and aim for sobriety on that basis.


Without sounding too controversial, dabbling with any chemical or substance approach that seems to offer a way out emotionally – a way to continue any level of denial whatsoever – a way to avoid or get round personal responsibility that we have trained ourselves to acknowledge and work through – surely can’t be strengthening our recovery beliefs or attitudes in the long term – no matter how beneficial at other levels.


Again, some will find that these approaches work well, and complement their own personal style in recovery – which we encourage.


Nevertheless, in our experience, long term sobriety involves more than this – is the ongoing mutual support, and self-work of traditional abstinence based programs hard work? Maybe.


But does it deliver a greater sense of knowing the self, the reasons why, and long term satisfaction of resolving the issues at the core? Definitely.


Need professional help? We know the signature of addiction. Ask Now:

5 Reasons Rehab Cannot Help You

CanRehabHelp1) It’s Too Far Away

Compared to what? Your long term sobriety? Sorry to be so challenging.


But if it’s your recovery from addiction .v. convenience here, then we need to focus on the long term value you’re going to get from the rehab process, not just if it’s next door.


This means asking intelligent questions, regardless of location, like: What’s the total occupancy in the clinic? Will that provide enough personal attention? How many will I be in therapy with? Is the detox specific to my needs? What’s the aftercare planning?


The answers to these questions can determine long term success. Finding the right clinic with the right combination of care for you personally, is critical.   Please don’t sacrifice your sobriety, and future quality of life, for the sake of an extra 30 minutes drive.


2) Help Is Not Available

Help IS available. No matter how damaged you feel, how dysfunctional your situation, how much substance you need to function… the help to understand addiction, how it functions, and how to overcome it – IS available.


The support you need, whether family, or therapists, friends, others in recovery, meetings, etc, is there for the taking.


You are not unhelpable, and you deserve just as much support as anyone else in life. A substantial rehab program will provide aftercare supports like these, personalised to your needs. Don’t accept less.


3) I’ve Tried It, It Doesn’t Work

Relapsing is not uncommon.


In fact those who have relapsed for 1 of 1000 reasons are far more likely to succeed – they know the triggers, their rewards, their patterns, their reasons, much more deeply than others, and are often much more vocal about what problems to focus on therapeutically, next time around.


Long term rehabilitation takes practice. It’s a team sport. We’re changing into a complete recovery mindset.


And that takes time, and support.   The fact that a particular trigger, situation, or emotional association wasn’t fully resolved last time doesn’t mean the whole process is broken.


Resolving to understand deeper, even better this time around, can be the pathway to long term recovery success.


4) It’s Too Expensive

Private treatment inevitably has costs attached. but the benefits to your health and long term recovery, are multiple.


How good will you feel in 3 months time, knowing you took the action you needed to….took the responsibility, got your life back on track?


In 6 months time? In 5 years?   And, there is no substitute for fast admission, fully supervised detox, and comprehensive therapeutic help from specialists in addiction.


In a private clinic you have access to the specialist help you need. Personal therapeutic attention from support workers. Aftercare planning custom to you.


These options can’t be replicated externally, but do come with a price tag.   Have you asked about shared rooms? Reduced stay duration? Finance options?   Multiple options are available, and most clinics will work flexibly to arrive at a solution that works for you personally. If they won’t… we will.


5) I Don’t Deserve To Be Helped

Really? How do you know? What events led you to that conclusion? Are they the *only* truth about what happened?   …Or just one version of events?


What happened the last time you *were* deserving?   Could there be any upsides to holding on to this addiction? Be honest.


You deserve the help just as much as me or anyone else on the planet. Let’s get started.



Need professional help? Ask Abbeycare Now (Instant Answer):

Are You Enabling Your Loved One Like This?

9_Enabling_RedrawingBoundaries“But he can’t help it”
“What’s the alternative?”
“We just don’t know what to do with him(her)”
“I don’t know how to help him(her)”
“This can’t go on”


Sound familiar?


Finding yourself repeating any of these, whilst your own life descends into chaos, as you attempt to support a loved one fighting addiction, is all too easy a cycle to get into. The thing is, it’s not your fault.


Loved One + Addiction + Enabling = Quickening Downward Spiral
In the busy-ness of everyday life, without realising the true extent of the problem, it’s extremely easy to make excuses and exceptions when someone’s having a rough time, needs a drink to get through the rough stuff of life, or any number of other excuses.


But when it becomes a habit, too often, it’s become enabling – consciously trying to help, while unconsciously making the cycle of addiction worse.


Maybe the problem wasn’t big enough to notice consciously at first, but now…..now it’s become too big not to notice.


Your loved one is too deep in the addiction themselves to be able to redraw (or even see) the boundaries, so you need to push the reset button yourself.


It’s not that difficult, when you know how.

Resetting Boundaries
To send the message, that we will no longer be part of the problem of addiction, we need to mix it up:
Do odd things at normal times & normal things at odd times, e.g. If you used to habitually support (him/her) in some way, with a regular routine, *stop doing it*. And offer to help find the real resources needed to cope with their addiction instead.

In your acceptance, be irregular, and uncertain. Make the times you do help, increasingly rare. You are sending a message here over time – that you can no longer be relied upon to provide the coping mechanism that used to be there.

In your refusals, be vague. A simple “I’m unable to do that”, when said with authority, will not attract further questioning.

After all, don’t *you* need to get *your* life back too?


Resetting the boundaries and reclaiming your life is not a result of your inflated “me-time” or self-indulgence, but rather a determinant of:

– your ability to continue to help your loved one in future
– your own future emotional health and well being


Any immediate emotional pain of denying a loved one a short term fix will always be overcome by the long term comfort and satisfaction of knowing you helped them address the real issues, at the core.


This is the time they need to take responsibility, stick their hand high in the air, and say “I need help”. You can step in, in a practical sense, to co-ordinate rehab, counselling, detox, aftercare, 12-step sessions, mutual aid groups, etc.


But if you constantly have to be there at every stage, always pushing your loved one along, who is there at the end? Who is there when they leave rehab? When they’re back in the workplace? When they’re in another relationship?


Assisting him(her) temporarily, in practical ways, to help them take responsibility and get back on track, is fine. Helping them perpetuate a coping mechanism that’s steadily killing them, is not.


It’s time.


Professional help for your loved one is available. Ask an addiction specialist now…

Number Of Days To Take At A Time In Recovery

Comprehensive survey results just completed have revealed the precise number of days to take at a time in recovery, for best long term results.


Take one day at a time….that’s all we need to do.


Recovery Questions? Ask An Addiction Specialist (…Immediate Response)

7 Warning Signs Your Loved One Needs Help

7WarningSignsLovedOneNeedsHelpAddiction1) There Physically, But Not Spiritually
They’ve lost their “presence”, their consciousness, ability to engage with you, or will to participate in even the most basic conversations.


When the addiction and chaos begin to spiral, they’ve lost a part of themselves to it, and are silently begging for help.


2) Eyes Hollow, Desperate
The look in their eyes may have changed. They may avoid your gaze due to shame or embarrassment.


They may be anxious to the point of compulsive or irrational behaviour – all secondary to withdrawal and cravings. They need help.


3) Charges/Drink-Driving/Trouble With Police
Sometimes it takes multiple, repeated legal issues or crises before they decide to take action, but they’ve needed help a long time before this.

IMPORTANT: How to help a loved one beat addiction – Download easy checklist now…

4) Evicted From Accommodation
Maybe a flat-mate or landlord has had enough, and decided to impose the boundaries.


Possibly a one-off crisis, or even a slow progression from routine favours to petty theft to feed the addiction.


These are all symptomatic of someone who has run out of alternative ways to cope, who is now run by the addictive pattern.


5) Partner Exiting Relationship
Very common, this one. Has their partner suddenly broken things off, usually in exasperation or desperation?


How many otherwise strong relationships perish, due to the grip of addiction? How many families are split, and children affected?


It usually means facing the underlying emotional issues, and working through them with help, to resolve the pattern at the core.


Sometimes, all your loved one needs to understand, is that help IS possible.


6) Co-Dependence
The normal pattern is for family members to unconsciously enable the addiction initially, without fully realising it, in an attempt to ease whatever emotional pain is in the person’s life.


Later, when already overwhelmingly co-dependent for finances and resources to fuel the addiction, the extent of the problem becomes clear, but it’s too painful to set limits and say No.


Yet this is the best possible solution. Redraw the boundaries and insist they get help. It will ultimately determine their recovery.


And, sometimes, the addicted individual just doesn’t have the presence of mind to do it alone.


7) Extreme Behaviours
When the spiral of addiction quickens, your loved one’s behaviour, attitudes, and language will all change. Increased anxiety and aggression are usual, as they try to ensure access to their coping mechanism. It’s important here to make the distinction between the person themselves, and their behaviour.


Their behaviour, under the influence of psychological, chemical, and physical addiction, is not them. It’s not who they are. They have not changed as a person.


The person you know and love is still there, underneath the attempts to cope. But they do need help.


Time to get professional help? Ask Now (Immediate Answer)

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