Here I am adding any personal stories or contributions that I am sent. If you would like to contribute please contact me through the ‘Contact’ page on the website.
This from Vicky:
California 1983 … The first time I got black out drunk was two days after my 14th birthday. I was with a boy older than me who plied me with Olde English beer and peppermint schnapps. I came to in a terrible state… and covered in vomit, room spinning, I didn’t remember anything.
I am originally from Belfast… family parties in the 70’s… smoke filled room and whiskey, fishing, shooting and bombing stories way into the wee hours. With the troubles going on around us and drinking in the house there was always the threat of violence outside and in. Drama ruled OK
I carried this theme through my teens after we arrived in America. I always drank more than the boys. I would organise the drink for every party and they were plenty and usually dangerous. I was loud, aggressive. Fought boys. Climbed onto roofs, etc etc Drinking helped me keep up this persona. I progressed quickly to selling soft drugs to college softies at parties and then hard drugs to harder people and of course I got these from even harder people to begin with… got in well over my head. I became sick, depressed, addicted to crystal (now called crystal meth) all before I turned 16.
I was encouraged to meet my estranged father back in the UK and skipped off on my adventure there where I met a boy and settled down to raise our family… our firstborn came when I was 18.
We were a good fun couple and drank and were always the last to leave any parties and so it made sense to have more at home so we didn’t have to leave them at all.
When we parted ways I took the boys to London and my drinking career took a solitary turn. I had the look of a rabbit in the head lights constantly but I kept a decent full time job going and better jobs came along and the boys got bigger and my drinking terrified me. I couldn’t stop for a day . Every few months I would do just that to prove to myself that I wasn’t an alcoholic but I just shook my way through to the next day when I could drink again and be proud of myself that I hadn’t needed it the day before… I was in my early thirties.
Time flies and I graduated to passing out on buses, in parks, on trains, any bench on my way home from the office…I’d always find my way home eventually so I didn’t look that bad! my boys would pull a cover over me and pop my spilled glass in the sink practically every night. They never shamed me but they must have been as lonely as I was.
I Sabotaged each and every relationship I embarked on. Created drama so I could storm off and drink and blame the other person sufficiently with my pride intact. I was reckless and cruel and so very very frightened. All of the time. In true form I covered all fear by being loud and aggressive. I would by then attend AA meetings in a panic, often drunk. I was desperate to stop, to cut down. All of the usual… change what I drank, where, who with, when…
I read Alan Carr’s Easyway to quit smoking and found his alcohol version. I didn’t realise that books like this existed. Craig Beck, Wine O’clock, Soberistas, I totally devoured them and felt so good each time I quit for a week or so. I had this taste of what life could be like. Then I’d try and moderate again and my heart would sink and I’d drink the drink… but once you’ve tasted freedom it doesn’t leave you.
Last year I was fortunate enough to become ill with just an ear infection… god only knows how I have stayed physically well. At this point I was living abroad with my partner who I tried to behave well with and hide my ‘problem’ from but still managed to be very hard to live with I’m sure.
I found William Porter’s book by googling ‘alcohol’. When I saw the title ‘Alcohol Explained’ I felt this rush of excitement and a huge feeling of security… a feeling I don’t believe I’ve ever had. It was that strong. Someone was going to explain it to me! I figured that if I knew what the hell was going on I might be able to figure out how to stop it from happening. Hopefully this Mr Porter could shine some light on all of this.
I read it in two days and then again… and again and quit drinking and read ‘this naked mind’ and William’s book again… I soaked myself in his facts and it all clicked … my body would behave like this because of that. Always seeking homeostasis. William gave me answers to questions I hadn’t realised I was asking.
I tried a couple of times over the following few months to moderate but quickly realised the dangerous road I was trekking back down… that I’d need to carry on sober and make a new little bumpy road to sanity in my tender brain. I’ve been sober now for 7 solid months and every day is a total revelation and a blessing. My life is full now and not with drama but with peace and fun and getting to know who I actually am. Thank you William Porter. You saved my life.
Vicky also has an Instagram account that is well worth checking out; @sobersimply
This from Stu:
I finished your book this morning after deciding to stop drinking ~3 weeks ago. I’ve read a couple other books but non of them hit home like yours. Thank you. Thanks for taking the time to write it. Thanks for taking the time to research the facts. Thanks for taking the time to listen to your own feelings and exploring the effects on yourself. Thanks for your suggestions on understanding and tackling the signs of cravings. Thanks for basically giving me my life back (although I’m not sure I’ve ever actually been an adult that didn’t drink, so I guess thanks for giving me an actual life??). I am genuinely grateful. I’m looking forward to picking it up and running through chapters as and when I feel like it.
I was introduced to your book through Annie Graces’ recent podcast – I purchased your book and quickly read it in one sitting. I am now in the process of reading the entire book again. Your simple and straight forward approach explaining each topic is right on point. I am a very experienced season drinker with a long history of “stopping” many times and then going back to drinking as a reward for periods of abstinence. I can relate to the “binge” drinking chapter and the why I could never “just have one or two” chapter. I did manage to stop for almost 8 years in my drinking career, I decided to drink again believing this time it would be different, not so, I went through another 11 years of ‘stop and start again’ drinking before I finally made a decision to quit for ever.
Between Annies’ book (This Naked Mind) and your book it finally clicked for me – no matter how long I stopped, if I decide to drink again it will never be like I have never drank alcohol before. Because of my journey of using /abusing alcohol I quickly regress into the vicious cycle of addiction. I do not like the term “alcoholism” because of the stigma that society (family, friends, colleagues, associates, media and religion) puts on a person that makes this personal claim. If you perviously drank alcohol and then made a decision to quit drinking alcohol society labels you as having a problem. In reality you have a solution.
My personal definition of addiction is: Using a drug (alcohol) to relieve the effects of previously taking the drug (alcohol). I was there most of my drinking career. This cycle is maddening. A key is to become educated in understanding alcohol and how it effects humans and why you become willingly addicted in the first place. Your book expertly explained this and why alcohol is a powerful drug and is addictive.
I now have the confidence and personal commitment to live the rest of my life alcohol free. It feels great!
Thanks for taking the time to write this book, it helped me and I’m sure it will help numerous other people that want to become alcohol free.
This from Lucy:
I wanted to say a huge thank you for writing your book and sharing it.
I struggled in AA for over a decade ‘trying’ to get the programme. Periods of sobriety followed, usually brief, followed by still worse relapse – as a binge drinker who didn’t drink daily, but still drank frequently to total excess, I just didn’t and couldn’t accept powerlessness and the required dependence on God.
As a nurse I just couldn’t fathom why ‘God’ would save a drunk who prayed hard enough and went to AA, yet not save the innocents I have come into contact with in my nursing career. AAs response to this was that I wasn’t working the programme hard enough! I walked away.
The words in your book were like a eureka moment, a sudden light bulb event that FINALLY made sense of everything I believe about addiction.
I no longer drink and never will again and I feel joyous and free about my decision.
Thank you so much
This From Chris:
I just finished your book. I have read a lot of books about alcohol, and addiction, and your book has connected the dots, and filled in the missing pieces in an important and useful way for me.
It think the key here is objectivity. Truly breaking down the reality of drinking. I appreciate approaching this, quitting booze, with logic as the primary tool. The SMART manual is a good reference in this regard as well.
I watched an insightful podcast awhile back. The presenter described himself as a physical being. No story, no background, just a physical person. And alcohol as a liquid. No back back story, no history, etc. So you put the liquid into the body and simply observe what happens. And the conclusion was, objectively, that the negative consequences always outweigh the benefits. So simple.
Thanks for your insightful work I will be using it!
This if from Joe from Dorset:
I’m 34 and alcohol has been part of my life since my early teens. When I was a teenager I was regularly binge drinking and when friends went off to college and drinking down the park was no longer acceptable I began secretly drinking. 20 odd years later, married with a little boy and I’ve managed to function fairly well in spite of alcohol. I’ve always had an awareness of my use of alcohol and a sense that it was unhealthy but never understood why I have always gone back to booze. Now I occasionally binge but my pattern of drinking is most days, about 10 units. Enough to make me constantly tired and a bit fat. I also suffer from depression and anxiety. I’ve had counselling, for about 2 years. Helped me deal with a lot of stuff from early years. Recently I’ve been thinking “I must still have some stuff to work through, why else would I need to drink?”. I bought your book a few months ago but the only time I usually read is in the evening and I’m usually absolutely exhausted or too blurry eyed to focus on the words. After a particularly bingey weekend I was resolved to have a night off on Monday. Coincidentally I picked up your book that evening and finished it by Friday evening. I didn’t read it to stop drinking, in fact I had no intention of stopping, just to gain an understanding of alcohol and perhaps be empowered to control my drinking. I’ve not had a drink or indeed any desire to drink since the first night. Nothing, none whatsoever. And I can’t say I’ve been craving either. Thoughts have popped into my head but haven’t lingered. One thing I was not prepared for was (by day 4) an increasing feeling of anxiety. Or that’s what I thought it was. I think I’ve figured out what this is though. I have a stressful job but it’s not physically taxing. Usually my energy levels are zapped from all the booze but now I’ve stopped this I’ve a load of unspent adrenaline causing me to feel a bit charged. This is good as I plan to pick up on some physical activities that I used to enjoy. I just want to say a huge, heartfelt and genuine thank you for your book. It’s so accessible, easy to read, concise and informative. I’m training to be a counsellor and I’m sure there will be ample opportunity to spread the word of your work.
Thank you again and I look forward to following your blog.
Kindest regards, Joe
The is from Karyn:
Thank you for writing Alcohol Explained.
I noticed some feedback about references at the bottom of this blog and would like to comment on that to start. I am drawn to the logical flow of this book, I do not need references to prove any of your claims. They all make sense to me, and your message contributes to my change in beliefs about alcohol, which is all I need to remain free from my addiction. I will share this book with as many people as I can, including my kids someday.
I have read a few books about the subconscious and conscious mind and how they influence a person’s addiction. The first book I read that introduced the subject was Jason Vale’s Kick the Drink. I found his writing to be inspirational, but there was something not-right about his approach. He said, you must quit drinking after reading his book for good. If you return to drinking the words and message in the book will become less and less potent. I read that book years ago, and after a few months had returned to drinking. I didn’t read it again, even though the concepts were helpful, because he flat out told me it wouldn’t be as useful again. I also read This Naked Mind, by Annie Grace. She used the conscious and subconscious approach, breaking down myths etc. but the tone of the book made me feel like she was selling me something -like life on the other side of drinking is full of rainbows. I didn’t trust her book, but took away some good information. Your book is just the kind of straight-forward, logical and helpful information and techniques I needed. Here is how it helped me.
- The Physiological Effects of Drinking: Knowing that the body and brain attempt to create balance by countering a depressant with a stimulant makes sense. It helped me to understand what is actually happening when a person drinks, and also helped me to understand why, when I’m feeling depressed, drinking is NOT the solution. It’s like an evil loan shark (great analogy) It is actually impossible to feel better with alcohol. I will always lose.
- Fading Effect Bias & The Mental Agony of Stopping: I quit drinking 7 months ago. My strategy for dealing with the subconscious addiction has been to read books, listen to podcasts, watch videos and learn as much as I can about the truth about alcohol. When ever I feel a craving to drink, I read about the negative affects of drinking and the craving goes away. Unfortunately, the cravings were still coming back before dinner every night (according to your stages, I was at a stage 3, drinking wine after work regularly). Even though I know the negative affects of alcohol, I have held a deep believe that my life will never be happy again without alcohol. Your analogy from the movie Trolls (I have two little kids, so I am VERY familiar with this movie) actually helped quite a bit. I don’t need to eat a troll to be happy. How simple.
- Quitting: when a craving arrives, it makes sense to counter it immediately with reality instead of romanticism. Fading effect bias really makes sense here, so to have some facts on hand to remind myself of the truth, can cut off a craving immediately.
The ONLY thing that I find difficult about this approach is doing it alone. When you are living in a culture of drinking, and working against marketing giants, it is sometimes difficult to say to yourself – I’m right, and everybody else is wrong. I would love to be able to talk about alcohol with people at a dinner table or in conversation, but people who drink just don’t want to talk about it – at all.
I understand AA works for some people but I really struggle with some of the core concepts. Firstly, keeping things anonymous. I think that adds to our stigma problem and like you said, gives people false permission to disassociate from the spectrum of alcoholism that anyone who drinks is on. Also I don’t think there is any consideration of the conscious and unconscious mind and their roles. AA suggests members consider themselves part of the percentage of the population who are born with a disease.
I see how the story-telling helps aa members to re-wire their brains, by reminding themselves of their rock bottoms. I just don’t know if shame and regret can help a person move forward in a positive way in life.
Thankfully, neuroscience is doing a lot of promotion about the plasticity of our brains and how we can change the way we think and behave. So far the people I spend time with don’t want to talk about neuroscience, so making new friends is something I’m working on.
So thank you again for writing the book. I will read it a few times and share as often as possible. It is something everyone should read – drinker or non-drinker. It can help people. ‘When you know better, you do better’.