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$500-an-hour sobriety coach helps Dubai’s big drinkers

While these social drinkers at a brunch at the Intercontinental Dubai Marina are having a good time, other problem drinkers suffer the consequences of excess

Dubai’s work-hard, play-hard expat party lifestyle, and its famous all-you-can-drink weekend brunches can be the perfect breeding ground for potential alcoholics, according to the founder of a new $500-an-hour sober coaching service.

British sober and recovery coach, David Golding, relocated to Dubai nearly four months ago and has launched Sober Lifestyle Coaching, a 13-week recovery plan consisting of online content and in-person one-to-one sessions, aimed at those who need help addressing their problem-drinking habit.

Golding began his recovery journey 15 years ago and was previously an inpatient at The Priory Clinic in the UK, before becoming a volunteer as part of their Addiction Treatment Programme.

A visitor to Dubai for over 20 years, Golding has frequented many of the city’s famous weekend brunches, where those attending pay a set amount to be able to eat and drink as much as they can within the space of about three to four hours.

Such environments are where Golding said many of his clientele may be found.

“They might have the work hard, play hard mentality so they feel that they’re owed and they’re allowed.

“So [they’re] going to choose a brunch where it’s full alcohol – drink as much as you can.

“The mindset is different. All the social drinkers are going there and having a good time. Then the people who are problem drinkers suffer the consequences,” he said.

Golding pointed out this was not just a Dubai problem as only about five percent of those attending such binge brunches are likely to transition from being a big drinker to becoming a problem alcoholic.

“I certainly wouldn’t point fingers. I’ve come here because there’s a need. Where there’s human beings, there’s addiction,” he said.

“I do wonder whether the binge culture might expose alcoholics more often here because there’s more of an opportunity. But I do think that’s the world over.

“For 95 percent of people, [the brunches] are great. So we’re talking about the tiny percentage of people that become exposed because of the environment that’s been created.” 

The sober coach said there a number of indicators that someone has moved from being a big drinker to an alcoholic.

He said the biggest indicator was to look at the negative consequences of a person’s drinking and whether it had got out of control.

“You might come home and embarrass yourself or your wife or your partner,” he said.

“You’ve said or done stupid things, you’ve got into a fight. You come home with a bruise, or even worse. 

“I call them UBIs, which is an ‘unexplained beer injury’. And even worse consequences are blackouts. 

“If you have a blackout and don’t remember what you said or did, these are indicators. That’s where I might feel that you’re an alcoholic.

“But nobody can tell anyone if they’re an alcoholic, you have to realise that yourself.” 

Based in Business Bay, Sober Lifestyle Coaching offers a number of services, from coaches to therapy sessions and detox programmes.

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