57. Deb Makes a Deal


Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

This week my guest is Australian therapist Deb Clarke.  17 years sober, Deb talks to me about her drinking years, how she stopped and how her life has changed.

In this Episode

  • Deb was very much a binge drinker – she could go for several days without drinking but once she picked up a drink she had no “off” switch
  • Because she COULD go for a few days without drinking she felt she couldn’t really have a problem and in fact, her friends reassured her that she just needed to “drink less” – which was not at all helpful!
  • At some point, she managed 2 years sober but it wasn’t a good period as she hadn’t changed her thinking about drinking and felt sorry for herself. In fact, she was relying on willpower to stay away from it
  • Recent research has shown that willpower is actually a finite resource and will run out … almost like a muscle gets tired after an hour in the gym
  • Just imagine you’ve had a really tough day at work and needed all your willpower not to lose your temper with colleagues? And then you get home and remember it’s a “non-drinking” day – much harder to stick to than if you’ve had an easy day…
  • Once we’ve had a problem with alcohol, the only way we can stay alcohol-free and BE HAPPY about it is by changing our mindset. Otherwise, we’ll always feel that something is missing and have bouts of FOMO. We have to identify our limiting beliefs around alcohol – and then overturn them
  • When Deb got sober there was nothing available except AA – and she resisted that because (although she needed help) she thought AA was for “real” alcoholics. Like many people, she had an image of an alcoholic as a homeless man in the park.
  • Debs’ turning point came when she had a call from a hospital to go to turn off the life support machine of her son who had taken a drug overdose – she found herself bargaining – let her son live and she would never drink again
  • Her son lived – so it was time for her to keep her side of the bargain. She did this by going to “meetings” – she had still not really recognized herself as an alcoholic so convinced herself that she was there to listen and learn as she may be able to help her son to deal with HIS drug problem
  • One thing she did enjoy at AA was listening to all the stories – there is such power in telling our stories to a group of people who are struggling with alcohol. Not only is it cathartic for us, but so too does it reassure others that there is not something “wrong” with them – they just got addicted to an addictive drug!
  • We see this at our workshops which we always begin with a “share” – people are so emotional when they talk about just how unhappy alcohol has been making them – and you get a sense with some people that it’s the first time they’ve said the words out loud. There is such a deep bond created when we speak our truth – it’s all about the power of vulnerability
  • Deb talked of her reluctance to step on the sober journey as there always seemed to be a party or Christmas or a birthday round the corner. The thing is that there is never a “right time” to quit the booze – we just have to get started, get some sober time, and get those “first” sober parties done. They probably won’t be much fun but they will get easier
  • Apparently, Deb went to her doctor for tests as she worried about the effect that alcohol may be having on her body. Her doctor did some tests and told her she was fine – many of the standard liver function tests will still look normal even if you drink far too much. But don’t be misled as the damage could well be happening
  • If you are interested in a more realistic test to assess the effect alcohol is having on your body then you may be interested in the CDT testing – have a listen to episode 22 with Scientist Jean Deenmamode
  • Testing is not the real issue, however – the real issue is whether your drinking is on your mind – if it is, if you worry about it, then reach out and get some help
  • I asked Deb what the main benefit of sobriety was for her and she simply said “freedom’. I so understand what she means – the relief and the peace that comes with sobriety is priceless – as our life opens out again, we enjoy everyday pleasures
  • Of course, Deb herself has been in the very difficult position of having a son with a drug problem which led us to talk about the difficulty of dealing with a loved one with an issue. Deb felt it was about unconditional love – and being there but obviously, the person has to decide for themselves
  • Deb is now a therapist and specializes in Root Cause therapy which looks at limiting beliefs – stories we tell ourselves – such as “I’m not good enough” – the beliefs that sit in our subconscious
  • Deb is working with Tribe Sober these days – offering her Root Cause therapy to our members and will be running workshops for our Australian members – so if you are in Australia and would like to attend a workshop just email janet@nulltribesober.com and we’ll keep you posted
  • We start our annual 66 day challenge – Sober Spring here in South Africa but can be a Sober Autumn as well!
  • Membership also allows you to find your people as we welcome you into our supportive community
  • Just go to tribesober.com and hit the “join our tribe” button to read more about the benefits of membership.

    More info

  • Subscription membership – you can join up HERE
  • To access our website click HERE
  • If you would like a free copy of our “Annual Tracker” or our e-book “66 Days to Sobriety” please email janet@nulltribesober.com
  • If you would like to come to our Saturday afternoon Zoom Cafe as a guest and meet our community just email janet@nulltribesober.com

Episode Sponsor

This episode is sponsored by the Tribe Sober Membership Program.  If you want to change your relationship with alcohol then sign up today. Read more about our program and subscribe HERE. 

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you.


 Help us to spread the word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts, take a screenshot of your review and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – we’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11 am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x


The 11 Year Fact

Did you know that the average dependent drinker will struggle alone for 11 years before reaching out for help?

Don’t wait for 11 years – join Tribe Sober today!