Time to Hear us Roar

lions

For the last few weeks, the media have been not only been constantly reporting frightening and very intensive news regarding the Coronavirus, but has also caused sheer panic. According to figures I can find, since the start of the pandemic, there has been 165,257 deaths worldwide linked to it. Meantime it is reported that 3 million people a year die from alcohol dependency, in the last 5 months that equates to 1,250,000.
I watch the comments that rage often about those who are affected with alcohol dependency have a choice, that it is a voluntary act, and their fault. That leads to more and more, most especially now isolating themselves, not seeking help, and certainly not going to hospitals for treatment. They already feel like a burden, shameful and riddled with anxiety, perhaps joining online groups but that is as far as they dare go. They are judged, dramatically so. Unlike so many other differences with people today, being hooked on alcohol, is still the last taboo. None of us who began our drinking career with a carefree, fun attitude, decided that we would become drunkards. We are wired differently, and it is a question of all or nothing for us.
If people want vent and blame, then direct your anger to Big Alcohol, when you are vulnerable and often have other mental health issues it makes you easy prey, we are not stupid and realise that our behaviour does seem insane. It is, but so is being unable to access the appropriate care and empathy for those who struggle. The marketing of alcohol as a treat and a ‘must have’ relaxant, the virtual meet ups that now have appeared on social media that are having wine time normalised around 4pm, make the failure of control even more intense.
Many of my clients are over 45, and not connected quite so much to the internet for socialising, at least in what were normal times, those over 55 simply don’t want to be sociable if they have been drinking for years, especially in the current climate, they drink home alone, and when they do have only alcohol to turn to, it is a form of brainwashing doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The best definition of insanity from Einstein. It is a disease, not a choice.
If there had been as much coverage of this dark and silent Pandemic as there has with Covid-19 , day in, day out would we have sympathy or scorn?
I have enormous respect for the NHS, and it is not their fault that there is lack of funding for help with addictions, but the Governments. Now they are trying to do their absolute best to treat those afflicted with Corona and survive themselves.  The Government is not doing enough to protect them.
We all prefer real time contact, that has now diminished and is causing agony in a strange world, with I believe an even stranger one world once the lockdown is over.
The point of this is to make it truly clear I hope that we need specialist care for alcohol dependency, not blanket coverage. Those working in this area need to come together and formulate a plan to join forces to make this happen, we all are tribal, and need to direct our experiences to those who we completely relate to, and why their circumstances have led them to their misuse.
Therapists and counsellors need to support each other, and attempt to find a solution, we are a worldwide community and rather than being stalled we should be stunned into action to and have an independent organisation that works towards one goal. We cannot be expected to come up with any cures, whilst Big Alcohol is in the driving seat there will never be one, but we must all communicate, and I know that many will be able to raise awareness via the press and news programmes. We need to make the legal drug pushers and Governments accountable and give those who are afflicted with this disease a voice and not be castigated for speaking out.

We must come together and ROAR.

 

Time to Hear us Roar

Helen’s Blog

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I was always a sociable person and had many friends. From an early age I was often invited to parties and I really enjoyed it. During my teenage years alcohol started to be a part of what I consumed at parties and I enjoyed it, but not overly so. But drink alcohol is what we Swedes do when we want to celebrate. With time I started to think that I needed alcohol to enjoy a party, even though I had always enjoyed parties as a child. My preferred tipple was Champagne and Chardonnay. That was what the beautiful women on TV consumed and I wanted to be the same.

I drank alcohol for about 25 years but for some reason I never turned into a glamorous woman portrayed on the TV. I turned into a bloated, red-faced, self-pitying person who lost control over her emotions. After my drinking sessions I suffered from guilt and anxiety since I did not remember what I had said or done. It was horrific.

I never lost my job, my marriage, my children or my house due to my drinking, but I lost my self-respect. And I knew that this was not sustainable. There are loads of drunkards in my family so I knew that things could get a lot worse if I did not pick myself up.

I did try the mainstream groups, but somehow couldn’t make the work for me and felt like a square peg in a round hole. Instead I found Harrogate Sanctuary after searching for therapy. Sarah managed to change my thinking, my drinking thinking! I am now well into my fifth month alcohol-free and I have not felt so good in years.

So what have I discovered in my journey? Quite a few things actually and some of them surprising; You do not need to drink alcohol to have fun at a party. I have now been sober on many social occasions and I am having just as much fun as I did when I was drinking. The difference is that I now remember everything that happened and I don’t get overemotional and insincere.

When you are not experiencing the ups and downs of being drunk and hung-over you get much more mental clarity. With mental clarity comes insight in how you want to spend your time.

Your patience increases tenfold. I used to try and rush my children at bedtime so I could go downstairs and drink chardonnay. Now, I am enjoying our conversations at bedtime and I feel more close to them than ever.

Intimacy with your spouse becomes different. Alcohol can sometimes make you look for sexual kicks while you are on your drunken high, but there is no intimacy in that. Just release. Now when I am initiating intercourse with my husband it is much more intimate since it is a genuine connection that is being made.

I find it easier to handle relatives and difficult situations with calm and presence. Every year there is so much stress surrounding Easter, Birthdays and Christmas, and who spends them with us.

I have an easier time to set boundaries and saying no. People pleasing is quite common among women who misuse alcohol. Initially alcohol provides the relief from trying to meet various demands. It is at wine o’clock you anesthetize yourself from everyone else’s demands. Now I have started to say no and consider my own needs. And that does not include wine.

I don’t procrastinate anymore. I used to think that I was a procrastinator, but it turns out that without alcohol I am not. In fact I am person who gets things done. Who knew? I didn’t because I was so focused on handling my life whilst drinking unhealthily. Since I now don’t drink poison disguised as a treat, I am in a position to be myself and sort things out I am getting my self-respect back. Slowly I am building myself up and showing myself care and consideration. When I was drinking I was always feeling guilty about someone else and never prioritized myself. I felt I did not deserve that, but now I know that I do. I have a right to say no and to take care of my own needs.

I think women today are socialized into thinking that they are responsible for everyone’s emotional needs: family, relatives, colleagues whilst at the same time they have been led to believe that they can have it all. These unrealistic expectations are making women push themselves too hard and if you combine that with alcohol you have set yourself up for a burnout.

I am so glad I stopped drinking alcohol. My life is fuller, more satisfying and I am starting to trust my own judgment again. In this culture you need to be in touch with your inner self and your values. That is not possible with wine in your life as it distorts your inner life. The only thing I regret today is that I did not give up alcohol sooner. What a waste of time wine drinking turned out to be. Now we are all quite understandably terrified of the COVID-19 virus, and in turn I am reading how much more alcohol is being sold, there is no doubt I would have numbed out the fear with wine, rather than face it.

What a waste of time wine drinking turned out to be!

 

 

 

Helen’s Blog

The Silent Pandemic

Older drinkers

 

We are now following other countries across the globe, most especially Europe into the lock down phase with Coronavirus. As of now, 15,433 have died from the outbreak, with over 358.000  recorded positive results worldwide. The news, social media, and newspapers are running with this 24/7. It has taken approximately four months to be recognised as a pandemic. It is now regarded as the most dangerously infectious disease on the planet, and is resulting in not only the tragic deaths, but a surge in mental health problems, anxiety and loneliness. There are people who disregarded all the information to stay in isolation this weekend, causing an uproar because of what was seen as irresponsible behaviour, selfish and thoughtless. Pubs, restaurants and bars are closed, but of course prior to the final curtain, the last night of being able to go to your local saw them packed. There is no shortage of booze as far as I can see in shops and supermarkets, no need for stockpiling the shelves will never run dry, there is far too much for Big Alcohol to lose, given the potential boom that will happen with such loneliness and stress building.

The point that I am trying to make with this blog is that Alcohol directly kills £3M people a year worldwide. It is also a causal factor in over 200 disease and injury conditions. So only based on direct deaths, that represents £750000 in four months. If this information was streamed daily, and experts and politicians told us that this was a pandemic and to stop immediately would we? Would it change the lifestyles of so many to the point of them calling time asap?

I can hear the cry, that alcohol dependence is a choice COVID-19 is not. But the crowds that poured onto beaches and into the countryside at the weekend had a choice, and decided to ignore the advice and guidelines, and risked not only their lives but that of others. Alcohol misuse and following rules has to come down to Willingness, information and a big dollop of compassion.

Coronavirus is loud, scary and is not only affecting the elderly. Alcohol is worse, it most definitely can kill and maim at any age. There is stigma, judgement and unkindness thrown at so many who suffer from drinking too much. A cure has been sought for centuries, halfheartedly imo, with no success. If however, the same amount of time and money, appropriate care had have been put in place eons ago for this potentially life threatening substance we may not being seeing the silent pandemic that will go on far longer than any virus ever will. Loneliness is one of the major triggers that leads to a dependence that none of us who have experienced it would want to wish on anyone. 

Please don’t feel ashamed to admit you need help and now, it is one of the most courageous steps you will ever take.

 

 

The Silent Pandemic

Controlled Drinking Therapy

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Drinking in social situations can be fine once you have the control back, and potentially achievable given the right attitude along with the stage you are at with drinking, as I have always said one size does not fit all. I have never wanted to stop anyone having fun, but using wine mainly, as some sort of reward on a daily basis rarely is that.  At home and often alone, it is a form of self-medication, and the longer it goes on the more justification and excuses are found to carry on. It is not a weakness on your part more of a con trick by Big Alcohol and a habit.

There are many women and couples out there that do enjoy social drinking, and these individual appointments online are  for their benefit, giving them the ability to stick to drinking moderately for pleasure and not pain. I have had many years of experience giving therapy for alcohol dependence, and will continue to do so, but also have seen clients who were not hooked on alcohol but had found themselves falling into a routine of using wine primarily because the first drink does give a buzz, seems like a relaxant after busy days and realising that after three or four, it had become the opposite of that. They tend to drink far more behind closed doors than they ever would out with friends or at events, and I have formulated a tool box to make this possible for those of you who are concerned that your drinking starting to be a problem. My Six Week Programme does advocate an Alcohol Free lifestyle, but I know there is a gap for those of you who would prefer to socialise with a couple of glasses of wine. Given the current situation with the Coronavirus staying at home, self isolating may mean that you are not currently going out as much as usual, but there is no reason to operate control within the home, and set goals of how use alcohol. It is important to have accountability, and to be able to have encouragement and a plan rather than trying to go it alone. It can be possible given the right support for those of you who are not in a vice like grip with alcohol. It starts and ends with your decision making and as ever with my work this is client led, you decide, and enable the type of lifestyle you want.

For me, I know that I cannot moderate, but even so, I do believe that if there is a chance of people cutting down the amount they drink it is a step in the right direction, and may well lead to those who have therapy to control their drinking, that some may decide to stop altogether. The aim of this is not to judge, but to help with having a much healthier approach to what could become a very disruptive, the ripple effect of on families, work and friends making for a very frightening future.

This is quite retro, back in my parents days, I am of the baby boomer generation, there was never every day at home drinking, wine was only drunk at parties or over special occasional dinners, with much excitement by the hosts about the type of wine it was and taste.

There is no need to attend group meetings, or even leave your home. I do intend to give an opportunity to like-minded women and couples share their stories with each other if they wish, via technology. We are all tribal and this would be almost like a match making exercise.

I have no intention of having a random chatroom or website, there is a great deal of trolling and unkindness often within these places. My work has always been extremely private, and I understand that blanket coverage of this issue rarely is successful, we are all so unique.

You can choose how many sessions with me you prefer, and when. The first consultation is always free, and gives me the opportunity to ascertain whether this approach would be suitable for you and yours.

If you would like to learn more please, email, sarah@harrogatesanctuary.com or on mobile 07528273009 office number 01423-779030.

Sarah

 

Controlled Drinking Therapy

Loneliness & Alcohol

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For many women over fifty, loneliness can play a very big part in drinking becoming a habit, developing into a dependence.

Perhaps they are homemakers, mothers, or divorcees along with those who are widowed. Their children have left home, even if they are still married, it maybe that after years of putting their all into the children, there has not been the opportunity to take up hobbies that maybe husbands do. So many husbands in this age bracket, the baby boomer generation certainly did fun stuff with their children but left the day to day necessary jobs to the Mother. Sorry to sound sexist, just the way it is.  I often hear from clients that marriage later on in life seems very separate, they don’t talk anymore. 

What once had been a social activity starts to be more useful as a numbing out tool. Doubts about the future, over thinking what now, rears it’s ugly head. There is no doubt that alcohol most certainly will be a very temporary escape, but for them it works, makes them feel less alone. The time spend with a bottle or two of Pinot,  stops the what if thinking. Isolation sets in, not wanting to be found out, secrecy is rampant, and lies trip off the tongue. 

Much of the need does stem from loneliness, they don’t want to cut themselves off, it creeps up gradually until having any light conversations or positive thoughts fly out of the window. Because there is nothing exciting or new going on, simply they have nothing to talk about. As this subject is so stigmatised, not even being able to share the problem is on the agenda.

Ageing, not having support, feeling worthless their unconditional ‘friend’ in a bottle blurs out the emptiness and although the intention is not to be a burden, has the ripple effect of worrying all who love them. There is such a lack of self esteem at this stage, and exhaustion, that the thought of having to stop and make enormous effort to start to mix again with wine seems impossible. These women, clients I see, do not want to go into group meetings they need intense talking therapy, someone they trust and therefore are accountable to, and not imagine for one second that their lives are over. Good advice and always meant well by family especially is ignored, this does need third party invention with no judgement only empathy.

Loneliness I believe is another silent epidemic that is creating both mental and physical issues for thousands of women.

Loneliness & Alcohol

L C’s Blog

After my first meeting with Sarah, I cried all the way home. I was so immensely relieved, grateful and overwhelmed to have found her. It was the first time I knew I could beat my addiction.

Sarah truly understands her clients. She is direct yet gentle; she guides without being prescriptive; and she gives you the space to be truly honest without fear of judgement.

She has freed me from the lies, the isolation and the shame. I have my life back in all its technicolor glory.

I borrowed the “direct yet gentle” from you. You were planning to speak to Dave and said that was how you would approach the conversation. I thought it summed you up perfectly.
This is a very courageous woman. Sarah
L C’s Blog

Training for Sanctuary Recovery Coaches

one to one

Harrogate Sanctuary has grown, and not through any kind of advertising push, or using social media, but via referrals and recommendations, word of mouth. There are many group meetings out there in this digital age, on Instagram and Facebook, which is great along with superb sites like Soberistas, and a tremendous amount of work has gone into them.

My passion has always been towards those who are not so comfortable in group therapy, and tend to prefer counselling one to one, and although I do use the internet especially for international clients to engage on Face Time and Skype, meeting in person gives me the opportunity to understand these women and couples in a much more intimate way, along with local businesses who I am able to visit or have appointments here at The Sanctuary.

I have decided that it is time to start training other people who have been through the trials and tribulations of alcohol dependence and come through and get well and want to play that wellness forward. It will be vital that each coach has had this battle. The training will start in January 2020, if any of my followers on the blog would be interested in discussing this project with me,  I would be more than happy to explain the way I believe it could work, and would love to have feedback and ideas on the concept. This will be directed not purely at individuals, but companies and organisations that feel their workforce would benefit from the openness and honesty of the Sanctuary methods that have a gentle but effective touch.

If you like to learn more, please call or email Sarah@harrogatesanctuary.com.

 

Training for Sanctuary Recovery Coaches

Jane T’s Blog

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I reached the big 4 0 back in 2016. I knew that a party was being organised, my husband isn’t the greatest at keeping secrets, and was touched that he was doing it for me because of my drinking I hadn’t been the best of wives for a while. I was always saying that I could stop, and did for a few months at a time, then the thought which is so common of one won’t hurt popped into my head, and within a few days I was back up to at least one bottle a night, wine, and often more at the weekends. I promised I would get some help, and tried so many online sites, offering courses, groups of others who were in the same boat, but found them to be very samey and frankly didn’t want to spend my evenings answering questions and following scripts and blanket coverage answers to my problem. That isn’t supposed to suggest I am in any way special, but needed a real person who would work one to one with me. Because I work full time, that became impossible too. I felt hopeless and simply stuck.

Long story short, the party was a disaster. I was a disaster. I embarrassed myself, blacked out and fell over, all captured of course on camera. 

Up until 8 weeks ago, I had given up, as had my husband. We were leading separate lives, I was drinking still, but in complete isolation. At a business meeting in London one dreary Wednesday morning, I bumped into a lady who I knew but hadn’t seen for years. Whether or not she spotted the hangover or the sadness or both, she took me to one side and asked if I was okay. It all came tumbling out. To my amazement she told me that she had had a problem too, and searched for a solution that fitted her lifestyle. It took her months but found Harrogate Sanctuary. With low expectations she called and spoke with Sarah. She got what she had been looking for and stayed sober for the first time in 25 years.

I made the call. Sarah’s Six Week Programme is original, she took calls from me in the evenings, saw me at weekends via Face Time, and made the whole process of becoming alcohol free make sense, she gave reasons that I understood to stop. She gave me my self esteem, my confidence and control back. Using CBT rather than addiction counselling is what I needed, along with the very efficient one to one service she offers. For women of my age and ‘type’ it was exactly the right treatment for me. I can’t recommend her work highly enough, and am more than happy to refer her to anyone I meet who has found themselves in the same position. She openly admits she is not the right fit for everyone, but she is for highly functioning, busy professional women who prefer the more private approach.

Thanks to her, my life is on track, I am not seeking perfection, which seemed to drive me, my anxiety has gone, as has the depression and constant guilt,  most importantly I am very, very content. 

Jane

Jane T’s Blog

A husbands Blog

Man and Woman

I noticed that my partner was drinking much more wine than she used to but seemed to be tired. Little things began to change at first. I know that the children were making her irritable, and she had had PND after the birth of our second baby, but the house seemed to have descended in chaos and she just seemed unable to cope. On nights out it was obvious to friends that she had been drinking before we got to the dinner or event, and in the end, she rarely made it to the end of a meal without getting loud and just a bit nasty. That continued at home and some nights I just wanted to pack a bag and leave.

Her friends were starting to worry, and one rang me to say she had to pick the children up from school because my wife was ill. She was drunk. I was relieved that she had the sense not to drive but just lost to know what to do.

We found Sarah after an internet search, and I rang to see what could be done. We went through what I must do first, and that was to confront her and tell her how much worry and sadness her drinking was causing. Sarah made it clear, that she had to take responsibility for this, she wasn’t having any of it to begin with. So, the next bit of advice stumped me a little, Sarah said go and get a film to watch together, odd therapy I thought!! The film though opened the flood gates. It was When a Man Loves a Woman. I was also told to buy the wine to go with it! It broke down all the barriers and the next day Sarah came around, scooped my lady up and got her well. There were many bumps in the road, but Sarah was always there, at the end of the phone or via email, text, to help me out as much as my partner.

I cannot thank her enough, she saved our relationship, we only drink at weekends now, and it has become just a routine and happily not the disaster that we seemed to be heading for. It changed me too because through the appointments we had together and with Sarah, I hadn’t realised how lonely and isolated my partner felt, which was made so much worse by feeling frightened to open up and talk about the symptoms behind her alcohol misuse.

David.

A husbands Blog