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Monthly Newsletter2018-05-17T15:32:57+02:00

Monthly Newsletter

Ditching Anxiety and Anger with Alcohol-Free Living – Nerina* Shares her Story

 

Nerina and her husband have created a new alcohol-free life. They do the Park Run every Saturday morning they do weekend breakfasts, walking, and hiking. Nerina and her husband do AF family holidays, less socializing and more gardening. Nerina and her husband have ditched the booze for a fun healthy life! Hubby’s sinus has improved, and Nerina has ditched her anxiety and anger. This is her story…

“What’s truly exciting is that this growth just keeps growing!  I have so much more to understand and do.  I feel like the shackles are off and I am stepping into myself.  It could also be that I am in my 50s – but combining ‘caring less’ and growing confidence in my AF mind state is a forceful blend!”

Since Nerina stopped drinking, she has realised these enormous changes in her life:

  • Present for my boys and Hubby… This is my number one, and is reason enough all on its own
  • I get out of my own head and am more interested in others (what a relief )
  • Mornings! I have a new early morning routine of journaling and meditation which has changed everything
  • Stronger body… More time and energy for exercise and better eating habits
  • Growing pride in what I can achieve if I set my mind to it
  • Clarity of thought and more effective at work
  • Time for family and friends… Just so much more time and energy for the people I care about
  • Time and motivation to focus on hobbies and develop new ones
  • NO MORE ANXIETY! No More Anger!

When the Wheels Fall Off

Nerina decided to stop drinking one fine morning when the wheels had fallen off yet again. She joined OneYearNoBeer (OYNB) which really helped her to achieve her 90 days of sobriety. Then through these AF channels, she came across Janet Gourand’s Tribe Sober podcasts and just loved the close-knit community of Tribe Sober. She is a very active Facebooker for the group and enjoys the monthly meetups too.

Nerina drank most of her life from the tender age of 15. In the beginning, it was to boost her confidence, have fun with her friends, and do something they weren’t supposed to be doing.  She was a teenager in the 80s… everyone was drinking Esprit! She joined the London party scene in the 90s with all that booze; she met her husband at a rave in Johannesburg, very much not sober.  “I suppose this was a sign of things to come. I actually used red wine to come down in the mornings after being out all night. Sounds disgusting now, but I remember recommending this to friends.  The mind boggles,” acknowledges Nerina.

The drinking continued through her 30s and married life and having kids.

“I remember drinking wine at all the kid’s birthday parties (that’s what the parties were about… drinking while the kids were entertained) and at braais/ barbecues at our friends with kids’ houses every weekend.  It scares me to think about the lack of attention we paid and the open pools at everyone’s houses.  I am also assuming we drove home not sober with the kids, as there was no Uber around in the 2000s.  My husband and I had a to-be-envied wine collection which was always well stocked, and we often hosted.  For one of our parties, we brought in a cocktail bartender to keep the drinks and entertainment flowing. I also remember telling my youngest that he could play on his tablet in bed before bedtime, instead of us doing Storytime, as I was having adult time with Hubby (in other words, drinking wine).  What message was I giving him and what other opportunities were missed?”

Good point, Nerina!

Drinking in our 40s

Nerina remembers being in her mid-40s and asking Hubby if he thought she should go to AA.  Soon, the habit of outstripping Hubby’s drinking started to surface. She would continue in the evenings, with her laptop, TV and wine in hand, and go to bed a few hours after he said goodnight. She was starting to chase something.  And the end of the day she was about to open a bottle before dinner, to make sure there was maximum impact.

“In my 40s is where I think the ‘real problem’ started.  Or, as made clear in Alcohol Explained, the journey sped up.  Hubby and I loved our weekend dinners with wine and getting home in the evenings to a bottle of wine.  Any stressors created by blending families were dealt with through wine.  Work stress was dealt with through wine.”

She can only see this in hindsight now that she has done all the research and understands how alcohol works. Everything changed one morning in 2019 after a particularly bad night when she awoke feeling extremely crap. She looked up OYNB, joined and started the 90-day challenge.

“One of the first recommendations on the platform from fellow travelers was This Naked Mind.  I listened to the Audiobook while walking, walking, walking (my first few weeks’ entertainment and savior). And if something had clicked before, now it was cemented in place.  I was hungry for knowledge and change.”

“Since going AF three years ago, the major win has been the material reduction in anxiety.  I didn’t KNOW I had anxiety until it went away. I thought what I felt inside was normal and didn’t even recognise I was highly strung.  It made me incredibly judgemental and angry. Not feeling angry all the time is truly amazing.  But I have also grown up while AF and made sure other aspects in my life support my calm mood – from sleep to exercise to healthy emotional distance at work.  Which actually leads to better performance and decision making!”

Nerina is an executive at a Financial Services Technology Provider! She cannot afford to drop any balls! She is now ultra-fit and loves gym, Pilates, walking and hiking. Her values are many and have come to the fore since becoming AF: security, influence, contribution, energy, growth, self-improvement, spirituality, health, empowerment, work. She grew up in a wonderful family that remain close.

She is very lucky. She is divorced and has 4 teenage kids now which is a challenge in itself. She was 40 when she got divorced but it was part of her life path. She then took to the booze again, partying like mad, and acting like a teenager. She fell in love again and tried to reign herself in a bit. But, the 40s is a huge hormonal time for us women and she found herself skidding off the rails somewhat with her penchant for alcohol.

 

WHY, WHY, WHY – Keep Asking Yourself This

Thankfully, Nerina is now AF and loving her sobriety. She has learned so much and is in tune with her own needs. She has these incredible tips for people who want to stop drinking, or who are simply drinking too much:

Revisit your WHYs. They never get old and your biggest power tool.  Make them easily accessible and get back to them even if you are not thinking “why am I doing this again?”.  My biggest WHY is my mental health – which has improved a hundred-fold since going AF.

Get educated. Alcohol is a fascinating topic. This Naked Mind (audio version) and Alcohol Explained (book) are insightful. This Naked Mind is my number one recommendation for all things scientific, logical and psychological.

Get immersed. Slack, Podcasts, Blogs, Testimonials.  Other people’s stories and experiences let you know that this is much bigger than you – and there are many people walking with you. The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober (audio version) and LoveSober podcasts (for moms) are my favourite.

Replace, replace, replace.  AF drinks, exercise, hobbies, whatever works.  I got active with my boys, and wonderfully having fun while creating memories for us.

Treat this as an experiment. Use your blips to learn. My two glasses of wine were the best learning of all. It became clear that the next step was back to wine every night. Your stops and starts are all part of the experiment. We learn by doing and experiencing the fantastic things AF brings.  While revisiting our old habits shows us personally that we generally go back to the place we left off.  But me telling you that doesn’t really cut it.

Nerina sums up her life like this: “I don’t regret my youth or my journey. I would like to have been educated earlier on alcohol, but at the same time, I feel so empowered and thankful now, it was almost worth it.”

We are all on our personal journeys – alone and together. Connect with others like you and you will sail.

*Not her real name

 

Relapse Warning Signs with Melissa Witherspoon

 

My podcast guest this week is the author of a very touching memoir called I’m Sober…So Now What?: A Journey of Hope and Healing by Melissa Witherspoon

That’s an excellent question and there’s definitely quite a difficult stage that we reach when we are in early sobriety…

For many of us it’s a bit of a void – a kind of flatness when we suffer from anhedonia – we haven’t found our Sober Feet yet and we are certainly not thriving and enjoying our sobriety.

Our old routines are messed up, our drinking buddies are keeping their distance and we are not entirely sure what to do with ourselves.

That’s why we aim to take people on a 7 stage journey here at Tribe Sober – because there is so much more to recovery than “not drinking”.

We help people to ditch the booze and then introduce them to yoga, coaching, meditation, and art therapy so that they can explore and start to build their alcohol-free lives – a life they won’t want to escape from.

Melissa Witherspoon calls her memoir a journey of hope and healing and it really is.

Anyone who has been struggling for years will take hope from this book – Melissa spent decades struggling with alcohol – in and out of rehab – getting sober and then relapsing – but it finally stuck.

In this Episode

  • Melissa came from a happy home but struggled at school. Suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder and Dyslexia, when neither condition was really acknowledged, meant that either her teachers or her classmates were giving her a hard time.
  • She never really found a friendship group at school – not until she got to High School when she finally found “her people”.
  • Trouble was her new friends were mostly boys and a bit older than her – and they were using drugs and alcohol. But she was happy – she finally felt that she was “fitting in”.
  • She was so influenced by this group that she left home and turned her back on everything she knew.
  • Melissa found herself living with a bunch of drug dealers in what she describes as a “den of inequity”.
  • She felt so free and grown up – she could come and go as she pleased and had access to the drugs and alcohol she wanted – she loved it!
  • However, things got quite “dark” and Melissa was rescued during a police raid!
  • In one way this was a relief but her mum was in denial about what had been happening and Melissa was just expected to slot back into “normal” life…without any help.
  • She was full of shame and guilt and finally managed to get some counseling at the age of 21 but she wasn’t open with her counselors so ended up carrying her shame and guilt into her 20s and 30s.
  • She coped with the pain by drinking and using drugs – and for two decades she was in and out of rehabs, making poor decisions and then dealing with the consequences.
  • For some periods she managed to keep up an external façade that she was coping, but inside she felt she was falling “down the rabbit hole”.
  • Melissa went to one rehab to help her come off alcohol and Xanax – when she left they gave her a bag of pills– pills she subsequently used in a suicide attempt.
  • Her life was only saved when her husband came home unexpectedly.
  • Back in rehab, she remembers how irritated she was with the “one day at a time” mantra – she couldn’t even get the schedule for the following day as she was told to just focus on today.
  • With perspective, she now appreciates how it can work and even today she finds herself saying “one day at a time Melissa” if she feels anxious or stressed – a good habit for all of us, I think.
  • Another mantra she’s learned to love is “progress not perfection”.
  • We use that a lot here at Tribe Sober – we’re currently running our annual 66-day challenge and many people are daunted by the thought of 66 sober days – but we give them a tracker and tell them to mark their Sober Stretches – how many stretches can they do? Are they getting longer?  How many alcohol-free days did they manage out of 66 – that’s progress, not perfection.
  • While we are at it, let’s look at some more Sober Cliches that actually help. How about “this too shall pass” – whether we are reflecting on a tough day resisting the triggers or being hit by one of those “lows” that we feel even when we are sober, “this too shall pass” can help to soothe us.
  • Another one is “one is too many and a thousand isn’t enough”. That’s one to remember if you’ve been sober for a few months and think “ok I’m fine now – I can have just one”. Well, spoiler alert – you probably can’t!
  • Finally, how about “there is no problem that alcohol won’t make worse”? If we’ve been using alcohol as a coping mechanism for years it can be SO difficult not to start drinking again if we get some bad news… but of course, the problem will still be there – along with a crashing hangover when we sober up.
  • These sayings might be clichéd, but they have been really helpful to many of us here at Tribe Sober. I hope that they’ll be just as helpful for you. If anyone has any favorite sobriety sayings, please send them to janet@nulltribesober.com and I’ll read them out on the podcast.
  • Melissa was always worried about becoming a “Dry Drunk” – that happens when you get sober but you don’t “do the work”, you don’t change your life.
  • There is so much more to recovery than “not drinking” and that’s the journey we take you on at Tribe Sober – apart from introducing you to various therapies and offering you coaching, we welcome you to our community where many people are already sober and will inspire you with the creativity and connections they have discovered so they can thrive in their sobriety. Not just get through it as a Dry Drunk does.
  • To join our community just go to tribesober.com and hit “join our tribe”.
  • Melissa’s husband is in logistics and loves spreadsheets – so he created a spreadsheet of activities and timings to make sure that Melissa kept very busy in early sobriety – and it worked!
  • This is a definite technique that works for many people – we have to keep our minds occupied so we don’t end up thinking about drinking!
  • Have a listen to Tribe Sober episode 105 with Jeff Graham who explains exactly how this technique worked for him.
  • Apart from loving sobriety cliches, I’m very keen on analogies and Melissa talked about the “family in recovery” being like a boat.
  • People get used to their roles and if one of them changes the whole boat needs rebalancing. For example, Melissa’s husband got upset when she was no longer relying on the schedule he had set up for her – she was getting better and no longer needed rescuing.
  • This is linked to co-dependency  – and the whole family may need counseling if these patterns have been fixed for years.
  • From her experiences, Melissa has observed that there are 3 stages of relapse:

Stage 1 is emotional relapse – not even thinking about drinking yet but observing the triggers that seem to be getting more frequent.  Stay in Stage 1 long enough without taking action and you may move to …

Stage 2 is the mental relapse – when you start to feel uncomfortable in your skin – and skip activities like connecting with your sober tribe and sticking to your exercise routine – all things that relieve triggers. Stay in Stage 2 long enough and you may move to …

Stage 3 is physical relapse – when you are back in active addiction.

  • The advantage of knowing about these 3 stages is that you can keep your radar sharp for Relapse Warning Signs – all different for different people but you need to be able to pick up if you are feeling a bit “off” as Melissa puts it – keeping a journal is a great way of monitoring your emotions.
  • For Melissa, it shows up in a lack of self-care – if she starts neglecting things like her hair washing routine she will see it as a warning sign and tune in to what’s going on.
  • You can find plenty more advice and insight in her book which is available on Amazon: the book is called I’m Sober…So Now What?: A Journey of Hope and Healing by Melissa Witherspoon

More Info

Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

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 program and subscribe HERE

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

 

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the show’s name (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Sober Warriors – with artist Jo Roets

 

My podcast guest this week got sober at about the same time that I did – back in 2015 – which makes us Sober Sisters with 7 years of sobriety.

Jo Roets is an artist and I discovered her excellent work on Instagram one day.  I fell in love with a work of art called:

Anabantoidei

You can find this gorgeous work of art on the cover of this Tribe Sober podcast – according to the artist, Jo, this image “embodies the warrior qualities within the female spirit” and that’s why I decided it was so appropriate for our Tribe – yes we have some awesome guys within our Tribe, but the majority of us are certainly warriors in the battle against the booze. 

In this Episode

  • Jo’s drinking wasn’t too hectic during her college years but when she had a child at 23 she found herself feeling resentful of the way her career had ground to a halt whereas her husband’s life had not been disrupted to the same extent.
  • She had another child after a couple of years so drinking wine every evening became her routine – her way to relax.
  • Jo was working as a college lecturer but by the time it got to 4 pm her mind was filled with thoughts about drinking – where would she get her wine, how much would she get – and the first thing she would do on arriving home was to pour a glass.
  • Like many of us, Jo had no “off” switch – she would continue drinking all evening and what began as one bottle became two – in fact she graduated to wine boxes as it was easier not to think about the quantity she was drinking.
  • She felt that she was trapped and we agreed that daily drinking puts us in a kind of Groundhog Day where we wake up feeling determined not to drink but by late afternoon we’ve changed our mind – basically we’ve been in withdrawal all day and that’s why that first drink tastes so good.
  • One day Jo’s mother-in-law told her that Jo and her husband both had a problem with alcohol.
  • They were still in denial and felt angry but for Jo, the seed had been planted and it was the catalyst for change.
  • The drinking continued for a while and Jo told us the story of passing out in a flower bed in her apartment block – when the caretaker came to help her up she just gave him some money to go and buy some wine – even though she’d already had plenty!
  • One Sunday Jo realised that she would have to get some help and one of her friends took her to an AA meeting –listening to the shares made her realise that she was not alone in this and gave her a language to express how she was feeling about her drinking.
  • She felt “understood” – that’s why it’s so important to join a sober community that knows what we are going through – our friends and family will either tell us to just “cut down” – or if they drink a lot they will reassure us that we are fine and making a fuss about nothing!
  • As Jo said, you need other people in recovery to understand the “depth” of it … secrets will make you sick and there is no need for any secrets with your sober community – they’ve been there!
  • Jo threw the book at her alcohol problem – she went to 3 meetings a week and spent her evenings reading about sobriety rather than drinking with her husband.
  • Of course, those early months are tough and we agreed that the only priority is to “not drink” and to stack up those alcohol-free days – we really need a year of sobriety so that it becomes the new normal.
  • Although AA was not right for Jo’s husband he did eventually ditch the booze and follow Jo’s example – she is so delighted that they are both going to be better role models for their children.
  • The biggest benefit of sobriety has been rediscovering who she really is – Jo had lost her true self and has even discovered that as an artist she can connect with a creative force on a much deeper level than when she was painting with a glass of wine next to her.
  • We agreed that the link between alcohol and creativity is yet another myth and Jo is able to work much longer and produce better quality work now that she is sober and that alcohol is no longer sapping her energy and motivation.
  • She no longer just “has ideas” – she now actually implements them.
  • Jo still goes to meetings to sustain her sobriety and now has sponsees of her own, she’s also inspiring our Tribe members as a member of Tribe Sober – join our tribe here.
  • It’s so important to stay connected to your sober community – here at Tribe Sober we have people at all stages of the journey – we have people just starting out, people struggling, people doing well and people with several years of sobriety – all inspiring and supporting each other.
  • We have had members leaving our Tribe after a few months of sobriety as they feel that they are “cured” but then they often return and have to start all over again. The danger of going it alone is that you may get to that stage when you think “surely I can have just one glass of wine now”…  spoiler alert:  you probably can’t!
  • Even if you have been sober for months that doesn’t mean the work is done – it probably does mean the emphasis can shift to discovering new interests to make sure that you thrive in your sobriety.
  • Paying it forward in the sober community is a wonderful way to stay connected, stay on track, and to help others – that’s what Jo has done by becoming an AA sponsor – and that’s what our Sober Buddies here at Tribe Sober do.
  • Check out Jo’s amazing art by going to her Instagram page.

More Info

Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

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 program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

  

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the show’s name (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rank without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Alcohol is Not the Medicine you Think it is – with Jason Lewis Williams

“The only point I’d like to make is that if you’re struggling, then know that your drinking is about you.  There’s nothing to be gained from comparing your drinking to anyone else. What are you doing here if you don’t have a problem?”

Wise words from Jason Lewis Williams who found his way out of a dark place into the light – from being a heavy drinker to being sober. A media specialist at a university, Jason hails from Cambridgeshire in the UK. Sharing his story has been an enlightening journey for him and his anecdotes may be hilarious, but they are also toe-curlingly honest.

The Dark Truth about Drinking

“Alcohol – you’re paying for poison thinking it’s medicine. It’s you who is waking up ill, you are in debt, you who is waking up feeling guilty and anxious.   I’d also say that some things that you may think aren’t anything to do with drinking may get fixed when you give up.  The top thing I have on my list is that when I sobered up, I stopped mourning my parents.  The drink was perpetuating that for decades after the point.  I thought that was me. It wasn’t.  You may also be amazed how many friends want to talk to you about how, not why, you gave up.”

Jason started drinking when he was 15. And he recently gave up at the age of 48.  His father was an alcoholic (the booze killed him) and his mother died of cancer when he was 18. That was when his relationship with the booze changed – and changed his life forever.

“I started to drink around the age of 15 (through to 48). But my ‘problem drinking’ started after my mum died when I was 18. I continued because I thought that I couldn’t ‘be me’ and be in contact with my true feelings if I wasn’t drunk, and I was not able to do social situations without the old Dutch courage.   So, I stayed topped up for decades. I didn’t feel like I could feel anything without it… and that didn’t seem odd to me at the time. “

Blinded by the Light

Thirty years later, Jason saw the light – which had been blinding him for years, but he just kept on turning his head away from it and wearing dark shades.  In retrospect, Jason acknowledges that stopping drinking for good is hard but possible.  “Moderating is completely impossible for me, and I spent many, many years proving it. “

He has discovered his health. His mental and physical health have returned to him in good order after he nearly killed himself with alcohol. He forced himself to stop drinking when he got stuck in that ‘trying to cut back’ rut, that false sense of moderation lie. He thought he could do it, but he only drank more.

“I spent over a decade trying to cut down, and it only made me drink more.   It was giving me lots of illnesses.   I’d stand outside pubs at lunchtime taunting myself with images of my children standing by my grave or watching me die of some god-awful cancer due to drink, and nothing would stop me.”

Jason hadn’t realized that he needed to give up for himself first, an idea that he thought was as hatefully cheesy as ‘learning to love yourself’.  One weekend he went out and drank so much that he made himself ill. So, he promised himself he would have a few days off the booze. But he didn’t. Instead, he went out again and drank even more than before, and then he realised that he could NOT control his drinking.   “I stood in a bar in London alone, drinking shots, listening to Life’s What you Make it by Talk Talk at deafening levels over and over and over again. I have no idea how I got home, or how I went to work the next day.  So, I stopped. I made a pact with myself that I would stop,100%, no more forever. “That was 5 November 2018.

Today, Jason is running, something he never thought he would do. He got up from the couch and joined a running programme thanks to a running App called Couch to 5k he found. Now he runs half marathons which he says is nothing short of miraculous considering the alcohol-soaked state he had been in most of his couch potato life. He has had epiphanies since he quit.

 

The Benefits of Quitting

“I made a list of things that have changed since giving up booze.  It has 52 items on it so far and is growing the further away I get from the drink.  It includes everything from persistent rashes that have disappeared, losing 28 pounds after giving up my 40 burgers worth of drink calories a week (go do the maths people), mental health benefits in so many ways, money (no longer have to have 2 jobs, no longer taking out loan after loan), etc.”

In short ‘the list’ underlines the fact that EVERYTHING that was wrong was created or exacerbated by drinking.  This is not an exaggeration. He is getting in touch with real values, things he never even thought about: he values truth and he detests fallacious reasoning and arguments. He loves the environment, and, above all, he loves his health, and his family is the most valuable thing to him. Music is his life, his first love. He loves listening to it, playing it, writing it, recording it, and performing it.

Sobriety has shown him how to cook for his family – his wife and two sons aged 13 and 18 – in newfound patience and creativity. Before, he would have sat in bars, mindlessly sipping drinks and spending every penny on something that was killing him.

Jason was trawling the internet one day, looking for a friendly place that was private where he could communicate and read about other people’s existences. He found Tribe Sober, liked it, liked the people, and stayed. Connection is healing and it can be done physically or online. Connection heals the brain and the body. If we think about the happy chemicals, the happy hormones, we know that simply being with special people turns us on. Who needs substances to feel high?

According to Healthline, happy hormones include dopamine, a neurotransmitter connected to pleasure, learning, memory and rewards; serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates moods, sleep, appetite, digestion, learning and memory; oxytocin, the love hormone that needs hugs, parent-child bonding, relationship bonding and affection; and endorphins that relieve pain, stress and need rewards, sex and eating.

We don’t need to drink to boost our happy hormones. We need to get outside in nature, exercise, laugh with a friend, cook with a loved one, take natural supplements like green tea and lavender oils, vitamin B, and probiotics, listen to music and meditate. Voila!

Knowing what YOU Need

Jason has triggered his happy hormones by trial and error. Of course, he has his music, and he has also discovered audiobooks and videos to do with giving up alcohol. He absolutely clicked with The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Grey which he says was like an old friend who just ‘knows’.  He also listens to Habits Unplugged on YouTube by a guy who has inside knowledge on stopping drinking and who Jason says, “has never put a foot wrong as far as I am concerned.”

Jason believes that the first step is knowing that you have to give up, on your own. The decision has to be your own, to give up alcohol. “I don’t think you can buy, exercise, watch, read, be argued with, or listen to your way out of drinking.  I had to make the decision to give up first.  I found my window and my chance and took it.”

Sober for 4 years now, Jason believes that this is it, he is healed, and his head is clear. “My head is clear enough to know that alcohol is a bad idea for me.  It’s insidious and tampers/distorts my rationality.  Being alcohol-free is not a daily battle for me, and I think that’s an important thing to say out loud.  It’s a relief. A deep sense of relief.”

Moderation sucks and I agree with Jason on that one. Yes, moderation sucks for people who have a drinking issue. You may be reading this right now because you have worries about your own drinking.

Tips From Jason:

  • Stopping drinking is a binary thing. Stop, or carry on.  There’s no ‘trying’ for me.  Sorry if that sounds harsh.  Everyone is different, I know.  I can only speak for myself.
  • Make the decision to actually give up.   Moderation and taking breaks is just a waiting room to go back to drinking – and you will most likely be even more thirsty when you get out.
  • Don’t compare your drinking to anyone else. You’re just looking for excuses to continue.
  • If you have given up, then be sure to be kind and careful with yourself. Know that your social life will come back.
  • You will stop wondering what to do with your time once the mist clears. I clearly remember saying to my wife, “Well, what the hell am I supposed to do with my time now?!” when I first gave up.
  • Be ready to forgive yourself.  You’re getting it right now.  Carry on. It gets better and better; I can testify to it.
  • You do not owe anyone an explanation for giving up. I like to say now that I have completed that level.  But you don’t.
  • Be aware that you can leave a party or place if you’ve had enough, and have an escape plan.
  • Get yourself ready for sugar cravings!

Jason saw the light and is now living in the light. He has rediscovered authentic health and the lies that alcohol tells us.  Jason believes in connecting with others who are/were struggling and sharing his story. I love that.

 

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The Sober Inspiration Project – with Anthea Parker

“I’m so grateful to be free from alcohol now.  Why should so many be lonely and suffer at the hands of this normalized, insidious drug? Alcohol breaks my heart.  I wish I hadn’t given it so much power for so long, but I’m so grateful I have come through to the other side now.”

Anthea Parker is a married mother of twins, a boy, and a girl, aged 18. She loves attending Zoom meetings around quitting alcohol as this is where she feels the real connection and support happen.

Her first experience of a Zoom meeting around quitting alcohol was daunting, but now she makes it a daily habit.

She has found a smaller group of people just like herself and she has developed an amazing friendship group in a challenge.  These people continue to be as important to her today as they were then. It has made all the difference to Anthea in her sober life, and she says that she has found her tribe.

“Finding an online world of recovery changed my life.  I had tried AA and rehab, and SMART recovery and so many wonderful gems of information that I collected on the way were suddenly making sense….  I had found my own personal recipe for sobriety.  The main change was learning about the science from Alcohol Explained.  And how alcohol lies to us…. This information completely opened my eyes.

I have a loved one too who has not been very well with alcohol use… I’ve seen other friends not survive alcohol addiction.  The impact that alcohol has on an alcohol-saturated society breaks my heart.

So, if I can reach out to just one person on the street, who doesn’t think that there is any hope, who is feeling isolated and alone in their addiction, then me putting myself out there is worth it.   The beautiful thing about meeting other people in recovery from alcohol addiction is that we want to share the freedom that we have found and give hope to others that they can too.  I’ve met people from all walks of life on these forums… from others like me who were addicted to people who realize that alcohol isn’t helpful and want to leave it behind to live a happier, healthier life.  We are a kaleidoscope of backgrounds and experience.”

How it All Began

Anthea stopped drinking on her 48th birthday, just like that. Because it was time. There was no other day to do it. To stop alcohol. Ten years earlier she had been very ill with depression. She was in and out of the hospital because she was so unwell.  During this time, she could not continue her job as an occupational therapist so she completed a diploma in art and design. She also invested in therapy, mindful-based stress reduction and dialectical behavioral therapy.

This was the beginning of her ‘recovery’. It was therapy, medication and art combined that enabled her to see that life was worth living again. How ironic then that this was when the alcohol intake began to rise!

When she awoke this year on her 48th birthday she knew she had to quit drinking. But how? She had already discovered William Porter’s book, Alcohol Explained the previous October.  She remembered reading it and thinking “I have to get this, no matter what.”

So, she read the book over and over. She also started a new routine that day.  Come wine time, she would make a fresh ginger, lemon, and honey tea.  Days one, to 5 were brutal.  She experienced some withdrawal symptoms, and she kept some alcohol around in case she felt too awful.  She knew the risks of withdrawal.

“I slowly started peeking into the Facebook group, also called Alcohol Explained.  I couldn’t believe that there were around 17,000 others using this site to get sober….  And loving life!  Yes, please!!!  On day 5, I went to my first zoom meeting in Alcohol Explained.   And what a huge difference that made.  I was so nervous, but I was scooped up by people who had lots of sobrieties under their belts, and I just knew I was in the right place.”

Anthea reads posts every day. Her new Friday nights were tuning into William Porter’s lives … She listened to many podcasts and watched films and YouTube videos.  And she wrote in her journal.

Around day 90 something changed…. “I was walking home from work one day and felt so alone. I was going to the weekly online Zoom meetings, but I didn’t have anyone I could call.  I needed someone to talk to. I must have written a post about it because before I knew it I was suddenly in another sober group.”

 

The Idea for the Sober Inspiration Project was Born

Anthea was tidying up her loft space and came across some old postcards and letters…this sowed the seed for a way to reach out to other people just like she, who shied away from seeing others live a seemingly wonderful life on social media.

“The project began when I asked friends whom I had met through online groups to make and send me a postcard to share their tips to inspire others to continue their alcohol-free journeys. I was thrilled with the response!  What better way to find out how to live an alcohol-free life than to ask the people who are succeeding!!”

The post office box was open for 6 months and she received around 100 cards!  These have all been photocopied and laminated and then taken into the streets and trees and hung up.

The project has continued with great success. It now has a list of fabulous resources that people are using.  They write and share their favorite books, podcasts, YouTube links, and online groups.  There is also a list of free online Zooms that people can attend.   The group is currently using this platform to share their inspiring stories about how they have found freedom from alcohol in the hope that their story will also inspire someone else.

“It really is making connections that help us succeed in finding our new sober lives.  We learn from people who are succeeding!” says Anthea.

One Year Sober

Since celebrating her soberversay, the story for Anthea has changed over the past 6 months.  It isn’t about the alcohol any longer.

“I stay vigilant, I post in groups daily, and continue to learn from people ahead of me in my journey. I try my best to reach out and support others who are finding their way into a new sober life.  Yes, it is hard, in an alcohol-soaked society, and yes, it is hard learning to cope with feelings and emotions in a different way than drowning them with alcohol, but my goodness it’s worth it. “

A Final Word of Advice

“My advice to anyone starting out is to get a pen and paper and write what your reasons are. How are you going to do this?  And commit.  100%   Try a few groups to see where you fit in and stick with it. Be brave!!  Reach out and ask questions. There are so many people succeeding in the groups, and they want you to succeed too because it’s much better over here… away from the self-destruction of ethanol.   We all deserve a happier healthier future. Let’s not make alcohol a reason to stop us any longer.”

 

The Online Fitness Revolution – with Johno Meintjes from JEFF

 

Here at Tribe Sober, we enable people to quit drinking and then go on and thrive in their alcohol-free lives.  Experience has taught us that six months of “doing the work” can rewire our habits so that we no longer reach for that glass of wine at 6 pm.

Six months without booze will result in more energy as well as more time.

That’s why a Tribe membership will link you to various practitioners who will gently introduce you to yoga, hypnotherapy, meditation, art therapy.. and all manner of things that you can try out – either for free or at a minimal cost.

Ditching the drink takes you on a journey of self-discovery – it’s such an opportunity to reconnect with your true self – who actually are you – and what do you really want out of your life?

I’m always on the lookout for new activities which may be of interest to our Tribe members which is why I was so delighted to meet Johno Meintjies.

Johno is an international performance coach.  During his career, he’s worked with South Africa’s top national sports teams.

He is also the founder and the inspiration behind the fabulous JEFF fitness community.

Have a listen to our conversation to hear how the Pandemic completely transformed Johno’s business model and how he has empowered and connected his global community with simple, yet profoundly effective tools.

Not only does he share his fascinating story but he’s got a very generous offer for Tribe members so do have a listen.

 

In this Episode

  • After a career coaching SA’s top sports teams, Johno was looking to build a business where he could spend more time at home with his young family.
  • He had plenty of innovative ideas, had moved into new premises and was just getting his JEFF fitness community started…
  • and then Covid hit.
  • Like many businesses, JEFF had to do a massive and unexpected pivot – Johno re-designed his fitness programs to be “at home” sessions –  he designed the workouts to suit all ages and all levels of ability
  • In fact, 65% of the people who joined up had never exercised before!
  • There would be a feeling of overwhelm when walking into a huge gym full of fit-looking people.  Now there would be no body shaming as people could work out in the privacy of their own homes and no one could see them.
  • He started finding ways to link his community as they went through the various fitness programs and discovered that the connections which were taking place were strong.
  • During those difficult and uncertain Covid days, people needed to share their feelings as well as exercise their bodies.
  • To get things started, he did an online fitness show via FaceBook every morning at 8 am – he got his wife involved and it got a huge following – 100 new people signing up every day.
  • He discovered that people needed a new routine – because suddenly they found themselves working from home without much idea of what tomorrow would bring.
  • We agreed on the power of community – Johno has his pillars of nutrition and exercise with community wrapped around them.
  • We also touched on the power of vulnerability and how it’s down to us as facilitators to create the right environment – a safe space where people feel able to share.
  • Johno set up an amazing 6,500 WhatsApp groups in 75 countries – small groups who kept each other accountable and even met up physically sometimes.
  • JEFF also created their very own app.
  • Johno has very kindly put together a special deal for Tribe Sober members – he’s offering a 50% discount on the first month’s membership of JEFF so you can see what it’s all about.
  • You’ll be able to download the JEFF app, send in your goals and preferences and you’ll get a program that has been tailored to your needs.
  • Have a look at the awesome JEFF website – it’s just jeff.fitness – you can access it HERE.
  • Johno and I agreed that whether its fitness or sobriety the early days are difficult and we have to find innovative ways to keep people on track.
  • During the early days, it just feels like hard work and there are no real benefits coming in.
  • We are both very keen on challenges – and in fact in fact here at Tribe Sober we are busy with our annual #Sober66 Challenge – that’s audio, online, and community support to get you through 66 days of sobriety.  66 days is long enough to change a habit – to build a whole new neural pathway.
  • Sign up any day during September and your 66 days of support will start from that day so just go to tribesober.com, hit the #Sober66 button, and join our 100+ people on the Sober Bus!

 

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
Read more about our program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE. 

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Finding Meaning in Recovery with Anthony Eldridge-Rogers

 

During my corporate career, I had worked as an executive coach and when I founded Tribe Sober I decided I needed to add recovery coaching to my skillset.  I asked around for recommendations and was told that I must contact Anthony Eldridge-Rogers as he is the pioneer of Recovery Coaching in the UK.  So I enrolled in his recovery and wellness coaching course and learned all about his meaning-centered coaching model.

Anthony started his adult life as a survivor of a whole heap of challenges from addiction to homelessness. Over several years he managed to turn it around and learn to thrive in spite of his difficult start in life.

 

In this Episode

  • Anthony told us about his difficult childhood and how his mother became an addict and spent time in psychiatric hospitals.
  • Along with his siblings, he moved in with his grandmother who was also addicted to drugs.
  • The only way the children could find to deal with the trauma was to use drugs themselves.
  • Anthony discovered the power of a mood-altering substance at a very young age and was drinking alcohol at 9 years old.
  • He loved the way it made him feel – the way his shyness and anxiety just fell away.
  • He continued to abuse alcohol into his teens, adding drugs into the mix.
  • Anthony’s mother got worse and (as he puts it) he had a front-row seat to the horror show.
  • Intuitively he knew that her psychiatric issues were linked to her drug use.
  • Her doctors were desperate so shipped her off to a rehab where she arrived with a suitcase full of drugs.
  • It took 3 or 4 months to wean her off the drugs and then to encourage her to mix with the other people as she began work on the 12 steps.
  • Much to everyone’s amazement the program worked and Anthony’s mother rose “as a phoenix from the ashes” – from a “basket case to a sane and loving woman”.
  • Someone who was truly contrite about the damage she had inflicted on her 3 children.
  • Anthony found all this emotion totally overwhelming – along with the shock of getting his mother back after all these years.
  • So he hit the bottle, hard, for months – but the miracle of what had happened to his mother was by then firmly lodged in his brain.
  • When attending family therapy his counselor told him he had a drinking problem – he was annoyed by this comment but it stuck in his brain.
  • At the age of 19, he had a “road to Damascus” moment and knew that he would have to stop drinking so he started going to AA meetings.
  • Anthony reflected that giving people hope is such an important part of the work that we do in recovery – and the people who Anthony was meeting during that period were giving him hope.
  • They were telling him he was “treatable” and of course, his mom had shown him that it was possible.
  • So he got sober with a mix of rehab and 12-step meetings.
  • Anthony had a career in the film industry but when he became a dad he decided to train as a coach.
  • We reflected that whereas therapy tends to look back into our childhoods, coaching was more about looking into the future.
  • Anthony had been in therapy for many years and no longer wanted to talk about his relationship with his mother which of course all the therapists wanted to focus on – that approach no longer worked for him.
  • As he went through his coaching training he had a massive ‘aha’ moment – he felt like he had found the missing part of the puzzle.
  • It occurred to him that the coaching skills that he was learning could be of great help to people as they move through their recovery.
  • He came up with a great analogy about the intensive work done in rehab and how after detox and treatment the rehab will shoot the client out into orbit – but without the requisite coping skills they will just fall back to earth.
  • Although they may have learned a lot in rehab and been weaned off the drugs, they need coaching when they leave – to help them develop the coping skills to manage in the outside world.
  • As Anthony put it – let’s get the wheels back on the truck in rehab and then look at recovery coaching after that. Because the therapeutic approach, not even having a sponsor, was hitting the spot.
  • As he began to research his coaching model he looked at the metrics of recovery. His research showed him that meaning and purpose were integral to recovery.
  • Take away meaning and purpose from someone’s life and it will psychologically collapse.
  • We are very conscious of that here at Tribe Sober – conscious that recovery is about so much more than “not drinking” – once our members have managed to quit drinking we then help them to learn to thrive in their alcohol-free life which of course means discovering their meaning and purpose.
  • If you want to take a look at our 7-step model that guides our members through this journey just go to tribesober.com and hit “join our tribe”.
  • Finding our meaning and purpose makes us more resilient, unlocks our energy, and gives us a feeling of connection.
  • I love what he says about coaching being recoding the brain – just as we paste a bit of code into our computer – we can do that with our brain via coaching.
  • You heard us talking about neural pathways and at the moment we are running our annual 66-day alcohol-free challenge – its called #Sober66 and you can sign up any day during September. You will get 66 days of community, online and audio support from the date you sign up.
  • I asked Anthony what he would say to someone who was struggling – his message is one of hope: millions of people have conquered their addiction and gone on to have wonderful lives.
  • So reach out for help and don’t go it alone – go to tribe sober and hit “join our tribe” if you’d like to give us a try.
  • The best way to connect with Anthony is via LinkedIn.


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
Read more about our program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Mandy’s Success Story

“Sobriety is hard…
Dealing with the devastating effects of alcohol is hard (broken relationships, the hangovers, the shame, the guilt, hiding alcohol, convincing yourself you don’t have a problem, wanting a drink after a difficult day, only relaxing when you have a glass of wine in your hand) ….
Choose your hard …”

These are such wise words from a wonderful woman called Mandy who comes from Cape Town and recently found her way to sobriety. It is not surprising that Mandy has been able to do this as she is a very motivated person with a penchant for helping others and achieving personal goals.

Achieving Goals for a Healthy Body and Mind

In fact, Mandy is a part-time wellness coach who runs 10-day challenges in which her clients can lose anything from 2 to 5 kilograms in that time frame. Some of her clients have lost even more than 10 kgs over a certain period of time. She is also running a boot camp twice a week in her area.

While Mandy is a fit, strong walker and runner who has completed several marathons, she had a knee op a few years ago so her dreams of running a Comrades Marathon are on hold for now. Meanwhile, she is grateful to have found the boot camp and 10-day challenge as not only is she helping herself, but she is also helping others “to feel better in their own skins” she says.

“I believe in kindness and treating people how you would like to be treated. I’ve always had a deep desire to help people but could never find a way in which I could do that professionally. I love helping people to reach their respective goals and playing a part in them transforming their lives through consistency and hard work.”

Since Mandy stopped drinking about 5 months ago, she has slowed her clock down and tuned into her own needs, therefore the needs of those around her.

“I am more present in my home life and have started appreciating the small and simple things in life, like watching a movie with the family, sitting in front of the fireplace on a Friday night or spending time in the park with the kids. I have made better and deeper connections with my family.”

Mandy has two beautiful kids with her college sweetheart and comes from a family of 4 siblings.  She acknowledged that there were traumas in her childhood that caused low self-esteem issues – which many of us can identify with.

Self-Esteem and Alcohol

Plenty of research has been done into low self-esteem and according to Addiction Helper, “Many will have suffered abuse or neglect as a child and may feel unloved and unworthy as a result. Children find it difficult to understand why some adults act the way they do and will blame themselves for the neglect or abuse they suffered. The feeling of being to blame can last right up to adulthood, and it can affect many decisions they make… If an individual is constantly told that he or she is a failure or not good enough, they will start to believe it. Continual criticism growing up can affect individuals, resulting in low self-esteem. Children can find it difficult to value themselves if they do not feel valued by their parents.”

For Mandy, drinking started on the weekends when she was at college. She was one of those drinkers who drinks a lot at one time, but not every day. This is called binge drinking and can be just as bad as habitual, daily drinking, if not worse. Binge drinking is when an adult consumes 4 to 5 drinks in 2 hours, and we know that many adults drink more than this in 2 hours.

The USA National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism claims that binge drinking can cause cancer. Suppose you think about how alcohol affects virtually all tissues in the body, damaging the functioning of the immune system. In that case, you will understand that alcohol is a precursor to cancer.

“…even one episode of binge drinking can … lead to acute pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) in individuals with underlying pancreatic damage. Alcohol misuse, including repeated episodes of binge drinking, over time contributes to liver and other chronic diseases, as well as increases in the risk of several types of cancer, including head and neck, esophageal, liver, breast, and colorectal cancers.”

For Mandy, this was not an issue, but she is aware about the damaging effects of alcohol, and she notes that when she stopped drinking in May this year, she learned that her mother had stage 1 breast cancer. “This was a huge eye opener for me as I heard how alcohol was linked to several types of cancer,” says Mandy.

About a year ago, she told her psychologist that she was concerned about her drinking habits. She had started to drink more heavily during the lockdown and when her two grannies passed away within 6 months of each other, Mandy struggled to process their deaths. Her psychologist pointed her towards Tribe Sober – so she joined.

Following Goals into Sobriety

This is how Mandy stuck to her goals and stayed sober:

I did the spring challenge last year. I listened to the daily message on how your body changes in those 66 days and I realised for the first time how dangerous alcohol really is. My hubby also listened in on the podcasts and has since also decided to stop drinking as it was also an eye-opener for him.

After a few months, I felt like I could moderate and left the Tribe at the end of last year. I soon discovered that it is better to be plugged into a community. I re-joined the Tribe in April 2022 but wasn’t ready just yet to say goodbye to alcohol.

I committed to starting on the 1st of May 2022. It was around this time that I attended the weekly zoom meetings, and was active on the WhatsApp group. I attended the monthly coffee meetings and the Saturday meetings and made connections with a few Tribe members who are still my lifelines in times of need. I also attended the Saturday workshop a few months ago.

She advises other people who want to stop drinking to:

  • Stay connected to your tribe
  • Use as many of the toolkits in the members’ area
  • Find what works for you whether it is reading the articles, listening to podcasts, or attending the weekly meetings
  • Reach out when you need help.

“I heard someone saying that addiction stands on the legs of secrecy and guilt. By showing up for yourself and sharing your struggle you are breaking the secrecy aspect and there is no place for guilt or shame in this hard journey,” concludes Mandy.

Mandy looks back on her drinking days with newfound insights. She closed the door on two friendships that were draining her and knows that this had to happen.  “Sometimes life throws us these painful situations for us to learn, to grow, and to re-discover ourselves. I have felt a sense of relief since the friendships ended and made a few beautiful connections with new people that entered my life.”

Click here for your free Pdf, 7 Ways to Become and Stay Sober Curious:

To join Tribe Sober, click on this image:

 

To read my blogs, click on this image:

 

Mandy Chooses Sobriety and Fitness

“Sobriety is hard…
Dealing with the devastating effects of alcohol is hard (broken relationships, the hangovers, the shame, the guilt, hiding alcohol, convincing yourself you don’t have a problem, wanting a drink after a difficult day, only relaxing when you have a glass of wine in your hand) ….
Choose your hard …”

These are such wise words from a wonderful woman called Mandy who comes from Cape Town and recently found her way to sobriety. It is not surprising that Mandy has been able to do this as she is a very motivated person with a penchant for helping others and achieving personal goals.

Achieving Goals for a Healthy Body and Mind

In fact, Mandy is a part-time wellness coach who runs 10-day challenges in which her clients can lose anything from 2 to 5 kilograms in that time frame. Some of her clients have lost even more than 10 kgs over a certain period of time. She is also running a boot camp twice a week in her area.

While Mandy is a fit, strong walker and runner who has completed several marathons, she had a knee op a few years ago so her dreams of running a Comrades Marathon are on hold for now. Meanwhile, she is grateful to have found the boot camp and 10-day challenge as not only is she helping herself, but she is also helping others “to feel better in their own skins” she says.

“I believe in kindness and treating people how you would like to be treated. I’ve always had a deep desire to help people but could never find a way in which I could do that professionally. I love helping people to reach their respective goals and playing a part in them transforming their lives through consistency and hard work.”

Since Mandy stopped drinking about 5 months ago, she has slowed her clock down and tuned into her own needs, therefore the needs of those around her.

“I am more present in my home life and have started appreciating the small and simple things in life, like watching a movie with the family, sitting in front of the fireplace on a Friday night or spending time in the park with the kids. I have made better and deeper connections with my family.”

Mandy has two beautiful kids with her college sweetheart and comes from a family of 4 siblings.  She acknowledged that there were traumas in her childhood that caused low self-esteem issues – which many of us can identify with.

Self-Esteem and Alcohol

Plenty of research has been done into low self-esteem and according to Addiction Helper, “Many will have suffered abuse or neglect as a child and may feel unloved and unworthy as a result. Children find it difficult to understand why some adults act the way they do and will blame themselves for the neglect or abuse they suffered. The feeling of being to blame can last right up to adulthood, and it can affect many decisions they make… If an individual is constantly told that he or she is a failure or not good enough, they will start to believe it. Continual criticism growing up can affect individuals, resulting in low self-esteem. Children can find it difficult to value themselves if they do not feel valued by their parents.”

For Mandy, drinking started on the weekends when she was at college. She was one of those drinkers who drinks a lot at one time, but not every day. This is called binge drinking and can be just as bad as habitual, daily drinking, if not worse. Binge drinking is when an adult consumes 4 to 5 drinks in 2 hours, and we know that many adults drink more than this in 2 hours.

The USA National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism claims that binge drinking can cause cancer. Suppose you think about how alcohol affects virtually all tissues in the body, damaging the functioning of the immune system. In that case, you will understand that alcohol is a precursor to cancer.

“…even one episode of binge drinking can … lead to acute pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) in individuals with underlying pancreatic damage. Alcohol misuse, including repeated episodes of binge drinking, over time contributes to liver and other chronic diseases, as well as increases in the risk of several types of cancer, including head and neck, esophageal, liver, breast, and colorectal cancers.”

For Mandy, this was not an issue, but she is aware about the damaging effects of alcohol, and she notes that when she stopped drinking in May this year, she learned that her mother had stage 1 breast cancer. “This was a huge eye opener for me as I heard how alcohol was linked to several types of cancer,” says Mandy.

About a year ago, she told her psychologist that she was concerned about her drinking habits. She had started to drink more heavily during the lockdown and when her two grannies passed away within 6 months of each other, Mandy struggled to process their deaths. Her psychologist pointed her towards Tribe Sober – so she joined.

Following Goals into Sobriety

This is how Mandy stuck to her goals and stayed sober:

I did the spring challenge last year. I listened to the daily message on how your body changes in those 66 days and I realised for the first time how dangerous alcohol really is. My hubby also listened in on the podcasts and has since also decided to stop drinking as it was also an eye-opener for him.

After a few months, I felt like I could moderate and left the Tribe at the end of last year. I soon discovered that it is better to be plugged into a community. I re-joined the Tribe in April 2022 but wasn’t ready just yet to say goodbye to alcohol.

I committed to starting on the 1st of May 2022. It was around this time that I attended the weekly zoom meetings, and was active on the WhatsApp group. I attended the monthly coffee meetings and the Saturday meetings and made connections with a few Tribe members who are still my lifelines in times of need. I also attended the Saturday workshop a few months ago.

She advises other people who want to stop drinking to:

  • Stay connected to your tribe
  • Use as many of the toolkits in the members’ area
  • Find what works for you whether it is reading the articles, listening to podcasts, or attending the weekly meetings
  • Reach out when you need help.

“I heard someone saying that addiction stands on the legs of secrecy and guilt. By showing up for yourself and sharing your struggle you are breaking the secrecy aspect and there is no place for guilt or shame in this hard journey,” concludes Mandy.

Mandy looks back on her drinking days with newfound insights. She closed the door on two friendships that were draining her and knows that this had to happen.  “Sometimes life throws us these painful situations for us to learn, to grow, and to re-discover ourselves. I have felt a sense of relief since the friendships ended and made a few beautiful connections with new people that entered my life.”

Click here for your free Pdf, 7 Ways to Become and Stay Sober Curious:

To join Tribe Sober, click on this image:

 

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Burnout and My Friend Jade – a Real Story

My friend Jade* lives in Johannesburg and she has dealt with her own burnout a few times. She has offered this story as a shared insight into her experience of burnout. I am publishing this here as I am hoping that we can all benefit from this story.

* Name has been changed.

Burnout – Jade’s Real Story

It was at a very young age – 29 – when burnout first happened. I was a country bumpkin who arrived in the big city at age 25. I came to Joburg to finish my dancing qualifications and the lure of the bright city lights drove me to live life to the fullest.

By the age of 29, my lifestyle was full!!

  1. Advertising sales, which was a full-time day job, 8 to 4:30 Mon to Fri:  I was awarded the sales person of the month for 10 months of the 12, top achiever. I had danced since the age of 3, and was qualified as a teacher in six different disciplines.  I did not want to teach, and by the age of 29 realised that I needed to get a job.  I fell into advertising sales and was good at it.
  2. Dance teacher at Arthur Murrays on Mon to Fri evening 5 to 10pm: I could not give up my addiction to the dance, the bonus was the glitz and glamour and the additional income.
  3. Student – In order to understand advertising, I thought it important to get an education in the field, so I enrolled at Damelin for the Institute of Marketing Management on a part time basis. After my first year, I came top ten in the country for my law exam.
  4. Socialising – of course, this could not be left off the agenda, so on weekends there were parties and sometimes all nighters on a Friday and/or Saturday. Those of course included the imbibing of much alcohol as was fashion at the time (and still is in many circles).  Note, at this time, drinking was only on Fridays and Saturdays, albeit it binge drinking on those days.

I was an all-round achiever, driven to succeed, but I forgot all about the little me inside, that needed some nurturing too. I had been someone that had come from Clarens and had spent hours, weekends and weeks communing with nature – I had been someone who had spent her days filled with dancing, music and creativity.

Now my lifestyle had changed (my choice) in order for me to be what I thought was important. A high achiever, who had it all. I had to live up to what others thought were the high standards of success – getting it all right and getting to the top.

The Result

Burnout. There are many reasons for burnout, but the symptoms are the same. They can be genetic, or it can be reactive due to external pressures, such as ill health, death, loss, etc.

As a dancer, I had the obligatory occupational hazard – anorexia.  Adding to that I was a vegetarian. Malnutrition!! A lack of fat and protein to the brain means it is not functional. As a result, my neurotransmitters slowed down and I was diagnosed with depression.

I was tearful all of the time, I felt that I was weak because I could no longer keep up with the demands of all that I had put onto my plate. I was having car accidents (minor) and being clumsy and forgetful.

I felt suicidal.

Life had lost it’s colour and joy. I felt self-loathing because of my weakness. I lost weight. I stopped caring about myself. My brain was foggy. I wanted to run away.

These are all symptoms of depression – and in my case my severely depleted system (body) had become non functional due to neglect and lack of self-care. To the world though, I made sure that I kept up the façade that all was well and I drove myself even harder, being a most severe task master. No-one had an inkling of my inner turmoil. It felt as though I was dragging around a ten ton weight around my ankle whilst trying to run a race.

I started seeing a therapist and during that time, I got a bee in my bonnet that I needed to pack up my bags, run away and leave the city behind.  I was going to give up all I had achieved and travel through Africa.

Luckily, my therapist convinced me to see a psychiatrist and as they are wont to do, he prescribed anti- depressants and convinced me that I needed to spend some time in hospital. I was admitted to Tara with the diagnosis of Anorexia and depression. The treatment protocol was not medicine (other than one tablet a day for depression). I learnt how to do stained glass, smell the roses, read books like I used to, switch off from the world, talk about my feelings and how to relax.

I was so ashamed, though, because of the stigma, that I swore I would use this six-week opportunity to never ever put myself in that place again.

When being discharged I had strict instructions to simplify my life. Choose one thing of the four and stick to that for a year, so I gave up my studies and dancing.  I kept my day job and took up knitting and watching tv with only the occasional wild party thrown into the quiet mix.

I took up hiking so that I could once again spend lengthy times in nature, this eventually led to summiting Kilimanjaro, and two major treks, the Inca Trail in Peru and the Ana Purna in the Himalayas.

I gave up the tablets and got into healthy nutrition, to feed my brain instead. So, what I had been ashamed of instead had given me an education and had changed my life. Now at 61, once again, I find myself in a burnout situation.

Life had put me through the mill a few times, a divorce, three armed robberies and my father with Alzheimers come to mind. This time it was taking care of my elderly mother with dementia and the devastating destruction of my business due to covid and state capture.

It is at times like this that I think back to 29 and realise what a blessing those lessons had been.

The most important point is to recognise the feeling, see the slide, feel the suction of the black quagmire that one is being drawn or dragged into. See the symptoms.

Dealing with Burnout Again

My reaction this time was unplanned, but was swift and decisive. One would think, given my experience, that I would have done something sooner. I switched myself off from the noise.  I switched my phone off, turned on an out of office notice, closed my laptop and booked myself off from the world for ten days.

I lay on my bed for five days, getting up sporadically to open the fridge or to feed my gorgeous animals. I could not stop crying and when I did, all I was capable of doing was staring blankly into nothingness, so I switched on Netflix and binged unashamedly.

I did not stop until my heart ceased pounding caused by the anxiety. I felt that I could breath again rather than hyperventilating – the foggy brain was clearing and I could once again start to think.

I need to take stock of the situation and figure out what the first steps should be.

 

A Burnout Toolbox

At 29, I had been issued with a toolbox and it was time to pull out the tools.

  • Healthy nutrition – I had read Patrick Holford’s book The Feel Good Factor and realised that I needed healthy nutrition and not tablets. Although in severe cases, I had taken them for three months at a time over the past thirty years.
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Introspection
  • Rest
  • Relaxation
  • Noise reduction (Digital detox)

 

Today is the first day of spring. (This was written on 1 September 2022).

My switch on date is Monday, which would be 10 days since switch-off.  I am feeling stronger, I have addressed my nutritional needs by adding the right supplements to the daily routine. There is no pressure in my day to get anything done other than feed my animals and that is because I have made the decision to give myself that time.

What is one working week and two weekends in a lifetime? I am on day 7 and I feel that I can once again tackle life although, I have also decided that September will be regimental in that I will not overdo it. I cannot opt out of life, but I can make choices about whether what I do is moving me towards my goal. I am once again simplifying my life.

September will be spring cleaning my life, solitude not socialising, as much as my many friends bring much love and support, they also bring too much of their thoughts and issues into my life.

September is about me – it is about simplicity and single-minded focus on what matters. I am not going to master the rest of my life in one day, but I am going to master the day and I will keep doing that every day.

I did not come this far only to get this far. Sometimes I just need a break in a quiet place alone to figure it out. I am grateful for all the lessons learnt along the way that have helped me to pick myself up again when I fell over. I am grateful for the therapist that I met at 29 and 32 years later, she is still there, not a constant, but a phone call way a few times a year or like now when life falls over. I am grateful for the resilience muscles that have been built. I am grateful for a new tomorrow with unexpected surprises or opportunities.

I promise to be gentle with myself until I can pull the plasters off and feel whole and healed again.

 

Read more about Burnout HERE!

 

 

 

 

Burnout and You

“Burnout for me starts when I’ve been running too fast for too long. The faster I spin, the less time I have for stillness, calm, and recharging my batteries. Eventually, it’s as if all the water in the bathtub has drained away and there’s nothing left for me to give.”

My friend described burnout to me and I read between the lines to learn that she has had it more than once. My friend is a very balanced and intelligent being who is excelling in her corporate job and loving her social life, her dogs, and her new neighborhood. But she too has stress and stress can be unique for everyone – some people get stressed just because they have run out of milk.

I thought about all the people I know who are burning out or have burned out at least once in their lives, or who know partners or friends who have burned out or are burning out. Burnout is a huge and growing phenomenon and a sign of our times in our modern world. All around us, the climate is changing, money is losing its value and crazy diseases pop their heads up. Crime, traffic, lack of space, and lack of time – are things that drive our lives and intensify our stress levels.

The Big Burnout of 2022

Well, the biggest reason for the exacerbated burnout of 2022 has surely got to do with what went before – the previous two years of the Covid 19 pandemic, that’s what. Many of us lost loved ones and lived in the uncertain moment of not knowing who would be next, me or my partner, my kids or my friends? Lockdowns sure took their toll on families, partnerships, and friendships, and many people lost their jobs, and their livelihoods.

Burnout can get so bad it turns into exhaustion and is linked to depression. How can you be happy when burning out? Think of a log on fire – it burns brightly and shows us beautiful golden hues, coppers, and bronzes – then red then – dead! Black! Coals are all that are left. Think about your heart. If you cannot feel emotion, then your heart must be dead, black. Your heart chakra must be blocked.

Natural energy healers say that burnout is an illness of energy that begins in the chakras. Let me explain.

Isabelle Morton notes that burnout “causes a deterioration of the central channel to the point that it can no longer funnel Heaven and Earth energy as it should. This deterioration tends to begin locally, behind certain chakras. Because each chakra influences a different aspect of our life, we can expect a certain type of burnout symptom to occur depending on where the deterioration is located and which chakra is most affected.”

Isabelle uses gemstone therapy to heal the chakras.

Let’s take a look at each chakra then, to see what the signs are if the central channel is not funneling energy to these areas:

  • Crown chakra – feel cynical, bad attitude, headaches
  • Brow chakra – can’t focus during the day and have insomnia at night; feel distant or separate, headaches
  • Throat chakra – reduced creativity, battling to communicate, not wanting to acknowledge burnout
  • Heart chakra – mood swings, anger, emotionally exhausted, numb
  • Stomach chakra – unable to cope, detached, stomachache, digestion not healthy
  • Sacral chakra – lack of relating to others, alienation
  • Root chakra – lack of commitment, motivation, listless

What Exactly is Burnout?

Burnout is based on stress and many of us feel very stressed in personal ways. Some of us have busy corporate lives, working all day for a boss, then getting home to sort out the children, make food, do some housework, shop, and still have time to feed the dogs and look at Facebook!

Others are stay-at-home moms or dads who get trapped by the chores lists and the garden and the courier at the door and the broken swing and the vegies dying of fungal diseases and the blocked drains. There is traffic, shortages of money, and no time in the day to do it all. The children come home with so many things expected of them, and they need help with everything. When they don’t ask for help and don’t pass, you feel bad, and you blame yourself.

Weekends are spent out for sport and lunch and teas and helping charities and getting a surf in or a gym workout in and seeing friends and then doing it all again.

This is burnout.

Our ancestors used to survive, wake up with the birds, make a fire, hunt and gather, sort out the children, eat, and sleep at sunset. There were plenty of natural dangers around but that was survival.

An article in the National Library of Medicine’s InformedHealth.org [Internet]  states that three main symptoms or signs of burnout are:

  • Exhaustion: feeling drained and emotionally exhausted, unable to cope, tired and down, and lacking energy. Physical symptoms include pain and gastrointestinal (stomach or bowel) problems.
  • Alienation from (work-related) activities: jobs become increasingly stressful and frustrating. Feeling cynical about working conditions and colleagues. Emotionally distant, feeling numb.
  • Reduced performance: Everyday tasks at work affected, at home, or when caring for family members. Very negative about tasks, find it hard to concentrate, listless, and lack creativity.

Do you feel any of these symptoms? I must say, I have felt them. I think there are many of us who can agree that these symptoms can be overwhelming. I mean, the literature says don’t worry be happy and if we feel sad, we feel guilty as hell. But my friend Caroline reminded me that without the downs we would not have the ups and that is the yin and yang of life, not so? Do you agree that we humans were not meant to smell the roses all day long – really?

Burnout vs Depression

It is important to remember that some of these symptoms are also causes or signs of depression – such as extreme exhaustion, feeling down or melancholy and lacking motivation, energy, or performance. Depression is longer term than burnout and is not only related to work issues or caring for others’ issues (many burnout cases stem from work stress and being a carer or parent with too many responsibilities). Depression can show up as low self-esteem, hopelessness, and suicidal tendencies.

So now we need to learn the five stages of burnout so that we can be ready to recognise and tackle them when they arise. Burnout is a long, drawn-out illness that must be addressed through proper self-care and rest. Talk about it, don’t hide it. Be accountable for your own happiness and sit with all feelings of worthlessness until they pass, even if that takes months or years.

 

 

Integris health has this to say about the five stages of burnout:

  1. Honeymoon phase – Like a honeymoon phase in a marriage, this stage comes with energy and optimism. Whether it is starting a new job or tackling a new task, it’s common to experience satisfaction that leads to periods of productivity and the ability to tap into your creative side. 
  2. Onset of stress phase – Eventually, the honeymoon phase dwindles, and you begin to experience stress. Not every second of your day is stressful, but there are more frequent times when stress takes over. As this stage begins, take notice of any physical or mental signs. You may start to lose focus more easily or be less productive when completing tasks. Physically, fatigue can start to set in, making it more difficult to sleep or enjoy activities outside of work. 
  3. Chronic stress phase – You’ll reach a point where the stress becomes more persistent, or chronic. As the pressure mounts, the stress is likely to consistently affect your work. Examples include feelings of apathy, not completing work on time, being late for work or procrastinating during tasks. Socially, you may withdraw from normal work-related conversations. In other cases, you may become angry and lash out at co-workers. Sometimes, these feelings follow you home and can affect relationships with friends and family. 
  4. Burnout phase – This phase is when you reach your limit and can no longer function as you normally would. Problems at work begin to consume you to the point where you obsess over them. At times, you may also feel numb and experience extreme self-doubt. Physical symptoms will become intense, leading to chronic headaches, stomach issues and gastrointestinal problems. Friends and family members may also notice behavioral changes. 
  5. Habitual burnout phase – If left untreated, burnout can become a part of your everyday life and eventually lead to anxiety or depression. You can also begin to experience chronic mental and physical fatigue that prevents you from working. Your job status may be put in jeopardy if you continue on this path.

Physical symptoms of burnout can include:

  • Feeling tired
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Experiencing a change in appetite
  • Dealing with headaches or muscle pain

Emotional symptoms:

  • Lacking motivation
  • Experiencing feelings of self-doubt
  • Failure or loneliness
  • An overall feeling of dissatisfaction

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Social isolation
  • Not performing your responsibilities
  • Work-related anger outbursts

There are many ways to get better from burnout, but it can take time. Start to listen to your body and to your mind and make time and space for you. Mediation, reading, journaling, and taking long walks in nature are excellent cures for burnout. Tell your family and get help from your doctor. Be careful of medications and try some alternative therapies – such as fixing the chakras with energy healing, gemstone therapy, and more.

Let me know if you suffer from burnout.

The bottom line is don’t drink! Alcohol will only make things worse.

Read my friend Jade’s personal account of burnout right HERE.

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Goodbye to alcohol – Mon

Goodbye Alcohol.

I say this with a smile on my face with a feeling of accomplishment, excitement, happiness, relief and comfort.  All the feelings that I thought were waiting for me at the bottom of a bottle.  Turns out that what lay at the bottom of that bottle was anger, shame, despair, hurt and dullness.

You lied to me and gave me a false sense of confidence. The ability to act mindlessly and make short sighted decisions.  You took more than you gave and led me to believe life would be better with you.  I often acted recklessly under your influence and listened to your voice that told me I couldn’t live without you. I thought I needed you to celebrate, to socialize, to help me get my words out, to be that “fun mom”.  I gave birth to my son and you were there that night as I lay recovering and absorbing the thought of what parenthood meant while my son lay in ICU.  You helped me block out the feelings I needed to deal with while he lay very ill and may not make it to see the next day. I thought that you would keep me calm but in fact you made me more anxious.

You slowly destroyed my confidence and led me to believe that if I had you in my life everyday I was being “normal”. I realize now, that there is nothing normal about going to bed under your influence and waking up and doing it again.

This is our final goodbye, you can move along and I am now free from your trap.  I have met real people that have helped me pick up the pieces, that have encouraged me and given my life meaning.  Things that give me more value that you can ever imagine.  I have gotten to know who I am, I am learning more about myself everyday and I like it. Since I left you 1.5 years ago I have moved to another country, dealt with the stress, anxiety and celebrated the joys and achievements. I am creating a future that I can be proud of, enjoying the experience, going to bed peacefully and talking to myself lovingly. Without you I have the time to do more, be more and have the ability to do it more sensibly.  The chaos you caused blocked my vision, left me numb and trapped.

Doing life without you has given me a life that you would never be capable of giving and I won’t let you be part of this chapter, so goodbye for now and forever!

 

Your old friend

Monica

#Sober66 – Your Annual Sober Challenge!

 

One of the ways we’ve been helping people is via our regular alcohol-free challenges – which are a great way to dip your toes into the waters of sobriety and also to test your dependence.  If you find our challenges a breeze then that’s awesome – but if you find them really difficult then that’s a clear sign that you need to make a few changes.

As a result of the pandemic and also of this podcast, Tribe Sober had become much more international these days.

Our Sober Spring Challenge used to be full of locals but over the last few years we’ve been joined by Brits, Europeans, and Americans – and of course, in those countries, it’s not Spring at all!  Even if it’s not Spring where you live, September is a great month for a new start. It’s often a month when those daily routines shift a bit… a time when the kids go back to school or even leave the nest for college.

So to make our Sober Spring more international we are rebranding it.

You’ve all heard of Route 66 – well our challenge is going to be called #Sober66 – it’s 66 alcohol-free days…with plenty of support to get you through.

In this episode

  • This challenge really is life-changing and if you have any doubts about that just dig into some of our previous Tribe Sober podcasts: Episode 12 with Chez, episode 15 with Kai, 16 with Christelle, 17 with Sheila and 21 with Lebo…
  • Each of those episodes is called “How the Sober Spring Challenge Changed my Life.”
  • There are SO many reasons to take a 66 day break from the booze but I’ll constrain myself to just 10:-

REASON 1 – ITS LONG ENOUGH TO SEE THE BENEFITS

REASON 2 – YOU’LL GO FROM FEELING MERELY MOTIVATED TO FEELING INSPIRED!

REASON 3 – YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

REASON 4 – YOUR LOOKS!

REASON 5 – YOUR WEIGHT

REASON 6 – YOUR SLEEP

REASON 7 – YOUR GENERAL HEALTH

REASON 8 – BUILD A NEW NEURAL PATHWAY

REASON 9 – TO CHECK YOUR DEPENDENCE

REASON 10 – THE DOMINO EFFECT

  • We picked 66 days because that’s how long it takes to change a habit – so if you are thinking about making alcohol-free living a permanent lifestyle choice, then you will find it SO much easier after 66 days — you will have built a whole new neural pathway!
  • If you are just looking to cut down, then do the challenge and you will find it SO much easier to drink within the low-risk levels of one and a half bottles of wine (or six beers) a week.

     HOW IT WORKS

  • The Challenge will run for 66 days — starting on 1st September. That’s long enough to assess your relationship with alcohol and to build a new and healthy habit.
  • You will receive a daily email, packed with tips, tools and inspiration for 66 days. You’ll also have access to 66 motivatonal mini-podcasts.
  • You will be added to a WhatsApp Chat Group to connect with other Sober Springers. To share tips and encourage each other to stay on the bus!
  • You will also receive an invitation to join our Sober Sprinters Facebook Group and our Zoom Cafe every Saturday.
    • More Info

    Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

    Episode Sponsor

    The Tribe Sober Membership Program sponsors this episode.  If you want to change your relationship with alcohol then sign up today
    Read more about our program and subscribe HERE

    Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

    Help us to Spread the Word!

    We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

    If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

    Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

    We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

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    You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

     

    PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

    1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
    2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
    3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
    4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
    5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Burnout … and Alcohol Dependence with Jax

 

My guest this week is Tribe Member Jax – an educator who is passionate about her work and who has struggled with both alcohol dependence and burnout.  One of those rare people who only ever had one ‘Day One’, Jax found Tribe Sober one week into her sobriety and she’s been inspiring and motivating our members ever since!

In this episode

  • Jax was a late developer when it came to alcohol – coming from a non-drinking family and mixing with a serious crowd who didn’t drink alcohol was just not “on her radar” as she puts it.
  • Things changed when she got to her late 30’s/early 40’s.  She found herself wanting an “extra glass” of champagne or wine when she was at a restaurant or a dinner party.
  • Her non-drinking partner noticed and remarked that she got quite “animated” – even argumentative by the end of the evening.
  • Then he came out with that line that so many of us are familiar with “why can’t you have just one?”
  • Like the rest of us, Jax of course tried to have “just one” and in fact, there would be a little dialogue going on in her head as she got ready to go out along the lines of “I must just have one tonight.”
  • Like the rest of us, that rarely worked out – I can still remember that sense of failure because I couldn’t have “just one” or even “just three” in my case.
  • That’s why you need a sober community – you need people that would never tell you to have “just one.”
  • Join tribesober.com to learn to quit completely and then go on and thrive in sobriety.
  • A worrying development for Jax was that she wanted to drink during the week as her habit escalated from occasional to habitual.
  • She began to love drinking alone which is a real red flag – moving from using alcohol to socialise to using alcohol to self-medicate for stress.
  • She was still in denial and would never acknowledge her hangovers which she would write off as a “bit of a headache.”
  • As her career developed, Jax found herself taking on more and more responsibility – working 70-hour weeks.
  • This workload was a major trigger for Jax as it left her no time to refresh and recharge with hobbies and personal development.
  • She fell victim to Burnout and her only respite seemed to be putting her feet up with a glass of wine.
  • Completely exhausted, she could no longer find any pleasure in anything.
  • Jax withdrew from her partner and her friends, became isolated, and drank more.
  • She felt a mix of despair and despondency and knew she would need to quit drinking – she researched the subject of alcohol dependence and found Tribe Sober.
  • She discovered the power of community and just what it meant to meet people who understood her – they had been in exactly the same situation.
  • Jax didn’t see her sobriety as a punishment, instead, she saw it as an opportunity to change her life and to find herself again – a perfect mindset.
  • As Jax so rightly said – if we go into sobriety feeling sorry for ourselves and being annoyed with others for drinking then we are setting ourselves up for failure.
  • Day One of sobriety dawned and she never looked back – her first year of sobriety will be completed in December 2022.
  • Jax set boundaries with her friends – she took them out individually to explain her plans and they offered their support.
  • We agreed that it was best to be upfront with people and our tribe members often text their friends to explain they won’t be drinking that evening.
  • Her first month was difficult with detox symptoms and her PAWS lasted several months.
  • PAWS can include anhedonia so if you suffer from this please listen to Tribe Sober podcasts episode 55 when Dr Loretta Breuning will explain how to keep your happy brain chemicals triggered.

More info

  • Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

    Episode Sponsor

    The Tribe Sober Membership Program sponsors this episode.  If you want to change your relationship with alcohol then sign up today
    Read more about our program and subscribe HERE

    Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

    Help us to Spread the Word!

    We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

    If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

    Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

    We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

    You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

    You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

     

    PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

    1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
    2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
    3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
    4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
    5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Hlengiwe Chooses Swimming to Quit Drinking

 

One day in 1996, when she was 32 years old, a traffic cop stopped Hlengiwe* because her taillight was not working. This was after a Christmas lunch, around 6/7 pm.

“The cop asked if I drank some wine. I said, ‘No, I did not drink wine.’ He asked me to stand on one leg which I successfully did. He probably could smell the alcohol on my breath, and he asked me to blow, and promptly told me I was over the limit. I told him that I did not have wine, but ciders and his question was specifically about wine. Needless to say, he was not amused with me and gave me a ‘stern’ warning.”

I laughed when Hlengiwe told me this story. I first met her a year ago when she wanted to chat about her drinking habit. She told me that she grew up during the turmoil of the Soweto Uprisings in 1976. I heard how she and her friends would drink quarts on the trains in KwaZulu-Natal. I too am from KwaZulu-Natal and like Hlengiwe, I too had my first taste of alcohol around the age of 17.

Reasons for Drinking, then Quitting

When I met Hlengiwe, she had just discovered Tribe Sober. It was the year that South Africa was still in lockdown for Covid-19 and many people were looking for therapy or a connection of some sort.

I smiled when Hlengiwe told me about her Autumn Harvest and gemmer (ginger) habit – it reminded me of my own university habit of a R1 bottle of Tassies before we even started our night out on the town in Grahamstown! Luckily for Hlengiwe, her drinking habit never consumed her, and she was able to stop drinking for long periods – such as for 5 to 6 years when she fell pregnant and had her daughter.

The trauma of separation and divorce from her husband brought alcohol back into her life – she was only 30 years old, and things were tough.

Hlengiwe is frank about her drinking: “Truth be told, I was never proud about being a drinker, probably because I grew up in an all-girls Catholic Boarding School.  I joined the school at the Primary level and alcohol was actually frowned upon.  My mother does not drink and never did. My late father drank, not moderately.”

Then, around late 2019, she began to feel tired, and this wave of fatigue just got worse in 2020 during the hard lockdown and continued until 2021. Hlengiwe deliberately only bought two bottles of wine the day before hard lockdown (when alcohol was banned in South Africa) as she had always avoided buying bulk alcohol. She learned to only ever buy enough alcohol for immediate consumption because “I am a binge drinker when I drink.”

Coming to Terms with Needs and Values

During the lockdown, she came face to face with her feelings about alcohol and it bothered her that it was a habit and that she needed alcohol. Being forced to take a break from booze started to become a challenge. The only negative effect was that Hlengiwe turned to sweets and chocolates to satisfy her sugar cravings and gained too much weight.

Hlengiwe notes that she did not put rules in place about her alcohol consumption but when she had a nervous breakdown some years ago, she stopped drinking for a full 3 years. “I was warned about the effect of alcohol on my mental wellbeing; therefore, I started being cautious and aware of my drinking then.”

“On a personal level, looking back, I think I lost the plot when I started drinking just to do the house chores during the holidays when I did not have the help around. I would drink alcohol just so that I could finish the ironing or even clean the house, do the cooking – even watching tv and reading. Then the reading habit declined.” Something had to give.

Then, when she was on medication, she was told that 1 to 2 glasses of alcohol should be fine. In retrospect, says Hlengiwe, that statement was not true. “Alcohol + medication is dangerous.”

Hlengiwe discovered Tribe Sober on the internet, around August 2021, when she surfed for a support system other than AA. She urges other people who want to stop drinking to reach out for support, support, support, and podcasts.

Do the Work!

“I have listened to all Tribe Sober recordings (some of them twice) and still listen, keeping track of new releases,” smiles Hlengiwe. “When Janet mentioned her blackouts in one of her podcasts, I realised that I had somehow had a similar experience but I did not know it at the time.  All along I had thought that blackouts referred to drinking to a point of passing out while still socialising and so on.”

Good point. We learn every day more about our drinking, our reasons for our drinking, and what the effects are on ourselves and those around us!

Hlengiwe joined the 2021 Spring Challenge and remembers that her dry mouth symptom was the worst – and of course the cravings.  “The dry mouth pushed me to increase my water intake, which was not so great prior to deciding to cut down on alcohol. Alcohol-free gin helped too but I started developing a sweet tooth – which I am slowly cutting down on. I started about 2 weeks ago to reduce my sugar intake… The highlight was hitting the first 112/3 days through the Spring 66 days challenge – that was the first in 16 years!”

Swimming Instead of Drinking

Hlengiwe turned to movement, she started to swim. “Taking up swimming was just a cherry on top as an alternative to drinking. I used to hit the pool most evenings and use the steam room/sauna – and by the time I left the gym, the alcohol retailers would be closed.”

She now loves swimming regularly at her local gym, jogging, and hiking with friends. She is firmly in touch with her values: independency, humility, kindness, respect, and spirituality.

“I want to be an alcohol-free pensioner,” smiles Hlengiwe, who retires from her long-term corporate job in 2 years. She won’t stop working, of course, and is studying online to ensure that she can continue consulting into her old age.

Hlengiwe has some tips for people who want to stop drinking or at least tone down their alcohol intake a bit: support, podcasts, and quit lit. Read Annie Grace’s The Naked Mind, read Alcohol Explained, and listen to all Tribe Sober podcasts. Join several Facebook groups to connect and share. Not a day goes by without Hlengiwe reading something on her sober groups.

She agrees that we need to play the movie forward if we even think about having a drink: what will be the consequences? Health is wealth and we can all set goals to be sober forever if we really want to.

Money spent on swimming lessons instead of alcohol is always worthwhile – after all, you can’t drink and swim!

*Names have been changed.

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”My Unfurling” – with Lisa Bennett

 

My guest this week is author Lisa Bennett.  After a career in marketing, she ditched the booze in her early 50s, left her job, and wrote a book about the joys of sobriety.  Her book is called “My Unfurling” and emphasises how many aspects of our lives will change when we stop using alcohol to numb our feelings and our dreams.

Lisa lives in Maryland with her husband, her mom, two cats, and a dog.  She enjoys paddleboarding, yoga, and dancing in the kitchen!

In this Episode

  • Lisa started drinking in her teens and says that her first 6 years of drinking created deep pathways in her brain.
  • The heady combination of being away from home and having access to cheap alcohol, together with the fact that she was a bit shy, meant drinking was a great way to connect and fit in with the other students.
  • On reflection, Lisa realises she could have done so much better at college if she hadn’t been partying so much!
  • After college, she went to live in the heart of New York City where the party continued! So easy to go out drinking and pour herself into a cab to get home.
  • So she left NY at the age of 29 with a very well-established drinking habit – 3 or 4 nights out a week was the norm and like many of us, Lisa discovered she had no “off” switch.
  • She ended up in an AA meeting to do research for a work-related project.  That experience simply confirmed to her that she was “not an alcoholic” as she didn’t relate to the people there – so she had a drink on the way home to celebrate!
  • This also happened to me and with hindsight, we agreed that we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves with some of the hard-core alcoholics in AA. We should be comparing ourselves with the best version of ourselves that we could be – quite simply, alcohol will prevent us from reaching our potential in life.
  • Going back to Lisa: she of course tried to moderate – and set and broke “the rules” many times.
  • We talked about “rock bottom” and how crazy it is to wait for “rock bottom” – the trick is to get off that slippery slope the moment you realise you are on it!
  • We talked about wake-up calls – as she reached her 40’s Lisa found she could no longer predict the effect that a few drinks were going to have on her – I also experienced that and now realise that it’s a real warning sign of dependence.
  • She explained how a relatively modest amount of alcohol had led her to a blackout which ended in her throwing charcoal up to her bedroom window to wake up her husband in the early hours – as she puts in “she will never forget the disappointed look on her husband’s face as he came downstairs to let her in!”
  • We talked of the difficulty of being a woman who drinks – we mustn’t “get drunk” because that’s not cool but if we don’t drink we are no fun!
  • In fact, Lisa’s husband told her that he didn’t think she had to give up drinking completely – this was a few months into sobriety so Lisa was able to remind him of all the things she had started doing that she never would have done had she still been drinking.
  • This attitude of well-meaning friends and relatives is another reason why we need a sober community – they will just tell us to “cut down” – not realising that we’ve crossed the line into dependence and cutting down is not an option.
  • Go to tribesober.com and hit “join our tribe” if you need a community that understands what it’s like to have tried (and failed) to cut down over and over again.
  • One day Lisa very wisely realised that she was getting no “joy” from her drinking anymore – and that it was taking too much away from her.
  • For most of us, it actually takes a period of sobriety before we recognise that we gain so much more than we lose when we ditch the booze. So, well done to Lisa for having that insight when she was still drinking!
  • Lisa’s turning point was reading an essay by Laura McCowen called “Am I an Alcoholic” –  https://www.lauramckowen.com/blog/am-i-an-alcoholic.
  • We are great fans of Laura here at Tribe Sober and her book title “We are the Luckiest” just about sums up how we feel once we’ve ditched the booze and learned to thrive in our sobriety.
  • Like all of us, Lisa had to “do the work” in early sobriety – her husband and friends were still drinking so she would often go to bed early when the socialising got difficult.
  • She also had to work on “uncoupling” everyday experiences from alcohol – as she put it, alcohol was so woven into her daily life she was not entirely sure whether she enjoyed various activities or if it was just the alcohol she was enjoying.
  • For example, she thought she enjoyed cooking and it was part of her identity that she was a “good cook” but once she removed the wine from her cooking experience she realised it wasn’t really her passion after all!
  • This raises an interesting point about how we lose touch with what we really like doing when we drink – for example, you may discover that your Drinking Buddies are not that fascinating after all and that you would rather be learning to do something creative instead of spending time with them!
  • Sobriety really is a journey of self-discovery – bumpy at first and then full of joy. It’s an “Unfurling” of who we really are.
  • Lisa explained that she has built a lot of emotional strength in sobriety – by pushing out of her comfort zone and engaging in new activities and just by learning how to socialise sober.
  • She’s gained so much confidence since being sober – confidence non-drinkers would have built up at a much younger age!
  • Alcohol saps our motivation to “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” to quote one of my favourite book titles. We stay trapped in our boozy little rut.
  • Lisa’s been trying so many new things since she got sober – aerial yoga, spinning classes, and creative writing – and she’s written and published a book.
  • Her accomplishments are a reminder that we will never reach our potential in life if we are drinking – as she says “I’m so glad I gave myself a chance to see what I could do in sobriety”.
  • I asked her for some tips for newbies and she suggested journaling – obviously, not everybody is a writer like Lisa but she recommended getting some journal prompts from people like Glennon Doyle.
  • Getting outside in nature is essential – it helps us to realise we are part of something so much bigger – and to be in the moment.
  • She also recommended doing a Challenge and finding Facebook Groups which means I’m going to give ours a plug.
  • We have a brand new Facebook Group called “Sober Sprinters” where we hosted our recent “5-day Sober Sprint” – that Sprint is over now but there is so much engagement on there we decided to keep it open as a home for all future Challenges.  Just search Sober Sprinters on FB and come join the conversation.
  • Lisa’s book is called “My Unfurling” and describes how different aspects of her life “unfurled” as she quit drinking – it’s available on Amazon and you can also find it on her website which is called www.lisamaybennett.com   
  • I loved Lisa’s book which is a mixture of her story mixed with plenty of inspiration – her time in New York City as a twenty-something made me think of all that cocktail drinking we used to watch in the Sex and the City series!
  • We both agreed that stopping drinking was just the beginning and that’s what makes the decision to quit such a gamechanger – it really alters the trajectory of your future.

More Info

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Coming Out … Again – with Andrew Addie

 

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?

More Info

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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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  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
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  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
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  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Kay Tells Her Success Story

“I can’t stress enough how important it is to take the first steps to quit drinking.  There are so many sober communities out there that you can join – connect for support and to learn from others’ experiences.  Read the quit lit.  Find a “sober buddy” to be accountable with – I am fortunate to have a sober buddy whom I met through Tribe Sober.”

Kay is 58 years old and has decided to stop drinking. She says it is for good. I believe her. Kay knows her own mind. She is a woman of integrity with good values: as an honest, loyal, respectful, and kind American citizen, she cares about getting sober.

Right now, Kay is experiencing her early days of sobriety, for the third time around.

Getting Sober is a Challenge

“I am very new in my journey – Day 10,” noted Kay when this article was written. “I just completed the 5 Day Sober Sprint and have now started the new online Kickstart program. I may be new on my journey but I’m doing the work and determined to become completely AF.”

She will do it. Kay was never the kind of drinker who drank her whole life. In fact, her first few sips of alcohol at the tender age of seven did not turn her into a raging alcoholic. She was a true moderator during her formative, high school years – enjoying a few glasses with friends on nights out and maybe feeling a bit under the weather the next day.

Remembers Kay: “I wasn’t a drinker in high school – I didn’t go to parties with the ‘cool’ kids.  After high school friends and I would go to the local bars on Friday and Saturday nights.  Some nights I’d overdrink and may have a slight hangover the next day but then I’d be off the stuff.  Some weekends we didn’t drink.”

But this all changed in 2016, a mere 6 years ago. Kay was already in her 50s. That was the year that Kay had major, life-changing surgery.

“In 2016, I had bariatric surgery.  We were strongly advised NOT TO DRINK any alcohol from then on due to the high chance of a shift from overeating to alcohol.”

Bariatric Surgery and Alcohol

In fact, there is now “strong empirical evidence showing that individuals who undergo bariatric surgery are at an elevated risk of developing problems with alcohol, ranging from increased alcohol use to alcohol use disorder (AUD),” according to an article in Current Psychiatry Reports.

Samantha Stavola adds that is usually advised to avoid alcohol for six months after bariatric surgery. “When you undergo bariatric surgery, the large fundus, or reservoir, a portion of the stomach has either been totally bypassed or removed from the rest of the GI tract.  Because of this, alcohol enters the body more rapidly for processing, which can increase your risk of developing alcohol poisoning.”

This means that one drink is equal to three or four drinks and this kind of effect can increase the patient’s risk of developing a stomach ulcer by eroding the lining of the stomach wall. Remember that the intoxicating effects of alcohol occur a lot sooner than before surgery, and alcohol can slow down weight loss.

Kay was told that alcohol slides too easily down the throat when you can’t eat any great amount of food.  She was fearful about this, and she wanted to heed the advice but one of her colleagues also had the surgery and proclaimed that she was drinking alcohol and it was not so bad!

“So, about 8 months after my surgery, I slowly began testing the waters, so to speak, to see how the alcohol would affect me. “

The Wheels Fall Off After Surgery

Needless to say, the alcohol did go down super easily – Kay did not get deathly ill, and it made her “feel good!”.  So, Kay would then go out with friends and have a glass or two of wine.  A glass or two for someone who has had weight loss surgery is very different because “it affects us a lot quicker, and it doesn’t take much at all for us to become intoxicated.”

Kay says that eventually, she started drinking more nights a week until it came to the point that she was drinking at least a bottle of wine a night or more, and maybe a can or two of beer.

That was when Kay started to search sober podcasts and blogs because she was concerned about her drinking. Quite by chance, she found the podcast featuring Janet on “To 50 and Beyond” and then she listened to podcast Episode 182, “Getting Sober over 60 Janet Gourand”.  Some things happen for a reason, it is our destiny, for sure!

“I feel very fortunate to have caught this episode.  I was very interested in what Janet had to share and speak about.  I found her very comfortable, so I immediately looked Tribe Sober up and joined The Tribe soon after. I learned that I was drinking for emotional reasons due to stress and to numb out any feelings.”

Right now, Kay is on a personal mission to stop drinking. She is practical about it and admits that she has reached two months sober on two Tribe Sober challenges.

“The first time I stopped by participating The Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace of This Naked Mind.  The second time I participated in Tribe Sober’s January 2022 Fundraiser and was AF for 66 days,” says Kay.

She recently completed Tribe Sobers 5 Day Sober Sprint (successfully) and immediately joined the Online Kickstart program.

Finding the Shift

“This time around, my mind is shifting the way I’m seeing the effects of alcohol.  During the 5-Day Sober Sprint – for the first time – I actually DID the work!  I wrote down my “Why’s” – being very honest with myself and was amazed at how the words just flowed down on the paper.  It really lit a flame under me and really has motivated me to keep going.  I have “This Naked Mind” by Annie Grace that I’ll be re-reading but right now I’m listening to “Alcohol Explained” by William Porter and I am getting so much out of this book.  Things are just really clicking and I can feel it tying in with what Tribe Sober is talking about.  I feel like I’m on the right path and not “white knuckling” it like before.  I don’t have the strong desire to drink now.”

This is such good news and just shows that we all can persevere and get through the walls and troughs that life throws at us. How can we have highs in life if we don’t have the lows?

Kay can giggle at some incidents when she was drinking: “Once my son and now ex-husband and I were on a weekend vacation, staying in a hotel.  I had a little too much to drink and went to bed.  The next thing I heard my son saying “Mom, that’s not a door! What are you doing?!”  I “came to” and found that I was trying to get out a window – thinking it was a door!  Thankfully, our room was on the first floor.  Ugh!  How embarrassing! The next morning, my son had to remind me of what I did.  Of course, I laughed it off but really, I was very ashamed.  It was awful!”

Kay is an ordinary woman, just like you and me. She works at a community college, she loves reading true crime books and watching true crime shows. She is divorced and lives with her 21-year-old son.

Great Tips for Fellow Drinkers Wanting to Quit

Kay has some tips for people who are just giving up alcohol right now: “Just take that first step – not drinking for one day.  That, to me, is the hardest step – but also the most courageous step because it can be so scary.  Then make the choice not to drink on the second and third day.  Once you get a few days under your belt you start to feel a little more confident and prouder of yourself.  You’ll look back and not want to have to repeat those days.  I’d also say join a community such as Tribe Sober where there are people just like you and the group is so supportive.  Also, listen to different podcasts.  One podcast or podcast episode may not resonate with you but then you listen to a different one and … BAM … it settles into your brain just right and you feel like you’re starting to “get it” a little more.  It “clicks!”.”

In a nutshell, Kay urges all of us to DO THE WORK. She urges every one of you reading this blog to do the work or exercises suggested or provided in any challenge you take on and don’t just skip through that part and think that it is just for everyone else to do, and not you.

Connection is the opposite of addiction and that’s why it is SO difficult to quit drinking alone. While you may manage to get sober by sheer willpower it’s almost impossible to stay sober without connecting with others on the same path.

Are you Doing the Work?

Do you chat daily on Slack  – share and listen to wisdom from others?
Attend the Zoom Cafe – every Saturday at 4.30 pm SA time.
Are you reading the Quitlit and listening to the weekly podcasts?
Have you done the WHY exercise and are you using your tracker?
Have you used your DrinkNil discount voucher?
Have you attended a workshop?
Have you tried our online yoga class and had a nutritional consult?
Have you taken advantage of your complimentary coaching, hypnotherapy, and root cause therapy sessions?

An AF life is so much more than you can imagine. Try it.

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The Gut-Brain Axis – and Alcohol

You are what you eat – how often have you heard this little phrase? And how often did you just ignore it and think, “What a load of *&^%$”?

Scientists never stop researching and we should never stop reading. The more you read, the more you know (another useful little phrase!). This blog is all about that body-mind interconnection. Bodily health is mental health and mental health is bodily health. Think about it.

When you think about something pleasant, like a rose in a garden, you feel soft and dreamy. When you think about strawberry ice cream, your mouth waters. When you think about climbing a mountain in 6 hours, you feel stressed about the physical pain and time limit. When you sit in traffic and are going to be late for a meeting, you get sweaty armpits and a racing heart as your blood pressure rises.

That Mind-Body Connection

Yoga is one way to learn how to get on top of the body-mind connection. When you are on your mat, involved in complicated or challenging asanas, your mind focuses on just that, moving your body into the pose and being there, in pain or in comfort. The mind is empty of thoughts, just for that present moment.

This is what we should all be striving for, every day – a healthy mind free of poisonous judgmental and critical thoughts – critical of ourselves and of others. Resentful of the people around us who achieve more, love more or seem happier than we are.

Negative emotions can make us sick, and sickness can be cured by positive emotions. Our bodies hold our emotions so that they reflect what is going on inside us. Picture a monk beside a waterfall – empty of all thoughts, monks look serene, have healthy bodies, and live right there, now, at the waterfall.

Unlike most of us, rushing around in cars, in buses, and in planes, Whatsapping every five minutes, checking emails and social media every 6 minutes – our phones are our new appendages and addictions and we cannot see the roses for the apps. We are making ourselves sick!

Sickness vs Awareness

When last did you look, really look, at your garden? When last did you listen to the birds, watch them in their true, happy presence? When last did you hike in nature? Swim in a river or the ocean? Walk barefoot? Yea… think about it.

One of my favorite naturalists, Henry David Thoreau said “I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil – to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.”

He advocated sauntering in Nature as much as possible. He knew that it was essential for body and mind health: “I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend four hours a day at least … sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.”

Our modern society is obsessed with worldly engagements! It is making us sick.

Have you ever heard of the gut-brain axis? When the gut suffers from dis-ease, the brain also suffers. Anxiety, depression, even dementia, have been linked to inflammation in the gut and imbalanced gut microbiota.

According to Wikipedia, dysbiosis is “characterized by a disruption to the microbiome resulting in an imbalance in the microbiota, changes in their functional composition and metabolic activities, or a shift in their local distribution. For example, a part of the human microbiota such as the skin flora, gut flora, or vaginal flora, can become deranged, with normally dominating species underrepresented and normally outcompeted or contained species increasing to fill the void.”

This condition is known to cause anxiety and depression. This means that there is communication within the central nervous system between the gut and the brain. Amazing!

Serotonin and the Gut

We know that serotonin is one of our essential happy hormones, a chemical that is produced by nerve cells and ensures a feeling of well-being and balance, contentedness with life. The catch with serotonin is that it is made mostly in the gut wall, not the brain, and circulates in the body.

It is also found in blood platelets, so is spread around the central nervous system. You can eat nuts, cheese and meat to get enough essential amino acid tryptophan, serotonin. Serotonin reduces anxiety and depression and helps with moods, digestion and sleeping. When doctors try to treat serotonin in the brain, there are side effects in the gut.

So, what happens when someone drinks alcohol? A lot! The gut becomes very unhappy! The brain becomes very confused. People know how drinking makes them feel – confused, unwieldy, happy then sad, happy then angry, happy then empty.

This is because the alcohol flows directly into the digestive tract and causes disruption in the intestinal flora. This then influences the brain via the vagus nerve and the immune endocrine pathway to cause behaviour that is simply not normal. Drunk people walk crooked and talk crooked!

The vagus nerve is one of our most important nerves, controlling mood, immune response, digestion and heart rate.

“It establishes one of the connections between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract and sends information about the state of the inner organs to the brain via afferent fibers…the vagus nerve [is] an attractive target in treating psychiatric and gastrointestinal disorders.”

Alcohol and the Gut-Brain Axis

It is fascinating to know that “studies have shown that alcohol-induced intestinal flora imbalance could influence the patient’s cognitive function, mood change, and drinking behavior through the interactions with the immuno-endocrine system and vagus nerve.

Alcohol in the digestive system is an immediate cause of issues in the brain including abnormal behaviour, depression, anxiety, and inflammation.  An “imbalance of intestinal flora alteration caused by alcohol leads to mood disorders through the vagus nerve.”

When someone stops drinking, they can get very depressed because their central nervous system is affected from being overactive to now being under active. If a drinker knows this when trying to get sober, steps can be taken to address it through diet, supplements and time, patience, serotonin boosting and therapy.

The gut-brain axis is an important physiological connection that we should all learn more about. Downing glasses of wine every night is sure to blot out your intelligence, from the gut to the brain, and vice versa. Think about it. You have choices in life – do you want to get depressed or do you want eternal happiness?

Click on this delightful image to get your free pdf: 10 Reasons to Take a Break from the Booze:

 

Click on this image to join our tribe!

 

 

Click on my image below to read more of my blogs…

 

Kickstart your Sober Life! with Janet Gourand

 

This week I’m doing a solo episode about our brand new online course called Kickstart Your Sober Life!

In this Episode

  • We’re launching the course via a 5-day Sober Sprint which takes place in a Facebook group.
  • The Sprint runs from 1st to 5th August and you can join up here.
  • There will be daily tasks and training as well as lots of community support during the Sprint.
  • On August 5th we will be launching our brand new online course – Kickstart your Sober Life!
  • We’ve been running workshops since 2015 so have plenty of experience – almost 100 workshops on how to quit drinking!
  • With my 25 years of corporate experience in training and development, I’ve designed an online version of our workshop.
  • To ensure that people remain motivated and engaged throughout the workshop, we’ve built in touchpoints.
  • You begin the course with a Zoom call with me so I can explore your relationship with alcohol and guide you through the course – another Zoom call for a mid-course review and then you’ll be booked in for a coaching session at the end.
  • The course content is divided into 7 lessons – each lesson begins with an overview video from me and then we drill down into the topic with relevant podcasts, Facebook Lives, and reading recommendations.
  • At the end of every lesson is a multiple choice test to ensure that you’ve understood the principles of that lesson.
  • Lesson 1 is about mindset – about exploring and overturning the limiting beliefs we hold in our minds about alcohol.
  • Lesson 2 is about alcohol and your health – overview video and podcasts on the immune system and cancer risk plus a BBC doccie called “Is Binge Drinking really that Bad?”
  • Lesson 3 is about how alcohol works – includes podcasts about “hangxiety” from William Porter and “dependence” from Ken Middleton, plus an overview video, FB lives, and reading recommendations.
  • Lesson 4 is about finding your why – this is the key to getting (and staying) motivated – Tribe Sober team member Lucy will take you through an exercise to “Find Your Why” and Lynette does a video on “Loving Your Why”.
  • Lesson 5 is about the toolkit – the heart of our courses – 15 tried and tested tools and strategies to enable you to quit drinking and then to go on and thrive in your alcohol-free life.
  • Lesson 6 is about coaching – our Recovery Coach Lynette will explain what coaching is and how it can help you navigate those early tricky months of recovery – backed up by podcasts and lots of reading about coaching.
  • Lesson 7 is about getting started – an overview video from me with advice on how to take all this theory and apply it to your life – also podcasts on beginning the healing journey with yoga, nutrition, meditation, and various therapies.
  • The course ends with you creating an Action Plan and booking yourself in with Lynette for a coaching session to enable you to start the implementation of everything you’ve learned.
  • If you’re listening to this episode way after the launch date, then just go to tribesober.com and look for the Kickstart Course.
  • To get our PDF 10 Steps to Kickstart your Sober Life just email janet@nulltribesober.com.

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
Read more about our program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Recovery Nutrition with Lindsey Beveridge

 

My podcast guest this week is Lindsey Beveridge whom I met 7 years ago at a “how to quit drinking” workshop in London!

We were both hungover and grumpy so we didn’t even connect on that day – so it’s been amazing to meet her again here in Soberland.  Shout out to Club Soda who ran that workshop as we are both 7 years sober now!  Not only are we sober, but so too do we both help other people to quit drinking and then go on and thrive in their sobriety.

Lindsey qualified as a nutritionist in 2019 and helps people to implement changes to their diet and lifestyle to feel better.  She uses a functional medicine approach to enable her clients to change their patterns of behaviour.

In this Episode

  • Lindsey was a teenage drinker and enjoyed the confidence it gave her.
  • Like many of us, her drinking got heavier as she matured – until she became dependent.
  • At the age of 47, she was taking “Are You an Alcoholic?” quizzes and ticking all the boxes.
  • Her excessive drinking began to frighten her and as a single parent, she feared that her young daughter might find her dead one day.
  • Lindsey realised that she should go for a medically-assisted detox but she was afraid to do this in case her daughter was taken away from her.
  • She tapered off her drinking to avoid the worst of the withdrawal symptoms but she would not recommend tapering to anyone.
  • We discussed how difficult tapering is and how similar it is to the moderation battle.
  • In retrospect, she realises she should have gone to rehab for a detox.
  • We agreed that for anyone with a serious drinking problem, Rehab for a week and then connecting with a community to keep them on track was the best strategy.
  • I always say to people that for the first few months they need to make their sobriety a priority and “throw the book at it” and Lindsey certainly did that!
  • As you heard, she listened to podcasts, read books, did yoga, ate well, and spent quality time with her daughter.
  • Lindsey agreed that we need projects to keep the dopamine triggered in early sobriety – for Lindsey it was exercise, learning new things, and voluntary work that kept her happy.
  • She used this time to explore lots of different things and during that exploration, she found some things that she absolutely loved.
  • Early sobriety is indeed a journey of self-discovery and here at Tribe Sober, we’ve set up a 7-step journey for our members. They can try out things like coaching, yoga, hypnotherapy, meditation, and art therapy – either for free or at significantly discounted rates.  Just CLICK HERE and check out what we can offer you.
  • Year 1 was tough for Lindsey – she was tired all the time, lacking in nutrition with gut issues – so she had to build herself up again.
  • Year 2 was about dealing with the underlying trauma that she’d been drinking away for years – she went through a lot of intense therapy but…
  • By Year 3 it was done a dusted and she felt great!
  • This is so important to hear for those people who have been sober for a while but don’t really feel they are thriving or enjoying life more – the message here is to be patient.
  • Remember how long you’ve been drinking and remember the guideline we learned from Dr Dawn (podcast number 61 – Sept 2021). From her extensive experience as a rehab doctor, Dawn has observed that it takes a month of recovery for every year that we drank for all of the benefits to manifest.
  • As you do the maths and come up with 40 months (as in my case), don’t be discouraged as you will start to feel better almost immediately and of course, for those people who are already a couple of years sober, this is great news as it means that the benefits will just keep coming!
  • Lyndsey is a qualified and experienced nutritionist so she gave us some really useful advice about Menopause. Drinking during menopause will disrupt our endocrine system and make us more estrogen-dominant which can lead to breast cancer – that’s a fact that I wish I’d learned before I got my breast cancer!
  • In fact, alcohol disrupts all our hormones, it throws out our thyroid, affects our insulin levels, and also prevents us from absorbing vital nutrients from our food.
  • The resulting nutritional deficiency affects our DNA replication and repair which of course has implications for cancer.
  • As Lyndsey explained taking a handful of supplements will do nothing if we are drinking – the alcohol will simply cancel out any benefits – a bit like taking meds and drinking.
  • Of course, we talked about gut health – the fact that alcohol affects not only our gut lining but also the microbiome which in turn affects many other parts of our body.
  • Another interesting fact that I learned from Lyndsey was the fact that some of us have naturally low levels of dopamine, so we turn to alcohol to make us feel good.
  • Other people (including Lyndsey) have low levels of Gaba (the calming neurotransmitter) so will use alcohol to calm themselves down.
  • So in early sobriety, we need to build up those neurotransmitters – if we tend to be dopamine deficient we can do more exercise to raise it and if we used alcohol to calm ourselves we need to find calming activities – like yoga, meditation, or having or even having a hot bath.
  • We talked about the effect alcohol has on cognitive function – of course, we all know that alcohol kills brain cells and the scary fact is that just as women’s drinking has increased significantly over the last 40 years, so has the number of dementia cases in the female population.
  • When I asked Lyndsey to list her benefits of sobriety she quite simply said, “It changed everything.” She loves her work as a nutritionist, she loves her yoga, and she got married and has better relationships.
  • Lyndsey has the most amazing Instagram feed which is packed with information that will help you in that first year of recovery – her Instagram is called recoverynutrition and her website is called www.recovery-nutrition.co.uk/

More Info

  • Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.
  • To access our website, click HERE.
  • 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 program and subscribe HERE.

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you.

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Be a Cheetah, not a Snail – Join the Sober Sprint!

Sprinting to the Sober Finish Line

Click on the pic to join the first-ever Tribe Sober Sprint!

Have you ever thought about quitting drinking and living life sober? Real, authentic life? Have you ever stopped and wondered WHY on earth you drink? Are you maybe uncomfortable with how much you drink, or with your need to drink?

This is the place to be right now if your thinking keeps going back to your drinking. And what better way to start your new sober journey than to join the Tribe Sober Sober Sprint!

It is always better to start a challenge with a new month so this challenge starts on 1 August, just around the corner. It is a five-day supported online retreat. It assists you to change your thinking about drinking and stop consuming alcohol for all those reasons you thought were good reasons.

Let’s think of some good reasons to join the Sober Sprint:

  • You get incredible support from people just like you. Every day you will receive a task that will enable you to reflect on your relationship with alcohol and you will participate in a 20-minute training on Facebook Live to help you change your mindsets and your habits.
  • Connect with people all around the world who want to try sobriety and open up their lives to new awakenings and new commitments. We now know that connection is the opposite of addiction. So far, we have more than 300 Sober Sprinters signed up via our Facebook page! All sharing their experiences as excitement builds for the Sprint!  You can join the conversation right here.
  • There is no fee for this wonderful alcohol-free challenge so join something free that will pay huge dividends in your personal life.
  • Your health will take off into new, vibrant territory and with that, your mind will want to tackle new goals and projects. Your dopamine highs will come from authentic living instead of dumbed-down alcohol-soaked semi-living! Get a new lease on life when you kick the booze habit and choose health.

When you join Sober Sprint, there is no obligation – just hang out, connect with others on the same path, ask questions and connect.

Sprint Rules

Before we start the Sprint, it’s important that we all commit to some simple ground rules.

Following these rules means that we’re all on the same page. You’ll know what to expect from Janet and team Tribe Sober during the next 5 days, and everyone can get the most out of the sprint whilst also having the most fun!

Rules for the Sober Sprint challenge:

  • Do the tasks! Set reminders and block out 15 minutes each day to do it.
  • Be coachable. I may not have the answers to everything, but I know how to help people stay sober! Trust the process and the breakthroughs will happen. You can also book coaching sessions with our own coaches.
  • Engage. Participate fully to get the most value from this Sprint. Engaging means responding to comments in a positive, supportive manner.
  • Only reply to the tasks in the comments below the task – then we can find them easily and give you some feedback.
  • The first port of call for help is to check the comments for each task or AMA post. After that, it’s to email janet@nulltribesober.com for anything that’s not directly related to the task.
  • Finally, have FUN! It’s going to be a blast.
  • Follow the daily posts –

FB Live from Janet with a daily task post at 8 am UK.

Ask Janet anything post at 2 pm UK.

FB live training (10-15 mins) inside the group at 4 pm UK each day. The videos will stay in the feed so don’t worry if you miss the live show.

Each task will include a video and a worksheet covering the key points and action steps you need to post in the comments for each task. If you get stuck, please re-watch the video and re-read the worksheet before asking for help.

End Sober with the New You!

The sprint ends on Friday 5 August with the Closing Party at 4 pm UK time – this will be on Zoom and Janet will launch the new Tribe Sober online course with a 20% discount for you Sober Sprinters. The group will close on Saturday.

Let’s see what our new Sober Sprinters are saying about the Sprint on the special Facebook page:

  • I have been trying to moderate, and blamed my husband for my drinking thinking it would be easier if he didn’t drink. However, he has been sober 120-plus days due to health reasons, and I still drink so I can’t blame him. I want to stop drinking while he is not drinking, and I am having a difficult time which is why I am reaching out. I am 61, retired, and I am taking care of my 97-year-old mother, and grandchildren which I find taxing at times. I am looking forward to the sprint.
  • I am actually really excited about it. I am so looking forward to feeling like I have had a holiday rather than getting home feeling like I need another!!
  • I like a glass of wine with my evening meal. Am I allowed to drink de-alcoholized wine?
  • Moderation doesn’t work – I think many of us wasted far too many years hanging out with Moderation Mary – along with the Wine Witch and the Beer Bully she is one of the 3 “Bad Guys” who will try to trip you up – thanks to the super talented Tribe Sober cartoonist we now have images for those guys…..as Lucy always says – just tell them to F**k Off!
  • I’ve never heard of Moderation Mary but she’s never been my friend. Trips me always. I believe I’m on to her now and with the support of this group and belief in myself, she can turn into “Muffled Moderation Mary”. I won’t be listening.
  • I’m excited, I’m looking forward to accountability. I’m in need of change. Drinking is boring to me, but I still do it.

If you too have any comments to add to the Sober Sprint Facebook page, go here today!

https://www.tribesober.com/sober-sprint/

 

 

30 Days to a Healthier YOU

30 Days to a Healthier YOU – with thanks to Lori Deschene, Tiny Buddha founder.

This blog is borrowed from someone I hugely admire. Thanks to Tiny Buddha for such amazing inspiration.

I would like to know if you can tick off some of these in August – try your best to get 30 out of 30. If not, try your best to be at least a bit more sober every day.

5-4-3-2-1 and GO!

The first 10 days

Day 1: Drink an extra glass of water.

Day 2: Jot down five things you’re grateful for after waking up to start the morning on a positive note.

Day 3: Replace an unhealthy snack with fruit or vegetables.

Day 4: Spend five minutes meditating or taking deep breaths to calm your mind.

Day 5: Go the whole day without drinking anything with added sugar or sweetener in it.

Day 6: Listen to a guided meditation before bed to help you get better sleep. You’ll find tons of free options on YouTube!

Day 7: Break a sweat, whether you do cardio, dance, or simply jog in place.

Day 8: Spend five to ten minutes enjoying nature to create inner calm. Walk outside, make a snowman, watch the sunrise or sunset, stargaze, stare up at the clouds—the possibilities are endless!

Day 9: Every time you use the bathroom today, do five squats before you leave the room.

Day 10: Start the day with a positive intention and check in with yourself throughout the day to assess how you’re honoring it.

 

 

The second 10 days

Day 11: Get up and walk for two minutes (or more!) for every hour you spend sitting.

Day 12: Write down all your worries before bed and one possible solution for each to help you let them go so you can get a good night’s sleep.

Day 13: Ask yourself before snacking, “Am I hungry for food or feeling something that I need to address instead of eating?” Then do something constructive to address the real issue.

Day 14: Write a forgiveness letter to someone who hurt you (that you don’t have to send), trying to empathize with why they did what they did.

Day 15: Make every meal mindful—no TV, no phone, no other distractions. Solely focus on the textures and tastes and savor the experience.

Day 16: Spend at least fifteen minutes doing something that will make you laugh or smile—watch comedy clips, play with your dog, call your funniest friend.

Day 17: Skip caffeine today, or drink one fewer caffeinated beverage than usual.

Day 18: Write empowering messages on five sticky notes and leave them around your house.

Day 19: Chew your food ten times before swallowing to improve your digestion.

Day 20: Spend an hour before bed disconnected from technology to help you wind down and get a good night’s sleep.

 

The third 10 days 

Day 21: Measure all your meals to ensure your portion sizes are healthy.

Day 22: Make your shower meditative. Tune into the sensations of the water and soap of your body and visualize your worries going down the drain.

Day 23: Do a brain exercise to keep your mind sharp (search for “free brain game” and you’ll find a ton!)

Day 24: Commit one random act of kindness (or more!) to boost your mood and someone else’s.

Day 25: Take a short walk on your lunch break, inside or out.

Day 26: Practice being a non-judgmental observer of your thoughts so you can let them go instead of getting caught up in the mental drama.

Day 27: Replace unhealthy fats with healthy fats (for example, put avocado on your sandwich instead of mayonnaise).

Day 28: Do five minutes (or more!) of yoga on your own or using a YouTube video for guidance. (Search for “five-minute yoga videos” and you’ll find a ton!)

Day 29: Go to sleep a half-hour earlier than usual so you’re more rested tomorrow.

Day 30: Write down five things you did well at night to celebrate your small wins and boost your self-esteem.

 

 

Congrats!

Congrats! You made it through the month and are now well on your way to a healthier, happier you. I hope you enjoyed the challenges.

From Tribe Sober – sign up for the Sober Sprint here – click on the image.

 

The Push and Pull of Recovery with Jeanna Fox

 

My podcast guest this week is Jeanna Fox – she’s a sobriety coach, podcaster, and writer.

As a college professor, she inspired thousands of young adults to pursue their dreams. These days, she uses her own experience to help women recover from addiction and childhood trauma.

In this Episode

  • Jeanna was a late starter with her drinking – in fact, it wasn’t until after her gastric bypass operation at the age of 36 that she started to develop a drinking problem.
  • Many people who have this operation to lose weight go on to develop a problem with alcohol – because alcohol becomes a new alternative to overeating.
  • Not only did Jeanna turn to drinking instead of eating to numb her feelings, but so stood did she struggle to regulate her intake. Sometimes she would pass out after one drink and other times she could have several and be fine – her reactions to alcohol became unpredictable.
  • She had lots of blackouts so, of course, she introduced the “rules”.
  • Only drinking at certain times, restricting to certain amounts, tipping barmen to ensure all her drinks were alcohol-free – and no texting. Of course, like all of us who set rules around our drinking, she then went on to break them!
  • Tragically, Jeanna lost her son to suicide and turned to alcohol to numb the pain –she drank for seven straight months and had several drinking-related accidents which ended up in hospital.
  • She also got arrested for drunken behavior so was in real trouble.
  • However, one day she came across a Medium who helped her to feel a connection to her son.
  • This was a spiritual experience that became part of her recovery.
  • She got sober with AA and almost immediately wanted to help others.
  • Geanna had been abused as a child and she felt that this experience, combined with her alcoholism, gave her the insight she needed to help others.
  • She explained how she loves to use Plato’s allegory of the Cave – and how as we escape from our addiction it’s our duty to go back in and get people out!
  • We talked about AA and the way that they don’t like to talk about childhood abuse in the rooms – which annoys Jeanna because its one of the causes of her alcoholism – and for many others as well.
  • Jeanna is working with her partner, Vince, to set up a membership program.
  • The membership is for families of alcoholics – we agreed that many people go to rehab, then return to the family. The family expects them to be “cured” but in fact, the whole family needs to work together to make things change.
  • Jeanna has a byline on her Linkedin Profile that says “If you’re successful with alcohol just imagine what you could be without it”. I love that and think it’s so true – even if alcohol doesn’t destroy us it will stop us from reaching our potential.
  • We talked about how pleasure and pain are big motivators – in early sobriety, we are motivated by pain as our memories of the trouble alcohol caused us are fresh – but as those memories fade we are at risk of convincing ourselves we can have “just one”.
  • William Porter describes this as Fading Affect Bias.
  • The Challenge is to push through this and then the pleasures of sobriety will take over as the motivator – and the awesome thing is that those pleasures keep coming as you discover the “surprising joy of being sober”.
  • We talked about warning signs and agreed that feeling that you may have a problem with alcohol is a big one – the fact that you are listening to this podcast is a bit of a clue…
  • Jeanna’s advice to someone trying to get started is to join a community and just listen and learn – even if you carry on drinking just listen and learn for a while…

Jeanna has a podcast (Backporch Chats) and a website nowsobercoach.com

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
Read more about our program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

 

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Building Recovery Capital with David Collins

 

David Collins is well known in the recovery world.  He is the founder of the Foundation Clinic and U-ACT here in South Africa.  He is a Master Recovery Coach with a keen sense of social responsibility.  Through his Ubuntu Addiction Community Trust, he’s trained a team of Recovery Coaches who are addressing South Africa’s need to build recovery capital.

In this Episode

  • David’s father was an alcoholic and he told us the touching story of creating a picture of his family in school at the age of 10 – then a classmate looked at the picture and said that his parents were drug addicts.
  • That makes me think of our last workshop. There were several people there who had alcoholism in the family.  There was also a young guy who had small children and he told us that just listening to the sad stories of people who had grown up with an alcoholic parent had made him determined to change.
  • David made the decision that he would never be like his father – so he turned to hard drugs rather than alcohol!
  • We talked about the false beliefs we all have about addiction – the stories we tell ourselves – for example, that wine is “better” than cocaine – but of course it’s all about drugs.
  • He told us that it took about 3 years for him to go from “I’ve got a problem” to “This is hell and I need help” –  I’ve often talked about the average length of time it takes someone with an alcohol problem to reach out for help being 11 years, so it seems that hard drugs will take you down faster!
  • David hit his rock bottom when he became addicted to heroin and crack cocaine and lost his kids to foster care.
  • As a result of a medical at the Japanese bank where he was working, David was sent to his first rehab but it took a few rehab stays before he got clean.
  • He began his journey into recovery 26 years ago – when there was nothing else available except the 12-step approach.
  • However, the 12-step model worked for him and he was abstinent for 15 years – in fact, he called himself Captain Recovery and collected all the chips and keyrings going!
  • He was back in banking, remarried, and was ticking all the boxes for a happy life – the only problem was that he wasn’t happy!
  • David did some personal development with the Mankind Project and then studied business coaching. It occurred to him that the coaching model would fit very well into recovery processes.
  • As he explained, the discipline of the 12 steps kept him clean for 12 years but then he needed more – rather than being told to keep to the steps, he was ready to be empowered to discover what recovery actually meant for him – and recovery coaching was the perfect mechanism for that.
  • The role of the recovery coach is to facilitate the growth of Recovery Capital.
  • David explained that Recovery Capital is about building internal resources so that we can stay clean and be fulfilled in our lives.
  • Here at Tribe Sober, we enable you to quit drinking and then go on and thrive in your alcohol-free life – we have our own Recovery Coaches who can help you to build those inner resources needed to thrive.
  • David talked about shame – the internal shame we all feel when we are struggling – and the communal shame felt by the family – and then of course the stigma society places on addiction which perpetuates the problem. We have to find a way to lift the shame and let the healing begin.
  • We talked about the wider problems of alcohol and drug abuse here in SA and David is personally involved in training and sending recovery coaches into communities.
  • He strongly believes that recovery capital is key and research has shown for every $1 spent on education there is a saving of $7 ($3 on medical costs and $4 on criminal justice interventions).
  • That’s a pretty impressive return on investment!
  • With the work he does in the world of recovery, David feels that he has connected to his soul’s purpose.
  • You can find out more about David on his website which is  https://davidcollinscoaching.com. He’s on Instagram and I also spotted him doing some crazy stuff on TikTok the other day so do check him out!

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
Read more about our program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

 

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Are You a Perfectionist?

Are You a Perfectionist?

 

The world spins relentlessly and we never feel this movement. Yet most of us are spinning around in our own orbits, trying to make our lives perfect. I find that city life is usually the cause of perfectionist syndrome. Living in the country removes the reasons to be perfect.

The city is this life of relentless instant gratification – disposable everything, frenetic jobs that may earn some money but never quite seem to pay the bills. The city is a treadmill in a hamster’s cage – wading through the sawdust, swimming through mud, and endless traffic jams and pollution.

City Life vs Country Life

On that note, do you live in a city? Do you perfect everything that you do? Are you raising the perfect children who must go to the perfect schools? Is your husband’s job good for your reputation or should he still perfect that? Is your amazing work the best ever or do you try to perfect your role day in and day out on the grind?

Psychology Today has many articles on perfectionism, which they describe as “a trait that makes life an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. When healthy, it can be self-motivating and drive you to overcome adversity and achieve success. When unhealthy, it can be a fast and enduring track to unhappiness.”

But being the perfect you, you have probably already Googled that and checked to see whether you do in fact suffer from perfectionism? The worst part about perfectionism, this 21st-century autoimmune disease, is that it is toxic. There is nothing positive about perfectionism, a form of extremism.

“What makes extreme perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, resulting in a negative orientation … Perfectionism is driven primarily by internal pressures, such as the desire to avoid failure or harsh judgment.”

Many perfectionists are addicted to toxic social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more. Their pages are caked with selfies and memes, all linked to how you look, what you earn, what you do for fun and how amazing your gorgeous kids are.

Toxic Comparisons

These people compare and criticize constantly – a happy family on Facebook makes them feel inadequate and useless so they post their own happy family picture to rival that one. They find fault, looking for mistakes and errors in other people’s Instagram posts. Or they react negatively to Twitter feeds and to Whatsapp groups they belong to.

You can never compliment a perfectionist – part of their role is to be a victim and a martyr. They do seek approval and validation but only from people who are doing well in society, in their eyes.

You may be reading this blog because you have issues with drinking too much. Throw your mind back to the days when you were an innocent child. How was your childhood? Was it a bubble of pure happiness or was there trauma?

I grew up with alcoholic parents and my bubble burst when my parents fought, threw glasses, were shockingly outrageous, and were constantly drunk. My trauma was neglect and abandonment in terms of a parent meeting all my inner child’s needs. Mom chose wine above mothering.

Childhood Traumas

 

This is just one example of what Psychology Today calls “adverse childhood experiences”.

The term “adverse childhood experience” refers to a range of negative situations a child may face or witness while growing up. These experiences include emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; emotional or physical neglect; parental separation or divorce; or living in a household in which domestic violence occurs. Other difficult situations include living in a household with an alcoholic or substance-abuser, or with family members who suffer mental disorders, or in a household with an incarcerated family member.

I understand now how the desire to be a perfectionist arises from such a childhood as the need to control becomes a safety net for the now-adult. My own need to control is evident in the way I eat, exercise, cling to the Great Outdoors, and read all about health and positivity. I love a clean house, washing on the line, and the perfect garden. I get stressed when the dogs dirty my house, the garden is over-grown and there are no fresh vegetables to eat in my fridge.

On that note, I tried taking cannabis oil to destress. I found that it sorted out my perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms – yes, it really worked! It is a panacea for all kinds of issues, even perfectionism – and it helped me to sleep like a dream. In fact, JustCBD is one of the best places to get your health kick in a bottle!

Controls Make us Feel Perfect

There are dangers in our controlling behaviors, and they are strongly linked to perfectionism. Growing up, I was always the star of the class and got very good grades and I strived to do well at sports too. In my middle age, I still strive to do things well, not half-half. Are you like that too?

“Perfection, of course, is an abstraction, an impossibility in reality. When taken too far, the striving for perfection can lead to negative outcomes, like procrastination, a tendency to avoid challenges, rigid all-or-nothing thinking, toxic comparisons, and a lack of creativity. Maladaptive perfectionism is often accompanied by depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and even suicidal impulses.”

Think about it: many people who strive to be perfect are doing it without realizing or acknowledging that they are fearing failure.  They worry constantly about what others think of them. I can guarantee you that no one notices your fancy clothes, fast car, perfect house, and matching couch covers because they are so busy making sure their own things are perfect. OR they are so busy trying to make ends meet that they notice only their immediate surroundings.

Distraction and Ego Rule

Look around you at people driving while on cell phones, taking selfies, checking Facebook, answering all their WhatsApp, and moving files around?! This is city life and these people don’t notice your perfect life! Who cares if your boss notices your latest research paper or your latest sale? Who cares if you get a bonus this month or were featured in an article last month? Only you care.

Many perfectionists drink too much and are high-functioning alcoholics. They work, drink, hardly eat, work some more, and drink some more. They are high achievers and we sometimes call them A-type personalities. The irony is that many people who stop drinking become high achievers and perfectionists! Their next addictions take over – it could be work, it could be exercise, diet, or family. We are all susceptible.

If you recognize yourself in this blog, take note. Get help, try to change, and try to find simplicity. The rural lifestyle is for me. Waking up to the birds and to the silence of nature is what I dream of. One day. It will be mine. What is your dream? No, not the dream of your boss or your child or your perfect husband! What is YOUR dream?

“Since perfection is an illusion, the pursuit of it is never complete–and neither are your projects. You may get things done, but you are in a constant battle with the decisions and motivation to complete certain things. The “what ifs” and expectation of a negative consequence or result preoccupies you and the pressure can be overwhelming.”

Perfectionists Hide from People

So says Marla Tabaka in her article on IncAfrica about perfectionism. She notes that perfectionists feel safe in a stress-free environment and don’t want to try new things in case they look bad doing something new and out of their zone.

“Perfectionists are intensely afraid of being judged by others. They often want the outside world to view them, not only as being perfect, but making perfection easy. Even when your world is a disaster zone, you put up a front to lead others to think it’s all just perfect.

Perfectionists like to stick with what they know. If you’re presented with an opportunity that means you’ll have to develop more skills or move outside of your comfort zone, you’re likely to turn it down. You’re afraid that you’re not smart enough to tackle a new learning curve and will be seen as a failure or let someone down.”

If this is you, have you tried writing your daily journal to offload and see the patterns emerging from your “perfect” life? Do you ever laugh? Do you ever take up a new challenge or creativity? No? You are too scared to try in case you fail? Do you believe in YOU or in what others think of you?

If you want to take on the world confidently, maybe it is time to change your look? Check out Loxa Beauty for all your hair and beauty needs and find something that treats you. Or, even better, go to Olio Lusso for a range of the perfect fragrances that will change your world forever.

“Hewitt and Flett say that perfectionism is a risk factor for psychological disorders–not a disorder itself. If it leads to depression, anxiety, or other exhausting mental states, therapy can help. Yes, you can develop a healthy mindset and make life much easier and more rewarding for yourself.”

It is time to be imperfect for a change – do something outrageous this month, and no selfies allowed!

NEWS:

Dive into August with our Sober Sprint! Join the pop-up Facebook Group where you will find other people on this path, already chatting about their relationship with alcohol. The Sprint will run from August 1st to 5th.  So, jump in the Sober Sprint Express now!

 

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How My Child’s Stay in the NICU Fueled My Alcoholism

It was my first ultrasound during my very first pregnancy. I was only twenty years old. I naively thought that this day was going to be one of the best days of my life. I was wrong. What I was right about, however, was that this would be one of the most memorable days of my life…even if it was for all the wrong reasons.

I was laying on my back, with the icy cold gel spread out on my stomach. The ultrasound tech was going over every inch of my newly forming fetus, informing me that everything looked great. Then, without me even noticing at first, she paused. That pause was my world crashing down. She quickly slapped a smile on her face and told me she needed to step out to talk to the other doctors.

When she came back in, her tone was noticeably more serious. She said she needed to sit us down and talk to us about our baby. I instantly felt my heartbeat skyrocket, and my stomach sink. She proceeded to tell us that our baby’s stomach hadn’t fully formed. The stomach didn’t form enough skin to close, so the baby’s intestines were on the outside of the body. It is a condition called gastroschisis. My baby would be born with his intestines hanging outside of him.

How was this possible? Why was this happening to my innocent baby? To me? What did I do to deserve this?

The rest of my pregnancy was spent going to weekly doctor appointments and stress tests. I lost count of all the ultrasounds we had done. My very first pregnancy, which I was ecstatic about from the start, was quickly ruined in one fell swoop. My sweet baby boy was born on January 28th, 2014 and spent 10 weeks in the NICU. At one point, he became septic and almost died. To say that this NICU stay was traumatic for all of us would be a huge understatement. I would eventually be diagnosed with PTSD.

What I didn’t know at the time, was that this NICU stay and the PTSD I got from it, would work together and show up in my life as alcoholism. It started innocently, as it always does, with a drink of wine here and there because “dammit I deserve it for what we’re going through”. “Mommy Wine Culture” only perpetuated my drinking. I thought it was cute and quirky to have a bottle of wine a night. I thought I deserved it. My nightly wine habits turned into nightly liquor habits because the wine just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I wanted to forget the NICU. I wanted to forget the horrible things I saw in there. Deep down, I think I wanted to punish myself.

I blamed myself for my body creating my baby the “wrong” way. I felt like I failed him and caused him trauma. I was young with no real support system, so these thoughts occurred to me every single day. I didn’t know any better. I only knew self-hatred and self-blame. The kind of self-hatred that drives you to drink it away.

My drinking habits continued to worsen for the next few years. Along the way I would collect two DUI’s, and a suicide attempt.

Then, one day in November of 2020, amid a global pandemic, I decided enough was enough.

I went to therapy, I attended AA, and I told everyone close to me that I quit drinking. And I did, for good. I thought I deserved alcohol. That it was this magical potion that could cure me and my thoughts. I didn’t know that what I actually deserved was sobriety. My children deserved my sobriety. Our world is obsessed with booze. One of the saddest parts of my addiction was that when I stopped drinking, the most common comment I got was, “I didn’t even know you had a problem!”. That’s how easily alcoholism is accepted. Yes, I did hide my addiction well, but there was also a social norm involved with drinking that kept me complacent. Everybody else was doing shots, blacking out, throwing up, etc. Why couldn’t I? I used to normalize blacking out. Now, I normalize sobriety.

As I write this, I am 601 days sober. My life is incredibly beautiful now. I’ve worked so hard to be in a spot in my life where I no longer hate or blame myself. I know now that what happened to my baby was nobody’s “fault”, and I did everything I was supposed to. There was nothing I could have done better. Instead of looking at our NICU experience as something that broke me, I look at it as something that made us stronger as a family. Through sobriety, I have a completely different outlook on life. Sobriety has given my children and I a new life. I know in my heart that I would not be here had I not put the bottle down. Are there hard days? Absolutely. But those days are much more manageable while sober. My child is absolutely thriving, and for the first time in my life- so am I.

Lacey Fox

Visiting my Alcoholic Mom

Visiting my alcoholic mom is difficult. She is at that stage of entering her last phase of life, where she needs a frail care home. She has lived alone for the past 5 years since dad passed away. She loves being alone, yet she complains about being lonely.

My alcoholic mom continues to drink. She has fallen twice, causing her own broken leg and a broken hip. Her legs are very unstable thanks to terrible circulation caused by her alcoholism. She has never been a physical person and just shuffles around her small home every day.

When I was growing up, mom only drank Tassies and Taverna, the same cheap wines we bought at Rhodes University for R1 a bottle! She bought the 2 l green jugs which were used as vases and other ornaments all over the house. She drank cheap white wine too in a 5 l box in the fridge where of course it took precedence over all our foodstuffs.

Mom has fallen two or three times thanks to her drinking. She had a minor stroke which meant she lost the use of her left arm. She suffers from psoriasis which has also affected her joints. But all along, she has refused all help and soldiered on.

But now Mom needs help. I am visiting my alcoholic mom, as it is time for her to move. She needs professional care in a frail care home with kind nurses. Where there is food and where she can chat with other people her age. But she cannot bear this idea. Understandably. Her main dread is the policy of no alcohol.

Growing up with Alcoholic Parents

Do you have an alcoholic mom or dad? Did you grow up with an alcoholic parent? I found Sharon Martin of PsychCentral and read her blogs avidly.

She notes that “If you grew up in an alcoholic or addicted family, chances are it had a profound impact on you. Often, the full impact isn’t realized until many years later. The feelings, personality traits, and relationship patterns that you developed to cope with an alcoholic parent, come with you to work, romantic relationships, parenting, and friendships. They show up as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, stress, anger, and relationship problems.”

Well, I did not know any of this until I stopped drinking! I then started to read and found these articles. I began to put two and two together and I made five! I realised that while yes, we did have a happy childhood, there was an enormous dysfunction going on. My parents drank all the time and they normalised it. We also thought it was cool to drink and get drunk and celebrate continuously.

My research tells me that we experienced an abandonment of sorts, neglect in the form of a lack of cherishing affection and warm protection against all odds.

When Martin states that “An alcoholic home is chaotic and unpredictable” I get that cold goose-bumpy feeling. I remember it well, the parties, the shouting, the mood swings galore! We ducked and dived around mom who was so down then so up, so disconnected from us in her books and her wine.

I would get off the two buses home from school, a long, tiring afternoon home, to find mom and her friends drinking and shrieking around the table, food everywhere, and music on. Often. And the times mom drove me home drunk, or forgot me after sport, sitting on the side of the road at dusk. These memories are part of me.

Were Your Needs Met as a Child?

Says Martin:

Children crave and need predictability. Your needs must be met consistently in order for you to feel safe and develop secure attachments. This didn’t happen in your dysfunctional family. Alcoholic families are in “survival mode.” Usually, everyone is tiptoeing around the alcoholic, trying to keep the peace and avoid a blow-up. Denial is prolific. You really can’t understand addiction as a child, so you blame yourself and feel “crazy” because your experiences didn’t line up with what adults were telling you (namely that everything is fine and normal).

This hit home to me big time. And then I decided to look for some research into the effect that drinking in the home has on teenagers.

I discovered that the effect of parental drinking on adolescents is enormous too: Michael Windle researches this topic for Alcohol Health and Research World. He notes that “Adolescence brings with it many biological, psychological, and social changes. Parents continue to play an important role in their children’s development during this time. Parental problem drinking can adversely affect adolescent development and adjustment by interfering with parenting skills and marital relations. It also can lead parents to model ineffective coping strategies and other problem behaviors. Children with problem-drinking parents are at risk for alcohol and other drug use as well as for psychological problems. Protective factors, such as relatively stable patterns of family behavior around meals and holidays, can help offset the negative effects of parental drinking.”

Suffice to say, I abhor alcohol now and I have turned to nature, being a true nature lover who craves the great outdoors.

Windle goes on to say that “parental alcohol abuse may contribute to poorer monitoring of adolescent behaviors. … The research literature has consistently indicated that higher levels of parental monitoring are associated with lower levels of adolescent alcohol and other drug use as well as other forms of delinquent behavior.”

I find this interesting as all three of us kids drank alcohol (many kids of our era did as their parents did). My brother and sister also smoked cigarettes.

“Problem-drinking parents also may provide lower levels of parental nurturing and emotional availability, thereby increasing the risk for adolescent drinking. … Higher levels of parental nurturance and warmth of expression consistently have been associated with lower levels of alcohol and substance use and higher levels of general mental health and well-being among adolescents.”

Wow! Food for thought. This blog could become a novel!  I am visiting my alcoholic mom. I will not talk about the past. I will be present. The tables have turned. Mom needs help. To end her life gracefully. With dignity. Not shame. Only the children can help with that. That means me.

Lessons I Have Learned Growing Up With my Mom

  • It is not her fault – she is a product of her era
  • It is not her fault – she was a traumatized only child who turned to self-medication in an era of drinking
  • Some people get help for their issues, others don’t – so be it
  • If you have an issue that impacts those around you, and your own quality of life, then get help
  • Alcoholism is rife, but there are countless organisations and individuals who can help.
  • I have broken the cycle from my mom. I must now live my best life.
  • Nothing is static, everything changes. Be you, do whatever it takes to make you happy. Just don’t drink!

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Walking Talking Blackouts with Anneke Roussel

 

Anneke Roussel is a Tribe Sober member who knows all about the work hard/hard play culture.  She worked overseas in Afghanistan and Somalia and often found herself sharing bottles of scotch with her male colleagues in Mogadishu.  The combination of retirement from her exciting career and the isolation of the pandemic saw her continuing with her scotch but adding a couple of bottles of wine into the mix.

In this Episode

  • Anneke married an alcoholic – he stopped drinking via AA and Anneke went to AA so she became well aware of the 12 Steps and became a sponsor.
  • She never imagined that she would become an alcoholic herself which shows that we should never become complacent.
  • Anneke had a corporate career but she also owned a restaurant which became the heart of her social life.
  • She had a severely disabled child and turned to alcohol to cope with the stress of managing her career and looking after her child.
  • Tragically, her daughter died at the age of 10, and Anneke turned to drink to try to numb the pain.
  • She took a job in Afghanistan where she worked with a bunch of hard-drinking men. Only whisky was available so that’s where she learned to love her whisky.
  • She moved from Afghanistan to Somalia where she stayed for 5 years – another high-stress job where sitting under the trees drinking whisky with her colleagues was the daily after-work activity.
  • Anneke returned to South Africa planning to retire and then travel the world – however Covid hit which meant that she had to live on her farm which was fairly isolated.
  • She managed to keep to her father’s rule of no booze before 5 pm but at 5 it was a whisky followed by two bottles of wine.
  • We talked about how we get to the stage where we actually prefer drinking alone to being with other people – which is a real warning sign of dependence.
  • It means we are creating a relationship with alcohol, it’s fast becoming our best friend.
  • Anneke felt that drinking had become part of her identity – that happens to many of us and that’s why our friends are so horrified when we say we are going to quit drinking!
  • Like me, Anneke suffered from walking-talking blackouts – and like me, she was horrified to learn that those kinds of blackouts mean that the brain becomes so soaked in alcohol that it cannot even make memories – it’s not just that we have forgotten stuff!
  • It was lockdown and SA’s alcohol ban that made Anneke realise the severity of her problem. She found herself searching for liquor on the black market and didn’t care how much she paid.
  • She would go out to a restaurant, drink a bottle of wine alone and then purchase another bottle to bring home.
  • She went to look at rehab but the 12 Steps didn’t appeal to her as she definitely didn’t feel powerless over alcohol.
  • At Tribe Sober, we believe in putting down our glass and taking back our power!
  • So, at Tribe Sober, Anneke found “her people” and an approach that worked for her. Tribe Sober coach Lynette helped her to find her power and to learn to be kind to herself.
  • She’s worked on her “inner child” – or inner children perhaps we should say. Anneke still has the saboteur and the inner critic – she now visualises them as children sitting on a bus – but these days Anneke is in the driving seat and just tells them to be quiet!
  • These days she is thoroughly enjoying her retirement and is so relieved that she made a conscious decision to quit so that she doesn’t risk drinking her retirement away like so many people do.
  • If you are a bit older and worried about your drinking, have a listen to my interview with British Psychiatrist Dr Tony – Tribe Sober podcast episode 35.

Anneke is now in her second year of sobriety so I asked her why she stuck around with the tribe – she had 3 reasons:
1.   She gets a reminder of just how hard it used to be when she sees new members starting out.
2.  She loves the connection – with a group of people who understand you straight away.
3.  It keeps her grounded and reminds her never to think that she might be able to moderate!

More Info

Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

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 program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

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You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

 

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Escaping the Vampire Lifestyle with Dennis Berry

 

 

Dennis Berry is a Life Mastery Coach and has been working with people worldwide for over 15 years.  He has been sober since April 8, 2003, during which time he became a successful businessman, athlete, and family man. His journey in recovery helped him find his mission in life, which is to help others achieve inner peace and success, and master every area of their lives.

In this Episode

  • Dennis took us behind the scenes of what he calls the “vampire lifestyle” that he led when he was working in restaurants – vodka and coke stashed in the freezer.
  • He was caught in a vicious cycle – waking up feeling awful and resolving to go straight home after work, drinking all day during his shift at the restaurants, and then finding himself at the bar after work – again – over and over – he didn’t know how to escape.
  • He got out of the restaurant trade at the age of 27 and got sober at 31 when (as he puts it) his life began…
  • Dennis got sober by going to rehab and doing the work – he did absolutely everything they recommended and it worked.
  • At Tribe Sober we recommend that people prioritise their sobriety and “throw the book” at it – listen to the podcasts, read the quitlit, stay connected with the community – do everything you can for at least 6 months and your life will change.
  • As Dennis says, rehab is about discovery but it’s only when he left that his recovery began – at the age of 31 Dennis was hungry for life.
  • He made the very interesting point that although ditching the booze can help us “recover” ourselves, for people like Dennis it meant learning to live his life for the first time!
  • That made me think of the fact that our emotional maturity stalls at the age that we start drinking heavily – so if we start drinking at a young age, we never get the chance to learn how to handle our feelings and our emotions.
  • We agreed that although AA can be a good start, we need to do the work and then go out and live – we can’t spend 30 years going to the rooms for meetings!
  • He feels that the best thing about AA is the community and all sobriety groups can offer this – connection is the opposite of addiction.
  • Fix the drinking and then you can address other parts of your life – this is called the Domino Effect. Check out Tribe Sober podcast episode 52 for more info.
  • Dennis came up with a nice analogy – if we are going through a divorce, an addiction, or financial problems we sometimes feel as if our life is falling apart. We should try reframing that because often it means that our lives are actually falling into place – it’s the beginning rather than the end.
  • That made me think of the JK Rowling quote: Rock Bottom became the foundation on which I built my life.
  • Dennis discovered that helping others gave him purpose – he wanted a life of service.
  • In his book “Funky Wisdom” Dennis uses the acronym HOW: Honesty (admit there is a problem); O = be open-minded; W= new way of life.
  • We’ve been taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness, but in fact, it’s a sign of strength.
  • He explained that when a normal drinker feels a bit tipsy, that will be a red light for him to stop – whereas for us dependent drinkers, we get a green light to keep going!
  • We talked about how the whole world is manipulated by various forms of marketing and he raised an interesting point about the placement of TV commercials – the news will pump fear into us for 10 minutes and then show us an ad for booze or junk food to trigger us to numb the pain.
  • As Dennis said, our subconscious mind is “running the show” and those limiting beliefs we hold about drinking being fun, etc, will keep us drinking. BUT the good news is that we CAN reprogram our subconscious which is what we teach in our 4-hour Zoom workshops.
  • Dennis talked about the dangers of cross-addiction – to smoking and eating sugary foods, for example. They are just another distraction to numb our feelings.
  • In fact, smoking and sugar will damage our immune system – and a strong immune system will help us to cope with cravings.
  • We need to stop the harmful habits and add in healthy habits – which can take up to a year.
  • Dennis believes in starting his day by getting “centred” and his 6 steps (which he explains in Funky Wisdom) enable him to get and stay centred.
  • These days he uses meditation, mindfulness, and CBT to process his feelings so he no longer feels the need to numb them away.
  • We talked about the importance of having a project when we get sober – we have to start building something worthwhile rather than just waiting for life to happen.
  • Building a purposeful and healthy life takes years whereas drinking is just a quick fix.

More Info

Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

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 program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

 

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Courage

 

In this blog, I am talking about courage. Bravery. Perseverance. What does courage mean to you?

The dictionary tells me that courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It is to be brave and confident enough to do what you believe in and it is the ability to control fear and to be willing to deal with something that is dangerous, difficult or unpleasant.

Let’s read these words about courage, from Frictionless Living:

Courage arrives when we finally decide we have had enough.

Courage is always present, but standing in the background, waiting to be called upon.

Courage is not selective. It is available to anyone and everyone who seeks it.

Courage allows us to pursue our dreams, even when the world says our dreams are impossible.

Every person on this planet has tapped into courage, whether they know it or not.

Courage keeps us from being stagnant.

Courage inspires us.

Courage steps out from the shadows to shine Light on our dreams.

Life is always giving us signs, pointing the way for us. Sometimes there are many roads that will lead us to one of our life destinations. The key is having the courage to take one of those roads.

I think it’s safe to say that both fear and courage will always show up in our lives. Which one will we choose to be our tour guide?  

Courage is Bravery

I agree with these words 100 % – I know that giving up something takes courage. Making changes takes courage. Facing another day takes courage. But humans are courageous, you are courageous. I believe that courage comes from self-belief. I know that many people lack self-belief.

If you are reading my blog because you want to stop drinking, that takes courage. Yes, it is time to find the courage to say NO. Say no to alcohol, wine, beer, whiskey – whatever it is that you are/were drinking to be “happy” and “like everyone else”.

Why do people drink? I remember my drinking days – I used to look forward to that first wine glass and then the other 3 or 4. But the next day, I did not look forward to the guilt, the puffy face, and the slow body. NO.

Sobriety is Courageous

If you have decided to be sober, you are more courageous than you think. When you choose to take a different path from the herd, to be the real you, you are already probably going to make your friends uncomfortable. You will meet fellow sober people who are happy and bright and healthy. You will open doors to the real you and to authentic living. YES.

According to the Renaissance Recovery Centre, you are wise if you “know that courage isn’t the absence of fear. Many see courage as an absence of fear, but in reality, it is the ability to move forward despite the fears that come your way. If you are harboring feelings of fear when reflecting on the road to recovery ahead — be it fear of leaving friends behind, fear of creating a new lifestyle, or fear of the unknown — it doesn’t mean that you don’t have courage. Your courage will be defined, rather, by how you respond to these fears.”

Courage is made up of different dimensions – we can call them bravery, honesty and perseverance. Be honest to yourself and to your family when you stop drinking – be honest about how much you are drinking and about how much you have lost and how much you have got to win now.

Stand up for the Real You

Be brave when you stand up for your inner child, your inner belief system and if that means losing friends along the way, so be it. Other doors will open. Be perseverant in the face of criticism and judgement from those who still drink. The stigma of NOT drinking sucks because why should we drink if everyone else does? There will be challenges along your sober path, but you will keep putting one foot in front of the other as you create the life you want and deserve.

It was Nelson Mandela who recognised that courage is not the absence of fear, “but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Why do so many people feel the need to self-medicate when they are sad or lonely and stressed? Johann Hari said “To end loneliness, you need other people – plus something else. You also need … to feel you are sharing something with the other person, or the group, that is meaningful to both of you. You have to be in it together – and “it” can be anything that you both think has meaning and value.

He also said that “something has gone badly wrong with our culture. We’ve created a culture where really large numbers of the people around us can’t bear to be present in their daily lives. They need to medicate themselves to get through their day.

Watch Johann Hari’s famous “Connection is the opposite of addiction” video here!

To be fearful is to be human. To be human is not to be weak, but to be authentic. Authenticity is a major goal of recovery. Bravery and courage help men confront and walk through their fears, whatever their fears may be. Life is able to be lived without limitations. Learning to confront the limitations of the self and walk bravely through them is the start of a life lived courageously.

The day you wake up and decide that you want to stop drinking is the day your courage drives you. When you admit to yourself that something is not right with your life, you are being brave. When you look up from your smallness and look around, you see others struggling too. You see that if you climb out of this quagmire, you can help them too. I come from a drinking family and I can hardly bear to see now how people’s drinking affects their children.

If you need professional help when you decide to quit, get it. It makes you even more courageous to reach out and find that help. “Asking for help takes courage … If you have the courage to relentlessly pursue sobriety, your life will infinitely grow.”

Ernest Hemingway said that “courage is grace under pressure” and Christopher Reeve said that either you “decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean.”

What do you think? Do you have courage inside you? How many day ones have you had? Why? Do you believe in yourself? Have you ever looked at yourself from a distance and noticed your strengths? Did you know that you have so much to offer society? Why are you here? Is it to drink?

Making Changes Takes Courage

When you start to learn about the addictive brain and why some people drink, take drugs, smoke, gamble, shop, eat sugar, and more you start to realise that our bodies are ruled by hormones and chemicals.

Before modern times, people were surviving – they were only concerned about basic human needs: food, water, shelter, sex, social connection. The invention of money changed all of that! Now we all work for money and the earth is being plundered for money. WHY?

We drink to escape and as Johann Hari notes,  “What if depression is, in fact, a form of grief – for our own lives not being as they should? What if it is a form of grief for the connections we have lost, yet still need?

There is a stigma attached to people who are addicted to anything. And many people have an opinion that addiction shows a lack of courage. What do YOU think? Addiction is a complex issue. Much of society’s addiction problems stem from childhood trauma. If you have experienced childhood trauma, it is a good idea to investigate this and seek help.

The truth is that any kind of life change is scary – whether you’re an addict or not. The comfort and familiarity of the way it has been makes it challenging and intimidating to step into a new life.  Sometimes, even though one’s old way of life is hard, it’s common for a person to stay in the difficulty of their old life out of fear of making a change. The fear of what it might be like, the fear of losing a part of you, and the fear of not being able to make it can easily keep someone stuck in the cycle of addiction.”

Dr Gabor Mate suffered deep trauma as a child and has recognised that “it’s not what happens to you externally that defines the trauma but what happens internally to you as a result of it.”

That pain and wounding can happen when a little infant is not picked up when they’re crying. That child experiences a wound, and there will be a corresponding constriction in the psyche and in the self. There will also be compensatory mechanisms to prevent that pain from happening again. Those mechanisms could be trying to be pleasant and nice to others while ignoring one’s own feelings, or it could be trying to soothe oneself through various behaviors. Kids may rock themselves or suck their thumbs or masturbate or overeat and then, later on, may use drugs. With those compensations, one is either trying to make oneself more acceptable to others by constricting one’s own self-expression or trying to soothe the pain when it becomes too much. Either way, it’s a pathology.

Pathology is disease and most of society suffers from dis-ease. I believe that. Dis-ease goes hand in hand with addiction. What do you think about all of this?

But let’s get back to our theme of courage. Do you have courage? Are you willing to make changes to your life? Connect with us and send me a mail about your dreams and goals.

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PAWS

Question

Question:

How long, after abstaining from alcohol, can I be affected by PAWS.

Answer:

Dear M

PAWS stands for post acute withdrawal syndrome. It is caused , to put it simply, by the brain complaining about the lack of its supply of alcohol . It typically starts after about a month and can last for about a year depending on the individual. Symptoms are often of a depressive or irritable nature and often occur in cycles more a less a month apart.

Another problem is the sugar aspect. Alcohol contains massive amounts of sugar. A lot of us develop a sweet tooth after abstaining. If we don’t give in to the sugar craving we can develop keto flu, which consists of flu like symptoms. To counteract that, a salty snack often works wonders.

Hope this helps

Best wishes

Dr Judy

On the Rocks with Thando Pato

 

There are so many inspiring quit-lit memoirs out there but very few from South Africa.  Apart from Melinda Ferguson’s “Smacked” and Sam Cowen’s “From Whisky to Water” there has been a distinct lack of inspiration coming from the Southern Hemisphere.

However, that’s all changed thanks to my podcast guest Thando Pato who has just published her Quit-Lit memoir, “On the Rocks”.  When Thando wanted to get sober she struggled to find a book by someone she could relate to.  So she has put this situation right by becoming the first black South African woman to write a Quit-Lit memoir.

As it says on her book cover:

“Thirty-nine-year-old Thando is living in complete denial about her drinking. On the surface, her life appears aspirational – she has an enviable job, a cool apartment, and a snazzy car. But behind the facade she harbours a dark and shameful secret – she can’t control her drinking.”

In this Episode

  • Like many of us, Thando’s drinking career got started at University – that combination of being away from home with access to cheap booze and drinking buddies gets to many of us.
  • However, she was not at all worried about her drinking as it just felt normal.
  • In fact, she displayed a very sensible attitude towards alcohol as she ditched it for a year while she was doing her post-grad at Rhodes – she was paying for her own studies and well aware of the heavy drinking reputation at Rhodes.
  • However, by 2012 she had got into the habit of drinking a bottle of wine at home most evenings of the week.
  • She was still not particularly concerned, but when her therapist told her she was an alcoholic, she stormed out of the room and promptly sacked her. Thando was still in denial about having a problem but the therapist had definitely planted a seed!
  • Thando’s drinking accelerated in 2016 when she had two personal setbacks.
  • Using alcohol to deal with disappointments can easily become our default and it’s actually a big sign of progress when we can deal with our lows (and even our highs) without reaching for the booze.
  • Thando described 2016 as a bit of a blur – often having to leave her car and collect it the next morning, not remembering the journey home, awful hangovers, feeling a lot of shame, etc.
  • I think many of us can identify with that blurry stage – that’s when you really need to make a change and step off the slippery slope of dependence.
  • Of course, Thando was making (and breaking) rules by this time, but finally accepting that she had a toxic relationship with alcohol. Like many of us, she had no idea HOW to make a change.
  • Like me, she trotted down to AA, and like me, she listened to the shares and decided that she wasn’t “that bad” and that she didn’t fit in at all!
  • Now that I look back on the AA experience and that feeling of being “ok” because we are not drinking in the morning, etc, it occurs to me that we should be comparing ourselves with the best version of ourselves that we could be – rather than comparing ourselves with the hardcore “alcoholic”.
  • Thando made a pact with her brother to not drink for a year and he would be a support.
  • Thando’s decision to take a year off was a brave one but it had a fatal flaw – she was under the impression that this sabbatical from the booze would mean that she would be able to reset her habits and drink “normally”.
  • This was futile because once our drinking has crossed that line into dependence we can never go back – we have to go forward and create an alcohol-free life – a life we don’t want to escape from.
  • Tribe sober can help you do that – so why not join our tribe?
  • Thando’s therapist pointed out that the fact that she was taking a year off indicated that she did have a problem with alcohol as it would never occur to a “normal” drinker to do that!
  • She was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder and told that she displayed the traits of a functioning alcoholic.
  • What helped Thando finally accept that she was a functioning alcoholic was the explanation she got from her therapist of alcoholism being a spectrum – two extremes with many degrees of dependence in between.
  • At one end is the stereotype alcoholic (that homeless man in the park) and at the other end is the non-drinker – most of the population fall between those two extremes.
  • Back in 2012 Doctors Nowinsky and Doyle published a book called “Almost Alcoholics” – these people are still holding it all together, but edging up to the alcoholic end of the spectrum.
  • The trick is to keep an eye on your relationship with alcohol and your location on the spectrum.   If you’d like one of our free pdfs called “Signs you have a drinking problem” then email me at janet@nulltribesober.com.
  • Once Thando had got through her sober year (mostly by white-knuckling it), life threw her a couple of curved balls which meant that her intentions to moderate were completely derailed.
  • She was diagnosed with breast cancer and, as drinking was her default mechanism for dealing with trauma, she drank more than ever to cope with the stress, the surgery, and the various treatments.
  • Then came the pandemic but this turned out to be her saving grace.
  • South Africa implemented an alcohol ban and Thando was able to isolate herself and build up some sober time.
  • Although she felt like she was “losing her mind” during those first few months of sobriety she hung in there and it got easier.
  • At month 9, she started to write her book and after a year she stopped obsessing about alcohol, she stopped romanticising it.
  • She changed the way she saw alcohol, her mindset – that’s such an essential step and we’ll never thrive in our alcohol-free lives if we don’t change our mindsets.
  • So Thando got sober by a combination of being locked away due to the pandemic and getting some therapy.
  • Her therapist helped her to understand that she was actually an introvert and needed time alone to recharge – extraverts draw their energy from being with people whereas introverts need time alone.
  • Another conclusion she reached through therapy was the fact that she was attracted to men who were emotionally unavailable – her therapist helped her to realise that by drinking, she was emotionally cut off from herself.
  • These days Thando feels that she understands herself so much better and has adjusted her lifestyle to ensure that she gets plenty of time alone.
  • Her social life has evolved accordingly and she spends time in smaller groups rather than going for long boozy lunches with big groups of people.
  • Apart from getting to know herself better, Thando’s main benefit of sobriety is more capacity – for herself and for her to connect with others – her relationships are deeper.
  • So many young professionals will identify with Thando’s story – her book “On the Rocks” is available in bookstores on Kindle and can be ordered online via Amazon and Loot.

More Info

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9 Shocking Surprises that Alcohol has in Store for Your Body and Mind

If you are concerned about your present alcohol intake, read these 9 shocking surprises that alcohol has in store for your body and mind. Maybe, just maybe, you will be tempted to change your life. Sobriety is the new buzz word and the alcohol-free lifestyle is slowly taking hold of the world.

Pull off those alcoholic shackles, pull off that veil that is covering your eyes: look, see, listen and wake up people. Stop drinking. And now, without further ado, here are the 9 shocking surprises that alcohol has in store for your body and mind:

  1. Sulfites in alcohol stimulate and worsen allergies and asthma

In addition, alcoholic drinks contain sugar, wheat, hops, barley, rye, yeast and grapes – many of which cause allergic reactions to many people. The more you imbibe, the worse your allergies will be and asthmatics should be very careful. Some people will get rashes and others will get breathing problems. Sulphites are preservatives found in many foods and drinks to increase shelf life, maintain colour and stop any fungi or bacteria growing in the food or drink. Some of the mixes you choose also contain them – lemon drinks, sodas, fruits, snacks and more.

  1. The more you drink, the less you sleep and if you are an insomniac, that gets worse

Alcohol may aid with sleep onset due to its sedative properties, “allowing you to fall asleep more quickly. However, people who drink before bed often experience disruptions later in their sleep cycle as liver enzymes metabolize alcohol. This can also lead to excessive daytime sleepiness and other issues the following day. Furthermore, drinking to fall asleep can build a tolerance, forcing you to consume more alcohol each successive night in order to experience the sedative effects.” Some people experience nightmares when they drink because when they go to bed, their blood alcohol level drops and their sleep becomes shallower and they tend to awaken more often. This means they remember their dreams and have more REM sleep which in turn causes more vivid dreams, even nightmares. Upon waking in the morning, the drinker is so tired that he or she drinks again that night to sleep better but restarts the vicious cycle.

  1. Alcohol is NOT the stress-reliever you thought it was – it actually increases your stress and adds anxiety to the mix

According to VeryWellMind, many people who experience stressful situations turn to alcohol to cope with that stress. The problem with that is alcohol itself can cause stress on the body’s physiological balance.

What people do not realise is that regular alcohol intake actually causes its own mental, emotional and physical negative effects on the drinker. Their stress gets worse and when they think that they are relieving their stress with a drink or 5, they are in fact increasing stress AND anxiety. Stress in itself has huge impacts on body and mind. “Physiologically, stress is defined as anything that challenges the body to function in its usual fashion. Injury, illness, or exposure to extreme temperatures can cause stress to the body. Grieving, depression, fear, and even sexual activity can cause psychological stress.”

Alcohol changes the hormone balance in the body and the way the body and mind react to stress. More cortisol is released when consuming alcohol which changes the brain’s chemistry. Cortisol is nicknamed the stress hormone but it is “an essential hormone that affects almost every organ and tissue in your body” including regulating your body’s stress response, helping control your use of fats, proteins and carbohydrates (metabolism), suppressing inflammation, regulating blood pressure, blood sugar and your sleep cycle.

  1. You don’t digest alcohol, your body absorbs it

Instant gratification into your bloodstream and you are sooner drunk than fulfilled. The worst part about alcohol and digestion is that you will soon experience indigestion and stomach problems. Do you reach for the greasy food after a night out drinking? That also causes discomfort and you put on weight and just feel puffy and over-full.

  1. You don’t create memories with alcohol, more likely you forget

Or you really want to forget when you wake up the next morning and remember what you said and did. Yes, alcohol affects short-term memory because it slows down the way our nerves communicate with each other in a part of the brain called the hippocampus. This is where we form and maintain memories. “Heavy alcohol use doesn’t only slow down the hippocampus, it can damage it. Alcohol can destroy nerve cells. This affects a person’s memory in the short and long term. In addition, people who drink too much alcohol are often deficient in vitamin B-1, or thiamine. This vitamin is vital to providing energy to brain and nerve cells.”

  1. Alcohol is the cause of inflammation

Especially in your stomach lining, leading to reflux and other digestive discomforts. Yes, excessive alcohol consumption can cause inflammation. According to Alcohol Rehab Help, “gut microflora-derived lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is one cause of inflammation. And alcohol can significantly increase the body’s transfer of LPS from the gut.  In healthy individuals, the liver plays a key role in detoxifying LPS. But alcohol can damage the liver, as well as the central nervous system (CNS), which also plays a role in preventing inflammation. Basically, alcohol can not only cause inflammation, but it can also impair your body’s ability to regulate that inflammation. This inflammation can further damage your body’s organs. It’s a vicious cycle that can affect your long-term health.”

  1. Drinking makes you older

Alcohol is linked to age in lots of ways. Everyone has to wait until age 18 or 21 to drink alcohol, and then, when they can, they don’t realise how fast their consumption of alcohol ages them! There go your looks and your healthy vigour! Heavy drinking impacts your immune system and your physical appearance. It dries your skin, dehydrates your body, weakens vital organs, slows your brain, weakens your immune system, weakens your heart and starts to make you feel really rotten – physically and mentally.

  1. Drinking alcoholic drinks is a direct cause of cancer

Especially breast, throat, larynx and mouth cancers – then stomach, pancreas, liver and kidneys. Research shows that alcohol use is linked to a wide range of injuries and diseases, including cancer. Those who drink add to the already collapsing global burden of disease. The consumption of alcoholic beverages is causally linked to cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract (oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, and oesophagus) and cancers of the colon, rectum, liver, and female breast.

The Lancet states that all these cancers caused by alcohol “contributed 6·3 million cases and 3·3 million deaths globally in 2020”.

  1. Your hangovers get worse in tandem with the guilt and shame

Women’s Health magazine gives a trivial reason for this: When your blood alcohol concentration starts to drop (aka a hangover), your brain experiences boomerang-like shifts in the levels of certain chemicals,’ explains Dr Aparna Iyer, a US-based psychiatrist. ‘Alcohol mimics the effects of GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps people feel less inhibited – which is why you might feel extra chilled and gregarious while you’re drinking – but during the hangover the next day, the effects are reversed, causing anxiety to spike,’ she adds. The same goes for serotonin (the happiness hormone).

The article continues that “there is some evidence to suggest that the feeling of hangover shame could be worse for women. The liver plays a key role in regulating your hormones but when you’ve got it working overtime processing the toxins in alcohol, some of the day jobs falls by the wayside.” Women end up with too much oestrogen in their bodies and we all know that breast cancer is caused by this symptom.

We know better and we know that these feelings of guilt and shame could hark back to your childhood. If your drinking is starting to bother you, and your friends or family, maybe it is time to take a break?

We have been where you are now and we can help you to quit drinking and learn to thrive in your alcohol-free life!

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Life Lessons from Recovery

 

As we ditch the booze and try to navigate our alcohol drenched world without it, we often say we are “on a journey”.  My guest this week got sober and then decided to embark on a physical journey.

From Mexico to Canada – on foot! – 2,500 miles! – 5 months!

She applied the lessons from her recovery to the walk and then wrote a book about it.

My guest uses her trail name which is Person Irresponsible – P.I. for short.

 

In this Episode

  • PI grew up in a drinking home and married a drinker – a familiar story as we tend to seek out the familiar – our comfort zone.
  • In her twenties, she doesn’t recall being worried about her drinking but there were certainly some “incidents”.
  • She realises that she was in deep denial – hanging around with other drinkers to normalise her behaviour.
  • As she got into her thirties, her hangovers got more severe, her marriage collapsed and she started drinking until she blacked out.
  • Like many drinkers, she fell into “victim mode”, blaming others – in her case, blaming her ex-husband.
  • As she looks back on this, she can see that alcoholism prevents any rational thought.
  • PI became so unhappy during this period, she didn’t actually care what happened to her, or what harm she was doing to herself with alcohol.
  • She never read romance or chick lit but for some reason she had an urge to read Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes.
  • At the end of the book, Marian had written about AA, so PI decided to call the helpline and talk to someone. As a result of this conversation, she decided to try 30 days without alcohol.
  • She went to 30 meetings in 30 days and was thrilled to get her 30-day chip. One of the guys at the meetings said, “Now you have to do 60 days,” which came as a surprise. But she decided to go for it, after all, she felt so much better physically!
  • PI loved the stories and the drama – and the chips at AA – she wasn’t so keen on the solutions and didn’t listen to those.
  • Unsurprisingly, she relapsed on Day 72, but the alcohol she drank didn’t give her the relief she was looking for.
  • She went to a meeting and heard a share that really resonated with her – and she finally accepted that she was an alcoholic.
  • That got her back on track, and although she suffered from bad cravings now and again, she learnt how to “break the spell” – whether by talking to someone, or writing a list of reasons to be sober.
  • As she hit one year sober, she started to hear a voice saying, “Surely you can have just one now,” – as well as the voices explaining why that would be a bad idea.
  • As she said, she had a “war” going on in her head. Full-on cognitive dissonance, as the psychologists call it.
  • That made me think of the study by The Tempest that it takes a person an average of 11 years to reach out for help – that’s 11 years of listening to the battle between your rational mind and your limiting beliefs in your subconscious – exhausting!
  • She made the decision to get her one year chip and then to try having a drink. But then she got a call from a sponsee asking for help. Listening to this person’s struggle “broke the spell” for her and made her realise that she didn’t ever want to go back to those difficult days again.
  • That’s why we encourage our members to stick around even after they have got sober – it’s so rewarding to be able to help other people, and it’s a reminder of how tough those early days are. After all, who wants to keep doing the hardest bit, again and again?
  • We even have a 6 years+ group at Tribe Sober and the conversations are quite different on that group – we added up our collective years of sobriety the other day – 184 Years in all!
  • Like many of us, PI found herself with time on her hands when she stopped drinking. Inspired by a movie called “Wild” she decided to walk the worlds longest footpath – from Mexico to Canada, the Pacific Crest Trail.
  • We always say that your world will open up to new possibilities when you ditch the drink, and PI is a great example.
  • She was able to apply the lessons she had learned in recovery during the walk – she gave us a nice analogy of the initial excitement at the beginning of the walk (pink cloud), followed by the boredom and the difficulty and the need to just keep going.
  • Her walk was a perfect metaphor for her recovery journey – and she often just wanted to quit.
  • She describes the PCT as the second greatest achievement in her life (after recovery).
  • At Tribe Sober we often say that Sobriety is a Superpower, because if we can do that, we can do anything!
  • So do get hold of PI’s book which is called Everything you Ever Taught Me – I’ve read it and it’s great – very funny and full of insight.

More Info

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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
Read more about our program and subscribe HERE.

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What is Your Change Plan? Change the way you Drink and Start Living!

What is Your Change Plan? 

Pin this document on your fridge and fill it in slowly but surely.

Changes I want to make:

  1. How important is it to me to make these changes (scale of 1 to 10)?
  2. How confident am I that I can make these changes (scale of 1 to 10)?
  3. The most important reasons I want to make these changes are:
  4. The steps I plan to take in changing are:
  5. How other people can help me:
  6. I will know my plan is working when:
  7. Some things that could interfere with my plan are:

Change

What is change? Do you like change? Do you fear change? What is causing you to feel this way?

Why should you change? Why should you not change?

Have you heard the latest buzz words: natural recovery? It seems that there is a movement starting, initiated by people who drink. They want to change, on their own, without help. More people are deciding to take control of their lives and quit the booze of their own accord. I did it! So can you.

Reld Hester makes this point in Psychology Today: “If you decide to make a change in your drinking, you’re more likely to stick with it if you take two steps. A) Write down specifically how and what you’re going to change, and B) tell friends and/or family who you think will be supportive of your efforts to change.”

He goes on to say that it is wise to “weigh the pros and cons of your drinking.” Again, take two steps. First write down keywords about what you like about drinking. Then write down keywords about what is worrying you about your drinking. Now compare the lists. Which list outweighs the other list? Do you feel uncomfortable or OK with your lists?

Ask yourself: What mistakes have I made due to my drinking choices and habits?

Facts About Drinking

It is all very well to drink. But there are some facts you need to remember about drinking. Drinking is not a game. It is a reality that drinking kills people. Alcohol causes cancer, not to mention heart disease, liver and kidney disease, diabetes and more.

Have you heard of alcohol tolerance? In this blog, we are talking change and change also comes into the equation when you are a solid drinker (someone who drinks often and a lot). The change comes with the raised tolerance levels.

The more you drink, the more you need and the more you realise that the alcohol is not doing anything to you or for you. So, you up the levels and even though you are not feeling wired or high, you are feeling more depressed and more dependent on that initial buzz that the first glass may give you.

According to drinkaware.com, “drinking less can help you reverse your tolerance to alcohol as well as reduce your risk of serious health harm.”

If you’re drinking regularly, then receptors in your brain will gradually adapt to the effects of alcohol. This means that the same amount of alcohol will have less short-term effect on you. This will lead to you drinking more alcohol to get the same feeling. It’s really important to recognise that tolerance to the short-term effects does not mean your health risks are lower. In fact, you could be at higher risk because you may not recognise how much you’re drinking.

It is important to realise that your body does not build up tolerance to the damage that the alcohol can do to your liver, heart, stomach and other organs.

If you are drinking a lot, you can change. It is time to change.

Drink Less, Live More

There is so much you can do to decrease your need for, and reliance on, alcohol. Where to start? Follow the global guidelines for what is the most you should be drinking per week: most countries stipulate the 14 units of alcohol a week (which means a little as they go by small glasses and measurements!). Have you considered taking drink free days in the week? But then, it is not wise to drink all your 14 units in one sitting as this would translate into binge drinking.

Read my blog about Grey Area Drinking to understand this topic better. And the podcast about binge drinking is an ear-opener too!

When you decide to change, then make the changes. Start to drink less. Intersperse your drinks with fizzy drinks or herbal teas or water. Drink less and snack more – this is not the time to worry about your weight but if you choose healthy snacks, you won’t pick up weight and remember to exercise daily.

One of the panacea’s for not drinking and making changes is EXERCISE, especially in the great outdoors! Get out into nature and revel in her beauty. I like to walk in nature every day and I also pick up litter and talk to the birds.

Take that first step. Do the quiz on Tribe Sober and start the 66-day challenge. This is your life, your body and your mind. The effects of drinking are dark and cannot just be swept under the carpet. Read Quitlit, listen to podcasts and be diligent about this new project in your life. It is exciting to set goals and to move forward.

Make those changes: What else can you do with your time now that drinking is taking up less hours of your day, week, and month? See my blog about hobbies and see if there is something that tickles your fancy. Try a new exercise or creative group, start an online course or read a book you have been putting off for so long because you could not see the words through the blur of the alcohol!

“Taking a break and reducing your tolerance is an important thing to do for your health. Breaking the cycle of drinking can prevent your body from becoming accustomed to alcohol and help to lower or ‘reset’ your tolerance.

These are the signs that you are becoming dependent on alcohol and need to make changes whether you like it or not:

  • Worrying about where your next drink is coming from and planning social, family and work events around alcohol
  • Finding you have a compulsive need to drink and finding it hard to stop once you start.
  • Waking up and drinking – or feeling the need to have a drink in the morning
  • Suffering from withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, shaking and nausea, which stop once you drink alcohol

What is Your Change Plan?

  1. Changes I want to make:
  2. How important is it to me to make these changes (scale of 1 to 10)?
  3. How confident am I that I can make these changes (scale of 1 to 10)?
  4. The most important reasons I want to make these changes are:
  5. The steps I plan to take in changing are:
  6. How other people can help me:
  7. I will know my plan is working when:
  8. Some things that could interfere with my plan are:

Read the lead magnet called 3o Signs you Need to Take a Break from Alcohol. If you would like this lead magnet, please write to janet@nulltribesober.com. 

Get your free pdf on The Stages of Change when you click on this image:

Join our Tribe – click on this image:

Click on this image for more of my blogs…

How to Stop Binge Drinking – with Mindset Coach Kathryn Elliott

 

In early sobriety I was dutifully working my way through the QuitLit, but one day I picked up a book that changed everything for me – The Naked Mind by Annie Grace.  That book was a revelation  – I finally understood how we are manipulated endlessly by the liquor industry to believe that we need their toxic product to enjoy our lives.

I started to see things quite differently. I started to laugh when yet another booze advert came on TV or another glamorous movie heroine poured herself a huge glass of wine!

I realised what the missing piece had been all along – it was mindset.

Until I read The Naked Mind I was white knuckling my sobriety so I was missing the most important piece of all.  That’s why we say the objective of our workshop is to create a mind shift – we know that we have to enable you to change your thinking – about drinking – if you are to go on and actually thrive in your alcohol-free life.

Our next workshop is coming up on June 25- you can get more info and book here! 

So now you’ve heard how what a gamechanger The Naked Mind was for me, you will understand why I’m thrilled to welcome one of Annie Grace’s Mindset Coaches as my guest this week…

Kathryn shares her personal story with us and explains why binge drinkers often don’t even realise that they have a “problem”…

In this Episode

  • Kathryn was a teenage drinker. With a friend, she got through a bottle of gin and a packet of cigarettes at the age of 14 – the results were not pretty and involved a lot of vomiting, but this did not deter her.
  • Drinking is so normalised in Australia, that she almost felt an obligation to “push through” these early experiments until she got to a place where she was enjoying it – and she did!
  • In fact, she discovered that once she started drinking she didn’t really have an “off” switch.
  • Now that she works with a lot of binge drinkers in her coaching career, she hears many of them say that they don’t have an “off” switch.
  • Kathryn would be in a cycle – go for it, recover, go for it, recover.
  • She didn’t really see this as a “problem”, even when she started having blackouts at age 16 – some blackouts which involved driving.
  • She could go for weeks without drinking and challenges like Dry January were easy for her, but she would always see these dry periods as permission to binge before and afterwards!
  • As Kathryn looks back on those short periods of abstinence, she realises they did nothing to help her understand her binge drinking habit.
  • Women need to understand that binge drinking is particularly dangerous as it can take up to a month for our liver to recover from a heavy session.
  • We tend to think that once the hangover has gone we can start drinking again, but that just piles more damage on top of the existing damage.
  • Both Kathryn and I spent far too much time in the “Moderation Trap” as we couldn’t imagine our lives without alcohol. Even if we white-knuckled our moderation for a while, the binge drinking would return.
  • We are also both health-conscious so can now appreciate the irony of going gluten-free, eating organic, doing yoga, exercising daily – and then drinking far too much!
  • It’s as if it’s the last piece of the puzzle for our health – we are prepared to do all sorts of other things (even run marathons!) so long as they don’t take our wine away!
  • Kathryn always imagined she would “grow out” of her binge drinking, but by the age of 42 she realised she had been stuck in this pattern for nearly 30 years and something would have to change.
  • There were two incidents in her 40’s which were a catalyst for the change – getting drunk at her brother’s wedding where she fell over and hurt her hand and then had a row with her mother.
  • The second incident was a family holiday where she frightened her teenage children by being unable to walk.
  • The next day she sat on the beach and cried – she realised she would have to quit.
  • I call this the “moment of truth” and it comes to many of us – that feeling of “I’m done, I just can’t do this anymore”.
  • Kathryn joined The Alcohol Experiment with Annie Grace, with the intention of trying a year of sobriety. She learned a lot and got huge comfort from the community, realising that she was not alone in this. It was not her fault that she got addicted to an addictive substance!
  • We both agreed that the recovery community is special and we love being trailblazers for the alcohol-free lifestyle.
  • Like me, Kathryn is a breast cancer survivor and she talks of the moment she was diagnosed.
  • She reflected on the fact that her default position for dealing with trauma was to drink, but, in fact, she realised that she needed all her mental and physical strength to deal with her breast cancer.
  • My diagnosis was back in 2006 when I still drinking and I remember seeing it as a perfect opportunity to slip into victim mode and step up the drinking!
  • Neither of us realised just how strong the link is between heavy drinking and breast cancer – in fact just 3 or 4 drinks a week will increase your risk by 15%, so it was unsurprising that I got breast cancer after putting away a bottle of wine a night for decades!
  • Many ladies in our community have had breast cancer and its nearly always been estrogen-driven – as alcohol increases the amount of estrogen in our bodies.
  • Kathryn took comfort from her decision to quit drinking as she realised she would be reducing her risk of a recurrence.
  • She trained as a Naked Mind Coach and loves helping people to change their lives.
  • She uses 3 pillars to help people change their relationship with alcohol:

Knowledge – be curious, learn everything you can, “throw the book at it” as we say at Tribe Sober

Emotion – challenge your limiting beliefs – change your thoughts and create new neural pathways

Action – as Kathryn says, once we question our beliefs, our sub-conscious will kick in and help us to take the actions we need to

  • Kathryn’s tips for newbies – dip your toe into sobriety, join sober communities, listen and learn – and of course Annie Grace’s book The Naked Mind is a great place to start!
  • We talked about binge drinkers and the interesting thing about binge drinkers is that they often don’t see themselves as “problem drinkers”.
  • They see themselves as “normal drinkers” who go over the top now and again!
  • I was definitely in this category.
  • So, the first step is to accept that even if you go for weeks without drinking – but then sometimes you go over the top and you don’t seem to have an off switch, you probably need to make some changes.

If you would like to work with Kathryn, then please go to her website: https://www.thealcoholmindsetcoach.com/

More Info

Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

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 program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

 PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

7 Top Tips from my 7 Sober Years with Janet Gourand

Tribe Sober – Your Guide to Alcohol-free Living!

Last week I celebrated my 7th Soberversary by having breakfast in a smart hotel. That’s a great tip for sober socialising by the way. No pesky questions about “why aren’t you drinking?” and you can even get a nice buzz going from all the coffee!  You can choose the most upmarket venue in town and it’s still going to  be a lot cheaper than a long boozy lunch in a mediocre restaurant!

I shared my story with you last week and this week I’m talking about 7 things I’ve learned during my 7 years of sobriety. Perspective is everything, so I’ve tried to pick out 7 things I’ve learned over the years – things that may help others who are on this journey.

In this Episode – My Top 7 Tips

  1. Get ready to feel those feelings
  2. Remember that not drinking hurts (at first)
  3. Be ready for the Wine Witch and Moderation Mary
  4. Prepare for the void
  5. You will need to shake things up a bit
  6. Throw the book at it
  7. Keep perspective and remember that the only failure is to stop trying!

More Info

Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

20% ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP DISCOUNT CODE ANN052022 – valid during May 2022

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 program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

7 Tips for Living Alcohol-Free

7 Tips for Living Alcohol Free

If you’re looking to cut down on your drinking or even you give it up entirely, there are some things you can do to make the process easier, from setting realistic goals to finding alternative activities to filling up your time.

There are many reasons why someone might choose to live alcohol-free. Perhaps you want to improve your health, or you’re trying to save money. Whatever your reason, giving up alcohol can be a challenge. Here are some great tips for living alcohol-free.

1. Get rid of all the alcohol in your home.

If you want to live alcohol-free, the first step is to eliminate all the booze in your house. You won’t be tempted to drink when you’re feeling down or stressed out. Give away any bottles of wine or liquor to friends or family members who don’t mind taking them off your hands.

2. Make a list of reasons why you want to stay sober.

When you’re trying to stay alcohol-free, it can be helpful to remind yourself of why you made this decision in the first place. Write down a list of your goals for staying sober, and keep it somewhere where you can see it every day. Refer to this list when you’re feeling tempted to drink.

3. Find a hobby or activity that you enjoy.

One of the best ways to stay sober is to find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life. It can help take your mind off drinking and give you something positive to focus on. If you’re not sure what hobbies or activities you might like, try something new until you find something that sticks.

4. Spend time with people who support your decision to stay sober.

If you surround yourself with people who support your decision to live alcohol-free, it will be easier to stick to your goals. Spend time with friends or family members who don’t drink or try to stay sober. There are also many support groups for people trying to live alcohol-free.

5. Avoid places where you’re likely to be tempted to drink.

If you know that certain places will trigger your urge to drink, do your best to avoid them. It might mean avoiding bars, clubs, or other places where drinking is the norm. If you can’t avoid these places altogether, try to go with a friend who will help you stay on track.

6. Make sure you’re eating healthy and staying active.

Eating healthy and staying active is important for overall health and well-being, but it can also help you stay alcohol-free. When you’re taking care of your body, you’re less likely to want to damage it with alcohol. Eating healthy meals and getting regular exercise can also help reduce stress, which can trigger drinking.

7. Talk to someone if you’re struggling to stay sober.

If you find it difficult to stay alcohol-free, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Talk to a friend, family member, therapist, or even a support group. Sometimes just talking about what you’re going through can make it easier to handle.

Quitting drinking doesn’t have to be difficult. With the right mindset and a little planning, you can do it. Use these tips to help you make the transition to an alcohol-free life. You may be surprised at how easy it is once you get started.

If you’re trying to live alcohol-free, these tips can help you achieve your goal. Just remember to take things one day at a time and be patient with yourself. You can do it!

It may be time to consider taking a complete break and going to a rehabilitation clinic. Follow up your stay in rehab by joining tribesober.com to keep you on track! link for Tribe Sober

Rehab link for USA Clinic

Blood Tests

Question

Hi Dr Judy
I’m not sure where you are based, but I was wondering whether you do consultations or have GPs that you could refer to in the northern suburbs of Cape Town.
I recently stopped drinking and want to have some blood tests done to see how bad the damage is (I know I already have increased MCV), and then monitor it over time. Would also be good to get some supplements if needed.

Answer

Congratulations on your sobriety. You have made a wise decision and joined the best tribe. I’m situated in Gauteng and don’t know the northern suburbs GPs. However, I would recommend that you contact your nearest rehab centre (for substance abuse). They have GPs that they refer their clients to which are knowledgeable about what to look for and can give advice.

I can recommend Harmony rehab centre. It’s not situated in the northern suburbs but they may know of someone close to you. It is my experience that everyone reacts differently to alcohol and that we all have our vulnerable areas. For some it may be the liver. For others the pancreas or brain. And then there’s the increased risk for cancers. The reason for this is that alcohol causes extreme inflammation which damages our bodies. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have a check up. Let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Dr Judy.

 

On the Rocks – Thando Pato

 

“On the Rocks deeply inspires us to believe that, whatever life throws at us, we all have the ability to heal and rebuild our lives” Kojo Baffoe

Thirty-nine year old Thando is living in complete denial about her drinking. On the surface, her life appears aspirational – she has an enviable job, a cool apartment and a snazzy car. But behind the facade she harbours a dark and shameful secret – she can’t control her drinking

Life takes a cruel twist and she’s diagnosed with breast cancer. For the next two years she cronicles her addiction as she spirals out of control before finally calling it quits just before lockdown March 2020. The road to recovery is brutal as she seems to be the only sober one in the midst of a pandemic. A courageous soul journey that will both shock and inspire

BUY THE BOOK

Drinking or Not Drinking, what are the Trends? 

Those in the know, who sell the booze we want to forget, say that more consumers are buying less alcohol. 

Those in the know, who sell the booze we want to avoid, say that consumers want low alcohol- or alcohol-free drinks instead of alcoholic beverages. 

Those in the know, who sell the booze so bad for all of us, say that they are going to follow this trend and make more AF drinks for these consumers. 

What is driving this move away from alcohol towards alcohol-free drinks? 

Getting Healthy After Two Torrid Years 

Health! Money! Introspection! What does the spirit need after a torrid two years? The torrid two years of the Covid-19 Pandemic which changed the way we think and feel. I think I am half-way correct when I guess that the spirit needs time to heal and that does not include toxic substances like alcohol. 

It is daunting to think that people have been drinking fermented drinks since time immemorial. People like to feel different, relaxed, ‘high’. What is it about people that we need to do that? Centuries later, people are rethinking their life’s purpose – surely it is time to live in real time, the here and now? 

I found it amusing to research the latest drinking trends because I have no interest in drinking. I used to drink, yes, but once you stop drinking, that need becomes so strange and far-removed from authentic living.  

Anyway, so there I was, reading about the latest drinking crazes and I found out that people who drink prefer cans and containers they can take with them to enjoy a drink – their portable bar, so to speak. Take the drinks to the great outdoors, to meet friends or just out.  

Stronger Alcohol-Free Drinks  

According to Door Dash, people like stronger, unique tastes when they select alcohol, and most customers are going for dry drinks. 

Which of course made me think that anyone can choose a dry tonic with lemon! But what amazed me was the realisation that “one of the most exciting and innovative alcohol trends to come about in recent years is the growing popularity of low- or no-ABV drinks. With moderation in mind, many consumers across the globe are embracing no-alcohol and low-alcohol beverages.” 

The website goes on to say that non-alcoholic drinks sales have increased more than 30% this year and will expand even more next year. And the reason for this? Health! More people just don’t want to drink so much anymore. They want to feel healthy, but they do like to taste something delicious when socialising. They certainly don’t want to wake up with a hangover that ruins their fitness plans the next day! Or a rumbling stomach, puffy face and irritable mood. 

This kind of drinker is not boring at all. They want to drink something exciting, and many flavors are now trending towards the citrusy dry botanical theme. Non-alcoholic wines, gins and cocktails are a hit at many bars lately. The youth are driving this movement, I am pleased to see. 

There is a growing movement worldwide towards being sober-curious. People simply don’t like the side effects of alcohol and want to feel good when they go out. When people drink, they lose touch with themselves and those around them but think that they are having a cool fun time!  

According to NPR, many women in their 30s are losing their boozing habits because they want have fun and make friends without alcohol.  

“Many people, especially Millennials and Gen Z, are embracing a new relationship with drinking where they either mindfully reduce their intake or periodically take breaks from alcohol altogether.”  

Drysolation Drives Adaptogens  

The new buzz word is drysolation which arose from the Coronavirus pandemic when people were locked down and not drinking!   

Are you keen to be part of the non-alcoholic revolution? Do you want to be sober and curious so that you don’t have to suffer the ill-effects of alcohol every morning? Do you remember that alcohol causes cancer, not to mention all the other bad things we try to avoid including diabetes, kidney and liver and stomach diseases, brain diseases and more. 

People will be people and we never seem satisfied with staying naturally sober! Have you heard of the adoptogens movement?  

Research and Markets states that “Based on nature, the organic segment holds a significant share in the market. This is due to the usage of natural herbs as a supplement in the food and beverage segment or its use in the cosmetics and pharmaceuticals segment. Natural herbs are widely popular among the consumers as it is consumed to relieve stress in a body. The synthetic segment is also expected to grow at a decent rate in the coming years.” 

This means that more consumers want to try supplements from nature that boost their physical and mental health. There is the ayurvedic sector which already has a hold on the health industry and promotes the use of herbal supplements to suit different body and blood types.  

“Adaptogens are used to cure renal, cardiovascular, and digestive problems. There has been a surge in the awareness to consume novel and safer medicinal herbs that are used to maintain endocrine homeostasis. There are considerable advantages of using medicinal herbs that are related to a better and healthier body.” 

Typical adaptogens include roots and herbs from Chinese medicines such as ashwagandha, lavender, ginseng, Tulsi, and Reisha. Those who buy them believe that they make them calmer, thinner, healthier and smarter! There is no proof of this although we know that they are indeed much better for you than alcohol! 

Another trend from nature is the fruits and vegetables making their debut as the highlight in cocktails these days – alcohol-free cocktails at that!  

I for one am relieved to read that there is a movement back to nature as many people forget that nature even exists these days! Too many people are rushing around, supposedly stressed, ignoring the birds, the bees, the trees, and the flowers. 

Nature is her own medicine too and if you get out in nature, you immediately boost your happy hormones. But that is a whole new subject, for another blog!  

It is good news that major alcohol brands are seeing the light and clambering to climb aboard the alcohol-free bandwagon and serve those of us who want to live authentic sober lives! 

What kind of life do you choose? If you are a drinker, do you agree with the movement as described above? Do you agree that there is a healthier generation making waves and driving the way companies produce alcohol and things called adaptogens? 

If you are sober and happy, then I applaud you. If you like taking natural supplements, then that is your choice too. Please write to us and share your stories. 

 

 

Email Janet for your free Pdf – click on this image:

 

How I Quit Drinking – and Started Tribe Sober – with Janet Gourand

 

Tribe Sober – Your Guide to Alcohol-free Living!

After running Tribe Sober for 6 years and helping hundreds of people to ditch the drink and embrace alcohol-free living I’ve learned a lot.  My biggest insight has been that sharing our stories around our problems with alcohol is the most powerful way we can help others – that’s why the heart of this podcast is recovery stories.

Today I celebrate seven years of sobriety so I’m sharing my story – how I quit drinking and started Tribe Sober.

In this Episode

  • How I got hooked on the booze – and nearly drowned – and carried on drinking.
  • How I got breast cancer – and carried on drinking.
  • How I kept trying (and failing) to “moderate”.
  • How a “walking, talking blackout” made me (finally) decide to ditch the drink.
  • How I went to AA and why it didn’t work for me.
  • How I finally found “my people” at a one day workshop in London and managed to stop drinking.
  • How I stayed sober – and decided to use my training experience to design a workshop to help others.
  • How the workshop participants wanted to stay connected and Tribe Sober membership was born.
  • How I marked my first Soberversary by writing a “Goodbye to Alcohol” Letter .
  • How I’m celebrating my seventh Soberversary by developing an online course which will be available in July 2022.

More Info

Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

20% ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP DISCOUNT CODE ANN052022 – valid during May 2022

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 program and subscribe HERE.

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you.

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Alcohol-Free Fiction with S.C. Jensen

 

Novels tend to portray alcohol use as tough and gritty, or fun and relaxing or romantic and sexy – take your pick!  As a culture, we’ve internalised these ideas which has contributed to the “normalisation” of drinking.

My guest this week is trying to create some balance by featuring a sober heroine in her Cyberpunk novel “Bubbles in Space”.  Sarah Jensen is a Canadian science fiction author and strongly believes that we need more sober characters in fiction.  For people in recovery, sober characters are powerful and inspiring.

Sarah shares her own recovery story with us and explains how she has drawn upon her struggles with alcohol to create her fictional character:

In this Episode

  • Although she dabbled in drinking during high school, and had the occasional binge at college, Sarah’s drinking didn’t really take off until she became a parent and signed up for the mommy juice culture.
  • In fact, when a later diagnosis showed that she had been suffering from post natal depression she realised that she had been self-medicating with alcohol for 4 years.
  • As a writer, she was also part of the creative circles that bought into the belief that alcohol fuels creativity – “write drunk, edit sober” was a popular myth.
  • I discuss this myth (and others) in my interview with South African author, Eusebius McKaiser, in the Tribe Sober podcast, episode 77 – called Busting Sobriety Myths – released in January 2022.
  • At the age of 34, Sarah realised that she was facing some choices – was she going to be a Better Mom – or a Drinker, a Better Wife – or a Drinker, a Better Writer – or a Drinker.
  • She realised that drinking had taken up such a lot of space in her head that there was no room for anything else.
  • We discussed the twisted thinking that arises due to the fact that some brilliant writers were alcoholics. Of course they were not brilliant BECAUSE they were alcoholics – it was more down to them being so driven that they were able to succeed IN SPITE of being alcoholics!
  • We wondered how much better they could have been and how much more they could have written if they were not drinking excessively?
  • Most functioning alcoholics are using so much energy to hold it all together that when they stop they have a surplus of energy to use for more constructive endeavours – we see this over and over in our tribe.
  • Sarah talks of having an “epiphany” one day when she could sense the toxins building up in her body and realised that she was on a slippery slope.
  • As a reader she turned to Quitlit – Annie Grace’s book (The Naked Mind) make her realise that she had an opportunity and a choice to save herself from a lot of pain.
  • Because she hadn’t hit “rock bottom”, she felt fortunate that she was able to make such a choice before she became totally dependent.
  • Sarah realised that sobriety was a gift, not a punishment.
  • This reframing helps us change our mindset – at Tribe Sober we say that sobriety is an opportunity and that we will gain so much more than we will lose.
  • Another book which resonated with Sarah was The Biology of Desire by Marc Lewis as she wanted to understand more about how the brain works and the science behind it. As she discovered Mindfulness she read The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle.
  • So, in fact, Sarah tackled the problem intellectually but she also connected with online sober communities to keep her on track.
  • As she began to clock up some sober time, she found that one of the important advantages of being in a sober community was that it served as a reminder of how hard it had been at the beginning.
  • We both have been blown away by the authenticity and kindness of the sober online communities – if you are looking for a small and friendly sober community then go to tribesober.com and hit “join our tribe”.
  • Sarah did feel some nostalgia for the “good times” which would have been triggered by Fading Affect Bias – when our brains trick us into forgetting the bad times and remembering the highlights of our drinking days.
  • I explained that we recommend to our members that they write a Goodbye to Alcohol Letter listing just how unhappy alcohol has made them over the years – something to read back over when FAB strikes. Sarah has promised to write us a Goodbye to Alcohol letter and you can find all of ours on tribesober.com/Inspiration/GoodbyeLetters – send yours in and we will be happy to publish it!
  • We discussed how drinking becomes part of our identify and that when we ditch it we have to work on our sober identity – and be out and proud!
  • Sarah wants to be a voice of strength and positivity – not only for dependent drinkers but for “normal” drinkers – she wants to show people that you don’t HAVE to participate.
  • We agreed that there is no need to reach rock bottom – the smart people step off the slippery slope before it gets too difficult.
  • Benefits of sobriety for Sarah include more mental space together with a feeling of extra brain power – we always say that Sobriety is a Superpower and it sounds as if she experienced that!
  • She used her increased energy and motivation to focus on the important things in her life.
  • In early sobriety, reading was Sarah’s “safe space” but she found that some detective stories and women’s fiction would trigger her.
  • This made her determined to create some balance by having a sober character in her book.
  • She has drawn on her own experiences to create this character who is thriving in her sobriety – rather than being miserable and relapsing as in many current books.
  • Sarah wants to create a “safe list” of books to read in early sobriety -books that will inspire, rather than trigger us or give us FOMO – please send your recommendations to janet@nulltribesober.com and we can work on this list with Sarah.
  • I asked her for some advice for anyone who is thinking of quitting…

Just know that questioning your drinking is a start

Seek out others who are on the same path

Prepare for a shift in your social life but remember you are not alone in this

  • Sarah’s latest book is called “Bubbles in Space” – “Tropical Punch” – you can find the info about that and her other books on her website which is scjensen.com.

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Quit Drinking and Get Healthy!

 

OK, so you have quit that demon drink and you want to get well. Yes, it’s time to get healthy. Change your lenses from through the wine glass to through the looking glass. Look at yourself. Who IS that in the mirror? Who are you REALLY?

The opposite of health is illness or dis-ease. Eating from nature, as our ancestors once ate, promotes holistic health. Fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, free-range meats and fish, plenty of exercise, and fresh air. Does alcohol fit in anywhere here? No, alcohol creates dis-ease in our bodies and minds. Alcohol creates dis-ease deep down in our souls, our spirits.

The Wellness Toolbox

Ok, so it is time to get well. Get out your toolbox and start to unpack it. Have you packed these things?

  • Friends, family members or professionals who can be your support base
  • Peers in the sober world who have also quit drinking and can be your ears and support base
  • Meditation techniques, books and apps
  • Relaxation and self-care
  • Stress reduction tips and tools
  • Plenty of sunshine and light – get outside into Nature
  • Plenty of quality sleep
  • Plenty of movement, exercise, cardio and strengthening

The following list includes wonderful tools we can all use to stay well and alcohol-free:

  1. Talk to a friend
  2. Talk to a health care professional
  3. Peer counseling or exchange listening
  4. Focusing exercises
  5. Relaxation and stress reduction exercises
  6. Guided imagery
  7. Journaling (writing in a notebook)
  8. Creative affirming activities
  9. Exercise
  10. Healthy diet
  11. Using a lightbox
  12. Extra rest
  13. Take time off from home or work responsibilities
  14. Hot packs or cold packs
  15. Take medications, vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements
  16. Attend a support group; join an online group; see your counselor
  17. Do something “normal” like washing your hair, shaving, or going to work
  18. Get a medication check
  19. Get a second opinion
  20. Call a hotline
  21. Surround yourself with people who are positive, affirming, and loving
  22. Wear something that makes you feel good
  23. Look through old pictures, scrapbooks and photo albums
  24. Make a list of your accomplishments
  25. Spend ten minutes writing down everything good you can think of about yourself
  26. Do something that makes you laugh
  27. Do something special for someone else
  28. Focus on and appreciate what is happening right now
  29. Take a warm bath
  30. Listen to music, make music or sing

Your Daily Plan

Draw up a daily plan and make sure you are aware in a holistic way of your wellness:

  • Daily Plan – What are you like when you are well? What do you do every day to stay well? Write down what you should do daily, even hour by hour.
  • Stressors – What things outside in the environment tend to trigger you? What things (events or circumstances) make you feel discomfort, anger, and irritation?) What are your reactions to these triggers? They are normal and allowed BUT they can get worse if we don’t have a plan. What things deep down inside you tend to trigger you? Lack of self-esteem or self-love? No sense of values?
  • When Things are Breaking Down – What are the things that take you away from your wellness? What things make you feel worse or sad? Write down the things that make you upset and sad. Make sure you talk to someone about this – is there someone you can trust who will understand?
  • Let’s look at these amazing concepts that you may need to guide you as you set off into the world of sober living!
  • Hope – Never give up on your goals and dreams. Find out what your vision, mission and goals are in this life, on this planet. People who stay sober and love being sober are the people who set goals and follow their visions!
  • Personal Responsibility – This is your choice, your life and it is all up to you. That being said, always reach out and get guidance and assistance from your peers, and your support system. Connection is the opposite of addiction.
  • Education – Read, listen, watch and learn! Do this as much as possible and journal all your learnings down too. What you know, informs your decisions.
  • Support – While working toward your wellness is up to you, receiving support from others, and giving support to others will help you feel better and enhance the quality of your life.

This is what others say who have entered recovery, or sobriety:

Many people agree that abstinence from the substance is what wellness is about. No more drinking is essential for those who want to and need to be sober.

Taking time to grow personally and increase levels of self-care are essential to sobriety or recovery. Personal growth and development should continue at all costs and no matter how big or how small. You don’t have to become the next Dr Gabor Mate but just improving yourself as a kind, a sober person is a huge step on the path to being sober. Enjoy life without alcohol and you are already a hero or heroine.

Once you feel stable and happy, reach out to others and become of service to your community in some small way. This habit is known to fulfill those who were once drinking and feel gaps in their lives. Join an organization as a volunteer or just cook food for the poor, donate to the dog shelter or take on one hungry child who you can support.  The world is full of needy individuals and the earth also needs as much help as it can get so joining an environmental movement will do wonders for your self-esteem too!

What are you Eating?

Another baseline requirement for being healthy during sobriety is nutrition, or diet, of course.

Nutrition means healthy eating so that the mind and body can perform at their peak. We all need vitamins and minerals, proteins and carbohydrates to function holistically. Every person you meet will have another view about food and what we should all be eating. You choose what suits you BUT we all know that processed foods and sugars are a big, fat NO. Alcohol is a big fat NO too!

Anchored Tides Recovery notes that “not only will a balanced diet improve your physical wellness, your mood and mental health will also improve. Also, a regular balanced diet can help undo the damages of addictive substances and facilitate your healing.”

Exercise and Mindfulness

Along with nutrition comes exercise. A fit body compliments a fit mind and vice versa – find a form of exercise that you love and that attracts you full of joy every day. It will help to choose something that suits your lifestyle so if you work in a high rise as a corporate, maybe a gym workout or class is best? If you work from home and are more flexible, maybe you can walk and do yoga? Many people now love CrossFit training and other forms of intense strengthening too! Exercise boosts those happy hormones and keeps you happy and on a high, reducing any cravings for alcohol that you may still harbour.

The third pedestal in the tripod of wellness is mediation or mindfulness. Some people incorporate this into their exercise – for example, walking mindfully is a great way to mediate and destress. Other people like to sit Buddha stye and mediate consciously for some minutes daily. Do what suits your lifestyle and personality. Don’t make it a chore, it will become something you love to do. Pay attention to your thoughts and remind yourself that they are pure energy and not real at all.

Finally, be a friend, a mother, a father, a sister or a brother to those close to you. Show the love and receive the love. Be social. Humans are social creatures so it is part of our health to connect and share with others, rather than disconnecting and isolating.

“Make new friends, visit new places, join a social group, mix up with people who understand your journey.”

The bottom line is this: use all your tools in your toolbox. Connect with people who are similar to you. Find your joy. Be real.

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Trish Letter

Today I’m 6 months free of alcohol.  I tell my fellow travellers at Tribe Sober that they’re in for an amazing and wonderful journey.  It has been both of those things, the hardest and by far the best thing I’ve ever done.  I still have times where I envy the drinkers around me but I know that is just the addicted part of me firing up in the hope I’ll be tempted to drink again.  I know in my heart though that there is no path back to drinking for me.  I no longer think I deserve the self-abuse.  What a relief it is to recognise that.

I can remember some fun times with alcohol but in a drinking ‘career’ that spanned decades, the fun times are almost completely overshadowed by the other times.  The other times, I remember very well.  Alcohol became a part of my world when I was 17.  I was so young, and I fell under its control hard and fast.  I was good at hiding it, I liked it to be just the two of us, to isolate myself so I could be alone with it.  I would do anything to do that and I did.  I lied, I stole, I behaved in ways that were so outside of myself that I didn’t recognise myself.  I just knew I had to find ways of being alone with enough booze to render myself unconscious. 

I let no one notice, but then no one was watching either.  There was no one to care that I was drinking myself to oblivion as often as possible.  No family, no friends.  I liked it like that.  I wanted it like that.  Why?  Pain, and lots of it.  Sexual abuse, parental neglect, my beloved, much older sister putting a bullet in my abuser (her partner) and ending up in jail for murder. Our mother, never able to nurture us for reasons I don’t understand, retreating further into herself.  My beloved father long dead, when I was 7.  Not one person to help me, to ask me if I was alright.  I was alone with my pain well and truly.  I was 17, and my favourite thing to do was sit alone in hotel rooms (so I could have privacy) and drink.  It’s where it began – my slow attempt at suicide. 

Eventually I fled, I left it all behind and went to live alone in a small town a few hours away from my family and from what had happened to me.  My pain I took with me.  And it stayed, even as I met the love of my life, even as we built a life together I love.  I became a ‘normal’ person.  I did everything as it was meant to be done – I was a great wife and I became a great carer when my husband needed me to be, a good friend, a valued employee, the favourite aunt.  But I carried the pain through the decades, sitting in the background, never far away. How did I manage? Hold it all together?  Wine, always.  On most days, year after year, decade after decade.

Many times during those years I knew alcohol was killing me.  If not in body, certainly in spirit.  I called AA for the first time in my early twenties.  Again in my early thirties.  In my late thirties I even went to a few meetings. None were a positive experience, none helped me see a happy future without drinking.  So on I went, eventually believing that my identity was that of a drinker. I was a drinker, always would be.  Sometimes I was able to be OK with that – it was what everyone did.  I regularly thought my problem was not my drinking, it was that I was prone to worry about my drinking.  I just had to stop worrying about my drinking! 

In my forties and fifties I was still drinking even though I thought that by the time you get to that age you naturally cut right down.  Why did I ever think that?  My health had deteriorated by then, my weight creeping up and up, keeping time with my liver function which my doctor said was way too high.  But I couldn’t say the words and I certainly didn’t look like a woman who was putting away 2 bottles of wine 4-7 times a week.  Eventually I couldn’t ignore the heart palpitations, the anxiety, the depression, the chronic exhaustion.  And worse, the mental anguish.  The recognition that my slow suicide was VERY slow and news flash!  I didn’t want to die! I wanted to live.  I wanted to live without alcohol. 

Not long after, when I was again unable to sleep,  I listened to Janet Gourand’s interview with William Porter.  I knew William’s work and had read his book ‘Alcohol Explained’ a few times.  So I understood at last what I was doing to myself but I still couldn’t see a future without my drug. But here was Janet, a high functioning, highly successful woman who had given up drinking and WAS ENJOYING LIFE!  A crack of light opened up in the darkness and that day, I joined Tribe Sober.  The start.  I made a start.  Slipped and slipped and slipped again.  But instead of being alone, the scared girl who used to love isolation and drinking, I met others who knew who I was because they were or had been there themselves.  And the crack of light opened up a little more and I became proud.  And hopeful.  And people called me brave and brilliant.  And I started to believe them.

I am 6 months alcohol free for the first time since I was 17 years old, 40 years.  I am learning life properly, not through a haze of booze and regret but with a clear head and clear eyes.  It’s hard, amazing, boring, exciting, wonderful and the best thing I’ve ever done.  I feel calm and at peace most of the time.  I’m getting my health back, giving my poor body a break for once in my life.  My blood work has returned to normal, the weight is coming off with little effort from me because I now have the energy and focus to want to feed myself what I need for health.  I’m meditating and exercising without having to force it.  I feel like I’m a different person.  With therapy I’ve left the past where it belongs and it doesn’t hurt me like it used to.  I appreciate more than ever that giving up the drink is the first step and then the work can begin.  I’ve done that work with commitment, every day without fail.  I sometimes can’t believe what I’ve accomplished and I say it proudly here.  I’m dealing with my childhood abuse, I’m allowing my body to become healthy, I’m looking after my mental health with quality sleep, meditation and exercise.  I’m brilliant and brave – just ask my many friends at Tribe Sober.  And it all began with one decision.  I want to stop drinking.  I don’t want it in my life anymore.  I want to say goodbye to the bitch.

There is little that I am more proud of than the fact the I have stopped drinking.  That for 6 full months now I have chosen life.  The road ahead may be difficult and who knows what life will throw at me and how I will handle it.  Some say a relapse is likely, I don’t know but I don’t believe anything is inevitable in life so how can that be?  Miracles happen.  I know because one happened to me.  But the miracle isn’t something out there, something or someone who decided to shine some light on me at long last.  The miracle is that I found my own power, and as it grew I was able to take step after step towards the life I want.  One where I’m happy and healthy and at peace because the self-harm that I practiced for so many years is finally over.  Finally.  Over.  There is no place and no space for you now, alcohol.  I have found other things that fill me up, things that build me up, not drag me down.  And among the best of them is my international group of friends who see me, and say ‘oh yes, me too’.  Gold.

Sarah Letter

Goodbye, old friend.

We’ve had a lot of years together, good times and bad.

But it’s over now. Goodbye.

Sometimes I think the bad times were all my fault. I mean, everyone loves you. You’re so relaxing to be around, you’re fun and chill, the life of the party.

You’re always there after a bad day, the first one to offer a shoulder to cry on.

There must be something wrong with me that I’m not having fun anymore. That the good times make me feel bad, and the bad times are getting worse.

It hurts a bit to say this out loud, but I never want to see you again.

Yeah, I’ve said it before. I’ve been scared and hurt and angry and sworn I’d bury our relationship for good.

And yeah.

I’ve come crawling back to you as soon as it got tough.

I’ve invited you back, joyfully, in moments of celebration. Moments where I was so happy I forgot how awful you’ve been.

(The moment my guard is down, the moment my back is turned, the real you comes out, doesn’t it?)

Not this time.

This time it’s different. This time I mean it.

No, of course you don’t believe me. You never do. You’re always the first to dredge up those niggling self-doubts and insecurities. I see it now. You need me to feel that way. You need me to feel like I’m not enough.

I’m angry that I believed you for so long.

But it’s not me, after all, is it? It’s you. It’s always been you.

You’re the broken one. You’re the toxic friend. You’re the poison in my life that holds me back and beats me down.

I let you in. I let you do this to me. And now I’m standing up and saying NO.

Yeah, it hurts. It’s going to be hard. Forever is a real long time.

But it’s all I’ve got. It’s all any of us get. And I’m not going to waste any more of my forever with you.

So, goodbye, old friend.

Goodbye to the longing, and the promises, and the wishful thinking.

Goodbye to the half-remembered conversations, the fights with no meaning, and the unlived dreams.

Goodbye to the headaches, and the upset stomach, and the sour tang in the back of my throat.

Goodbye to the self-hatred, and the 2:30am anxiety attacks, and the lingering specter of depression.

I’m moving on now.

But don’t worry.

I’ll never forget what you did to me, or what you let me do to myself.

Goodbye, and good riddance.

–S.C. Jensen

Secrets

Secrets – do you have a secret? I think it is great to have a secret. Some secrets are empowering and rejuvenating. But other secrets are destructive and dark.  For me, it is better that people don’t know everything there is to know about me. That is my secret. Who I am. I am complex.

I give of myself differently to different people. And all of those different people have a different perception of who I am. Think about how you come across to the different people in YOUR life? How do you turn up for your mother, your father, your siblings, and your best friend? How do you show up for your boss, your colleagues, and your clients?

Do they know you have secrets? I am sure they too have secrets.

Secret definition: something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others; something that is not properly understood; a mystery; a valid but not commonly known or recognized method of achieving or maintaining something.

I like the middle definition – a secret is a mystery, and it remains unknown until there are but hints of it like little puffs of smoke on a hazy horizon.

“Where there is smoke, there is fire,” goes another idiom, true too to the keeping of secrets, not so? Have you ever kept a secret journal wherein you write your heart’s dreams, hopes, and desires? When I was a teenager, I had a diary with a key, but my friend found it and read it! I felt mortified!

The Mystery of Secrets

Another great mystery about secrets is that we can unravel a secret, but we may never get to the bottom of it at all. Secrets are in the soul of the owner – it is something that THEY have created, and you will never see that secret from the same point of view.

You may hear of a secret tunnel, a physical secret, but when you try to find it or follow it, you never really get to find out the reason or the end of it.

You may hear about a secret in a family – there is a black sheep in the family because there is a half-brother or stepsister who does not fit in. There may be a criminal in a family who was in prison and is how home trying to fit into society. Some families keep illness a secret such as cancer or another terminal illness because they don’t want sympathy or attention or kindness directed their way.

The secrets of addiction are rife in our society. There are so many secret addictions: gambling, sex, fetishes, sugar, eating and drinking, taking pills, smoking herbs and more. Children are increasingly addicted to gaming and the blue lights of the online world: TikTok, YouTube and Whatsapp. It is common for people with these addictions to hide them – even our children will hide their videos from their parents and lie about how long they are online or where they got a certain video. This is a sign of guilt or shame.

Dark Secrets and Light Secrets

So, these are the secrets that I don’t think it is great to have. The ones with the secrets, the secret keepers, think that they are safe with their secrets. But little do they know that their secret is showing up in their behaviour. There is a certain furtiveness about them, a sneakiness and slyness that betrays a sense of dishonesty. There is a glean in the eye, a desire to do this thing all day! Yes, keeping a secret can be seen as a form of dishonesty! Where is the real you, the authentic you, if you have an overwhelming secret that drives your daily needs?

What do you think? I mean, I keep secrets such as when I am planning to escape to a country cottage to get away from the mayhem at home, when and where I am going to walk and what I am going to do when everyone is in bed tonight. They are simply secrets because they remain unspoken.

These are the things I do to stay sane as the only female in my house! I love these secrets and when I walk on the mountains it is often just my secret that I went up there and reveled in Nature. My daily routines are almost a secret too as I am alone at home most of the day and everything that I do is mine, my secret moment.

But secrets become devious when they are habits that are unethical and we hide them from our loved ones. If your partner is stopping by the pub every night on his way home from work but he says he is working late, is that cool? Or if your partner comes home late at night, says he was working but he was actually eating out with a lady friend, is that cool?

Maybe your partner was snorting a line of cocaine in the work loos before coming home? Or cruising on the internet, gambling your savings away? These are secrets that become addictions and can then destroy homely, family structures. Some kids may develop secret friends when they befriend a homeless guy, or an animal, and they become addicted to the secret they have created. Is that cool?

Nature’s Healing Secrecy

Then, we get the secrets of nature, ever-powerful and something humanity will never know enough about. Yes, the intricate extent of universal energies is infinite. Every day, enormous forces play out in nature – on mountains, in rivers, in valleys, in savannas, in the ocean depths and in the infinity of space and beyond!

If we tune in to nature, we start to realise how tiny we are in the greater scheme of things. If we get out into nature, we find that nature heals. Think about it: most medicines come from plants and minerals and the chemistry of earthy elements. What are nature’s secrets? Have you ever tried to study nature or just read books about her wonders?

Maybe you are too wrapped up in an alcoholic secret? Do you have an alcoholic secret? By this I mean: does anyone know just how much you drink? Do you sneak drinks during the day or before and after an event? Do you slug the whiskey before a Zoom meeting or before you write that end-of-month report? Do you ever take breaks from alcohol?

According to the Executive Rehab Guide, “Secret, or hidden drinking, is common among alcoholics because they have an increased tolerance to alcohol. People who drink secretly will consume alcohol intentionally before an event.” Is this you?

Are you a Secret Drinker?

When a secret drinker hides their additional glasses of booze from loved ones or friends they make as if they are drinking the same amount as everyone else But, back at the ranch… there will be signs like empty bottles in the bin, a stale smell of booze emanating from their very cells and their sly behaviour.

Let’s check out their 10 tell-tale signs that someone has a secret drinking habit:

  1. Hiding places – hiding booze in cupboards, under the sink, in the garage and in the garden
  2. Money is needed – selling things to buy alcohol and ending up in financial difficulties
  3. ‘Pregaming’: intentional drinking before an event to hide the need for more alcohol
  4. Drinking clear liquids – filling bottles and flasks with vodka or gin to get a buzz all the time
  5. Secretive and devious behaviour – being late for meetings and important dates, forgetting things, being unreliable in relationships and acting strangely at evening events
  6. Losing interest – in friends, family, celebrations, personal events and even hygiene
  7. Losing or gaining weight – this can be dramatic and show signs something is just not right. Many alcoholics forget to eat or just cannot eat.
  8. Making excuses – when comments are made, excuses fly about the need for alcohol being a once-off, a mistake or stress; the weight loss being an illness, etc
  9. Increased tolerance – being so used to the alcohol, more is needed to have an effect
  10. Experiencing black outs – this shows a body and brain saturated in alcohol.

If any of these signs ring bells for you, try to avoid the overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame. Remember that you are part of a community and there is help at hand, always.

Tribe Sober is a warm, accepting, non-judgemental community that gets you. Contact us today!

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The Deadly Secret We Must Share! – Professor Tim Stockwell

 

My guest this week is a Senior Scientist with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria in Canada.  Professor Tim Stockwell is a man with a mission – to inform people about the link between alcohol and cancer.  He has been working tirelessly towards this goal for years and has made himself very unpopular with the liquor industry in the process!

The fact that alcohol is one of the top three causes of preventable cancer is not exactly a secret – but it may as well be as so few people seem to be aware of it.  Even moderate amounts of alcohol can cause cancer and there is no safe amount.

In this Episode

  • We discussed the role of government when it comes to informing their citizens about the health risks of alcohol and agreed that governments should have some responsibility to inform and educate.
  • Tim explained that the Canadian govt had done a good job during Covid EXCEPT when it came to alcohol policy – they actually deemed it an “essential item” and expanded its availability and even reduced the price in some areas.
  • Here in South Africa, our government went the opposite way and enforced several alcohol bans. These bans were implemented to clear the hospitals of alcohol related trauma patients so that Covid patients could be treated – and it worked!
  • The alcohol ban in South Africa was like a massive social experiment, demonstrating the massive harm that alcohol does, both to individuals and to society.
  • I wrote an article listing the mind blowing statistics from this unprecedented period in South African history – called What If Alcohol was Banned.
  • Tim explained that alcohol consumption in Canada is the highest it’s been for 20 years and that they are catching up with the UK and Europe.
  • Canada has an alcohol deficit of $3.7 billion a year – this means that its costs the government $3.7 billion MORE (in healthcare costs e.t.c.) than it brings in from taxes.
  • It’s been known for at least 35 years that alcohol was a number one carcinogen and we agreed that producers should be telling their consumers about the risks – so that at least we are making an informed choice when we drink.
  • Scotland has successfully introduced minimum pricing (although the liquor industry fought it for 6 years!) and modelling demonstrates that this policy reduces hospitalisation and deaths.
  • The official figures of alcohol related deaths throughout the world is R3M a year but Tim believes that these figures are more like 5 or 6M. The official figures dampened down by the outdated view that “moderate drinking” is good for our health.
  • Tim maintains that the misinformation that moderate drinking can be good for you has been responsible for millions of deaths worldwide.
  • We agreed the irony of the fact that alcohol kills far more people than Covid did – during Covid the whole world closed down yet nothing changes regarding alcohol…
  • We wondered what impact it would have if we saw daily graphs on tv showing us deaths and hospitalisations from alcohol like we did for Covid!
  • Although it’s a “hard sell” there ARE effective strategies that could be implemented regarding alcohol policy explained Tim – pricing and availability being two of them.
  • Also focus groups have expressed the view that the absence of warning labels on alcohol conveys a powerful message that its ok.
  • Tim was featured in a Canadian documentary recently – in this documentary an oncologist was explaining that he bought a fishing rod that was covered in warning labels, yet a carcinogenic liquid has none!
  • We heard about a fascinating experiment in a Canadian Province where warning labels were introduced – quite striking labels with cancer warnings and the low risk guidelines.
  • This experiment proved labelling worked as it reduced consumption by 7%!
  • However it was halted when the liquor industry brought a legal action calling the labels “defamatory” (!)
  • We discussed the futility of being told to “Drink Responsibly” and agreed that this was just the liquor industry putting the blame on the consumer rather than being transparent about the dangers of consuming their product.
  • In spite of the struggles, Tim does feel that there is hope – he feels that there is a “tide” of change and that alcohol may finally be having its “cigarette moment”.
  • We talked about citizens’ “rights” and of course people must have the right to drink alcohol but they also have the right to be informed of the dangers – just like we are with cigarettes…
  • It took Scotland 6 years to get minimum pricing implemented but now other countries are introducing that policy.

More Info

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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
Read more about our program and subscribe HERE

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PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Sober Short – Tribe Sober Toolkit

 

This Sober Short series is taking you through our Tribe Sober Toolkit – this toolkit is just one of the things that we share with you during our regular Zoom workshops – just go to tribesober.com, hit Our Services and you’ll find all the info about our workshops. You can do a group workshop or a private workshop to suit your schedule and time zone.

These workshops have been a gamechanger for many people so if you want to kickstart your sober life then sign up today.  Just go to tribesober.com/services and click on workshops.

During the first 14 Sober Shorts, we looked at the first 14 Tools in our toolbox. Before we move on to the final tool here is a quick recap…

In this Episode

Tool number 1 was “Get Connected”

  • Connection is the Opposite of Addiction” and if you’re serious about getting sober then you need to connect with others on the same path.
  • If you’re not yet a member of our tribe please check us out on tribesober.com – just hit “join our tribe” to read about the benefits of membership.

Tool number 2 was “Get Moving”

  • We all know is that exercise is “good for us” and many people exercise daily but they also drink daily – sometimes excessively.
  • Ditch the drink and keep exercising and you will be amazed at how much fitter you will get!

Tool number 3 was “Building Emotional Strength”

  • All about “learning to sit with our feelings” – instead of trying to chase them away with alcohol – alcohol is the “easy button” and enables us to bypass difficult emotions.
  • We have to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” as Tribe Sober coach Lynette says, or as Glennon Doyle says, “First the Pain, then the Rising.”

Tool number 4 was “Mindset”

  • It was about changing your thinking – about drinking.
  • We talked about overturning those false beliefs that we have picked up over the years — for example, we believe that we deserve a drink at the end of the day!
  • We talked about overturning those beliefs – one by one.
  • “Do the work” and you will never see alcohol in the same way and…
  • You will never suffer from FOMO which is the key to sticking to your sobriety.

Tool number 5 was “Visualisation”

  • We talked about some powerful ways to use visualisation.
  • One of them was to “Play the movie forward” – if you get the urge to drink, then just think it through – what will happen after that first glass. Do you really want to wake up at 3 am full of anxiety and regret?
  • Do you really want to keep going back to Day 1 – and do the hardest bit – again and again?

Tool number 6 was “Information is Power”

  • It’s hard to believe it these days but not that long ago we had NO IDEA that smoking was bad for us.
  • Even if you do decide to carry on drinking then make sure that it’s an informed choice. The information is out there and just a quick Google search will connect you with scientific research proving that alcohol is linked to 7 different types of cancer and more than 60 diseases.
  • That’s a good place to start and there are many QuitLit books out there and of course podcasts – almost 100 episodes of the Tribe Sober podcast are available now, all packed with advice inspiration and information.
  • If you’d like a QuitLit Reading list just email janet@nullts.com – you can also go to tribesober.com and hit the Inspiration tab where you’ll find a wealth of information that will inspire you to get started – and motivate you to keep going.

Tool number 7 was “Be Accountable”

  • When we embark on this journey, we need a community of people who actually care – people who have been where we are now and can advise and encourage us – people who are thriving in their alcohol-free lives and can inspire us that it really is worth doing this thing.
  • WE NEED TO BE ACCOUNTABLE – we need to know that we can share our ups and downs with other people who really get us.
  • So, if you are looking for a sober community to inspire you and keep you on track just go to tribesober.com and hit join our tribe.
  • If you’d like to sample the kind of support we offer then email janet@nulltribesober.com and request our Sobriety Battleplan pdf which is packed with great advice, charts and trackers.

Tool Number 8 was “Journaling”

  • At our workshops, we advise people to buy a beautiful notebook that will become their sobriety journal throughout this life-changing journey.
  • Sobriety is a journey of self-discovery and recording your thoughts, emotions, struggles, and accomplishments is so beneficial.
  • Early sobriety is a very emotional time and for most of us it really helps to process emotions if we can write them down.
  • We can note our triggers as well as strategies for coping with them
  • Journaling will give us perspective – reading back on the early weeks of sobriety will remind us just how hard it was – and make us realise it’s getting better and easier every day.
  • To learn more about the magic of journaling listen to Tribe Sober podcast episode 98 to hear my interview with writer in recovery Melinda Ferguson – released on 26th March 2022.

Tool No 9 was “Get a Project”

  • It’s very common for people to feel a bit flat once they have achieved their first few months of sobriety.
  • Many people in Tribe Sober (including me) experienced that “flatness’/depression/void” or whatever you want to call it – when they asked me what they should do about it I just told them to sit it out as it would eventually pass.
  • However that advice changed after my podcast interview with Dr Loretta Breuning (author of the Happy Brain) – so do have a listen, it’s episode 55 and was released on 14 August 2021.
  • Loretta explained that my brain was quite happy during the first few months as it had registered that it was working on a project (i.e. sobriety) and I was making progress – however after a few months my subconscious was thinking – ok so now we are sober, now what?
  • Well here’s the thing – as human beings we need projects – think of the cavemen, they would wake up hungry and have to go and find some food, eating the food would give them a dopamine hit but then they would get hungry again and have to go hunting.
  • So as you settle into your first few months of sobriety, GET A PROJECT to keep you on track and to keep those happy brain chemicals triggered.

Tool No 10 was “Be Prepared”

  • As with most things in life preparation is crucial…
  • Play the movie forward – what ARE you going to drink – if it’s a restaurant then check out their drinks menu online and decide what you will order.
  • If you are going to a dinner party the text your host in advance and take some AF bubbly with you.
  • Decide what you are going to say when/if people start to interrogate you – you can keep it simple “I’m on meds”, “I’m driving” or my favourite, “I’m on a health kick – no booze, no sugar, no carbs for 66 days!”
  • If drinking at home was your problem then give away your booze – or move it to somewhere you can’t see it (the garage is a good place) and make sure your fridge is stocked with delicious AF choices – if you are in SA, just go to drinknil.co.za and they will deliver to your door.

Tool No 11 was “Track Your Progress”

  • When a new member joins our tribe we send an Annual Tracker. It helps to give perspective, to keep an eye on the big picture – sure there may be slip ups on the way but what matters is a feeling of progress – are those “Sober Stretches” getting longer?
  • If you would like one of our Annual Trackers then just email janet@nulltribesober.com and I’ll send you one right away!
  • It’s so important to celebrate Milestones on this journey – the Forever word is just too daunting when starting out on this journey so we suggest 30, 60, 100 days as Milestones… followed by 6 months and then moving on to Annual.
  • The great thing about Tribe Sober is that many people stick around after getting sober – they want to help and inspire others – we even have a chatroom for people with more than 6 months of sobriety

Tool No 12 was “Nurture Yourself”

  • When we embark on this life changing journey we are going against the flow. We are going against the flow and that takes confidence and courage!
  • We need to nurture ourselves so that we can access the inner resources we need to embrace an alcohol-free life.
  • Many people (me included) discover that they are introverts at heart and not the party animal they thought they were when they drank!
  • Sobriety is a journey of discovery so spend the extra time you’ve saved exploring – Tribe Sober members have free resources to sample like coaching, hypnotherapy and root cause therapy as well as online yoga and art therapy.
  • You need to spoil yourself! Think of your sobriety as a pregnancy – 9 months of doing exactly what feels right  for you – read books, be alone, go to bed early, have naps, light candles, eat chocolate, turn down social invitations, light candles, have hot baths!
  • The pregnancy analogy works so well because for most of us 9 months is long enough for our sobriety to be strong – to survive in the outside world!

Tool No 13 was “Know Your Triggers!”

  • Triggers are a response to an outside stimulus that results in an automatic action.
  • We have trained our brains to drink, and now we have to untrain them.
  • Our brains need time to “rewire” – we need to uncouple experiences – eg: sunset and a glass of wine
  • Let’s remember that triggers won’t last for ever – quitting is not about abstaining – or about resisting – its about building a new life when we won’t even want to drink.
  • But while we are adjusting we will need to learn how to deal with our triggers.
  • Typical triggers are H.A.L.T.S (Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired. Stressed) that can affect our sobriety.
  • Although we will experience triggers we don’t have to act on them – we are not like a toddler having a tantrum in a supermarket because we can’t have chocolate!
  • We need to pause and breathe when we get a trigger – be curious – write about them in your journal and develop strategies to deal with them.

Tool No 14 was “Do the Work”

  • At Tribe Sober we’ve helped hundreds of people to quit drinking and our observation is that it takes 3-6 months of hard work – and then it gets easier and easier. That’s where we differ from AA – we don’t see it as a “lifetime struggle” which necessitates going to meetings for ever.
  • “Doing the work” in AA of course means going through the 12 steps but at Tribe Sober we believe that “the work” is different for everyone. It depends on various factors – including how dependent we have become.
  • “Doing the work” means listening to all the podcasts and reading all the QuitLit books – other people stories and struggles remind us that we are not alone in this and that it is possible to make a change.
  • “Doing the work” means trying out the tools I’ve outlined in these Sober Shorts until you have created your very own sober toolkit. Even better sign up for one of our workshops to learn more about changing your mindset about drinking and meeting others on the same path.
  • When we stop drinking we have time on our hands – we have to reconfigure our life so that it’s a life we don’t want to escape from. It’s an ideal time to try different activities and to connect with other people on the same path.  That’s why we offer our members opportunities to try coaching, hypnotherapy, art therapy, yoga, meditation as well as providing nutritional and medical advice.

Tool No 15 was “Find Your Purpose!”

  • When we are dependent on alcohol we get stuck. Our life doesn’t evolve.
  • If you’ve seen that movie Groundhog Day you will remember that the guy woke up and repeated the same day over and over.
  • When I was “working hard and playing hard” I was in that place. Sure, I was making plenty of money for the shareholders of a massive corporate, but after a long day of doing that I would come home and numb my brain with a bottle of alcohol.
  • Then I would wake up the next day and do it all again.
  • When I finally got sober I recovered my health, my energy, my creativity and most importantly I recovered time – time to think.
  • Time to think more clearly about what I really wanted out of my life.
  • Time to make the changes I needed and to create a life I no longer wanted to escape from.
  • We see this all the time in our community – people get sober and then start looking at other parts of their life. Are they eating healthily? Are they exercising enough? Are they in the right job? Are they happy in their relationships?
  • We call this The Domino Effect and we have a podcast on this subject – Tribe Sober podcast episode episode 52 from July 2021.
  • So that’s it for the Tribe Sober Toolkit – if you’d like more info on the Toolkit as well as the mindset changes you need to make then please check out our Zoom Workshops
  • Let me leave you with one of my favourite quotes by Victor Frankl
  • “Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure as Freud believed, nor is it a quest for power as Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in their life.”

More Info

Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

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 program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, You Tube, TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

 

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Alcohol Awareness and Emotional Sobriety

April was recognised worldwide as Alcohol Awareness Month. I was not aware of this! Were you? But surely every month should be alcohol awareness month, don’t you agree, especially if you are in recovery, or thinking of not drinking!

What is the month of May for you? For me, May is International Biodiversity Month. This means a lot to our existence on earth, sober or not. This means a lot to our futures and our pasts. It is also a good day to break away from the constant human focus to a more compassionate focus on Mother Earth. Why not forget your drinking for one day, and do something wonderful for your environment?

Connection Makes us all Human

Life is about relationships – I mean, one of the basic human needs is social interaction, not so? But what then about our earth? Our relationships with our life source? None of us would be here if it were not for the soil, water, air and sun? None of us would be here without our gardens, the ocean, the forests and the mountains? How many of you have loved island and safari holidays? Immersing yourself in nature and forgetting all your troubles?

Humanity is completely dependent on natural resources for all our greedy needs: water, food, medicines, clothing, shelter, energy and technology. We take so much from Mother Earth and never give back. There are mines to make our cell phones, factories spewing out smoke to make our cars and gadgets. Do you ever consider that all the plastic blocking up the rivers and oceans is also clogging up our veins, our babies’ brains?

Mental Health and Emotional Sobriety

This brings me to the next theme in this blog – emotional sobriety. May is also Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. During this month, we take note of those who are struggling with addiction, with depression, with personality disorders and stress issues.

No Matter What Recovery created a resource page to educate people and provide them with support during Alcohol Awareness Month: https://nomatterwhatrecovery.com/alcohol-awareness-month/ .

But we can all agree that alcohol awareness is a lifelong thing, like growing up and discovering the joys of trigonometry, geology and the inside of a cell! Being intelligent is not all about physics, maths and knowing who Hitler was, is it?

Intelligence is a multi-faceted being and we all learn later on in life that emotional intelligence is what makes us human. Many researchers agree that emotional intelligence is far more important than your IQ is – Kandra Cherry on VeryWellMind wonders what it would be like in a world where no one could understand emotions, or how to manage and perceive them?

Imagine the Scenario

Imagine that you are invited to a workshop on sobriety. You feel nervous and excited. You are newly sober, and you want to meet like-minded people who you can connect with. You walk into the room, and you immediately start to perceive the emotions of those around you: you subconsciously look for nonverbal clues such as body language, facial expressions and dress codes, hairstyles, and manners.

The workshop starts and you use your emotions to reason – to think and decide. You choose who you want to pay attention to and listen to. You choose who you will react to and who appeals and who does not appeal to you.

There could be a lot of contradicting emotions in the room during the workshop: sadness, happiness, anger, shame, guilt, indecision, and humour. You gauge these emotions from your own sense of emotion that day (you may feel anger, loss, guilt and loneliness too). You try to establish why people are feeling these emotions. You start to piece together the reasons that people are at the workshop, just like you.

The fourth dimension of emotional intelligence is the management of emotions. This is the highest level of emotional intelligence, so it comes easier to an adult who is able to perceive his or her emotions more deeply than others. Children and teenagers will still be learning about emotions and how to manage these.

“Regulating emotions and responding appropriately as well as responding to the emotions of others are all important aspects of emotional management… higher levels require greater conscious involvement and involve regulating emotions.”

So, back to the workshop! You are there and you are feeling all of these emotions. When you start to share how you feel, you see people’s eyes light up with relief. You see their body language change and relax. You are all there, connecting, with similar reasons for being there!

Little did you know it, but you have attended the workshop, like everyone else, to reach a state of emotional sobriety. This is when you have managed to stop drinking for as long as it takes to call yourself sober and you are starting to feel happy about this decision and happy in your life again.

Depression and Sobriety

This state of awareness can be very difficult, however, for non-drinkers who are depressed. There are also those abstainers who feel a sense of melancholy daily when they stop drinking.

Renewal Lodge by Burning Tree puts it clearly: “Alcohol abuse creates a complex imbalance of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine release is triggered when you engage in activities you find pleasurable, such as eating chocolate or playing sports, and it teaches your brain what actions to repeat, and eventually, to crave. Alcohol use overloads the brain with dopamine, while also reducing the brain’s dopamine receptors in the process. When you first quit drinking, the lack of dopamine and diminished receptors can lead to feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Both excessively high and abnormally low levels of dopamine can have adverse effects, but over time your brain will begin to normalize dopamine levels as well as your brain’s response to the chemical without the intrusion of alcohol.”

But there is hope, of course. Strive for emotional sobriety. There are several steps you can take to get there and we found these on an amazing website called No Matter What Recovery:

Emotional sobriety generally involves:

  • Maintaining emotional balance and health
  • Being present and live in the present 
  • Accepting that suffering and grief are natural parts of life that enable us to grow as individuals
  • Not dwelling on the past
  • Be mindful of others’ expectations and perceptions, and don’t let them influence your self-esteem or negatively impact your behavior. 

Build Your Emotional Intelligence

Getting back to emotional intelligence: you can be aware of your emotions and how to read other people’s emotions. You can also learn how to manage your emotions and to walk away from the hugeness of your emotions if need be.

Many people are trapped by their egos in their own heads which rules their emotions. When you give up a substance like alcohol, you can reach a sense of calmness, of emotional equilibrium. You can tune into your emotions and what you have been numbing behind the alcohol for so long. You can learn to meditate and accept your emotions, allowing them and then moving on. The main reason you want to sit with your emotions is to overcome the triggers that could lead to a temptation to drink again.

Life is challenging. Everyone has a story to share and a struggle in their life. We can all connect listen, empathize and remember that you are not alone. There is nothing that alcohol can do for you, except make things much worse.

Get your free Pdf here:

 

 

 

 

From Whisky to Water with Sam Cowen

 

My guest today is a household name here in South Africa.  After a successful career as a radio presenter Sam Cowen wrote a book called “From Whisky to Water” which documented her struggles with alcohol.

Sam came close to killing herself, often driving home so drunk that when she woke the next morning, she had no idea how she got home, let alone what she had said and done the night before.

She managed to ditch the drink but then became addicted to food, piling on 25kgs in her early sobriety.  Her salvation was swimming – which is where she found serenity – and training as a recovery coach has brought purpose into her life.

In this Episode

  • Sam didn’t drink at university but when she had her first whisky at the radio station where she worked she loved it – and felt like she had “come home”.
  • Broadcasting was very male dominated and Sam struggled to connect – apart from when she was in the bar with her colleagues.
  • She got a reputation for being able to “hold her drink” which she wore like a badge of honour.
  • Over the years Sam had been producing or presenting radio shows and her voice was well known throughout South Africa.
  • One day she did a TV appearance and was devastated to receive an email from a viewer saying “we thought you’d be really pretty”.
  • She hadn’t really thought much about her looks before but this nasty comment rocked her self-confidence and exacerbated her drinking – after all it didn’t matter what she looked like when she was drinking.
  • Her drinking escalated and she started doing things that were “not normal” – she would have to pull into a multi-story car park for a sleep as she knew she shouldn’t be driving.
  • Sam talked of the “golden 15 minutes” of clarity before closing down in a blackout while she was driving.
  • She told us about waking up and finding blood in her car – the result of taking an injured man to hospital during her blackout.
  • We discussed blackouts and the fact that they happen because the brain is so soaked in alcohol it can’t even make memories – it’s not that we have simply forgotten.
  • Sam got sober 20 years ago when AA was the only option. These days of course there are many alternative ways to get help, including tribesober.com.
  • She felt that the AA meetings were like “coming home” – the warmth and the support of the community enabling her to stop drinking.
  • There is a quote by CS Lewis in Sam’s book that summarises the connection we feel in the recovery community – “Friendship is born in the moment that one person looks at another and says – You too? I thought I was the only one” – the relief we feel when we realise we are not alone in this is deep.
  • She read a lot of memoirs in early sobriety and the book by Caroline Knapp – “Drinking, a Love Story” made a great impression on her.
  • I thought it was so interesting that Sam had been sober for 14 years but had still not found serenity.
  • Her time at AA had left its mark and she felt that she had to keep “doing penance” or she might drink again.
  • Like many of us, Sam experienced a “void” in early sobriety – that feeling of “now what?”
  • She decided to fill the void with ice cream and put on 25kgs in process – then she became “invisible” due to her excess weight and actually enjoyed the fact that she was still “on air”, still being funny but could go unnoticed in public.
  • Her excess weight was causing her a lot of joint pain. A doctor prescribed a whole list of meds to deal with the pain which made Sam decide she must lose the weight instead.
  • She discovered swimming which was when she felt she had “come home” for the third time.
  • If you are in early sobriety and dealing with the “void” then please have a listen to the Tribe Sober podcast episode 55 with Dr Loretta Breuning. Loretta explains that we need a project to keep our happy brain chemicals triggered.
  • Of course, for Sam that project was swimming and she trained and took place in long distance swimming events – in freezing cold water which of course provides more health benefits!
  • Training as a recovery coach enabled her to find her place in the world. She realised that she could help people and she’s been able to find her purpose.
  • During the next 6 years she moved forwards and began to thrive in her sobriety and to finally find serenity.
  • Sam did her training with David Collins at the Ubuntu Academy of Coaching. He is a renowned international coach and has been interviewed for this podcast so watch this space!
  • She explained that recovery coaching is complementary – it’s not therapy and it’s not treatment but it will help people in early sobriety reconnect with themselves and figure out what they really want out of life.
  • To learn more about Sam and her coaching go to samcowen.co.za and of course her book is essential reading if you are thinking about giving up drinking or in recovery.
  • It’s called From Whisky to Water and there is a link to it on her website.

    More Info

  • Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.
  • To access our website, click HERE.
  • 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 program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

 

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Sober Short – Do the Work!

SOBER SHORT 14 – Do the Work!

This Sober Short series is taking you through our Tribe Sober Toolkit – this toolkit is just one of the things that we share with you during our regular Zoom workshops – just click here to find all the info about our workshops. You can do a group workshop or a private workshop to suit your schedule and time zone.

These workshops have been a gamechanger for many people so if you want to kickstart your sober life then sign up today.  Just go to tribesober.com/services and click on workshops.

During the first 13 Sober Shorts, we looked at the first 13 Tools in our toolbox. Before we move on to tool number 14 let’s do a quick recap…

In this Episode

Tool number 1 was “Get Connected”

  • Connection is the Opposite of Addiction” and if you’re serious about getting sober then you need to connect with others on the same path.
  • If you’re not yet a member of our tribe please check us out on tribesober.com – just hit “join our tribe” to read about the benefits of membership.

Tool number 2 was “Get Moving”

  • We all know is that exercise is “good for us” and many people exercise daily but they also drink daily – sometimes excessively.
  • Ditch the drink and keep exercising and you will be amazed at how much fitter you will get!

Tool number 3 was “Building Emotional Strength”

  • All about “learning to sit with our feelings” – instead of trying to chase them away with alcohol – alcohol is the “easy button” and enables us to bypass difficult emotions.
  • We have to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” as Tribe Sober coach Lynette says, or as Glennon Doyle says, “First the Pain, then the Rising.”

Tool number 4 was “Mindset”

  • It was about changing your thinking – about drinking.
  • We talked about overturning those false beliefs that we have picked up over the years — for example, we believe that we deserve a drink at the end of the day!
  • We talked about overturning those beliefs – one by one.
  • “Do the work” and you will never see alcohol in the same way and …
  • You will never suffer from FOMO which is the key to sticking to your sobriety. 

Tool number 5 was “Visualisation”

  • We talked about some powerful ways to use visualisation.
  • One of them was to “Play the movie forward” – if you get the urge to drink, then just think it through – what will happen after that first glass. Do you really want to wake up at 3 am full of anxiety and regret?
  • Do you really want to keep going back to Day 1 – and do the hardest bit – again and again?

Tool number 6 “Information is Power”

  • It’s hard to believe it these days but not that long ago we had NO IDEA that smoking was bad for us.
  • Even if you do decide to carry on drinking then make sure that it’s an informed choice. The information is out there and just a quick google search will connect you with scientific research proving that alcohol is linked to 7 different types of cancer and more than 60 diseases.
  • That’s a good place to start and there are many QuitLit books out there and of course podcasts – almost 100 episodes of the Tribe Sober podcast are available now, all packed with advice inspiration and information.
  • If you’d like a QuitLit Reading list just email janet@nulltribesober.com – you can also go to tribesober.com and hit the Inspiration tab where you’ll find a wealth of information that will inspire you to get started – and motivate you to keep going.

Tool number 7 was “Be Accountable”

  • When we embark on this journey, we need a community of people who actually care – people who have been where we are now and can advise and encourage us – people who are thriving in their alcohol-free lives and can inspire us that it really is worth doing this thing.
  • WE NEED TO BE ACCOUNTABLE – we need to know that we can share our ups and downs with other people who really get us.
  • So, if you are looking for a sober community to inspire you and keep you on track just go to tribesober.com and hit join our tribe.
  • If you’d like to sample the kind of support we offer then email janet@nulltribesober.com and request our Sobriety Battleplan pdf which is packed with great advice, charts and trackers.

Tool Number 8 was “Journaling”

  • At our workshops, we advise people to buy a beautiful notebook that will become their sobriety journal throughout this life-changing journey.
  • Sobriety is a journey of self-discovery and recording your thoughts, emotions, struggles, and accomplishments is so beneficial.
  • Early sobriety is a very emotional time and for most of us it really helps to process emotions if we can write them down.
  • We can note our triggers as well as strategies for coping with them
  • Journaling will give us perspective – reading back on the early weeks of sobriety will remind us just how hard it was – and make us realise it’s getting better and easier every day.
  • To learn more about the magic of journaling listen to Tribe Sober podcast episode 98 to hear my interview with writer in recovery Melinda Ferguson – released on 26th March 2022

Tool No 9 was “Get a Project”

  • It’s very common for people to feel a bit flat once they have achieved their first few months of sobriety.
  • Many people in Tribe Sober (including me) experienced that “flatness’/depression/void” or whatever you want to call it – when they asked me what they should do about it I just told them to sit it out as it would eventually pass
  • However that advice changed after my podcast interview with Dr Loretta Breuning (author of the Happy Brain) – so do have a listen, its episode 55 and was released on 14 August 2021.
  • Loretta explained that my brain was quite happy during the first few months as it had registered that it was working on a project (i.e. sobriety) and I was making progress – however after a few months my subconscious was thinking – ok so now we are sober, now what?
  • Well here’s the thing – as human beings we need projects – think of the cavemen, they would wake up hungry and have to go and find some food, eating the food would give them a dopamine hit but then they would get hungry again and have to go hunting.
  • So as you settle into your first few months of sobriety GET A PROJECT to keep you on track and to keep those happy brain chemicals triggered.

Tool No 10 was “Be Prepared”

  • As with most things in life preparation is crucial…
  • Play the movie forward – what ARE you going to drink – if it’s a restaurant then check out their drinks menu online and decide what you will order.
  • If you are going to a dinner party the text your host in advance and take some AF bubbly with you.
  • Decide what you are going to say when/if people start to interrogate you – you can keep it simple “I’m on meds”, “I’m driving” or my favourite “I’m on a health kick – no booze, no sugar, no carbs for 66 days!”
  • If drinking at home was your problem then give away your booze – or move it to somewhere you can’t see it (the garage is a good place) and make sure your fridge is stocked with delicious AF choices – if you are in SA just go to drinknil.co.za and they will deliver to your door.

Tool No 11 was “Track Your Progress”

  • When a new member joins our tribe we send them an Annual Tracker. It helps them to give perspective, to keep an eye on the big picture – sure there may be slip ups on the way but what matters is a feeling of progress – are those “Sober Stretches” getting longer?
  • If you would like one of our Annual Trackers then just email janet@nulltribesober.com and I’ll send you one right away!
  • It’s so important to celebrate Milestones on this journey – the Forever word is just too daunting when starting out on this journey so we suggest 30, 60, 100 days as Milestones… followed by 6 months and then moving on to Annual.
  • The great thing about Tribe Sober is that many people stick around after getting sober – they want to help and inspire others – we even have a chatroom for people with more than 6 months of sobriety.

Tool No 12 was “Nurture Yourself”

  • When we embark on this life-changing journey, we are going against the flow. We are going against the flow and that takes confidence and courage!
  • We need to nurture ourselves so that we can access the inner resources we need to embrace an alcohol-free life.
  • Many people (me included) discover that they are introverts at heart and not the party animal they thought they were when they drank!
  • Sobriety is a journey of discovery so spend the extra time you’ve saved exploring – Tribe Sober members have free resources to sample like coaching, hypnotherapy and root cause therapy as well as online yoga and art therapy.
  • You need to spoil yourself! Think of your sobriety as a pregnancy – 9 months of doing exactly what feels right  for you – read books, be alone, go to bed early, have naps, light candles, eat chocolate, turn down social invitations, light candles, have hot baths!
  • The pregnancy analogy works so well because for most of us 9 months is long enough for our sobriety to be strong – to survive in the outside world!

Tool No 13 was “Know Your Triggers!”

  • Triggers are a response to an outside stimulus that results in an automatic action.
  • We have trained our brains to drink, and now we have to untrain them.
  • Our brains need time to “rewire” – we need to uncouple experiences – eg: sunset and a glass of wine.
  • Let’s remember that triggers won’t last for ever – quitting is not about abstaining – or about resisting – its about building a new life when we won’t even want to drink.
  • But while we are adjusting we will need to learn how to deal with our triggers.
  • Typical triggers are- H.A.L.T.S (Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired. Stressed) can affect our sobriety.
  • Although we will experience triggers we don’t have to act on them – we are not like a toddler having a tantrum in a supermarket because we can’t have chocolate.
  • We need to pause and breathe when we get a trigger – be curious – write about them in your journal and develop strategies to deal with them.

Tool No 14 is “Do the Work”

  • If you listened to last Saturday’s podcast you will have heard the traffic light analogy.
  • My guest was explaining that many people worry that sobriety will be a red light to their social life and their fun. Whereas for him it had been a green light to health and happiness.
  • However there is a period of adjustment – the amber light. Those of us that have become dependent on alcohol can’t just flick a switch and stop drinking – we have to “do the work”.  We have to “throw the book” at our sobriety.
  • At Tribe Sober we’ve helped hundreds of people to quit drinking and our observation is that it takes 3-6 months of hard work – and then it gets easier and easier. That’s where we differ from AA – we don’t see it as a “lifetime struggle” which necessitates going to meetings for ever.
  • “Doing the work” in AA of course means going through the 12 steps, but at Tribe Sober we believe that “the work” is different for everyone. It depends on various factors – including how dependent we have become.
  • “Doing the work” means listening to all the podcasts and reading all the QuitLit books – other people’s stories and struggles remind us that we are not alone in this and that it is possible to make a change.
  • “Doing the work” means trying out the tools I’ve outlined in these Sober Shorts until you have created your very own sober toolkit. Even better, sign up for one of our workshops to learn more about changing your mindset about drinking and meeting others on the same path.
  • When we stop drinking, we have time on our hands – we have to reconfigure our life so that it’s a life we don’t want to escape from. It’s an ideal time to try different activities and to connect with other people on the same path.  We offer our members opportunities to try coaching, hypnotherapy, art therapy, yoga, meditation as well as providing nutritional and medical advice.
  • Different things work for different people and of course the key thing is to connect with others and to share our stories and experiences. Many people will slip up again and again before their sobriety slips and that’s when the connection is even more important.  So you can get the reassurance that all is not lost and that you just need to get back on the bus and build up your next “sober stretch”.
  • We need to prioritise our sobriety and learn to put ourselves first – gradually we will learn to integrate our sobriety into our lifestyle and it will get easier and easier.

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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Is Drinking Going out of Fashion?

Is Drinking Going out of Fashion?

I hope so! Drinking is such a fixation, don’t you think? I mean, wherever you go, people are drinking or buying drinks or wanting a drink. Huh? The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and people want to sit in a smoky pub and drink. I don’t get it. Generation Z gets it!

This is the NOW generation – our kids who were born between 1997 and 2012. That makes them between the ages of 9 and 24. It seems that this generation prefers clean living, technology, board games and silent discos. What? Yes, this generation is also an indoor breed of human who talks using thumbs on devices and work from home or shared office choices.

Let’s set the scene a bit.

The Generations of Today

Baby Boomers – that is the current 50-something year old until 70-something-year-old crowd. They were born between 1946 and 1964 and many of them are our parents or siblings. In my experience this generation loves drinking!

Generation X – these kids were born between 1965 and 1980 and are now between the ages of 41 and 56 (EEEK that is ME!) and yes, we liked to drink. This is the age where we have hit midlife and most of us are in a crisis. Many of us don’t recognise we are in a crisis, and many of us drink to hide it. The rest of us are trying to find their meaning in life through esoteric retreats, spirituality, meditation, and communing with the spirits.

Generation Y – these Millennials were born into the crazy 1980s and 1990s when pop music was in, and Mandela became South Africa’s first black president. These youngsters are still only 25 to 40 years old. They don’t like drinking during the week but prefer to have a few social drinks with friends on the weekends. They don’t want a life controlled by alcohol but want to try new things like magic mushrooms, silent discos, and botanical drinks. They like to wake up clear-headed and ready for the next selfie. In addition, Millennials cannot afford to drink!

Those who can afford it, tend to binge drink: in a survey by FHE Health, it was found that “As for the most drinks consumed in one sitting, the most common max for men is a whopping 12 to 15 beverages, which is ripe for Millennial alcohol addiction. In comparison, 3 to 4 drinks were the most common for the highest percentage of female participants. Over 3 percent of men say their alcohol consumption consists of 25 or more drinks in one sitting, though no women have done so.”

This is the contradiction with this crowd – some don’t drink at all, and others binge drink.

Generation Z – these babies were born between the years 1997 and 2012 and they are still very young. Most of us have kids in this generation and we are their ideal role models. My parents drank a lot – they were alcoholics in retrospect – and we three kids were brought up to believe that drinking was normal and fun. So, as a parent to this generation of kids, I am very aware of what they are absorbing and becoming. I was able to stop the drinking cycle in MY family but my husband is a binge drinker so that is being noticed by our two boys!

This generation is noticeably sheltered by their parents and in my experience, there is much more danger out there in the world to worry about. First of all, these kids do not have money and are far less independent than previous generations – which had to just get out, study and work and make it happen.

Generation Z tends to live with their parents until sometimes into their 30s. They do not drink as much as their parents do or did and they prefer to be online, chatting to friends via social media.

Remember that Covid 19 forced our kids to be indoors and isolated for two years which had huge social and psychological impacts on them. According to an article on Flux called Teetotalism – Why Generation Z is choosing good, clean fun, this generation is choosing alcohol-free drinks more than alcoholic drinks.

“Instead of hanging out at bars or nightclubs, Generation Z can be found attending juice crawls and silent discos – or even staying in and playing marathon board-game sessions with friends at home. In many ways, Generation Z is pushing back at the generations who have come before them by rebelling against rebellion.”

Drinking is Expensive

Their survey found that these young people cannot afford to drink! There is also a movement towards health and wellness and the Covid epidemic has accentuated this. After two long years of lockdowns and ill-health, people want their lives and futures back. Our kids do not want to be like their parents, drinking, overweight, and unfit! There is another generation rising too, Generation M – the conscious Muslim consumer who does not drink. Wow!

I am very glad that this movement could mean the rise in alcohol-free drinking and sober party events and themes. No hangovers, no alcoholic cycles where weekends are just an endless cycle of drinking due to guilt and the false beliefs that this is what we all do and it’s fun.

It is fascinating to know that China is a hotspot now for no alcohol or alcohol-free drinks! Africa is also a hotspot for such non-alcoholic drinks while the Middle East has always been a no drinking zone thanks to the Muslim influence there. Businesses can now target these markets with specialised non-alcoholic brands.

Did you know that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found that the number of alcohol drinkers globally has gone down by 5%? Alcohol companies are suddenly all jumping on the alcohol-free drinks bandwagon and producing 0% gins, mixes, and wines!

The Conversation notes that “This is not a fad buoyed by addiction and recovery stories. The millennial- and Gen Z-driven trend is seen as part of a burgeoning wellness movement, a desire to have social gatherings less focused on alcohol (and the next morning’s less fuzzed by aftereffects), as well a shift toward abstemiousness more generally.”

Is Drinking a Trend or Going out of Fashion?

Restaurants and bars are wondering if this is a movement that is going to stay or just a trend for now? They have to spend a lot of extra income on fresh fruit to make extraordinary mocktails! There is waste produced, and time needed to do this. The youngsters who are driving this trend are the same youngsters who are social media and smartphone aware, even to the point of addiction. They like to hang out in internet cafes and places where they can be on their devices while sipping a healthy smoothie.

On the other hand, many young people have spoken candidly about the stigma of NOT drinking – if they don’t drink at parties they are ridiculed as being boring and not IN. There is so much pressure to drink that these teens are excluded and feel as if they don’t belong. The stigma has a lot to do with the societal pressures to be a man and to be cool and to ‘live life to the full’. We all feel that pressure to live it up and make every moment count! But why do we have to be drunk to do this?!

Nonetheless, we can expect to see a growth in tolerance toward different drinking behaviour, as more people decide to drink less. This may unlock all sorts of possibilities when it comes to promoting moderate drinking across the population at large. The rise in interest in drink-free challenges, for example, and healthier lifestyles more generally, suggests the cultural climate is ripe for putting non-drinking centre stage in public health promotion materials.”

I am still not sure whether drinking is going out of fashion. There is definitely a global change going on in the way people perceive alcohol and its effects on them. In my parents’ day, drinking was the accepted norm and getting pissed as deemed hilarious. In my day, I see and talk to many people in their midlife who are uncomfortable with drinking. They are discovering that drinking is in fact a social ill and a sign that something is not quite right in their lives.

You may be a drinker, a non-drinker, or recently sober – send us a comment and tell us how you like to socialise.

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Why Sobriety is a Green Light with Jeff Graham

 

Jeff Graham founded the Bac2Zero sobriety group.  Like many of us in the recovery space, Jeff’s initial sobriety goal was simply to quit drinking.  As he recovered his health, energy and creativity he decided he wanted to help others to do the same.

He describes sobriety as freedom – freedom from a world that was once filled with dread, regret and fear.  Although his goal started out simply as one of abstinence, his life has since grown into a life filled with dreams, hope and happiness.

In this Episode

  • Jeff enjoyed his first beer at the age of 16 – it wasn’t so much the buzz he enjoyed as the status – he felt like he “fitted in”.
  • As much as he enjoyed the social side of drinking, he also discovered that he loved to drink alone – he would come home from a night out and have some drinks on his own – he felt like he needed some “Jeff time” as he put it.
  • Many of us are like this – and even in sobriety some of us can still get triggered when we get home from a social event – even when we were drinking AF drinks!
  • I would work hard to behave myself at a social event and then down a bottle of wine when I got home!
  • Jeff was into beer and from the age of 23 and was drinking a case of beer a day – of course his friends were all drinkers as well.
  • His parents were both alcoholics and that’s why he was drawn to beer rather than spirits – he thought it was “better” – but of course it’s all ethanol!
  • He started hiding his beers in the garage – so his wife and kids had no idea how much he was drinking or quite how bad it had got.
  • Someone asked him recently if sobriety was “hard” – it made him reflect on just how “hard” it was to be a functioning alcoholic – how hard it was to hold everything together.
  • He got to the point when he knew he would have to cut down but he couldn’t face it – so he just started hiding his drinks more effectively!
  • We talked about the buzz and how us drinkers love to maintain the buzz – in fact recent research has shown that the buzz only lasts for 20 minutes and then we carry on drinking to top it up.
  • As Jeff explained, after some beers he would not go back to “normal” – he would feel lower than normal and reach for the beer to compensate
  • He was starting to drink earlier in the day but always telling himself that “tomorrow” would be different.
  • Eventually he ran out of lies – admitted defeat and booked himself into rehab for a week.
  • He needed this stay in rehab to draw a line under his drinking and to make a statement to his friends and family that he wanted to make a change.
  • We find that many of the people who come to our workshops are able to make use of the tools and community to draw that line under their drinking habits and to make a change.
  • Jeff needed the accountability that came with rehab – he just couldn’t do this alone.
  • He didn’t actually learn much in rehab but he did a lot of self-reflection and of course met other people with the same problems.
  • When he was sharing his story he heard himself saying things that he hadn’t really registered before – that happens at our workshops – people get emotional when they share because they only realise just how unhappy alcohol has been making them when they tell their story out loud.
  • Three months out of rehab he had a relapse – he wanted a reward, a last “hurrah” as he put it.
  • That did indicate that he still had work to do on his mindset – if we still see alcohol as a reward then it means it will always be hard to resist and we will suffer from FOMO.
  • Once we see alcohol for the addictive toxin it really is we will lose our desire for it which is the key to sustaining our sobriety.
  • After his relapse, Jeff took his recovery more seriously – he started to listen more and began journaling to process his thoughts and emotions.
  • He feels that it’s really important to get the negative thoughts on paper so then we can analyse them – it’s all part of being honest with ourselves.
  • Of course when he stopped drinking he had to find other things to do – he learned that he couldn’t just wait until he had a craving and then find something else to do – he had to plan it in advance.
  • Jeff learned that he needed a schedule of activities and I think that’s great advice.
  • Try lots of different things and keep yourself busy until you find a routine that really works for you.
  • As he says it’s no good telling him to call someone if he gets a craving – it’s too late by then!
  • Like myself he loves talking to people in recovery and getting new insights.
  • We talked about discovering purpose and the way we have both found more purpose in our lives from running sobriety groups – he set up Bac2Zero to inspire others on the journey.
  • Interviewing people for Bac2Zero keeps his schedule busy!
  • He has some great analogies – sobriety is like a haunted house – scary to enter alone but can even be fun if you are with someone else!
  • And the traffic lights! – sobriety is not a red traffic light!  It’s a green light to freedom, health and happiness – yes there may be a while stopped at the amber light going through an adjustment period but the green light will appear!   Love that one!
  • Two years into sobriety Jeff is experiencing lots of benefits – increase in his self-worth, reduction of anxiety and closer connection to his family are just some…
  • We talked about how many of us thought we were ok because we were not the homeless guy on the park bench – but Jeff advises that instead of comparing ourselves with the homeless guy, we should compare ourselves with the person that we could be…
  • Even if alcohol doesn’t destroy us it will certainly prevent us from reaching our potential!
  • We agreed that community is the essential thing that all sobriety groups have in common because connection is the opposite of addiction.
  • You can find out more about Jeff by going to gettingbac2zero.com website – he’s on Instagram as well.

More Info

Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

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 program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

 

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Sober Short – Know Your Triggers!

SOBER SHORT 13 – Know Your Triggers!

This Sober Short series is taking you through our Tribe Sober Toolkit – this toolkit is just one of the things that we share with you during our regular Zoom workshops – just go to tribesober.com, hit Our Services and you’ll find all the info about our workshops. You can do a group workshop or a private workshop to suit your schedule and time zone.

These workshops have been a gamechanger for many people so if you want to kickstart your sober life then sign up today.  Just go to tribesober.com/services and click on workshops.

During the first 12 Sober Shorts, we looked at the first 12 Tools in our toolbox. Before we move on to tool number 13 let’s do a quick recap…

In this Episode

Tool number 1 was “Get Connected”

  • “Connection is the Opposite of Addiction” and if you’re serious about getting sober then you need to connect with others on the same path.
  • If you’re not yet a member of our tribe please check us out on tribesober.com – just hit “join our tribe” to read about the benefits of membership.

Tool number 2 was “Get Moving”

  • We all know is that exercise is “good for us” and many people exercise daily but they also drink daily – sometimes excessively.
  • Ditch the drink and keep exercising and you will be amazed at how much fitter you will get!

Tool number 3 was “Building Emotional Strength”

  • All about “learning to sit with our feelings” – instead of trying to chase them away with alcohol – alcohol is the “easy button” and enables us to bypass difficult emotions.
  • We have to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” as Tribe Sober coach Lynette says, or as Glennon Doyle says, “First the Pain, then the Rising.”

Tool number 4 was all about Mindset

  • It was about changing your thinking – about drinking.
  • We talked about overturning those false beliefs that we have picked up over the years — for example, we believe that we deserve a drink at the end of the day!
  • We talked about overturning those beliefs – one by one.
  • “Do the work” and you will never see alcohol in the same way and…
  • You will never suffer from FOMO which is the key to sticking to your sobriety.

Tool number 5 was “Visualisation”

  • We talked about some powerful ways to use visualisation.
  • One of them was to “Play the movie forward” – if you get the urge to drink, then just think it through – what will happen after that first glass. Do you really want to wake up at 3 am full of anxiety and regret?
  • Do you really want to keep going back to Day 1 – and do the hardest bit – again and again?

Tool number 6 was “Information is Power”

  • It’s hard to believe it these days but not that long ago we had NO IDEA that smoking was bad for us.
  • Even if you do decide to carry on drinking, then make sure that it’s an informed choice. The information is out there and just a quick Google search will connect you with scientific research proving that alcohol is linked to 7 different types of cancer and more than 60 diseases.
  • That’s a good place to start and there are many QuitLit books out there and of course podcasts – almost 100 episodes of the Tribe Sober podcast are available now, all packed with advice inspiration and information.
  • If you’d like a QuitLit Reading list just email janet@nullts.com – you can also go to tribesober.com and hit the Inspiration tab where you’ll find a wealth of information that will inspire you to get started – and motivate you to keep going.

Tool number 7 was “Be Accountable”

  • When we embark on this journey, we need a community of people who actually care – people who have been where we are now and can advise and encourage us – people who are thriving in their alcohol-free lives and can inspire us that it really is worth doing this thing.
  • WE NEED TO BE ACCOUNTABLE – we need to know that we can share our ups and downs with other people who really get us.
  • So, if you are looking for a sober community to inspire you and keep you on track just go to tribesober.com and hit join our tribe.
  • If you’d like to sample the kind of support we offer then email janet@nulltribesober.com and request our Sobriety Battleplan pdf which is packed with great advice, charts and trackers.

Tool Number 8 was “Journaling”

  • At our workshops, we advise people to buy a beautiful notebook that will become their sobriety journal throughout this life-changing journey.
  • Sobriety is a journey of self-discovery and recording your thoughts, emotions, struggles, and accomplishments is so beneficial.
  • Early sobriety is a very emotional time and for most of us it really helps to process emotions if we can write them down.
  • We can note our triggers as well as strategies for coping with them.
  • Journaling will give us perspective – reading back on the early weeks of sobriety will remind us just how hard it was – and make us realise it’s getting better and easier every day.
  • To learn more about the magic of journaling, listen to Tribe Sober podcast episode 98 to hear my interview with writer in recovery Melinda Ferguson – released on 26th March 2022.

Tool No 9 was “Get a Project”

  • It’s very common for people to feel a bit flat once they have achieved their first few months of sobriety.
  • Many people in Tribe Sober (including me) experienced that “flatness’/depression/void” or whatever you want to call it – when they asked me what they should do about it I just told them to sit it out as it would eventually pass.
  • However that advice changed after my podcast interview with Dr Loretta Breuning (author of the Happy Brain) – so do have a listen, its episode 55 and was released on 14 August 2021.
  • Loretta explained that my brain was quite happy during the first few months as it had registered that it was working on a project (i.e sobriety) and I was making progress – however after a few months my subconscious was thinking – ok so now we are sober, now what?
  • Well here’s the thing – as human beings we need projects – think of the cavemen, they would wake up hungry and have to go and find some food, eating the food would give them a dopamine hit but then they would get hungry again and have to go hunting.
  • So as you settle into your first few months of sobriety, GET A PROJECT to keep you on track and to keep those happy brain chemicals triggered.

Tool No 10 was “Be Prepared”

  • As with most things in life preparation is crucial…
  • Play the movie forward – what ARE you going to drink – if it’s a restaurant then check out their drinks menu online and decide what you will order.
  • If you are going to a dinner party, then text your host in advance and take some AF bubbly with you.
  • Decide what you are going to say when/if people start to interrogate you – you can keep it simple “I’m on meds”, “I’m driving” or my favourite, “I’m on a health kick – no booze, no sugar, no carbs for 66 days!”
  • If drinking at home was your problem, then give away your booze – or move it to somewhere you can’t see it (the garage is a good place) and make sure your fridge is stocked with delicious AF choices – if you are in SA just go to drinknil.co.za and they will deliver to your door.

Tool No 11 was “Track Your Progress”

  • When a new member joins our tribe we send an Annual Tracker. It helps to give perspective, to keep an eye on the big picture – sure there may be slip ups on the way but what matters is a feeling of progress – are those “Sober Stretches” getting longer?
  • If you would like one of our Annual Trackers then just email janet@nulltribesober.com and I’ll send you one right away!
  • It’s so important to celebrate Milestones on this journey – the Forever word is just too daunting when starting out on this journey so we suggest 30, 60, 100 days as Milestones… followed by 6 months and then moving on to Annual.
  • The great thing about Tribe Sober is that many people stick around after getting sober – they want to help and inspire others – we even have a chatroom for people with more than 6 months of sobriety

Tool No 12 was “Nurture Yourself”

  • When we embark on this life changing journey we are going against the flow. We are going against the flow and that takes confidence and courage!
  • We need to nurture ourselves so that we can access the inner resources we need to embrace an alcohol-free life
  • Many people (me included) discover that they are introverts at heart and not the party animal they thought they were when they drank!
  • Sobriety is a journey of discovery so spend the extra time you’ve saved exploring – Tribe Sober members have free resources to sample like coaching, hypnotherapy and root cause therapy as well as online yoga and art therapy.
  • You need to spoil yourself! Think of your sobriety as a pregnancy – 9 months of doing exactly what feels right  for you – read books, be alone, go to bed early, have naps, light candles, eat chocolate, turn down social invitations, light candles, have hot baths!
  • The pregnancy analogy works so well because for most of us 9 months is long enough for our sobriety to be strong – to survive in the outside world!

Tool No 13 is “Know Your Triggers!”

  • Triggers are a response to an outside stimulus that results in an automatic reaction.
  • We have trained our brains to drink, and now we have to un-train them.
  • Our brains need time to “rewire” – we need to uncouple experiences – eg: sunset and a glass of wine.
  • Let’s remember that triggers won’t last for ever – quitting is not about abstaining – or about resisting – it’s about building a new life when we won’t even want to drink.
  • But while we are adjusting we will need to learn how to deal with our triggers.
  • Typical triggers are – H.A.L.T.S (Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired. Stressed) and they can affect our sobriety.
  • Although we will experience triggers we don’t have to act on them – we are not like a toddler having a tantrum in a supermarket because we can’t have chocolate.
  • We need to pause and breathe when we get a trigger – be curious – write about them in your journal and develop strategies to deal with them.

More Info

Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

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 program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, You Tube, Tiktok, Twitter, and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

 

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Unpickled with Jean McCarthy

Unpickled with Jean McCarthy

If you have been sober for a while and are ever tempted to drink just “one glass of wine” then it’s worth remembering this well known saying, “You can change a cucumber into a pickle, but you can’t turn a pickle back into a cucumber.” In other words, once we have crossed that line into alcohol-dependence there is no going back – we must go forward and create a life we don’t want to escape from.

My guest this week was obviously inspired by the pickle analogy as her blog is called “Unpickled” and I’m sure many of you have listened to her awesome podcast the “Bubble Hour” which has been going for almost a decade.

I began by asking Jean to introduce herself.

In this Episode

  • Jean was a teenage drinker, going to bars at 15 years old as she looked older.
  • She got married and had her children young – then got into the mommyjuice culture.
  • Her drinking escalated throughout her 20’s and 30’s.
  • By the time she got to her 40’s, her children were teenagers, her career was demanding and wine was her “off” button.
  • She went from one glass to two to a few – to opening a bottle the moment she got home from work.
  • Like many of us she would wake up and think “I won’t drink today” but by lunchtime that thought was gone.
  • Since her teenage years, she had an inkling that alcohol was not doing her any favours but by her 30’s she was trying to make a change and setting “the rules” – which of course she promptly broke.
  • She finally quit at 43 – which led us to discuss the Tempest Study – that the average time it takes people “from realising they had a problem to actually quitting” was eleven years.
  • One of the things that kept Jean stuck in her drinking was that she was labouring under the misconception that one had to reach “rock bottom” before making a change – a myth that keeps many from ditching the booze.
  • That myth kept Jean from going to AA – not only was she worried about being recognised but she also felt that she couldn’t fit – that she would be seen as a lightweight because she hadn’t lost everything.
  • So let’s take a moment to debunk the rock bottom fallacy – if your drinking is on your mind and you have a suspicion that you would be healthier and happier without it then just do it. No need to keep digging…
  • There has never been a better time to give up drinking. There are many online sobriety groups like Tribe Sober, not to mention a plethora of alcohol-free drinks.  Go to tribesober.com and check us out if you’d like to meet other people who have decided to avoid rock bottom and ditch the booze before they get there!
  • So Jean didn’t go to AA but she did confide in one friend and that made all the difference – she got empathy from that friend and it made her accountable.
  • Sometimes just telling one person is all it takes – so if you’re stuck then that’s a great place to start and if you feel there is no one in your friendship circle who would understand than check out tribesober.com and join our international community.
  • To beat those early cravings Jean had a whole list of things to do when she felt a craving – for example, she would eat an ice cream, or orange slices or take the dog around the block or drive to the store. Doing her grocery shopping in the evenings took some of the pressure of her schedule the next day.
  • She started her unpickled blog – anonymously like Clare Pooley – and just like Claire she got responses and realised that she was not alone in this.
  • With the perspective of a decade of sobriety, Jean is able to look back and see that for the first 2 years she was “white knuckling” it.
  • During those early years she stayed sober because she was ashamed of the possibility of relapse – that stopped her healing and also prevented her from experiencing the “fullness of recovery” as she puts it.
  • Jean was on this journey alone for the first two years and it was only when she discovered a sober community that her recovery really started. We often get people joining Tribe Sober who have been sober for a while but are feeling isolated and miserable because they feel lonely and don’t realise that recovery is about so much more than “not drinking”.
  • She went on a sober retreat and sat in a sharing circle for the first time – that’s when the magic of recovery started for Jean – she cried constantly during that retreat and came through the other side.
  • We talked about the money we spend on beauty and anti-ageing products when the best thing of all we can do for our health and our beauty as we get older is to ditch the booze.
  • Staying hydrated is so important for our skin – yet for every glass of wine we drink we lose the equivalent of four glasses of water.
  • Many of us feared that sobriety would mean a life of deprivation, but, as Jean says, the reality is that it is a life of abundance – and that is the joy of a sober community. You will meet people further down the line who can confirm that is the case!
  • Jean explained that recovery helped her to stop doing things that weren’t serving her – which made me think about a discussion we had in one of our chat rooms recently – many of us realised that we were drinking to make other people more interesting and had wasted far too much time hanging out with people who we didn’t really connect with.
  • I asked Jean to share some of her tips with us:-

Find alternative ways to comfort yourself, tell someone, decide that whatever happens no you will not drink – and join a sobriety group.

  • We talked about the magazine Hola Sober and how wonderful it is to be part of this modern recovery movement.
  • So do take a look at Jean’s blog which is called “Unpickled”, if you don’t already listen to the Bubble Hour then there are plenty of episodes to catch up with!
  • You heard her reading that beautiful poem about recovery circles from her book “The Ember Ever There” which is available on Amazon.

More Info

Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

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 program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Sober Short – Nurture Yourself!

 

SOBER SHORT 12 – Nurture Yourself

I’m kicking off our Sober Short series by taking you through our Tribe Sober Toolkit – this toolkit is just one of the things that we share with you during our regular Zoom workshops – just go to tribesober.com, hit Our Services and you’ll find all the info about our workshops. You can do a group workshop or a private workshop to suit your schedule and time zone.

These workshops have been a gamechanger for many people so if you want to kickstart your sober life then sign up today.  Just go to tribesober.com/services and click on workshops.

During the first 10 Sober Shorts, we looked at the first 10  Tools in our toolbox. Before we move on to tool number 11 let’s do a quick recap…

In this Episode

Tool number 1 was “Get Connected”

  • “Connection is the Opposite of Addiction” and if you’re serious about getting sober then you need to connect with others on the same path.
  • If you’re not yet a member of our tribe please check us out on tribesober.com – just hit “join our tribe” to read about the benefits of membership.

Tool number 2 was “Get Moving”

  • We all know is that exercise is “good for us” and many people exercise daily but they also drink daily – sometimes excessively.
  • Ditch the drink and keep exercising and you will be amazed at how much fitter you will get!

Tool number 3 was “Building Emotional Strength”

  • All about “learning to sit with our feelings” – instead of trying to chase them away with alcohol – alcohol is the “easy button” and enables us to bypass difficult emotions.
  • We have to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” as Tribe Sober coach Lynette says, or as Glennon Doyle says, “First the Pain, then the Rising.”

Tool number 4 was all about “Mindset”

  • It was about changing your thinking – about drinking.
  • We talked about overturning those false beliefs that we have picked up over the years — for example, we believe that we deserve a drink at the end of the day!
  • We talked about overturning those beliefs – one by one.
  • “Do the work” and you will never see alcohol in the same way and…
  • You will never suffer from FOMO which is the key to sticking to your sobriety.

Tool number 5 was about “Visualisation”

  • We talked about some powerful ways to use visualisation.
  • One of them was to “Play the movie forward” – if you get the urge to drink, then just think it through – what will happen after that first glass. Do you really want to wake up at 3 am full of anxiety and regret?
  • Do you really want to keep going back to Day 1 – and do the hardest bit – again and again?

Tool number 6 was “Information is Power”

  • It’s hard to believe it these days but not that long ago we had NO IDEA that smoking was bad for us.
  • Even if you do decide to carry on drinking then make sure that it’s an informed choice. The information is out there and just a quick google search will connect you with scientific research proving that alcohol is linked to 7 different types of cancer and more than 60 diseases.
  • That’s a good place to start and there are many QuitLit books out there and of course podcasts – almost 100 episodes of the Tribe Sober podcast are available now, all packed with advice inspiration and information.
  • If you’d like a QuitLit Reading list just email janet@nullts.com – you can also go to tribesober.com and hit the Inspiration tab where you’ll find a wealth of information that will inspire you to get started – and motivate you to keep going.

Tool number 7 was “Be Accountable”

  • When we embark on this journey, we need a community of people who actually care – people who have been where we are now and can advise and encourage us – people who are thriving in their alcohol-free lives and can inspire us that it really is worth doing this thing.
  • WE NEED TO BE ACCOUNTABLE – we need to know that we can share our ups and downs with other people who really get us.
  • So, if you are looking for a sober community to inspire you and keep you on track just go to tribesober.com and hit join our tribe.
  • If you’d like to sample the kind of support we offer then email janet@nulltribesober.com and request our Sobriety Battleplan pdf which is packed with great advice, charts and trackers.

Tool Number 8 was “Journaling”

  • At our workshops, we advise people to buy a beautiful notebook that will become their sobriety journal throughout this life-changing journey.
  • Sobriety is a journey of self-discovery and recording your thoughts, emotions, struggles, and accomplishments is so beneficial.
  • Early sobriety is a very emotional time and for most of us it really helps to process emotions if we can write them down.
  • We can note our triggers as well as strategies for coping with them
  • Journaling will give us perspective – reading back on the early weeks of sobriety will remind us just how hard it was – and make us realise it’s getting better and easier every day.
  • To learn more about the magic of journaling listen to Tribe Sober podcast episode 98 to hear my interview with writer in recovery Melinda Ferguson – released on 26th March 2022

Tool No 9 was “Get a Project”

  • It’s very common for people to feel a bit flat once they have achieved their first few months of sobriety.
  • Many people in Tribe Sober (including me) experienced that “flatness’/depression/void” or whatever you want to call it – when they asked me what they should do about it I just told them to sit it out as it would eventually pass.
  • However that advice changed after my podcast interview with Dr Loretta Breuning (author of the Happy Brain) – so do have a listen, its episode 55 and was released on 14 August 2021.
  • Loretta explained that my brain was quite happy during the first few months as it had registered that it was working on a project (i.e sobriety) and I was making progress – however after a few months my subconscious was thinking – ok so now we are sober, now what?
  • Well here’s the thing – as human beings we need projects – think of the cavemen, they would wake up hungry and have to go and find some food, eating the food would give them a dopamine hit but then they would get hungry again and have to go hunting..
  • So as you settle into your first few months of sobriety GET A PROJECT to keep you on track and to keep those happy brain chemicals triggered.

Tool No 10 – “Be Prepared”

  • As with most things in life preparation is crucial…
  • Play the movie forward – what ARE you going to drink – if it’s a restaurant then check out their drinks menu online and decide what you will order.
  • If you are going to a dinner party the text your host in advance and take some AF bubbly with you.
  • Decide what you are going to say when/if people start to interrogate you – you can keep it simple “I’m on meds”, “I’m driving” or my favourite, “I’m on a health kick – no booze, no sugar, no carbs for 66 days!”
  • If drinking at home was your problem then give away your booze – or move it to somewhere you can’t see it (the garage is a good place) and make sure your fridge is stocked with delicious AF choices – if you are in SA just go to drinknil.co.za and they will deliver to your door.

Tool No 11 was “Track Your Progress”

  • When a new member joins our tribe we send an Annual Tracker. It helps to give perspective, to keep an eye on the big picture – sure there may be slip ups on the way but what matters is a feeling of progress – are those “Sober Stretches” getting longer?
  • If you would like one of our Annual Trackers then just email janet@nulltribesober.com and I’ll send you one right away!
  • It’s so important to celebrate Milestones on this journey – the Forever word is just too daunting when starting out on this journey so we suggest 30, 60, 100 days as Milestones… followed by 6 months and then moving on to Annua.l
  • The great thing about Tribe Sober is that many people stick around after getting sober – they want to help and inspire others – we even have a chatroom for people with more than 6 months of sobriety.

Tool No 12 is “Nurture Yourself”

  • When we embark on this life changing journey we are going against the flow – we are doing something that 95% of the drinking population would not even consider doing, it wouldn’t cross their mind. We are going against the flow and that takes confidence and courage!
  • We need to nurture ourselves so that we can access the inner resources we need to embrace an alcohol-free life.
  • Many people (me included) discover that they are introverts at heart and not the party animal they thought they were when they drank!
  • They drank to make other people interesting so they could hang out and fit in without being bored!
  • We do go through a phase of feeling “Sober Awkward” in early sobriety as we find our feet and master the art of sober small talk – not to mention sober dancing!
  • But if you start feeling that you would rather be home with a good book than attending a social event then do it – and the first book you should read is Quiet by Susan Cain – the subtitle of that book is “The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” which says it all really.
  • Her premise is that about 50% of the global population are natural introverts but the pressure to perform in our corporate careers and our social lives means many of us turn to alcohol to cope.
  • Sobriety is a journey of discover so spend the extra time you’ve saved exploring – Tribe Sober members have free resources to sample like coaching, hypnotherapy and root cause therapy as well as online yoga and art therapy.
  • If you are wondering if and how hypnotherapy can help you embrace sobriety then listen to Tribe Sober episode 43, more about the role that root cause therapy can play in episode 60, yoga information in episode 69, art therapy 73 and you can hear me interviewing our awesome TS coach Lynette way back on episode 5!
  • So spoil yourself! Think of your sobriety as a pregnancy – 9 months of doing exactly what feels right  for you – read books, be alone, go to bed early, have naps, light candles, eat chocolate, turn down social invitations, light candles, have hot baths!
  • The pregnancy analogy works so well because for most of us 9 months is long enough for our sobriety to be strong – to survive in the outside world!

So that was Tool number 12 – Track Your Progress – I’ll be back with our main podcast on Saturday and another Sober Short next Wednesday.

More Info

Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

 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 program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

 

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, You Tube, Tiktok, Twitter, and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Am I Drinking Too Much?

Am I drinking too much? Well, only you can know that and only you change that. If you found yourself here, that means you are worried about how much you are drinking. The first step is to go to the Am I an Alcoholic quiz and see where you fit in. You are probably a Grey Area Drinker but you are probably feeling the negative effects of the alcohol. One of the negative effects of alcohol consumption is the mind waking up and the feelings of guilt and shame that start to pull you down.

Many people who tend to drink a bit much are feeling worthless and lacking in self-esteem. If this is you, you are in the right place.

Image – https://midrandreporter.co.za/174265/drinking-and-driving-know-the-law-2/

How does this graphic make you feel? Many people are drinking their entire week’s limit every night of the week. Often, people who think they are being “good” and only drink on the weekends are actually drinking more than the weekly drinkers because they are binge drinkers.

I am not here to judge or criticize. I am here to illustrate the negative impacts of alcohol and how our minds trick us into thinking we are “fine”. Meanwhile, our health is taking a pounding! We are at risk of cancer, heart disease, kidney and liver disease, depression and more!

Negative Impacts and Limits

Did you know that men and women should only be drinking 14 units of alcohol a week?

Many people who drink don’t count their glasses of alcohol and always “feel fine”. The more you drink, the more you need and the less you react to the alcohol. Well, so you think! You are actually pickled, and a sober person will tell you how you fall around getting to the bathroom and back to the fridge. And your body will tell you every morning with that puffy face in the mirror and that achy tired feeling all day, not to mention the grumpiness and impatience you feel with everyone!

If you are feeling these symptoms, you could be consuming a bit too much alcohol:

  • Feeling constantly / excessively tired
  • Experiencing regular headaches due to dehydration
  • Sweating a lot, even without physical activity
  • Having an increased/decreased appetite, potentially accompanied by weight loss/gain
  • Insomnia
  • Withdrawal symptoms when stopping or reducing drinking

To crown it all, drinking causes us illness in our heads. Yes, we get depressed, irritable, paranoid, anxious and we lose hope with much happening in our lives. It’s all very well feeling high and happy while drinking but afterward, the crunch comes – that puffy sad feeling of guilt and worthlessness consumes the drinker who tends to then make it all better again with another drink – and so the cycle continues.

Before you hit a rock bottom, take note of your drinking patterns and make some changes. When you start to crave alcohol and need it to come right, then you are bordering on alcohol use disorder and maybe then you need help to ditch the drink.

Then the deviousness comes in. Many drinkers become devious – there are stories of women drinking in the pantry to hide it from hubby; there are stories of men hiding the whiskey in the garage and hanging out there for hours. There are stories of bottles of wine in t-shirt cupboards, in gumboots, and in the knitting basket. Do you drink before anyone sees you at maybe 3 pm instead of your usual 5 pm? Do you drink at the coffee shop instead of ordering coffee maybe? Do you buy your drink at varying outlets so that no one really has a comment to make? Do you drink alone, secluded, not socially?

In an article on Health.com, the struggle against alcoholism in Hollywood is revealed. So many actors and actresses are reaching out for help with their drinking. Many have silent struggles with alcohol while some display their drunken antics in public.

Clues Showing You have a Problem

You start to set yourself limits but cannot stick to them – work out what is triggering your drinking then stay away from these triggers. Deal with them in therapy or start a new routine. Start a journal and record the times you are triggered and need a drink. There may emerge a revealing pattern or childhood hurt.

Your friends start to notice your drinking habits and make comments – watch how much you drink compared to your friends. Do you behave differently? Are they amazed at how much you can hold or at how drunk you get?

Are you planning your life around alcohol? Do you make sure that every social has to be in a venue that sells alcohol or where you can drink? Try to start a new habit where you meet friends for a walk rather than a drink, or you go to movies or you take up gym or yoga?

You reach for a drink when you are stressed. Soon, one drink turns into 3 or 4 or 12. Try a walk, a run, a healthy snack, a meditation class or yoga. Meet friends for a different outing such as kite flying or picking up shells on the beach.

You have started to worry about your own drinking – you are Googling things like Am I Drinking too Much? Deep down inside you feel discomfort and worthless about your drinking and you feel dirty.

Your doctor comments that you are drinking too much (which is unusual as many doctors ignore alcohol!) – if your doctor says your drinking is too much, then take note.

Your hangovers are more frequent and harder to handle. You feel ill the next day and battle to get out of bed or function. Your family and colleagues will take the brunt of your habit.

You start to forget the details about what happened when you were drinking – what you said and did and why you woke up with no shoes or with a stolen wine glass in your handbag?

What Should you Do?

Tell someone you can trust. Do an online screening check to see how dependent you are on alcohol: the Drinker’s Checkup, is a good place to start and is also gives you tools to moderate your drinking. Ask your doctor what he/she recommends and go and see someone about it or join an online sober group like Tribe Sober.

Good luck and listen to your heart. Am I drinking too much can easily become that mantra, I don’t need alcohol in my life, I am enough!

Get your free pdf when you click on this image:

 

 

Meditating into Sobriety with Rory Kinsella

 

 

Meditation and Your Sober Journey

Here at Tribe Sober we encourage people to quit drinking and then to go on and learn to thrive in their alcohol-free lives.  We offer free coaching, hypnotherapy and an online yoga course and various therapies..  It’s important to experiment, to get back in touch with what you really like to do – it’s all about building a life that you don’t want to escape from.

My guest this week is a meditation teacher in Australia who offers a course called “6 Steps for not Quite Alcoholics” – he is offering to help people to change their relationship with alcohol from a different angle. He is suggesting that they meditate daily for a few weeks and then see how they feel about their drinking.

Rory shares his own struggles with alcohol and explains that once he got into meditation he found that alcohol no longer fitted in with his healthy lifestyle.

I began by asking Rory to introduce himself.

In this Episode

  • After Uni, Rory joined a band and then became a music journalist – and going to free gigs/festivals were all part of the job.
  • All his relationships during his 20’s were built around drinking, partying and having a good time.
  • He moved to Australia at the age of 31 and became a “lifestyle journalist” – he was expecting this job to be less boozy than that of a music journalist but he was wrong.
  • He was sent to review a week-long vodka festival in New Zealand and then was sent on a 3-day trip to Las Vegas to reviews bars and restaurants…
  • Rory started to notice that his hangovers were getting more severe and that it was taking him longer to recover.
  • At his 35th birthday party, he had what he calls an early midlife crisis – DJ’ing at a warehouse party he realised he was not enjoying himself – the combination of drugs and alcohol was making him feel paranoid and he wasn’t even enjoying the music. He decided he just didn’t want to be living this kind of life at 45.
  • He quit smoking and DJing the next day but carried on drinking – although he had an inkling that life might be better without it, he was nowhere near accepting that he must stop.
  • However he did start exercising – and being an “all or nothing” kind of person (like most of us drinkers) he was soon running marathons.
  • His running made him realise that he could access serotonin and endorphins which could change his consciousness without using chemicals.
  • As he puts it so well – he was able to access the “infinite pharmacy within”!
  • As Rory got fitter, he started to explore different types of meditation and began to feel that there could be a light at the end of the tunnel.
  • He discovered Vedic meditation which is what he now teaches.
  • Meditation was reducing his triggers and his stress so he was drinking less but still going on binges.
  • Once he got healthier, he realised that alcohol no longer fitted his lifestyle – his body was clean and he didn’t like the effect of booze.
  • Rory’s approach is – rather than say “Don’t Drink for 30 Days” he says “Meditate twice a day for 30 Days” and don’t think about alcohol. So, in other words, focus on your meditation practice and you will gradually lose the desire to drink.
  • His turning point came 4 years after starting his meditation practice – he was teaching by then and just didn’t feel authentic drinking and teaching meditation so he quit.
  • I love his wise monkey analogy – when we wake up we have a credit of 3 wise monkeys – they get used up during the day and we need a crutch to keep us going – and that’s when the wine monkey comes out!
  • So he advises topping up your wise monkeys (or adaptation energy) with a meditation practice in the evening – that will put your back in charge and keep the wine monkey away!
  • Rory believes that we must focus on building various “systems” to sustain our sobriety – meditation is part of that system as is exercise, healthy eating and community support.
  • The “systems” approach really helps because when you have a slip-up the reaction should be “let’s look at the system and maybe change something?” rather than “OMG I’m such a failure”!
  • Another great analogy from Rory was the “tanker” analogy – if you change the direction of a huge ship then it’s going to take a while before it moves and heads off in the right direction. Just as “if you’ve been drinking for decades and stop – it’s going to take a while to settle in to your sobriety and experience the benefits”.
  • Here at Tribe Sober we hear a some people say “I’m 3 months sober and don’t feel any benefits yet!” But that’s the joy of community – people who have been sober for longer will pile in and say “hold on – it does get better!”
  • Our members go on a 7-step program which helps them to explore what “systems” would work well for them – coaching, yoga, hypnotherapy and various types of therapy are all on offer so that people can sample them and see what works for them.
  • Now that he is sober, Rory has much more time and energy to do the things he wants to. He reflected back on how it was taking him a few days to recover from his drinking sessions – yes, he was functional but only doing the bare minimum and experiencing a void in his creativity.
  • As he says we often hear people saying that they don’t have time to pursue their goals. But it’s often more about not having the energy – we have to remember that alcohol saps our energy and motivation.
  • Even if alcohol doesn’t destroy us, it prevents us from reaching our potential!
  • Rory helped me to realise that meditation does not have to involve clearing our minds of all thoughts – if we go the Vedic Meditation route then we just have to focus on a mantra.
  • You can hear Rory talk about his “6 step” course which will help you to stop drinking via meditation – read more about it on his website we-meditate.co
  • His podcast is called Not Quite Alcoholics and my interview with him is on Episode 7.

More Info

Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

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 program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

Sober Short – Track Your Progress!

 

SOBER SHORT 11 – Track Your Progress

I’m kicking off our Sober Short series by taking you through our Tribe Sober Toolkit – this toolkit is just one of the things that we share with you during our regular Zoom workshops. Just go to tribesober.com, hit Our Services and you’ll find all the info about our workshops. You can do a group workshop or a private workshop to suit your schedule and time zone.

These workshops have been a gamechanger for many people so if you want to kickstart your sober life then sign up today.  Just go to tribesober.com/services and click on Workshops.

During the first 10 Sober Shorts, we looked at the first 10 Tools in our toolbox. Before we move on to tool number 11 let’s do a quick recap…

In this Episode

Tool number 1 was “Get Connected”

  • “Connection is the Opposite of Addiction” and if you’re serious about getting sober then you need to connect with others on the same path.
  • If you’re not yet a member of our tribe please check us out on tribesober.com – just hit “join our tribe” to read about the benefits of membership. 

Tool number 2 was “Get Moving”

  • We all know is that exercise is “good for us” and many people exercise daily but they also drink daily – sometimes excessively. Ditch the drink and keep exercising and you will be amazed at how much fitter you will get!

Tool number 3 was “Building Emotional Strength”

  • All about “learning to sit with our feelings” – instead of trying to chase them away with alcohol – alcohol is the “easy button” and enables us to bypass difficult emotions.
  • We have to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable as Tribe Sober coach Lynette says, or as Glennon Doyle says, “First the Pain, then the Rising.”

Tool number 4 was all about Mindset

  • It was about changing your thinking – about drinking.
  • We talked about overturning those false beliefs that we have picked up over the years — for example, we believe that we deserve a drink at the end of the day!
  • We talked about overturning those beliefs – one by one.
  • “Do the work” and you will never see alcohol in the same way and…
  • You will never suffer from FOMO which is the key to sticking to your sobriety.

Tool number 5 was about “Visualisation”

  • We talked about some powerful ways to use visualisation.
  • One of them was to “play the movie forward” – if you get the urge to drink, then just think it through – what will happen after that first glass? Do you really want to wake up at 3 am full of anxiety and regret?
  • Do you really want to keep going back to Day 1 – and do the hardest bit – again and again?

Tool number 6 was “Information is Power”

  • It’s hard to believe it these days but not that long ago we had NO IDEA that smoking was bad for us.
  • Even if you do decide to carry on drinking then make sure that it’s an informed choice. The information is out there and just a quick Google search will connect you with scientific research proving that alcohol is linked to 7 different types of cancer and more than 60 diseases.
  • That’s a good place to start, and there are many QuitLit books out there and of course podcasts. Almost 100 episodes of the Tribe Sober podcast are available now, all packed with advice inspiration and information.
  • If you’d like a QuitLit Reading list just email janet@nullts.com – you can also go to tribesober.com and hit the Inspiration tab where you’ll find a wealth of information that will inspire you to get started – and motivate you to keep going.

Tool number 7 was “Be Accountable”

  • When we embark on this journey, we need a community of people who actually care – people who have been where we are now and can advise and encourage us – people who are thriving in their alcohol-free lives and can inspire us that it really is worth doing this thing.
  • WE NEED TO BE ACCOUNTABLE – we need to know that we can share our ups and downs with other people who really get us.
  • So, if you are looking for a sober community to inspire you and keep you on track just go to tribesober.com and hit join our tribe.
  • If you’d like to sample the kind of support we offer then email janet@nulltribesober.com and request our Sobriety Battleplan pdf which is packed with great advice, charts and trackers.

Tool Number 8 was “Journaling”

  • At our workshops, we advise people to buy a beautiful notebook that will become their sobriety journal throughout this life-changing journey.
  • Sobriety is a journey of self-discovery and recording your thoughts, emotions, struggles, and accomplishments is so beneficial.
  • Early sobriety is a very emotional time and for most of us it really helps to process emotions if we can write them down.
  • We can note our triggers as well as strategies for coping with them.
  • Journaling will give us perspective – reading back on the early weeks of sobriety will remind us just how hard it was – and make us realise it’s getting better and easier every day.
  • To learn more about the magic of journaling, listen to Tribe Sober podcast Episode 98 to hear my interview with writer in recovery Melinda Ferguson – released on 26th March 2022.

Tool No 9 was “Get a Project”

  • It’s very common for people to feel a bit flat once they have achieved their first few months of sobriety.
  • Many people in Tribe Sober (including me) experienced that “flatness’/depression/void” or whatever you want to call it – when they asked me what they should do about it I just told them to sit it out as it would eventually pass.
  • However that advice changed after my podcast interview with Dr Loretta Breuning (author of the Happy Brain) – so do have a listen, it’s Episode 55 and was released on 14 August 2021.
  • Loretta explained that my brain was quite happy during the first few months as it had registered that it was working on a project (i.e. sobriety) and I was making progress – however after a few months my subconscious was thinking – ok so now we are sober, now what?
  • Well here’s the thing – as human beings we need projects – think of the cavemen, they would wake up hungry and have to go and find some food, eating the food would give them a dopamine hit but then they would get hungry again and have to go hunting.
  • So, as you settle into your first few months of sobriety, GET A PROJECT to keep you on track and to keep those happy brain chemicals triggered.

Tool No 10 was “Be Prepared”

  • As with most things in life preparation is crucial.
  • Play the movie forward – what ARE you going to drink – if it’s a restaurant then check out their drinks menu online and decide what you will order.
  • If you are going to a dinner party, text your host in advance and take some AF bubbly with you.
  • Decide what you are going to say when/if people start to interrogate you – you can keep it simple: “I’m on meds”, “I’m driving” or my favourite, “I’m on a health kick – no booze, no sugar, no carbs for 66 days!”
  • If drinking at home was your problem, then give away your booze – or move it to somewhere you can’t see it (the garage is a good place) and make sure your fridge is stocked with delicious AF choices – if you are in SA just go to drinknil.co.za and they will deliver to your door.

Tool No 11 IS Track Your Progress

When a new member joins our tribe, we send them a “starter kit” which includes an Annual Tracker.  This annual tracker is simply a calendar divided into 360 squares.  We suggest that people colour in a square as alcohol- free in the morning to set their intention for the day.  If they slip up, then they should mark it on the calendar.  This system has several advantages:-

  • It helps to give perspective, to keep an eye on the big picture – sure there may be slip-ups on the way, but what matters is a feeling of progress – are those “Sober Stretches” getting longer?
  • A bit like dieting, there is a tendency to feel hopeless after a slip up, a feeling of “oh I will never be able to do this, so I might as well give up altogether”. The tracker shows you that one slip-up does not ruin everything and you are more likely to hop back on the bus.
  • Accountability – on screenshot Saturday we ask members to share their trackers on our chat group and everyone piles in to congratulate – or to encourage…
  • If you would like one of our Annual Trackers then just email janet@nulltribesober.com and I’ll send you one right away!
  • It’s so important to celebrate Milestones on this journey – Milestones not only give you something to aim for but when you reach them you will get a dopamine hit as you feel a sense of purpose and share your triumph with others. That dopamine hit will give you the energy and enthusiasm to continue with your journey.
  • The Forever word is just too daunting when starting out on this journey so we suggest 30, 60, 100 days as Milestones… followed by 6 months and then moving on to Annual.
  • The great thing about Tribe Sober is that many people stick around after getting sober – they want to help and inspire others – we even have a chatroom for people with more than 6 months of sobriety – we call it “big school” and people are keen to graduate.
  • It’s also important to track your Sober Firsts – there will be many during your first year of sobriety. The first Sober Wedding, Sober Holiday, Sober Birthday, etc. See them as Challenges and keep your expectations low – don’t even expect to enjoy them – your work is to get through them.  You can be sure that next time it will be easier and eventually you will enjoy it just as much (if not more) than usual.
  • Make sure you plan a reward for yourself when you get through a Sober First!

So that was Tool number 11 – Track Your Progress. I’ll be back with our main podcast on Saturday and another Sober Short next Wednesday.

Thanks for listening – please follow and share the podcast!

More Info

Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

 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 program and subscribe HERE.

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you.

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, You Tube, Tiktok, Twitter, and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

 

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

 

Stop Being a Wine O’Clock Mom and Start Thinking About your Drinking

 

Thinking is our downfall. We all think too much. Wine is our downfall. We all drink too much. Well, not all of us! But yes, we all think too much, seriously.

The thoughts I think are not the thoughts you think. Our thoughts come and go. But I can bet you that your thinking about drinking is the same as many other women who drink. Let me ask you: Are you a wine o’clock mom?

We hardly remember all the thoughts we have in one day alone.  Apparently, there is one thought that dominates all thoughts every day in our heads. For some people, that thought is the wine thought. For others, it is a partner problem, a mother mumble or a family feud.

We allow these thoughts to make or break us, to decide our next action. We allow these thoughts to arrange our days, to decide who is our friend or not, and decide which partner is ours or not. We allow that wallowing in the wine thought to lead us to the fridge at 5 pm, on the dot.

Thinking About Drinking – Too Much

Did you type into Google: “Why am I always thinking about drinking?” by any chance? Or did you look up the Wine O’clock Mom Syndrome? I have heard about mothers who drink orange juices laced with vodka at kids’ play dates. I have seen parents drinking brandy or whiskey with coke at kids’ parties. Is this you?

Are you a regular wine o’clock mom looking forward to your 5 pm tipple? I deserve my glass of Chardonnay every day at 5 pm because I am such a busy mom. I love that first sip of Sauvignon after rushing around with the kids all day. I brace myself for my husband’s arrival home from work with a good solid glass of dry white. Yes!

Wine o’clock moms have groups on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Wine o’clock moms all laugh about that daily glass of wine. Which then becomes 2 glasses, then three glasses – and soon, the entire bottle gets done every night of the week. What do you feel like when you open the fridge the next morning and see no more wine? Instead, you see 2 empty bottles standing next to the bin. What? Was that me?

Let’s change the way we think about drinking. That means that the daily wine at 5 pm could become the daily walk at 5 pm or the daily art class at 5 pm. We could get the kids to the park for sunset or we could plant a new rose – at 5 pm. How about a nice homemade Mocktail with ice and lemon on the veranda? Or how about a platter of healthy snacks such as raw vegetable sticks and Avo dip?

Think and Do the Opposite

The new thought could then be, “I deserve self-care at 5 pm and I deserve my health. I am worthy of an evening walk, a gardening hour or a special time with my kids. I can summon up a last ounce of energy to make my Mocktail and snacks and just sit and stroke the cat.”

Have you ever entertained the thought that you could be addicted to the ritual of the wine? Or the wine itself? The thing that makes us addicted to the wine is the alcohol inside the wine. Before you recoil in dread at that terrible word, addicted, breathe. Most people in our world have some kind of addiction that they have developed as a means of coping in an unnatural world. Some people have inherited the addictive genes from their parents. Others have been through incredible and ghastly traumas and unknowingly they turned to a substance to replace the love they never got as a child.

Life is complex so the first tip from me is NOT to beat yourself up about your drinking. If you ARE a wine o’clock mom, then be aware of that. Note what it feels like to look forward to that wine at 5 pm sharp every day. Note what it adds to your day and what it removes from your day.

Negative Thoughts and Low Self-Esteem

What is your thinking about the drinking? It is often the thought that makes us reach for the substance or the habit that then becomes our ritual or addiction. It has been said that negative thoughts and false beliefs also drive our needs for a substance of habit that is mentally and physically unhealthy. Many people who drink wine every day are sensitive people with a negative streak.

Sue Diamond of The Good Life Recovery Blog reveals that usually these kinds of people have these thoughts in their heads most of the time:

  • I’m not good enough.
  • No one loves me.
  • I don’t fit in.
  • I’m different than others (which is a bad thing).
  • I will never have the life I am longing for.
  • I’m better than others.
  • People are generally stupid.
  • I don’t need others.
  • It’s no one’s business what I do.
  • People don’t really get me.
  • I’m a failure.
  • If only I had more money, I’d be worthy.
  • My success defines me.
  • I don’t need you or anyone.

Do you Need to Be in Control?

According to Sue, “most addicts what to believe that they still have a choice. That they are absolutely in control of every aspect of their lives. The research indicates that generally speaking, most addicts have a very distorted view of the world which is negative in nature. On the whole, we suffer from low self-esteem, enormous self-loathing, a view of the world as the glass half empty. We are critical, judgmental, and often feel hard done by.”

Time to change the thinking, the negativity and the false beliefs. That need for wine at 5 o’clock is a false belief that your brain believes. Your heart may feel discomfort but your naughty thoughts convince you that just one is your treat for your busy day. Where does this self-absorbed thinking come from? How can we change the lens?

Peep out from behind the sunglasses and see life, really see life. It is often a great idea to reach out to others when you decide to change an ingrained habit like pouring wine every day at 5 pm. Go and visit your local safe house, soup kitchen or school that needs assistance. Knit squares for the elderly, donate food for the dogs and give computer lessons in your own home.

The onus lies on you, and your self-belief. Says Sue: “… it’s not that there’s anything wrong with thinking of ourselves. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with taking good care of ourselves. There are times when that is both healthy and appropriate. … However, there are so many ways in which our negative thinking can interfere with building a healthy self and healthy relations. These can be thoughts about ourselves and thoughts about others.”

Change the Wine O’Clock Lens

But what are you going to do about your thinking about drinking? How are you going to change that wine o’clock mom label? Simply do the opposite! Make the decision today to change the way you play! Let go of that “poor little me” mentality. Stand up in your own two feet and show the world your true face, the real you. If people decide to leave your circle, so be it. Tell yourself that you deserve your spot in the sun. You deserve your own set of footprints on this planet Earth. So BE you. Who IS that hiding behind the wine? Who IS that person sipping Chardonnay at 5 pm every day? Think on these things.

Remember: Addiction is a complex brain disorder that doesn’t have a single, obvious cause. Dopamine plays a role, but it’s one small piece of a larger puzzle. Experts believe a range of biological and environmental factors can significantly increase someone’s risk for addiction.

Crystal Raypole notes on healthline that dopaminehelps reinforce enjoyable sensations and behaviors by linking things that make you feel good with a desire to do them again. This link is an important factor in the development of addiction.” This is what is happening every day at 5 pm when you open that first bottle.

So, to end this blog, I challenge you to clear your brain bit by bit of those negative thoughts, that negative self-talk. Can you meditate once a week, then try every two days, then daily? Check out these different mediation tools you can try to calm and simplify your life.

If you really want to do this for yourself, then do it. Try to break that wine o’clock habit today. Use these wonderful tools from Flic Everett:

  1. RESET YOUR BRAIN

Cut down lies in breaking alcohol’s “pleasure” association. Tell your brain that you do NOT like alcohol and that you want change your habits. Tell your brain you like to wake up feeling alert in the mornings. Have an alcohol-free day every other day to help break your beliefs that you need that daily tipple.

  1. BUY SMALLER GLASSES

When you go out these days, wine is served in enormous, beautiful glasses. The waiter pours a quarter of the bottle into your glass! Soon, you are slurring! Even the shops sell these huge ornate glasses and we are all conned into believing it is the NORM. Not! Buy small 125ml glasses instead of the 250ml tankards.

  1. TRY THE HALT TEST

Have no alcohol for half the week and a few glasses for the rest of the week. Make sure you do not rely on that daily glass but that you can go without it.

  1. NEVER HAVE TWO BOTTLES IN THE FRIDGE

Break the habit of having so much wine at home in the wine wrack and in the fridge. Buy enough for your 3 chosen days to have a few glasses.

  1. HAVE DECENT ALTERNATIVES

All you have to do is buy non-alcoholic drinks or alcohol-free drinks. Soon you will tire of these but they are very useful in your early days of sobriety.  There are some lovely AF wines, gins, and beers out there so go and try a few. If you still like wine, try a low alcohol variety instead and see if you can then wean yourself off it.

  1. START LATER

Instead of that rigid 5 pm glass of wine, why not open a low alcohol wine after supper or when the kids are in bed? You probably won’t even feel like it by then! Often, that 5 pm drink is this need for glucose to raise our shattered blood sugars. Rather have fruit, dried fruit and nuts or a cup of soup.

GOOD LUCK!

 

Janet from Tribe Sober on the Weekend Breakfast Show

 

The Weekend Breakfast Show and Janet Gourand of Tribe Sober talk about Alcohol Awareness in the Media

The perfect way to start your weekend, Sara-Jayne King keeps you informed and entertained with a closer look at the news that matters to you, captivating and inspirational human interest stories, lifestyle hacks, and finger-on-the-pulse updates of what’s on in Cape Town.

Plus, music, movies, and the weekly book review featuring conversations with your favourite local and international authors.

The weekend breakfast show won the award for commercial radio spreading awareness about alcohol use.  Sara-Jayne is saying thank you to Janet Gourand for helping Cape Talk win the award! Alcohol awareness is a topic close to both Sara-Jayne and Janet’s hearts.

We need more messages in the public domain about alcohol and its threats to our health.

Listen and learn more!

Sober Short – Be Prepared!

 

SOBER SHORT 10 – Be Prepared!

I’m kicking off our Sober Short series by taking you through our Tribe Sober Toolkit – this toolkit is just one of the things that we share with you during our regular Zoom workshops – just go to tribesober.com, hit Our Services and you’ll find all the info about our workshops. You can do a group workshop or a private workshop to suit your schedule and time zone.

These workshops have been a gamechanger for many people so if you want to kickstart your sober life then sign up today.  Just go to tribesober.com/services and click on workshops

During the first 9 Sober Shorts, we looked at the first 9 Tools in our toolbox. Before we move on to tool number 10 let’s do a quick recap…

In this Episode

Tool number 1 was “Get Connected”

  • “Connection is the Opposite of Addiction” and if you’re serious about getting sober then you need to connect with others on the same path.
  • If you’re not yet a member of our tribe please check us out on tribesober.com – just hit “join our tribe” to read about the benefits of membership.

Tool number 2 was “Get Moving”

  • We all know is that exercise is “good for us” and many people exercise daily but they also drink daily – sometimes excessively. Ditch the drink and keep exercising and you will be amazed at how much fitter you will get!

Tool number 3 was “Building Emotional Strength”

  • All about “learning to sit with our feelings” – instead of trying to chase them away with alcohol – alcohol is the “easy button” and enables us to bypass difficult emotions.
  • We have to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” as Tribe Sober coach Lynette says, or as Glennon Doyle says, “First the Pain, then the Rising.”

Tool number 4 was all about “Mindset”

  • It was about changing your thinking – about drinking.
  • We talked about overturning those false beliefs that we have picked up over the years — for example, we believe that we deserve a drink at the end of the day!
  • We talked about overturning those beliefs – one by one.
  • “Do the work” and you will never see alcohol in the same way and…
  • You will never suffer from FOMO which is the key to sticking to your sobriety.

Tool number 5 was about “Visualisation”

  • We talked about some powerful ways to use visualisation.
  • One of them was to “Play the movie forward” – if you get the urge to drink, then just think it through – what will happen after that first glass. Do you really want to wake up at 3 am full of anxiety and regret?
  • Do you really want to keep going back to Day 1 – and do the hardest bit – again and again?

Tool number 6 was “Information is Power”

  • It’s hard to believe it these days but not that long ago we had NO IDEA that smoking was bad for us.
  • Even if you do decide to carry on drinking then make sure that it’s an informed choice. The information is out there and just a quick google search will connect you with scientific research proving that alcohol is linked to 7 different types of cancer and more than 60 diseases.
  • That’s a good place to start and there are many QuitLit books out there and of course podcasts – almost 100 episodes of the Tribe Sober podcast are available now, all packed with advice inspiration and information.
  • If you’d like a QuitLit Reading list just email janet@nullts.com – you can also go to tribesober.com and hit the Inspiration tab where you’ll find a wealth of information that will inspire you to get started – and motivate you to keep going.

Tool number 7 was “Be Accountable”

  • When we embark on this journey, we need a community of people who actually care – people who have been where we are now and can advise and encourage us – people who are thriving in their alcohol-free lives and can inspire us that it really is worth doing this thing.
  • WE NEED TO BE ACCOUNTABLE – we need to know that we can share our ups and downs with other people who really get us.
  • So, if you are looking for a sober community to inspire you and keep you on track just go to tribesober.com and hit join our tribe.
  • If you’d like to sample the kind of support we offer then email janet@nulltribesober.com and request our Sobriety Battleplan pdf which is packed with great advice, charts and trackers.

Tool Number 8 was “Journaling”

  • At our workshops, we advise people to buy a beautiful notebook that will become their sobriety journal throughout this life-changing journey.
  • Sobriety is a journey of self-discovery and recording your thoughts, emotions, struggles, and accomplishments is so beneficial.
  • Early sobriety is a very emotional time and for most of us it really helps to process emotions if we can write them down.
  • We can note our triggers as well as strategies for coping with them
  • Journaling will give us perspective – reading back on the early weeks of sobriety will remind us just how hard it was – and make us realise it’s getting better and easier every day.
  • To learn more about the magic of journaling listen to Tribe Sober podcast episode 98 to hear my interview with writer in recovery Melinda Ferguson – released on 26th March 2022

Tool No 9 was “Get a Project”

  • It’s very common for people to feel a bit flat once they have achieved their first few months of sobriety.
  • Many people in Tribe Sober (including me) experienced that “flatness’/depression/void” or whatever you want to call it – when they asked me what they should do about it I just told them to sit it out as it would eventually pass
  • However that advice changed after my podcast interview with Dr Loretta Breuning (author of the Happy Brain) – so do have a listen, its episode 55 and was released on 14 August 2021.
  • Loretta explained that my brain was quite happy during the first few months as it had registered that it was working on a project (ie sobriety) and I was making progress – however after a few months my subconscious was thinking – ok so now we are sober, now what?
  • Well here’s the thing – as human beings we need projects – think of the cavemen, they would wake up hungry and have to go and find some food, eating the food would give them a dopamine hit but then they would get hungry again and have to go hunting..
  • So as you settle into your first few months of sobriety GET A PROJECT to keep you on track and to keep those happy brain chemicals triggered.

This week we are looking at:-

Tool No 10 – Be Prepared!

  • As with most things in life, preparation is crucial…
  • Imagine if you are going out for the evening and you decide that you will “decide whether or not to drink when you get there” – so, of course, when the waiter or your host offers you a glass of wine, you find yourself automatically accepting!
  • Make the decision not to drink before you leave the house!
  • Play the movie forward – what ARE you going to drink? If it’s a restaurant then check out their drinks menu online and decide what you will order – even if they don’t have any AF choices sparkling water goes can be your fallback.
  • If you are going to a dinner party, the text your host in advance and take some AF bubbly with you.
  • Decide what you are going to say when/if people start to interrogate you – you can keep it simple “I’m on meds”, “I’m driving” or my favourite “I’m on a health kick – no booze, no sugar, no carbs for 66 days!”
  • As you clock up more sober time and get more used to navigating our alcohol-drenched society, you will get more confident and find that you enjoy saying “I don’t drink”.
  • Remember its’ not your responsibility to make others feel comfortable about their drinking.
  • Having said that, the worst thing to say is probably “I’m worried about my drinking” as everybody will then pile in to reassure you that you are fine (because you drink the same as them!)
  • So, to summarise you need to “play the movie forward”.
  • Look at your calendar for the month ahead, look at any upcoming social events which may be challenging and plan carefully.
  • If drinking at home was your problem, then give away your booze – or move it to somewhere you can’t see it (the garage is a good place) and make sure your fridge is stocked with delicious AF choices. If you are in SA, just go to drinknil.co.za and they will deliver to your door.
  • Tribe Sober members get a discount from drink nil so go to tribesober.com and hit “join our tribe!”

More Info

Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

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 program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

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Our Top Ten Podcasts!

 

When I started podcasting almost 2 years ago, I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to stick at it.  Finding guests, interviewing guests and then editing the conversation was pretty time consuming.  Then I read that 60% of podcasters give up after less than 10 episodes which seemed like a challenge!

Through this podcast, Tribe Sober has connected with people from all over the world and our membership is becoming more and more international!

So next week we celebrate our 100th episode so a huge thank you to our listeners who have helped us to get this far!  If you are new to the podcast then welcome – and if you’ve been with us from the start then thank you!  In either case, we’d love you to leave a review.

So this week, I’ve delved into our podcast download stats and highlighted the most popular podcasts – our top ten!

In this Episode

  • At 10th place with 1150 downloads is Episode number 72 (released in December 2021) – it’s called “Why We Need to Ditch the Drink in Mid Life” – my guest was Lori Massicot who has a podcast herself called “to 50 and beyond”. It’s a podcast aimed at women in mid-life where she highlights the beauty of aging and the freedom that comes along with alcohol-free life. She is on a mission to raise awareness about the life-changing impact of sobriety as we age and had me guesting on her podcast as an example of someone who ditched the drink later in life. You can find that on episode 182 of her podcast.
  • At 9th place with 1192 downloads is Episode 67 (released in October 2021) we have an episode called “Rebranding Sobriety” with the fabulous Susan Christina.  She’s on a mission to make alcohol-free living as attractive and glamorous as we thought drinking was!  Susan shares her own story of recovery and talks about the “drinking train” that many women board and pointed out that it was only travelling one way – the way of increasing dependence, rehab and for some people it’s unfortunately travelling to disease and death.
  • At number 8 with 1206 downloads we have episode 81 (released January 2022) called “Take a Break from the Booze”.  We believe in Challenges here at Tribe Sober and every year we run our Sober Spring Challenge – and then another one in January.  On this podcast we hear from 3 ladies who did Sober Spring 2021 – why did they sign up?  what was it like?  what tips do they have? If you are listening to this and decide you’d like to do a challenge then just go to tribesober.com and hit Join Our Tribe and we’ll put you on our 30 day starter challenge for new members.
  • At number 7 with 1215 downloads was “Coping with Cravings” (released January 2021) – my interview with South African natural health expert Mary Ann Shearer.  Both of her parents were alcoholics yet she became passionate about health and has published a bestselling book called The Natural Way.  Mary Ann is a woman before her time and was advocating veganism thirty years ago! She advised people who have stopped drinking to satisfy their cravings by eating fresh fruit not chocolates or sweets  Our bodies need glucose and eating fresh fruit satisfies the craving for alcohol – we offer this as standard advice in our community as many many people battle with those cravings for sweets when they stop drinking. Mary Ann explained the damage that alcohol does to our endocrine system – and how it makes menopause much worse.
  • At number 6 with 1279 downloads was Neuroscientist, Staci Danfield – released in August 2021 that episode is called “Is you Lizard Brain the Boss?”  She explained that our brain tricks us into thinking that alcohol is making us happy but in fact it is a depressant – if you’ve been drinking for years then the alcohol will have altered the balance of your brain which is why you become increasingly dependent. When we understand how our brains work we can work with it – and that’s when the magic will happen – a great analogy is to think of how we use our computers – we work with programs that are installed in our computers – not against them! Understanding our brains means that we can understand ourselves better and see what we are gaining by ditching the drink – we need to create a “pattern interruptor”.
  • At number 5 we have episode 66 with 1318 downloads (released in October 2021) –  “Anxiety and Alcohol” was the topic and my guest was Casey McGuire Davidson.  Casey went to doctors and therapists about her anxiety and insomnia – most of which was caused by alcohol but she was in denial about her drinking and just didn’t CONNECT THE DOTS. Like many of us Casey started making rules – in fact Casey and I had a whole conversation about the rules we used to make that you can find on her podcast (Hello Someday – episode 77 ).  The reason we make these rules of course is that we are still trying to moderate as we can’t imagine our life without it – having to give up completely is our worst nightmare – whereas with hindsight both Casey and myself can say that giving up completely was the best thing we ever did! She eventually hired a Sober Coach and checked in with her every single day – because she was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
  • Episode 50 is at number 4 with 1510 downloads.  – another podcast about anxiety!  – title was “Why we get Hangxiety and my guest was William Porter.   We talked about “hangxiety” and how it’s caused by chemical changes in our brain – when it becomes over-sensitised. If you drink a bottle of wine every night then your brain will take the first glass as a signal that the rest of the bottle is coming! That’s why moderation is so difficult – and it’s exhausting as we are thinking about it all the time. Dependency happens once we learn (consciously or subsconsciously) that another drink will quell the anxiety caused by the first. FAB is responsible for many people falling off the wagon as they think they can now have “just one” – which is not sustainable. He explained why it’s a complete myth that alcohol helps you sleep – the truth is that it ruins our sleep!
  • At number 3 we have the fabulous Clare Pooley with 1587 downloads.  The episode is number 39 and was released in April 2021 – called “My Top Life Hack”   Clare is a wonderful example of how your dreams can come true when you ditch the booze.  Her sober blog not only helped her to stay on track but it attracted a publishing deal which led to the sober diaries – she then went on to write TAP and is about to publish a second novel.  Her childhood dream was to be an author and now she is! CLAIRE’s TOP TIP – she reconfigured her day – went to bed at 7pm (to avoid evening drinking) and got up at 5am feeling great! As cooking the evening meal was a big temptation for her she cooked it in the morning and heated it up in the evening
  • Like many of us she had a major low in early sobriety – she calls this “the wall” and believes it’s our brain chemistry adjusting. Her blog – the obstacle course went viral and is essential reading in early sobriety. Clare’s key message in the blog is to keep going however hard it gets – stopping and starting is the hardest way. Clare also said it was essential to “find your tribe” and recommended tribesober.com.
  • At number 2 we have Eusebius McKaiser with 1599 downloads. South African journalist talking about his relationship with alcohol.  Eusebius signed up for our Dry January Challenge a fewyears ago and to his surprise maintained his sobriety.  We first met when I was on his radio show reading out my Goodbye to Alcohol Letter.  We recommend writing a GTA letter on the basis that for some of us alcohol is like an abusive lover we  need to get it out of our lives.  A goodbye letter is a cathartic and powerful ritual that can help us draw a line under our drinking years.  Go to ts.com, hit inspiration and hit GTA letters to read the letters written by tribe members. Eusebius shared benefits he is experiencing and explained how he has substituted different kinds of music for alcohol – to stimulate the right mood when he is writing. Eusebius wrote a blog for our website called “Sober Diary Reflections” – you can read it here and we also recorded another Tribe Sober podcast together – called Busting Sobriety Myths – episode 77.
  • At number 1 is my story “How I quit drinking and started a tribe!” with 1675 downloads.  Just beating Eusebius by a mere 76 downloads is my story!  I can’t claim too much credit as this was the very first episode – released way back on my 5th Soberversary in May 2020 – episode 1!  In it I talk about my long struggle with alcohol – how I nearly drowned by passing out in my bath at the age of 25 and carried on drinking. How I got breast cancer – and carried on drinking. How a “walking, talking blackout” made me (finally) ditch the drink. I talk about my quest for sobriety, my failure as an AA member and how I finally got sober.  I share my motivation for founding Tribe Sober and read out my Goodbye to Alcohol Letter.

More Info

Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

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 program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group HERE.

 

PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)

  1. Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
  2. Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
  3. Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
  4. Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
  5. Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).

 

 

How Can I Stop Drinking Alcohol?

 

Did you just type this question into Google, “How can I stop drinking?” Are you worried about how much you are drinking? You have just reached out, the first step to making a change. This is amazing.

Deep down inside, only you know the answer to this question. Deep down inside, only you can help yourself. Deep down inside, tucked away beside the shame and guilt, hides your inner child. The one who wants to be free, to be the real you.

Greet your inner child, say “Hi.” Ask your inner child how you can stop drinking alcohol!

I am being serious. Many people who drink and who then Google that question, “How can I stop drinking alcohol?” are the people who have lost touch with who they really are. They are swamped with guilt and shame. They are spent from all the ducking and diving, the stress, and the burnout.

They have been hiding for so long and now they feel terrible about it all. They feel terrible about the alcohol and its effect on them. They feel terrible about their poor images in the eyes of their families and friends, their colleagues, and their acquaintances.

Many people who drink have been drinking for so long that they have lost so much in their lives. Yes, they have lost opportunities, pathways to other destinies – and now they are too scared to stop drinking in case it is just too damn depressing out there to face all of these truths!

Cast Your Mind Back

How can I stop drinking alcohol? I think what you mean is I WANT TO STOP DRINKING ALCOHOL. Do me a favour: go back in your life to that day when you had your very first taste of alcohol. Was it wine? Was it beer? Was it a glug of your father’s whiskey or brandy? How did you feel? After that, what was the pattern of your drinking?

Cast your mind back: did you do crazy, regrettable things when you drank? Did you have a normal, happy childhood? Was there trauma?

Why am I asking all these questions? I am trying to help you answer that question. Stopping drinking doesn’t usually happen overnight like the click of a switch. Stopping drinking usually comes with a whole Pandora’s box of discoveries and shocks, Déjà vu’s and realisations.

Don’t worry, most of the experiences are good and motivational. It’s fun and safe here, on the other side of the fence. The sober side of the fence is much quieter, gentler, more real.

Trauma Underlies Addiction

Often, when I ask people who want to stop drinking what traumas they have experienced in their lives, they get that dumfounded look and suddenly start to “see”. And if they have a certain trigger for their drinking or their anger or their pain, and they start to really look at that trigger, memories start to flow or pop up where things were NOT that lekker. Then ask yourself: WHY AM I DRINKING?

The hardest part about stopping drinking alcohol is what we learn about our lives and ourselves. Instead of numbing the pain and hiding away and thinking we are having a really fun life, we now decide to take control of our health and welfare, our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual being WITHOUT the need for a false substance that is a false sense of happiness and fun!

Please read about Dr Gabor Mate, “a man who has dedicated his life to understanding the connection between illness, addiction, trauma, and society. Trauma is the invisible force that shapes our lives. It shapes the way we live, the way we love, and the way we make sense of the world. It is the root of our deepest wounds.”

Maté talks about how early childhood experiences sometimes show up later in life and how we’re all affected by our social, cultural, economic, and relational environments.

In all cases of addiction that I have seen, there’s a deep pain that comes out of trauma. Addiction is the person’s unconscious attempt to escape from the pain. That’s not just my personal opinion. It’s also what large-scale studies show. Whether we are talking about the emotional pain and the shame that’s at the heart of addiction or whether we are looking at the brain physiology of addiction, which is very much influenced by childhood experiences, we are looking at the impact of trauma.”

So, do yourself a favour and look back on your childhood. Talk to your inner child – is he/she still there? Do you still remember that time when ….?

Root Causes and Practical Steps

The practical steps you can take to stop drinking are all good and well. And I am going to list them now. But until you address the ROOT CAUSES of your drinking, I am afraid that you can take as many practical steps as you like, and you may end up a depressive wreck.

The first step that you can take if you want to stop drinking is to look carefully at where and when you drink. Which activities involve alcohol? In my experience, many drinkers drink at home alone! But if you seek out social events and places like pubs to drink, then you know what to do about that – avoid them. If you drink alone at home, it is trickier. You will have to do lots of work to change your routines and rituals.

Reading and writing, podcasting, and You tubing are good ways to start – fill yourself up with knowledge, Quitlit and wonderful success stories by others who stopped drinking – look at why and now they did it! Take notes and learn from these now happy sober people.

It is good to start looking seriously at the negative impacts of alcohol as a foreign substance on your body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Did you know that alcohol consumption is directly linked to cancer – as a leading cause of cancer?! Drinking is drinking if you have one glass a day or 6 glasses a day. Heavy drinking is defined as having a binge at least 5 times a month and a binge is when you drink the weekly limit on that day (the weekly limit is only 1,5 bottles of wine and many people can put away 2 bottles of wine a day!

According to the Cleveland Clinic,” Alcohol use disorder is a medical condition involving frequent or heavy alcohol use. People with alcohol use disorder can’t stop drinking, even when it causes problems, emotional distress or physical harm to themselves or others… It’s a disease of brain function and requires medical and psychological treatments to control it. Alcohol use disorder can be mild, moderate or severe. It can develop quickly or over a long period of time. It’s also called alcohol dependence, alcohol addiction or alcohol abuse.”

If you are reading this and this definition makes you feel uncomfortable then maybe look into WHY you are drinking. What degree of dependence on alcohol have you reached? Is there still hope if you stop now?

Alcohol Damages the Body

Leah Miller notes that the body takes huge strain when you are drinking. Look at the impacts on these organs:

  • Brain. Alcohol can change how the brain functions and appears, altering moods, behavior, coordination, and memory. Alcohol has been associated with depression, anxiety, memory loss, and increased risk of dementia.
  • Heart. Drinking can affect the heart, leading to cardiomyopathy (stretching and drooping of heart muscle), irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), increased risk of stroke, and high blood pressure.
  • Immune system. Alcohol impairs the body’s ability to fight diseases, making individuals more susceptible to getting sick. Chronic drinkers are more likely to get pneumonia and tuberculosis (infection of the lungs). And binge drinking or drinking heavily on a single occasion slows the body’s ability to ward off infections—even a full 24 hours after getting drunk.
  • Liver. Over time, alcohol can cause inflammation and liver diseases, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.
  • Pancreas. Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can cause pancreatitis, a condition involving inflammation and swollen blood vessels that impairs digestion.
  • Risk of developing cancer. Evidence indicates that the more a person drinks regularly over time, the greater the likelihood they have of developing alcohol-related cancer, such as breast, mouth and throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, and colon and rectum. Even moderate drinking—one or two drinks per day—has been linked to an elevated risk of breast cancer in women.
  • Stomach. Alcohol misuse can also contribute to gastric bleeding.

Naturally, if you stop drinking, these symptoms will disappear if you are lucky – that you stop before things are terminal. Sobriety can bring you back to a healthy status quo as long as you do the work: physical work (exercise, eating well, sleeping well); mental work (change your false beliefs and reinstate your value system); emotional work (find someone to help who is needier than you are, find friends and family who can support you and believe in you, do yoga, etc) and spiritual work (find the group which supports your beliefs be that Christianity or Buddhism, Atheism or Pantheism).

Let’s look at some steps you can take toward stopping drinking. You ask, “How can I stop drinking?” The answer is JUST DO IT! Believe in YOU, not a fake sense of happiness led by the alcohol. Believe in who you are, in the raw, in reality – not with the aid of something abusive and addictive that was manufactured to create a false sense of happiness and much money for big companies!

Read some helpful tips to help you stop drinking:

  1. Write down your reasons for wanting to stop drinking. List the positive impact this can have on your body, mental health, finances, relationships, and other areas of your life
  2. Explore your current relationship with alcohol. You may want to consider why you drink, such as socializing or coping with stress, and how much you drink. Keep track of how much and how often you drink and how you feel when you drink
  3. Consider whether you want to cut back or stop drinking completely. Talk to your doctor to decide what makes the most sense for you right now. Think about your habits. Can you stop drinking once you start? Try taking days off from drinking or pacing yourself when you do drink by not having more than one alcoholic beverage in one hour.
  4. Remove alcohol from the house. It is a lot easier to cut back or stop drinking completely when alcohol isn’t readily accessible.
  5. Set aside time for self-care. Ensure that you take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating properly, getting exercise, and meditating. These practices provide healthy alternatives to drinking.
  6. Reach out for support. Encouraging friends and family members can help reinforce your decision and help you manage difficult situations.
  7. Attend a formal rehab treatment program. Sometimes it may be hard to stop on your own and a formal treatment program with structured schedules and therapies can help you to overcome your addiction.
  8. Learn how to say no. If drinking has been a big part of your life, you are likely to encounter situations where alcohol is present, and you might be offered a drink. Plan for these instances. Ask a friend to role play with you and request a non-alcoholic drink instead.
  9. Find ways to occupy your time. Replace alcohol-centered activities with healthier pursuits, such as exercise, catching up with old friends, or learning a new skill.
  10. Stay away from high-risk situations. Identify trigger situations and avoid them if possible. If you can’t, bring a supportive friend or family member with you to help you cope with temptation.

Sue Diamond of Good Life Recovery notes that “being an adult in recovery means that we are in control of how we think and how we feel. By making small adjustments in our view of ourselves and others, we can see an experience from a more positive vantage point… Nothing is impossible once you stop your addiction and start healing and growing. Your thinking can go from the scrap heap to the skyscraper. The power to do that is inside of you and part of a well-paced, well-planned, holistic recovery.”

Sue knows that our negative thoughts can be our downfall. If we change negative thoughts such as I’m not good enough, no one loves me, I don’t fit in, I don’t need others and more we can change our lives. Think the opposite of these thoughts: I am good enough, everyone loves me, I do fit in, I do need others, etc.

Sue promotes these four steps:

  1. ​Self-Awareness (know what you are thinking)
  2. Pause to interrupt the automatic reflex
  3. Make a conscious choice to practice the opposite.
  4. Notice the impact it has on those around you (track it in your journal).

Right now, stay with Tribe Sober and DO THE WORK!

 

Smacked, Hooked and Crashed with Melinda Ferguson

 

Tribe Sober – Inspiring an Alcohol-free Life! 

My guest this week has an extraordinary story of recovery to share – she’s gone from a homeless heroin addict living on the streets of Jo’burg to a highly respected public figure here in SA.  Melinda Ferguson is an award-winning South African journalist and author of bestselling memoirs Smacked, Hooked and Crashed. She is also a publisher and runs writing courses to help people find their voice.

In this Episode

  • Growing up in an alcoholic household, Melinda took to booze at an early age – describing it as a “piece of heaven”.
  • As she got older, she rejected alcohol as she hated to see her mother drinking so turned towards hard drugs, taking her first hit of heroin at the age of 24.
  • As a film maker she managed to stay relatively functional for a couple of years – she always had it in mind that she would be able to stop whenever she wanted to.
  • I think a lot of us drinkers are like that – thinking we could stop anytime, its only when we actually try to quit or even to cut down that we realise we have become dependent.
  • When she became pregnant, Melinda realized that she was hooked and couldn’t stop – continuing to use throughout her two pregnancies – always planning to stop “tomorrow” but of course tomorrow never came.
  • Her two babies were taken away from her, but even then she couldn’t stop using.
  • Rock bottom came for Melinda when she found herself living on the streets as an addict.
  • Her family removed her from that situation and moved her to a “homeless farm” which happened to be full of alcoholics – so that’s when alcohol re-appeared in her life.
  • When she was discovered drinking and smoking dagga she was asked to leave – this was a real wake up call – about to be made homeless from a farm for the homeless was her “desperation awakening” as she calls it.
  • She finally accepted that she had a problem and would have to stop using drugs.
  • The only place she had to go was back “home” with her mom – where she had to cope with alcohol in the house and seeing her mom and stepdad drinking every evening.
  • At this point in her life she had no money, no car, no decent clothes but she did have AA/NA meeting to go to every night which kept her on track.
  • At these meetings she “surrendered” – finally acknowledging that she needed help – something that we agreed was the hardest thing of all.
  • Melinda had got to the stage when “enough is enough” – I also remember getting to that stage where I thought “I can’t do this any more”.
  • That’s not a bad thing and makes me think of a quote from JK Rowling “my rock bottom became the foundation for the rest of my life”.
  • With hindsight, she can see that her surrender was actually her strength – not her weakness.
  • Year 1 of her recovery was extremely difficult – just a matter of getting through each day until her evening AA/NA meeting – she felt very depressed and was barely functional.
  • After 2 years in recovery, she sensed what she calls an awakening of the spirit and by 5 years she was reconnecting with herself and getting results.
  • We talked about the length of time people spend “in recovery” and agreed that we have to be patient – it also varies a lot – someone with a drinking problem who was able to hold down a job and a relationship is likely to recover more quickly than someone who has hit rock bottom due to hard drugs. It all depends on how much you have “messed up” as Melinda put it!
  • Have a listen to Tribe Sober podcast episode 61 (released in September 2021) – I’m talking to rehab doctor Dr Dawn who explains that in the rehabs they have a rule of thumb that it takes a month of recovery for every year that we’ve been using.
  • Realising that she was in it for the long haul helped Melinda and she stopped being so hard on herself. She stopped comparing herself with others and began to internalize and feel good about her achievements, however small they seemed.
  • After getting clean, Melinda moved in with a very heavy drinker – said it felt “normal” – she believes that whatever trauma we suffer as a child we become programmed to find that “normal” when we are adults – and of course she grew up with an alcoholic mom, so living with a drinker felt like “home”.
  • She believes that many alcoholics come from alcoholic families but also believes that we can change the pattern – as she has with her sons who are in their early 20’s and don’t drink.
  • We talked about her writing – Melinda always wrote during her recovery and her first book Smacked was an accumulation of those writings.
  • The success of Smacked took her out of feeling like a failure and gave her back her pride – she realized that she could learn to love herself.
  • She took us through the themes of each of her 3 books – Smacked, Hooked and Crashed – do get hold of them, I promise you will love them.
  • Melinda is such a talented writer and I love the way she describes journaling as “meeting yourself on the page” – this is exactly what we need to be doing to process our emotions as we go through recovery – like her I believe it’s one of the most therapeutic things you can do.
  • To quote Melinda again “Your secret self emerges – a self that might not be revealed otherwise”.
  • We talked about the book by Julia Cameron called The Artists Way – she suggests that we write our Morning Pages when we wake up in the morning – just to get your creativity going.
  • The good news is that you get some personal coaching from Melinda by enrolling in one of her online writing courses – I’ve done one and can really recommend it – just drop her a line at melindafergusonwriter@nullgmail.com – I’ll put it in the show notes.

More Info

Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.

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 program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you.

Help us to Spread the Word!

We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help.  Please subscribe and share.

If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.

Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

You can join our private Facebook group