Fed up with hangovers, but not willing to stay in for the rest of your life? DARE’s Helen Foster finds out if you can be the life and soul – teetotal
My name is Helen,and I am not an alcoholic. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was horribly drunk. But recently my nightly glass of wine at home has become three, and there’s been the odd night out when I’ve had five drinks or more. I calculate that,in the past three weeks, I ‘ve had about 64 units (that’s 22 over the recommended guidelines). This is not good. I need to take a break for the sake of my head the morning after, not to mention my liver but also because I ‘m running a half-marathon in two weeks. The problem? My willpower. I reckon it’s time to call in the experts. My guru is Rahul Nag founder of the website www.alcoholfreesociallife.com He stopped drinking five years ago after being sick on the bus duringa hangover. He offers a course- three e-books and a self-hypnosis audio download ( £33)– comprising a number of different ways to fight your drink demons. lt’s not a step-by-step guide; instead, you read the books (which takes an hour or so) and then choose the approach that best fits your personality. Rahul claims that, bythe end, you’ll either be happy to go out and not drink at all without feeling like a sad sack or you’ll learn how to stop at one or two instead of giving in to five or six. I put his theories to the test.
1. Tap into that Emotion When I read about the ‘emotional health technique’, I feel as sick as Rahul on that bus as it’s so cringe-worthy. If cravings strike, I have to work out what emotions – such as loneliness or shyness – are behind my need to have a drink and repeat the mantra ‘Even though I have this feeling, I deeply and completely accept myself’. At the same time, I must repeatedly tap my hand, head, eyebrows chin or collarbone to ‘release’ these emotions. This will work if only because any barman seeing me tapping and muttering will refuse to serve me. When I reach the bar. l’ve never wanted a drink less in my life – the only mantra in my head is: ‘l will not crave a glass of wine, as I don’t want to do that tapping thing.’ I stick to soda water all night’
Verdict: The theory is that many people drink to hide negative emotions and by tapping- before you go out! – you’ll feel them less. After 40 minutes trying to identify any feelings I’ m drinking to hide, I conclude that this isn’t the reason I drink. Next! 2. Kick the habit I drink in two places: at home after work and out with friends According to Rahul, I need to know why, if I want to break the habit. The first is easy: I work from home and a glass of wine tells my brain I’ve finished for the day. The book tells me to replace it with something else, so I force myself to go for a swim. Working out why I drink when I ‘m out is harder. lt ‘s not one of Rahul’s common reasons i,e peer pressure, confidence or boredom. Realisationhits me as I stand at the bar without a clue what non-alcoholic drink to order- | drink in pubs because I like the taste of wine/cider/gin and hate the sugary taste of soft drinks.
Verdict: This technique was very helpful as it really got to the crux of why I drink. For the next two weeks I decide to order tonic water – if it tastes all right with gin in it, I can drink it neat! Perfect. 3. Picture the scene By day five, I’m desperate for after-work wine and I can’t face a swim. Time for ‘Pleasure or Pain’, an exercise that gets you to list all the bad experiences you’ve had from drinking, and then visualize them in vivid detail. The idea is that you feel so ashamed you can’t face alcohol. Verdict: My worst experience involved a lot of vodka and a pair of expensive trousers. I still remember the horror on the dry-cleaner’s face the next day. I try to focus on the shame when she refused to take the trousers, but it doesn’thelp – it seems so totally unrelated to my nightly glass of wine. Instead I focus on the reason I ‘m doing this- the half-marathon. I remember how bad you feel at 13 miles if you’re under par and tell myself that, if I drink tonight, I will be. lt works. 4. Choose success Ten days in and yesterday I caught myself sniffing a glass of wine as I carried it to a friend. Time for the self-hypnosis section of the plan. Tonight before I go out, I listen to 25 minutes of a very slow-speaking man telling me that I canbe successful at not drinking. I’m told to imagine myself with friends laughing joking and joining in – with no drink in my hand. All I can think is ‘if you’d stop talking, I could be doing just that’. Verdict: Again, it didn’t really address my own issues, but throughout this plan there are little gems to be found. Rahul advises that, before you make any decision you take two deep breaths and tell yourself to make the right choice for you. At one point ,l think,’ Oh, l’ve done1 0 days now- one drink won’t hurt’. Taking the deep breathsgave me time to realize that since my aim is to totally quit alcohol for two weeks, one drink will ruin everything. So, even though a friend is waving a bottle in front of me, I decline. So, did I manage the next four days? Yes. And I shaved 22 minutes off my best time. I admit that being in a pub when you’re not drinking isn’t a whole heap of fun – everyone wants to know why and to persuade you otherwise, or assumes you’re pregnant. But I’ve learnt that, if I order a soft drink first, it’s easier to alternate alcohol and soft drinks for the rest of the night. Even now, two weeks later, I’m not drinking as much and I’ve not drunk at home since. Using the techniques keeps you focused, but you do need willpower and sell confidence to say no. Rahul says that if you try his plan for a month, you’ll give up alcohol for good – although I still refuse to tap any part of my anatomy to make it happen…
To order your copy and be as successful as Helen was, go to www.alcoholfreesociallife.com
(Taken from Dare Magazine, UK, August 2007)
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