An Alternative To AA – Why My Approach Is Different

An Alternative To AA – Why My Approach Is Different

There’s one topic I tend to tiptoe around in my videos.

I’ve been reluctant to talk about AA, for fear of upsetting anyone.

Yet it seems increasingly important to point out the obvious: Alcoholics Anonymous isn’t for everyone.

(It certainly wasn’t my cup of tea).

For many people, there’s something about it that just feels… ‘off’ 

If you’re looking for an alternative to AA, I thought it was about time I explained why my approach is different.

Key points

If AA works for you, stick with it

I believe anything that helps people quit drinking is a good thing, so if the 12 step approach works for you, then great. But don’t let anyone tell you that you ‘should’ go to AA, get a sponsor or declare yourself an alcoholic. (You don’t need to use that word, as I explained here). 

 

Lifestyle upgrade vs lifelong battle

When I quit drinking, I knew it would only last if I could figure out a way to feel good about sobriety. I didn’t want to rely on willpower or feel deprived for the rest of my life. The idea of having to continually attend meetings felt depressing.

Nowadays, one of my biggest goals with The Sober School is to show women that alcohol free living isn’t a punishment – it’s a lifestyle upgrade. It’s not a stone in your shoe or a cross to bear because you failed at drinking ‘normally’. 

 

There’s nothing wrong with you

The 12 Steps of AA (which you can read here) focus on correcting your character defects. This is where my approach alters dramatically. I don’t think there is anything wrong with you – becoming addicted to an addictive substance is entirely predictable. You aren’t weak, broken or defective. 

If you want to change your relationship with alcohol, you need to learn how to change your response to your emotions. Most of us haven’t been taught how to do that. And when you’re consumed by all your supposed failings, the chances are you won’t ever do that work.

 

Looking for an alternative to AA?

We’re all just doing the best we can with the tools we have available to us. If you’ve decided that alcohol is a tool that’s no longer working for you – and you’d like to learn how to handle life a little differently – details of my online coaching programme are here

 

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Why Can’t I Cut Down Or Control My Drinking?

Why Can’t I Cut Down Or Control My Drinking?

Why can’t I cut down?

Why can’t I be like other people, who have a few drinks and then stop? What’s wrong with me?

My inability to control my drinking used to feel like such a personal failing – a weakness.

Nowadays, things are different. 

Not only am I eight years sober, but my views on all this have changed too. 

If you’ve been wondering why you can’t cut down, this video will help.

Key points:

Why can some people cut down?

We never know what happens behind closed doors – I did most of my drinking in secret. Many so-called ‘moderate drinkers’ aren’t actually in as much control as they think. However, their intake is restricted by their finances, work commitments or other responsibilities.

Some people don’t actually like the sensation of feeling drunk or out of control, so they don’t get a huge amount of pleasure from drinking. For others, alcohol just isn’t their thing – perhaps there’s something else they fall back on instead.

 

We’re conditioned to think we should be able to control alcohol

Alcohol is the most glamorised and romanticised drug on the planet and we’re told we should be able to use this addictive substance responsibly. We’re taught that it’s just a small section of the population who can’t do this, and that’s because there’s something wrong with them.

That’s total nonsense. It’s not the user that’s the problem – it’s the substance. With all other drugs, we seem to understand this. For example, we don’t shame smokers for becoming addicted to nicotine. We don’t tell them that they should be able to cut down or control themselves better!

 

What to do instead

Step off the hamster wheel of trying to come up with tricks to cut down that don’t work. Give your mind and body a break by experimenting with alcohol free living for a couple of months. You don’t need to make any long term decisions.

Give yourself the opportunity to experience sobriety properly so you can find out what it’s really like and get past the difficult early days and weeks (and on to the really good part). You might just discover it’s far more freeing and enjoyable than you ever thought possible. 

 

If you’d like some help and support to quit drinking or take a break from booze, click here for details of my online course.

 

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Why You Should Forget About Rock Bottom

Why You Should Forget About Rock Bottom

If you’ve been thinking about your relationship with alcohol for a while, the chances are you’ve heard about ‘hitting rock bottom.’ 

This is the low point that drinkers apparently need to sink to before they feel ready to quit for good.

Personally, I think rock bottom is an unhelpful myth.

In this video I explain why I decided to quit before things got really bad – and why you might want to do the same.

Key points:

Why I quit drinking

My drinking worried me – I’d noticed that I liked drinking alone (at home) the most. I seemed to be on a runaway train that was slowly gaining speed as I drank more often and crossed more boundaries. But there was no big crash or rock bottom moment.

 

Why it suits us to believe in rock bottom

Culturally, we have this idea that you need to be falling down and losing everything before you can address your relationship with booze. You’re either a ‘normal drinker’ or a raging alcoholic. And as long as it’s not the latter, you’re fine… right? You don’t need to change.

 

Quitting drinking in the grey zone

There is a grey zone between the extremes of ‘rock bottom alcoholic’ and “everything is absolutely fine!” In all other areas of life – from our weight to our finances and our relationships – we don’t wait until things reach rock bottom before taking action. 

 

How to know if it’s time to change

If you’re frequently drinking more than you intend to and it’s making you unhappy, that’s a sign. If you’re worried about your drinking or suspect it’s holding you back from living your best life, then that’s more than enough to begin. 

 

How to get started

Commit to taking a proper break from booze – for a couple of months – as an experiment. You don’t have to make any long term decisions. A decent break means you’ll find out what sobriety is really all about, get past the awkward early weeks and on to the good bit of alcohol free living! You want to experience that before making any decisions. 

If you’d love some help and support to quit drinking or take a break from booze, click here for details of my online course.

 

How To Make It Through Friday Night Without Drinking

How To Make It Through Friday Night Without Drinking

For the longest time I couldn’t get through Friday night without drinking.

Each week looked something like this: 

Monday: Vow to quit forever. This is IT!
Tuesday: Still thinking about that last hangover
Wednesday: Gosh this week feels long…
Thursday: Perhaps one drink would be ok?
Friday: You *have* to drink on a Friday night!

Back then, being sober at the weekend seemed unthinkable. 

Nowadays, I love my alcohol free Friday nights.

Today I want to show you how I shifted my thinking about them:

Why being sober on a Friday night matters

If you only ever quit from Monday to Thursday, you keep repeating the hardest bit of sobriety (the beginning) over and over again. You never reach the good bit of alcohol free living. You’re teaching yourself that sobriety is only possible on certain days of the week. 

 

Identify what you’re looking for in alcohol

What is the pleasure, benefit or service that you believe booze is going to provide for you? Be really specific. Do you believe it relaxes you? Do you view it as a treat? A celebration? Journal on this if you need to. Take your time – your answers are important. 

 

Plan an alternative way of meeting your needs

Now you know what you’re looking for in booze, it’s time to work out how else you can give yourself what you need, without using a drug like alcohol. So if wine is your way of giving yourself permission to relax, how else could you do that? I give some examples in the video.

 

Romanticise being alcohol free on Friday night

Stop the ‘poor me’ thoughts and put your brain to work on finding thoughts that are going to make you feel good. Start using your mental energy to get excited about everything you’re going to gain from staying sober. Write a list and keep adding to it throughout the week.

 

Ready to shift your thinking around alcohol for good? Find out more about my stop drinking class here.

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How To Make Sobriety Feel Less Awkward

How To Make Sobriety Feel Less Awkward

When you first quit drinking, alcohol free living can feel a bit awkward.

It’s new. Different. Uncomfortable. 

You’re figuring out a lot of stuff you haven’t done before and trying to keep your head in the right place.

I know that sometimes, it can feel like a lot of work.

You wonder, “When does this get easier?” 

That’s exactly what this video is all about: 

Key points:

The secret to making sobriety feel less awkward

The key is to stop – and stay stopped – long enough for sobriety to become your new normal. If you quit from Monday to Thursday each week and then drink all weekend, you don’t ever do that. Instead, you end up repeating the hardest bit of sobriety (the beginning) again and again.

 

It’s a bit like starting a new job 

You wouldn’t come home after your first day and say, “I’ve tried it once and it was really awkward! What’s the point in going back and trying again?” You’d give yourself at least 3 months to settle in, knowing that it’s going to take a while to learn how everything works.

 

Why one month isn’t enough

If you always drink on a Friday night, then in a single month off booze you may only get to practice not drinking at the weekend four times. It’s hard for it to become your new normal in such a short space of time. You need a bit longer to adjust and feel less awkward.

 

Good goals

I recommend taking a break from booze for a minimum of 6 weeks – but 3 months would be better. There’s a lot of good that happens around the 90 to 100 day mark. If you need help to make that break happen, you can find out more about my Getting Unstuck course here.

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“Want A Glass Of Wine?” (Here’s What To Say Next)

“Want A Glass Of Wine?” (Here’s What To Say Next)

“Do you fancy a glass of wine or shall we get a bottle?”

Picture the scene – you’ve decided to stop drinking. Maybe you’ve quit for good… or perhaps you’re experimenting with a break from booze.

Either way, you haven’t exactly broadcast the news.

So what do you say to friends / relatives / work colleagues who assume you’re still drinking?  

I think there are two things you must do, for an easy life.

I explain all in this video:

Key points:

Remember: you’re awesome

If you can figure out how to not drink at home, behind closed doors, then you sure as hell can figure out how to say no to a glass of wine in a bar. Don’t let your brain tell you a story that this is unmanageable or you can’t handle this.

 

Be positive about your sobriety 

Don’t apologise or say you’re “trying to be good” – that allows others to try and convince you otherwise. Make your life easier by saying, “I’m really enjoying this break, I’ve not felt this good in ages, I’m not even missing wine…” You can fake that enthusiasm if you need to!

 

Follow up with a clear request

Being specific about what you want ensures you get a glass of something nice. It also gives the person offering you a drink some clear instructions. People hate feeling like they’re being a bad host or as if they’re doing the wrong thing.

 

Admit that you’re taking a break

There’s nothing wrong with using excuses like “I’m driving” or “I’m on antibiotics” – I’ve used them all myself in the past. But the problem with that kind of response is that you keep yourself in a stressful holding pattern. The next time you go out, you’ll be offered a glass of wine again.

Trying to disguise your break means you never get the opportunity to be honest and really own what you’re doing. You don’t get to discover just how accepting and supportive other people can be.

 

If you’d like some help and support to quit drinking, click here for details of my online course.

Download your free Wine O'Clock Survival Guide!

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