Alcohol and Benzos with Janet D


This week’s podcast guest is another Janet – Tribe Member Janet D.

Janet joined us in August 2021.  She used all the tools,  stayed connected, and got through those first difficult months.  As you will hear she’s now thriving in her sobriety and tells us she’s planning to be a Tribe member for Life!

We love it when our Tribe members decide to Pay it Forward and help other people to do what they’ve done.  It certainly affirms our decision to be sober when we see how some of the newbies struggle – and of course, we continue to get inspired by the hobbies and interests we see our sober members pursue.

In this Episode

  • Janet’s father was a drinker and her mother was hooked on prescription drugs
  • By the time she was only 4 years old, Janet could notice how her father’s personality would change – and by the time she was 8 she realized that the alcohol was responsible
  • She tells us the story of watering down her dad’s beer and gin to prevent the mood swings – I find that really sad and can picture that well-meaning little girl emptying out the alcohol and replacing it with water
  • Janet would go to the pub with her older brother at the age of 15 but wouldn’t drink very much
  • The combination of her exposure to alcohol as a teenager and her genetic link to a father who drank meant that she had two factors that would pre-dispose her towards alcoholism
  • However, it wasn’t until much later in life that she began to struggle with alcohol
  • She was fine up to the age of 40 – so she was definitely a late-onset drinker
  • Janet had a high-flying career and had her children relatively late in life
  • It was only when she gave up her job to stay at home with her two young children that the alcohol consumption increased
  • She slipped into the pattern of a couple of glasses of wine while preparing kids for bed – and then sharing more with her husband when he came home from work
  • A bottle of wine each evening, with more at the weekend when they socialized
  • With hindsight, Janet can see she was in denial about her drinking – she never thought anything of it
  • Her consumption increased when she discovered the winebox (which was the downfall of many of us I think!) – no more recycling worries or watching the level in the bottle go down!
  • So like 20% of social drinkers, Janet had become dependent
  • As Ken Middleton explains in this article about the science of alcohol dependency “if you drink consistently for a long enough period of time, the chances of you having a “problem” are almost guaranteed”
  • Ken also explains that for many of us the heavy drinking doesn’t really take hold until somewhere between the 16th and 23rd year
  • That would certainly apply to me who started as a teenager and was definitely hooked by my 40s whereas Janet D didn’t start until she was 40 and was hooked by her early 60s
  • As Janet says she had drunk her “quota” when she gave up – those of us who started early had definitely had our quotas by the age of 40 which seems like a great age to quit!
  • A doctor said to me once that we can get away with quite a lot of unhealthy behavior until we are 40 but then we must start taking care of ourselves
  • I think ditching the booze is absolutely the best thing we can do for our health and happiness as we age
  • Janet explained that she did try to give up after having surgery but found it really hard as she was white-knuckling it
  • This experience taught her that she could probably give up drinking if she put her mind to it but it would be really hard and pretty much a lifetime struggle
  • That’s the mindset we are so keen to overturn here at Tribe Sober – we don’t believe in “white knuckling” which involves willpower. We help our members to change their mindset about alcohol so that their desire to drink will diminish
  • So rather than a lifetime struggle, we believe it’s a matter of six months of hard work and then it’s done – then we have to reconfigure our lives and learn to navigate our alcohol-drenched society but certainly, within a year, we can change our lives!
  • In 2021 Janet was captured by Moderation Mary who convinced her that if she put a few rules in place she would be able to “moderate”
  • This moderation phase is definitely a red flag of dependence but it’s also a sign of the start of the contemplation phase – Janet had moved out of the denial phase and knew something had to change
  • She took a complete break before the moderation attempt hoping to “reset” her drinking habits but while this is a nice idea in theory we have to accept that once we’ve crossed the line into dependence the word moderation should be banished from our vocabulary!
  • Those of us that have tried moderation know only too well that it takes just a few weeks to get back to our previous drinking patterns
  • Alongside the drinking, there was something else going on in Janet’s life. She had always suffered from sleep issues and from 1994 to 2021 she took Diazapan every night to help her sleep
  • Rather rashly she decided to come off the Benzos at the same time as quitting alcohol which resulted in two sleepless weeks!
  • This is a classic example of chasing more than one bunny at a time! We always recommend that our members just focus on giving up alcohol and then tackle the diet, exercise, and medication issues a bit further down the road.
  • This is what Janet eventually did – she went back to the Benzos and when she was sober she managed to quit the Benzos
  • Janet began her research to get some support – she did Annie Grace’s alcohol experiment and related well to Claire Pooley – who also gave up a high-flying job to stay home with young children
  • She found Tribe Sober via Claire Pooley and we resonated with her as we are more in her demographic than other groups and we are certainly a lot smaller
  • Some sobriety groups have thousands of members whereas we only have a few hundred and we like it that way. It means we can provide a personal service to our members
  • Janet is a visual person and gave us 3 great examples of how this can help:

She used to imagine 6000 bottles of wine and 10,000 pills – that was her quota done

Moderation Mary and the Wine Witch were firmly locked in her cellar and

When she found herself admiring a gorgeous bottle of pink rose, she mentally decanted it into a plain brown box with a pic of a diseased liver on the top!

  • At just over one year sober Janet is not struggling at all – in fact, she is still really excited about being sober!


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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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