This week my guest is from Australia. Andrew Addie is the CEO of an organisation called Untoxicated which is a registered charity. They are a thriving tribe of sober and sober curious people -passionate about having a laugh, meeting new mates, and smashing social norms along the way!
In a nutshell, they teach people how to socialise without alcohol – which for many of us was a whole new skillset.
In this Episode
- Andrew recommends telling people – getting on the front foot as he calls it – take charge, tell people in advance that you are a non-drinker.
- We agreed that alcohol controls much of the world – it’s almost like a cult and operates as a well-oiled machine.
- Big alcohol, governments, and the marketing industry – all working together to keep us drinking!
- Andrew was still recovering from the trauma of coming out as gay and then he had to come out as a non-drinker too – which was in fact MUCH more difficult!
- If anyone had made homophobic remarks to him as a gay man he always felt he had the weight of the community to support him, but when he would explain that he didn’t drink he was often met with astonishment and there was no support at all!
- Andrew explained that research has shown that the LGBTQ community does drink much more than the heterosexual community – and much of that drinking is due to a feeling of not fitting in.
- Andrew shared his story about being a binge drinker – his weekends would disappear as he was either wasted or sleeping – and gradually the drinking started creeping into the weekdays.
- He went through what he describes as a “perfect storm” – a difficult breakup triggered a serious depression.
- He managed to hold it all together and would set rules – even taking a month off the booze now and again. But then he would go back to it – harder than ever.
- We agreed that these sober months (like Dry January) could sometimes be counterproductive – people tend to white knuckle their way through them, there are few real benefits and the subconscious mind just registers sobriety as a miserable place to live.
- I indeed used to do Dry January every year just to prove that I didn’t have a problem – and then, like Andrew, I would make up for lost drinking time the following month!
- With years of sobriety under our belts, we can testify to the numerous benefits of not drinking – but you have to keep going longer than a month to experience them.
- Going back to Andrew’s story: he started to work on his mental health – he went to a psychologist but refused the advice to stop drinking. He started to take anti-depressants to cope.
- Anti-depressants and alcohol are not a great mix and Andrews’s drinking grew worse and he had a breakdown.
- Through sheer luck he met a GP who got him into a program – he did a home detox under supervision from a clinic, used medication to help with the withdrawal symptoms, and got through a couple of months of sobriety.
- It really struck me when he said that he felt OK sometimes – instead of feeling dreadful all of the time.
- I heard a woman in our community say that it was so nice to wake up in the morning feeling ok instead of terrible.
- It’s amazing how we get used to feeling rubbish every morning and just kind of accept it! Just because we have to give in to that urge to drink that hits us during the day.
- Andrew began to participate in sober online communities which he found really helpful for sharing tips.
- Then he saw an Untoxicated event – he was very nervous but went along anyway.
- There were about 20 people with nothing in common except their struggles with alcohol – he discovered that magic connection – he’d found his people.
- Like me, Andrew went through a bit of a low in early sobriety – he tried to hang out with the same people but started getting bored.
- It was time to find new interests – Andrew got into swimming and eventually took over Untoxicated as their CEO.
- We have both discovered the joy of connection and of helping others!
- You can follow Andrew on Instagram untoxicated_aus.
- I know we have some listeners in Australia so why not go to the website which is untoxicated.com.au and check out the social events?
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