Stop Counting Start Living

The Sanctuary Six Week Programme which I founded nearly ten years ago is unique in many ways. One of these is that after the programme is completed, counting days is not part of living a life without alcohol. If you constantly add up days of sobriety, plainly that shows that you are still thinking about the old bad habit. Most mainstream services and organisations encourage people who were dependent on something to keep counting.


Once you have stopped drinking or using other drugs, I believe we should start to fill the void it left by replacing it with many new healthy habits, reconnecting with the authentic person you were before this dreadful cycle of not only self harm but the ripple effect it has of harming others. It no longer defines us, we don’t need to keep making reference to it, the constant reminder of the past.

Clients take up new interests, become involved often in quite radical exercise regimes because the flip side of our determination to drink, is that we have an amazing ability to use it for gain and good. We also make new friends, form new relationships with those who were never affected by this illness. Reinvention and a feeling of being liberated is the message.

Of course there is much reflection on how much time we wasted, but in many ways addiction, if you recover, can be a gift. It has shown us how dark and frightening life can be by using, when we stop and the switch is flipped then the effort to be the best we can be is even more exhilarating! We have more time, money and  energy to have a positive life without having to revisit the past on a daily basis.

I have no idea how many days I have been sober, but in my sixth decade am way too busy with life in the present to dwell on life in the past, and making the most of every moment.

Author: Sarah Turner

Founder of the Harrogate Sanctuary.