Victoria’s Blog

Now at over 18 months without the restraints of being a full-time drinker, ‘just’ wine, I wanted to update Harrogate Sanctuary, Sarah most especially on how life has been liberated from the cage vino it put me in. It was initially and invisible cage, even gilded I thought, but the more I progressed, until now, just celebrated my 45th Birthday, it was rotten and vile. Did I see that? Of course, I did, but it still wasn’t enough to stop me.

I read websites, looked at stories, watched conversations on ‘sober sites’ whilst supping, not sipping my weapon of choice. I had breaks, weeks of them, like being on a destructive merry go round, but hey I was no different from my colleagues, many friends, and family. The only difference perhaps was that I was latterly hiding the second, maybe third bottle a night. I wasn’t, I KNEW about it. I tried other methods, AA just awful experience for me, local services where no one seemed to want to talk about the future, just the dreadful grim past, and that somehow they were diseased and total failures.

So, through gritted and scared teeth I contacted The Sanctuary, and it is very difficult to describe how Sarah works, suffice to say, she is simply the best at this for women of my demographic.

I have thought of having a drink, been to lots of events and parties, but she rewired me, it is the only way I can explain it. There is nothing cultish or even pressurised with her, how she manages the long hours, the instant response, day and night with her clients is remarkable.

I have lost over 20kg, I keep fit, I have no shame, and at the same time I have no judgement. I have no desire to people please, I look after me and mine, and of course will and am more than capable stepping into any crisis, also day and night!

There is a financial cost, but again, unless you have gone through the unique Six Week Programme with Sarah you really have no idea how reasonable her charge is. I have saved over £8000.00, and it is all going towards special rewards, good treats for those I love.

She is priceless, and if you have any doubt, then you should meet her, it is just such a shame there are not more passionate and caring professionals in this area like her.

Costs of Alcohol vs Tobacco

Smoking has now become, unfashionable, unacceptable, harmful and very non PC. Drinking, however, and generally more than the safe guidelines, seems to have gone in reverse, most especially wine, coupled with age, the over 45s, as the young are drinking far less. It is fashionable, acceptable, normal for this age group, and everywhere. As a long term non-drinker, I feel more and more stigmatised for not being on the sauce than I do for once drinking too much of it.

But I am at a loss to understand why there is not more comparison between the costs to both the NHS and productivity, let alone the emotional cost caused by alcohol misuse? I know that cigarettes and tobacco wreak havoc, and that one cigarette can be potentially harmful, but so can one glass of wine for many millions too, because it rarely stops there.

There are plenty of statistics which if they are to be believed, show that alcohol harms, to oneself and others is dramatically more costly.

For example, the BMA quote that smoking costs the NHS 2.7 billion, and 2.5 billion to the wider economy, sick leave and lost productivity. There are no quotes for any crime costs because you are highly unlikely smash someone’s face in after smoking 20 Silk Cut.

Alcohol Concern quote that alcohol costs the NHS 3.5 billion, crime 11 billion, lost productivity, 10 billion. These I know are under estimated, because the majority of women that I see have never been seen by a GP as a direct result of their drinking, only the symptoms of it, for they are too frightened to tell the real facts about their drinking habits. 90% of these women are Mothers, wives, partners, professionals, and all admit to me in some way being irresponsible because of their previous routines with the ugly juice. 27% of them came from the health sector last year.

I loathe the nanny state, love the idea of all of us being able to make our own choices, but when there is so much skewed propaganda there is a real sense of unfairness to me. Now cigarettes are un-branded and black, but by the same token there are so few steps being taken to address the way we use alcohol, or at least the potential harms that are hidden in the cheeky little numbers so adeptly lined up in big supermarkets or casually placed on counter tops of virtually every corner shop or garage. There is no listing of ingredients, no warnings of big ugly diseased livers, cancerous breasts, not a hint of harm.
If I was unable to care for myself, I would far rather trust a smoker than a drinker to look after me, and that goes for my loved ones too.

To add to the madness, all smokers who quit are congratulated, and giving a huge pat on the back, whereas for most of us who call time on wine o’clock, are accused of being dull, boring, and weak willed, just because we have decided that alcohol doesn’t suit us anymore.
No matter how defensive of, or in love with alcohol this country may be, surely this must be the time to strike a fair balance.

Sarah’s Blog for The Sanctuary



Working with Sarah and with the Harrogate Sanctuary has been a life changing experience.  As soon I had the first phone call with Sarah she put me at ease and did not judge me.  She showed empathy and compassion and quickly helped me realise I wanted to make this journey with her.  I have had no regrets on embarking on the programme.  It is so encouraging knowing Sarah is at the end of the phone or quick to respond to emails.  This experience has changed me as a person as it has not only made me question the way I was using alcohol but also made me question my whole life.  Sarah has so much experience and wisdom and was always ready to offer guidance and support in a non-patronising way.  I finished the programme last week and although I miss the daily support that Sarah provided she has enabled me to continue living a healthy and alcohol free life by myself.  The Harrogate Sanctuary is an empowering experience and I feel lucky that I have had the honour of guidance and support from Sarah.  This should be available on the NHS!

Sarah, 36

Baby boomers warned over alcohol intake as hospital admissions soar

Alcohol-related hospital admissions in England have increased by 64% in a decade and are at their highest ever level, prompting experts to warn that baby boomers are continuing to risk their health through frequent and excessive drinking.

There were an estimated 1.1m admissions where alcohol was the primary or secondary issue in 2015/16, compared with 670,000 in 2005/06, according to NHS Digital data published on Wednesday.

Separate data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for England shows people aged 45 and over are frequently drinking at more hazardous levels.

Married and cohabiting couples are more likely than single people to consume alcohol on five or more days a week, though they are slightly less likely to binge drink.

Surveys found 60% of women aged 45 to 64 and 69% of men of the same age had drunk alcohol in the last week – the highest proportions of any age group.

Prof Sir Ian Gilmore, a liver doctor and chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said the figures proved the UK continued to have a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol.

He said: “We know that over the long term, rates of binge drinking are falling and more people are choosing to abstain from alcohol. Worryingly, however, these trends do not appear big enough to stop alcohol harm from continuing to rise, and the sharp increase in alcohol-related hospital admissions over the last few years means hundreds of thousands more people each year are experiencing the misery associated with harmful alcohol consumption.”

Dr Tony Rao, co-chair of the Older People’s Substance Misuse working group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “These figures show that alcohol abuse is not a ‘young person problem’. While the rest of the population reduces its alcohol intake, it is very concerning that baby boomers are drinking at a similar rate as before and are exceeding recommended guidelines.”

The ONS data also shows that the proportion of adults who say they drink alcohol is at the lowest level for more than a decade.

The trend has been largely driven by an increase in the proportion of younger people abstaining, but there has been no decline in the proportion of over-65s drinking, and they are the age group most likely to have consumed alcohol on five or more occasions in the week before they were interviewed.

Such regular drinking is more than three time more likely among over-65s than in the 16-24 age group, the data shows.

Alcohol is linked to more than 60 illnesses and diseases including heart disease, liver disease, cancer and dementia. Hospital admissions due to liver disease have gone up 57% over the last decade, and the number of people diagnosed with alcohol-related cancer has risen by 8%, according to the AHA. The World Cancer Research Fund has said that if nobody drank alcohol in the UK, 21,000 cases of cancer could be prevented each year, including nearly 12,000 cases of breast cancer.

NHS Digital cautions that a narrower measure of alcohol-related hospital admissions is more reliable for tracking changes over time than the broad measure – which the 1.1 million figure relates to – because it is less affected by improvements in recording of secondary diagnoses. But even under the narrow measure, hospital admissions have risen by 22% since 2005/06, to 339,000.

The ONS data shows that 7.8 million people admit to binge drinking – defined for men as consuming more than eight units and for women more than six units – on their heaviest drinking day.

Men are more likely to drink than women and to binge drink. Higher earners, on £40,000 and above annually, are more likely to be frequent drinkers and to binge drink than the lowest earners.

Gilmore said: “The data released today should be sobering reading for whoever wins the upcoming general election, and we would urge the next government to make tackling alcohol harm an immediate priority to save lives, reduce harm, and reduce the pressure on the NHS.”

The Alcohol Information Partnership, which is funded by global drinks companies, said binge drinking and harmful drinking had declined by 17% and 23% respectively since 2005.