I was deeply mired in alcohol and drug addiction at the time, and smoking felt like the least of my worries.
“I was deeply mired in alcohol and drug addiction at the time, and smoking felt like the least of my worries.”
John Dicey, Worldwide CEO & Senior Therapist, Allen Carr’s Easyway, interviews Cris Hay, Allen Carr’s Easyway Therapist, London
John: How did you first hear about Allen Carr’s Easyway?
Cris: I first heard of Allen Carr when I was working in a bookshop in the late eighties. The Easy Way to Stop Smoking book suddenly started selling like hot cakes. I remember asking the manager of the bookshop about it, and she said, ‘Well, he was a heavy smoker, who quit, and basically he goes one by one through all the excuses smokers use to cling to their habit, and demolishes them all.’
In retrospect I find it fascinating that I felt the need to ask the manager about its contents, when I could have discovered them for myself by simply opening one of the many copies we kept in stock to supply the ever-increasing demand. Perish the thought! Of course the manager as a non-smoker hadn’t had a problem taking a look inside! But it also fascinates me that I did feel the need to enquire about it. Doesn’t this suggest that even in the most diehard smoker there is a non-smoker trying to get out? I can see now that my manager’s comment was the bit of grit that somehow found its way into the not entirely closed oyster of my mind, and started to grow.
John: That’s interesting – so many people hear about Allen Carr’s Easyway years before they actually take the plunge and use it. It sounds like it was the same for you?
Cris: Absolutely. At the time, I dismissed her talk of ‘excuses’ by telling myself that I didn’t make excuses to smoke, I smoked because I wanted to. I was deeply mired in alcohol and drug addiction at the time, and smoking felt like the least of my worries. So I smoked on. And drank and drugged on. A couple of years later I woke up covered in cuts and bruises – but perhaps more importantly I felt broken on the inside – and I said to my then girlfriend, ‘I think I’ve got a real problem.’
Since that day I haven’t had to have an alcoholic drink or take any illegal drugs. I went to a lot of meetings, and turned my life around. Drinking and drugging takes up an enormous amount of time and energy, and quite a lot of creativity, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that when I re-channeled those resources into more constructive pursuits, I was a pretty capable individual! I finally got my degree, and then went on to gain a distinction in my masters.
John: So when did you finally use Allen Carr’s Easyway and how did it help?
Cris: It was around this time that I re-discovered Allen Carr. I was watching From Here To Eternity, with an arsenal of roll ups on the arm of my chair. In an early scene Burt Lancaster lights a cigarette. I suddenly saw it the way a non-smoker sees it. What a strange thing to do: to take a tube of dried vegetable matter, put it in your mouth, set light to it, and suck! That bit of grit was beginning to turn into a pearl of great value. I didn’t even bother to watch the rest of the movie. I went and bought the Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking book. I felt immensely relieved when it said I should smoke while reading the book!
John: What did you think of the method as you read the book?
Cris: The book made such sense! This was clearly the voice not of some goody-two shoes do-gooder who had never smoked a cigarette in their life but wanted to nanny me into quitting, but a man who really knew his subject because he’d lived it. So I read, and re-read, the book. I felt tremendous hope, and began to get very excited about quitting.
There is a kind of mind virus out there that has infected many people, a virus that tells us that addictions are necessarily and always very, very hard to break. I knew this was an utter lie, because just over two years earlier, when I was truly sick to the back teeth of drinking and drugging I had found it not only relatively easy, but actually enjoyable to quit booze and drugs. After all, if you’re utterly sick of doing something that no one is forcing you to do, why on earth should it be hard to stop doing it? Withdrawal? As we explain in the sessions, there’s a huge psychological component to so–called physical withdrawal, and this psychological component is what the method removes.
My advice to anyone reading this would be please don’t become a victim of that mind virus!
John: So it sounds like you loved the book – but it didn’t succeed in helping to stop smoking?
Cris: I must admit that while the book made absolute sense to my intellect, more sense than anything else I had come across, I still struggled to hear the message at a deeper level. I talked about the book non-stop, so much so that my friend bought the book, read it in one sitting, and quit straightaway, which kind of irked me! But I didn’t seem able to get the kind of understanding that easily turns into action. I felt that I had all the pieces of the jigsaw; there wasn’t anything in the book that I disagreed with, but they were scattered all over the table. Having read and re-read the book many times, I booked into an Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking Seminar.
John: How did you feel during the seminar?
Cris: For most of the seminar, I felt the way I had while reading the book. It all makes sense, but….? I was beginning to feel that the money on the seminar had been wasted, that I wasn’t getting anything I hadn’t got from the book, and I was almost resigned to remaining a smoker, for the time being anyway. And then the therapist made a comment: ‘What’s the worst that can happen? The very worst is that you’re still a smoker after today, in which case you’re no worse off than you were this morning, and that is precisely what the back-up sessions are for. Remember that there’s no further charge for those and we even offer a money back guarantee. If you don’t stop smoking your fee is refunded in full.’
It was the best thing he could have said. I took the comment on board, and relaxed. And of course, when I relaxed, I suddenly got it. I stopped trying to get it, and got it. The jigsaw pieces all suddenly came together. I smoked my final cigarette, and haven’t touched one since.
The pearl of wisdom was fully formed.
John: You’ve helped formulate Allen Carr’s Easyway method so that it can be applied to other drugs and alcohol as well as smoking. That must have been an amazing journey?
Cris: Perhaps the most sinister thing about addiction is that the substance chips away at our physical health, confidence, self-respect and general well-being, but it does it relatively gradually, so that what is in fact a thoroughly depleted state of mind, body and spirit comes to seem normal; a normal level of health and energy for our age and situation. In other words, the results of this systematic poisoning of our entire being get blamed not on the substance, but life itself. The drug gets the credit for making us feel better, but never the blame for knocking us down in the first place. That can be applied to every drug, addiction, or issue on the planet.
While people can easily grasp this at an intellectual level it’s virtually impossible to see this with real clarity while you’re still poisoning yourself. The only way to really get it is to go for it.
I can honestly say that every single area of my life improved beyond belief on quitting smoking. It was almost as radical a change for the better as quitting booze and drugs had been a couple of years earlier.
John: Actually, before you applied to become a therapist you had an interesting conversation with Allen didn’t you?
Cris: Yes, shortly after my session I phoned Allen to thank him for setting me free. We talked about addiction in general, and in particular I asked him whether he felt I needed any further help, therapy or support for staying clean and sober. After all, it was nearly three years since I’d had a drink or taken illegal drugs.
He used a few simple analogies that completely turned around my perception about addiction in general. The comment that really stuck with me most was: ‘Why not just think of yourself as someone who just doesn’t drink or take drugs?’
I was somewhat nervous at first because I had been schooled in the philosophy that people always remain vulnerable to their prior addictions, but in the end Allen’s way of seeing things just made so much more sense to me than that philosophy. That was twenty-three years ago, and ever since that conversation I’ve felt not less but infinitely more confident in my freedom from addiction.
A few years later I applied to become a smoking therapist, and after going through the arduous training I was lucky enough to be accepted. Shortly afterwards Allen asked me to help him develop the method for alcohol, and other drugs. My life as an addict was pretty miserable, but if I had to I’d suffer it all again for the rare privilege of being able to pass on the freedom I have enjoyed, it was worth it.
One of these days, I’ll watch the rest of From Here to Eternity.
#QuitDrugs #DrugAddiction #BeAddictionFree #AllenCarr
#QuitSmoking #StopSmoking #BeAddictionFree #AllenCarr
From the desk of John Dicey, Worldwide CEO & Senior Therapist, Allen Carr’s Easyway