Controlled Drinking Therapy

wine pic

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, or on mobile 07528273009 office number 01423-779030.



Controlled Drinking Therapy

Loneliness & Alcohol



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


Training for Sanctuary Recovery Coaches

Jane T’s Blog


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 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.


A husbands Blog

Sally B’s blog



Well, how do I begin…

Here goes, once upon a time there was a girl of sixteen who was completely crippled with social anxiety, lack of self-esteem, although outwardly seemed to have it all. Good family background, loving parents, great education that led me to becoming a successful professional, and then at 27 married to a man who received the stamp of approval of both friends and my family. It was my rose-tinted glasses time. I was seemingly in a great place. I had never though revealed my cruel pal, alcohol. Socially I drank within the fun limits, but on my own I would sneak bottles of wine into both my parents’ home and then my home with my husband and quickly two children, to deal with this anxiety. Up until I was about 35 it was  going so well! Then the changes started to happen. My secret drinking ramped up,  I began not wanting to be social at all, I really couldn’t be bothered I suppose with the control and smiley face I put on.

By the time I got to 40 I hit the buffers. My children approaching their teens, husband working all hours, me getting ratty or should I say rat arsed when I did see him, as the saying goes, I did lose the plot. Stuff started to slide, my work suffered but more importantly my relationships with both parents and my immediate family unit went off the rails. From being apparently a capable woman, I was a mess. My daughter noticed it the most, my husband didn’t get it, who can blame him, and buried his head in the sand.

I knew I was drinking too much, so did eventually do the right thing and seek help from  my GP. He was kind but couldn’t offer the sort of support I was seeking. By this time, I hated drinking, but it was my way of coping

One drunken night I was browsing away, looking at all sorts of ways to resolve this, and came across a link to the book, The Sober Revolution. That is how I found Sarah.

I live in London, working day always at least 12 hours, followed by my swigging time then a very blurred bit of ‘family’ time, so drunkenly I called her at 8 o’clock in the evening. I can’t really remember what I said, but she did, and the next day sent me a text to say how brave I had been. I rang her, sober.

Long story short, well, six weeks to be precise, this feisty Yorkshire woman fixed me. She made me see that I was way more pivotal than I thought, she got rid of my shame and self-obsession with being a complete failure, and see that alcohol was making the anxiety I had suffered from all of my life was compounded by the booze.

She seems to pick up on those little things that trigger wanting a glass or four and react so quickly not quite sure whether she ever turns off! I have never known a more hard-working passionate person. If anyone wants an alternative from the usual, where usually you have an hour, after that out you go, or ten minutes on the phone and we are done, Sarah is never on the clock. She is open about her problems with drinking too, which I found so reassuring, she understood and has such empathy.

I am not going to say I shall never have a drink again, Sarah taught me that, never say never, but stay in the present tense,  nor I am not going say I don’t still suffer from anxiety but have found different coping mechanisms. Working alongside Sarah has made me way less stressy, irritable and a bonkers over thinker, if you want a far less regimented approach, try The Sanctuary, it is a real revolution.



Sally B’s blog

L B’s Blog

found Sarah just in the nick of time for me. I was feeling trapped in a living hell of drinking wine on a daily basis then waking up full of regret and worry/ anxiety only to repeat the same thing again. I had had some bloods done and my liver results were slightly elevated meaning I needed to do something, I felt lost, helpless and actually quite desperate.

Outwardly, people had no idea of my struggles, I was continuing to hold down a professional job, and run a busy house/ family.

I had been wanting to stop drinking for a while and had read lots of books on the subject but it wasn’t until I found Sarah that I found the strength to actually do it.

Sarah Is non- judgemental, empathetic and down to earth but most of all she just ‘got me’ and could see exactly where I was coming from. She has lots of experience in this field and genuinely cares about her clients, her 6 week programme is very tailored to the individual person and I found the daily contact by email or FaceTime very supportive.

I have completed the 6 weeks with Sarah’s incredible support and now see drink for what it really is and actually don’t want it in my life. I feel liberated, happy, more confident and much less anxious.

I would definitely recommend Sarah and the sanctuary to anyone who is struggling to control their drinking and wants a supportive, caring and non-judgemental approach that achieves real results.

L B’s Blog

Stress, Anxiety & Alcohol, the Quick Fix



There has always been an assumption that those of us who have been bewitched by alcohol had some kind of choice, and outsiders looking in, seem to be totally perplexed why as very often highly functioning people, intelligent working or not, and have no understanding of why we get in such a cycle of use, when they can take it or leave it.

Society today is under more pressure than ever, and outwardly those of us who seem to have all our ducks in a row, are paddling like hyper supersonic ducks under the surface. From the moment we wake, usually after a broken and heavy heart beating ineffective sleep, we are wired to go more quickly, full of anxiety, remorse, guilt and shame, face the world and seemingly with confidence.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We front it out, we are so paranoid that anyone should suspect we have a problem we double and triple check everything we do and have to think very carefully when we speak that others don’t get a whiff of what we have been doing behind closed doors, which is sneaking a bottle or two back home, and then having to hide that from family or friends. Rarely do we drink too much socially, we want to be alone, isolated and secretive about our method of medication. It is not a choice, it is a need and habit, that for a few hours of the day, our brains can quite conclusively switch off. Nothing else seems to do it so well once the habit has kicked in.

Many clients do go to the doctor, and express their concern, which is a brave step, but we lie. We say we are depressed, and because of that sometimes have a little too much to drink. Consequence, anti depressants are handed out, which are totally ineffective because they are drinking in truth every day, but try to imagine that more legal drugs will help.

The stress is enormous, the tiredness and vulnerability huge, and the anxiety off the Richter scale.

Mainstream agencies start with the consequence not the cause. Labelled if the reality does come out as alcoholic, people then have to try to accept that, and attend pretty ineffective group therapies and when time is short, how on earth can they be expected to commit to that? So rather than look at the cause, there is a very negative conclusion that we are powerless, and will never be off the hook with alcohol because we have no will power.

Alcohol is the quick fix, always temporary until unfortunately and often after being told you are an alkie, you deny that and carry on, which eventually can lead to full blown alcoholism, when it could so easily been nipped in the bud if you could have had appropriate help for unique worries, anxieties and stress, the drinking side effect could have been either stopped or managed. It is long overdue that we adopt a different approach, and recognise that so many of us who saw this as an answer never wanted to be trapped, but understood, we may cut down on the horrible consequences that are suffered on a daily basis by millions of very sensitive people who can’t access proper treatment and are judged constantly. The hypocrisy by those who judge is almost as bad as the booze! So much sympathy is shown to mental health issues these days, THIS is a mental health issue, so why are clients like mine and others, treated with such uncompassionate care? It is completely mystifying to me, and because of it has made this one of the biggest health problems in the world. It makes me very very sad indeed. Would the government for once listen to common sense instead of following an outdated script.

Stress, Anxiety & Alcohol, the Quick Fix

Booze Bereavement

Perhaps we don’t recognise that a ‘thing’ that what was once fun, and then turned into grief, pain, upset and shame should have the same sort of effect as losing a loved one.

But the fact is losing your friend in a bottle can be enormously upsetting. We ask ourselves ‘why me’? We look and meet others who can take it or leave it, and it seems so unfair, and no it is not a pity party more of a puzzle of what is wrong with us. Whether we are dependent or habitual, or often have weeks off the sauce, for example Dry January or Sober October, there is almost an ecstasy when the time comes that we have done our bit, feel proud and much better, we almost gag to get back to it, slowly perhaps, possibly doing three days a week, setting limits, but sadly it all goes belly up after a couple of weeks, our tolerance ramps up again and back to square one.

The fact is I believe is that we are not weak or programmed to be OTT with drink, we have got to a point where it becomes self medicating, trying to salve the anxiety, worry, responsibility et al without talking to others about our problems. Communication is key, and in this modern world where we don’t want to show our true feelings, lest we appear wimpish,  most especially women over the age of 45, using our front to say we are always fine, rather than admit we have some big emotional changes that go on, the wine bottle doesn’t judge, and temporarily takes away our woes.

If we have other health issues, for example cancer, we are more than happy to join groups, seek support, and always are treated with compassion and because of that, we do feel no shame at all.

Not so with misusing alcohol, we are secretive, and hide the habit. It is way over time to break this stigma, we need to talk, to share, and seek appropriate care, which even in th 21st century is very thin on the ground,

We are tribal, and need unique support, the Sanctuary has always provided that, even saw a gap regarding couples who enable each other, and now have a great programme for men too, each programme is client led, there is no script or rules only empathy and constant care.  It might be inconceivable that I and my new team can deliver, but think the blogs here show that we do, and make sure that we pair clients with the right journey, it is an adventure with us not a torture.

This is a loss for sure, but like most grieving processes, we can get through it.



Booze Bereavement