Allen Carr’s Stop Drinking Easy Method has created a great deal of discussion on Reddit’s r/StopDrinking subreddit and other recovery-oriented online forums. Who is Allen Carr and does his Stop Drinking Easy Method really work?

This Maryland Addiction Recovery Center article digs into Allen Carr’s Stop Drinking Easy Method and explores its potential effectiveness, pros and cons. 

Who is Allen Carr?

Allen Carr was a British author, probably best known for his books on quitting smoking and overcoming psychological dependencies, including alcohol addiction. One of the more influential authors of the self-help movement of the 1980s, Carr’s first book “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking” has sold more than 12 million copies since it was first published in 1985. 

A heavy smoker for many years, Carr successfully quit his 100 cigarette-a-day habit. Carr was then inspired to write a book to help others employ the same methods he did. Although Carr died from lung cancer in 2007 at age 72, his books and methods have reportedly helped millions of people quit smoking. Among his adherents are some famous names, including Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin business empire and actor Anthony Hopkins. 

Allen Carr is:

  • A notable British author who wrote self-help books in the 80s & 90s primarily. 
  • Best known for his bestselling book “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking”
  • Also well-known for writing “The Easy Way to Stop Drinking”.
  • As relevant as ever as America is still struggling with addiction.

What is Allen Carr’s Stop Drinking Easy Method?

Following the notable success of his The Easy Way to Stop Drinking, Allen Carr developed a program called the Easyway Method. Easyway and the clinics and seminars that support it focused primarily on smoking cessation. However, Carr and his fans came to believe his methods could work for other addictions, including alcohol use disorder (AUD). 

In 2005, Carr wrote “The Easy Way to Stop Drinking” and applied his Easyway method to the age-old problem of alcoholism. The Easyway method to stop drinking focuses on changing the way you think about alcohol. Part of its appeal lies in the fact that it doesn’t require the reader to quit drinking immediately and claims that no willpower is needed.

Rather the emphasis is on changing thoughts and perceptions about alcohol and what it means to you, instead of simply “white knuckling” it and trying to abstain from drinking alcohol through sheer force of will — which rarely works for long (if at all). 

The three basic principles of Stop Drinking Easy can be summed up like this:

  1. Addiction to alcohol (or anything else) is not a matter of willpower or weakness, but rather a trap created by your own beliefs and misconceptions about drinking.
  2. Quitting alcohol liberates you and you can live a happy life without alcohol. Once you understand the truth about alcohol you can relieve yourself of the urge to drink. 
  3. The way to quit drinking successfully lies in changing your mindset and realizing that you gain more by living a sober lifestyle instead of continuing to drink. 

Allen Carr’s Stop Drinking Easy vs. Alcoholics Anonymous

A comparison between these two very different approaches to achieving sobriety was inevitable. It’s fair to say that Allen Carr had some differences of opinion with the authors of Alcoholics Anonymous. Perhaps most notably, he rejected the idea that alcoholism could never be cured. Carr did acknowledge the inherent value of the fellowship of AA though. He approved of the idea of a support group he just disagreed with the idea that alcohol (or other addictions) are incurable.

Carr’s rejection of the idea that addiction is a chronic illness that can be put into remission, but never cured puts him at odds not only with AA but with the conventional medical community at large. The American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association, who write the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the authoritative text on mental health disorders, both concur with AA, that there is no known cure for alcohol addiction. AA also has an exceptional track record for helping people. 

That said, no one can argue with the results and many thousands of people say they’ve successfully quit drinking alcohol by using Carr’s Stop Drinking Easy Method. The Alcoholics Anonymous text was written in 1939, many years before “The Easy Way to Stop Drinking” was published, but AA’s position can be summed up in their own words  “If he thinks he can do the job in some other way…we encourage him to follow his own conscience. We have no monopoly on God; we merely have an approach that worked with us.”

In other words, AA admits they are not the only way to stop drinking successfully and they do not discourage anyone from trying any other method, as long as it’s safe and it works. 

Why Can’t I Read Stop Drinking Easy and Go to AA Meetings?

You can. Nothing is stopping you from doing that. No rule in either program prohibits that and it might even be more helpful than just one or the other. The only potential incompatibility we can see is the fundamental difference in opinion as to whether or not alcohol addiction is “incurable”. Perhaps that won’t be enough of an obstacle to present an issue. 

Redditors in the r/StopDriving subreddit talk about following Allen Carr’s Stop Drinking Easy method and attending AA meetings with mixed results. u/coolcrosby, who read several of Carr’s books and watched his videos had this to say: Alcoholics Anonymous is helpful because it provides an easily accessible resource where I quickly developed supportive relationships, and discovered a systematic path to addressing the damage that I did when I was drinking especially to my friends, family, profession, and reputation.”

The Pros and Cons of The Easy Way to Stop Drinking vs. AA

Maybe you are on the fence between these two approaches to quitting alcohol for good. Both systems agree that total abstinence from alcohol is the only way forward. Both aim to return you to a saner, healthier way of living and free you from the prison of alcohol addiction. 

Where they really part ways is in the idea that once you stop drinking, your problems are solved. In AA, they believe that you must continue certain practices to work on yourself and help others if you expect to stay sober. The thought is that old habits and destructive ways of thinking can creep back into our minds after a while and we can slip and return to drinking again if we don’t maintain our sobriety. 

We cannot presume to say which of these approaches is “better” for you or your loved one. That’s a decision you will have to make, but here are some pros and cons for you to consider.

PROS of Carr’s Stop Drinking Easy compared to AA:

  • Is less time-consuming and less of a commitment than AA.
  • It can be accomplished by reading a book, no meeting attendance is necessary.
  • Doesn’t require arduous stepwork or deep introspection, meditation, etc. 
  • There is no spiritual component. Note, this may be seen as a “con” as well depending on your perspective though

CONS of Carr’s Stop Drinking Easy compared to AA:

  • AA has been around longer and has a much longer list of success stories.
  • Stop Drinking Easy does not have the support network and fellowship of AA.
  • Only helps you stop drinking, whereas AA aims to make you a better person. 
  • While you don’t have to work steps in Easyway, you also do not get any of the substantial benefits that come from that exercise. 

Overcome Alcohol Addiction With Our Help

MARCs Baltimore alcoholism treatment program features specialized care to help you or your loved one overcome an addiction to alcohol for good. The emphasis we place on individualized treatment programming is just one of many factors that make Maryland Addiction Recovery Center (MARC) unique. We believe treatment should be designed to fit each individual for the best results. 

Maryland Addiction Recovery Center (MARC) is proud to be a part of the solution to addiction in Baltimore. If you or someone you love is challenged by a substance use disorder, MARC can help. Please give us a call today at (866) 929-2159