Lee Mack reveals why he stopped drinking

11 January 2021, 12:37 | Updated: 11 January 2021, 14:49

Lee Mack on the Graham Norton Show on 10 Dec 2020
Lee Mack reveals what made him stop drinking on I Can't Believe It's Not Buddha. Picture: Jonathan Hordle/PA Wire/PA Images

Listen to Lee Mack and Neil Webster discuss giving up alcohol on their I Can't Believe It's Not Buddha podcast.

Lee Mack gave up drinking four years ago and has explained how and why.

The Not Going Out star discussed his reasons for giving up alcohol with Neil Webster on their I Can't Believe It's Not Buddha podcast, and he revealed it was a book by the famous author Allen Carr which convinced him.

Speaking on the podcast's first show of 2021, he revealed: "Probably the number one reason I gave up drinking was a book recommendation. I read a book that changed my whole attitude to alcohol".

He continued: " It was by Allen Carr. Not that Alan Carr. [...] Allen Carr's quit smoking book The Easy Way to Stop Smoking], I think it's called Easy Way and I was never keen on that phrase. Easy way. It sounds a bit like some sort of pyramid scheme type, but it's incredible. I mean, it really is the world's most successful way of stopping smoking.

"And then he brought out another one called controlling alcohol [Easy Way To Control Alcohol]. Now, I wasn't what you'd call, I wasn't waking up in a skip. I wasn't that kind of drinker. I was just reading this book out of interest. I've had a long relationship with booze because I grew up in a pub, and I have got a history of my family being very heavy drinkers..."

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Though he had no intention of stopping completely the actor and comedian realised half way through the book that it was actually about quitting.

"Even though it's called controlling alcohol, it seems to suggest stopping completely. And he admits a third of the way through the book, he says, 'by now you've probably worked out I'm saying stop drinking completely. And the reason I had to call my book controlling alcohol was because everyone wants to stop smoking. Nobody wants to stop drinking. So no one would have bought the book.'"

He added: "The general rule is that people think that you are trying to control your urge to drink and that you're saying, 'okay, I'd like to have a drink, but I won't because it's better for my health'. In other words, you're giving something up. This [book] changes that completely. I just you just don't want one anymore. That's the difference."

Webster also doesn't drink, but revealed he relies more heavily on non-alcoholic drinks. However, Mack reckons there's nothing wrong with them, because it's all about the association.

"You know that the thing about alcohol is that it makes you drink more liquid than you want to drink," he mused. "Nobody needs that amount of liquid. It's the alcohol that's addictive. So when you when you have non alcohol when you have water, you sit there and drink glass of water you don't think 'I'll need another six...'

"The basic summary of this book, I would say, is that we associate it [drinking] with something else. Right? So the thing that I've often thought this isn't even in the book, but this is the thing that I've often thought, right? You sit with a pint of lager. Friday night, end of the working week, whatever. You take a sip of beer, either in the sun outside, you take one big swig and go 'Ah. That's better'.

"We all know that feeling and yet it doesn't get in the bloodstream for at least half an hour. So the question is, what is giving you that feeling of 'ah that's better'? Because it can't be the alcohol. [...] So there must be something else that's going on and It's the association. Likewise, the taste is also associated with it."

He added: "So if you really like the taste of non-alcoholic whiskey or beer, why aren't you having it at 10 in the morning?"

Listen to the hilarious podcast via Global Player.

I Can't Believe It's Not Buddah with Lee Mack & Neil Webster
I Can't Believe It's Not Buddah with Lee Mack & Neil Webster. Picture: Global

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I Can’t Believe It’s Not Buddha is a new podcast which finds comedian Lee Mack and his longtime friend and comedy writer Neil Webster taking their first (often clumsy) steps on the road to nirvana.

Lee’s has long had an interest in Buddhism, mindfulness and the possibility of leading a more spiritual life. After a few years of dabbling in meditation, he feels the time has come to decide once and for all whether he should seriously seek spiritual enlightenment.

From picking which type of Buddhism to follow to contemplating what a woodland creature would say to you if you asked it the time, Lee and Neil explore the principles and practices of Buddhism in a way that spiritual practice has never been explored before…possibly for very good reason.

Listen to the latest podcast episode below:

Listen to the latest podcast episode here:

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