Tag Archives: Allen Carr

A crazy couple of days

Last month I was contacted out of the blue by a BBC journalist who had read my post ‘Almost Alcoholic‘. She was writing an article about the same thing and wondered if she could interview me. We chatted on the phone for a while and then I forgot all about it. As a journalist myself I know that not everyone you speak to makes the final edit. Stories often get dropped or overtaken by other news. So it was a bit of a surprise when I woke up on yesterday morning to find lots of emails and comments from people who’d read this:

I think it’s a great, thought-provoking article, published at just the right time. I know that right now, in the second week of January, there will be thousands of people wondering (and worrying) about their relationship with alcohol. These are people who looked at the wine glass in their hand on New Year’s Eve and vowed to cut down on their alcohol consumption. Perhaps they decided to sign up for charity events such as Alcohol Concern’s Dry January or Cancer Research UK’s Dryathlon. That’s what I did last year. I lasted a whole 7 days before I fell off the wagon. I was too ashamed to tell anyone. Lots of my friends were also doing it and they seemed to be having an easy-peasy time staying sober. Having ‘liked’ Dry January on Facebook my news feed was filled with irritating, “You-can-do-it!” type posts, which I read everyday, whilst drinking and googling “Am I an alcoholic?”
As a result of the BBC article I’ve gained quite a few new followers and I wanted to say a little hello. Thanks for reading my blog and I really hope it helps in some way. I clearly remember the first sober blog I stumbled across. It was by Unpickled and it was a real ‘ah ha’ moment for me. I sat down, read every post and somehow, something just clicked. So to all the new people, I wanted to say a couple of things.
Firstly and most importantly, being sober is great. If you want to lose weight, sleep better, feel happier and be more confident, then trust me, sobriety will look good on you. Last May I wrote a list of why sobriety rocks. I’m now nine months sober and I could definitely add a few more things to that list.
Not all of my posts are sweetness and light. So if you’re new here, please don’t let any of my slightly downbeat posts put you off. I write honestly about my experiences and in the past nine months I have sometimes found it hard to be young, single and sober in the boozy world we live in. I’ve had to learn how to live life without an off switch. That’s not always easy. And I’ve had to work out how to actually deal with my emotions, rather than just anesthetizing myself with a bottle of wine. But you know, as far as downsides go, that’s been about it. The only other thing I can think of is that I can’t wear really high heels on nights out anymore. Without wine, they start to feel uncomfortable very quickly. And that’s annoying because I have a lot of beautiful shoes.
There are a couple of things that have really helped me get this far. I would highly recommend Jason Vale’s book “Kick the Drink, Easily”. The Allen Carr book is also good. I actually went to a stop drinking seminar at one of his clinics which you can read about here. Every week I listen to the Bubble Hour podcast because it’s brilliant. I read lots of blogs, as you can see from my blogroll. Last, but not least, at the very beginning I took part in Belle’s 100 day sobriety challenge. If you go to her site here you will find out all about sober cars and dehydrating the Wolf. The challenge goes against the AA ‘one day at a time’ way of living but hey, I’m just telling you what worked for me. Once I realised that I needed to make a long-term, permanent change to my drinking habits I found the idea of stopping for a hundred days much less scary than the idea of stopping ‘forever’.
Talking of AA, what the BBC article doesn’t mention is that I actually went back to AA last summer for about a month. I had a much better experience the second time round and met some truly wonderful people. So it’s kind of hard to explain why I stopped going. I guess it just didn’t feel quite right and I didn’t feel like I really needed it because I was getting all the support I needed online. But I know lots of other people who blog and go to AA. So each to their own.
I am going to end this post with a link to a video that I’ve posted before but it always makes me smile: Sh*t normies say to 12 steppers
If you’re sober you will relate to a lot of it  (even if you’re not part of a 12 step programme… ) 

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.