Susan Laurie tells Lisa Salmon why she penned a powerful memoir detailing how she finally won her battle with the bottle
'I was as bad as it gets with alcoholism, I just couldn't stop, even though I knew it was killing me. Now, drinking never crosses my mind'
There are hundreds of thousands of alcoholics in the UK, many fearing they'll never beat the booze and that it will eventually kill them. Susan Laurie was one of those alcoholics, but she's not anymore.
After years of drinking round the clock and trying everything from rehab, AA meetings, counselling and even Buddhist chanting to try to break free from the grip alcohol had on her, the mum-of-one believed she was a hopeless case.
However, four-and-a-half years ago, a session with a therapist who uses a mixture of hypnosis, regression, percussive suggestion techniques (PSTEC), talking, wisdom and common sense changed her life. She hasn't touched alcohol since.
Laurie, who's from north-east England but lives in Surrey, has written a book about her journey, From Rock Bottom To Sober Forever, and hopes her story will give hope to others battling to beat booze.
"I need to stress that I was as bad as it gets with alcoholism - I just couldn't stop, even though I knew it was killing me and I was losing everything," says the 53-year-old. "It's absolutely terrifying. I was so frightened.
"Then a single, unique therapy session destroyed any desire for alcohol and the hold that it had over me. He crushed and terminated my dark shadow and it simply vanished."
Here, she tells us more about her story...
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When did you become dependent on alcohol?
"Alcohol never sat well with me and I was probably a binge-drinker when I was a student and in my 20s, though actual alcohol dependency didn't happen until my 40s. But alcohol always had a negative effect on me."
Why do you think you became an alcoholic?
"Unknowingly, I was using alcohol to be more confident and felt I needed it to meet people. I felt out of my depth with people I wrongly perceived as being superior in some way. Once it has a grip, you feel you can't function without it."
How much were you drinking at your lowest point?
"Before it became really bad, I drank at least two bottles of wine a night for years, but in the end I was drinking wine and vodka around the clock. Being awake was to drink and drinking was to pass out. I drank heavily all through my 30s, but I was a functioning and then an out-of-control alcoholic for almost 10 years. I basically wiped out most of my 40s."
What effect did your drinking have on your family?
"They threatened me with leaving, hid my alcohol, sent me to rehab. They were desperate and tried everything. My son moved in with his dad and my husband left to work at the opposite end of the country. It made them very sad, frustrated, frightened and angry. Life moves on and no one can love an alcoholic because it robs the person of their true personality."
How did the drinking affect your health?
"I lost weight, had grey skin, my hair was falling out, I was frequently incontinent and I had heartburn and an ache in my liver. In the end, when I tried to stop drinking, I was violently sick and would have hallucinations."
What did you lose through your alcoholism?
"Friends, dignity, the respect of my family, my ability to work, my son and my husband, my happiness and my moral compass."
How did you initially try to beat it?
"Alternating drinks, having days off alcohol, changing what I drank and then rehab, AA, counselling, numerous attempts at hypnotherapy, church, Chinese medicine, Buddhist chanting. I spent literally thousands of pounds of our money (and other people's money) over the years on two stints in rehab and five different hypnotherapists."
Why do you think so many methods didn't work for you?
"Once alcoholism has a grip, it's one of the most difficult things to beat. It's more powerful than I had ever imagined. I never thought I could become an alcoholic because I'm a strong person."
How did you finally beat alcoholism?
"One session with Tim Phizackerley (britainsfastesthypnotist.com). Tim was completely different and I was incredibly lucky to find him. I only had one session with him - that's all he needs. A session lasts most of the day, though, because it's much more than hypnotherapy - it's a combination of techniques that he's put together in his own unique way.
"He combined an intensive and exhausting mix of hypnosis, regression and PSTEC, interspersed with talking and lots of his unique wisdom and common sense to gradually uncover, unravel and extinguish, one by one, every issue which had underpinned my alcoholism.
"He made each misguided belief, destructive emotion and deeply upsetting memory completely disappear for me forever.
"I'd done enough talking about myself and my drinking to develop my own theories about why I drank. Tim was able to unearth important missing pieces which had been holding me back and perpetuating my cycle of self-destructive behaviour.
"He did this through regression, using hypnosis to take me back to certain events and situations I'd chosen to forget. He then used a tool called PSTEC, something he invented. It uses a unique audio track and tapping. He developed it to make otherwise difficult things much faster and simpler to achieve.
"This is from the heart. I'm not in any way involved with Tim and his work. I just wish other people who are suffering like I was had access to him or someone he's trained. What he did for me was so miraculous.
"Alcoholism is so difficult to overcome. In the past when I was trying to stay sober, it would be a daily, grinding, exhausting battle, with no room in my thoughts for much else.
"But I never even think of alcohol now."
Are you ever tempted to drink now?
"Never - it never crosses my mind. I can happily be around people who drink (family, friends, husband, son) and I don't notice. In the past that would have been torture. It will be five years in March since I last drank and my health is great."
Why did you write the book?
"I want to help people. It's tragic. It's also very frustrating that shocking statistics are shared about the UK's alcohol problem, but no one is talking about the reality of the treatment options."
From Rock Bottom To Sober Forever is published independently, priced £10.99, and is on sale now