Mary’s Blog

Alcohol had always been my friend. Ever since the age of 15 when I discovered it was there in good times and bad.

In latter years, I associated it with relaxation, enjoying myself with friends, there at the end of the working day.

It became a problem when I was made redundant during the time of my menopause.  I had been confident I would sail through the time of the menopause and just “get on with it”. No. I had an horrendous time made worse by the redundancy and lack of self-esteem.  I turned to alcohol more and more to cope. This, of course, exacerbated the problem but it became the only way for me to manage my feelings.

I tried various methods of help, mostly to appease my husband who was increasingly concerned about my over use of alcohol and the resultant bizarre behaviour.  None of the methods I tried (only drinking at weekends, one glass per evening, not drinking in the day, counselling, AA) worked for me.

The rows with my husband increased.  Nights spent in the spare room became more common. It became a pattern.  He forgave me, we settled down for a while, the drinking increased again, so did the rows.

After one particularly awful row, and the real threat of the marriage breaking down, I decided that something had to be done.

I had seen an article about Harrogate Sanctuary some time before.  Convinced I would be able to get myself back on the straight and narrow by myself, I ignored it.  However, that morning I remembered it and decided now was the time.

When I met Sarah I immediately felt at ease.  Her warm, down to earth approach, without judgement felt exactly what I needed.  I felt I had indeed arrived at a sanctuary.

I took the six-week program and of course, it wasn’t easy but with Sarah there 16/7 it gave me the confidence to keep going.  She reassured me when I felt I was failing, didn’t judge when there was a slip up, and remained steadfast in her support.

Sarah has a wealth of knowledge and experience that helped me through the course.

I can’t thank Sarah enough for her unfailing support.  She has helped me to turn my life around.



One Year On..Green & Glowing



I hope that you are well. I just wanted to say hello and let you know where I am at for your info really. I am in a good place Sarah, really really good. It’s a year last week since I started the 6-week program with you, and I could say life has improved yet I think its fairer to say that I have improved life, largely through being in control, grounded and off the bloody booze. It’s fun, healthy and I love it more than I ever knew possible. This said I had a glass of prosecco on my 40th in December and whilst I struggled with this for some time after the event took faith in the fact that I CHOSE to stop, eat cake and drink a big fat cappuccino, and also did not enjoy it in any way, in fact it frightened the living daylights out of me and firmed up my deep routed belief that I will never drink again in my life. So a positive was drawn from it and that’s all I can say. 

 Things are good Sarah. Thank you so much I think of you loads and am truly grateful to you

Lizzie’s Blog

I never wanted to not drink, and when I contacted the Sanctuary I made it perfectly clear that abstinence was never going to be on the agenda. I wanted to have a completely free rein, to be able to drink socially if I wanted to, but not to overdo the drinking at home.

When I met with Sarah at the very tranquil Sanctuary headquarters, I boomed this message to her! There was no lecturing or disagreeing for that matter, which rather took the wind out of my sails. I expected to be told that it wouldn’t work, and that I would be doomed from the start.

However, I did agree to abstain for six weeks, because the logic behind it was so solid. There was no mumbo jumbo about higher powers or not ever being able to drink again, just a completely true understanding of what I wanted and how it might be achieved. I think Sarah has far too much experience to lay down any law or rules with clients.

So given that I was satisfied that after the six weeks it would be entirely in my hands where I went with my drinking, I started the programme in June. At first doing the diary in the early evenings, each evening, was a bit like checking in with myself, but with an amazing rapid response which came with really very good reasons why I was doing this with Sarah, there was a rather heavy penny beginning to drop. As much as I tried to see the sense in drinking alcohol on what is a termed a ‘healthy, reasonable’ basis, there was very little to recommend it. I used all the usual excuses of it being relaxing, it wasn’t it just made me anxious the next day, it was fun, it wasn’t, it used to be twenty years ago, it was social, it wasn’t because when I did go out and stayed AF, the only boring people were the ones who were drunk. This list went on, rattling around in my head, until I did run out of excuses to use the stuff.

Then I got quite angry. Angry that I had been duped by all the promotions with wine especially, and lately cheap Prosecco, pretending that it was full of life and fuzzy stuff. What a load of crap! The more intense the desire became to really get mad with marketing, the more I ranted about it, the more my drinking friends started to see what I was doing and saying. One the most bizarre habits we had got into was having playdates with our kids, and drinking with huge enthusiasm bottles of this mock happy juice. That has now been completely knocked on the head, along with my drive to drink wine or any alcohol again. I lost so much time, so much energy, and so much focus, not to mention the money.

So a few weeks on from finishing with Sarah, who never once wasn’t there when I needed her, I am still AF, and as clichéd as it might sound, loving it.

Thank you, and rather than looking at this as some sort of life sentence, it is quite the reverse, live giving and lifesaving.

If the Sanctuary method can work for me, it can work for anyone!