Escaping the alcohol trap

I spent yesterday at an Allen Carr Easyway clinic, learning ‘the easy way to stop drinking’.

In the UK many people will know about Allen Carr’s stop smoking sessions. There are Easyway clinics in most cities, but only a handful run the alcohol sessions. If you’ve read any of the Easyway books (No More Hangovers or The Easy Way To Stop Drinking) then you’ll have a pretty good idea of the concepts explored in the seminars. Jason Vale helped launch the first alcohol sessions and a lot of the ideas also appear in his book, Kick The Drink.

Like the books, the seminar looks at why we say we like to drink. In other words, the perceived benefits. You know what they are: I like the taste, I like the buzz, I drink to relieve stress, I do it to be sociable etc. The therapist examines each of these in turn and explains why each one is a myth. The reasoning is that once you realise alcohol has no benefits at all, it’s easy to give up.

Personally I’ve read all the books mentioned above AND I’ve been to the alcohol seminar before. I even went back for a booster session. So why was I forking out another £200 to go again? I asked myself this question on the way there yesterday.

I guess I was hoping it might be third time lucky for me.  My previous two sessions were last summer, within a few weeks of each other, when I was still in that ‘have I really got a drinking problem?’ phase. Having moved on from that denial, anything that promised to make sobriety a bit easier had to be worth another go.

We discussed many things over the six-hour session; too much to go into here. But the main principle – that drinking does not give you a boost – is worth a mention, especially because this time round I felt I really ‘got’ it. My previous attempts at sobriety had always been thwarted by my belief that I liked drinking and being drunk. Drinking was fun. I liked feeling that high. I craved the release that only an entire bottle of white wine can provide.

Our therapist explained that drinking relieves the withdrawal symptoms from the previous drink, which in turn creates more withdrawal symptoms once it is finished. The “relief” that drinkers feel upon having a drink is the feeling of being “back to normal”, which is actually a feeling experienced by non-drinkers all the time. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can last a week, so even ‘normal drinkers’ are caught in this trap. Over time, the brain confuses this feeling of relief with pleasure. It becomes a false memory. This is why some people can be sober for years yet still crave the ‘pleasure’ of a drink. 

Interesting don’t you think? We were warned that over the next few weeks we’d still think about alcohol a lot and may occasionally think ‘I want a drink’, not because we truly want one but because we’ve been thinking that way for a long time. One of the last things the therapist said was “You’re losing an enemy, not a friend” and this has become my new mantra!

Some people left the session virtually singing from the roof tops, they felt so free from the addiction they’d walked in with. Me? I’m not counting my chickens just yet. I’m not going to take anything for granted. But I do feel good. I’m two weeks sober today and so far, it ROCKS.

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11 thoughts on “Escaping the alcohol trap

  1. carrythemessage April 21, 2013 at 1:50 am Reply

    I think I have heard of Allen Carr, but know next to nothing about him or his method of recovery. It is interesting stuff. And it sounds like many people get a lot out of it. You are right about denial – if we have even a small lurking notion in the back of our minds that we can drink, then we will never fully recover. We will always have that back door open, so to speak. It wasn’t until I got to complete and utter despair could I surrender to the fact that I can never drink like a normal person, nor can I drink again. Sucked at first, but it was abundantly clear from my pathetic and horrible life that booze could no longer take a seat at the table of my existence. And it sounds like you are there now. Awesome stuff. This is the point we need to get to if we are to get grounded in our sobriety.

    Congrats on the two weeks! That’s fantastic!


    • soberjournalist April 21, 2013 at 9:43 am Reply

      Thank you! Personally I can’t believe it is only two weeks. It feels like a lot longer… I’m not really sure why. Maybe it is all the extra time I seem to have acquired!

  2. Mrs D April 21, 2013 at 9:24 am Reply

    Two weeks – yeee haaaa!!!! Congrats to you! I read Allen Carr’s book but also Jason Vale (who I found more helpful).. I like their general sentiment though. Alcohol doesn’t give us anything that isn’t already there. A great party or wedding is great because of the vibe and the people and your mood and your experiences in the night – not because of the alcohol you drink. Just like a boring party is a boring party even with the drink. A celebratory toast between friends is a high moment because you’re with lovely humans celebrating something – not because the glass you clink has a mind bending substance in it. A lovely waterside table with family and food is relaxing because we’re not at work and are with good company, it doesn’t matter if our drink is a lemonade or a beer… you get the picture? This is an exercise I do in my head often, and I’ve got good and fast at it. I REFUSE to give alcohol the power to make something more enjoyable. Sending love to you! xxx

    • soberjournalist April 21, 2013 at 9:34 am Reply

      Yeee ha indeed! You’re right, I have been to plenty of boring parties where no amount of booze made it interesting. One of the exercises we did on Friday was to imagine we were alone in an empty room with white walls and absolutely nothing in it. If a bottle of vodka magically appeared in the room would it make everything alright? Would we start having fun? No! X

  3. […] was given some homework to do at the Allen Carr clinic on Friday. It was to go home and write down all things I hated about drinking, using the past tense. So here […]

  4. […] anything. I can’t think of another way to describe it. Last month, when I went to a stop drinking seminar, one of the things that really struck a chord with me was when the therapist described problem […]

  5. private alcohol rehab programs July 26, 2013 at 8:34 am Reply

    You should take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the net.
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  6. Anonymous April 24, 2014 at 9:55 pm Reply

    Interested in these comments. Are you still a non-drinker a year later?

  7. happy February 11, 2015 at 6:46 am Reply

    I also have read that book some one year an a half ago and never thought of coming back to drink again.

  8. Riverdaze September 29, 2019 at 8:10 pm Reply

    Going to a drinking seminar tomorrow….! Here’s hoping!

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