Skip to content

Breaking Down Alcohol Addiction for
Lasting Sobriety with Beyond Booze


Breaking Down Alcohol Addiction for
Lasting Sobriety with Beyond Booze

Felicity Cohen: Hello, I’m Felicity Cohen. I’m so excited to introduce you to my Wellness Warriors podcast. For over 20 years, I’ve been a passionate advocate for helping thousands of Australians find solutions to treating obesity and health-related complications. Through surgical intervention and holistic managed care.
My podcast is dedicated to all the people past, present, and future who have helped shape my journey and continue to inspire me to work consistently to achieve a healthier Australia in both adults and future generations. I hope you enjoy it. Today, I’d like to welcome to my Wellness Warriors podcast, Deryck whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with in the past with WeightLoss Solutions Australia with an advertising agency.
And he was part of that agency, developed some incredible work for us. In fact, one very memorable piece for me was a piece of work that he designed for general practitioners, teaching them all about how to understand the disease of morbid obesity. Today, we’re going to uncover all that Deryck has moved forward within life in terms of becoming an addicted to alcohol, his journey through alcohol addiction and recovery and designing the most incredible program called Beyond Booze.
Please make welcome Deryck.

Derrick Shakespeare: Yeah, thanks for that intro Felicity, great to be here.

Felicity Cohen: So, first of all, I’d like you to think back to the trigger for you. What was it that led you towards that behaviour of addiction? And we know when we’re talking to our patient population in this environment, that being addicted to all sorts of things, whether it’s food or alcohol, there are a little, lots of underlying similarities.
The behavior patterns are often similar and often it’s to do with dulling, something dialing a trauma, for you, what was the trigger? What did that look like for you?

Derrick Shakespeare: The domain of the trauma, and I’ll sort of answered that part of it quickly is that’s kind of a later part of it. And that kind of comes it’s I guess, the replay of what soul of what problem solving.
So what, what’s your go to when you sort of, when you’re happy you drink, when you’re sad, you drink, it’s kind of, they cancel each other out and they, and that’s the danger with alcohol. But for me, it was sort of like in the early days, and this was back in the late eighties and the nineties, it was really that party parties was a big thing.
They probably still are, but getting drunk with your mates and, seeing who could actually drink the most amount without passing out or throwing up. And that was a badge of honor that you would wear in, in the surf community, in the community around here. That’s, that’s a big thing. And was back then, it was a bit like, you know, the, that movie in America called, Animal House where it was like, you know, the, the college, the American frat fraternities and things like that, where you really had to drink to be accepted.
And then in that process, which went on for several years, the idea of having fun, always revolve around having alcohol so for me, then having fun was associated with the drink. It’s just that I had an addictive personality. So for me, one drink, it was never enough from that point on. And I obviously had some, some pretty scary, scary moments and some wild parties and some great memories.
And most of which, I don’t remember the finer detail, but people remind you of that, but you think, oh, that was fun. You don’t remember the hangover. And then I guess in early that in early adulthood, I then sort of developed anxiety around, I got, I got anxiety attacks and one of the ways that I dealt with anxiety was self-medicating and that’s what a lot of people who struggle with alcohol do is that they self-medicate, in varied proportions and,
for me, the alcohol was good at sort of dialing down my negative self beliefs about myself, that I wasn’t good enough, that I was somehow faulty. And my go-to about dialing that down was okay, I’m going to have a drink. And sometimes that would sort of start in the morning. Well, in the end, it ended up, you know, before I was even out of bed.
So it was quite dangerous. And, we’ll talk a bit more about sort of what that, how that played out for me. And, anxiety is a funny thing and it’s sort of people who drink, often are anxious or they’ve got some sort of trauma. We can talk, we’ll talk about that a little bit, but the anxiety is this little voice in your head.
It knows all your insecurities and it plays them against you and uses them against you till it becomes the only voice you can ever hear. And the only way you can actually silence it out as by dailing the noise and that’s alcohol. For me, that was alcohol. Some people use drugs. Some people it’s sort of like more, much more harmful things, you know, the, I think one of the things with me is that you don’t have a lot of awareness around it when you’re actually in active addiction.
You don’t really think you’ve got a problem until someone else tells you or asks you, or then there’s some sort of issue. The, and then for me, it was sort of like, well, I realised it was too late and the wheels are falling off that bus. And it was a bit of a train wreck.

Felicity Cohen: That’s often a situation for many, many people is that they have to actually reach that point of no return before they realise that they need to deal with it.

Derrick Shakespeare: And, I was at I’m what they call, it was not, not, not anymore, but a high functioning alcoholic. And I had a video we created on the internet on YouTube and, we had several out of this program and that one has had nearly 50,000 views in the last four years. I didn’t even know it sort of checked in on it.
I put it up there and not thinking too much about it. And that one has got a lot of traction in terms of people just trying to find out what’s wrong with them. And in primarily a high functioning abuser, or someone who develops tolerance. Over a long period of time. Like they need more of the same stuff to get the same feeling or even to feel normal.
And in my case was just to feel normal. It wasn’t a feel great, warm, fuzzy. It was just to feel normal. And because I drank so much, then you have the fallout from that is like you develop the withdrawals. They’re massive. Like you get the cravings and withdrawals. I’m not sure which one comes first. It’s probably the cravings.
The cravings say I had this reward seeking behavior and I have to chase it. And you just chase it and edit it. There’s no matter what the cost you will get the drink. And then of course the withdrawals that can be quite significant. In fact, they can be life threatening. If you withdraw from alcohol without proper supervision, you can die.
Particularly, you know, at the levels that I was drinking with sort of talk about in a sec, and then the other sort of more subtle thing and, is the loss of control. So loss of control and alcohol addiction is really, when you careless decisions, operate machinery when you shouldn’t, get in the car and drive, lots of people do that.
Like, you know, the DUIs, that I only thought I, I thought I only had one or two drinks, but they’ve had ten, and that’s the lie that told them themselves. And it’s putting other people in risky situations that should, shouldn’t be it just shouldn’t be the way, because you don’t care or you’ve sort of lost that ability to sort of make those decisions.
It becomes a lot, you become a liability to yourself and to other people. And that’s why it’s still such a big problem.

Felicity Cohen: Can I just quickly relate that back to the stories that I hear from patients so frequently, I hear from patients, for example, at the point in time, when they’re ready to contact us to reach out and to really explore that they actually do need to do something about their health, their wellbeing, and specifically about their weight that often they might do things like go through the drive-through and eat something on the way home, because they’ve not eaten enough through the day.
So they go through this process of, because I’ve eaten in the car that doesn’t count or, you know, so it’s often those similarities around, you know, I didn’t actually do that.

Derrick Shakespeare: Yeah. So that’s, again, that sort of, that taps into, we’ll talk about this in a second is about your belief systems, about having that, you know, that, that compelling reason that, you know, why you start on a program in the first place, and then you sort of negate the things that you’re doing by having this little story going on the background.
That’s not, the true version. It’s not the truth. And the truth is all that doesn’t matter. It’s like when the alcoholic gets just one drink at the party and thinks I’m okay with this and suddenly it’s two, then it’s three. And then suddenly you, you sort of putting them behind pop plans and suddenly before you know it, you’ve had 10.
And then you get in the car and drive, or you just, I’m just going down the road or I’m just going back to the bottle shop to get another drink in this story. But it’s the same from, from 99% of the people who have the problem.

Felicity Cohen: It’s the lies that they’re telling themselves.

Derrick Shakespeare: Yeah, that’s right. And we’ll just talk about that shortly, actually.

Felicity Cohen: Great.
Okay. So when you, the first step in the process, you talk about radical self-awareness?

Derrick Shakespeare: Yeah. So is that that’s a big one. The most important voice you ever hear and, you will ever hear in this process is the story you say to yourself about yourself when you’re by yourself. So how, like your own self integrity.
So when you quiet, when you’re alone, what does, what’s that voice? What’s it saying? I’m a bad person. I really shouldn’t have had that drink, but I told everyone I was good and I was sober and I hadn’t. And it’s it’s really no, like there cannot be any bullshit BS in this process. If you’re bullshitting yourself that can become your truth.
And when your truth is a lie or internally a fact for most people, that’s self-sabotaging and sometimes, you know, and oftentimes with someone who’s alcoholic alcohol affected is that, they don’t know the difference between their truth and the lie, because it’s such a grey area for one, it’s, I think , maybe, I don’t know.
Anyway, don’t quote me on that. But addiction is one of those things that says it’s a disease that says you don’t have a disease. And having radical self-awareness is knowing that you do have a problem. Not necessarily, you know, alcohol’s not a disease, it’s just, it’s a condition, it’s an addiction condition and it’s about trying to solve a problem.

Felicity Cohen: Yeah. So diets, I mean, diets, what are they die with a T, and it’s with alcohol. You know, the, the big thing that, the big reason that most people don’t really succeed at it is they don’t have a big enough why they don’t have a big enough pain point.
They haven’t hit the rock bottom, but let’s say I have hit rock bottom, but they haven’t, they haven’t lost something significant. They’ve lost part of themselves. They haven’t lost a job. They haven’t lost a relationship or if they have it and really care about it. So I think Tony Robbins sort of says ‘until the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change, nothing will ever change.’
So you have that. There has to be a bigger pain attached to saying the way you are. When you, when that happens, there’s a possibility of change. And, often for these people, the cost is too big, they spend a lot of money getting drunk. Like I spent 10 grand a year for years. That’s a lot of alcohol.

Felicity Cohen: Wow.

Derrick Shakespeare: I think, you know, in the height, in the height of, and I’ll talk about this in more detail, but 10 grand is a lot of alcohol back in 10 years ago.
That’s a lot of booze. And so I spent 10 grand a year getting booze. But when I got, when I had the health, the health scare, there weren’t really the resources around, to cope with that apart from sort of like go and see a doctor. And then you say to the doctor says, or the doctor says to you how much you drink.
And you say, well, you know, I have a couple of day and that’s not the truth. That’s not being radically self-aware. You probably have a dozen or two dozen, and might be beer, beer you don’t sort of count cause it’s like it’s low alcohol, whereas the spirits it’s a different beast. The, and then I think a lot of reasons people don’t succeed is that they rely too much on willpower.
They think I’ve got this. They think that it becomes a thinking disease for them that they think I can solve this by myself because I have the willpower to stop eating or drinking. And it’s not sustainable because you haven’t done the inner work. You haven’t tapped into your belief systems. Why are you doing it in the first place.

Felicity Cohen: Wow. So that’s actually not a reality thinking that you’ve got the mindset and the ability and the ability to self manage and control and move forward with your addiction is possibly part of the lie that people are telling themselves?

Derrick Shakespeare: Always, you know, it’s like you, I think with specifically willpower it’s, it’s a sort of go-to excuse, it’s a bit of a cop-out I can do this, you know, I know I, you know, I can go a couple of weeks, couple of months, but then the reality is they get into a risky situation, sort of got them there in the first place.
And the willpower sort of was out the door. So it doesn’t matter. We’ll just have one or two and then there’s a kind of it’s, then there’s a reset. And then the beat up the negative self-talk and depends how bad it is for like, some people can quite happily manage where they’re at with their alcohol and they can quite happily say I’m going to go a year with no beer type thing.

Felicity Cohen: Amazing. And you know what, that really makes me think back to comments that I heard from patients going back many, many years ago. That they would hear from their GP’s, ‘oh, you need to lose some weight, you know what to do.’ That’s well before we understood obesity as a chronic disease, and I think the same for addiction, behavioural issues, that it is a chronic disease situation that we’re looking at treating.
And, you know, it’s not just one issue that we’re treating. It’s a whole holistic approach and, understanding and evaluating all of those aspects that go towards helping someone get to that point of radical self-awareness.

Derrick Shakespeare: Drinking is like, it’s like any addiction that you have like cigarettes. It’s eating, it’s emotional eating.
If it’s addiction to cannabis and things like that, they, it’s kind of like that’s, that’s they, how they sedate the problem, and that’s what they, that’s what they’ve learned.

Felicity Cohen: Yeah, absolutely.
What are some of the necessary tools that you actually teach people in the program to assist them in that first stage of the process?

Derrick Shakespeare: The programs, like we broke it down to eight modules, which we kind of liked them to be done over eight weeks. And the first couple of modules first is the preparation where we get them to sort of unpack where they’re at.
Look, get real with themselves, get a mentor, get a trainer, and get a friend, someone they can confide in, do a health check. That’s a really big thing. Like you’ve got to go to the doctor, get your blood tests. Get know where you’re at because often that’s sometimes is a really big trigger to say, holy shit, holy crap.
I’m really not well. When you see your bloods are here and they should be way over there, they should be here. Like this is normal and you’re so far out of whack. I mean, you should be dead. With some, you know, we might not tell you about my bloods in a minute, but, should have been dead. And the fact that I wasn’t meant that there was something bigger going on for me in terms of like, they had a bigger purpose, perhaps it’s this, I don’t know.

Felicity Cohen: I’d love to actually hear about that. What do you, what did your blood’s actually look like?

Derrick Shakespeare: So let’s give a one specific example. So for those who know what a gamma GT is and your liver, mine was at the height of it, it was 1400, zero to 70 is like kind of where your gamma GT needs to be.

Felicity Cohen: Wow.

Derrick Shakespeare: So 1400 is basically you’re on death spiral.

And that was in an ICU ward. I got back there sort of halfway there about, instead it wasn’t 2009. You know, when I was really crook, but I got halfway back there again without much effort, without much of a nudge with sort of drinking, probably a third of that. So it’s not hard to push your blood levels so far out of whack that you really have a problem.
And, and because you had that conditioning, you don’t, you’re not really aware of it. The, the thing that was sort of in my favor back then was that I had done a lot of work in nutrition. So, my body was kind of battling was working overtime all the time. It was sort of in, it was on that formula one race all day, every day.
And it was kind of able to, I guess, cope with it for a while until it wasn’t. And that’s obviously when everything went pear shaped.

Felicity Cohen: Wow.
I’m a massive fan of fueling your body with good food to really help you function to the best possible performance capacity that you can. And I know for me personally, you know, if I’ve had a bad day of eating, I’ve missed lunch or just haven’t had the time to look after myself, I can often have a really bad mood and not feel good.
Why do you see nutrition as being such an important part of what you’re teaching people to conquer this addiction?

Derrick Shakespeare: There’s a couple of answers to this. Nutrition always played a big part of it played a big part of my life since about 2005, and just trying to feel and feel and be well, and just have somewhat, I had some awareness around that. When I had my, when I had the problem that I ended up in the ICU ward, I really had to went on a self-discovery of working out well, how should I be fuelling my body?
When you are an active alcohol addiction, you, your eating behaviour is really around fast, fixed, fast, quick fixes, and that is junk food. So it’s like, it’ll be beer and pizza. beer and chips, beer and burger, they’ll always be a low energy. They’ll always be a high carb, instant sort of sugary meal. It gives you that energy boost that’s lower nutrients. When you, and we got into the science of nutrition, and you know what alcohol firstly does to you, Bonnie Robin of the vitamin B’s, you know, your zinc levels will be all over.
Will be lacking in that. You know, your glutathione’s will be down your gamma levels. Everything that makes you feel normal, normal human being is out the window. And you’ve got to use your nutrition and make know in a sustainable way. And that’s like, obviously with supplementation, and a proper
you know, a good as green as diet as possible and looking at, and then assessing that like every six months, like having it go against the blood tests, like, what is, okay, how am I eating, what am I eating. What point of these am I eating. And how do I feel weighed. And how am I integrating that with my exercise.
Because, and also of course, one of the things I think nutrition is also related to how we sleep or we call it mental, you know, sleep nutrition or sleep hygiene. If you’re not, not getting enough sleep the next day you wake up and then you rather than eat good food, you will see what’s the quick fix.
And you get back into that big, that sabotage self-sabotaging behavior. So having lots of like alkaline water, keeping your body non-acidic so really looking at where that that’s really important. And what does, so a green diet’s really important with that. Minimising, like things like red meats, this is great.
Chicken’s great, but having a good balanced diet that works and fits for you avoiding fried foods. And we look, we worked with a specialist nutrition lady from up in north America who has worked with the Catholic church and the FBI sort of, and she’d developed diet dietary programs with them and sort of helped us develop our program really in a, in a really easy to understand manner that was, I guess, easy to follow, like, you know, what can I implement?
I, haven’t got to throw everything out of the kitchen and just start shopping again. I can do it’s bite-sized by bite-size. Yeah,

Felicity Cohen: Yeah, absolutely. So when you’re looking at creating all of this positive change, do you think it’s really important to look for alternative solutions to fill those gaps in life, to create new habits for life?
And what kind of things have you used that have been your, I guess, the go-to things that help you manage when you’re faced with certain triggers? What are the things that you put into place for yourself?

Derrick Shakespeare: When you take out alcohol, you’re taking out a habit, a behaviour, something that makes you feel something it’s solving, some sort of problem, depending on where you are on the curve, depends on how much you’re drinking.
So you’ve got to replace that habit and the habit might revolve, might revolve around going to the pub one off five days a week, six days a week, seven days a week, or maybe it’s just once a week. So you’ve got to replace that reward seeking behaviour, which is firstly to drink, but then what’s it attached to, it’s attached to say, go meet my mates.
That’s my sense of community. That’s my sense of connection. If you take away and this is the, this is, this is a bit of a kicker. If you take away their community and their connection, because that’s associated with the alcohol, you got to replace it because community lack of connection is the single biggest reason that people often drink.
They have they, they feel as though they’re isolated. They have no friends, no one they can talk to. Whereas at the pub on a Friday, they can talk to their mates in the language. The problem is that there’s alcohol attached to it, which isn’t, which is ethanol, which is a poison you’ve got to replace it.
You’ve got to offer up solutions of how you can retrain yourself to sort of look at what is, what can I do here? What’s fun. If I go to the pub, I don’t have to drink alcohol. You can tell your friends, ‘Hey, listen, I’m, I’m off the booze.’ And just have a spritz or whatever it is, you know, that if that’s a soft way of coming into it, it might be changing the same people.
So like finding a new way to play a new, a new, you know, a new environment. That’s you find more enjoyable. There’s that saying, like “everything old is new again.” So rediscovering old habits. I’ll, I’ll say all the things you used to do, playing, playing chess, playing board games or taking up a new, an old sport that you used to be good at.
I’m not suggesting if you’re great at rugby, starting that up again, but it might be something going and watching a rugby match at the local community.
Felicity Cohen: I think that’s so interesting. And you know, I’m a great fan of creating a community and in our patient population, that’s a big part of how we create connections.
What I’ve learned this year, that actually fascinates me, we have a lot of patients who come from remote locations, for example, they might live in Mount Isa and in Mount Isa, what I’ve actually learned from the patients is that their whole sense of community and their behavior style has been in the past working really long hours for a long period of time.
And they’re in their downtime, what they would do. Binge drink, smoke and eat, and they didn’t have a sense of community around what else can we do here? So that it’s fascinates me because I think that’s an area that I really need to work on for our patient community is to offer up solutions and alternatives where they, they haven’t had them in that whole environment.
It’s a whole town and, and lots of locations around Australia where that culture is based on binge drinking when they’re not working.
Derrick Shakespeare: Yeah.
So I look, I, I don’t have that much information on it, but what I, when we were researching this, that one of the things we were looking at was that the mining communities are quite aware of that problem.
And particularly it’s obviously prevalent where you are isolated. So what do I do? And it’s a place where there’s not much to do. So there’s, I think there’s a, there’s a fairly big thrust from within those organisations to try and keep people busy and active and connected.
Felicity Cohen: How did your family first respond to what you were dealing with?
How did you actually get them to understand the problem? And, and what does, what did that look like for you at your, I guess at your lowest? .
Derrick Shakespeare: Derrick Shakespeare: [00:22:50] Okay, so it’s pretty,
it’s, there’s a simple way to answer it. And, and this is probably resonates with a lot. It’s more, it’s more about, what’s not said when it happens.
Or when you’re doing it. So if you’re over reading these things and you surely shouldn’t be eating that, like, you know what, Jesus, where’s that cake go? Where did the pizza go? Like, did you really eat a lot of food there? Or with alcohol it’s like, he’s having quite a, you know, I think you’ve had enough to drink and you don’t want to be told that.
So when it happens, this first is the denial, and then there’s the excuses and it says, oh, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve got this all sort of stuff, but yeah. Then when it really, when the wheels really fall off, it’s interesting to see your friends up. The there’s the non-helpful ones who are sympathetic.
So sorry to hear that, like, sorry, you’re struggling if you need, if you need anything, I’m here for you, but that’s wonderful, but they’re not equipped. Yeah. That’s kind of what you’ve got to get that sort of professional intervention sort of look at, look at the reason why, how this empowered, why this happened.
There’s a lot of well-meaning intention in families. But they often go into, they’re trying to save themselves in their own situations as opposed to helping you out because it’s choosing embarrassment for them.
Felicity Cohen: I love that.
And I think it’s a really important takeaway that when you are looking at that community and connecting with people who are going to be your support network, that sometimes yes, your friends and family can be around for support, but they’re not there for that professional need and they can’t supply everything.
I read in some of your of your notes, you talked about the fact that you’re, your dad came and knocked on your door one day. And, you know, you had to deny that you’d been drinking and then you got a phone call from your mom the same day saying that your dad could smell alcohol on your breath.
How, how did that, how did you deal with the relationship with your own parents and, and how, how did that develop from that moment?
Derrick Shakespeare: Yeah,

gosh, that was a bit of a, that was early in the morning, actually eight o’clock in the morning and it’s kind of like blocked a lot of that out. So thanks for reminding me.

Felicity Cohen: Sorry.

Derrick Shakespeare: You do like you do. That’s what you get, you get good at it. You get good at sort of forgetting this really bad stuff. And sort of these days I focus on what’s good and positive, but there’s always, yeah. So the, yeah, that was kind of really what, like, I mean, there was sit down. This is so typical of addiction is like denial.
First of all, I said, firstly, you call them stupid. You call them out. You make it their problem. You don’t know what you’re talking about. That’s nonsense. I know. What are you smelling? So just nonsense, maybe it was, and you make an excuse, then the story it’s when it happens repetitively, and then there’s always their thought in their mind.
Have you been drinking? And when you have and you go there, you’re really aware of it. So you’ll have lozenges, you’ll have mints, you’ll have anything you’ll brush your teeth. You’ll do anything to disguise the smell. So that was kind of really, and that kind of, that was about a month before I was sort of at my lowest point.

Felicity Cohen: I mean, I can imagine that would have been really hard with your parents and you know, you, you, you become so good at telling the stories, but if face to face with your own family, that must’ve been a challenging moment.

Derrick Shakespeare: Yeah. You got like, you get, look, you get really good at you. Get good at lying to yourself.
And then that it’s easy to map. It’s easy to sort of replicate that when you lie, when you lie to other people and family, because it’s the same story. The problem, when you tell lies is you forget what you tell people. So when you tell the truth, I’m gonna remember what you said. That’s the beauty of the truth.
When you tell a lie, you remember that shit, did I say that. What did I tell that person. When you’re drunk you don’t remember it’s whatever you thinking will solve that situation right then and there. Yeah.

Felicity Cohen: Can you talk us through what actually led to your hospitalisation at that lowest point in time?
And then from there, what precipitated designing and developing this incredible program Beyond Booze and led you into this area?

Derrick Shakespeare: So there’s a long answer to that, but I’ll try and keep this short and sweet, but, so 2009, April 14th, I was admitted to, Allamanda, Pindara hospital I think it was, into the critical care, with acute pancreatitis, I’d been.
I nearly died. I had been drinking two bottles of vodka a day. So two liters plus a bottle of red wine every day. And I’d be doing that for about 12 months. And my body had just had enough. So I went into a doctor surgery and I had huge pain everywhere and they couldn’t understand it. And then I collapsed on a doctor’s surgery floor.
It took them about nine hours to sort of work out what was going on with scan after scan. I was lying in this emergency ward. In all sorts of pain and trauma, and they sort of, whacked me full of these drugs, morphine and stuff to try and minimize the pain. And then what happened there? Like it’s, I remember blacking out and coming to, and then then sort of having these ICU nurses looking at me and sort of like just shaking their heads and you sort of have the semi consciousness around it thinking, am I dying here?
I don’t know. I got the news about nine o’clock at night from a bariatric surgeon. And he said, look, you’ve got acute pancreatitis. And asked me, have you been drinking and how much I had to come? I had to fess up. But even in that moment, when I was that sick and I had started vomiting blood over the nurses in front of them, there was still this voice saying, am I going to tell the truth here like, but he said, look, if you don’t tell us you’re going to die.
And when, and he said, we’re not even sure we can help you here. Like, you’re that sick. So my heart rate was over 200. My temperature was over 40. And my body was shutting down. So they put me on life support and basically turn, turn my bodily functions into a machine. And I banked some machines around me for about two weeks and in a semi coma.
And they wrestle me be back with, with, with drugs and, bypassed all my organs and things like that, just to keep me alive. And that was the model of medicine that kept me alive. I remember one of the, I mean, I, my memory sort of comes in and out because I was in and out of this sort of semi coma of whatever you want to call it.
And my kid, middle boy was probably three years, three, or something like that. And came in, what am I, I think it was about weekend to what he said there, you know, daddy, what’s this in the moment. I said, well, dad, he’s getting new superhero powers because I had enough awareness that I didn’t want him to be damaged by that experience.
That was me sort of trying to protect myself and protect him. From that point I sort of like, I went on this self discovery. I came out like this, obviously they talked from the parents. There was like, you need help. And then not being able to find the right help, like back in 2009, there wasn’t a great deal of information around.
And it was psychology, but it was really outdated. There were things like AA and there was some things like that, which I’ll talk about in a sec, but, and why they didn’t work and don’t work. And then it was willpower, which I thought would work for me. But I, in that process, I spent the next 2009, 10, 11, 12.
I spent the next two and a half years finding out a bit big or a bit more about myself. So I quit my job. I’d let my business go. I had to recover from alcohol. So in that recovery process, I discovered nutrition while I was supposed to do their work with a really like a great local physician who was into holistic medicine.
I really started to unpack where I was at, I wasn’t there. I wasn’t doing the one at the mind work. I was doing all the physical stuff and that was terrific. Like the body was starting to feel good. And I was, it took nearly eighteen months to get some sense of normality back, like what was that week from it? So that three weeks in an ICU ward had that much of an effect that it took 18 months for me to sort of learn to walk again.
And that was in all aspects of my life. I got divorced because marriage was one of the reasons I was drinking. I was, I was drinking to forget, to manage all my life’s problems and just, I had to sort of cut off everything and start again and a clean slate I had, no, there’s not a rule book. There’s no sort of manual on how you do that.
I found my own way and that looked like, you know, I, I did, I discovered yoga, power house a yoga, I think what you call it. And I went and did yoga teacher training. I went to a level three yoga teacher training. And I thought in that moment, that was my new, that was what I was going to be, but really there’s no money there.
And it wasn’t for me that it was, yeah, it was kind of like, that was discovering more about myself and about how I can be a better person and what really made me tick and how can I contribute back. And that’s when I started to discover self-development and I came across Tony Robbins, self development guy, guru.
Did some of his work and did some of his programs in through that. And my new wife I’d met her. I met my new wife on a yoga retreat. We, we came up and beyond dipping on those program and we wrote it out and we broke it down into real specifics about what the program, what it should look like. Yeah. And that’s how kind of bad about, you know, it was.
And it was like, it was edgy. We designed, went and all based on my personal experience. So we had to look at all of the elements of like, what does an alcohol addict person do and what do they need to recover? And what resources are they, what did I need? And that came through self discovery of what wasn’t available.
So by finding it myself, I was able to write a program or we wrote a program that was a really good fit for high-functioning booze, but it really applied to anybody who struggles with any sort of addiction because it cross pollinates.

Felicity Cohen: Absolutely. Absolutely. And it’s just, you know what I’m finding so fascinating listening to you is the lack of resources, the lack of support, and the lack of available programs that address every single aspect of how to support, help, and, I guess, guide and teach a recovering alcoholic, all those different holistic elements that can lead to lead to recovery.
And so. I know, you’ve talked a little bit about, you know, what are the deficits in organisations such as AA? Why is this not an effective solution because it’s still out there. And, I think that there’s still a massive lack in this space in terms of support networks
in regards to that.

Derrick Shakespeare: Can I just, I’ll just go back to our program, like, and I’m not fogging the program, but I sort of, there’s a couple of notes
I made here, so. I wanted to just unpack sort of what we taught in the program. Cause I didn’t answer that properly. So we looked at your, I talked about like the preparation, but we unpack, we go from like, find out where you’re at. And we look at what is addiction look like for you? We unpack it. Like, what is this addiction problem that you have?
And what does addiction primarily look like as an overall thing? And then we look give you tools with our workbooks. So you listen to the program and then you go and apply what you’ve learned and then you come back. Then you go to the next, the next, and then we look at your belief systems. What are your belief systems around alcohol, yourself, the world, global beliefs, your personal beliefs, and how do they affect the way you suddenly reach for the ball?
Whenever there’s a confronting situation, we unpack that because that’s often the driving force behind why somebody picks up the bottle. We look at breaking cravings, we dive into that. Cause that’s a big one. They’ve all got, can’t manage the cravings. And so we help you sort of. Looking at ways and tools and strategies to get, get through that.
We dive into nutrition. As I said, we look at movement. It’s a big one. Like getting moving again. What are some of these people are physically challenged, challenged, but we really easy practical tools can be applied day in, day out over a long period of time that gets you into a new habit. So what’s a new habit, 21 days, something like that.
And. Do that with repetition, repetition, repetition, until it becomes enjoyable. Getting those dopamine receptors, you know, working at a hundred percent and that’s that natural new high, we look at mindset, meditation thinking behaviors, ways that you can sort of really map and retrain the brain to this new behavior, new patterns.
And when you do that and you do it effectively and continually, it’s, it tends to stick. It’s got a pretty high success rate. And then of course, we look at relapse, prevent prevention. Yeah. So that’s sort of swung to come back and touch on

Felicity Cohen: Yeah. And it’s so similar to how we function here at weight loss solutions, Australia, and what we offer patients.
There’s so many parallels and similarities in terms of how we treat someone who’s coming into this clinic environment. And it’s so fascinating because I think back to 20 years ago, when people used to say to me, why do I need to see a psychologist? Do I have to pass a test? And they used to be terrified of that component of their care.
And for me, I’ve been always such a huge advocate for, for multidisciplinary support systems, because I know that if we’re not treating holistically, we’re not going to solve a problem. That’s going to be maintainable and sustainable for the long-term. And it’s the same when you’re treating a recovering alcoholic.
It’s identical actually. And you know, it’s interesting when you’re talking to some of our patients, what are some of the triggers there? You know, is it when we’re talking about what the psychologists are dealing with. Stress eating, emotional, eating, comfort, eating, boredom eating, you know, all of those things that are multi factorial in terms of their triggers, breaking those down, understanding them, but also building new strategies for the future.
So that our patient population, we know they’re going to maintain results and that’s always a good 10 and 30 years.

Derrick Shakespeare: That’s what you’re, but that’s what you’re aiming for the
long, the long, long term. Yeah.

Felicity Cohen: Yeah. It’s interesting. So I’m actually still curious to know about AA and I hate to kind of pinpoint and point the finger at them as an organization.
But, I feel like there’s so many, you know, gaps in this space in terms of how this is being managed for people and there’s such a huge need. Why do you think it doesn’t address a problem

Derrick Shakespeare: Okay. AA was, developed in mid 1930s. So what nearly 80 years old.

Felicity Cohen: Wow.

Derrick Shakespeare: And it hasn’t
changed much. It’s got 12 principles and they basically, they get you.
They want you to subscribe, to subscribe and admit to a fact that you are powerless over alcohol or it’s that it has power over you and you have to surrender to that power and that you have to surrender to a higher power. Now, most people think that that’s a God. I think there’s all hype. There is a higher power.
There’s something bigger than all of us that has a master plan. But in here they kind of say that you are completely powerless over alcohol and you will never recover. It’s just a nonsense. It’s not true. There’s so much, there’s too much science around it now. And there was too much evidence. There’s plenty of people out there like any, Annie Grace you wrote this “Naked Mind”.
She’s got the book is called “Naked Mind”. Really dive into the science that why people drink. There’s guys like James Swanwick, Australian American guy, who’s got this program for high functioning for executives. There’s plenty of, there’s not, there’s not a lot, but there’s plenty of people out there.
Do they have real specific programs that target target modern day problems. And it’s the modern day problems that are that, that are, that, that we need to address. With our program and the likes of our program. We look at, we dive into, these mindset behaviors, these patterns, these beliefs, these things that we do that trip us up.
Whereas AA is not results focused. It’s not result. It’s not focused on your belief system. It’s focused on this group mentality of like you all huddle together. You’d get up and say, hi, I’m John’s anonymous and it’s not so anonymous. Okay. It’s not. And you say I’m an alcoholic. Well, are you really like they get into
a community, that’s surrounded by a community of people who believe that they’re broken some and they can’t be fixed. Well, how can he possibly be fixed if you’re surrounded by people who think they’re broken and can’t be fixed, like it’s, it’s a double negative, you’re there to get help, but you’re getting help by people who think they’re broken anyway, or they get up and say, oh, look, I’m being 20 years sober.
To have to say that as a badge of honor means you still have a problem. And that’s where I found the disconnect. it has, and also look, there are some real facts, only 8% of people succeed with AA. That’s a huge number to me as a people and an 8% of all that, the people that actually survived, they gone through long-term and, they’re pretty vocal about it.
They’re the ones that say that I’m 30 years alcohol free and they wear it like a badge of honor and sort of say, well, if you follow these 12 steps, you can be too. I don’t believe it. And I, I went there, I did it, some of these meetings and I often I found that a lot of the people that, okay, it’s a squeaky wheel syndrome.
They’re going to these meetings to feel the fix the louder squeak. And in this case, it’s alcohol, but they still, they still smoke. They still drink coffee, both two addictive behaviours or to like the two next biggest ones. So they go to these meetings and they, they are just chain smoking. And what’s the problem is that solving the anxiety, the coffees, the upper.
So they, you know, they work hand in hand. So you’re at these meetings and they’re kind of like, it’s a real contradiction. That’s why I think they don’t work. I also don’t think they don’t have the really structured mechanisms to give you a plan to go forward. My belief system sees my triggers are this, my wife is like this.
I eat like this. I move like this. They don’t doing you that. And I that’s why it it can never work while it’s in its current form. It’s for some people that’s a great sense of, it gives them some sense of connection. Like at least if they were by themselves drinking by themselves all day, every day.
And they got to a point where they had no friends now, you know, their life was shit, often the case. I can’t, they’re not mine. They’re not my mind. They’re not the people I talk to, but they get there and going to those meetings, some of them go like I was it’s. I went to a couple of these and some of them every single day that said, like going to church moment where they get to meet their friends, but you’ve been surrounded by people who are not driven and motivated to sort of not have to go to these meetings.
So that’s kind of where we’re at with it. And I look, we have a view about even the health retreats. Like we, I think we’ve talked about this in the past, where you go to a health treat pay, a shit ton of money. 20 grand 40 grand a week. And there’s a few of those around and you’re supposed to enforce the six weeks be recovered.
It’s not possible because you spent years getting there. It takes you years to unpack, unwind and rewire and get yourself going again. Now, in case there’s a follow up support, but I just don’t subscribe and believe that if doing a six week course in, you know, controlled environment is going to help you overcome a problem that comes stems often back from childhood trauma or some sort of behaviour and pattern that you’ve just been feeding forever.
That’s why you need these long-term sustainable programs where you have ongoing support outside that clinic, in those why these programs like ours, like the Annie Grace thing that she has her programs, I think called 21 unit. There’s a few around. And if you sort of Google when isn’t it, but you can get on the internet we are, and there’s “Hello Sunday Mornings” tribute.
One is a community based driven one where people who aren’t quite alcoholics, but they have a problem with alcohol and want to wake up Sunday morning sober. So there’s a few out there. But yeah, that’s, and that’s why I believe that like these more modern, progressive, people in businesses are doing much better on getting bigger results.
Long-term with the people that they subscribed to because people that are in these groups, these modern ones have often been there and had no success and think I need something better than this.

Felicity Cohen: I think it’s amazing that you’re actually, first of all, understanding it firsthand and addressing it and coming up with a program that can really deliver and help people to achieve their intentions and their goals and, and move forward in life.
And, yeah. I can so, identify with this huge gap and need, and I hope that this is something that, you know, you’re able to, to communicate and promote and drive further forward, because I think it’s really necessary from, from everything I’ve seen, heard, and researched myself. I’m also kind of a little bit curious as to, what are some of the key lessons around assisting people to help them preventing, that potential risk of relapse?

Derrick Shakespeare: Yeah. So I make some notes about that one. And when you sent me the question, cause it’s, it’s, it’s probably the biggest, it’s the biggest one, because you’ve probably come seven weeks, hopefully without any booze. And, there’s always the risk of relapse and there’s a relapse we have like, you know, you’ve got the pre-contemplation I, you know, I’m, pre-contemplation this contemplation part, then there’s the, I’m going to do something about it.
Then there’s this and that doing that something bad, whatever it looks like for you. And then in that process, you sort of healing. There’s always the risk of laps and laps is just a small hiccup or relapses that complete sort of derail. The, so for us, we’re sort of in that the long we’re in for the long game.
And we want to sort of build a program where you, your life is you’re in control of your life and not, alcohol’s not in control of you. So. I mentioned previous that you’ve got to have a mentor, you’ve got to have a coach or someone, someone who’s an expert, a friend’s fine. But having someone who’s like an expert in it, who’s like there are a hundred percent in, there’s no judgment and that’s kind of, that’s a real safe place.
And we really believe that that’s the first place you’ve got to be. And often having that person there along the journey is the first place you would go to when you’re having a bit of a wall. And that’s what we believe that that’s the single biggest thing that’s going to perhaps keep you on your journey.
It’s not always there, but it’s often that’s the most, that key piece of accountability is having that person that is there for you. That has no judgment. It’s not attached to it, but wants to see you recover. The, I think, you know, one of the things that we in this process, you’ve got to be gentle on yourself.
We teach you to lesson is to be like, don’t take, don’t be so hard on that. You’re in this situation. But show yourself compassion, some self-love and a lot of people are no good at that. They don’t want to play. They, they don’t, they see themselves as broken already. So in this process, by this stage, you’ve been taught a few ways to show yourself compassion and your mentor will show you compassion and empathy.
Yeah. Helping you along, holding you up the, it’s and I think they, you know, it’s a big thing and I love what I do you want to talk about is sort of, I want to talk about the reasons people do relapse.

Felicity Cohen: Yeah, I’d love to hear that.

Derrick Shakespeare: And there’s seven. I’ll just read them out. So they can’t manage this stress and negative emotions.
They don’t like they, they just not dealing with it. They haven’t sort of really followed the course properly or they just always struggling with it. So they relapse. Conflict for the family that that’s always going to be there. But how you manage that is often the number one reason that you won’t relapse.
If you manage, it would sort of, composure and not being too attached to the result and not taking it personally, then you, then you will, you can get through this then there’s sort of three, you know, not following the false positive behaviour, behavioural things that we’ve implemented. We’ve learned to implement. Hanging around the wrong people.
One of the people that got you there in the first place, you know, risky situations, that’s always, that’s going to be a trigger. If you know, you’re going to a party where people are going to be drinking or your mates are there and they’re taking drugs and stuff like that. And you think, well, I just don’t trust myself.
You’ve got to avoid that. Yeah. If you stopped doing the mindset work, like if you stopped working on where your mind is that, like, what are you thinking? What are you believe in the breath work? What do you do at night? Like, what’s your wind down pattern? Is it lay down on the phone scrolling? Or is it turning all digital media off leaving the phone in the kitchen, which you should do not having the TV in the bedroom and just listening to the quiet music or something is a pattern.
And you do that every night, because once you do that, you set yourself up for good sleep and that’s, if you’re doing that, then you won’t relapse the, look, I think allowing to be triggered or sledding on boundaries on people. So if you’re slipping, but if you set boundaries to people on your slip, that’s why that’s getting back in that risky situation.
And that can be a trigger as well. I think, look, you’ve got to be vigilant about these things, you know, if you’re vigilant on all those aspects that the risk of relapsing is pretty low. That’s it,

Felicity Cohen: I think
the most important thing that, for me is that there, there are options. There are solutions. And I think knowing that there are solutions out there to help people achieve that long-term sustainable results of, you know, never needing to think about a relapse as well.
You know, hopefully we’ve got in programs like the one that you’ve developed, those options are there, that people, I think knowing that there is a solution I think is critical. Finding a mentor, I think that’s a really important takeaway having that accountability partner. Or, you know, finding that, that new network, that new community, I think is really also so important.
You need to have a tribe of people around you, but they’re going to actually prop you up and propel you to success
all the time.

Derrick Shakespeare: I think, you know, the other thing is, look, firstly, change your sand pit. That’s another thing like change, change.

Felicity Cohen: I love that expression.

Derrick Shakespeare: It changes
like you’ve got a move for me.
I moved town. I left, I left state. I changed jobs like quit. Know, sometimes changing a group of friends where you’re hanging out those sorts of things, the way you go to work, the way you go to the shop is that mean you’ve got impossible. So you’ve got to go right when he’s supposed to, when you sh you got, instead of turn right, go left.
If you know that you’re going to be that there’s a risk of you going past the bottle shop and going in there, don’t do it. If you change that pattern in that route. Suddenly it becomes in the back of your mind. And then one day you can walk past it and you don’t even notice that it’s not there anymore.
Whereas when you’re on autopilot seeking the alcohol, you know, where bulk shop is, you know, when they open and you buy the day before the day before they close. And it’s like, you’ve got to change that patterning. The other thing about one of the lessons that we teach about the consequence, like you’ve got to remind yourself, what’s the cost.
What’s the consequence of me drinking again. What’s the consequence of me undoing all this work that I’ve done. What’s the physical cost. What’s the mental cost. What’s the financial cost. How has the alcohol serving me? What problem is it solving? You learn these things and say, well, my, my coach was a Tony Robbins coach.
So I said, yeah, what’s it giving you? How is it serving you? I have to think. I don’t know. Like it’s just making me feel good, like sort of stolen upon them. What problem is it solving? I said, well, now it’s temporary because you wake up in the problem still and it’s manifestly worse the next day, because your anxieties kick back in.
So you’ve got to kind of like have all these tools that we’re building along the way, the nutrition, the movement, the mindset, the beliefs, the angle, like what does your addiction look like? Unpacking those things and having your workbooks with them and having this daily, like a daily reminder, you wake up, what does, have your diary there.
My plan, what am I going to do today? And my day starts out like this. And then tap into that every day. And at the end of the day, just do a quick audit, how I done the things I set out to do little micro goals, and they help you sort of stay focused and on purpose. And it connected with who you are, who you really want to be, make you become what I call a professional human being.

Felicity Cohen: I absolutely loved that. You know, staying connected to your purpose, that love micro goals. That’s just such an important thing. Small steps. If we take one small step at a time where it’s eventually going to lead to something so much bigger, and I just, I can’t tell you how much this really resonates with what I see in my patient population that we’re dealing with and speaking with every single day.
And I guess one of the things that I wish could change is that people wait too long to find that trigger for change. You know, they look at, for example, if someone’s looking at a surgical intervention that they’ve had a problem, that’s been ongoing, it’s progressively getting worse. The medical conditions are getting worse.
All these things are over time, evolving into somewhat some, something that I really don’t want to be living with. And it takes sometimes up to two years of research before that first trigger to take that step. And sometimes I wish people would take that step earlier.

Derrick Shakespeare: Yeah.
Reading personal development books.
Some people call it shelf help, but I think there’s a really good there’s, there’s, there’s good lessons in all of them. If you pick the right ones and try and don’t read them all, but something that. Sort of lands with where your head’s at, like by this stage, you’ve sort of found a few people that speak the language that you understand.
Like there’s a book by Don Miguel Ruiz called “The Four Agreements”. Possibly one of most powerful books written in the last century. And it sort of, it it’s on four principles. Don’t take things personally, being impeccable with your word. Always do your best and in the forefront, I don’t know what it is.
Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions and always do your best, they’re your four things. And by not making assumptions about situations is really helpful. I don’t assume someone is thinking a certain way. You don’t know what’s going on for them. Don’t take what they’re saying personally.
It’s not about you. It’s about them more often than not, and doing your best no matter what, like doesn’t matter how good or how good it is. Just do your best because when you do that, you’re being your authentic version of you and that set radical self-awareness. That’s about the truth being the truest version of you.

Felicity Cohen: Fabulous. I absolutely loved listening to everything that you’ve shared today. And I think there’s so much value in the “Beyond Booze” program. And hopefully we’ll be able to share some information with people on how they can connect and I will do that, so that others can find out how do they connect with you.

Derrick Shakespeare: Sure.

Felicity Cohen: One question that I like to ask all of my guests in closing is what does wellness mean to you?

Derrick Shakespeare: I think wellness means sustainability. What is it? What can I do day in, day out? That doesn’t mean breaking the bank, doesn’t mean breaking my body, doesn’t mean breaking, breaking into it, a sweat that’s uncontrolable or a cold sweat. So with me, it means, managing the food that I eat, looking at it and taking an audit that regularly, like keeping it fun and interesting.
It doesn’t have to be the organic diet. Like it can just be common sense, unprocessed food, like that’s a big thing, food it’s farm to table type stuff. Like it’s going to the fresh fruit going fresh food, making that stuff and prepping it up, being prepared and balanced in the way you prepare your food, not just doing the quick fix takeaway because it doesn’t work.
And I, I can’t, it takes a bit more effort and time, but long-term, it’s sustainable. Like it’s gotta be something you enjoy doing, but you have to do it. Because if you’re not feeling, feeling, fueling yourself with the right stuff, you’ll never gonna feel right. You’ll feel sluggish down and out, and then you’ll beat yourself up about it.
And it’s that whole groundhog day thing again, like I think for me movement, no matter how small it is, regular movement everyday doing something. 10 15 minutes, slightly puffing, if you have to, but getting the heart rate up, getting your cardiovascular fitness into a state, that’s sustainable this, Felicity, I don’t know with your patients, but I would imagine heart disease is a big problem and diabetes and sort of their ingenious levels are probably massively challenged.
So in something like walking to the front gate might be an issue and it was, it has been for some number of the people we work with just getting out of the house. Isn’t is a big enough step. So going down the end of the street and then walking back, stop, and then take it to the end of the block and then go around the block and then, and then change up your scenery.
Keep it interesting. Don’t do the same paddock every day. Don’t go to the same tree and sit. Find a new one. Like we mix it up one week it’s the park next to the next to the rainforest next week it’s the beach. If that’s available to you, might be a walk in the city. It might be a visit to the library, but you mix up and make a plan, diarise those things.
But when you diarise, when you write it down and do it a red pen, like the things that are in red and non-negotiables, pencil everything else, like, you know, pencil with things that you can move around. I’m an old fashioned sort of diary person. So, I like to have those things that I’ve committed to there that I can’t scrub out.
So that means my exercise is regular it’s routine. And I mix it up. It’s a mix of yoga, which I think is terrific. Like, you know, I’m fitter now despite an injury I got a few years back now. I’m, I’m fitting now, what mid fifties then I was in my twenties and I was actually surfing back then. And, so now my physical, my physiology is actually a lot better.
I’m probably as strong as I was then. And I’m acutely aware that the older we get the harder it gets. So the less you do the harder it is to recover. So if you only exercise twice a week, and then when you do twice a week, next week, it feels like you’re going to have to do it a hell of a lot more.
It’s a lot harder to recover. So just that gentle it’s like, it’s like the orthodontist dentistry. If you want to adjust teeth, you don’t use pliers, you know, got to adjust them slowly. It’s the same with your health and fitness. It’s it’s the same with overcoming addiction. You’ve got to do these little foot, one foot in front of the other, these little baby steps, micro challenges.
Set them kick him off. Got it. Kicked the goal and then move on. And that’s when that is when you, I feel, you know, you feel great about yourself. That becomes an exciting legacy that you can leave behind for your kids, your family, your friends, whatever, whatever that
looks like.

Felicity Cohen: And ultimately, I think that’s what we all want to do is to leave a legacy.
It’s been an absolute pleasure having you here with me today. I think I’ve learnt so much about your own personal journey and what that’s led towards. I think “Beyond Booze” is an awesome program. I’d like to thank Deryck so much for joining us today. I’ve learned so much about not only your own personal journey, and I really appreciate you sharing that with my guests today, but also so much about “Beyond Booze” and the parallels and the cross pathways that I can really see connect so much with our patient population here at WeightLoss Solutions Australia, but more than anything, there’s such a big need for this type of program.
And I really hope that we can find an opportunity for people to connect with you and learn more about this space and hopefully treat many more to become recovering alcoholics. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Derrick Shakespeare: Thanks very much for having me. Thank you.

Felicity Cohen: Thank you joining the Wellness Warriors podcast, it’s been a pleasure to have you online with us.
If you enjoyed the series, please leave your review, subscribe and follow. And we look forward to sharing many more stories with you in the future.

Nutritionist & Dietitian

Meet our team


Chealse Hawk

Nutrion Leader Coach

Isabelle Cole

Nutrion Coach

Joshua Chambers

Nutrion Coach

Laura Barrett

Nutrion Leader Coach