Alcohol Dependence and ADHD – with Faye Lawrence

 

 

My guest this week is Faye Lawrence who is the founder of Australia’s largest alcohol-free community for the sober and the sober curious.

Their focus is not so much on the “not drinking” bit but more on the socialising without alcohol bit – which is a real struggle for most people after they quit.

They do dinners, bush walks, sober singles nights, live music and ever roller discos.  It sounds like a way to find your vibe as a newly sober person.

Another reason I wanted to talk to Faye was that research is now showing that there are definite links between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

Faye was recently diagnosed with ADHD and was keen to talk about it.

In this Episode

  • Faye explained that she’d been in therapy for years but it wasn’t until she stopped drinking that the healing began
  • She calls sobriety a “portal for growth” – at Tribe Sober, we often call it a “springboard for self-development”
  • The combination of alcoholism on both sides of her family and the influence of the boozy UK culture resulted in Faye beginning to drink at 13
  • She loved partying and found it enabled her to switch off her overactive brain
  • She began working in London which of course meant joining the Work Hard/Play Hard culture
  • Fay had kids quite young and then relocated to Australia
  • Her drinking calmed down a bit after she had children but then ramped up again when she separated from her husband
  • She felt isolated as had no family in Oz and hadn’t yet established a friend network
  • With 2 young children and a full-time job, she was struggling to cope
  • Her kids alternated between Fay and her ex for weekends and when her kids were away Faye just wanted to get obliterated for the entire time
  • For the next 20 years, Fay was stuck in the moderation trap – that dreaded cycle that so many of us know – the cycle of trying (and failing) to cut down
  • Now and again when she had overdone it she would go to alcohol counselling or an AA meeting or to her GP for naltrexone but her denial was strong and of course, she didn’t WANT to give up
  • Such a crucial point Faye made there – its no good trying to quit drinking because we think we should or because our partner or doctor has told us to – we have to WANT to quit and realise that we will be so much happier and healthier without it
  • She describes herself as a functioning alcoholic – keeping her career and family going and ticking all the boxes
  • But going to work with terrible hangovers multiple times a week
  • In 2017 her relationship broke down and the kids left home – she was an empty nester and home alone
  • That’s when she hit rock bottom – that’s when she realized she was no longer in control
  • She didn’t care whether she lived or died
  • She didn’t even want to drink and she realized the alcohol was no longer doing what she needed it to
  • It wasn’t enjoyable, quelling her anxiety or giving her a break from her overactive mind
  • This made me think of the saying that “Sobriety delivers everything that alcohol promised!”
  • In spite of her rock bottom, she still couldn’t stop drinking
  • Faye’s trigger for change was a trip to her therapist who told her that she looked terrible and had to get some help
  • She got admitted to the hospital for a detox
  • Faye pointed out that people will be listening to her story and thinking “Well, I’m not that bad,” – she used to think like that but now she realizes that it’s a slippery slope
  • If you’re on the slippery slope please be smart and step off it as soon as possible – go to tribesober.com and hit join our tribe right now
  • We both love the modern recovery movement and the fact that nobody has to walk into a room full of strangers and say “I am an alcoholic” these days
  • There are so many different paths to sobriety these days which means that nobody has to wait until they hit rock bottom
  • We both relish the mental peace that sobriety brings – no more endless negotiating with ourselves about whether to drink or not!
  • After her detox Faye threw the book at her sobriety – she took meds, she joined sobriety groups, she went to a counsellor and went to AA – she decided to do whatever it took
  • She decided to go into this with an open mind
  • Keeping an open mind is so important – somebody asked me about our Zoom workshop the other day – she was nervous about attending and asked me what on earth we talk about for 4 hours!
  • I suggested she attend with an open mind … and she loved it!
  • We panic because we think we can’t survive without our wine but once we join a community and see how other people are loving their alcohol-free lives we change our thinking!
  • Our next Zoom workshop is on 22nd July so just go to tribesober.com and hit our services if you want more info
  • It made me smile when Faye said that “she’d never done adult life” – apparently our emotional maturity stalls when we start to drink heavily…
  • Both Faye and I started drinking in our teens so we both had to learn adulting!
  • You heard Faye mention that it was 17 years between realizing that she had a problem and stopping
  • You’ve probably heard me quoting that study by the Tempest that says the average time is 11 years
  • There is such a basic human need to belong which is why many of us non-drinkers can feel marginalized (and maybe why Faye and I both started sobriety communities so we could meet like-minded people!)
  • We also agreed that it’s a way to see who our friends really are and that it helps to change the format of our social events
  • Replacing boozy lunches and nights out with brunches and coffee meetings for example
  • We agreed that although alcohol is seen as a social lubricant it actually disconnects us and socializing without alcohol leads to a more authentic connection
  • A year ago Faye was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 48
  • Although there are there definite links between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) none of Faye’s counsellors ever mentioned this or suggested it could be an issue for her
  • She feels a lot of people are suffering unnecessarily due to not being diagnosed
  • Faye listed a few characteristics of the ADHD brain which sees things as “interesting” or “not interesting” and gets bored quickly
  • She feels that anyone who feels they may have ADHD should go to their GP for a referral
  • Faye’s top 3 benefits of sobriety were relationship with self, relationship with children and clarity…
  • As she says sobriety makes a space for good things to happen
  • That’s something to remember in early sobriety if we feel a bit flat or bored … it’s not always going to feel like this and you’re making a space for good things to happen
  • Liminal space I think it’s called…
  • Finally, we agreed that the question is not “Am I an Alcoholic”, the question is “Am I living my best life?”, “Am I the person I want to be?”
  • You can reach Faye via her website Untoxicated.com.au or via her email which is faye@nulluntoxicated.com.au

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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?

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