One of the best things we can do for our health and wellbeing is to stop, or dramatically cut down, drinking alcohol
My relationship with alcohol started when I was 14, or probably before. But my early to mid teens was certainly when it became a regular feature in my life.
The relationship has been a difficult one ever since.
What started out as teenage rebellion became a way to cope with stress.
In 2019, I underwent a medical detox, which basically means being sedated for a week while the alcohol leaves your system and you get over the worst of the withdrawals.
The idea is to lessen your risk of (potentially life-threatening) seizures.
That was the easy bit. Recovery is an ongoing process.
Let’s face it, alcohol is EVERYWHERE. And when something has been such a huge part of your life for so long, it’s really hard to break the habit.
As part of my recovery, I spoke with author Charles Moseley, whose approach to giving up alcohol is completely different to anything I’ve encountered before.
His method doesn’t involve cutting down gradually, undergoing medical treatment, or attending AA or SMART recovery groups.
And it doesn’t involve psychologists or counsellors trying to help you get to the bottom of why you’re drinking.
Instead, he challenges the very misconceptions that keep us, as a nation, drinking. And he doesn’t beat about the bush.
Charles Moseley’s Stop Now addiction counselling guarantees recovery in just one session and is based on educating clients about alcohol so that they won’t want to drink anymore.
And that’s the key – not wanting to drink.
Previously, every hour I had spent talking with professionals and peers about drink and all the reasons why I shouldn’t – and wasn’t allowed to – just had me heading for the nearest off-licence as soon as the session was over.
But my session with Charles – albeit via Zoom – was different. He really gave me something (well, a few things actually) to think about.
Firstly, he talked about the misconceptions, or falseties about drinking. Wine tasting, for example. And wine pairing. He challenged me that it doesn’t taste good at all.
And while I didn’t give up drinking after one session, I certainly considered this the next time I had a sip of red wine.
I decided he was right. Instead of tasting the dark fruit, liquorice and vanilla notes of my favourite Shiraz, I tasted alcohol.
So I gave up red wine – my go-to of nearly 15 years and a staple of just about every press trip I have covered.
Next challenge: Spirits.
Charles spoke at length about how alcohol is extremely bad for our mental and physical wellbeing. Something we all know, right?
But something about the way he conveys the message is different.
He describes alcohol’s carcinogenic properties so succinctly that it’s difficult to let a drink slide down your throat and shake off the sobering thought of mouth, throat, stomach, pancreatic, liver, or bowel cancer.
And he’s right. Alcohol lines every single part of the digestive tract and has the potential to cause so much harm.
That’s without touching on the mental health implications.
Charles is also keen to point out that alcohol is an addictive drug. It might be legal, but it’s a highly addictive drug affecting record numbers of people.
The more you have, the more you want.
Charles claims part of the problem is alcohol messaging reinforced by the Government, NHS and major charities which encourage us to drink in moderation – sticking to 14 units a week.
He argues that, because alcohol is so addictive, it’s consumption is progressive and there can be no real ‘moderation’.
Charles also went on to challenge my own ‘excuses’… stressed, anxious, not confident in social situations, want to have fun at a party…
He simply asked me if I would hand my children a can of beer whenever they felt stressed, anxious, not confident or wanted to have fun at a party.
Once he’d put it all into perspective, it made perfect sense and I felt rather silly. Why on earth had I placed so much trust in alcohol?
The answer is because we are led to believe that it’s part of adulthood, it’s acceptible and it’s sophisticated.
But, trust me, there’s nothing sophisticated about hiding hangovers and empty wine bottles.
If you, too, have tried and failed to give up drinking, I’d suggest having a word with Charles.
He’s not a doctor, scientist or psychotherapist, but he talks an awful lot of sense.
Whether you’re sober for October, cutting down after lockdown, or are looking to make longer term lifestyle changes, here are three books which might change your thinking around alcohol for good…
- First up is, of course, Charles Moseley’s Why We Shouldn’t Drink Alcohol.
Charles argues that, because alcohol is addictive and carcinogenic, we shouldn’t drink it altogether.
He claims that by understanding exactly how it affects us, we can easily re-think our relationship with alcohol and improve our health and happiness.
This is a great read for anyone drawn to facts rather than talking therapy, or who has never really engaged with other abstinence methods in the past.
Order your copy now on Amazon
2. The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray is a staple for anyone seriously looking to turn a corner.
Catherine’s candid account of her own struggles are likely to feel incredibly familiar and, for anyone still in doubt whether their symptoms are alcohol related, it will all become clear.
You will laugh at the similarities, gasp at the tell-tale sweating and unexplained bruising, and immediately want to know how it all ends.
What really hits home, apart from this honest account of hitting rock bottom and ongoing recovery, is the acknowledgement that alcohol abuse is a form of slow suicide and is often intrinsicly linked to self-esteem and self-loathing.
It is indeed a form of self-harm.
Once you pick this book up, you won’t want to put it down.
3. Willpower: Discover It, Use It And Get What You Want – This one isn’t about giving up alcohol per se but, as the title suggests, it’s about willpower and learning how to become a master of self-control.
Drinking is covered in the book, which is written by globally acclaimed psychologist and executive coach Ros Taylor, who is passionate that willpower can be learned and developed.
She points out that it has been proven that strong willpower is a better predictor of success than a high IQ.
Expect some serious self-development ‘homework’ in this little gem, which has the potential to turn your bad habits and behaviours around for good.
This is not just a good read but a workbook filled with thought-provoking exercises and challenges.