Psychodynamic Counselling and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way.’

Rather than being a Tale of Two Cities, this epitomizes my drinking days until they were all drowned in an abyss, oblivion.  My sober days too, but only the positive side of my outcome and surrender.

There is no doubt that I had some wonderful times, travelled to fantastic places, but hell was soon to follow. The progression struck without warning.

When clients come to me in despair or perhaps anger, screaming from within why me, chaotic and disbelieving that they could have come to this, one of the first reactions to sobriety is how do I cope? How do I cope with not drinking at celebrations, or console myself when in sorrowful times? Yesterday I heard that a teacher of last year primary school children decided it would be a fabulous idea for these pre-teens to celebrate with a bottle of non-alcoholic Champagne. What is this teaching them? That if it was legal perhaps she would have offered them the real stuff? What happened to giving them a letter of encouragement for big school and some cake? The madness of course is that rather than how we cope without it, is how truly exhausting it was coping with it.

So many Birthday cards have a witty repost about drinking on your Birthday. A couple of examples:

This is the norm.  Again, what happened to the Birthday cards that wished you health and happiness, and many more to come?

There is always a fine reason to drink, or a better excuse not to stop. These again are some examples that I hear. Summer is not a good time, school holidays, long light nights that seduce us into drinking the 3 for 2 offer of Pinot of an evening, Autumn, sad because Summer is over and the thought of Winter is just too much to bear. Christmas, no hope with that one, and then New Year which starts with massively good intentions. Only to be thwarted by the second week of January bringing in the credit card bills from the happy Yule tide, which probably had been far from peaceful. Spring, hope, new life, a celebration, light at last.

What are the benefits of this social oil? Do any of us that are sober enjoy life any less? The answer is for me at least, a definitive NO. We also have the added advantage of remembering all of it, good, bad or indifferent. Not a grainy or blank memories, of mishap or embarrassment. Shame and guilt are things of the past, we can tell the truth, always and never be castigated for it. Crystal clear, clean and sober. A perfect picture of our days and better yet no reason to pretend about anything. Scary sometimes, but oh so rewarding for most of it. What does drinking add to the party? I would for once love to hear the benefits of it. Conversation becomes slurred and inept, wit turns into a mush of badly remembered muddled lines, dancing is ungraceful at best, painful at worst, food that perhaps a host has slaved over for days is inconsequenial, and of course the inevitable slip up by someones partner leads to a row that can last for days afterwards. The gossip following isn’t as juicy at sober parties, but the events I go to are amazing, charming, loving and funny.

Drinking is now becoming not only acceptable, but the done thing for all. Not just grown ups, but our children are being taught how to use it for every occasion. It scares the bejesus out of me.



I am Sarah Turner in my 50's married with two sons. I live in between two pretty villages, just outside of Harrogate in North Yorkshire. My vocation and passion has been to help Women and their families beat alcohol dependence and misuse for many years, and are not able to access appropriate care. Harrogate Sanctuary was born through my fight to find empathetic treatment when I desperately needed it, and failing abysmally. Although I am fully qualified on paper as an Addictions Counsellor and Congnitive Behavioural Therapist, I much prefer to use my own experience as a drunk up until my late thirties, to empathize and understand the problems that Women of today face with the effects and consequences of drinking too much. I adore my family, both human and animal, have three beloved chickens, . My garden never ceases to amaze, and now my boys are grown, I have rather taken to plants to vent my nurturing side. In addition to my own services to my clients, I campaign relentlessly to raise awareness of this hidden epidemic, that still remains such a taboo subject. In the 21st century, it's time for change. To this end I have also co-authored The Sober Revolution, Women calling Time on Wine O'clock, with my friend and ally Lucy Rocca, founder of