The ALBEFREE App, is not a rule book, but a personal guide to anyone who wants to take matters into their own hands. The app does not, and never could replicate Harrogate Sanctuary’s bespoke treatment, but we hope than accessing this little tool will be able to help more people get alcohol free or in control, which has always been the drive behind this, without any kind of evangelical or pious approach. You leave judgement at the door with the Sanctuary.
There is never any black and white way that works for all. The blanket coverage of misusing alcohol is totally inappropriate for modern times, and modern people, not matter their age. How could beating yourself up on a daily or weekly basis, telling the story of your past indiscretions over and over, ever be helpful? This program is new and exciting, not in the slightest bit marred by the past but relearning how to live in the here and now, and look forward to the future. None of us can predict that either, but with support, network system within the App, you can mould it. You choose, you are lucky enough to have choice, and brave enough to take responsibility.
So a little like following a recipe, there will be tweaks and tricks that each person can add or take away, so that the flavour of the dish suits them, this should be a unique experience, and we hope that having your own personal relationship with not drinking, or at least having a break, will give you ownership of how you play it forward. Whether you choose to be alcohol free, or moderate your drinking, this should always be about you and how you want to handle it.
Six weeks is the optimum time to be thoroughly detoxed, anyone believing in 5 days you are home free is a fallacy. This time acts as a springboard, for liberation from wine o’clock, and the potential to stop existing and start living real time.
The first week is rather like an entrée. You are not really sure if you are going to like it, possibly have made your mind up that you will hate it, or be really determined that you are going to love it. Whichever way, the first week has to measured precisely, just like any good method, deviate and it could be disastrous. This is for those who have been on just a few over the eight, take a day at a time, or for those who have been up to a bottle of wine or more a night, often on a ten-minute watch after the witching hour has passed. It also must be stressed that if you are in any doubt at all about going cold turkey, please consult your doctor.
Like any bad habit that you have loved, the first cut it is the deepest, and that really does apply to this week. Make it very awkward to pop a cork, clear the house of temptation. Day 1 may be very exciting, full of hope, but be prepared for deflation by Day 3. Also be prepared for lack of sleep. One of the most popular excuses I hear and there are thousands of them, but never one good reason, is that a drink helps me sleep. It doesn’t. You just pass out. In the olden days’ ethanol was used in general anaesthesia, and you were told by a charming consultant to take it easy after general anaesthetic because of the potential side effects. Passing out is usually followed by waking up in the middle of the night feeling dehydrated and lousy. Your body has processed the alcohol and actually wants more. If you don’t recognise that or at least are not prepared to give into that, then of course the outcome is being hungover the next day, and the next, and the next…For the first couple of nights this lack of sleep is usually combined with deeply unattractive sweats but in their own way satisfying, at least you have tangible proof that something bad is leaving your body. Like many nights on the vino, these tough few days will be forgotten, and replaced by relief at waking up with a clear head, and no foreboding about catching a glance of yourself in the mirror. By the third day, thoughts of being not that bad start to rear, and one will do no harm, just think back to the reason why you have started this, complacency and caving at this stage has to be nipped in the bud. So far you have saved yourself money, many empty calories and remembered every second of what you have been doing. This process is all about gain, not loss. One bottle of wine is approximately 800 calories, three slices of cake, and for a half decent bottle you have to spend at least £8.00, add that up over the year, along with the guilt purchases, crazy online shopping, and other ancillary costs comes to on average with clients here last year £4,500.00.
Assuming you have started on a Monday, you are now on trigger Thursday, thoughts of it will soon be the weekend, the first one for a long time without the blackout curtain of alcohol. Fear can grip you, especially if weekends were always boozy and alledgedly social, but even if you are a home bird, the thought of a whole 48 hours without any respite from yourself is a little intimidating. Tiredness at this point will be your friend, embrace it. No longer fired up on ethanol your body will be readjusting, so best advice stay safe and clear of any tempting or potentially plan busting situations. The weekend can be the first time when you really do need a strategy, and some planning. Avoiding explanations is essential and why complicate an already tricky situation. Serious distraction tactics now have to be applied. Wine is loaded with sugar, from being a wine and cheese type, you might just start to get tempted by pudding, go with it for now, this is about losing booze not boot camp. A bar of chocolate never killed anyone.
You have survived week 1 now week 2 is upon you. This is a week of Regrouping. Last week was about self-preservation, so it is time to brace yourself and start to begin to live life in technicolour, the good and the bad. Monday you are fresh faced and bright eyed; mood might not be quite as glamorous. You cannot undo what’s done, but this is the time with clarity of thought to do some damage limitation, a lot of honest communication, and to keep reassuring yourself that you are doing the right thing. A good week to make a list of pros and cons of drinking, and pin it somewhere you can see it, regularly, fridge door is a good option. Routines have to be changed, this is often habit, so watch out for the sugar dips around mid-afternoon, deal with that, have a banana or chocolate, it isn’t potentially going to kill you, and eat earlier if you are predisposed to later suppers. Check out the variety of good alternatives drinks wise. Buy yourself a new glass, a good one, and own it, no one else uses it and make a fuss when you pour out your glass of wellness, not slopping some cheap soft drink into an old tumbler. Sleep should be good and refreshing, dreams may be slightly weird, often alcohol is involved, these can pop up anytime between Week 1 right through to 6.
Avoiding old habits of just popping into the shop for a bottle on the pretext that you might be having a friend round has also to be jettisoned. Last week keeping the house free from the bad boy in the bottle was a given, this week he is winking at you, this time it will not be different, do not fall for the con again.
Trigger Thursday is now Thoughtful Thursday. You should have locked down the impulse button that lead to buttons self-destruct and self-harm, you should have told all those that really care for you that you will not be drinking this coming weekend, and if you are ready tell them why. If not, use the standard excuses, antibiotics, losing weight, bit of a health kick, or simply volunteer to be the designated driver.
Week 3 rolls around and you are half way through. This is different for everyone. Those who took off with high hopes and genuine euphoria, may be feeling a little blue and slightly miffed that they haven’t managed to convince everyone else that life is fabulous as a non-drinker, that weight loss, glowing skin and silken hair have not yet miraculously presented themselves, hold firm, Life as a non-drinker wasn’t built in a day, and full YOU power and all it entails takes time, and a very large pinch of patience. Not something that we have given much time to whilst floating down our river of denial. Try to hold off on any tantrums or lack of commitment, Ranting may start to become part of your lifestyle manifesto, enjoy it, for there will be nothing said that you do not remember or regret.
The other crowd who were not too jolly at the start are now gaining ground, and the resentment of why me is being replaced with good for me. Baby steps should still be the order of play, no time yet for wild promises or claims of total abstinence. The void has to be filled, boredom can be as big a trigger as wafting a good Chablis under your nose, so get to it and open your mind to new ideas and activities. We all have had a dream, think about what it is, and how it now might just happen.
The month is now almost in the bag. Energy levels are abounding, you have no shame and guilt anymore, you have I hope been honest about not drinking, for why not? Everyone can see how together you are, that you haven’t morphed into some dull and depressed specimen with a badge on your head saying you are now a weirdo because you don’t use drugs anymore. Start conversations, you might not be at all surprised that friends and colleagues may have been worried about themselves, to not sure how to deal with it. Alcohol control and freedom is the new black.
So week 4 if you are ready is to become a tiger rather than a sheep. The tiredness should be subsiding now, any anti-depressant medicines that were handed out because you told the GP you were down should be working, and it might be a good week to reassess that situation. Do you really feel depressed anymore?
Confidence and self-esteem should also should be on the up, you have run the gauntlet of social occasions without alcohol, the wine o’clock hour has long gone, perhaps you have managed a confrontational situation and passed with flying colours, and as in all firsts, the thought is always so much worse than the actual event, you should be having a full time ‘praise me’ week. This is not a sin or big headed, we have to value ourselves more, and the money saved on suicide in slow motion should now be spent on YOU. Without anxiety and panic, the world that was disappearing is now opening up, discovery is becoming yours again.
Week 5 could easily be a tipping point. The month is done, and I am sure that many of you have done a month before, usually followed by a good blow out to celebrate getting through it. It could be new territory, and knowing that you have given your liver and brain a rest perhaps you consider it would be a good time to have a bit of a test. Bear in mind that you have no tolerance built up now, so if you follow through, you will be away with the fairies within the first couple of glasses. For the single hour of temporary giddiness that it will give you, will it really compare to the 720/744 hours’ dependent on how long the month was, of total recall and clarity, children relaxed and partners chilled? It will also make it so much more difficult to not slip back into the old routines.
Now you are looking and feeling like a rejuvenated being, start acting like one, time to be treatful not tearful, you should see the point to this, and just thinking rationally, because you can, all the healthy food you eat now, would it really be a good idea to wash it all down with a mixture of ethanol and sugar?
Six weeks arrives, and you are what you always wanted to be under the illusion of alcohol, witty, glamorous, engaging, nice to know and guilt free. Will it get better? I had a dream and fulfilled it, so start making a plan to do just that. There is little to stop you, and all the determination that you used to put into getting a drink, come hell or high water, can now be focused on getting what you want. Welcome to the dream team.
So within the App there is a daily notation for you to follow when you write or speak your diary. You can also set alerts for those times that you feel you need them, please remember the top tip that any craving will only last for TEN minutes, get through those few minutes and you will be rewarded with a sense of empowerment and the resolution to keep going.
Good Luck and you never fail if you keep trying!