Self Medicating with Alcohol – with Anele Ndlovu


My guest this week is a young South African woman who is focused on mental health advocacy.

Tribe member, Anele Ndlovu, has been through a journey with her own mental health when she turned to alcohol for solace.

She’s the Founder of an initiative called “Tea with Anele Ndlovu” which focuses on women’s empowerment and leadership.

Anele is a member of Tribe Sober and recently celebrated her six-month soberversary!

In this Episode

  • Like many of us, Anele discovered alcohol when she went to Varsity but it was very much a social thing
  • It was all under control during her 20s and early 30s – only in her late 30s did it become a problem
  • We heard a similar story from last week’s guest, Sam Delany
  • That got me thinking about one of my favourite articles by Ken Middleton who explains the science behind alcohol dependence
  • If we drink regularly, then over the period of a couple of decades we will move from liking alcohol to wanting alcohol and finally to needing alcohol
  • So that explains why some people can drink happily throughout their twenties and most of their thirties but then it switches from a social lubricant to self-medication
  • So back to Anele who got retrenched in June 2020 – this was a real blow for her as she loved her career and her identity was very much tied to her job
  • She felt lost and found herself using alcohol to numb her pain even though she was well aware that this was a red flag of alcohol dependence.
  • Like so many of us, Anele began to try to control her drinking – setting rules – rules about not having alcohol in the house – which worked until about 5 pm when she started getting fidgety so went out to buy some!
  • Her family were worried about her drinking so she found herself hiding it
  • She would tell them she was going for a walk and then find herself sitting in a bar
  • Or going to the liquor store and then sitting in the park with her drink
  • Getting home from these walks she would shower and go to sleep
  • Of course, her family knew what was going on but had no idea how to help
  • Anele also tried hanging out with “Moderation Mary” as we call her in Tribe Sober but obviously, that didn’t work either
  • Finally, she realised that she would have to quit so she went to AA for a while
  • This really helped her at the beginning but as her alcohol-free life began to take shape she decided that AA would not work for her long term
  • She made it easier on herself during those first few months by not going out much – and explaining to her close friends that she needed their support, she needed them to be her accountability partners
  • Anele is now 6 months sober with absolutely no desire to drink again
  • She is a proud member of our Tribe Sober 6 months+ WhatsApp group – people on this group have navigated those early choppy waters of sobriety and are now discussing the next stage of the journey
  • The stage where we create a beautiful alcohol-free life – a life we don’t want to escape from
  • We talked about sobriety benefits and having more energy is a big one
  • Anele explained that she was always tired when she was drinking
  • Alcohol  saps our energy (and our motivation) so when we’ve been sober for a while we’ll begin to rediscover our enthusiasm for life
  • We’ll want to explore new projects and we’ll have the energy and TIME to do that
  • If we’ve been drinking for years, then the fatigue will have built up – easy to confuse this tiredness with the ageing process but just wait until you start enjoying high-quality sleep and you’ll feel amazing!
  • Anele had always kept a journal – when she was drinking, her journal entries were often angry ones but these days she uses it to celebrate her wins and to process her emotions – she’s feeling all the feelings and she’s learned to get comfortable with being uncomfortable
  • I asked her for some tips for newbies – she made the very good point that if you are thinking about your drinking and if you are listening to this podcast then it’s a sign you need to take action
  • Did you know that the average timeframe that someone waits between accepting that they have a drinking problem and acting on it is 11 years?
  • That’s 11 more years of worrying and becoming more dependent!
  • We know that reaching out for help is the hardest thing of all but why not do it today – go to and hit join our tribe – or email me
  • You’ll never regret it and it could just change your life
  • You can follow Anele on Instagram – her handle is ndlovu_anele.

More Info


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
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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?

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