Mandy’s Blog

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Dear King Alcohol

It gives me great pleasure to finally wave you goodbye. I usually don’t like endings but I could not let this one pass without saying a few words…. You have been an utter nuisance and latterly a nightmare in my life. Never have I met anyone so cunning and devious. I cannot deny that you are powerful oh yes very powerful in fact I would say you are a bully.

I have struggled to be rid of you for some time now. It was only thirteen months ago that I finally realised I was beaten by you. On my son’s wedding day you took over and made a real fool of me and I woke up in tatters the next morning. I thought I was beaten and that my life was over. Indeed I thought I could not survive without you yet I knew you were making me miserable and ruining my life.

You came into my life at quite a young age. As a small girl I remember you causing heartache when you controlled my Dad and then my parents fell out. My Mother already hated you because of what you did to her Father and her brothers. I always knew you were trouble yet when you tempted me again and again I followed the dangerous path leading straight into your arms.

Initially you gave me confidence and I was able to mix better with others because my shyness and naivety held me back from doing what many others did. Then came the fun at parties and you were introduced to me as a relaxant before the parties and I thought you were the bees knees. It seemed my problems were over because I had found you and allegedly you were the answer to all my dreams.

As the years progressed we got to know each other a lot better and we were often inseparable. I never wanted anyone else to have more of you than myself, I got jealous and very edgy of others. You caused rows between my husband and me and some of these were ferocious. I would wake up in the morning full of guilt, shame and regret. I hated myself and my self esteem was less than that of a church mouse. The only way I could move on was to join in with you again because I believed you loved me.

The last thirteen months have been quite eye opening and I finally realised the truth about you. It will be devastating for you to learn that I have now met Sarah Turner and she has taught me all about you. Crikey you are a total bastard and you will go to any lengths to get your own way. You have told me more lies than I could believe possible but de throned King Alcohol the truth is out. Sarah knows all about you and she is passing the message around big style I can tell you so beware. There is a Sober Revolution and women and their families are not taking your nonsense anymore.

So it’s goodbye from me nasty King Alcohol and good riddance and I will do my utmost to ensure as many people as I can find out the whole truth about your nonsense and lies. I realise that we will bump into each other often but I shan’t be speaking to you or having any physical contact with you in fact I shall snigger and smile because I now know the truth.
Onwards and upwards in your absence
Unkind regards
Mandy.

Mandy’s Blog

The Power of Women and Wine Time

Sarah at the Sanctuary

Mr Gray, a liver specialist pulls no punches. ‘Until about 10 years ago, my patients with alcoholic liver disease were mostly middle-aged men. But women now make up about half of my caseload.
‘It used to be that patients were in their forties and fifties when I first saw them. But I’m seeing sizeable and rising numbers of women in their twenties. Some have irreversible liver damage.’
One 26-year-old female patient died of liver cirrhosis. ‘And we’ve got a 29-year-old on the ward now who has been in hospital through drink for several weeks,’ says Gray. ‘She’s been drinking heavily for 10 years and her liver has packed up. She has a partner and a two-year-old child but she says, “I prefer wine to tea”, even though she knows the harm it’s causing her.’ The woman’s future looks gloomy. ‘She will probably get over this illness. But if she continues…

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The Power of Women and Wine Time

Different Attitudes, Successful Results

BREAK

60 different medical conditions can be attributed to alcohol misuse. For example, 3 glasses of wine a night increases the risk of breast cancer by 40-50%.
52% of children now living with a harmful or hazardous drinker. 30% binge, 22% dependent.
http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/press_release/content_479
The current available facts are the tip of the iceberg. I completely agree with Professor Gilmore, as the article so rightly points out, these are hidden drinkers, and because of that there is little data apart from the consequences that are now presenting. None of the women I treat will be honest to mainstream agencies or GPs, fear, guilt, shame. My local surgery even calls them niche drinkers, which is rather a quaint attitude considering the actual size of the problem. They just want empathy and support along with a non-judgemental way of breaking the dreadful cycle they are now in. Many are not alcoholic yet, just habitual or dependent, and they want control back. We must de-stigmatize this. Openness has to be key, and wellness must be celebrated not scorned just as it is with giving up smoking. Attitudes have to change, among professionals and employers. The majority see this as a lifestyle choice or terrible weakness. It eats them alive. Have to talk honestly to someone they trust.
The Sanctuary is successful, 87% recovery rate after six months, because I was just like these women. Empathy and a real understanding is the only way for good outcomes. No-one feels vulnerable with me, nor do they have to beat themselves up for the rest of their days for a problem that they once had.
There is plenty of help for the disadvantaged, and for those time rich enough for eight week rehab, but not for middle class women who are falling through the cracks. These are the women that look after and help, and every day I hear from more and more. It takes tremendous courage and humility for them to face their problem. Have so much to lose as they see as do others this as a total taboo. Many talk online anonymously which is great, and can be a useful tool.
We juggling so much. We wanted equality, for the most part we got it. But we are just not physical able to drink as heavily as men without expecting consequences. It all starts with having a drink to relax. We use it to self-medicate, stress buster. Wine has become a social oil. Then a drink to forget, and slowly it isn’t fun anymore. No cup of tea at teatime, just a glass 250ml glass of pinot. These women never drink in units, just glasses.
Legal acceptable and everywhere. Minimum pricing will not affect problem drinkers.
Mothers drinking usually is more chaotic to the family, without being sexist the Mother is the lynchpin of the family. The family suffers all the symptoms of the illness, except for the physical need. Not only that they feel helpless, because of course being so close, so loving and loved this is another side effect and deeply frustrating.

We do need to start to celebrate being well and alcohol free, and not be categorised as dull and boring, for there is nothing more boring than a room full of drunks, repeating themselves over and over, and those that attack us are simply defending rather than accepting.

So please will the powers that be treat this as they did with tobacco, and for once LISTEN to those of us who are not pious or judgemental, and set up open and honest discussions with so many of us who want to help and create a different view of being sober. The costs to the NHS would reduce dramatically, as would the harms and hurts that so many families are going through.

Different Attitudes, Successful Results

Kay’s Blog

 

Emma blog

I feel so lucky to have found Sarah. I had never realised just how empowering it would be to have such a kind supportive and expert friend at my shoulder, encouraging me every step of the way.
At the start the whole thing can seem rather scary but with Sarah by my side I didn’t look back and 6 weeks later I feel energetic, healthy and ready for a new life. One where I make good choices and also one where I’m so very happy.
There’s nothing you can say that will shock Sarah. She’s just bursting with understanding, sympathy and just the right amount of a bit of plain speaking.
I’d thoroughly recommend the Harrogate Sanctuary to anyone trying to beat their own wine o’clock challenges – you won’t regret it.

Kay’s Blog

Alcohol and Hormones: How Does Alcohol Affect Hormone Levels?

I wrote this article for a great American site, https://www.livewelltesting.com. There will be more posts from The Sanctuary published here over the next few weeks.

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We all love to unwind at the end of the day. Sometimes that’s a great bout of yoga or high-intensity training, and sometimes it’s a glass of wine or a favourite cocktail. Everything in moderation, right?

Or not. Have you ever wondered what impact (if any) alcohol has on your hormones? And just how much is too much? Is any amount “safe”? What is alcohol doing inside our bodies? And what does moderate consumption even mean?

To answer those questions, let’s take it one step at a time.

Estrogen and Alcohol
Alcohol consumption can increase oestrogen—but it’s not the same for everyone.

According to clinical studies, moderate alcohol consumption can vary with life stages. What you consume at age 20 may not be the same as what you consume at age 40—and what you drink will affect your hormones really differently as well. As a woman ages, her hormones fluctuate; therefore, less alcohol is needed to have larger hormonal effects over time. For a woman in her 40s or 50s, even “moderate” amounts of alcohol can affect the hormonal system.

Drinking alcohol can cause a rise in oestrogen and a decrease in progesterone in premenopausal women. Some studies even suggest that menopause was delayed by moderate alcohol consumption, since “alcohol consumption was significantly correlated with oestrogen levels.” Though binge drinking (five or more drinks in one day) is the most detrimental, in terms of hormonal disruption and other health problems, this study suggests that moderate alcohol consumption needs further analysis to determine its health impact.

Alcohol and Testosterone
Alcohol consumption can decrease testosterone—but it depends how much you drink.

According to studies by the Testosterone Centres of Texas, “alcohol is the enemy of testosterone.” Testosterone is important for both men and women (although men have much more)! It’s well-known as the hormone for sex drive and libido, but it is a key player in muscle formation, bone mass, fat distribution, and brain health. Low testosterone (caused by alcohol or something else) in both men and women can result in brain fog, fatigue, irritability, lower muscle mass, and lower motivation.

The Testosterone Centres study goes on to cite that the decrease in testosterone is in direct relation to the amount of alcohol consumed, which poses the question: How much is too much?

In this study, the findings suggest that drinking two to three beers a day caused a “slight” reduction in testosterone for men and none for women, a good sign that moderate drinking doesn’t have that huge of an impact. The way in which alcohol affects hormone levels is related to the chemicals alcohol contains. Beer and wine contain chemicals that can increase oestrogen, thereby lowering testosterone.

Risks of Heavy Drinking
Heavy drinking (more than three drinks a day) is the real culprit for all kinds of health maladies in both men and women: weight gain, lowered testosterone levels in men, and increased testosterone, by up to 60% higher, in women, hence the aggression and arguments that arise, levels. Both sexes are affected in terms of fertility. Studies have shown that men who drink in excess suffer from both fertility and “abnormally low testosterone.”

The citation of breakdown of marriages as alcohol misuse, has risen by 70% of the last 5 years, backed up by top divorce lawyer Amanda McAllister. It is for these reasons, and many others, that rehabilitation for alcohol abuse is necessary to extend the health and vitality of active adults.

Alcohol and Hormones: How Does Alcohol Affect Hormone Levels?

The Quick Fix

phone wine

So it’s not enough to have the latest iPhone, there is the defining case to go with. Apart from saving yourself and children if you have them, from a disaster, undoubtedly the smart phone would be clutched to your bosom, it’s become one of life’s needs, beyond necessity, so pairing the wine and the phone together makes this completely acceptable, normal.

What once we just made calls on, now has become a mark of our culture and a must have. We need it to check on dates, friends, family appointments and communications that 20 years ago would have all taken so much more time and effort. Effort is possibly the key word here. Apart from having to charge it, it takes care of itself. Only groaning if we can’t pick wi fi, just in case we have missed something earth shattering on social media. The mobile phone is another part of 21st century quick fixing, and you are seen as more than odd if you don’t have one.

Wine has the same sort of common bond. If you don’t drink it, or anything else that’s alcohol based, you are an outsider, either desperately stricken or just not one of ‘us’. We do tend to be tribal, and when you announce that you are having a break, say for Dry January, that seems acceptable, however to say that you are stopping, going Alcohol Free for much longer then the defensiveness, raised eyebrows and feelings of being not one of the tribe begin.

During this wonderful weather, the whole concept of ‘relaxing’ in the sunshine with a cheeky little number is totally normalised. Children’s parties are awash with it, the notion of choosing water or soft drinks has become odd.

Back in the 50s wine was a treat, only really imbibing with a special dinner or occasion. Now it is cheap and everywhere. The other quick fix. But what does it fix? At least with the smart phone you have communication, after a bottle of Prosecco or Pinot, the communication tends to go down the toilet. Mood changes, families become concern, aggression starts, trust erodes.

All my clients know that I never say never, we have to stay in the present tense. By the same token we also need to reflect a little on how we see ourselves perhaps in 10, 20 years’ time. Do we want to be well? Might seem like a silly question, but with alcohol and the insidious, slow process of damage gains momentum, depression kicks in, secrets and lies begin to be kept, stress rises, and each part of us, both emotionally and physically begins to be a concern. Guilt becomes huge. I ask clients to write the pros and cons of their drinking, it is an incredibly one-sided list.

If you are having real fun with a couple of glasses that’s great, but who helps those of us who do want to change without being stigmatised or made to feel labelled as diseased?

In conclusion there is no quick fix to be well after an enthusiastic drinking career, we can’t wave magic wands after a month off or a few days, it is a change of habit and lifestyle. As creatures of habit and need a way of breaking what could become a life threatening one. Being authentic, real and honest is priceless, and most especially for those of us in middle age and older. You will be surprised how much more fun it is not to drink excessively, personally for me, being in a room full of those over the eight is enormously repetitive, boring and dull!

Only one life, and we all deserve to be the best we can without Big Alcohol sticking its insidious claws into us.

The Quick Fix