91. Living Sobriety Out Loud – with Peggi Cooney


Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

My guest today is Peggi Cooney.  She’s a retired social worker with 16 years of field experience and these days she trains other social workers to cope with the many challenges of their work.

She has written a personal memoir about her own struggles with alcohol and has become a sobriety advocate.  One of the qualities that shines out from that book is her love and appreciation of the Recovery Community and the support we all give each other.

She leads a community group on Facebook also called This Side of Alcohol structured to encourage daily conversation, insight, and support around alcohol recovery.

In this episode

  • Like many of us, Peggi used various tricks to disguise the fact that she was drinking too much. She talks of an award ceremony where she pre-drank and after-drank but at the event people saw her with just one glass of wine.
  • Of course she used “the rules” – trying to drink moderately or only at the weekend – and of course she failed to keep to her own rules.
  • At one point Peggi was hiding wine bottles in her boots in her wardrobe – she really struggled to recognise herself in those moments…
  • She had lots of stomach problems and always felt below par when she was drinking – its only now that she feels SO much better that she has joined up the dots and realised that her alcohol consumption was responsible for that feeling.
  • Peggi had a “rock bottom” on the day that she was arguing with her husband about her drinking – and her children and grandchildren walked in on them having a furious argument. After that event she realised that she was “done” drinking.
  • Once she had made up her mind to stop she “threw the book at it” – she read all the quitlit and joined Sober Sistas to do their 21 day reset.
  • She describes being in a small condo with lots of people when they were doing a lot of drinking including tequila shots – she had known it might turn out like that so she had booked a hotel room nearby and was able to slip out.
  • That makes me think of one of our survival tips for socialising – always have an escape plan – what will you do if things get difficult. Peggi’s plan was a great one but if you are not too far from home you can just get in your car and drive. If the people you’ve left are busy drinking they may not even notice you’ve slipped out early!
  • Peggi knew that she was not physically addicted – her addiction was psychological. If you have a listen to Tribe Sober podcast episode 48 you will hear Molly Watts explaining that only 10% of us are physically addicted to alcohol.  It’s still important to get medical advice if you are drinking more than 14 units a day but for many of us the “work” is around breaking deeply entrenched habits.
  • Although Peggi got sober as a result of an ultimatum from her husband and daughter, she STAYED sober because of how good it made her feel –  that reminds me of a story from Soberpunk Jon Turner on Tribe Sober episode 68.
  • We agreed that Covid has been a gift for many drinkers in early sobriety as it had allowed them to opt out of socialising while they built up their sober strength.
  • Yet for others who were already drinking too much and hadn’t made any changes, Covid had proved to be their nemesis – and resulted in a deeper level of dependence.
  • Peggi and I are both “ladies of a certain age” as the French so elegantly put it and we agreed that ditching the booze is absolutely the best thing you can do for your health and your happiness as you get older.
  • Like me, Peggi is enamoured by the recovery community and we both agreed that without the support of community its extremely hard to change our drinking habits. The great thing is that there are so many choices these days – there will be a sobriety group to suit everybody – whereas it used to be just AA.
  • She talked about “the switch” when she went from thinking “I can never drink again” (which comes from a place of deprivation to “I can drink whenever I want but I just don’t want to” which comes from a place of freedom. For me that the difference between willpower “I can never drink again” and mindset “I don’t want to drink”).
  • Peggi feels as if she has got an extra third of her day back – the extra time is great. I think this is one of the benefits of sobriety we don’t think about until it happens – when we are planning the drinking, doing the drinking and recovering from the drinking – that takes up a lot of time that we could be spending on more constructive things.
  • She comes across many women who keep their drinking problem a secret. But she knew she had to “live it out loud” – she knew she had to be accountable and “not leave any doors open.
  • Peggi talked about the deep connection that comes with the sober friendships we make in recovery and how much fun she had with a group of sober women she’d never met before.
  • She feels so much smarter now – as she puts it she can “figure shit out” rather than just have a drink and try not to think about it – ironic that we drink to cope with our stress but if we stayed sober we might actually stand a chance of dealing with the cause of our stress!
  • Peggi has a very lively FB group which she has named after her book “This Side of Alcohol” and she spends some time of there every day engaging with the members.
  • Like so many people that I’ve interviewed she is a great fan of William Porter and loved my conversation with him which you can find on episode 50 of the Tribe Sober podcast.  

If you’d like copy of our PDF called “30 signs you may have a problem with alcohol” – just email janet@nulltribesober.com

We’re already getting sign ups for our Sober Spring Challenge which starts on 20th March.

66 alcohol free days – supported by daily emails and 66 mini podcasts.

Its great fun as we put everyone on the Sober Spring Bus on Day one and they all travel through the 66 alcohol free days together – its always a great vibe on that bus as everyone encourages and supports each other – so don’t miss the bus.

Sign up today – just go to tribesober.com and click on Sober Spring 2022.

If you’d like copy of our PDF called “30 signs you may have a problem with alcohol” – just email janet@nulltribesober.com.

More info

  • For an affordable monthly subscription you can join Tribe Sober – read about the benefits of membership and sign up HERE
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  • 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 7-step program and subscribe HERE

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Till Next Week

Janet x


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The 11 Year Fact

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

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