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.