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La mia ragazza l'ha detto ai bambini’ mamma per non portare alcolici agli appuntamenti di gioco dice Michelle Heaton

“YET” is a common word in Michelle Heaton’s vocabulary right now.

When it comes to tackling [object Window], those in recovery will know it is a case of one day at a time to make sure the “yets” do not happen.

Michelle Heaton, 42, reveals why 'yet' is a common word in her vocabulary as she battles addiction

Michelle Heaton, 42, reveals why ‘yetis a common word in her vocabulary as she battles addictionCredito: Owen James Vincent for Fifty One Apparel
Il cantante, here with kids Faith and AJ and husband Hugh Hanley, reveals 'Relapse is not part of my story yet. I’m not dead yet'

Il cantante, here with kids Faith and AJ and husband Hugh Hanley, reveals ‘Relapse is not part of my story yet. I’m not dead yetCredito: Rex

The 42-year-old Liberty X singer racconta Sun Health: “Relapse is not part of my story yet. I’m not dead yet. I haven’t been arrested yet. Recovery isn’t a place you get to and take your foot off the gas. It’s a way of life.”

Michelle, who is also a menopause avvocato, has shared so much with the public.

Her journey from alcoholic e substance abuser to just over 14 months clean and sober, is something she bravely decided to document publicly.

Come mum to Faith, dieci, and AJ, otto, there are perhaps certain things that should be private. But Michelle believes secrecy is not the right path for her.

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‘I’ve never hidden’

Lei dice: “I learned a long time ago that being honest and upfront on my own terms, telling my own truth, was a powerful weapon.”

While Gateshead-born Michelle says Faith is her best friend, her daughter is one of an army of people who have her back.

Lei dice: “I found out Faith told her friends to tell their mums to bring coffee round when we get together for play dates now, not prosecco. It made me think long and hard about how much Faith has experienced loving someone with an addiction.

“I’ve never hidden my health struggles from them. When I found out I had the BRCA2 gene, which increases Seno e ovarian cancer risk, nel 2012, I gave them a pared-down version of what it meant and what might happen to me and to Faith, who might carry the gene too. I’ve done the same with my addiction. They know Mummy was allergic to alcohol and it made me very sick. They know I had to go away for a while to get better.”

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Michelle went to the Priory in Aprile 2021, spending four weeks in rehabilitation.

Lei dice: “I was so scared that day but I knew I had nothing left. I was trapped in the four walls of my disease and I had nowhere to turn.”

Michelle’s husband, Irish businessman Hugh Hanley, stuck by her. Lei dice: “Hugh never left me, but he gave up hope. Addiction is an allergy of the body and a disease of the mind.

“My addiction was as much a part of their lives as it was of mine and so my recovery should be the same.”

SIGNS OF ADDICTION

THE NHS says addiction is “not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you”.

Commonly associated with gambling, droghe, alcohol and smoking, it is possible to be addicted to “just about anything”. Signs of addiction include:

  • Often feeling the need to drink or take drugs.
  • Getting into trouble because of drinking or drug-taking.
  • Others notice how much you are drinking or taking drugs, and warn you.
  • Your drinking or drug use is causing you problems.

Michelle is already using her experiences to help others. Lei dice: “I go to meetings every week. I had one last night. But where I used to wear a hat and couldn’t bring myself to talk, I’m sponsoring two other people now.”

Aggiunge: “Addiction is an ugly, self-centred disease. If I kept everything I learned in recovery to myself, it’d be selfish. By giving away the knowledge I’ve gained in 14 months of sobriety, I can help myself and other people.

Addiction is an ugly, self-centred disease. If I kept everything I learned in recovery to myself, it’d be selfish.

Michelle Heaton

“It’s what my sponsor did for me and it’s how Alcoholics Anonymous works and thrives — it’s a community helping each other.”

When Michelle learned she had the BRCA2 gene, which increased her risk of breast cancer by up to 85 per cent and ovarian cancer by up to 40 per cento, the singer could have kept the diagnosis secret.

But she knew other women must be suffering like her, and let fans follow her journey as she had an elective double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery in 2012. Tre anni dopo, she went into the menopause after a hysterectomy.

Michelle says: “I couldn’t stay quiet. My world was devastated by it, I knew I couldn’t be the only person it was happening to. It’s estimated the BRCA gene causes almost 3,000 cases of cancer in the UK every year. The more I documented what happened to me, the less alone I felt because more and more women got in touch to say they were going through the same.”

Michelle was beside actress Angelina Jolie in raising awareness of the issue and gene in 2012. Now she is an ambassador for fiftyoneapparel.com, a new clothing range designed from breathable NASA-approved fabric for menopausal women.

Lei dice: “When I was first menopausal, they were called hot flushes. But they’re called ‘hot flashes’ now. They’re awful, but can be made so much worse if you’re in the wrong clothes or fabrics. These are cool clothes for hot women in every sense.”

‘Dirty word’

While talking excitedly about new projects, Michelle is quick to point out it is a future she once thought might not happen.

She admits: “I papered over the cracks for so long. By the time I went into rehab I couldn’t function and my whole body felt dark.

“I was very sick both physically and mentally but I was so fearful of being found out.

“Despite the fact there are millions of addicts in this country, addiction is still a dirty word. Addicts hide it in a way people don’t hide other health conditions.

“The tens of thousands of messages I’ve had since I went public with my own addiction proves to me just how much work there is still to be done.

“Addict isn’t a dirty word, it’s an illness, a disease. And just like breast cancer, it can affect anyone.”

The singer reveals 'Just like breast cancer, it can affect anyone'

The singer reveals ‘Just like breast cancer, it can affect anyoneCredito: Rex
Aggiunge: 'Hugh never left me, but he gave up hope. Addiction is an allergy of the body and a disease of the mind'

Aggiunge: ‘Hugh never left me, but he gave up hope. Addiction is an allergy of the body and a disease of the mindCredito: Rex
Michelle, who has been very open about her struggles, says 'If I kept everything I learned in recovery to myself, it’d be selfish'

Michelle, who has been very open about her struggles, says ‘If I kept everything I learned in recovery to myself, it’d be selfishCredito: Getty

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How to give support to an alcohol addict

CARING for a heavy drinker is tough. But by encouraging them to seek support, you can improve their health and your own. Andrew Misell of Alcohol Change UK has these tips on how to talk to them . . . 

  • PRONTO, SET . . . “PLAN what you’re going to say first,” says Andrew. Going into a conversation blindly could leave you both upset and frustrated and may make it more difficult to speak openly with one another again. Take your time and, if it helps you focus and be clear, take notes.
  • NO BLAME: YOU may be nervous but be honest without turning the chat into a confrontation. “Try not to criticise or blame,” Andrew says. “Talk with empathy about their drinking and the effect it has on you.”
  • RIGHT TIME: AVOID trying to have the conversation when the other person is drinking or feeling hungover. Pick a time when they are sober and so more likely to listen to you. If the conversation gets a little heated, accept that it is maybe not the right time and try again later.
  • GP MOT: REMEMBER the NHS is always there to support you and your loved one. “Encourage them to book in for a check-up with their GP,” says Andrew. Their doctor can assess the person’s drinking and talk to them about recommended limits and treatment options.
  • TAKE CARE: IT is OK to help look after them. “Encourage them to drink plenty of water so they do not become dehydrated and to eat regularly, especially before they start to drink,” says Andrew. “Make sure they are not putting themselves and others at risk by drink-driving.”
  • FEEL HOPE: TRY not to despair, and take the small wins as and when you can. “Remain positive about their ability to change, and offer praise for any small alterations they are able to make,” says Andrew. We all appreciate positive feedback and this will make them feel supported.
  • SELF CARE: “ IF you are affected by someone else’s drinking, it’s important to know you are not alone and there is support available,” says Andrew. “There are also organisations that offer help and advice specifically for family members.” See alcoholchange.org.uk for more info.