Are you a Grey Area Drinker?

I am a black and white kind of person: yes or no, wrong or right, left or right, up or down, cold or hot. Then I heard about grey area drinking.

I decided to investigate. It turns out that drinking is not only about being sober or being an alcoholic. There is a grey area in between these two extremes.

I mean, who wants to be called an alcoholic? Not me! And I stopped drinking mainly because my mother is an alcoholic, and I did not want her life. Having read lots now about grey area drinking, I can say that I was bordering on that colour at one stage – and plenty of people I know are still in that grey area.

Luckily, I have a rosy life now full of rainbows and golden rays of light and plenty of brightness.

So, what is grey area drinking?

  • You are not sober, and you are not an alcoholic BUT you cannot stop thinking about alcohol and your next drink
  • You drink alcohol once or twice or maybe every day of the week and you spend most of your day thinking about drinking
  • Grey area drinking can lead to alcohol use disorder. This is when your body is physically dependent on alcohol, and you have gone past the grey area.

So that grey area of drinking has been defined just because it is such a grey area. Think of the colour grey: vague, intangible, indescribable, dull. If you are caught in the grey area of drinking, your life can be dull, colourless – your mind is consumed with drinking when in fact you could be hiking, creating, learning or teaching!

You may only drink on the weekends but you spend every day of the week building up to Friday and that first beer. Ahhhhh. So, it removes pleasure from your life in other ways. You become moody and frustrated all week because you are being good, and you must wait for Friday and that first beer… ahhhhhh.

In an article in the Times of India, the writer notes that “it is not necessarily the number of drinks that places you in this category, but how you view alcohol. For instance, if you are drinking 2 nights a week, but you are thinking about that night every day, and are eagerly waiting for the other day when you can drink again, it’s actually occupying your thoughts and distracting you. In such cases, you are not drinking much, but your drinking habits are more disordered.”

What colour is your drinking?

Have you ever thought about your drinking in colours? Red being danger point, go back, you are drinking too much? And white being you are OK; you only have a glass here and there? Well, you may be in the grey zone where you think that your one glass a day is fine. But you think about that glass all day until you get the wine out of the fridge.

The thought of drinking is what drives the dopamine! So, you feel great all day just knowing that you can have a glass of wine at 5pm!

Crystal Raypole sums up the role of dopamine in our brains. She notes that “when you experience a positive sensation and dopamine is released into the pathways of the reward center, your brain takes note of:

  • What triggered the sensation: Was it a substance? A behavior? A type of food?
  • Any cues from your environment that can help you find it again. Did you experience it at night? What else were you doing? Were you with a certain person?

When you’re exposed to those environmental cues, you’ll begin to feel the same drive to seek out that same pleasure. This drive can be incredibly powerful, creating an urge that’s hard to control.

She adds that not only addictive substances can cause this effect, but so too can sex, delicious foods, sport and creative activities. Usually when people drink, they are with good friends and relaxing after a busy day and it is all in the context of a feel-good, stress-free vibe. But quitting drinking can open doors in our lives to doing more of the things we love that also boost dopamine.

What happens when suddenly one day, that one drink is not enough. And the effect is not enough. You need more than one drink. And slowly, you step over the threshold of grey area drinking into the realm of alcohol misuse disorder.

How will you know that you have left the safe area of drinking and stepped into the red zone? How will you know that you are in the grey area of drinking already?

Alarm bells around that grey area of drinking:

  • You have started to feel uncomfortable about your drinking and you are questioning how much you drink
  • You have tried to cut back on your alcohol consumption, but you just cannot.
  • Your thoughts are full of having that drink when you do allow it: once or twice or every day of the week.

What can you do?

  • Talk to a friend or a medical expert about it.
  • Start doing something else with that time when you would have had a drink: do exercise, read a book, journal, start a new hobby, chat to a friend online, join a creative club…

Articles point out that grey area drinking has been on the rise globally since the Covid 19 Pandemic and people generally drink to cope with stress. Drinking is so entrenched in our culture and so many people drink that it is difficult to find out if you are indeed a grey area drinker.

The grey area of drinking embraces about half of all the drinkers in the world! When you are not a downright alcoholic, and you are not sober. You just drink. But what does this mean?

A Grey Area Drinker can be described like this:

“Typically, a gray area drinker has not experienced a “rock bottom” or a major life-altering impact. It is someone that appears to be living a very normal life from the outside, but internally, a gray area drinker might be experiencing shame, guilt, and embarrassment for their habits.”

Grey area drinkers can tend to binge at times. Binge drinking means consuming more than 4 to 5 drinks in less than 2 hours. If a person binges about 5 months a month, they can fall down the slippery slope into heavy alcohol consumption.

Check out Tribe Sober Membership if you need to step off the slippery slope – we can help –  you can watch Janet’s video on the subject HERE.

Let’s look at the graph of drinkers and you can see where you fall in:

  • Sober kid on the block – you don’t drink or just gave up
  • Social imbiber – you have a glass at a wedding, a funeral, a braai and a dinner but you are not that interested, really
  • The grey area drinker – you drink during the week, one to two days or most days, a few glasses of alcohol but you think about it a lot
  • The heavy drinker, alcoholic – you are physically and mentally dependent on alcohol.

 Book a Discovery Call with Tribe Sober if you are worried about your drinking. If you are sober, well done and keep it up!


My Battle with the Booze – A Doctor’s Story

Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

My guest this week is Dr Stephan Neff – a German who is living in New Zealand

Stephan began to drink heavily at university and carried on into his twenties and thirties

The medical profession was demanding and he used alcohol to cope with stress


In this Episode

  • At the age of 35 Stephan realised that his drinking was becoming problematic but pushed it to the back of his mind
  • Alcohol was numbing the pain and giving him a temporary respite from the stress
  • His wife also drank a lot – they were both A type personalities – striving to succeed – using alcohol to relax
  • Stephan’s wife managed to stop drinking and then began to urge him to make a change but with no success
  • He was getting worse and worse – not enough alcohol to numb the pain
  • Stephan hit rock bottom one night and was found crying in his garage – his wife arranged for him to go to rehab two days later
  • She issued him an ultimatum – he would lose his family if he didn’t go to rehab – he felt relieved but also full of shame
  • Not everybody has to hit “rock bottom” before they make a change – get some help and join tribe sober
  • Rehab was life changing for Stephan – in the bubble of rehab for 4 weeks – everything changed
  • The staff were great – many of the staff were ex-addicts who were clean and thriving – they inspired him
  • Stephan felt that he was being “listened to” and could “speak his truth” finally
  • We offer a complimentary recovery coaching session to our members so they can experience the power of being listened to
  • As part of his treatment he wrote a letter which was full of grievances – to help him deal with his resentment and anger
  • Coming out of rehab was a bit of an anti-climax – nobody was that interested – he had to “walk the talk” to show he had changed
  • Stephan has learned to avoid HALT – being Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired – which is could trigger him
  • He talked about the difference between a “lapse” and a full blown “relapse”- after a lapse we need to “get curious”
  • Our annual trackers help our members to get stay on track after a lapse – if you’d like an annual tracker – janet@nulltribesober.com
  • In his book “Steps to Sobriety” he goes into details about relapses and what causes them – often a lack of self care
  • Stephan has a podcast called “Into the Light” and a You Tube channel
  • Treat a craving as a wave in the ocean – surf it rather than let it drown you!

    More info

    Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is just R85 (£4/$6/$8Aus) a month – you can join up HERE

  • To access our website click HERE
  • If you would like a free copy of our”Annual Tracker” 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 7-step 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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and join our Tribe Sober Club on Clubhouse – we are on Clubhouse every Sunday afternoon at 5pm SA time so come join the conversation.

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x


From Party Animal to Mom of 3 – Vicky Vanstone


Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

My guest this week is Vicky Vanstone – a Brit who is living in Australia

Vicky was a binge drinker whose identity was pretty much as a “party animal”

However like many young women she found the transition from party animal to stay at home mom a very difficult one and eventually decided to stop drinking completely – and now she inspires other moms to get “sober curious”


In this Episode

  • Vicky had surrounded herself with other drinkers so her binge drinking was completely normalized
  • As a party animal she enjoyed recounting funny stories from the night before
  • Things changed for Vicky when she had her first child – motherhood introduced an element of shame into the morning after
  • She felt hugely anxious and guilty that she was struggling to look after the baby when she was hungover
  • These emotions led her to becoming “sober curious” at the age of 34
  • We agreed that the “sober curious” movement is hugely helpful as it implies that we can get off the slippery slope
  • We don’t have to hit “rock bottom” and become an “alcoholic” before we make some changes
  • For Vicky the transition from independent party girl to stay at home mom was a huge shock – as it is for many women
  • She believes that’s where the mommyjuice culture comes from – the need for a release from the stress and boredom
  • Motherhood is a tricky mix of mndane tasks and huge responsibility and women need more information to prepare them for that
  • Just as drinking is glamorised by the media so is motherhood – which makes reality an even bigger shock
  • Vicky got some help by going to a therapist – she learned that she had to value herself rather than “people pleasing”
  • She has now been alcohol free for 2 years and has her own podcast called “Sober Awkward”
  • Vicky’s website is www.drunkmummysobermummy.com and she also has a FB group
  • Joining Tribe Sober is also a great way to start your sober curious journey..More info

    Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is just R85 (£4/$6) a month – you can join up HERE
  • To access our website click HERE
  • If you would like a free copy of our”Annual Tracker” 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.comEpisode 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 7-step program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you – calendar on homepage of tribesober.com


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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and join our Tribe Sober Club on Clubhouse – we are on Clubhouse every Sunday afternoon at 5pm SA time so come join the conversation.

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

Top 10 Stop Drinking Apps to Keep you on Track

It is not easy to stop drinking so why not harness the help of a stop drinking app? Keep on track with a programme that guides you to take every day an hour at a time, to set up a new routine and to meditate the blues away.

We all know that the opposite of addiction is connection. Tribe Sober is that, connecting with others like you who want to take their sober journey seriously. Find your tribe and share your dreams and goals with like-minded people as you change your life forever.

Every app designed for addicts to stop drinking has a unique approach: there are stop drinking apps, sober apps, how to moderate apps, meditation apps, recovery apps, addiction assistance apps, alcoholism apps, and many more. They can be downloaded onto your Android or iPhone and used instantly. I have chosen some of the most popular stop drinking apps to help keep you on track.

  1. Nomo – It’s time to say no more!

This app was started by a guy who used to drink a lot and who is now sober and helping others.  Parker says that he created the app he needed and now there is a community using it. Yes, you become part of an instant community of support and you can see how well you are doing at the click of a button. Nomo tells you how long you are sober, how much money you are saving, how many calories you are burning and how much time you are saving – plus more! “Nomo is a passion project from a fellow screw up in recovery.”

  1. Recovery Box https://www.recoveryboxapp.com/

This app is made for the Apple gadget lover and has been developed particularly to assist those recovering from addictions. The developer is a friend of a former addict who needed to track their sober progress very closely. So the app was formed to assist this friend to track their positive progress, day by day. When the recovering addict records all the good things towards wellness and is accountable for the good habits, the idea is that he becomes aware of the habits that cause addiction and weans himself off these. This app is a toolbox of help at your fingertips.

  1. Sober Time https://sobertime.app/

Stay sober and stay happy. This app helps the ex-drinker to not drink again. Count the hours and the days, moving into wellness.

Become motivated to do better and keep going. There are motivational messages, tips to save money, useful goals and milestones to reach. Track your own way to success, one day at a time. If you like statistics, this app is for  you as you never lose sight of where you are in terms of where you are going. Celebrate every little achievement even if it’s a second by second account of your sobriety! The best part is that you join a community and meet like-minded people so you can share and be part of something connective. Read all their posts and share yours.

  1. Sober Tool https://www.sobertool.com/

A great tool yes to get you on the road to sobriety. Find a message that suits how you feel today. Focus on the peace within, the serenity without and find a new direction. Follow the useful calls to action – many of us have experienced that stuck feeling so when someone else or something else urges you to take action, it really helps. You can either search for a word that describes how you are feeling today, or a word that you need to assist you today, then you find the questions or messages relevant to that word. This app is focused on the emotions that ex-drinkers feel and provides wonderful coping strategies for all degrees of sobriety. Avoid relapse with this app that you can relate to every day.

  1. Sober Grid – https://www.sobergrid.com/

Get on the grid and join one of the sober world’s largest communities. Use the free resources and track your sobriety day by day. There is even constant peer recovery coaching which is a huge plus for this app. Get help from qualified coaches when you need to talk or turn things over with someone or just get out of your own mind. It was started by people who wanted an app that ex addicts can relate to and get help from every hour of every day. Some join to get the support and others join to provide the support (coaches). It is free and connects you to the global sober community so make new friends and join your own tribe. Maybe there will be someone living in your own neighbourhood who has joined!

  1. I am sober – https://iamsober.com/

If you are sober and you really mean it, get onto this new app for those ditching the drink. You simply cannot be alone on this app as thousands of other ex-drinkers share their stories and their progress. The best part of this app is that you can take and share photos, journal straight into the app and share with new friends. You can set your sobriety birthday, find motivational messages and learn how to support others in the same boat as  you.

  1. Sobriety Counter

Look in the app store for this one – a way to count your sober days in a fun gaming kind of way. Everything is bright and happy and helps lift your mood the minute you open it. See how much money you are saving by not drinking, set personal goals and see how well you are doing to reach these. Make sure you treat yourself every time you reach a goal (the app makes sure you do!). There are useful scientific mental health stats, health facts and more that show you just what drinking did to you and how healthy you can now be. Save your brain, your liver, kidneys and general cell health. This app is for you if you are determined to stop drinking. Look at the tips regarding triggers and stressors that were causing you to drink. Find a new life, sober and healthy.

  1. Stop Drinking with Andrew Johnson 

Check out this app for heavy drinkers who really want to stop or try to moderate their drinking. Try a bit of hypnotherapy, positive affirmations, visualisation tools and more to reach your goals. This app is designed to help you deal with the emotional and physical cravings for alcohol and to learn how to break that habit. It is possible to break habits with new thinking patterns – we literally have to rewire the brain. Andrew Johnson is a coach, therapist and mindfulness guru who has helped people for many years with beneficial breathing techniques, meditations and self-care tools.

  1. Joe & Charlie 

Joe and Charlie come from a dedicated AA background and grew their own path based on AA steps. Their “Big Book Comes Alive” weekends took off in America and their approach has attracted followers all over the globe. You would choose this app if you love the AA and how it works. Look what their write-up says:

“Born into a family of drunks during the Great Depression in 1929, Charlie Parmley kept a fairly low-profile. He grew up in Tulsa, joined the Army after high school, and served in Germany at the tail end of World War II. He got married and moved to Arkansas to farm and raise a family. Despite following in the Parmley footsteps and being drunk for a number of years, he had a reputation in town as that guy who was always willing to reach out a hand to help where it was needed. Charlie got sober in 1970 and started studying the Big Book seriously with Joe in 1973. For Charlie it was all about the steps: “Remember, we recover by the steps we take, not the meetings we make!”

Joe McQuany came from Kentucky but it was the Arkansas “nut house” that saved his life. In 1962, at the age of 34, Joe McQ woke up in the psych ward at the Arkansas State Hospital. He’d remarked more than once that in 1962 a white man could find some kind of program to treat his alcoholism, but black men like Joe wound up in state hospitals and psych wards. An AA group brought a meeting into the hospital and he went—mostly for the hot coffee and cigarettes those meetings were giving away.”

10. I Am Daily Affirmations – Noelle Stransky

This was created by someone who felt the loneliness creeping in after a bad breakup. Stuck in a new city, she battled to fight her depression and to keep on track. So she designed the App I Am to relate to all those who fight loneliness and need motivation in their day. Boost your own positive thinking with the positive messages and affirmations. Set them up to remind you a few times a day how important you are on the earth!

Which app appeals to you and why? Please share your findings on the Tribe Sober forum today!

Sober Fun – is it an oxymoron?

How will I have fun with my girlfriends? How do I brunch without bubbly?  How will I ever enjoy a party or a wedding?

Not to mention sober dancing or even sober dating!  In other words – How will I ever have fun sober?

These are the questions which torment us when/if we decide to ditch the drink..

Indisputably those early days of sobriety do feel a bit “flat” – you feel just a bit “raw and exposed” and if all your free time has been devoted to either “socialising” (aka drinking wine with my friends) or “relaxing at home” (aka drinking wine while watching Netflix) then you will need to re-callibrate big time.

Here are 10 ideas to help you adjust…

  1. Create a mindshift – I think us drinkers tend to be hedonists – we also tend to be very successful/hardworking – “work hard, play hard” kind of people. When I got sober I began to think a bit more deeply about life – after all I now had plenty of time my hands!
    I came across this quote by Viktor Frankl which was a bit of a “lightbulb” moment for me:-
    “Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her life”
    The trick is to realise that we were not put on this earth to be happy every single minute – to be human is to run the whole gamut of emotions, to learn to sit with them – and know that they will pass. The upside of this is when you do feel happy it will be genuine and deep – not a brief chemical high.
  2. Dayfun – in Catherine Gray’s fabulous book “The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober” she devotes a whole chapter to what she calls “Dayfun” – or you could call it “Normal People Stuff”.  For everyone of us that loves to drink there are many people out there who are just not that interested in alcohol – and somehow they manage to have “fun”.  They do things like going to the movies, hiking, playing with kids/dogs and enjoying nature.  Just check out meetup.com if you are curious about “normal people stuff” – there are hundreds of activities on there.
  3. Feel the Awkward and do it Anyway! – socialising sober is something us ex-drinkers have to learn.  The trick is to accept that it’s not going to be easy at first.  Socialise sober – feel awkward – go home and journal about it.  Again and again.  It may take a few months but one day you’ll be writing up your journal and realise that it wasn’t awkward at all – in fact you had “sober fun” for the first time! – yay!
    Your subconscious has now accepted that yes it is possible to have fun without drinking – who knew?
  4. Make a list – did you know that just crossing a task of your “to do list” will give you a dopamine hit and make you feel good? – not to mention reduce your mental clutter and give you a sense of progress.  When our bodies have been relying on alcohol to make us feel good it takes a while for the dopamine transmitters to self-correct and do their thing, which is to give us some “natural highs”.
    List making is just one way to get that natural high – here are some others…
  5. Meditation and Yoga – numerous studies have proved that these activities will boost your sense of wellbeing along with improving your flexibility and mental health.
  6. Exercise! – regular exercise has to be part of your journey – whether it means getting a “fitbit” and walking for 10,000 steps a day or training for a marathon find something that works for you and just do it – every.single.day.  Apart from the endorphin release which will improve your mental state it’s a great way to deal with cravings.  Of course while you are exercising you can
  7. Listen to music – music is so powerful at lifting our spirits and affects several different parts of our brain – make up your own sobriety playlist and enjoy!
  8. Get creative! – paint a picture, do arts and crafts, start a blog, take photos – any creative activity will increase those dopamine levels
  9. Eat dopamine increasing foods – you need essential amino acids and Tyrosine which you will find in eggs, green tea, watermelon, coffee (yay), almonds, bananas, dark chocolate (yay) and yoghourt – enjoy!
  10. Be Yourself – In her book “Quiet” Susan Cain explains that 50% of the population are “introverts” and the other half are “extraverts”.  The pressures of our corporate and social lives require us all to become extraverts and some of us end up relying on alcohol to get us there.  So use your sobriety to get in touch with who you really are – treat it as a journey of self-discovery and be true to yourself.

Finally its worth remembering that “happiness” (which is deeper and less transient than “fun”) comes from personal growth – it comes from finding something meaningful to do with your life and then working towards it.

Experiencing the full gamut of emotions will enable you to develop your emotional maturity as well as the crucial skill of resilience.

Resilience is the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events.

Personal growth is a lifelong journey and the “process” of working towards it will bring you joy…

To connect with others who are changing their relationship with alcohol and working on their personal growth check out our membership program.

Janet x


How Ditching the Drink set me Free! – Loyiso’s Story

Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

My guest this week is the lovely Loyiso Mkele.

We met long before I started Tribe Sober and we had no idea that we had a “drink problem” in common 😉

However once I managed to stop drinking and started Tribe Sober, Loyiso reached out for help.

She’s been sober for two years and is thriving in her alcohol free life – have a listen to how she did it!


In this Episode

  • For 13 years Loyso was drinking at least a bottle of wine a day – she knew the problem would just get worse
  • She knew she would have to make a change but had no idea HOW to make the change
  • One day she heard me on the radio and because she knew me personally that shocked her into action –
  • Loyiso realised that there was a support group for people like her
  • Coming to the workshop was a huge relief for Loyiso – not only had she found her tribe but she now had a practical toolkit
  • By using the toolkit and connecting with the tribe she was able to stop drinking – she loved the sense of community
  • She was inspired by people who were hitting their milestones – and eventually became a role model herself
  • She is now a Sober Buddy with two years of sobriety and enjoys helping our newbies to get started
  • Loyiso had some tips for people starting out – find your people and connect with them daily.
  • Immerse yourself in quitlit and podcasts – expect to be tired for a while and to get cravings for sweet things – eat fruit!
  • Remember that alcohol free wine is your friend – take it out with you and use it at home when you would normally have a drink

    More info

    Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is just R85 (£4/$6) a month – you can join up HERE

  • To access our website click HERE
  • If you would like a free copy of our”Annual Tracker” 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 7-step program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you – calendar on homepage of tribesober.com


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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and join our Tribe Sober Club on Clubhouse – we are on Clubhouse every Sunday afternoon at 5pm SA time so come join the conversation.

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

Is it time for Parents to get Sober Curious?


Is it time for Parents to get Sober Curious?

The liquor industry has been stunningly successful in their efforts to market directly to mothers.  So much so that it’s become an acceptable way to deal with the stress of parenting.

From play dates to birthday parties, the wine always makes an appearance.

Juice for the little ones and mommy juice for the grown ups.

The “Moms Who Need Wine” Facebook page has more than 700,000 followers!

As the t-shirt says:-

Motherhood:  Powered by love, Fuelled by coffee, Sustained by Wine

The harsh reality is that parenting is hard – but alcohol isn’t going to make it any easier.  Parenting “under the influence” can be dangerous.  Supervision of small children requires total attention as does driving the older ones to their various activities.

That glass of wine at the end of the day seems like a just reward for a busy working parent but how many people just have one glass?  That glass can easily become two and over the years become a bottle every evening.

Alcohol is particularly hazardous for women and drinking more than a bottle and a half of wine a week is considered a health risk.  Women are prone to heart and liver disease as a result of risky drinking – not to mention the proven link between alcohol and breast cancer.

Many moms know in their hearts that parenting and alcohol don’t mix but have no idea how to make a change.  The normalisation of drinking has become so ingrained that it takes confidence and courage to make a stand.

That’s why the Sober Curious Movement is an exciting development.  It started with a book published in 2018 by Ruby Warrington and is fast becoming an international movement.

The Sober Curious are not people with a drinking “problem” – they are people who choose not to drink – because they are curious to see what their life would be like without alcohol in it.

It’s about noticing the normalisation of alcohol – and challenging it.

It’s about having an open mind – and being prepared to experiment

It’s about asking the question “what would my life be like without alcohol?”

The Sober Curious drink much less or not at all – and broadcast their alcohol free lives proudly on social media.  We have Millennial influencers and bloggers on Instagram conveying the message that it’s hip not to drink – and of course drunk is not a good look for all those selfies!

Sober Curious is an essential part of the Wellness Revolution.  It just doesn’t make sense to eat gluten free, non diary, vegan etc, to spend time meditating and practicing yoga – and then drinking the toxin which is alcohol.

Whereas sipping mindfully on a “botanical cocktail” fits right in.

An essential part of being Sober Curious is the ability to drink “mindfully”.  To have a glass of very good wine now and then and to savour the taste – quite different from knocking back a bottle of wine every evening to “take the edge off”.

The Sober Curious Movement means that the concept of alcohol free living will reach millions more people and could even represent a societal culture shift towards sobriety.

It will open up a whole new conversation about alcohol – and the role it plays in society.  No longer will people have to feel left out or uncool for being sober.

So it looks like the stranglehold that alcohol has had on society could finally be loosening.



In the meantime here are 5 tips for sober curious moms:-

  1. Take a break from alcohol. Start your Sober Curious experiment by taking a break from alcohol for 30 days.  If you want a bit of help then join Tribe Sober for online and community support. Details on tribesober.com
  2. Be prepared to give some events a miss. If you know that the pressure to drink will be overwhelming then just don’t go.  Your child doesn’t have to miss out.  Ask another parent or a friend to take your child to the event.
  3. When you do attend events then arrive late – and have an exit plan. You can ask a trusted friend/parent to bring your child home if they want to stay on.
  4. Have your go-to drinks. Start exploring the alcohol free choices that are available and find one that you really like.  So long as you have a drink in your hand and look happy about it the other moms likely to pressure you.
  5. Be a Sober Curious Influencer! Host your own alcohol-free events and meet-ups with moms – have lots of AF choices for people to discover and build up your own Sober Curious Crew.
    Host an alcohol free book club and a coffee meet-up.  Never feel you have to provide alcohol at your child’s birthday party – provide some delicious mocktails instead!

Wine mom culture is pervasive and dangerous, but it doesn’t need to be isolating.  It’s possible to make mom friends, take your child to events and still remain sober.  It’s time to be a rebel and not a sheep!

Six Years Sober – How I Did It!

Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

This weekend is a special one for me – my sixth soberversary!

So I’m talking about my six biggest challenges – and how I overcame them.

In this Episode

  • I summarise my story of how I got hooked on the booze and why I decided to make a change
  • Then I go through my six biggest challenges and how I overcame them
  • CHALLENGE 1 – Finding my People. I tried for many years to give up drinking alone but finally reached out for help and connection
  • CHALLENGE 2 – Keeping Perspective – accepting that it was going to take time – first year about “not drinking” then going deeper
  • CHALLENGE 3 – Dealing with Emotions – I had learn to cope with my emotions – to get comfortable with being uncomfortable
  • CHALLENGE 4 – Dealing with Anhedonia – in early sobriety I struggled to find pleasure in anything – I had to push through this
  • CHALLENGE 5 – Saying Goodbye to my Best Friend – I drew a line under my drinking years by writing a “goodbye to alcohol” letter
  • CHALLENGE 6 – Finding my Purpose – I had to embrace my alcohol-free life and discover new interests and passions
  • I linked a tip with each of my challenges which I hope will help others on this journey

More info

  • Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is just R85 (£4/$6) a month – you can join up HERE
  • To access our website click HERE
  • If you would like a free copy of our”Annual Tracker” 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.comEpisode 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 7-step program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you – calendar on homepage of tribesober.com


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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and join our Tribe Sober Club on Clubhouse – are on Clubhouse every Sunday afternoon at 5pm SA time so come join the conversation.

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

Hypnotherapy and Addiction

Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

My guest this week is hypnotherapist Belinda Roxburgh – a valuable member of the Tribe Sober team.

She came to one of our early workshops and has been alcohol free ever since.

Belinda has worked with many of our members and helped them to overturn their limiting beliefs around alcohol.

In this Episode

  • After years of drinking, we need to find a way to heal our minds as well as our bodies – that’s where hypnotherapy comes in
  • Belinda explained how addiction narrows our world and our ability to experience everyday pleasures
  • Hypnotherapy can open up our world to other possibilities
  • We talked about limiting beliefs and how hypnotherapy enables us to question those beliefs
  • Belinda explained that she had been to several doctors/therapists about her anxiety- nobody asked her about her drinking
  • Since she has been alcohol-free her anxiety has reduced significantly
  • She now realizes we must take responsibility for our own healing – rather than relying on doctors who will just prescribe drugs
  • We agreed that a Tribe Sober workshop plus a session with Belinda can enable someone to overturn their limiting beliefs
  • Feelings and emotions are the languages of the subconscious and hypnotherapy allows us to reach our subconscious mind
  • She wasn’t sure how well her hypnotherapy sessions would work over Zoom but to her surprise, they are working very well
  • We talked about the number of sessions needed and Belinda explained that it varies but that 6 was the average
  • We talked about our 66-day challenge which is based on the theory that you can create a new neural pathway in that time
  • A few hypnotherapy sessions during the 66 days would increase the effectiveness of the challenge
  • For more info go to Belinda’s website www.riversidehypnosis.ca.za or email her at belinda@nullriversidehypnosis.co.za

More info

To sign up for our 66 day challenge click HERE

Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is just R85 (£4/$6) a month – you can join up HERE

  • To access our website click HERE
  • If you would like a free copy of 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.comEpisode 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 7-step program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you – calendar on the homepage of tribesober.com


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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and join our Tribe Sober Club on Clubhouse – are on Clubhouse every Sunday afternoon at 5pm SA time so come join the conversation.

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

Be Present in Nature and Recover from Addiction

This morning I did what I do every morning. I went to be present in Nature. I put on my takkies and I walked up my favourite mountain between Fish Hoek and Glencairn: Elsie’s Peak. Call it my next addiction but Walking in Nature is what I do now. Every day.

I made it up there with the sunrise and I saw the most incredible things. My senses awakened: the visual glory of smoky views across False Bay to Simonstown and Cape Point. The sun sparkling on the ocean around Fish Hoek Bay to Strand. Fragrant perfumed Fynbos flowers in all their glory and the many colourful Sugarbirds, Sunbirds, Robins and Starlings. I grabbed the rocks as I scrambled up to the beacon, feeling their smooth roughness.

Fire up Those Happy Hormones

I always know when my endorphins start flowing because suddenly there is a magical moment. I feel as if I could join the Sugarbirds flitting about on the Proteas. Nature is my answer to all my problems. Walking is the drug I have taken to, and it stokes my fire within. Firing up those happy chemicals is essential to the balance of life. Especially if you have addiction issues.

How do we keep the happy hormones pumping without additives and false stimulants? Why do people smoke, drink, take pills and eat dagga cookies? Are we all searching for that elusive constant state of happiness and joy? And why? Why do we fear living life in its raw beauty? Is a sunrise better without the drug or is a sunset better with the drug? I know the answer to that one!

I count myself lucky that my father taught me a deep love for Nature. My parents took us into the Drakensberg mountains in KwaZulu-Natal a lot, and we also had regular beach holidays. We had a thatched ‘berg cottage and I walked and walked and walked. Then I chose to live in the mountains for 4 glorious years, the happiest of my life! Nature is grounding and Nature can help heal addiction.

Nature is Grounding and Healing

And addiction is often the result of childhood trauma, as I have discussed in previous blogs. The grounding healing in Nature is good for that child who experienced trauma and has spent most of their adult life NOT being present. Have you ever felt as if you are dabbling your toes into life, not diving in deep? Have you ever felt as if you are splashing around in the shallows and have yet to see what lies deep below the waves?

I know that I have. I am not sure why. I probably have childhood scars. All children get scars, and all children are affected differently. Even from a cross word from an angry parent or teacher. I have done so much in my life, but I have often felt as if I have lived my life on the surface shallows.

Bryony Porteous-Sebouhian talks about Nature as her antidote to trauma. “I consider myself to be very privileged in that, growing up, nature was very important to my parents and family… Understanding the importance of nature and its ability to soothe and heal from a young age meant, by the time we left the council estate and moved to a small village, wild, green spaces had been imbued with a kind of sacredness for me and I spent long hours, on my own, wandering the paths, fields and woodlands.”

She adds that when you tune in to your natural surrounds, using all five (make that six) senses, it is grounding. I find it odd that people have to relearn their connections to Nature and how vital it is that we get OUTSIDE regularly! I am dragging my kids outside whenever I can, off their phones and technologies to move and shake and see the birds and bees, the trees and flowers, the mountains, and the beaches!

Humans are Disconnected from Nature

Richard Louv calls human loneliness the result of a widening gap between Nature and people. People are faster and faster losing touch with the web of life and our place in it. His latest book is called Our Wild Calling and it is an urgent call for people to wake up and see what we are doing to Earth and what we can do to save Earth and ourselves. Human health depends on Nature. People are feeling lonely, feeling depressed because they are not living in Nature, are not understanding how biodiversity and ecosystems work, how the environment very much depends on our use and habitation of it.

Louv reckons we are suffering from “nature deficit syndrome” even more thanks to Covid, social distancing, mask-wearing and fear of each other. I mean, when last did you touch a tree, smell a flower, or dig in the soil with your bare hands? Take the masks off people!

Boost those Happy Hormones!

Let’s get back to how we can boost our happy chemicals or hormones without drugs or alcohol. For me, Nature is the place where I boost my endorphins. Endorphins are one of the Big Four and emerges from pain. Loretta G. Breuning writes in Psychology Today about the ways we can naturally boost our happy hormones.

She notes that “Endorphin causes a brief euphoria that masks pain. In the state of nature, it helps an injured animal escape from a predator. It helped our ancestors run for help when injured. Endorphin evolved for survival, not for partying… Endorphin was meant for emergencies.”

Now, if you want to stimulate your endorphins, simply laugh and stretch! A great yoga class or funny movie moves your insides arounds a bit in new ways and helps the hormone to flow. The more you laugh and the more you stretch, the more you trigger your endorphin in good ways. It becomes a way of life and the brain looks forward to it.  AND GET OUTSIDE.

The other 3 happy hormones are dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin. The best way to trigger dopamine is not by drinking, no. It is simply by working towards a new goal. Think back to when you were a child: dopamine was released every time you knew there was a reward coming to you. A chocolate if you passed your exams, a medal after a swimming race, pudding after dinner. Now, our kids get dopamine surges when they play Fortnite and MineCraft and other video games.

In Nature, says Breuning, a lion would get a dopamine rush when hunting a buck. Then the lion would get a natural energy increase to hunt and catch that buck. “Your ancestors released dopamine when they found a water hole. The good feeling surged before they actually sipped the water. Just seeing signs of a water-hole turned on the dopamine. Just smelling a gazelle turns on dopamine. The expectation of a reward triggers a good feeling in the mammal brain, and releases the energy you need to reach the reward.”

Drinkers have turned alcohol into their go-to for dopamine. But this can be changed. We can rewire our brains to be turned on with the good things. Find a new hobby and work towards new goals in life. Every time you achieve a goal, your brain will reward you with a dopamine high. Read a good book, do exercise, be creative. Train your brain. AND GET OUTSIDE.

Low Happy Chemicals = Depression

It is known that a lack of seratonin is a cause of depression. And depression is often linked to the ego and lack of self-esteem, lack of self-belief. So, when someone believes in you, or respects you, you feel great – the serotonin makes you feel great. If you were respected when you were a child or a youth, that feeling stays with you, and your brain liked it and still wants more.

Some people abuse this need for serotonin and want status and respect for being someone they really are not. Think of a politician! Well, the answer is to simply believe in yourself. Build up your self esteem and make sure you are a person worth respecting. Then when people respect you for your sobriety, your community, your compassion and your ability to be your own person, that will ensure your serotonin is filled. Who needs false status of commercialism or materialism? Who needs to drink to be liked or to look good?

Oxytocin is that trust drug. Says Breuning: “Mammals stick with a herd because they inherited a brain that releases oxytocin when they do… Social bonds help mammals protect their young from predators, and natural selection built a brain that rewards us with a good feeling when we strengthen those bonds. Sometimes your trust is betrayed. Trusting someone who is not trustworthy is bad for your survival. Your brain releases unhappy chemicals when your trust is betrayed. That paves neural pathways that tell you when to withhold trust in the future. But if you withhold trust all the time, you deprive yourself of oxytocin.”

And finally, cortisol. The fight or flight hormone. In the modern world, the fight or flight is stress induced. It is almost a false sense of panic that we all react to. The age of cell phones has only made this worse and we check and recheck our phones, while driving, while on the loo, while shopping, while eating and while socialising.  How can this be good for us?

Some of us like to deal with cortisol by having a drink or a cigarette or a drug. The feeling of a false happy chemical to calm us down – the pandemic of over-the-counter medication is killing people daily. The cortisol surges for a reason so when we dampen it with alcohol, we are numbing the natural bodily secretions with toxins that we think are helping us.

Drinking Does Not Help

Breuning notes that when we drink because we are stressed, we “will lose the information the cortisol is trying to give you, and your happy habit will have side effects. More cortisol will flow, thus increasing the temptation to over-stimulate your happy chemicals. This vicious cycle can be avoided if you learn to accept the bad feeling you get when a happy chemical surge is over.”

We can all learn how to reinforce our happy chemicals without unnatural stimulants. All it takes is self-belief. And rewiring the way we think about ourselves and our lives. We can change what happened to us in the past. We can start new happy habits and repeat them to become part of who we are. Happy habits do not have hangovers or health issues as their side effects! Or the guilt and shame that drinking causes or exacerbates.

How can getting out into nature support our sobriety? Let’s follow this advice from Caleb Anderson in Challenge the Storm. He notes that there is a direct link between time spent in nature and better health and wellness, mentally and physiologically:

  • More Vitamin D (from the sun) – builds a healthy immune system
  • Less depression – clean air and Vitamin D and the fresh realness of nature soothes the soul
  • More moving – hiking, walking, swimming, climbing – when in nature we are forced to move our bodies
  • Better sleep and therefore more energy and stronger immunity – fresh air and movement make us tired in a healthy way
  • Stamina to manage stress and anxiety – boost the happy hormones and channel the stress by moving away from that context that is causing it – into nature
  • Improves focus – at work and at home
  • Becomes the new hobby – hiking, biking, swimming, whichever way you choose to be in nature!


And read the tips from Janet in her blogs too…

“Connection is the opposite of Addiction” so if you need some connection you can sign up to Tribe Sober here

Six Years Sober – My Six Biggest Challenges

This picture was taken six years ago today.  I was in a very dark place – trembling with a heart full of dread and sipping beer to steady myself.

I had woken up with a crashing hangover and absolutely no memory of most of the previous day.  I’d had blackouts before but never something like this.  Google informed me that these kinds of blackouts mean that the brain has been so soaked in alcohol that it cannot make memories.

This really scared me.  I think I knew that my decades of drinking had been harming my body but the thought that my brain was being affected was a serious wake-up call.

So I managed to quit – my full story is on Tribe Sober podcast No 1 but to celebrate Soberversary No. 6 I wanted to share something that would help others on this path.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and has enabled me to identify my biggest challenges – and how I overcame them:-

CHALLENGE NO 1 – Finding my People

I had spent a whole decade trying (and failing) to drink moderately because I couldn’t imagine life without alcohol.

This didn’t work for two reasons:-

  • My drinking had crossed a line into addiction and there was no going back.  I would have to quit completely.
  • I was trying to do this alone as I was too ashamed to admit I had a “problem.”

So I finally swallowed my pride and reached out for help.  I went to AA but they were not my people.  I kept looking and eventually found a one-day workshop where I found my people.

Successful women, drinking a bottle of wine a day and (just about) holding it all together.  Women like me who knew they were on a slippery slope and had to step off.

Once I connected with them, we encouraged and inspired each other to stay on track – because as I now know “addiction is the opposite of connection”.

CHALLENGE NO 2 – Keeping Perspective

Looking back, I can see that it took me a whole year to make the change.  My efforts for the first six months were mainly on “not drinking” – I had to learn to navigate my life without alcohol.

I had to deal with sleeping problems, mood swings and fatigue.  The benefits had not yet materialized and I was struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

After six months, it got a bit easier as “not drinking” became the norm.  Then I had to go deeper.  I had to learn to deal with my emotions, practice gratitude and journal daily, find new interests, and most importantly, stay connected with my sober tribe.

Recovery is never linear.  As with any major lifestyle change, we have to go through stages.  We swing from denial to anxiety to happiness to fear to guilt and finally to acceptance – and peace.

It’s so important to keep an eye on the “big picture” and keep going.  The very worst thing is to stop and start – as that means doing the hardest part – again and again.

CHALLENGE NO 3 – Dealing with my Emotions

Like many drinkers, I was a hedonist – using booze to chase the buzz, enjoy the good times and avoiding any difficult emotions.

Trouble is, I’d spent decades dodging my emotions so had never really learned how to deal with them.   My emotional maturity had stalled when I started drinking heavily – at 18!

I had to accept that we weren’t put on earth to be “happy” 24/7 whatever Instagram would have us believe.

I had to learn that when I was miserable I would have to sit with it – it would pass.   My emotions weren’t going to kill me but they were certainly overwhelming and uncomfortable.

Apart from emotions, I had to deal with my limiting beliefs around alcohol.  Although I believed I couldn’t socialize without alcohol, I just had to get out there and do it – until it got better.

So my challenge was simply to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” – once I got the hang of that, my personal growth could begin.

CHALLENGE NO 4 – Dealing with Anhedonia

This was my biggest challenge of all – and nearly derailed my efforts completely.

Several months into sobriety I felt my mood plummet – and I landed in a grey and boring place.  I seemed to have a lot of time on my hands now that I wasn’t drinking but I didn’t actually know what to do with that time.

I felt lost and as if I was facing a void.  I was not expecting this and started to panic – was I supposed to live in this grey and boring place for the rest of my life?

I started to wonder if I had done the right thing?  What if I had made a terrible mistake by giving up drinking?  What if I’d lost more than I had gained?  I just couldn’t seem to enjoy anything any more.  I was suffering from anhedonia.

But things very slowly begain to improve.  These mists began to clear and I could sense a whole new life on the horizon.  Gimpses of sunshine started to appear.

One day I realized that the little knot of anxiety that had resided in my stomach for decades had vanished.  This gave me the courage to try new things, to meet new people, and to start a new business.

I regained my energy and my creativity and my world began to open up.

I now understand that my body had got so used to relying on the chemical highs from alcohol that it had lost the ability to produce the natural feel-good hormones.   I just had to give my body time to recallibrate.

CHALLENGE NO 5 – Saying Goodbye to my Best Friend

Since I was a teenager, alcohol had been a constant in my life.  For decades I had turned to it for comfort, consolation and celebration.

It had become my best friend – and now I had lost it.  I had to find a way to live without it.

I had to go through the grieving process and to help me with that I decided to write a Goodbye to Alcohol letter.

It was a powerful and cathartic experience and it enabled me to draw a line under those drinking years and to move on to a different phase in my life.

CHALLENGE NO 6 – Finding My Purpose

During my first year of sobriety, ditching the drink had become my purpose.  I had to prioritize my efforts in order to stop drinking and then do the work so that I could actually thrive in my alcohol-free life.

However, once I was sober I was full of energy and creativity with time on my hands.  Yes, I was exercising daily, journaling, doing yoga and still connecting with my sober buddies.

But I needed something more.  I was retired from corporate life, but still had many skills so I volunteered as a tutor at a business school but that was just one day a week.

One day it came to me – I had 25 years of experience in training and development and executive coaching.  I could design my own workshop and coach people to quit drinking – just as I had done.

So in November 2015 we ran our first workshop – and Tribe Sober was born.  Setting up Tribe Sober and helping hundreds of people to stop drinking has given me a passion and a real sense of purpose.



Is Your Addiction a Result of Intergenerational Trauma?

Did you ever consider that your drinking habit had its roots in intergenerational trauma? This means trauma that is transferred through generations because the same mistakes are made and the children suffer similar scars.

Trauma happens. In families. And families can be the breeding ground for addiction. Addiction arises out of trauma. And no one is to blame. Discovering that your family is dysfunctional is a shock. Taking time to heal and move on is empowering. Not all addicts can do this. Not all traumatised adults can do this.

This quote says it all for me:

“Pain travels through family lines until someone is ready to heal it in themselves. By going through the agony of healing you no longer pass the poison chalice onto the generations that follow. It is incredibly important and sacred work.”

There is Trauma and Addiction in My Family

My mother is an alcoholic. My father was her co-dependent or enabler drinker. In other words, my father allowed my mother to drink, and he drank with her. My sister, brother and I drank a lot. My mother still drinks, my brother still drinks, my father passed away and my sister and I are happily sober.

My mother’s parents did not drink. They didn’t do much, in fact. They didn’t know how to have fun or how to love each other. My mother says she grew up in a loveless household and her parents only had sex once, hence her arrival! My father is from Irish descent and his ancestors drank a lot. His mother and father loved a drink and smoked cigarettes which were their downfall. My father’s brother and sister drink. Their children all drink.

So, what am I getting at? Addiction passes down the line through families. Often addiction is caused by trauma. A family trauma. This can be child abuse – physical, verbal, sexual, neglect or abandonment – and this can be something that affected the entire family – loss of home, income, parents or something.

Neglect and Abandonment are a Form of Child Abuse

The way I see it with my parents is this: my mother became an alcoholic due to neglectful parenting from her mother and father. Lack of love. My father drank because his parents drank and there was lots of fighting between his parents.

My sister, brother and I grew up in a boozing household. My parents drank, fought, loved, had parties, drank some more. We were taught that drinking accompanied every occasion be it happy, sad, challenging or maddening. My mom would check the time at midday and crack her first beer at 12 noon on the button. Sometimes it was 11h30 because she was that hungover. It was always, “Hi, can I get you a drink?” no matter what time of day people popped in.

When I look at WHY my sister drank and WHY I drank, I know now that the drinking only makes matters worse. But when you in it, doing it, you think the drinking is great and a real help!  When my sister and I stopped drinking, we also entered midlife, our 50s!

Mackenzi Kingdon writes about intergenerational trauma in a blog for Restoration Counseling in Seattle, USA:

“The truth is, it does not have to be you. Nobody is forcing you to be the person to address this pain. If you would like to keep living your life as it is, that is your own choice. But if you find yourself tired, stuck, and ready to move forward – you have the opportunity to enact real and meaningful change in your family for generations to come.  If you can consider it an opportunity or a gift rather than a burden, it may be easier to confront. There is no doubt that this is hard and grueling work. It requires a certain amount of vulnerability, soul-searching, and probably therapy.”

Wow, so we all have a choice to deal with our pain and to turn it around! My sister did this and is healing fast. I know that healing takes a lifetime and to speed it up a bit I walk and hike A LOT!

Take Steps to Stop the Cycle

Kingdon goes on to acknowledge how childhood trauma affects the adult. Many adults who were hit or physically hurt do the same to their kids. These adults often battle to love, show love or raise a child because they did not have loving role models.  Go figure!

Societies change and child rearing methods change all the time. Corporal punishment is banned in many countries, but parents then may resort to passive aggressive discipline or verbal abuse.  I know that both my parents suffered as children. My mother still drinks to hide her pain and she never dealt with it through therapy.

Another phrase for this problem is intergenerational trauma. Pain passes through generations. Within each family there are stories. Not one family on this planet is perfect, no sir! But pain is there, within every individual. The first step we can take is to acknowledge that pain, feel that pain, then deal with it to move on and stop the poisoned chain.

Ravikumar Bhalavat M.D states that intergenerational trauma occurs when trauma is transferred from one generation of survivors to the next, even though the second generation did not survive the trauma itself.

Intergenerational trauma, also known as transgenerational trauma is often passed from parents to children. Symptoms are often tied to the parents’ child-rearing, since their trauma symptoms influence how they raise their children. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes trauma is transferred epigenetically, meaning the trauma’s genetic effects are passed on even if they aren’t encoded in an individual’s DNA.

I believe that parents do the best they can under their circumstances. Some parents suffer with no money, no food and no hope. Their frustrations spill over onto their kids. Their kids sometimes lose all faith in their parents and hit the streets, finding peers they can call family. Dysfunctional families are part of society.

What is The Perfect Family?

I wonder if there is such a thing as The Perfect Family? I am not so sure! There are many parents out there trying to raise the perfect children, but we all have our own ideas about what the perfect children ARE. This is based on our own upbringings: if we had a happy childhood, we may try to emulate that. If we had a traumatic childhood, we may try to do the exact opposite of what our parents did.

There are parents who want their children to grow up earthy and in touch with nature; there are parents who are grooming their children to be boffins and to hit the business world and get rich! Every parent, not matter their style, can cause scars in their children. And just by the words we utter, the actions we take. And yet, we think we are doing our best.

Addiction is often a result of childhood trauma. If you read Gabor Mate you will find out that “all addictions — alcohol or drugs, sex addiction or internet addiction, gambling or shopping — are attempts to regulate our internal emotional states because we’re not comfortable, and the discomfort originates in childhood. “

Studies show that early stress affects both the nerve cells in the brain and the immune systems of mice and humans and makes them more susceptible to cocaine as adults. If you look at brain circuits implicated in impulse regulation or stress regulation or emotional self-regulation, all are impaired in addicts.

Bhalavat adds that there is a misconception out there that addicts need to sort out their shit and get clean and move on. Maybe. But many addicts were traumatised within a family environment and need help from others to get clean. Also, that family maybe had addiction throughout the generations and the addict has to now close the door on the patterns. But he / she needs help.

The worst part is that many addicts do not understand why they are addicts. They do not put two and two together and see that their substance abuse comes from a family pattern. They also tend to block out a trauma that happened in the family. They are driven by shame and guilt.

“Intergenerational trauma, also known as transgenerational trauma is often passed from parents to children. Symptoms are often tied to the parents’ child-rearing, since their trauma symptoms influence how they raise their children…”

So why, then, does trauma lead many people to addiction? Gabor says that trauma is about wounds. Real wounds where scar tissue forms. That scar tissue becomes the addict’s rigid response to life and how they live it – their relationships, their routines, their reactions and more. Many addicts do not know why they are in emotional pain and they will use anything to self-medicate.

“When psychological trauma happens, our psyches become more rigid and harder and less flexible.”

How to heal if you have transgenerational addiction in your family:

  • Communicate: Do not send a conscious or unconscious message that your family must be the only trauma carriers. Talk about what happened and how you felt, or feel, today. Stress that it is everyone’s responsibility to help each other with their feelings.
  • Seek Counseling: A qualified counselor helps you analyze your behavior and thought patterns. He or she can determine if you’re doing or saying certain things based on trauma, if your dreams carry evidence of intergenerational trauma, or if you’re dealing with complex grief.
  • Seek Help for Addiction: Trauma plays a huge role in many addiction cases. Contact someone qualified for a specific consultation. Knowing that you carry transgenerational trauma helps therapist know what kind of treatment you need.

You can also contact the recovery coaches at tribesober.com for assistance.

Anyone Want to Play Bullshit Bingo?

Have you ever heard the one about the grapes in wine being so healthy that it is good to drink wine every day? Or that drinking makes you a social person and boosts your sex life?

O yes, we have all read these things embedded in our media. The thing is, we who read these blogs are the converted ones. Others who read these things, can justify their wine every day, their whiskey tots in the early hours, and their beers on a Sunday.

Alcohol is Good for the Heart, Say What?

One article I read said that small amounts of alcohol boost your good cholesterol levels therefore making you less prone to have a heart attack or a stroke out of the blue? Who believes this dribble?! We don’t! But we, the sober ones, are in the minority at social events when everyone else believes their drinking is normal and good for them.

Jane told us about her first big function going out sober – a St Patrick’s Day at the President Hotel. “Our host, Diane, was really protective but I got cornered by our friend J, who insisted I plough through a tray of nasty green shooters with him. I was up for the challenge and he was far enough gone not to realise that I was pouring each sticky shot down the back of the pretty patio cushions!” What a way to have sober fun at a party!

I know: Heavy drinking can increase your risk of heart disease. And “you don’t have to pop a cork to reap those benefits. Exercise can also boost HDL cholesterol levels, and antioxidants can be found in other foods, such as fruits, vegetables and grape juice!”  It seems so logical to me that excessive alcohol intake can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure or stroke. Even the heart muscle is weakened with extreme drinking.

Wine Boosts Your Sex Life, O Yea?

Did you ever see the article in your favourite women’s magazine about having a little bit of wine to give your sex life a boost? You see, a little bit of alcohol decreases stress and increases libido, of course. We all remember losing our inhibitions when drinking. I did that at university, on my global travels, and while finding myself as a single woman in South Africa. I met men who were so wrong for me, but the wine told me otherwise!

There was even a study that showed that women who drank 2 glasses of red wine a day had more arousal and sexual satisfaction than sober women! This study states that “alcohol consumption increases subjective sexual desire, arousal, and pleasure for many women, although it lowers physiological arousal. Despite the general belief that alcohol disinhibits female sexual behaviors, alcohol leads to changes in sexual behavior only for a minority of women.”  And did you know that a drink or 2 can also boost women’s testosterone levels which makes them more energetic and forthright!

I know: drinking too much causes erectile dysfunction and loss of libido.  Yes, drinking women may think they are sexy but too much alcohol actually causes less physiological stimulation and arousal. For men, alcohol decreases blood flow to the penis causing delayed ejaculation and erectile dysfunction.

Drink to Make Friends and Lower Your Blood Pressure, Haha

Many glossy gossip magazines show pictures of people socialising with wine glasses and tequila glasses overflowing. Then they state that drinking makes us more sociable. Apparently if we drink, we loosen up and are on the same level as our friends who drink. We will have more friends, fun times, smiles and laughs.

I know: for some, one drink leads to 21 drinks and a blackout at the end of the night. We can also lose friends who drink when we stop drinking because they think less of us. Really? True story! It happened to me. I have lost old friends to their alcohol and that hurt so much. But I have beautiful sober friends now and life is full.

It always amazes me that health magazines and blogs are bursting with news about how alcohol helps with blood pressure and blood sugar. Yea, if you drink a glass or 2 of wine or other booze nightly, you will never get Diabetes 2! Hey! That is great news that alcohol helps your body sort out the high blood sugar levels so easily! Ahem.

I know: alcohol also causes Diabetes and heart disease. Alcohol is packed with sugar and empty calories. Alcohol also affects blood sugar levels each time it’s consumed, which means occasional drinkers can also be negatively impacted. Alcohol consumption causes an increase in insulin secretion, which leads to low blood sugar (otherwise known as hypoglycaemia).

Kidney Stones and Dementia Never Happen if you Drink – Really?

Other articles rudely state that having a regular drink prevents kidney stones forming. Well, I never! Yes, if you drink regularly, you are 41% less likely to get kidney stones than people who don’t drink. Apparently, this is because you pee more often so will never have that problem!

I know:  if you drink too much, you get dehydrated so could still get kidney stones! And many other health issues. Alcohol negatively affects the kidneys in several ways – when your kidneys have to work extra hard to rid the body of excess alcohol, you may experience pain. All that peeing when you drink can actually dehydrate your body. So your kidneys and other organs are compromised.

The best part about having a few drinks every week is that you will never go mad: dementia does not hit those who have a drink or two every day or every other day. Apparently, the MIND diet features wine as a good thing, a healthy brain food that can reduce the change of blood clots and heart disease… Well I never!

MIND stands for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. And this diet has been formulated specifically to reduce dementia and the decline in brain health that often occurs as people get older. The article states that people on the MIND diet should “aim for no more than one glass daily. Both red and white wine may benefit the brain. However, much research has focused on the red wine compound resveratrol, which may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease.” Fancy that!

I know:   drinking too much over a long period of time can lead to brain damage, and may increase your risk of developing dementia. In fact, the US Department of Health and Human Services research publication states that a person who drinks heavily over a long period of time may have brain deficits that persist well after he or she achieves sobriety… We do know that heavy drinking may have extensive and far–reaching effects on the brain, ranging from simple “slips” in memory to permanent and debilitating conditions that require lifetime custodial care. And even moderate drinking leads to short–term impairment, as shown by extensive research on the impact of drinking on driving.

I had to cackle when I read that “Moderate drinkers are far more likely to exercise than people who don’t drink. And they may even get more healthy effects from it. On the flip side, the more you exercise, the more likely you are to drink now and then. Scientists don’t know exactly where this link comes from.” Ahem, I wonder why? We who are sober leap out of bed every morning to exercise and seize the day!

Why Drinkers Need a Drink

Check out these hilarious excuses from drinkers who really need a drink and still need to justify it:

  • I have had a long/tough/stressed/hot/cold/ day.
  • I am off tomorrow.
  • It’s a beautiful/rainy/stormy/cloudy day.
  • I am going out with my friends.
  • I need to socialise and not be shy.
  • It’s pay day/hump day/Puza Thursday…
  • I deserve a reward for my week at work.

Let’s finish off with some tips from Lucy who plays games when she goes out sober to drinking events:

“For me, the funny side of sobriety is playing ‘bullshit bingo’ when you go out. You write out a list of things that are typically going to be said by pissed people and tick them off when you hear them. When you clear your sheet you can go home! Another game is if there’s 2 or more of you sober, challenge each other to get a rude word or controversial word or sentence into a conversation without drunk people noticing! It is also funny to be bright and bushy tailed when everyone else is nursing a hangover but pretending not to. You become more able to laugh at yourself too. “

Sober and happy, we continue to smile at these lies in the media. They are no doubt written by the very people who babble these excuses for a drink every day. They can have it.

How Writing Saved My Life – Cici’s Story

Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

My guest this week is Cici Reagan – a recovering addict and a domestic abuse survivor.

With a difficult upbringing, and then an abusive partner, the odds were stacked against Cici and she became an alcoholic – but she also found solace in her writing.

Not only has writing saved her own life, but she is now helping others to heal – using the power of poetry.

In this Episode

  • Cici’s father was an alcoholic – and so was her first partner.  That is quite a common pattern.
  • She went to AA as that was the only thing she knew about – it took her years to find the right group – but eventually it worked.
  • As she got sober, she was feeling emotions she’d buried for years – she had no idea how to deal with them.
  • She’s been drinking since she was 14, so lacked the emotional maturity to deal with her emotions.
  • As she worked through her traumas, Cici recognised that the drinking had just been a symptom.
  • Throughout everything she experienced, she had been writing – poetry, short stories and journal entries.
  • She shared what she was going through – and when she got sober, she started a community for people like herself.
  • Cici used to feel a lot of shame about her drinking but can now look back at her younger self with compassion.
  • We recommend journaling as a key recovery tool here at Tribe Sober.
  • If you feel you need help with your creative writing then check out www.cicireagan.com for free resources which can help.
  • Cici also runs workshops.
  • If you would like a copy of our e-book 66 days of sobriety then please email me janet@nulltribesober.com

More info

  • Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is just R85 (£4/$6) a month – you can join up HERE
  • To access our website click HERE
  • If you would like a free copy of 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 7-step program and subscribe HERE.

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you – calendar on homepage of tribesober.com.



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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and join our Tribe Sober Club on Clubhouse – are on Clubhouse every Sunday afternoon at 5pm SA time so come join the conversation.

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

Recovery from a Binge


I have a client and I want to suggest something for him to support his liver. He has had a month-long alcohol binge and is feeling ambivalent. He will be looking at joining Tribe Sober. What can I suggest to him please?


Hi. Regarding recovery from a binge, the most important medication is replenishment of lost nutrients, especially thiamine (vitamin B1) and vitamin B12.

If the patient is very bad this can be given intravenously or intramuscular (at the pharmacy).  Proper hydration and nutrition (preferably plant-based) will also be beneficial.

Hope this helps.

Best wishes,

Dr Judy

Quitting Alcohol and Medication


Hi Judy, I have a brother in the Eastern Cape who is a heavy drinker and I believe he just quit. Sounds like he having severe symptoms and needs medication.

I assume you don’t do telephonic consultations and prescribing meds? Sounds like they are disenchanted with their local GP. Are you at all aware of rehab in the area of Port Alfred? I wonder if rehabs do outpatient management?


Hi! I am sorry to hear your brother is struggling. Alcohol withdrawal is a potential medical emergency. Is there not a hospital nearby?

I would suggest he goes to the local ER for an assessment and treatment. Often the patient just needs an IV infusion of vitamins and a sedative for the anxiety which often accompanies withdrawal.

It would be irresponsible of me to treat over the phone in this situation. Good luck and let me know how it goes.

Best wishes,

Dr Judy.

Pain in Ankle Veins


I would like to know what causes what feels like a very sharp pain around my ankle veins – like a circulation issue? Vitamin B helps but what is the cause? If I have had wine, this will happen very acutely (but not only then) with increased muscle spasms, which I am very prone to. No, I am not magnesium deficient.



Thanks for your inquiry.

Alcohol abuse leads to a shortage of various nutritional substances due to a decreased absorption rate. The most important ones are thiamine (vitamin B1), folate, niacin, vitamin B6 and B12. This affects the nerves to cause the following symptoms: numbness, tingling and burning, a prickly sensation in the limbs, spasms and cramps in the legs and muscle weakness. It can also cause urinary incontinence, constipation and diarrhoea.

Luckily, abstaining from alcohol and treating the nutritional deficiencies will usually cure the problem as long as the damage is not too severe.

I hope this helps.

Dr Judy.


Liver Damage


Dear Doctor

I recently had some tests done, as I thought the reason for my massive weight gain was maybe a liver issue … Turned out that eating too much was the main reason.

One of the tests is S-g-GLUTAMYL TRANSFERASE where my result is 75 IU/L. What does this even mean? My GP just said to cut back on the wine, but I would like to know what is considered a normal count and if “cutting back” not really actually means – QUITTING completely?

I will really appreciate your response.


Your gamma glutamyl transferase is about double the normal value. However, this is a rather non-specific test and there are various reasons that it could be elevated.

I would recommend that you go for a new test on the market called carbohydrate deficient transferrin (CDT) which is specific for alcohol-induced liver damage. It’s quite scary how relatively little alcohol (more than 1 1/2 bottles of wine a week) can damage the liver.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance .

Best wishes,

Dr Judy

Do Buddhists get Drunk? Is Non-intoxication the Opposite of Self-Medication?


Let’s explore this new sober buzz!

I stumbled this week on an article in Tricycle, the Buddhist Review, about non-intoxication. In The Middle Way of Sobriety – Reflections on non-intoxication Matthew Gindin talks about sobriety as a principle that goes much deeper than just giving up alcohol.

He says, “Sobriety means not hiding. Sobriety is to develop your own capacity to face yourself as you are—in all your vulnerability, pain, or anxiety. Most deeply, it can mean facing the impermanent nature of all of our states of being and the very limited control we have over what happens in our lives or comes up in our bodies and minds. It’s to cultivate resilience in the face of reality.”

Being Sober and Vulnerable is Empowering

Non-intoxication is a fascinating concept for sober me. Looking it up, as I do, revealed triggering definitions like abstinent, abstemious, abstaining, ascetic, self-abnegating and alcohol-free!

I feel that vulnerability in reality, the raw reality of sobriety. A reality which can be hard to handle without the alcoholic drink. I know. On the other hand, I will never know why so many people drink. It is a personal thing. But I am learning why people drink. And it is a complex subject with subjective reasons.

I think that I drank to avoid. I have avoided many things in my life. The biggest avoidance I had was deep connection with the people around me who were wanting it the most. And I still avoid connection with family. Not my kids, no. Family in the greater scheme of things. When I was a drinker, it was always easy to just pour the wine and be fine. Not anymore!

Now it means facing reality and all the things that irritate and trigger and cause huge discomfort. The hardest part now is learning how to deal with that irritation, those triggers and that huge discomfort. And learning how to be authentic. What IS that? Authenticity?

Buddhism and Authenticity

As if in answer, I found some fascinating reading about Buddhism and alcohol. It seems that the evils of alcohol are everything that Buddhism steers far away from. I mean, drinkers get involved in car crashes, domestic violence, child abuse, addiction, sexual pleasures, food extremes, rash decision-making, lack of direction and often, lack of compassion.

Buddhism, on the other hand, advocates the five teachings “…as the minimal moral observances: abstinence from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, and use of intoxicants.” Apparently, those who choose to drink in this life will suffer karma. They will have to deal with the consequences of their evil ways in their next lives.

Apparently, we don’t die at the end of this life but that we may find our spirit selves in one of various kingdoms: of the gods, of the humans, of the animals, of the hungry ghosts or the hell beings. Now that I am sober, I hope to find myself in the animal world for sure! Others who battle with the consequences of their alcohol addiction may end up in the realm of the hungry ghosts!

I agree with Chimi Dema who notes that “Alcoholism and intoxication of the substances are a costly burden on the modern societies.” But why then do some Buddhist monks still drink? Some of the most enlightened, even famous, teachers were known to enjoy a drink.

And my next question is, how does this gel with the search for meaning in a life where ego, thoughts, material and physical pleasures are regarded as taboo? Many Buddhist teachers and monks spend their entire lifetimes escaping these human weaknesses, emptying their minds of any negativity and darkness. Only to reach for a drink at the end of the day?!

Alcohol and other intoxicating substances have been a part of human history for millennia. But true Buddhists believe that Buddha himself highlighted the fact that intoxicants like alcohol would lead to a lack of “heedfulness”. In other words, heedlessness.

This was “moral recklessness, obscuring the clarity of mind to understand the bounds between what is right and what is wrong.” In the Buddhist scriptures, Buddha states that any potential Buddhist who drinks should know about the negative effects of alcohol and that he should not expect to become a Buddha.

Non-Intoxication in an Impermanent World

And that takes me back to Gindin and how non-intoxication is the new sober buzz (for me at least!) It feels right that not indulging in alcohol will make me a better person. It will force me to be present. Not to run away from all the stresses that I blamed for my wine drinking. It means facing all the raw realities of my daily life, without blurring the edges with a red wine and another and another.

Most of the human race, who can still afford it, self-medicate. With wine, other alcohol, cigarettes, dagga, over the counter pills and more. I try to self-medicate with exercise and yes, it works. I also avoid tricky situations and yes, it works.

Are we all too fearful of the uncontrollable world out there? Are we trying to control our lives but losing control all the time anyway? Remember that nature is uncontrollable and unpredictable. It is dynamic and never static. What, if anything, is permanent? What is controllable? What if we just decided, It Is What It Is?

I believe that when we become intoxicated, we lost touch with reality. But what then is reality? Those of us who are drinkers will know that alcohol distorts our realities and adds a blur to everything we do and say. We lose touch with WHO we are, and WHAT is going on in the REAL world around us.

Get Drunk and Be Creative?

In another article I stumbled upon while writing this blog, the writer is FOR intoxicants. Mansoor Iqbal defends intoxication which he says expands human creativity. He talks about the historic use of intoxicating substances since the days before the Romans, even earlier. This got me thinking: but why should this make alcohol and other mind-altering substances acceptable?

He says,” We’re not all artists, but intoxicating substances can afford us a wonderful sort of escape — from our habit-worn perception of the world around us, from our inhibitions, from our nagging everyday problems, and sometimes just from monotony.”

Wow! Woe is me! Stop reading if you are recently sober! Stop reading if you are sensitive about alcohol and still just a little bit addicted! As long ago as 1500BC, religious texts mention the ingestion of psychedelic mushrooms which supposedly opened connections to the gods. But only the rich and influential in society could afford these mushrooms – the poor were only allowed to watch.

Then along came alcohol and the poor could afford it or make their own. Centuries ago, alcohol was nurtured to be a ‘social lubricant’ and a release from the toil of every day life working and trying to survive. Some workers were even paid in alcohol.

Iqbal refers to “intoxication” as being “an altered state of mind, not complete oblivion or clinical dependency… This escape is from routine, nothing more serious.” He draws the line on complete addiction to substances.

And now I write in defense of non-intoxication. Who is with me on this? Being sober IS so much more than just giving up an addictive drink. Non-intoxication is being real and true to your inner child, the person you were before you ever raised a glass to your lips. And I will drink to that. A cup filled with coffee of course!

The 7 stages of alcohol intoxication are:

  1. Sobriety, or subclinical intoxication.
  2. Euphoria.
  3. Excitement.
  4. Confusion.
  5. Stupor.
  6. Coma.
  7. Death.


Alcohol and Your Weight

Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

My guest this week is Dr Avishkar Sabharwal who specialises in Obesity and Lifestyle Medicine.

Avishkar has a passion for helping people suffering from lifestyle diseases, especially obesity. He aims to help people facing obesity get their lives back on track.

In this Episode

  • Avishkar suffered from obesity himself and has developed a passion to help others who have this problem
  • We talked about the relationship between alcohol and obesity and Avishkar explained that alcohol is a source of empty calories
  • Not only does alcohol have a detrimental effect on every part of our body, but so too is it a source of empty calories
  • Even though alcohol adds no nutritional value at all to our bodies,  it will still cause us to put on weight
  • We discussed the similarities of dealing with a weight problem and alcohol dependence – and the importance of mindset for both
  • We talked about the fact that food has always been a “social binder” within communities but these days it includes “non foods”
  • “Non foods” are essentially junk foods – nutrient-deficient yet acting on our addictive pathways (like alcohol)
  • We agreed that accountability is hugely important – whether we are losing weight or giving up alcohol we need community
  • I explained that at Tribe Sober we encouraged accountability via our Annual Trackers and Sober Buddies
  • Avishkar stressed the importance of dealing with “underlying causes” – whether for alcohol or obesity – therapy may be required
  • We discussed Intermittent Fasting as a way of dealing with excess weight, and also meal replacements
  • Both of these methods are effective but it’s important to choose a program which will be sustainable
  • Avishkar has a free Facebook Community to help people wishing to lose weight – go to www.decodingobsesity.com for link
  • He also has a weekly podcast called Decoding Obesity – available on Apple, Spotify, etc
  • If you would like a copy of the Annual Tracker (for logging your alcohol-free days) email me at janet@nulltribesober.com

More info

  • Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is just R85 (£8/$10) a month – you can join up HERE
  • To access our website click HERE
  • If you would like a free copy of 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 7-step program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you – calendar on homepage of tribesober.com


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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and join our Tribe Sober Club on Clubhouse – are on Clubhouse every Sunday afternoon at 5pm SA time so come join the conversation.

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

Join the Sober Curious and Cut Back on Drinking Alcohol after Lockdown

Do you want to join the sober curious and cut back on drinking alcohol after lockdown? Do you feel that you have been drinking too much alcohol maybe, thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic? What will you do with your life after lockdown?

Many drinkers see through themselves one day when it dawns on them that they have a problem. With alcohol. Yes, they drink too much. And especially since 2020. The Year of the Virus.

If you happen to be one of these drinkers, you may not want to be branded as an alcoholic, or an addict. It is easier to admit that you have a problem and need to slow down your drinking a bit. And a good way to do this is to look towards the sober curious trends and cut back on drinking alcohol after lockdown.

Covid took our Freedom, Wine Imprisoned Us

The world entered an abnormal place in 2020 when Covid 19 took over our freedom. Many people reached for the wine or whiskey bottle. This all happened just after Ruby Warrington patented the phrase “sober curious.” She had started to feel the daily negative effects of her drinking: hangovers, anxiety, less efficiency and lowered self-worth.

When she took a break from drinking, the hangovers vanished, the anxiety improved, she became more efficient and her self-worth corrected itself. She believes in the 100-day challenge because it takes 90 days to clear every trace of alcohol from your system. Once the detox has been done, the brain has already shifted. Alcohol damages the brain and affects dopamine levels. But the brain can heal.

The brain needs a chance to heal. The sober curious type of drinker could be someone who can moderate. I am one of those sceptics who do not believe in moderation. For anyone who already has a problem with alcohol. The first step is to explore what the sober curious trend is and if it gels with moderation. Check out this podcast and other blogs on Tribe Sober for insights.

Moderation for the Sober Curious

Ruby got her moderation right. She makes a concerted effort to avoid situations where the alcohol is the attraction at the event. She chooses events where alcohol is not an issue: books, yoga, art, discussions, and outdoor activities. People in such groups have a passion for the subject in that group: hiking, nature, yoga, exercise, health and creativity. Not the alcohol, which is the antithesis of all these things, right?

The warning around stopping drinking if you are sober curious goes like this: be careful when you stop drinking cold turkey. Some drinkers need to wean themselves off the booze or they face awful side effects related to the detoxing as the alcohol leaves their system.

Sam Thomas suffered severe withdrawal symptoms when he decided to cut back on alcohol.

It may seem far-fetched to say I didn’t know that I was alcohol dependent until I tried to stop drinking. While I was aware I was drinking every night, I certainly didn’t think my consumption was enough to be considered alcohol dependent. As far as I was concerned, I probably ought to have a break from wine. So that’s exactly what I decided to do, by taking an impromptu period of abstinence.

But suddenly he was in an ambulance, being rushed to hospital. It was only after many medical questions that the doctors hit on his drinking habits. The term ‘alcohol dependent’ made him sit up and take note. He needed a complete detox to save himself! He had to acknowledge that he had caused his own illness. Sam is lucky that he woke up and realised these things. He became sober curious after a roller coaster ride of more drinking and more detoxing until one day the penny dropped.

Alcohol Dependence can Change

His story is similar to many of ours: “What started as one to two glasses of wine at the weekend had become more than three bottles per night while working at home into the early hours. Looking back, I should’ve seen my drinking had steadily increased over time. But because I was functioning, albeit in a dysfunctional way, I had no reason to think my drinking had become a problem.”

Sam went through hell trying to get sober. His end realisation? He could not do it alone and he could not use will power alone. He needed help and he needed a tribe.

I am personally very wary of the sober curious movement. In my view, it allows the drinker a window to keep on drinking. Ruby admits that the very thought of stopping alcohol is daunting in the very least for her. Her sober curious movement allows drinkers the opportunity to still drink, in moderation, responsibly. So she says.

I get this feeling that if anyone has to stop drinking, or take a break from drinking, they have a problem. This could be that they are misusing alcohol, abusing alcohol or alcohol dependent. Never alcoholic, nudge, nudge, wink, wink…

Alcoholic or Lover of Wine?

I decided to look up synonyms for ‘alcoholic’ and these words came up: carouser, tosspot, wine-bibber, debauchee, dipsomaniac, boozer, barfly, sponge! Do you think that you are one of these? Ha, certainly not!

If you want to moderate successfully, join the sober curious movement and cut back on your drinking after lockdown. During the lockdown in many countries this past year, it appears that many people started to drink more alcohol. Their feelings of panic, uselessness and despair set in. Being trapped indoors for days on end is soul-destroying. Losing one’s work and livelihood is even worse.

Children experienced major depression for the first time in their short lives and adults with depression simply got worse. Drinkers drank more and non-drinkers considered flirting with alcohol. The drinking, however, was done alone. There were no social occasions as these were banned.

As lockdowns loosen up and people start to get out and about again, their approach to life, health and drinking may have changed. I am aware of a surge in outdoor exercise as a backlash to the lockdown. More hiking, personal training and running. More triathlon contenders and fewer gym bunnies. Something is right with the world again!

Post-Covid Drinking Predictions

I came across this summary on Euromonitor International: “The sharp reduction in consumption occasions, the wholesale closure of on-trade establishments around the world, and the pronounced and prolonged recession that will follow the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have completely changed the operating landscape for alcoholic drinks.”

They predict specific changes to drinking in future: social venues have suffered immense damage and many have been liquidated and gone bankrupt. Those which do survive and open will follow social distancing etiquettes which they call the “new normal”.

Home pubs and celebrations are in now – stocking personal bars and fridges for braais and drinking sessions at home. And no one has money for craft drinks anymore – the beers, the gins and the new spirits made from botanicals – these are all luxuries!

And the cherry on top? Alcohol-free (AF) drinks are increasingly popular after people were forced to drink them in many countries like South Africa.

For the sober curious, the time is ripe. Be curious about being sober. Cut back on your drinking and find a new tribe. Stock your home pub with mocktail ingredients and alcohol-free drinks. Invite friends around for card evenings, soup evenings and board games. Pack a coffee and hike somewhere new every weekend. I am in!





After the Drinking Comes the Healing – Dr Grace

Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

My guest this week is US integrative doctor – Dr Grace

A self confessed “science geek,” Dr Grace has a deep knowledge of how the body can function at its very best.

She’s the perfect person to help us understand how we can repair our bodies and minds after years of alcohol abuse.

In this Episode

  • Dr Grace believes in optimal gut function and repair as the foundation of good health
  • She explains how alcohol damages the gut and produces acidity – making us more prone to diseases like cancer
  • Alcohol harms our brains as well as our bodies – and actually decreases our brain plasticity
  • It causes our estrogen levels to increase and that’s why it’s linked to breast cancer
  • The best thing we can do for our health is to stop drinking – that should be the foundation of our good health
  • We discussed how we can rebuild our health in early recovery – one of the most important things is an alkalising diet
  • We need super-green smoothies and fermented foods like keffir, yoghurt, kimchi and sauerkraut
  • Fermented foods will help our bodies to absorb vitamins and will also help with sugar cravings we get when we quit drinking
  • Stevia is a very sweet plant – a few drops of Stevia in our tea will satisfy cravings
  • Alcoholics are always dehydrated – every glass of wine robs your body of 4 glasses of water – so drink lots of water.


More info

Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is just R75 (£4/$5) a month – you can join up HERE

  • To access our website click HERE
  • If you would like a free copy of 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 7-step program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you – calendar on homepage of tribesober.com


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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and join our Tribe Sober Club on Clubhouse – are on Clubhouse every Sunday afternoon at 5pm SA time so come join the conversation.

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week,

Janet x

7 Ways Sobriety Will Set You Free!

Today is Freedom Day here in South Africa – in honour of our country’s first democratic elections in 1994.

The journey to a fair and equitable society began.

So the celebrations got me thinking about another kind of freedom – the freedom from alcohol.

It takes a period of sobriety to gain the perspective to look back and realise that in fact you have been “in prison” for many years.


Here are just 7 ways you will feel “free” if you ditch the drink:


  1.  Free to fulfil your life’s purpose – lets start with the big one.  Once you stop anaesthetising your brain, the mists will clear and your energy and creativity will return.  It will take a while and you may have to go through a low period where you feel you have lost more than you gained – but just hang in there and the magic will happen.
  2. Freedom from anxiety and depression – so many of us drink to alleviate these conditions but in fact alcohol aggravates both.  I spent years living with a knot of anxiety in my stomach but after a few months of sobriety I just woke up one morning and it was gone – yay!
  3. Freedom from cognitive dissonance – at the back of your mind you just know you should cut down or give up drinking but your subconscious has picked up plenty of “false beliefs” over the years (e.g. I need to drink alcohol to socialise/have fun/relax).  The result is that the conflict between your conscious mind and your subconscious puts you in a state of cognitive dissonance which feels like mild anxiety.  The trick is to surface these false beliefs and turn them around.  We do this at our workshops – if you can’t get to a workshop then pick up “The Naked Mind” by Annie Grace.
  4. Freedom from guilt, from losing stuff and from wondering what the f**k happened last night.
  5. Freedom from dieting – as a serial dieter I ate very little, exercised like mad but never hesitated to put away a bottle of wine a night.  Since I ditched the drink I lost 4 kilos and eat whatever I like 😉.  Now I know that the body recognises alcohol as a poison and won’t even think about burning calories until it has got rid of the life-threatening toxin.  Your body is highly intelligent and doesn’t care if you get fat – its priority is to keep you alive.
  6. Freedom to relax and enjoy restaurants -the focal point of my evening would always be the waiter.  I would greet him, make eye contact, involve him in a debate about which wine to order and then never let him out of my sight.  After all he was the source of more wine and the most interesting person in the room 😉.  Now I can actually focus on the food and my friends instead.
  7. Freedom from failure – I spent a decade trying to “moderate” my drinking as I couldn’t contemplate a life without alcohol.  I would manage for a while and then come crashing down again – feeling like a failure who had no “willpower”.  One thing I didn’t know back then was that it is SO MUCH EASIER to quit altogether than to try to “moderate” an addictive substance.

So why not give yourself the very best gift of all this Freedom Day – ditch the drink and break free!

If you want a bit of support then join our tribe.

Clive’s Letter

24 April 2021


Dear alcohol,

It’s been 7 months since we’ve parted ways. And sometimes I still find myself missing you. You’ve been in my life for many years, so saying goodbye was hard, sometimes I think the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. I had come to rely on you so much.

You helped me speak in front of people. You made me feel brave and confident. You gave me the courage to speak to strangers and dance like no one was watching. You helped me escape those lonely nights and disappear into a haze of forgetfulness and peace. At times you made me feel like the real me – the person I could be if I wasn’t so stuck in my head and worried what people were thinking. You made me fun. You made me laugh. You made me stop feeling.

Because feeling is hard. You know how rough things got. Especially in the last few years. I had tried to say goodbye to you before, but like a lover I can’t escape, you came back into my life, and made me forget the pain I was so desperate to ignore. 

Sometimes all I remember is what you gave me. I forget what you took away. And now I have to be honest about what you did to me. I’m not a victim to you. I chose to let you in and I chose to let you take control and I chose to let you claim me. But I have chosen to take my power back. 

Because I never realised how powerless you really made me. How fleeting your escape was. And like an abusive lover, you would hurt me and leave me craving you for more. 

I used you. 

And you let me. 

Almost two years ago, I gulped you down. And took handfuls of pills with you, to try to finally escape. I chose you as my last taste. As my final escape. You were my confidence to try to control my final act. To bow out and leave what I didn’t want to face. But it wasn’t meant to be. I tried to walk away, holding your hand, but by some miracle I stood up to face another day. And once again, chose to have you by my side.

Somehow I believed you made me feel more alive when I felt dead inside. 

I relied on you. I thought I loved you. I boasted how you were my longest relationship. You’ve been in my life since I was a child and I always struggled to go a week, and sometimes a few hours without you. I wrote about you. Encouraged people to taste you and held events where you were the hero. I let you be the hero. Instead of realising I had to man up, and choose to be my own hero.

And I forgive you and I forgive myself.

Because walking away from you has made me feel like the strongest man in the world.

God knows, I struggled to walk away. I’d go a few days, but you were like a child, sobbing for my attention and I’d give in and let you envelop me in your escape. I’d try my best to ignore you, but you were always there.

Even now you still are, as I count every day since I’ve parted ways. 

But those days are getting easier. And I’m seeing more and more of me and learning to love that me. And realising that you were wrong for me. You made me feel alive momentarily but left me crumbling the next day. Sick to my stomach with regret that I had let you in the door. Physically sick because I couldn’t get enough of you.

I now choose to remember those moments. Not the escape, not the fun, but the fear I woke up, with you lingering on my breath and in my head. With the regret I felt, and the weakness and shame I woke up to, knowing that you had won once again.

I choose to remember how you tried to control me. How you lied to me and told me I was okay and left me feeling worthless the next day. How I felt embarrassed about the way I acted when you were around, the things I said, the stumbling, the falling, and the not remembering. 

I choose to remember the days and nights you made me sick to my stomach. Lying on the bathroom floor in my own vomit.

I choose to remember the hitting and not the holding. 

I endured your abuse, not because of you, but because of me. I let you abuse me. I was lost without you and let you take control. You weren’t my strength. I was just too ashamed to see that I felt weak. I admit that. I take responsibility for it. I choose to see my foolishness and celebrate the strength I’ve shown to finally walk away. 

Because walking away from you is strength. I see you everyday. In the stores, on the screen, in my Instagram feed.

I think about you everyday as I log another day in triumph of the day I put you behind me. You were on almost every page in the last chapters of my life, and you still will be in the future. But the story will be different.

I will no longer remember what you made me feel like I could be, I will remember how walking away from you made me choose to be the person I want to be. To stand in my own strength and power, celebrate my flaws, sit with the pain of my past and remain determined to be the man I choose to be, rather than the man I let you make me believe I could be.

I thought you made me strong. I make me strong. And although you’re still very much a part of my life, you’re now on the pages of my strength. Of me claiming Clive back. You’re on the pages where leaving you behind reminds me daily of what I can really do. Just how strong I can be. 

You were significant, but you not being a part of my life is even more significant. 

So goodbye. And thank you for the lessons. I have no regrets, only a choice to walk in strength from here on. 

I choose a Clive of clarity. A Clive that sits with his feelings. A Clive that works hard not to escape. A Clive that no longer wants to run away. You helped me run away. I now choose to walk step by step, as scary as that is, with focus and a clear mind. I choose to be in control. I will no longer hand over control. I choose to walk in power.

And saying goodbye will continue to remind me just how strong I am. Because I am. Because of me. Because of a life that’s lived with a mind that wakes up fresh. That faces its demons. That chooses to live.

I choose to live.

So I’ve stopped choosing you.

Goodbye old pal.


Ode to TribeSober … The Journey …

Not only do our tribe members have big hearts but they also have talent.

Their creativity knows no bounds and as they thrive in their alcohol-free lives they write some beautiful testimonials – and today we received our first ever ode.

Written by Flic – in the pic – with her zebras.

The Tribe Sober team are blown away – thank you Flic, you made our day!


The ode to the journey is months in the making ….

An ode, for those who are asking, 

 is a lyric poem in the form of an address to a particular subject,

written in varied or irregular metre …

It is here for the taking (or not!!!)


The journey began …  Janet remembers… (she does, she remembers !!)

When my enquiry was made (shiver my embers),

About ditching the drink, and what could I do …?

She sent me an e-mail …. I thought … Flic, it’s on you!!!


Many months passed, and a bunch of things changed,

My job got more toxic, I was deranged!!

I decided to quit, the job and the booze….

OHHH, what a step … it ain’t any cruise!


So: there this wonderful journey began ….

Can I do Sober Spring … yes, yes I can!!!

The WhatsApps came streaming,

I was half screaming …..


But ditching the drink, YES WE CAN!!


Sue was a marvel, in setting the platform,

She asked a few questions …. (not just “the norm”!)

Goodness me, what a blitz to the brain….

Flic, can you do this? snow, shine or rain?


On the 30- day sober journey was I….

And the WhatsApps came streaming, oh could I cry!!

The fellow challengers all shared their bit,

Oh my, it was tough for this struggling git!!


But ditching the drink, YES WE CAN!!


After the 30 days, Workshop came next,

Man, what a game-changer, direction, context!!

Then came Lynette …  priceless gem, insightful, wise,

Then Belinda – hypnotherapy, compassion, she heard my heart’s cries.


The journey has helped to re-find my “me” ….

Caring, soulful, compassionate, gentle, loving, free.

The “me” that alcohol made tough, distant, absent, destroying,

Thanks to you all, there is no more “maybe”.


 Our journey continues, thank you to you all,

Continue to love as you answer each call.

It’s not all a cruise, nor a walk in the park,

But thanks to this Tribe, the future’s not dark.


Lucy came in … and said “pink” vs “black” …

You wonderful soul …. I’ll always keep track!!

Lucy’s tracker is a gift, a true friend,

I’ll track to whenever …. Including the end!!


Janet, my friend, you’ve got such a big heart,

You take us all in and say “here’s the start”.

You guide us, encourage us, show us the way …

You are gifted, dear Janet … no more can I say.




Belinda, Sue, Lynette, Lucy and Janet






Nootropics are the New Addiction

In a world obsessed with health and anti-aging, it is not surprising that a new “mind-altering” substance has found its way onto the shelves. Nootropics are the new addiction. If you are into health and anti-aging that is. And if you are trying desperately to end your addiction to alcohol or cigarettes or other drugs.

Wikipedia states that nootropics is another word for smart drugs. Or cognitive enhancers. Which means that they are drugs! Or rather, supplements. The marketing speak around these things brags about “improving cognitive function” or “boosting memory, creativity or motivation in healthy individuals”.

A Drug for the Healthy?

Say what? So not alcoholics or dug addicts or smokers or sugar addicts? Just healthy individuals?

The tiny catch here is that nootropics have no medical evidence to substantiate that they work. So, no one really knows if this is an ethical health trend, if it is fair and if anyone has ever had any negative side effects from using them? No one really knows if they are safe!

But it goes to show that they are very popular and already selling like hot cakes in the USA – to the tune of US$1 billion in 2015 already! This is 2021 so sales have no doubt trebled.

CBD is a Nootropic

I remember when I stopped drinking wine and I discovered CBD oil. The real name is cannabidiol and it is derived from the cannabis plant. I learned a lot about this health supplement, and I even blogged about it for a few CBD websites.

The benefits of CBD oil are too numerous to list here, but for me, the effects were much needed at the time of my grieving for my wine:

  • I slept very well
  • I managed my menopausal mood swings very well
  • I felt amazing thanks to the multivit qualities of CBD oil
  • I cured my joint pains.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical compound from the Cannabis sativa plant, also known as marijuana or dagga. It’s a naturally occurring substance that’s used in products like oils and edibles to impart a feeling of relaxation and calm. Unlike delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the major active ingredient in marijuana, CBD is not psychoactive.

This is good news because us non-drinkers do not want to feel high again (or me especially!). We do not want to tempt our allegiance to anything mind altering again. But we do want to ease our depression, our insecurities and our guilt and shame. CBD is one of the most popular nootropics right now and a safe one at that. And it does all of the above.

Dealing with Mental Issues

We can all agree that 2020 was a tough year with the Covid 19 pandemic and plenty of unnatural lockdowns worldwide. People felt trapped and desperate when they lost their innate autonomy and freedom. Mental issues and depression rose sky high and increasing numbers of people sought out booze, drugs, cigarettes and over the counter pills to make their abnormal lives appear better to them.

That horrid year is almost past us, history in the making. And with that comes a surge of health freaks trying to take their lives in both hands and really live it up. People are realising that they have to deal with their addictions. Many are finding nootropics as an attraction to assist with mental and physical health needs. Exercise is on the up, yoga and Pilates, kickboxing and karate! Whatever blows your hair back.

A New Era of ‘Clean’ Drinking

The word may be new and trendy, but the concept is not: Bar Chick writers found out that nootropics will usher in a year of moderate drinking, alcohol-free drinks and even medicinal mushrooms and cannabis-laced drinks.

A new beer called Fungtn is brewed from medicinal mushrooms which are supposed to relieve stress and exercise the mind. Kumbucha also gets 10 points for its fermented health qualities and more drinkers want to be ex-drinkers, looking for soft drinks with an added effect for health. I have been making my own Kumbucha since I became sober 5 years ago and it is good!

Are you also looking for the “buzz without the booze”? Time to invest in some CBD oil that you can add to your soda, your kombucha or your coffee maybe? I tried CBD coffee twice and, at huge expense, fell asleep at my desk in the afternoons! That is not nice!

“… as well as giving cocktails an earthy herbaceous flavour, CBD’s hot property in the NA world, working as a wicked alternative to alcohol in more ‘grown-up’ drinks that still give you a little extra something than your soda.”

But nootropics? Hmm that could be something I would try. I wonder what they cost? As usual, most of these new-fangled ideas are super expensive and out of the league of us middle class aliens, let alone the poor people who struggle to eat every day!

Time Magazine has this to say about nootropics: “The idea that a pill can supersize human intelligence is decidedly science fiction. But plenty of real-world researchers and drug-makers are working to develop nootropics: pills, supplements and other substances designed to improve various aspects of cognition.

A rough translation for the word “nootropic” comes from the Greek for “to bend or shape the mind.” … Some of the most popular supplements are a mixture of food-derived vitamins, lipids, phytochemicals and antioxidants that studies have linked to healthy brain function.”

The Health Industry and Climate Change

Oh, and while we are at it, the earth needs saving too! There are way too many people on our planet, scrambling for resources like nootropics. The health industry has a lot to answer for when it comes to habitat destruction, species loss, climate change and more. Materialism and people’s obsession with health and appearance are the root causes of earth degradation.

Luckily, it seems that the drinks industry is taking note of their impact on the earth. It is true that lockdown opened people’s minds to the beauties of our earth. Realisation dawned about the human impacts on everything in nature – simply by being here.

Our needs surpass our resources. If consumers change their habits, brands must step in line and follow the consumer. The consumer has power. And more and more non-drinkers out there mean more and more alcohol-free drinks. And more nootropics. And hopefully less alcohol and less alcoholism.

It seems that brands which are carbon-footprint conscious are increasingly popular – as are brands which use recycled bottles and packaging and less plastic. Even plastic labels are falling by the wayside to be replaced with paper, a biodegradable option.

Sustainability is becoming part of marketing, of brands and of corporates who lead the fray. Drinks companies also want to promote things like ginseng and CBD as natural additives to their drinks, to boost health, whether alcoholic or not!

What do you choose? Will nootropics become your next addiction?

Sober But Still Not Slim? – How to Kickstart your Weightloss in Recovery

If we’ve been drinking for decades it can be a huge and uphill task to get sober.   If we are going to succeed we have to keep reminding ourselves exactly why we are doing this.

Most people who decide to ditch the drink have serious reasons to do so.  They have been keeping the show on the road (just) for years but they know they need to get off the slippery slope to reclaim their physical and mental health, not to mention their relationships.

Many of us do manage to go through the hard work of changing our behaviour and achieving sobriety – and we feel better than we’ve felt for years.

As we regain our health some of us dream of regaining our figures – we think fondly back to the shape we were in in our twenties when we drank socially, rather than downing a bottle of wine every evening.

We progress through our first year of sobriety fully expecting our excess weight to just melt away – but for many of us it doesn’t budge.  Somehow it’s just not that easy to shift the pounds we gained from decades of drinking.

Read my 5 tips to help you kickstart the weightloss once you are sober:

Sobriety is the foundation of your weightloss.  Always remember that alcohol is full of sugar – one glass of wine is equivalent to a slice of cake.  You would probably not eat 6 slices of cake while watching a movie but somehow a bottle of wine just slips down easily.  Talking of cake, alcohol is more likely to result in you eating unhealthy snacks – after all what is a glass of wine without something to nibble on?  Not to mention the fact that alcohol is a toxin so your body will focus on metabolising the drink way before it gets to burning up the calories in your food.  So the science tell us that losing weight while drinking is highly unlikely!

Be patient – give your body time to heal.  If you’ve been drinking for years then your metabolism, blood pressure, liver function and hormones will be all over the place.  It’s going to take time for your whole system to recalibrate and get back into balance.  Let’s take the feel good hormone dopamine as an example.  When we drink we get our “feel good” vibe from alcohol which gives us a chemical high.  So our body gets lazy and stops producing dopamine naturally – and it can take up to a year for our dopamine receptors to get back to normal.  Your metabolism will also normalise – I always used to say I had a “slow” metabolism but after a year of sobriety I can eat most things without putting on weight.



Get moving!  When we go alcohol free we can’t just sit around and expect miracles.  Just as we had to “do the work” to get sober most of us have to “to the work” to lose the weight we gained from decades of drinking.  So make sure you stick to an exercise plan – spend at least an hour outdoors every day.  Everyone can manage a daily walk and investing in a Fitbit will ensure that you hit your 10,000 steps every day.  Exercise also plays a big role in lifting our mood by producing endorphins.  Our bodies will recalibrate and get back into balance more quickly if we keep moving.  If you work from home then a great tip is to get up from your desk every hour and bounce on a mini trampoline – there are some serious health benefits from this activity!

Intermittent Fasting – apart from exercising, another way that we can “do the work” is by intermittent fasting, which is currently one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends.  People are using it to lose weight, improve their health and simplify their lifestyles.  Many studies show that it can have powerful effects on your body and brain and can even help you live longer.  Intermittent Fasting is quite simply about restricting your food intake at various periods – not about WHAT you eat but more how WHEN you eat.  There are many variations and one of the most popular ones is the 16:8 which allows you an “eating window” of 8 hours, contrasting with a “fasting window” of 16 hours.  One of the most exciting benefits of Intermittent Fasting is that not only does it cleanse our liver, kidneys and colon but it helps us to heal our bodies by triggering “autophagy”.  When we relieve our bodies of the hard work of digesting our food all day long they get a chance to do some serious repair work.  Autophagy is the process whereby the body destroys damaged cells – and of course cancer starts with a damaged cell.

Eat fruit not sweets – alcohol is full of sugar so many people crave sweets, chocolates and cakes in early sobriety.  Trouble is, sugar is also addictive so it’s easy to transfer your bad habit from booze to sweets!  When you long for something sweet it means that your cells are craving for glucose. In order to satisfy them you need to eat lots of fresh fruit – and I mean lots.  First thing in the morning eat a huge bowl of mangos, water melon, pineapple slices – whatever you can find.  Every time you get a craving (for sweets or wine) eat more fruit.  The proof that this works is that in a couple of months the fruit will taste really sweet – which means that your cells have absorbed enough glucose and your cravings should have gone.  (If you want to hear the science behind this tip then go to Tribe Sober podcast – episode 31 with natural health expert Mary Anne Shearer).

So there you have it.  Five tips to kickstart your weightloss in recovery.  Ditch the drink, get moving, eat lots of fruit, try intermittent fasting and above all – be patient.

Make a plan, implement our advice and email janet@nulltribesober.com for personal advice.

Here at Tribe Sober we enable people to quit drinking and then to go on and thrive in their alcohol-free lives.  Staying fit and maintaining a healthy weight is an essential part of thriving. We offer plenty of support including a nutritionist and yoga teacher.  Check out our 7 step membership program which will support you all the way.




How I Ditched the Drink – My Top Life Hack: Author of Sober Diaries, Clare Pooley

Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

My guest this week is the fabulous Clare Pooley.

Clare is 6 years sober and has inspired thousands of women via her blog and best selling book – the Sober Diaries.

You can see her TED talk HERE.

Clare has been guest speaker at two of our London workshops.


In this Episode

  • Like many of us, Clare started drinking socially and gradually evolved to drinking a bottle of wine every evening
  • Her rock bottom came one morning when she found herself drinking red wine to quell a hangover
  • Her main strategy to ditch the drink was writing – every day for 3 years she poured her heart out to her anonymous blog
  • Clare’s blog is a great resource and anyone who feels alone in this journey should check it out here: mummywasasecretdrinker
  • These days she feels angry that we feel so much shame around our drinking – and that’s why she did her TED talk on that topic
  • Her strategies to stay sober were writing, hot baths, hot chocolate, cleaning (!), books about alcohol, exercise, audio books and podcasts
  • 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 advice is to accept that we will have ups and downs on this journey but that they will get less extreme if we hang in there
  • 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
  • Her top tips for newbies – write down how bad it was so you don’t forget, write your WHY list – why are you doing this?
  • Be excited – you will gain more than you lose and another tip is to create a vision board
  • Clare also said it was essential to “find your tribe” and recommended tribesober.com


More info

Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is just R75 (£4/$5) a month – you can join up HERE

  • To access our website click HERE
  • If you would like a free copy of our e-book “66 days to sobriety” please email us at 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 6-step program and subscribe HERE

Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you – calendar on homepage of tribesober.com


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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and join our Tribe Sober Club on Clubhouse – are on Clubhouse every Sunday afternoon at 5pm SA time so come join the conversation.

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

Lexi’s Letter

16 April 2021

231 Days

Dear Alcohol,

It has been two hundred and thirty-one days since I said goodbye to you. Enough said. No more…

Two hundred and thirty-one days in which I have started to rebuild a life that I should have assumed a long time ago. A life where I am no longer consumed by my constant yearning for you – for the brief exhilaration and then the numbing feeling of nothing.

You think I would know better, having witnessed your destruction of people I loved? You are insidious and powerful, I knew you were not good for me but I loved you too much to let go.

You dominated my thoughts, my plans, and my daily activities. As they say in the AA, “one drink is too much and a thousand never enough”.

If I had been honest – and let us be frank here – you took that away too, I would have said goodbye a long time ago.

They say the opposite to addiction is connection and my relationship with you was the epitome of disconnection. Of late, you helped to numb the pain of divorce and excruciating abuse of dealing with a personality-disordered ex-husband, as well as the acute failure that surrounded that decision. But I realise now that there was a real problem a long time before that.

Ultimately, you filled the void that was there because of my lack of self-love and my feeling of “less than” and not being enough. Of course, the shame and guilt that surrounded my relationship with you further fuelled the drinking. Waking up in a fog, checking my phone to see who I had called or texted. In most instances I was too embarrassed to even check, dreading what I may have said, knowing in the depths of my brain that it was inappropriate or angry or more often than not, non-sensical. The times that I could not remember, the blackouts, and of course the times I fell and hurt myself – sometimes badly.

So, I chose me. I chose to rummage through the dark feelings, the shame and the guilt and deal with them. I chose me over you. I will not live the nightmare that you sentenced me to. I will assume the person that I was always supposed to be. The person who had passions and interests who desired to shine, who could parent to the best of her ability, and who could find joy in simple things – planting a garden, tidying a cupboard, or reading a book. 

It has not been easy. Dealing with pain and grief and low self-worth without you as a tranquiliser has required strength and fortitude. 

I choose to be the best version of me. That is why I have no space for you in my life.

So for my children, for my family, but most importantly for me, I will be saying goodbye for good.


An Introduction to Intermittent Fasting

Have you ever tried fasting at all? Fasting is not about starving. It is all about taking notice of good nutrition, and allowing the body to have time to digest good foods. It may well be another diet trend but one that is worth investigating.

This article is written by Thomas Sheehy, a yoga instructor and natural health coach with a special interest in diet, nutrition and lifestyle education. He offers personalised programmes for individuals and presents workshops on anatomy & physiology, nutrition, and digestive health. Thomas is currently undertaking MSc Adv. Complementary Medicine (Research & Practice).

If you are already a member of Tribe Sober, simply click on the “nutrition” Icon (in the members area) for more info about Thomas’ offer. If you are not a member yet, sign up HERE.

Intermittent fasting is a broad term for a variety of ways to manipulate the timing of food intake in order to improve body composition and overall health. Intermittent fasting is commonly grouped into ‘alternate-day’ fasting and ‘time-restricted’ feeding. Each form of intermittent fasting utilizes different periods of feeding and fasting.[1]

Alternative-day fasting may consist of 24hr fasts followed by a 24hr eating period, and can be done several times a week, such as a 5:2 strategy when there are two fast days mixed into five non-fast days. Time-restricted fasting may include 16hr fasts with 8hr feeding times; for example, eating only between the hours of 10am-6pm; or other similar versions such as 20hr fasts with 4hr feeding windows.[2]

Although intermittent fasting has gained popularity in recent years, humans have actually fasted throughout history. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t have supermarkets, refrigerators or food available year-round; meaning we couldn’t always find anything to eat and our bodies have evolved to be able to function without food for periods of time.

Intermittent fasting can induce a ‘ketogenic state’ which signals a switch from fat storage to fat utilization, resulting in decreased low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and increased high-density lipoproteins (HDL) levels. This change from using glucose as energy to using fatty acids and ketones for energy is called ‘intermittent metabolic switching’ and promotes weight loss because processing ketones requires greater energy.[2]

 Similarities and differences between intermittent fasting and caloric restriction[1]

 By relieving the body of the work of digesting foods, fasting allows the system to rid itself of toxins; enabling healing and repair of damaged tissues. During a period of fasting the following things occur;[3]

  • The process of toxin excretion continues, while the influx of new toxins is reduced.
  • The immune system’s workload is reduced, allowing it to concentrate on existing inflammation and allergies etc.
  • Fat stored chemicals such as pesticides and drugs are released from body tissues.
  • Physical awareness and sensitivity to diet and surroundings is increased.
  • A fast can help to cleanse the liver, kidneys and colon; purifying the blood, aiding weight loss, diminishing water retention and improving the appearance of the eyes, hair and skin.

A word of warning

Despite the benefits of fasting, it must be undertaken with care. A body that is overloaded with environmental pollutants can produce unpredictable reactions as the cocktail of chemicals hits the bloodstream. Common side effects of fasting include headaches, nausea, dizziness, skin rashes, increased body odour, aching limbs and muscles, insomnia and more.

Fasting is contra-indicated during pregnancy and breast feeding, in infancy, for people with kidney and liver disease and anyone who regularly takes prescription drugs.[4] People with medical conditions should consult their medical practitioner prior to undertaking a period of fasting.

However, for those who can weather the initial storm the rewards are great; increased energy, concentration and even intuition, as well as decreased pain and inflammation are commonly reported.

“To fast is to abstain from food while one possesses adequate reserves to nourish vital tissues.

To starve is to abstain from food after reserves have been exhausted so that vital tissues are sacrificed.”

– Joel Fuhrman

Certain precautions should be taken during fasting. Fasting on water alone can release toxins too quickly leading to ‘detox crisis’ symptoms such as headaches, nausea and worse. Additionally, although a typical diet provides too much salt, fasting usually provides too little. If you feel lightheaded or dizzy you might include some broth in the diet.

There is no single diet that meets the needs of every person; individual needs vary depending on factors such as physical activity, plus mental and emotional wellbeing; and are also influenced by age, gender, body size and physique, exercise and workload, physiological and biochemical characteristics, personal tastes and preferences etc. It is recommended to consult with a nutrition expert before undertaking any form of fasting, in order to tailor a fasting programme to suit your individual needs.



1: Tinsley, G.M. and La Bounty, P.M., 2015. Effects of intermittent fasting on body composition and clinical health markers in humans. Nutrition Reviews, 73(10), pp.661–674.

2: Dong, T., Sandresara, P., Dhindsa, D., Mehta, A., Arneson, L., Dollar, A., Taub, P. and Sperling, L., 2020. Intermittent Fasting: A Heart Healthy Dietary Pattern? Physiology & Behavior, 176(3), pp.139–148.

3: Balch, P., 2010. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. 5th ed. New York: Avery.

4: Murray, M. and Pizzorno, J., 2012. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. 3rd ed. New York: Atria.




Some Tips to Avoid Day One – Again: How to Deal with Triggers

These tips to avoid day one – again – relate to many drinkers who thought they could moderate. But then something triggered them, and they drank again.  Knowing how to deal with triggers is the bottom line when it comes to avoiding day one – again.

What do I mean by day one – again? Giving up the booze takes enormous courage and often the drinker who has decided to go without is not 100% ready. But they don’t know this, and they have to find out. When a good intention goes out the window, it can be devastating.

Stopping alcohol is a huge step for people who love to drink. And if you are one of the drinkers who tried this and relapsed, don’t be so hard on yourself. There are many similar people out there, fighting the good fight.

Slips or Relapses?

Statistics suggest that up to 80% of people who try to quit have at least one relapse before achieving long-term sobriety. There are degrees of alcoholism and degrees of relapsing. A confirmed alcoholic who relapses has a much harder time quitting again and justifying the reason for the slip. It can also be dangerous to his/her health in the long term. A social drinker who gives up for a 30-day challenge and relapses can still pretend to wipe the slate clean and start all over again – at day one.

The common denominator here is regret, shame and guilt. The same feelings which drive addiction. A small slip can be corrected immediately and the drinker usually wants to act fast. A bigger relapse is harder to manage and can take a longer time with more intense resources required to assist.

I remember thinking I was invincible that I could stop drinking any time, give my body a break, then start again. I took many breaks which simply were my excuse to drink again – the vicious cycle of detoxing and then drinking again. When I stopped drinking for 8 months, I thought it was the end of my drinking. BUT my mind disagreed with my heart and I had a slip. There I was, back to square one within a month. Five months later, I gave up for good, experiencing my last and worst slip.

Starting at Day One – Again

How many times have you restarted at day one? This can be demoralising. All that counting. All that trying and succeeding – only to fail – again. Time to find out how to conquer those triggers and find out why we slip up.

According to Elizabeth Hartney on VeryWellMind, “It is not enough to commit to quit; you need to explore the reasons behind the slip and to understand what triggered it in the first place. Without some serious soul-searching, you will be less able to avoid another slip should the same issue return.”

She adds that it is best to move forward quickly. Leave the guilt behind and try even harder to stay sober. Leave the shame behind and face your mistakes, acknowledging them for what they are, and looking out to avoid them in future. Recovery is about moving forward and away from the hurt and the pain.

“And, most importantly, remind yourself that the only true failure is giving up on yourself. Do not give up.”

The biggest problem for the “Starting Day One Again” crowd is how big the slip is. Is it a full-blown relapse where all caution is thrown to the wind and the drinker dives straight back into alcoholism and alcohol abuse again? Or is it a one-day affair that can be remedied with will power and other professional resources so that sobriety wins?

Triggers Needing Taming

Starting day one again can be the result of a trigger that was not dealt with. And maybe the drinker’s motivation to quit was low at the time and he/she is not 100% committed – yet? Addiction is a wild beast to tame and can take a lifetime. Conquer those day ones again, now!

Let’s look closer at the triggers that are the catalyst for so many day ones – again:

  1. Times of celebration or mourning – weddings and funerals, the death of a pet or a loved one. Feeling happy can bring on that need to drink and feeling sad can also reinforce the desire to drink. It is a good idea to take a sober buddy to these events who can guide you to make the right choices. We fail to think rationally at happy or sad events anyway, so when there are triggers, it is even harder.
  2. Stress in all its disguises – stress at work, at home, in the car, being alone – stress is there with us all day and every day and knowing how to deal with it becomes an art and a honed skill. Learn mediation and yoga, go walking in nature, have an exercise outlet and mix with people who make you happy. Do your best at work and in the home and if your best is not someone else’s best, so be it. Move on and feel good about who you really are.
  3. Feelings of negativity and inadequacy – a sense of failure as a mother, wife, husband, worker, colleague, son or daughter can induce the need to drink. Positive affirmations and mantras can rewire your brain away from these damaging negative false beliefs. Make some real beliefs come true for you.
  4. People, places or rituals connected to the drinking – avoid these places, staying at home away from social events. If the trigger IS home, then manage it another way. Try another ritual that replaces the ritual of pouring a drink, take up a hobby that keeps hands and heart happy, or start studying something scintillating.
  5. Seeing or sensing the object of the addiction – the favourite wine glass or wine, the smell of the wine, the effects of the wine on someone else. Avoid these things by changing the way you spend your day and who you hang out with.

Ask yourself a few questions around your drinking and your need to drink:

  1. Where is my inner child, the real me?
  2. What is my greatest fear?
  3. What is my greatest achievement?
  4. What are my resources (for recovery and future goals)? These can be people, institutions, hobbies, activities or feelings.
  5. How am I feeling? (Ask this all the time and find out why you are feeling like that).
  6. Who can I connect with today?

Chat to your Tribe Sober recovery coaches today and find out more about your drinking habits. Find out what drives you and how you reconnect with others similar to you.

66 Days of Feelings …

Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

My guest this week is South African Communications expert – Nicole Klassen

You can see her TEDx talk HERE

Nicole signed up for our first Sober Spring Challenge back in 2018 and it changed her life.


In this Episode

  • Nicole realised she was on a slippery slope when she started to drink alone – rather than socially
  • She felt very emotional during early sobriety – and spent lots of time crying!
  • We agreed that if you’ve been numbing yourself for years with booze, then the emotions will spill out when we stop
  • Sobriety helped her to find her voice again – and she wrote a beautiful blog about “66 Days of Feelings”
  • Many of our Sober Springers have been inspired by Nicole’s blog which you can access HERE
  • Nicole explained how her meditation practice enabled her to better observe her own behaviour
  • Benefits of sobriety included losing puffiness and 10kgs – she has developed a better relationship with her body
  • A significant insight for her was the fact that ALL of our feelings are necessary (good or bad)
  • She realised that our behaviour is triggered by a feeling which is triggered by a story we have in our past
  • Since she stopped drinking Nicole has become more productive in her work and has become more consistent
  • We talked about the “feminisation of alcohol” – she comes from a marketing background so she knows exactly how this works.IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR 66 DAY CHALLENGE PLEASE CLICK HERE


More info

Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is just R75 (£4/$5) a month – you can join up HERE

  • To access our website click HERE
  • If you would like a free copy of our e-book “66 days to sobriety” please email us at 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 6-step 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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and join our Tribe Sober Club on Clubhouse – we are on Clubhouse every Sunday afternoon at 5pm SA time so come join the conversation.

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x


The Meaning of Values in Sobriety


The meaning of values in sobriety is non-negotiable. Values form the root of recovery. People with a drinking problem have often lost touch with their innate values.

What exactly are values and why do recovery coaches harp on about them? Well, values are what keep us going, what ground us and what make us who we are as people. Values nestle within our integrity, ethics and an ethos for a good life.

I believe that humans are innately good, but that the many curved balls thrown at us affect us all uniquely. Anger, sadness and fear can turn us into demons and force our values to lie hidden for years. Especially when we are addicted to alcohol.

Board the Values Yacht

It requires hard work to find out what our values are. When we decide to stop drinking and embrace sobriety, we need to re-establish our values around living again. Knowing our values is vital towards the ultimate attainment of our goals in life.

Our values are our rudders, and our goals are our billowing sails. Finding the meaning of values in sobriety is like boarding a yacht to the Med, sails billowing, wind in your hair!

For many almost alcoholics, or people with an alcohol-use disorder, the attainment of values is something shoved aside and forgotten. But values are so necessary in recovery because they allow you to find direction.

Think about it: when your life has value, it has meaning. You have a reason to get out of bed happy in the morning and you have something to strive for. Values bring structure and routine to what may be empty days. Values bring health to our lives: not only regarding nutrition and diet, but also regarding relationships in family, community, work or school.

Family and Connection

A healthy family has strong values – they may be unspoken but they steer and ground the family into something loving and supportive. It is sad, therefore, that many people suffering alcoholism have compromised their family relationships – or maybe they are simply oblivious about the importance of having normal, healthy relationships in life?

Reaching for a wine glass or a beer bottle or a tot of whiskey pushes family away: it is a relationship with a toxin that removes all meaning from life. The alcohol cons the brain into wanting more, and the addicted drinker believes that the alcohol is far more important than the people in their lives.

Did you know that more than 35 million people globally are suffering some kind of substance use disorder right now? Only 1 out of every 7 of these people seek help. If you are part of this statistic, now is the time to seek help. Have you ever thought about the meaning of values in your life? Have you ever thought about sobriety?

Psychology Today sums up values as “qualities or principles that people consider to be important and wish to personify. Your values represent what you view as most meaningful in life. Values often translate to the standards of behavior a person wants to demonstrate—to him- or herself, as well as to others. Our values help define the kind of person we want to be and the kind of life we want to live. When we live in accordance with them, our values influence our priorities, our thinking, our choices, our decision-making, and our actions.”

The Compass that Keeps us on Track

Many people, sober or not, forget to really think about their values, to write them down and to steer their ships in that direction. Values are like a subconscious mentor, reminding us about integrity, kindness and the people we care about in our lives.

Our personal values can be like a compass that keeps us on track. The meaning of values in sobriety therefore is deep: our values determine our behaviour and keep us on track as good people.

A chronic alcoholic, for example, can be rudderless and angry, losing touch with all meaning in his life: his values! People with integrity have deep values which they keep close to their hearts.


Integrity is all about being deeply honest. The simple act of taking responsibility for personal actions reveals honesty in a person. It’s not always easy to take responsibility for things that happen, but it is the right thing to do. For me, Mahatma Gandhi was a man filled with integrity. He abstained from all toxic substances and relationships.

Yes, people with integrity:

  • choose to do the right thing, even when this is very hard to do (such as forgiving someone who has hurt them)
  • put the needs of others above their own needs or desires (without thinking about applause or admiration
  • show respect for all people in their humanity (from the down and out beggar to the wealthy businessman)
  • know what they are good at and yet what they need to strengthen and work on (always trying to do better)
  • will never let you down at the last minute if they can help it
  • are consistently kind.

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it—always.” — Mahatma Gandhi

We can admit that the loss of integrity is all tied up in addiction. We also know that the opposite of addiction is connection. Most people who choose sobriety start to reconnect with their loved ones and with new friends and communities. In this way, the former addict finds meaning in values and starts to rebuild a lost integrity.

Straying from Values in Addiction

People in active addiction, such as alcoholics, have strayed so far from their values that they are lost and sad, angry and depressed. Rudderless and sail-less. The obsession, the compulsion, the self-absorption destroys any values that were there before.

Addicts mix with the kind of people who bring them even further down – people like them who have lost all touch with their inner value systems. The meaning of values in sobriety can therefore be a huge stimulant to get better and to form attainable goals. To look from within to without and to look away from the ego towards community.

What is the meaning of life? Think about your days as a drinker. You felt discontent, regret, unhappiness, not so? You built mountains of shame and guilt – causing stress, distress and intense emotional pain. You knew you were violating your values but you needed the alcohol more than the meaning?!

Values Steer Recovery

Rediscovering values when leaving addiction behind is the driving force behind recovery. Because as we rediscover our innate meaning in life, so we start to reconnect with other people, community and family.

The core values that guide recovery are these:

  • Recovery begins with hope
  • Recovery begins and ends with the individual who seeks it
  • It must be individualized to succeed. There is no one direct path that fits every person
  • Recovery is a holistic process that works to improve all areas of life, including physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual
  • Family, community, and peer support play invaluable roles in recovery
  • Playing healthy roles in groups is vital for recovery to happen
  • Treatment is influenced by culture and should be culturally based
  • Trauma must be addressed
  • Recovery involves personal responsibility
  • Recovery is based upon respect

Do this Values Interpretation exercise for your own sobriety goal-setting. When you look at this list of values, find those that ring true for what you want to live by. Values reinforce all the decisions we make, often subconsciously.

Choose all the values that you feel apply to you. Then highlight the TOP 5.

  • Being with people
  • Being loved
  • Being married
  • Having a special partner
  • Having companionship
  • Loving someone
  • Taking care of others
  • Having someone’s help
  • Having a close family
  • Having good friends
  • Being liked
  • Being popular
  • Getting people’s approval
  • Being appreciated
  • Being treated fairly
  • Being admired
  • Being independent
  • Being courageous
  • Having things in control
  • Having self-control
  • Being emotionally stable
  • Having self-acceptance
  • Having pride or dignity
  • Being well-organized
  • Being competent
  • Learning and knowing a lot
  • Achieving highly
  • Being productively busy
  • Having enjoyable work
  • Having an important position
  • Making money
  • Striving for perfection
  • Making a contribution to the world
  • Fighting injustice
  • Living ethically
  • Being a good parent (or child)
  • Being a spiritual person
  • Having a relationship with God
  • Having peace and quiet
  • Making a home
  • Preserving your roots
  • Having financial security
  • Holding on to what you have
  • Being safe physically
  • Being free from pain
  • Not getting taken advantage of
  • Having it easy
  • Being comfortable
  • Avoiding boredom
  • Having fun
  • Enjoying sensual pleasures
  • Looking good
  • Being physically fit
  • Being healthy
  • Having prized possessions
  • Being a creative person
  • Having deep feelings
  • Growing as a person
  • Living fully
  • “Smelling the flowers”
  • Having a purpose

When you have chosen your top 5 values, write each one down and then ask yourself:

  1. What do I want to happen with this value?
  2. What am I going to do about it?

So, if you chose “family” for example, you may say a) “I want my family to stop arguing with me about my drinking;” and b) I must stop drinking. The bigger question is HOW do you aim to do this?

Which I leave up to you.

In conclusion, the meaning of values in sobriety can never be over-emphasized. Many drinkers cannot define even 3 values when they stop drinking. But as they probe and dig they realise just how many values they have allowed to fall by the wayside. Think about your reactions to daily stress and other people: are you irritable, aggressive, resentful and tactless? Or are you kind, compassionate and humble?

Take a listen to our Tribe Sober podcasts to find out more …


How I Stopped Digging my way to Rock Bottom – Tamar Medford

Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

My guest this week is Canadian author and life coach, Tamar Medford.

Since overcoming her own 20-year battle with drugs, alcohol and obesity in 2012, Tamar has dedicated her life to empowering others to reach their true potential.

In this Episode

  • Although Tamar had a really happy childhood, she went off the rails during her teenage years
  • She remembers getting drunk at a party when she was 14 and feeling that the world had gone from black and white to colour
  • She spent years chasing that feeling – and believes that those of us who become dependent experience a more intense high
  • In her twenties she got into hard drugs which enabled her to drink even more – she saw herself as the “life and soul” of the party
  • She entered the world of addiction and yoyo dieting – eating too much fast food and putting on lots of weight
  • She was married to an alcoholic – they drank lots of beers and vodka each evening – seeing it as the norm
  • Tamar was at her lowest ebb and feeling suicidal when she decided she was going to make a change
  • As she put it, she decided to “stop digging” – rather than go on and reach her “rock bottom”
  • With the help of her AA community Tamar managed to get clean and create a different life
  • She created a personal vision “to empower others to live up to their potential” and everything she does aligns with this vision
  • These days Tamar likes to push out of her comfort zone – believing that if she is not uncomfortable then she’s not growing
  • When we get sober we have to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” in order to discover who we really are
  • Tamar was worried that she wouldn’t be able to have any fun if she gave up drinking, but in fact she has found purpose and joy
  • She has used her life experience to help others reach their potential and has written a best selling book
  • She is also a podcaster and a Life Coach – more info on www.theroadforward.ca
  • Tamar’s podcast is called “The Road to Health” and her book is “Hope Elevated.”


More info

Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is just R75 (£4/$5) a month – you can join up HERE

  • To access our website click HERE
  • If you would like a free copy of our e-book “66 days to sobriety” please email us at 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 6-step 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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and join our Tribe Sober Club on Clubhouse – we are on Clubhouse every Sunday afternoon at 5pm SA time, so come join the conversation.

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

How I Ditched the Drink … and started Tribe Sober

By 2015 I was at a crossroads: still very much a functioning alcoholic – in truth, I was only just holding it all together.

I had managed to integrate Sauvignon Blanc into my life to such an extent that the first drink would often be just before midday, which would morph seamlessly into a couple more large glasses with lunch. By the time 5 pm came around, another cork would pop to see me through the (early) evening.

Just another quiet day at home.

If I successfully engineered an evening out, the drinking would step up a notch. Anyone unable to keep up with my enthusiastic pace would be left behind.

Always the last one to leave any social event, I felt like I was “living the life”. I was, of course, completely out of control — but back then it didn’t feel like it.

It felt pretty damn good actually.

Of course, there were the blackouts, the injuries, the dramas, and the horrible depressions.

Surely everyone got those that when they overdid it — didn’t they?

For me, rock bottom came in the form of a walking, talking blackout while on a weekend away with friends.  I had absolutely no recollection of an entire afternoon – even though apparently I’d been functioning in a relatively normal way.

It terrified me, and that was when I accepted that I had to end my relationship with alcohol.

I’d always known that I was harming my body — after all, I’d had breast cancer to prove it. The realization that my brain had been so soaked in alcohol that it couldn’t create memories finally drove it home.

I was done with alcohol — finally, it was over…

All I had to do was work out how to stop drinking.

I tried AA but found it hard to relate to the people there — although I was putting away a bottle of wine a night, I wasn’t pouring vodka on my morning Cornflakes (yet).

I kept looking for help and eventually found a workshop in London that worked for me. I found other women with good jobs and nice families — also sinking a bottle of wine every evening. I’d found my tribe and we kept each other on track.

Returning to South Africa, I decided to start my own tribe — Tribe Sober. The media were intrigued – was I really expecting people to ditch the drink – was I crazy?

As an experienced trainer, I was able to design and facilitate my own workshops, train as a recovery coach, and set up a membership program.

Six years later, we are still going strong. I am still sober and our tribe has become international. Covid has pushed us to run workshops and Member meetups online which has enabled us to reach out to many more people.

One of the reasons people stay trapped in their drinking is because they feel that sobriety is going to be a dull and miserable place — and that it’s going to be a “lifetime struggle” to stay alcohol-free.

Well, nothing could be farther from the truth.

After working with hundreds of people, we’ve discovered that the usual pattern is that a few months of hard work and commitment will enable you to make a change.

Then, as new neural pathways are created, and you begin to experience the benefits of sobriety, everything gets easier.

The longer you’ve been drinking heavily, the longer it will take to make a change…

As someone who had been drinking too much for decades, this was my experience of the first couple of years of sobriety.


Year one was tough, very tough. Convinced I was in for a life of deprivation — the fun times were over, I feared.

However, the benefits of quitting alcohol started to appear as promised — I lost weight, slept better, my skin looked great, eyes were clearer, I saved money — and yes, I even learned to love mornings.

In spite of all that good stuff, life still felt a little flat. I seemed to have a lot of time on my hands — time I wasn’t quite sure what to do with.

I felt like I was facing a void. No doubt my body was so used to letting alcohol make me feel good, it had forgotten how to produce natural dopamine.

True, there were no massive lows or despair-fests at 3 am, but where were the highs?

As the months went on, I kept hearing everybody was “so proud” of me, that I never would have admitted my own moments of self-doubt. Those moments spent wondering if I’d done the right thing. What if I was wrong?

I hung in there, mainly, because I couldn’t work out what else to do. Just as I had been trapped in my drinking, I now seemed to have painted myself into a corner and felt equally trapped within sobriety. Of course, there were benefits of quitting alcohol, but somehow these weren’t quite enough.


Things slowly got better. The mists began to clear and I could sense a whole new life on the horizon. Glimpses of a different life began to appear.

One day I realized that the little knot of anxiety that had resided in my stomach for decades had finally been exorcised. This gave me the courage to try new things, to meet new people, to start a new business even.

Year two was about getting out there and doing the work. This primarily involved learning some new sober skills, as I began to navigate our alcohol-soaked society.

No longer phased by parties, I learned the art of listening to other people rather than hiding in a corner clutching my alcohol-free drink feeling awkward.

My self-esteem was back as I no longer had to agonize about my lack of willpower as yet another attempt at moderation came crashing down.

I could feel my courage and confidence growing, day by day.

In fact, I’d realised that many people were rather intrigued by us non-drinkers, so I began to have fun coming up with increasingly bizarre reasons why I didn’t drink.

Although I knew there’d be a tricky moment when the wine arrived at the table, I also realized that the moment took about 30 seconds to pass. I could then just relax and enjoy the meal and the conversation.

I had spent so many years using booze to take the edge off that I had made myself numb. Just as a dental injection gradually wears off, I could feel my mental numbness dissipate as my synapses started firing again.

Then it came to me. My brain was no longer anaesthetised and my creativity was back!


Here I am, just a few months away from my sixth Soberversary and feeling like a completely different person.

I now realize that all those years hopping on and off the wagon meant that my subconscious mind was registering sobriety as miserable and difficult.

Rather than winding down, I am bursting with energy and feel that for the first time I have real purpose and meaning in my life as I help other people to ditch the drink.


The 5 Horses

Tribe Sober coach Lynette explains her “5 horse”  theory.  Serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine,  cortisol and endorphins are the 5 brain chemicals that make us happy.

The Science Behind Alcohol Dependency

Janet talks about the science behind alcohol dependency and how a few decades of drinking can actually rewire your brain.  On a more optimistic note, she touches on how we can change that.  Inspired by an article from Ken M. Middleton that you can read here.

3 Years Sober and Thriving

Tribe Sober coach, Lynette, tells us more about her sober journey and the 3 unexpected benefits she discovered along the way – watch this Facebook Live video and learn more!

12 Ideas for a Sober Easter Basket


Is this your first ever sober Easter? Are you having second thoughts about boozing it up over the long weekend? I have come up with 12 ideas for a sober Easter basket, just for you. So, hang in there!

The Easter bunny tends to arrive in secret, laden with chocolate eggs for the kids. Adults tend to think it is time for 4 days of outrageous drinking. Why do so many adults feel that it their right for a real piss up over Easter? Is it just because the kids are otherwise occupied, and the weather is perfect? Or is it because there is nothing better to do, right?

Wrong! Easter is a long weekend made for sober sorties. Pack your autumn holiday with some self-care with these healthy and non-addictive ideas. Grown-ups have every right to be hopping crazing during the chocoholic phase of the year!

Buy yourself, or your sober buddy:

  1. A soft stuffed bunny toy to lay beside you in bed! Aaah a cuddle really helps…
  2. A huge soft continental pillow to fluff up while you watch Netflix in your pj’s all day
  3. A bucket full of gardening supplies: seeds, herb seedlings, a small spade, a fork, some pretty gloves, and a hat
  4. Garden décor: glittery mobiles that dance in the wind, musical chimes for the verander, a new deck chair, a beach umbrella or a blow-up dolphin for the pool
  5. Melody makers: an iPod, a Spotify membership, a musical DVD of your favourite artist, an iTunes gift card or a quality speaker to attach to your cell phone
  6. Something to wear: sunglasses, a bracelet, a tie-dyed T-shirt, lounging tracksuit pants, fluffy pj’s, sheepskin slippers or a string of bright beads
  7. Gentle smellies great for the skin: a new moisturizer, a herb skin balm, something foamy for the bath, scented Epsom salts, a florall perfume, healing chakra oils or vanilla candles for that relaxing Friday evening
  8. Something to eat: biltong, dried wors, homemade rusks or crunchies, hot cross buns with extra cinnamon, 90% cocoa chocolate, a homemade easter plaited bread or a snoek to throw on the braai
  9. Crafts and arts: embroidery kits, water colour paints and a sketch pad, a mindful colouring in book, something to knit or crochet and something to sew on the machine. Get the pattern and start!
  10. Sporty goodies: a new yoga outfit, socks for hiking, a sunhat, a fit bit, something branded to wear such as a sports vest or shorts, a new buff to wind around your head and a natural suncream to ward off the burn
  11. An evening out: a comedy show, an ice skating drama, a night at the open air cinema or just an exciting Indian meal out somewhere new
  12. A stroll in nature: take a walk in a forest, along a wild beach, in the mountains or around your block. Just take note of the birds, the bees and all the huge trees around you.

Who needs to have a boring old sober Easter? Not us, that is for sure!

Getting through a sober Easter can be tough, especially if you (or one of your friends or family) has just decided to ditch the drink. It is not easy coming face to face with addiction in any of its forms. There will be up days and there will be down days.

Addiction recovery is a big phrase. But a very real one. It is ongoing and takes little steps, day by day. Find yourself a gift or offer your friend support along the way. Encouragement comes from recognizing that you need to treat yourself and rest. One of the best gifts we have to offer you is this website! Join Tribe Sober, read all the inspiring blogs and letters and listen to the uplifting podcasts.

Oh, and Happy Easter!



British Journalist Phil Cain Explains Why Sobriety Sizzles!

Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

My guest this week is British journalist, Phil Cain.  Author of two books about alcohol, he brings a fresh and scientific perspective to the dialogue.

His books have spawned a wide range of activities, including hosting panel discussions – which is how I met Phil.

In this Episode

  • Phil explains how he was keen to write a book from a scientific perspective, rather than personal experience
  • He stopped drinking while he was writing his books – to better understand the “discomfort” that sobriety can bring
  • We agreed that Sober Sprints are essential for regular drinkers – the only way to check that you are not becoming dependent
  • If you would like to do a Sober Sprint then sign up as a Tribe Sober member to join our 30 day alcohol-free challenge
  • Phil explained that the “low risk limits” (one and a half bottles of wine/6 beers a week) are not widely known
  • Covid has brought extra stress into everybody’s life and many people are self-medicating with alcohol
  • Drinking alone has become more common in these days of the pandemic – it’s so easy to drink more when you are alone
  • We agreed that “drink sensibly” is an oxymoron as alcohol actually removes your ability to act sensibly!
  • Phil believes that we should encourage people to look at their drinking by “selling sobriety” rather than emphasising the dangers
  • He explained why “Sobriety Sizzles” and if there was a pill that achieved what sobriety does, it would be hugely popular!
  • Phil’s books are called “Alcohol Companion” and “Alcohol for Nerds” – go to www.philcain.com to sample and purchase
  • At our workshops we recommend treating sobriety as a “research project” – these 2 books should be an essential part of your research

More info

Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is just R75 (£4/$5) a month – you can join up HERE

  • To access our website click HERE
  • If you would like a free copy of our e-book “66 days to sobriety” please email us at 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 6-step 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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and join our Tribe Sober Club on Clubhouse.

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

Who am I without Alcohol? [Discovering your Inner Child when Sober]

The big “Who am I without Alcohol” question will affect all of us differently. Embarking on an alcohol-free life is a huge life event for a drinker. Becoming sober is life-changing, to say the very least.

People who do not have issues with drinking will never understand this. Yes, the “Who am I without Alcohol” is a journey that drinkers take alone. They start off fearful and angry and sad. They get to their destination free and alive and grateful!

Learn How to Stop Drinking First

Along the way, they try recovery coaching and online ‘how to stop drinking’ counselling. Many try to find their sober tribe. The answers to this question may lie hidden but they are there, waiting. We may avoid the question at all costs for a while, yet the answer is essential for our wellbeing into the drink-free future.

I hope that my blog can be the catalyst for many drinkers to take that courageous step to find themselves after booze. Who am I without Alcohol? My friend for so long, my support, my crutch and my constant companion? Just read our Goodbye Letters to Alcohol and see what people are saying about losing this bosom buddy!

Rephrase this question to read, “Why have I changed so much?” or “Who am I now that I am sober?” or “Who was I before I started to drink?” Dave Rich hits the nail on the head when he notes that he has lost touch with who he really is.

“I’m not sure who I am anymore without alcohol in my life, or I’m not really who I thought I was… Perhaps I am an idiot. But in my defense, for the past 30 years all of the knowledge I have been able to obtain has been filtered through my approximately one-third of a functioning brain that actually gave a sh*t about something other than alcohol.”

Trapped by Alcohol to be Someone Else

He adds that ditching the drink allowed him a freedom he had never known. This made me think about how alcohol traps the drinker: we think we are free and having fun and one of the boys but, in reality we are fighting our demons of guilt and shame, puffiness within and without – and utter worthlessness.

For many of us, becoming sober is impossibly daunting. When we embark on this new journey sans bottles, we are intimidated and shy. Until the benefits kick in and we start to realise how good we feel, how normal we feel and how amazing everything around us actually is. No more hiding, no more dreading the day ahead and no more whining and grumpiness.

“For the first time in my life I feel as though I can literally do anything I want, and I don’t know what to do. I honestly don’t know if I want to do anything at all. So I’m taking this opportunity to examine more closely the way I feel about things now,” confirms Dave.

Suddenly, when alcohol is out of the picture, there is so much else to occupy the mind. All the simple, boring things come to the fore: what to wear today, what to do today, what to cook and what to read. Maybe just to sit and think.

“My message is simple, and it goes out to anyone who is currently struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, or knows someone who is—don’t give up. I never thought I’d see the time where I didn’t want to drink anymore, but that time is here; it is now, and for this opportunity I will be forever grateful. “

Losing Friends and Finding a Tribe

For me, becoming sober meant relooking at my entire life. One friend of mine told me recently that I was a sanitised version of the me she knew in the 1990s. The me who used to drink and party and laugh and do crazy drunken things. The me who passed out at dinner parties or parked my car halfway down banks or who got the munchies way past midnight.

I told her,” Yes, but I am sober now, that time was a farce!” and then I thought that maybe I was letting her down a lot, saying that, and being a serious sober cookie now? I am discovering the real me and she cannot understand who I am anymore. So, goodbye to her.

Relooking at my entire life means going back to when I was a young girl. That girl whose inner child was so damaged at a young age. And I started to read about how to find out if my inner child was wounded or not, and how I could fix this.

According to Aleithia Luna of LonerWolf, “The inner child is the part in your psyche that still retains its innocence, creativity, awe, and wonder toward life. Quite literally, your inner child is the child that lives within you – within your psyche that is. It is important that we stay connected with this sensitive part of ourselves. When we are connected to our inner child, we feel excited, invigorated, and inspired by life. When we are disconnected, we feel lethargic, bored, unhappy, and empty.”

Finding your Inner Child

I think many people who turn to alcohol are those who have lost touch with this vital part of ourselves. As children, if we did not feel safe, we retreated and hid. Safety is related to the meeting of basic human needs: food, water, shelter, clothing, community and love. We need to feel respected and accepted by all who love us in terms of physical, emotional and spiritual needs. If, for example, one of those needs is neglected, we can be wounded for life.

Luna says we should look for these things to see if we were made to feel unsafe as children:

  • You were taught that it’s not OK to have your own opinions.
  • You were punished when trying to speak up or act differently.
  • You were discouraged from playing or having fun.
  • You weren’t allowed to be spontaneous.
  • You weren’t allowed to show strong emotions such as anger or joy.
  • You were shamed by your parents or family members.
  • You were verbally criticized/abused on a regular basis.
  • You were physically punished, e.g. smacked, beaten.
  • You were made to feel responsible for your parents and their level of happiness.
  • You weren’t given physical affection, e.g. hugs, kisses, cuddles.

As a result, we may display these behaviours:

  • In the deepest part of me, I feel that there’s something wrong with me.
  • I experience anxiety whenever contemplating doing something new.
  • I’m a people-pleaser and tend to lack a strong identity.
  • I’m a rebel. I feel more alive when I’m in conflict with others.
  • I tend to hoard things and have trouble letting go.
  • I feel guilty standing up for myself.
  • I feel inadequate as a man or woman.
  • I’m driven to always be a super-achiever.
  • I consider myself a terrible sinner and I’m afraid of going to hell.
  • I constantly criticize myself for being inadequate.
  • I’m rigid and perfectionistic.
  • I have trouble starting or finishing things.
  • I’m ashamed of expressing strong emotions such as sadness or anger.
  • I rarely get mad, but when I do, I become rageful.
  • I have sex when I don’t really want to.
  • I’m ashamed of my bodily functions.
  • I distrust everyone, including myself.
  • I am an addict or have been addicted to something.
  • I avoid conflict at all costs.
  • I am afraid of people and tend to avoid them.
  • I feel more responsible for others than for myself.
  • I never felt close to one or both of my parents.
  • My deepest fear is being abandoned and I’ll do anything to hold onto a relationship.
  • I struggle to say “no.”

If you answer YES to at least 10 of these, you need to do Inner Child Work.

It Takes a Lifetime to Find Out Who We Are

It takes a lifetime to find out who we are and what our life’s purpose is. For newly sober people, drinkers and for those who never had addiction issues. Maybe take time out for yourself when you decide to quit the booze and look inward and find value in everything you do?

Kelly Fitzgerald has great advice when it comes to finding the answer to that question: “Who am I without alcohol?” Think back to who you were before you took that first sip of drink. An innocent teenager or a rebellious 20-something year old? Just starting out in life and so vulnerable.

Finding Yourself Sober Means:

  1. Finding new health and senses that open and receive the world: hear the birds and insects, see the sunrise before yoga, smell the dew on your lawn, taste the fresh air of a new day, feel the sun on your arms and the wind at your back. And intuitively know that you are doing the right thing…
  2. Emotions that soar and plummet daily, finding their new equilibrium over time. Very deep lows and short, delicious highs! Make it your goal to lengthen the joyous moments and shorten the sad moments.
  3. Tuning in to your real needs: how to spend the day free of thoughts of booze, how to spend the evenings free of boozey nights out, how to work with a clear head and how to exercise without the guilt of a puffy body. Learn a new art, start a new hobby.
  4. Discovering fun things to do without needing alcohol to make things fun. Run in the wind, play with your kids, throw a ball for the dog and scream yay at the sun!
  5. Feeling in control of your destiny: look at where you began as a young child and see where you can still go. You may be closer to middle age, but life awaits you even more magnetically than ever before. Stay present, forget the past and manage the future.
  6. Telling yourself that you deserve love and that love deserves you. Find the goodness within you and within every other person you come into contact with.
  7. Casting aside toxic people. You may lose close friends who still drink. Their lens is about the glass and the liquid that fills that glass. Your new lens is huge and panoramic and open to life’s great gifts! Find the tribe who loves you, who does not criticise or demean you.
  8. Accepting and embracing your faults. Who wants to be perfect anyway?! Tell yourself in the mirror that you love who you are NOW and forever.

“I was always that girl who needed alcohol to have fun and now I am a testament to the fact that you don’t need it to enjoy yourself. I wake up every day feeling relieved that I never have to feel hungover… The best is yet to come,” says Kelly.

Join Tribe Sober today if you haven’t already and start to discover your hidden inner child.

Dr Tony Explains Why the Older Generation are Drinking Too Much

Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

My guest this week is British Psychiatrist, Dr Tony Rao.  He is an international expert of alcohol misuse in older people – with more than 20 years experience in this area.

He works with Baby Boomers in the UK who have alcohol issues – I was one of those for many years so found this conversation fascinating.

In this Episode

  • Dr Tony explains how his interest in the field started with his parents who were both medics
  • He believes it’s essential to understand the community his patients are from if he is to understand their problems
  • The baby boomer generation is more susceptible to alcohol abuse as we grew up with very different cultural attitudes
  • We believed it was OK to get drunk sometimes and the “work hard, play hard” ethos was encouraged in many corporates
  • After decades of drinking, the older generation have not even tried to cut down – many of them rely on it more as they get older
  • Dr Tony believes that the “low risk” limits for alcohol should be reduced for older people as our bodies are less resilient
  • Extra risks for older people include falls, mixing with medications and the fact that it takes longer to metabolize
  • We agreed that although people are living longer, the emphasis should be on “living well” for the last 10 years
  • Alcohol and Covid – not a good mix as both stimulate inflammation, causing a cytokine storm, which can reduce survival changes
  • Dr Tony advises that we take the low risk limits seriously and reach out for help if we need it – there is always help
  • He has written a book called “Catch Me When I Fall” which dramatises the issue – available via Audible

More info

  • Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is R75 (£4/$5) a month – you can join up HERE
  • To access our website click HERE
  • If you would like a free copy of our e-book “66 days to sobriety” please email us at 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 6-step 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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

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

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

About Tribe Sober

How my alcohol dependency led me to creating Tribe Sober which will enable people to develop tools to support their journey to sobriety as well as becoming part of a community

Sober Spring and Your Health

Janet talks about the 8 benefits of taking a break from alcohol. From sleep deprivation to cancer – alcohol has negative effects on our mind and bodies.

Why Taking a Break From Alcohol is so Powerful

Our Tribe Sober coach, Lynette, talks about why taking a break from alcohol is so powerful.  It is so important to push the reset button from time to time, so that we can give our mind and bodies time to find new ways to cope, without reaching for a drink.


Moderating Alcohol

Janet paints a picture of a moderator – alcohol isn’t on the moderators mind.  We think we can learn how to moderate, but the problem with this kind of thinking is that it keeps you in a trap.


Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught. But a quest for meaning in his or her life (Victor E Frankl).  Lynette takes us through her experience on finding purpose.

Tribe Sober Launch

Tribe Sober Launch – How we went from World Without Wine to Tribe Sober and how it works.

Miranda’s Letter

Dear Alcohol,

It is time to say goodbye, finally. Now, because tomorrow is too far away. And today, right now is all I have. And all I want to have. To appreciate this time wholly, presently, consciously. And I can’t give myself to it with you in the shadows. Lurking there, waiting for the worst moment, a private time you can play with my mind and tell me it’s OK and you’re alright.
Because you’re not and won’t ever be. And I don’t want to be any further down the road of my life with you beside me, even in thought. So, it’s official. In BCL style, you can simply go and fuck off!
Before it’s over, a few last points to make. If I hadn’t had this time to dive deep into reading, learning, talking, reflecting on what you are, I may too be sitting back without much thought about you in my life. And I see it clearly now, how you creep and lurk.
All negative words. Because that’s what you are. You are misplaced, misunderstood. The truth is you never were intended for any part of our bodies you touch. You wreak havoc in illness. I have lost the dearest of people to what I can attribute to your influence. I have nearly lost others. But you don’t know that … it wasn’t your fault.
You were dressed up and sold. Big companies pimp your essence. Governments don’t listen to the scientific facts. Of course, they should but they line their pockets too. Societies and culture. Well, like a religion they/ we were born unto your influence. Questioning your presence doesn’t always, nearly never, gets questioned before your insidious effect has us under your influence. To celebrate, commiserate, bond and fight.
People are wisely told never to regret parts of their life. I guess this is in the hope that regret can be balanced by gain instead from it. What’s been learnt instead. So, I don’t regret you. It wasn’t my fault either to know you, to include you in my life as I did. I mean, I forced myself to like you at the start, and society and culture encouraged me to try too. It was always my decision in the end, I take that.
But I say goodbye now. Happily, freely and I look forward to living my life being completely me. Always me. Consistently me. And I’ll work on the things I know I will have more access to because of it – my health, my energy, the peace in my life. And I’ll face the challenges that come my way with courage and honour that those challenges deserve.
I’ll give myself instead of you, to my relationships. My husband, the partner in this life of ours. And my kids … they will get the best of me because they need foundation. They deserve the best of that for this world of ours. I don’t ever want to look back and not to have given the love that I feel for them.
Instead of you, I’ll focus on me. My work, my life and those that I love and those in my life. I look forward to the times I don’t know yet. The joy that is yet to come. The best days that still are yet to happen. They will be better because I am giving all of myself … each day and night, each sleep, every waking morning … the best of me.
So, no more thinking of you lurking in the shadows for tomorrow’s goodbye. Your time is now. I am playing my story right forward and the sooner you’re gone the better.

Are You Caught in a Love-Hate Relationship with Booze? [The Push-Pull Destruction of Alcohol Addiction]

The title for this blog has arisen like a mushroom, overnight in a dark forest, because it needs to be seen. It also needs to be picked and tasted.

I am fascinated by the push-pull destruction of alcohol addiction. It is like a dance, moving in and moving out. A dance towards a substance and away from self. Are you caught in a love-hate relationship with booze?

I was. And I have been reading the Goodbye Letters to Alcohol this week on our amazing revamped Tribe Sober website. I have felt complex, myriad emotions. What really gobsmacked me was the brutal honesty, the raw exposure of deep shame and wracking guilt, blazing anger and oceanic sadness that the alcohol caused in so many lives.

And the courageous writers who are now mostly sober and who acknowledge their dependence on alcohol, and their relief when it is gone from their lives. I wanted to share every story, every letter, with other drinkers.

Courageous Sobriety vs Obsessive Drinking

I also delved into the guest blogs – gripping, heart-warming and educational stories, opening up beehives of interests and needs and emotions. All of them need to be read, by us, by our families and by the global community affected by alcohol addiction.

So, are you caught in a love-hate relationship with booze, right now? Is the push-pull destruction of alcohol addiction like a snake in your home? Do you hear the wine witch calling you every day at 5pm? “Have just a small one to relax you – you deserve a drink after a long day at work/a hard day at home/looking after the kid all day/doing all the housework/getting out of bed/going to the gym or yoga or ballet”… sound familiar?

The love starts after that first sip – aaaahhhh I feel so relaxed and mellow and all my troubles are easing away. I love this feeling, I love this wine. I think I will just have another glass. By the third glass, however, the hate is seeping into the love.

The hate for self, the hate of the family for you and that glass. You feel the hate and you start to mutter and get angry and grumpy and depressed. You resent your family for resenting you and resent that last glass for changing you. A daily pattern.

The Dance of Life

I have heard of the push and pull in relationships: Darlene Lancer puts it so well in her paper, “The Relationship Duet”:

The relationship duet is the dance of intimacy that all couples do. If one partner moves in, the other backs-up. Partners reverse roles as well, but always maintain a certain space between them. The unspoken agreement is that the Pursuer chase the Distancer forever, but never catch-up, and that the Distancer keep running, but never really get away. What is happening is a negotiation of the emotional space between them.

In our case of being drinkers of alcohol, we could say that the wine is the Pursuer at one moment, and the Distancer at the next! But wait! On the other hand, maybe, WE are the Pursuer? And then we are the Distancer as we feel the shame and try to escape the clutches of the drinking. Yes, this is the push-pull of alcohol addiction and yes, it is destructive.

Daniel Kelly describes his own love-hate relationship with alcohol and how he stopped and started a lot during his drinking days. He was doing so well, off the booze for a while, but decided to start again:

“In an attempt to cut down my drinking, I tried to limit the number of drinks I had when I went out. 𝘓𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘭𝘦 𝘥𝘪𝘥 𝘐 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸 𝘮𝘺 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘯 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘥𝘰𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘵. Friday night rolled around, and I was determined to go to the bar, hang out with my friends, and end the night at one or two drinks. But this happened rarely, if ever. Before I knew it, I was waking up in my bed the next day fully clothed, wondering what the hell happened.”

Can you relate? That terrible feeling of “what happened last night?” “When did I get home, and who dropped me home?” “What did I DO?”

The Desire to Stop the Stop-Starting

He acknowledges that he needs to stop:

“Even though like many others, I had suffered many hangovers and I acknowledged the drawbacks of alcohol, giving it up altogether never really occurred to me. Quit alcohol entirely? No one did that. I mean, I would be a social outcast if I did that, right? Nonetheless, I couldn’t see how I could carry on drinking any longer.”

How many of you reading this have experienced these feelings? I did! I used to stop for a week, start again, stop for a month, start again, stop for 6 weeks, start again. And every time I started again, I felt as if I had had a good detox and that I was ready to have my wine again, because it was fine and there was not a problem.

When I stopped for 8 months, due to a drinking Sunday when I had way too much wine and my husband yelled at me yet again, I felt resentful during those long months. I got so fit and healthy and I felt all the benefits of the not drinking. But then those voices in my head, that negative self-talk, got the better of me.

I had a glass of wine. I moderated for a month then WHAM, BAM, THANK YOU MAM! I was back at square one again. Less than 6 months down that track and I had to give up for good, COLD TURKEY!

When we are caught in that love-hate relationship with alcohol, it messes up our lives and can take months, if not years, to resolve. The push-pull destruction of alcohol addiction bends so many lives out of alignment. Especially during the 2020 Covid-19 year of Lockdowns!

Find a Recovery Coach

One of my favourite ladies in this world is Holly Whitaker who says it like it is and who has saved any people from alcoholism. She is the founder of the first ever recovery programme for women in the USA. She started Hip Sobriety and I remember reading her hilarious blogs a few years ago. Now she is behind Tempest and it is essential that you read her book, Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol.

Holly is honest when she says, “By late 2012, I had been drinking problematically for years but delayed doing anything about it because I wasn’t sure if I fit the definition of an alcoholic, and because I just didn’t want to be an alcoholic. So I kept trying to drink “normally” until finally my drinking was so bad I had no choice but to do something about it. My moment of clarity came when I realized alcohol was getting in the way of everything I wanted out of life.”

Being Stuck in The EGO Time Warp

Being stuck in that time warp of needing a drink, then hating yourself for having that drink, is draining. It soaks up so much time we could be spending doing useful and humble things. Instead, our drinking is a way of feeding our greedy ego.

That ego that needs sustenance because something terrible happened to us long ago, or because we are stressed, or because we fear the future or because we are in lockdown or because …. And because ….

There are millions of reasons why our egos need a drink! Wake up people, conquer that ego and become humble. Reach out, get better and start helping the people around you who need it the most.

On that note, I want to use Holly Whitaker’s presentation about how we can escape that love-hate relationship with alcohol. We can deal with that push-pull destruction of alcohol addiction head-on. That does not mean we run away, no, it means we deal with all the CAUSES of our drinking. We look deep, at the REASONS why we drink.

For me, it is a huge DISCONNECT from me and others because my mom was too distracted with her own alcoholism to give me the nurturing as a baby and a child that I needed. I am now in my midlife and I still fear intimacy and relationships and myriad other things but I am dealing with it every day. It is hard but it is worth it! I loved what Darlene Lancer says about this very issue:

Research suggests that intimacy problems originate in the early relationship between the mother and infant. Babies and toddlers are dependent on the mothers’ empathy and regard for their needs and emotions in order to sense their “selves,” to feel whole. To an enfant or toddler, emotional or physical abandonment, whether through neglect, illness, divorce or death, threatens its existence, because of its dependency on the mother for validation and development of wholeness. Later, as an adult, being alone or separations in intimate relationships are experienced as painful reminders of the earlier loss.

Here goes: (with thanks to Holly Whitaker):

Definition of addiction: Anything we do to repeatedly to relieve pain, despite negative consequences. A neurobiological feedback loop gone wrong. It presents two issues: What drives us to it? What keeps us stuck in it?

What Keeps us Stuck: 7 Limiting Beliefs

  1. We think we can’t quit drinking and we think that we are the only ones in the world who can’t. So, get rid of this negative self-talk by using affirmations. Holly says: use mantras and design your vision for the future.
  2. We aren’t sure it’s that bad or that we really need to quit. We aren’t sure if we are “one of them.” We don’t want to acknowledge that we are an alcoholic! Holly says: make a list including time, money, love, energy – see how alcohol removes these. Stop comparing yourself to others and get rid of FOMO. Live your own life and rise above other drinkers.
  3. Cognitive dissonance. We have a love hate relationship, and we can’t imagine not drinking. This is our social conditioning coming in and we think there is a benefit to drinking. Magazines and radio, television and film all tell us that drinking is sexy! Holly says: Read This Naked Mind. Focus on your freedom and get excited about a new life; empower yourself.
  4. We are terrified. Period. Yes, it is terrifying to now have to give up a life we spent avoiding discomfort, avoiding fear. So, stop, and start to look at that fear and also the possibility of discomfort. Read more about your Reptilian Brain! Holly says: make a fear list.
  5. We have a very grim picture of what it looks like as a drinker – we see it as an incurable disease, a forever struggle. Holly says: read blogs about how people have conquered their drinking. This is your beginning, not the end, your adventure, not your disaster.
  6. We don’t like change. Finding the courage to make this change leads to the courage to make other changes and to reach for the things you never thought possible.
  7. We are afraid of failure. What if we try and we can’t? Be careful of this fear because it is the crux of relapse. Make a commitment to you and write a list of heroes who have failed in life. There are many out there! Even Elizabeth Gilbert failed and learned from that lesson!

How are You Feeling Now?

Ready to take up that challenge I hope: don your Superhero cloak, grab your superhero weapon and bop that love-hate relationship with booze on the head! Do the crazy dance that you need to do to conquer your push-pull destructive relationship with alcohol!






Are You a Grey Area Drinker?


Alcoholism is a spectrum – between the hardcore “alcoholic” and the non-drinker there are millions of us – some are “grey area drinkers” – are you?



Sober Diary Reflections – Eusebius McKaiser

Eusebius McKaiser is South Africa’s favourite chat show host.

He facilitates an essential national dialogue on Radio 702 every morning from 9 to 12.

I have been on his show several times and he came to one of our workshops as a guest. He has been a wonderful support to Tribe Sober and has now sent me this fabulous guest blog – enjoy!

I last had alcohol on the 31st December 2018. Giving up alcohol is a process rather than an event.

I have noted a few of my reflections as I feel they may be useful for people trying to cut down or quit as well as their friends who are still drinking:

  1. Alcohol is the only drug you have to justify not taking

That is how much the consumption of alcohol has been normalised in society. No one asks you why you aren’t taking cocaine or looks weirded out if you say you have stopped taking cocaine …. or cigarettes … or fast food … or pretty much any substance or activity that may be harmful. Yet we sometimes shame someone who has stopped consuming alcohol into JUSTIFYING sobriety. Pure madness.


Do NOT ask someone who orders a non-alcoholic beverage why they aren’t ordering an alcoholic drink. Just don’t. It is a choice that doesn’t need to be explained. Any more than you need justify why you do not want to consume any product or substance you do not feel like having. It might FEEL like a mere conversational moment or sincere curiosity but I promise you it will cost you NOTHING to not ask. It will also HELP someone trying to form new habits to not feel your (unintended even) pressure to drink. Put differently – what will it cost YOU to not probe? Mind your own choices.


You owe no one an explanation. When you first start out, you will workshop, perhaps even with a community of sober folks all trying to survive the social pressures of quitting, all sorts of “social strategies” for how to “survive a barbecue/the pub/outing to a sporting event”.

Sure, this is fun initially- rehearsing cheesy jokes about your decision, pretending to be nonchalant, etc, but quite frankly all of this eventually becomes tiring because you have to prepare mentally to help other people feel comfortable with a choice you are making about YOUR BODY.

While easier said than done, simply be firm and assertive. When I am feeling chatty, I might say one or two things about not drinking alcohol. But most of the time I do not respond to someone’s thirst (pardon pun) for some epic story of why you quit or why you cut down.

I must confess it is sometimes fun seeing someone dealing with their lack of satisfaction at your lack of explanation. Because they need to wrestle with why it bothers them. Not my drunk monkey. I am too old to be justifying a perfectly acceptable choice.

  1. There is a limit to how much liquid you can consume

Initially, you will buy and drink substitutes. I still do. Like zero percent alcohol-free beer. The first time you order these or buy them to take with you to dinner, you feel so guilty that it is not “real alcohol” that you will VOLUNTEER your “sin”, because you too will, in the beginning, feel self-imposed pressure to explain yourself. But after a while, you stop announcing that your bottles, that LOOK like beer bottles, do not contain poison. And that is socially easier – talking of “social strategies”. Because if no one notices then you won’t be badgered by anyone to explain yourself.

But here’s the fascinating thing. After a few outings, you will no longer be able to consume the same amount of non-alcoholic drinks as your mates are consuming alcohol.

Because if you are not getting drunk, you are too sober to ignore your brain telling you that you are full!!! So the first time I quit for long periods, I would stock up on gallons of virgin G&Ts, beer, etc. Last year this time you may even have seen me making recommendations for the best ones on the market.

Now, one 6 pack of alcohol-free beer in my house can last me months. Because it is simply not natural, while watching a rugby game, to consume an insane amount of LIQUID without feeling sick. When that happens, you have to confront the social habit of always having something in your hand.

Because if you accept that your body cannot handle excessive amounts of liquid, then you have an empty set of hands and that feels weird. But, over time, you will stop being bothered. In the interim, just nurse the same bottle of water/alcohol beverage substitute for a long while.


Now that you know to not pressure a mate into downing alcohol with you, just be a sweetie and when you go to the bar, ask, “Eusebius can I get you another water, bud?”

And while you’re being a sweetie, resist the well-meant chirp you wanna add before or after asking this. It is hard for many people to quit drinking, don’t add to their struggle.


Just because your mate is now a sweetie and not pressuring you, don’t “reward” them socially by saying yes to every water or soda offer. If you’re full, you’re full. You are mates because of who you are; not because you buy each other rounds, and if the latter is the main or sole basis of your relationship, then there is a deeper problem here anyway.

And it is okay to leave the club or pub before the rest of your friends, by the way. You do not need to feel compelled to leave together at 3 am just because you arrived together, sober still. Give yourself permission to not want to be with drunk people until the last round is called. You’re an adult. Own your agency.

  1. You cannot bypass anxiety

One upside of drinking alcohol is that your social life is not something you have to think about.

Your weekend is easily plotted and choreographed because it revolves around drinking. In addition to that, the buzz you feel when you get tipsy also allows you to drown out any information your body is conveying about not being well, physically or mentally.

That is why many of us bypass anxiety, for example, by drowning, in alcohol, the messaging we are getting from our bodies.

Sobriety is challenging. You cannot ignore your anxieties. You are too sober. You can only ignore it by finding new distractions – other addictions like excessive exercising or emotional eating or other drugs or even technology addiction, or sex addiction…

Don’t waste your sobriety by substituting alcohol. Sit with and through your anxieties and if you lack the tools to do so, seek help. Therapy is under-rated. Getting drunk isn’t therapy. It is simply avoidance.

  1. An unexpected gain – time!

The single biggest gain when you quit consuming lots of alcohol is time. It is 11 pm right now and it is Friday. If I was drinking, this would be a post related to drinking. As it happens, I am reading, thinking and reflecting on other stuff.

Even more shocking, when you first manage to cut back, is that you will wake up early on weekends. For one spectacularly obvious reason – you did not pass out. When your body is well-rested, it has no biological reason to remain in bed – if you’re not dead.

Anyone who quit successfully is laughing in recognition of what I am saying here. I know because it is the most unexpected gain people experience. You usually TRY to quit to lose weight, to stop being a drunk ASSHOLE, to save money. No one says, “I wanna quit because I want to gain time!” So when you DO gain time, it is the oddest little bit of joy.

WARNING: You will, initially, waste the time you gain because you are not used to it. What the hell are you supposed to do with yourself at 8 am on a Saturday morning? Eventually, you will plan ahead. Try new things. Go to the gym. Make Saturday mornings your preferred time for going to the barber, etc. Initially, it is weird to be well-rested on a Saturday morning.

Call that [to borrow from an excellent book title worth seeking out and reading], The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober.

PS: If you can handle your drinking, drink on. This isn’t a post motivating an alcohol-free life. It is simply reflections on the journeys many silently go through when they wish to quit or cut down but struggle. Respect each other.

To Subscribe to Tribe Sober, click  HERE.

To Book a Workshop click HERE.


Getting Inspired with Adam Schaeuble

Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

Welcome to our first Tribe Sober podcast – rebranded from Goodbye to Alcohol – to Tribe Sober

If you missed out on the lowdown regarding our transition from World Without Wine to Tribe Sober, then you can catch up by listening to our last episode – Episode 32.

My guest this week is Podcast Business Coach and Weight Loss Guru, Adam Schaeuble.

His story is similar to mine in that he resolved his own issues and then went on to help others to do the same.

In this Episode

  • Adam shared his personal transformation story with us
  • We agreed that many of the methods he uses to help his community can be used in the Tribe Sober community
  • The first step – asking for help – is the hardest – we have to put our ego to one side and reach out
  • Adam uses a strategic approach with his clients – gets them to plan 28 days in advance and look for “danger zones”
  • We discussed the importance of not letting a “slip up” derail you – just get back on track straight away
  • Anchor points are essential – they give you a dopamine hit to keep going forward – at TS we have milestone badges!
  • Adam explained the difference between motivation and inspiration – we need to be inspired if we are going to succeed
  • If you don’t feel inspired then get some coaching – if  you come to the coaching session “motivated” you will leave “inspired”
  • He shared his transformation timeline with us – and stressed the importance of finding a new purpose at the end of the journey


More info

  • Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is only R75 (£4/$5) a month – you can join up HERE
  • To access our website click HERE
  • If you would like a free copy of our e-book “66 days to sobriety” please email us at 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 6-step 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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

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

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

Launching Tribe Sober!

Tribe Sober – inpiring an alcohol-free life!

After running WWW for 5 years it’s time for a change – we are rebranding and launching a whole new membership programe.

We are rebranding to Tribe Sober!

This is a solo episode before we get back to our usual interview format for our newly branded Tribe Sober Podcast.


In this Episode

  • I explain the rationale behind the name change
  • I talk existing members and would-be members through our “6 steps to Sobriety” membership Model
  • Step 1 is about connection – joining our Chat Forum, Zoom Cafe and checking our our Member Bios
  • Step 2 is about Preparation – get in those AF drinks, read some QuitLit and do a Workshop
  • Step 3 is about Doing the Work – take a Challenge, download a Tracker and grab your Milestone Award
  • Step 4 is about getting more support – do you need a Sober Buddy or some Coaching or some help from our Doc
  • Step 5 is about Healing your body and mind – access discounted Yoga, Nutrition advice and Hypnotherapy
  • Then it’s time for Step 6 – time to celebrate by joining our exclusive One Year Club and Paying it Forward.
  • Please make sure you are Subscribed so that our rebranded podcast arrives on your phone next week!
  • More info

    Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is only R75 (£4/$5) a month – you can join up HERE
  • To access our website click HERE
  • If you would like a free copy of our e-book “66 days to sobriety” please email us at worldwithoutwine@nullgmail.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 6-step 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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

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

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x



2020 – The Best Year of My Life – Carlen

I often think back to that exact moment during 2020, when the reality dawned on us.

We were officially going to be stuck within the four walls of our properties. Some weird little animal’s virus had actually made its way across the great divide. And with it, the new phrase on everyone’s lips: #thenewnormal

The irony, no one had the faintest idea what this “new normal” was actually going to be like. We used the phrase with a little trepidation, hesitation and disdain. No one, absolutely no one wanted their lives to change. And most certainly not this drastically. It was a s*%^ show to say the least!

But for me 2020 was The Best Year Of My Life

I was forced to take stock. With so much time on my hands, I couldn’t but help to sit through some really uncomfortable emotions.  And surrounded by a pandemic, I also had to face my own mortality. The question that kept whirling around in my head was: “Is this as good as it’s going to get?”

I also desperately wanted a new normal

2020 had come to save me. My own personal Camino de Santiago had begun. Sadly, this time round I couldn’t catch a plane to Spain. I had to “walk” this pilgrimage called LIFE on my own, stuck in the back yard of my heart. It took me along steep hills (fears), through troubled waters (history) with raindrops (tears) often pounding against my soul. But I knew I had to keep walking, because at the end of this journey freedom and contentment would await. Two things I had been craving for all of my life.

Back in 2019, I walked the French Way of the Camino de Santiago. For more than 1000 years, the little yellow arrows along the route, have been showing pilgrims the way. My greatest desire on this new “pilgrimage” was to find the The Magic of Loving Yourself First

In 2006, Yahoo (back then THE search engine) launched the Yahoo Time Capsule. The idea was simply for participants to capture a moment of the “digital era” that was 2006. The time capsule was then “shot into space” and would have been opened on Yahoo’s 25th anniversary last year. Seems no one at Yahoo was at the office during 2020 though! #thenewnormal

I took a bit of inspiration from Yahoo and decided to write a letter to my “future self.” A letter to remind me of how far I would go, how courageous I had been and how curiosity didn’t kill the cat! I wanted to live from the heart and not hide behind my vulnerability but rather harness the power of vulnerability.

So, the letter goes…

Dear future #wynvliegoorit

Whatever you are busy with right now, STOP. Go outside, breathe in today. Tell your husband how much you love and appreciate him (you are one of the lucky ones.) Take your child a coke – life is too short to waste on worries about healthy teeth and clear skin. This year has been a rough ride, hell your life has been a roller coaster at times. You are tough and courageous. You never give up, that’s your thing. But this year has also taught you that being tough also means being vulnerable. And that vulnerability is not a scary place. You’ve learned what self-love really means and that all the labels  Vol 25: Plak ‘N Plakker, Hang ‘N Etiket Om Die Nek you have so gingerly been sporting is a load of BS. You got a sniff of real freedom and you found some peace … you found your way back.

Turns out your so-called best friend #wynvlieg was Brutus after all.

You don’t need that little pest to be your lover, your best friend. You don’t need him to feel sexy and loved, you don’t need him to fill the boredom and you most certainly don’t need him to fight your battles for you. You learnt that he made you antsy and was stealing your life from you. He came in handy when you needed a crutch, but you are not broken and don’t need any crutches to get you through this life.

Did you know you would meet a wonderfully spiritual girl, N I C H O L E W I T H A N H.  Those two crescent moons you’ve been proudly wearing on your wrist – she did those for you. To remind you of how courageous you are, and how curiosity will always remind you to feel deeper, be more and speak the truth from your heart. 

Those crescent moons are now also on the wrists of more than a 100 woman. You inspired them to share their stories of courage and curiosity. They all had the exact same tattoo done to remind you of a sisterhood with a bond so strong – who let their light shine brightly on the kids from The Earth Child Project. You and this @tribesober, made a difference.  

And remember this version of yourself, will love you forever and always! #thenewnormal

Love #wynvliegoorit

Follow me on https://wynvlieg.com/blog/ if you want to read more (warning: you have to have a grip on the Afrikaans language 😜)

What Do you Do When you are Not Drinking? Recovery and Hobbies


So, what do you do when you are not drinking? Is there such a thing as recovery involving hobbies? Drinking used to take up most of your thoughts, your planning, your evenings and your weekends. Now you have stopped drinking but idle hands make Jack a dull boy. One lesson I learned about quitting is to never get bored – that is just plain dangerous!

Keeping Those Hands Busy

Your hands were always nursing a drink, pouring a drink and anticipating the next act of doing that. Now what? How do you give those hands something constructive to do? How do you kickstart your life with a fascinating hobby? How do you find a creative outlet for all that restless energy you now have?

I found this wonderful acronym in an article on The  Fix called “Stop Drinking, Start Living.” Exactly! Start like this: get sober and find some useful activities:

B Be accountable – tell someone so that you are honest with yourself
A Avoid alcohol like the plague – change the ritual into a walk, a hot bath, gym classes
L Let yourself enjoy regular sober treats – adapt the ritual to an early supper, chocolates, juice
A Allow yourself to cry – alcohol dumbs you down
Nourish your body with good food – drinkers avoid food or binge eat when drinking on junk foods
C Create happy & fun memories – drinking causes blackouts
E Enjoy the precious moments in your day – journal your day, look forward to meaningful events

W Work hard to get what you want – put new clean effort into your job
O Organise things for less stress – were you ever organised when drinking?
Realise you can’t control it all – let things go
K Keep going & prepare for success – study something, do a course, try something new
S Sleep enough for body & mind rest – allow your sleep to come and indulge in it.

Stop Drinking, Start a Hobby

When you decide to stop drinking and start looking for new hobbies, be careful. Be mindful of replacing that addiction to the ritual and the alcohol with another addiction: to binging on cheese or to cleaning the floors all day or to walking hither and thither 10 times a day. Try to be self-aware and indulge your desires as they arise.

Boozemusings reckons that we should “not think of it as “replacing” alcohol, try to think of it instead as an entirely new life, an entirely new experience. All of those things you didn’t get to do because you were lethargic, hungover, apathetic, uninterested, busy drinking, or planning for your next drinking occasion? Do those things. Fill your days.”

Tribe Sober has got this! Some members are already immersed in hobbies and interests and new courses. Sheila joined a Biodanza conscious dance class and loved every minute, despite feeling very self-conscious! “It felt as if we were back in the school playground. Everyone was smiling and doing their own thing – there was no right or wrong and no correction. We are always told to “dance as if no one is looking“ and in this environment we were able to do exactly that. It was non-judgemental, heaps of fun, great gentle exercise and there was absolutely no socialising pressure. It was all about moving and getting in touch with your own body.”

Michelle Petersen asks the pertinent question, too, in her blog, “Whatever Happened to Hobbies?”

One of the biggest problems with addiction recovery is finding healthy ways to spend your time. Just about any hobby you find enjoyable can give you something positive to do instead of abusing drugs or alcohol. Don’t let work overtake your life and burn you out. Even if addiction recovery is not a problem for you, having the right hobby can improve your mental health. So start thinking about your childhood and exploring new hobbies. You’ll soon find one that works with your lifestyle and needs, which will lead to less stress. Doesn’t everyone need that in their life?

I asked our lovely bunch of Tribe Sober ladies what they do for fun now that they are not drinking. Wow, we have talent in our tribe! It is truly amazing how many artists and creatives we have in our group – alcohol steals your creativity; sobriety gives it back, and them some!

One member said how much her singing has improved: “alcohol makes the vocal chords feel raw. And at least I can remember the words now!”

Laura did hectic Zumba classes for ages but recently became an artist of note, painting small images of beauty of things in her life that stole her fancy. She also tried embroidery and seems to keep those fingers extra busy these days.

These are the amazing hobbies we have at Tribe Sober:

  • Horse riding
  • Crocheting and knitting
  • Painting and embroidery
  • Gardening
  • Garden decorating
  • Mosaics – indoor and outdoor
  • Cooking and baking
  • Woodwork
  • DIY
  • Charity work – animals and people

I must say that since I got sober, I have been on the go, trying to do a whole lot of new stuff. The first thing I did was sign up through INTEC College to do a course in Early Childhood Development, just because I could – and because it is one of my many interests. I volunteered at a local disadvantaged school and got the certificate.

Two years later I did a kids yoga course and ended up teaching yoga voluntarily at the same school! Two more years later, I started my recovery coaching course and here I am, still practicing before I can register and go forth as a certified coach!

There are several reasons for my urge to improve myself all the time. The main reason is that I am a busy active person and it counts in my life to be on the go, doing things that feel useful to me and my environment. Another reason is that I am an all or nothing person with an addictive personality, say what?!

 Keep Boredom at Bay

Craig Beck, the Stop Drinking Expert, says that having hobbies is essential to hold boredom at bay. Not only will you keep your hands busy, but so too will “hobbies give you an opportunity to meet new people with whom you already have something in common. Even seemingly solo hobbies (knitting, painting, cooking, etc.) can take place in a group setting, too. All it takes is a quick internet search to find local classes or meetups designed for people who enjoy the same hobby as you.”

Remember that the opposite of addiction is connection. He adds that many hobbies are great for keeping your mind busy so that you avoid unhealthy or unproductive thoughts which might entice you back to the bottle. Thinking about your hobby also helps you learn to set goals and gives you something to work toward.

Self-improvement and self-image make huge strides with a great hobby as you achieve and create. Stress falls by the wayside as you create and relax.

Finding out which hobby is good for you:

  • think of all the activities you enjoyed as a child and the new activities you enjoyed before the bottle took over.
  • think about who you really are and which activities that suit your character.
  • find out what hobbies your friends or family members may have.
  • choose something you like to do, don’t let other people influence you into doing their hobby, just because.

Go forth and multiply them hobbies!

Partying when Sober – 23 of the Best One-Liners to Mute all the Drinkers!

You have finally ditched the drink and now you feel like partying – sober. This may seem easy. Partying when sober. Just go to the party and drink your alcohol-free (AF) drinks and start dancing, right? Wrong!
It takes time and guts to do go partying when sober – if you are used to partying full of alcohol, believe you me.  What the heck do you do when everyone keeps offering you a drink?

Be Ready to Answer Those Awkward Questions

Be ready. Practice at home first, in front of the mirror if need be! Just be confident in your skin and be ready.  For the concerned questions, the raised eyebrows, the awkward glances, the sidelong looks. The” Are you OK, I mean, you don’t have a drink?” looks.
Some party animals will simply ignore you as you down another soda and hide behind the potted palm tree.
I must admit that I avoided going partying when I got sober. I still do. But even at family braais I had to duck and dive to avoid That Question: “Is something wrong with you? Why are you not drinking?”
The last time I saw my dad before he died, I had been sober for a year. I never did tell him or my mom about my journey to sobriety. They were drinkers. Alcoholics. So, I knew it would have been hard work explaining why I had quit. My poor dad kept asking me if I wanted a beer. When I avoided the subject, he would make confused remarks as he tried to work out my “dilemma.”

Are You Still Not Drinking?

Do your friends always ask, “Are you still not drinking?” One of the Tribe Sober members says that a few of her friends do.  “I’ve got to the stage in my life at 48 going on 49 that I don’t need to impress or explain but I am honest with others as I am with myself. My reasons are that I have PTSD and anxiety and that I am on meds for that. I tell people I did a Sober Spring and felt so good – much calmer and I have peace within …sleeping better, anxiety lower…just so many benefits. I wish I could “bottle” sobriety and sell it!!”

It’s hard to have fun sober! Especially when you only recently tried Sober Spring or Dry January and you still feel a little raw and exposed. It’s hard to dodge the questions too. But when you are a seasoned non-drinker, it becomes easier and you can turn it into a game.
How do you throw a funny retort at the host of a work party who asks,” Red or white?” or the jock behind the bar at the wedding who asks,” You going to bed early tonight honey?” Or your new boss who hands you a gin and tonic and says, “Cheers?” Do you pretend to sip it then hide it in the potted palm?
Doran Lamb puts it so well: “… we all know that are some really lovely f**king people who just will not relax until everyone has a glass of wine in their hands. You don’t have to justify your sobriety but it’s good to have something prepared to get them off your back.”
Have these one-liners at the ready and fire them off like a canon into an advancing army! You should be OK and people should then leave you alone! Enjoy.

20 One Liners you can Use at a Party When Asked Why You Don’t Want a Drink:

  1. I had a bad dream last night that my last drink killed me.
  2. I wish I could but I have a mental condition.
  3. What? Drink that stuff? You gotta be kidding me!
  4. I think I am coming down with something and I am worried it could be Covid.
  5. I feel a bit sick now and may throw up.
  6. I wish I could but I am an early bird you know: up at sparrows for Tai Chi every morn!
  7. O no, I can’t drink because I am a health consultant.
  8. I battle to sleep at night and the drink makes it worse.
  9. I get this terrible rash when I drink, like chicken pox, all over me!
  10. Oh, I’m not staying long thanks, I am off to see a friend who is getting divorced.
  11. I like my breasts and would prefer not to give them cancer.
  12. Why would I want to drink a highly addictive, carcinogenic, depressive, anxiety inducing, neurotoxic poison?
  13. I find having a fully functioning immune system pays dividends in global pandemics.

Tribe Sober Direct One-Liners:

  1. I don’t feel like it.
  2. I don’t drink thank you.
  3. I don’t want a drink, I want 9!
  4. Life is so damn good without it.
  5. I’ll have a lime and soda please. I don’t like the effect alcohol has on me.
  6. I gave up during lockdown. I don’t need it to have fun / to cope anymore.
  7. My life’s so good that I don’t need to numb it.
  8. Because I am learning to love myself.
  9. I feel so much better not drinking thanks.
  10. Why do you drink?

Partying when sober can be tiring. But not when you turn it into a game. See how many different reactions you can get when drinkers ask you that pointed question: “Why are you not drinking?” Or “What would you like to drink?”
Choose any one liner. They all work. Who knows, you may start a good conversation with someone who also wants to quit. You may become the magnet at the party for people who have booze issues yet don’t yet know how to tackle them. If single, you may meet the sober man of your dreams. Stand out, stand strong and above all, have a sober party!

For more tools to add to your toolbox, check out the many challenges you can do with Tribe Sober, the recovery coaching and the inspirational reading.

Re-establishing Sobriety After Dry January – How to Stay Sober in March

Re-establishing sobriety two months after Dry January should not be an issue for you. If “how to stay sober in March” is your next big dilemma, then you have come to the right place. At Tribe Sober, we offer empathetic recovery coaching for problem drinkers. Discover the perks of an alcohol-free life, January until December, when you quit drinking.

Finding Sobriety after an Alcoholic February

Falling off the wagon after Dry January is a curse suffered by many. For people who drink, taking a month off the booze is usually a well-meaning commitment on the calendar.  As soon as the 31st has slipped past, February sees the trolleys stacked in the bottle stores – with beers and wines and spirits and who knows what else?! Then the drinking starts again.

If you are reading this blog, however, your Conversations with Janis are about beginning a new alcohol-free life. New beginnings are a January thing for many people. For the Tribe Sober bunch, our new beginnings are every day. We take things day by day. What does it mean to live one day at a time when you are in recovery?

One Day at a Time

Being in recovery is unique for every individual. Some addicts are in recovery from enormous rock bottom episodes where they have literally lost everything. Some addicts must learn to start again from scratch. Drinking is an addiction too, yes.

Being sober for many people in recovery means being grateful for being alive and having a roof over their heads. Some addicts lose their families, their jobs, and their homes.

According to The Discovery Institute in New Jersey, USA, living one day at a time is focusing “on the present moment, and not have to worry about the past or future.”

Recovering individuals will likely feel guilt and shame about their past addictive behaviors, and this can be a trigger to use. Also, recovering individuals may be unsure about their future and anxious for the unknown, which can also be a trigger to use. Focusing on the goals and mission of the present moment allows these individuals to work on developing useful coping skills now, so that they are prepared for the future and able to handle the past.

Not only is a person committing to living today sober, but they are also committing to doing all that staying sober entails throughout the next 24 hours. These commitments include:

  • Keeping a positive attitude
  • Taking on one problem at a time
  • Expanding knowledge in some way
  • React amiably to others and do good towards them
  • A focus on loving the self through meditative techniques
  • A willingness to step outside of a comfort zone to try new things

How Does Your Recovery Look Like to You?

It is two months since Dry January and many people are wondering how they will stay sober during March. Taking sobriety one day at a time is the only way. A recovery coach will ensure that things stay present, with simple plans for the immediate future. What article are you going to read today about recovery? What kind deed are you going to do for yourself today?

Many recovery tools keep drinkers on track of their sobriety. These help them to think about their special character traits, their strengths and their reasons for being. For many people giving up alcohol, it can be a windy and rocky road to stay on the sober path. There are obstacles on the way: depression, mood swings, resentment, family issues, work issues and plenty of stress-outs along the road.

Re-establishing sobriety after Dry January and trying to ensure a sober March may be tougher this year. The world has been in a strange place for the past 12 months, the Coronavirus changing everything we do. Adaptation has been key. Drinking escalated globally during abnormal lockdown procedures and then Dry January 2021 arrived and gained more popularity than ever before!

The Zero Health Benefits of Alcohol

Many drinkers started to realise just how crap the alcohol was making them feel. And when they researched the health benefits of alcohol, they found that drinking has ZERO health benefits. In fact, alcoholic drinks are risky to our health. Scientists are revealing that alcohol is the cause of several cancers, of liver disease, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and depression.

Have you ever suffered any of these?

If you are a drinker (like I was) and you have been drinking for years, chances are you drink a lot and don’t really feel the effects anymore. When you do feel the effects, you laugh it off, ignore the criticisms leveled against you, and carry continue drinking. Sometimes you cannot remember what it was you said or did – you get mini blackouts.

Then you decide to go dry for January – 31 full days alcohol-free, yay. When you have turned that corner, you pick up a glass on 1 February. Before you know it, you are right back where you left off, sipping your bottle of wine a night, feeling crap the next day, and hiding all your guilty feelings from everyone. And then you wonder how to stay sober in March!

Does this sound familiar huh? Yea. Gotcha. I know all about it. Taking a month off drinking here and there is for the birds – or is that the dinosaurs? People who drink alcohol like all of us cannot moderate and that is a fact. Moderation is “the avoidance of excess or extremes, especially in one’s behaviour” – also means “self-restraint” or “self-discipline”.

Sober up with a Recovery Coach

Problem drinkers, or those who suffer alcohol misuse disorder, cannot simply use will power to stop this bad habit. They need to sober up and get help.

According to Anna Deeds, “One of the main differences between someone who drinks socially and someone who has a drinking problem is the inability to cut back or stop when you want to. A social drinker can make the decision that they want to drink less and then follow through and do it. Alcoholics cannot do that and no amount of willpower will change that. Abstinence is the only thing that will give the body and brain a chance to heal.

Find a good recovery coach near where you live or online. Then make a point of finding your sober tribe. Join Tribe Sober and learn about the joys of alcohol-free living. Tribe Sober is made up of people who’ve gotten sober via our workshops or coaching programs, people who are well on their way to ditching the drink – and people who are new and need a bit of support.

It’s a warm and welcoming community and we’re all about keeping each other on track to achieve a common goal – to break free from the booze trap. If you’re concerned that alcohol could be preventing you from fulfilling your potential, then join our tribe and live life to the full.



Top Ten Podcasts!


After running Tribe Sober for 5 years and helping hundreds of people to ditch the drink and embrace alcohol-free living, I’ve learned a thing or two.  My biggest insight has been that sharing our stories around alcohol is the most powerful way we can help others – that’s why the heart of this podcast is recovery stories.

This week I look back on our last 30 podcast episodes and pick up the ten most popular ones.

In this Episode

  • After 5 years as WorldWithoutWine, we are rebranding as Tribe Sober – along with an enhanced membership program
  • All will be revealed on the next podcast episode – so watch this space!
  • This episode highlights our top ten episodes – we’ve had 18,000+ downloads so which ones got the most listens?
  • Coming in at number 10 (332 downloads) was episode 29: “14 tips to get through an alcohol-free month”
  • Number 9 was episode 9 with Marietjie (479 downloads): “How I stopped drinking and changed my life”
  • Number 8 was episode 17 with Lucy (480 downloads): “How I stopped drinking and changed my life”
  • Number 7 was episode 20 with Janis (489 downloads): “5 years of sobriety”
  • Number 6 was episode 7 with Vuyo (510 downloads): “How alcohol took my parents”
  • Number 5 was episode 30 with Mary Ann Shearer (537 downloads): “Coping with cravings”
  • Number 4 was episode 6 with Jen (551 downloads): “The normalisation of alcohol”
  • Number 3 was episode 5 with Jane (746 downloads): “How I stopped drinking and changed my life”
  • Number 2 was episode 1 with Janet (1320 downloads): “How I stopped drinking and started a tribe”
  • Number 1 was episode 28 with Eusebius (1365 downloads): “My relationship with alcohol”

More info

Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is only R75 (£4/$5) a month – you can join up HERE
To access our website click 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 6-step 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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

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

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Janet x


10 Reasons Why Problem Drinkers Need Real Connection in Recovery

Let me give you 10 good reasons why problem drinkers need real connection in recovery. Real connection means physical hugs, physical contact, physical recognition. Real connection also means connection between minds, between intuitions and between the 5 senses. Problem drinkers who choose recovery, also choose to reconnect.

Connecting with someone starts with the eyes and contact is made. The mouth is read, the mouth speaks and the mouth voices everything inside our heads. Then the nose: the nose is the foreteller of things to come: the fragrance of perfume, the pong of bad breath, the aroma of fresh body odour! These are things that make us who we are and form an intricate part of that human connection.

Finding Connection Away from Drinking Post-2020

Why on earth then would problem drinkers need real connection, and why even more so in recovery? The setting we find ourselves in is this: Covid, lockdowns, lack of freedom. Yes, 2020 was a year of extreme and enormous change worldwide.

The global village as we know it became millions of global modules of people shut away from each other. There were lonely single people now isolated from seeing family and friends; there were couples now in close proximity for hours at a time; families squashed into tiny homes, or mansions, but squashed all the same as they learned to Be Together for long hours at a time.

The rich gasped and reached for the remote to order in food and clothing and drinks and movies. The poor squashed into their shacks and fought and screamed and there was abuse and there was violence and there were deaths. Government scrambled to control everyone, and everyone lost their autonomy.

Loss of Autonomy Erodes the Spirit

The loss of autonomy is a huge shock to humans who are free spirits, need each other and love being in social contact with families and friends. Problem drinkers got worse and moderate drinkers became problem drinkers. Alcoholics were sent to rehab and some even died. Some countries banned the booze – which forced everyone to go broke as they ordered alcohol on the black market, or made their own beer from apples, ginger and pineapples.

Many people turned to Zoom connections, Skype, Google Meet and other platforms to chat to workmates and family. It worked for a while. But then Zoom fatigue set in. Isolation intensified. And for problem drinkers, drug users and other kinds of addicts, desperation set in.

“… useful as technology has been in helping them stay in touch, it is not the same as being physically in the same room as a fellow recovering addict sharing about their experiences… Andrew da Roza, chairman of We Care and an addictions psychotherapist, understands that technology can mute the sense of being in a compassionate, non-judgmental environment. “For addicts, that validation is extraordinarily important… That’s a little bit lost on Zoom because you don’t feel the same energy,” he explained.

Connection Eases Addiction to Drinking

Connection became a swear word in 2020. Connection is the opposite of addiction. How does that work? Gabor Mate explains it very nicely when he links deep-seated childhood trauma to addiction. He describes the huge DIS-connection that happens when people turn to a substance to replace a someone in their lives:

“When you look at the original word trauma, it’s a Greek word for wounding. Wherever we’re wounded, there’s scar tissue that forms, and scar tissue is always harder, less resilient, and less flexible than the tissue that it replaces. When psychological trauma happens, our psyches become more rigid and harder and less flexible. The origin of that hardening is the separation from the self that trauma induces, and then rather than being flexible and responsive, we become more rigid in our responses to life, to ourselves, to relationships, to stimuli, and so on. This is what I think underlies most mental and physical pathology.”

He adds that we need to reconnect with self first when we choose to heal. Many people only start to heal themselves in midlife, and it becomes connected to their so-called midlife crisis. But we can heal earlier than our 40s.

Many alternative therapies lead people to find out what their authentic feelings and values are, so that they can tap into their emotions. Even breathing exercises allow a person to connect with their inner being, to make that contact and to “see”. Things like hypnotherapy, reiki, family constellations, TRE and others are there to assist people to reconnect.

Problem Drinkers Need More than Zoom

But I digress. Problem drinkers really need connection in recovery. Within this Covid context and within any situation, connection is key. Zoom has taken over the meeting space. It works for many people. But it is definitely not real connection, is it? We sit in our own homes or offices, we put on our computers and we talk to someone through the screen and keyboard.

We think we are having a great meeting or chat but are we really? We cannot touch that person, or hug them. We can barely see their facial reactions, let alone their body language. We are more isolated than ever. We can hide so much behind our screens! I mean, we can con the world with our Zoom meetings. You can hide a beer glass to the right of your screen and a tot of whiskey to the left of your mouse. You can dress your top half and sit in your undies under the desk! You can change your backdrop to a nice sunny day if it is raining outside.

But what about the backdrop of our lives?

Let’s define problem drinker first:

In one of my previous blogs I chatted to some of our men who admitted to having drinking problems. “Jim drank because, ‘It was the thing to do. My parents both drank heavily and all 5 of their kids followed suit. I started regularly at around 14. All school parties were drink fuelled. I drank heavily in the army and right through my career.’ When he retired early and moved to the family wine farm, he said that he drank copious litres of booze. “I really outdid myself! G&T x 2 or 3, then half a dozen beers and a bottle or two of wine a night!’ Of course, he gained weight and his health and relationship with his long-suffering wife started to take strain. That is when he decided enough is enough.”

Problem Drinking vs Alcohol Use Disorder

A good example. According to Buddy T at Very Well Mind, A “problem drinker” is not an official diagnosis, but a phrase used to describe people who misuse alcohol but don’t necessarily need medical treatment, peer group support, or a spiritual awakening to stop or modify their drinking patterns.

Often, having a sufficient reason to cut back—or a particularly embarrassing or frightening experience caused by drinking—is enough to signal a problem drinker to self-correct. Many one-time heavy drinkers merely “grow up” and change their behaviors.

Buddy T goes on to say that Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) on the other hand means that that person needs outside help. Will power alone will not help them quit, only professional intervention. It can be checked in its path, before full-blown alcoholism has to be faced and then ruins lives.

A problem drinker simply drinks too much and feels guilt or shame about this. There are ways and means to recover and Tribe Sober is the perfect online recovery counselling platform for just this. It provides connection in two ways:

Initially you connect online. Check out the website, the challenges, the stories and blogs, the achievements and all the wonderful “Quit Lit” you can read. Then you click on workshops and you join one on Zoom and you meet amazing like-minded people. You connect. You talk. You realise you are not alone, and you are not weird. You join Whatsapp groups and chat more. You join as a member and you are part of the tribe. You make friends who you then can meet in the flesh.

Get out there, meet people in the flesh! Problem drinkers need real connection to recover.

10 Reasons to Connect as a Problem Drinker

  1. If trauma is disconnection, then healing is reunion or finding the person / people behind the connection.
  2. The more pain you cause people, the more you shame and isolate them, the worse they’ll feel about themselves. People have suffered during the Coronavirus Pandemic, trapped within strange rules and regulations.
  3. Consider taking some time to think about how improving your relationship with drinking could have a positive impact on your life. Think about improving your relationships, your health and your career. Getting back to connect with people in a meaningful way.
  4. For those who stop drinking, it could be that making connections with people becomes harder when sober. “Alcohol and drugs became a protective shell that allowed me to not care, to go beyond my comfort zone and to make friends with anyone and everyone in whatever insane setting life found me. I developed false ideas about what connection really was.” Quitting can change this!
  5. Problem drinking causes isolation when you miss class or work; when you avoid family and friends or want to drink alone; when you feel depressed; or get angry or violent. These behaviours are isolating and typical of a drinker.
  6. Some people drink alcohol in an attempt to cope with their depression. People can be drawn to the sedative effects of alcohol as a kind of medication, helping to distract from persistent feelings of sadness. They withdraw from those they love and who love them and don’t realise that while alcohol may temporarily relieve some of the symptoms of depression, it makes it worse in the long-term.
  7. Alcohol flushes vitamin B from your system. We need vitamin B to manufacture red blood cells. A lack of vitamin B often results in anemia. This makes a person feel weak and tired.  Low levels of B -12 and B-6 have been linked to depression.
  8. People need and desire connection, attachment, and love. When meaningful connection is missing from our lives, an addiction may begin to fill the void. The good news is that this can be remedied.
  9. Addiction to something (alcohol, drugs, food, sugar, work, exercise, sleeping, etc) removes people from their natural desire to be with others. It fills a void. For a while. Not forever.
  10. Problem drinkers tend to withdraw more and more from their families and friends – from society. Often they spend money that they do not have and this increases their need to “hide”. They also feel shame about their drinking and hangovers.

Recreating bonds is essential in the long term, but human connection is crucial in the immediate task of clearing trauma. When a person decides to finally face and feel the pain that they may have been avoiding for years or decades, the first steps cannot be done alone… When people are there to provide loving support for an addict wishing to face the emotional pain they carry, they are loving them and caring for them until they can learn to love themselves. With this in mind, perhaps the neural-wiring of emotional resilience developed through the loving reflection of another, once fully developed, could simply be called self-love.

Contact Tribe Sober, join up and connect with like-minded people today!



Mrs D is Going Without – Lotte Dann


Lotta Dann was in trouble – her fun drinking habit had slowly morphed into an obsessive hunger for wine. One bottle a night was never quite enough. When she tried to cut down, she found it nearly impossible to have an alcohol-free day.

Everyone around her could see her drinking, but no one realised what a serious problem it was. She was high-functioning, fun-loving Lotta, not some messy, hopeless drunk. Only Lotta knew how sick and twisted her thinking about wine had become.

Desperate and miserable, she was falling deeper and deeper into a boozy hellhole and running out of ideas about what she could do to stop it. What’s a girl to do when her beloved wine becomes the enemy?

Here’s what Lotta did. She stopped drinking and secretly started a blog that charted the highs and lows of learning to live without alcohol. Mrs D was anonymous, honest and, as Lotta would discover, surrounded by people who would help her on her journey, and whom she could help in return.

Originally published: 2014

Drinking: A Love Story – Caroline Knapp


Drinking is Caroline Kapp’s harrowing chronicle of her twenty-year love affair with alcoholCaroline had her first drink at fourteen. She drank through her years at an Ivy League college, and through an award-winning career as an editor and columnist.

Originally published: 1996

Almost Alcoholic – Doyle & Nowinski


Every day, millions of people drink a beer or two while watching a game, shake a cocktail at a party with friends, or enjoy a glass of wine with a good meal. For more than 30 percent of these drinkers, alcohol has begun to have a negative impact on their everyday lives. Yet, only a small number are true alcoholics – people who have completely lost control over their drinking and who need alcohol to function.

The great majority are what Dr. Doyle and Dr. Nowinski call “Almost Alcoholics,” a growing number of people whose excessive drinking contributes to a variety of problems in their lives.
Originally published: 2012

Why you Drink and How to Stop – Veronica Valli


Facing up to a life without alcohol can be a very frightening prospect. As a recovered alcoholic and drug addict, Veronica Valli has personal experience of what it takes to recover. In this friendly and life-changing book, Veronica will guide you step-by-step through a practical approach to stopping drinking.

Originally published: 2013

Alcohol Explained – William Porter


Alcohol Explained is the definitive, ground-breaking guide to alcohol and alcoholism. It explains how alcohol affects human beings on a chemical, physiological and psychological level, from those first drinks right up to chronic alcoholism.

Originally published: 2015

Kick the Drink Easily – Jason Vale


There is no such thing as an alcoholic and there is no such disease as alcoholism! (as society understands it). Whether you agree with this statement or not, one thing is for sure, you will never see alcohol in the same light ever again after reading this book.

Originally published: 2011

We are the Luckiest – Laura McKowen


We are the luckiest

We Are the Luckiest is a masterpiece. It’s the truest, most generous, honest, and helpful sobriety memoir I’ve read. It’s going to save lives.”
— Glennon Doyle, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Love Warrior: A Memoir

What could possibly be “lucky” about addiction? Absolutely nothing, thought Laura McKowen when drinking brought her to her knees. As she puts it, she “kicked and screamed . . . wishing for something — anything — else” to be her issue. The people who got to drink normally, she thought, were so damn lucky.

Originally published: 2020

Quit Like a Woman – Holly Whittaker


Holly’s story was that of all the women who try to conform to a life they are told they should want, one that looks good on paper and in movies. She drank green juice and made all the right sounds with men she didn’t really like and killed it in the board room and had a yoga-tight body.

Written in a relatable voice that is honest and witty, Quit Like a Woman is at once a groundbreaking look at drinking culture and a road map to cutting out alcohol in order to live our best lives without the crutch of intoxication. You will never look at drinking the same way again.

Originally published: 2016

Blackout – Sarah Hepola


“BLACKOUT, the debut memoir by Salon editor, Sarah Hepola, is one such memoir. It’s as lyrically written as a literary novel, as tightly wound as a thriller, as well-researched as a work of investigative journalism, and as impossible to put down as, well, a cold beer on a hot day.”

A raw, vivid and ultimately uplifting memoir of addiction and recovery from the Salon.com personal essays editor, in the spirit of Drinking: A Love Story and Wild. For Sarah Hepola, alcohol was ‘the gasoline of all adventure’.

Originally published: 2016

Sober Curious – Ruby Warrington


Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol

Would life be better without alcohol?

It’s the nagging question more and more of us are finding harder to ignore, whether we have a “problem” with alcohol or not. After all, we yoga. We green juice. We meditate. We self-care. And yet, come the end of a long work day, the start of a weekend, an awkward social situation, we drink. One glass of wine turns into two turns into a bottle. In the face of how we care for ourselves otherwise, it’s hard to avoid how alcohol really makes us feel… terrible.

How different would our lives be if we stopped drinking on autopilot? If we stopped drinking altogether? Really different, it turns out. Really better. Frank, funny, and always judgment free, Sober Curious is a bold guide to choosing to live hangover-free, from Ruby Warrington, one of the leading voices of the new sobriety movement.

Drawing on research, expert interviews, and personal narrative, Sober Curious is a radical take down of the myths that keep so many of us drinking. Inspiring, timely, and blame free, Sober Curious is both conversation starter and handbook—essential reading that empowers readers to transform their relationship with alcohol, so we can lead our most fulfilling lives.

Originally published: 2018

The Sober Diaries – Clare Pooley


A bravely honest and brilliantly comic account of how one mother gave up drinking and started living.

Originally published: 2017

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober – Catherine Grey


Ever sworn off alcohol for a month and found yourself drinking by the 7th? Think there’s ‘no point’ in just one drink? Welcome! There are millions of us. 64% of Brits want to drink less.

Catherine Gray was stuck in a hellish whirligig of Drink, Make horrible decisions, Hangover, Repeat. She had her fair share of ‘drunk tank’ jail cells and topless-in-a-hot-tub misadventures….

Originally published: 2017

This Naked Mind – Annie Grace


Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life. Millions of people worry that drinking is affecting their health, yet are unwilling to seek change because of the misery and stigma associated with alcoholism and recovery.

Originally published: 2015

Living Without Alcohol – Get Help from an Online Alcohol Recovery Coach!


Living without alcohol can be done. All you need to do is get help from an online alcohol recovery coach. Yes, life without the drink is possible. Changing your life is in your hands. A coach will facilitate your progress as you change your mindset, make new goals and learn how to rewire your brain.

We all know that drinking during the Coronavirus Pandemic and Lockdowns worldwide escalated. Were you one of many people who battled with the booze during the past year? Are you now trying to stop drinking?

I can help! I am training to be a recovery coach and I can help you online with a unique approach to coaching. Or face-to-face. You choose. A Skype call away, your life with alcohol is about to become Life Without the Booze. You can write a new chapter of sobriety and do your body and mind a favour.

The Reasons Some People Drink Too Much

Studying to be a recovery coach has taught me so much about WHY people drink, HOW people drink and WHAT the alcohol does to your body and mind. The more I dig, the more I realise that I am one of the lucky ones. Because I stopped drinking 5 years ago.

So did my mentor, recovery coach Janet Gourand, who founded Tribe Sober and is helping hundreds of people give up their booze. She is assisting them to change the way they think about alcohol, and themselves. Janet has been a coach for decades.

Did you know that alcoholism or addiction is founded on shame? Did you know that most alcoholics or addicts are still playing out the traumas they endured in childhood? They are still dealing with feelings of shame and guilt?

According to my Guru, Dr Gabor Mate, “All addictions — alcohol or drugs, sex addiction or internet addiction, gambling or shopping — are attempts to regulate our internal emotional states because we’re not comfortable, and the discomfort originates in childhood. For me, there’s no distinction except in degree between one addiction and another: same brain circuits, same emotional dynamics, same pain and same behaviors of furtiveness, denial and lying.”

Dr Mate was the son of Jewish parents in Budapest at the time of the Nazi occupation. His story is tragic to read:

“I was born in 1944, and two months later the Germans came in. Hungary then had the only population of Jews in Eastern Europe that hadn’t been annihilated. Now it was our turn. My mother had a stressed pregnancy. My father’s away in forced labor; she doesn’t know if he’s dead or alive. When I’m 5 months of age, my maternal grandparents are sent to Auschwitz and gassed to death. My mother is 24, terrified and depressed. In October, they start killing Jews in Budapest, taking them to the Danube and shooting them.

When I’m 11 months, she gives me to a total stranger. She said: “Please take this baby out of here because I can’t keep him alive.” I didn’t see her for six weeks. In a child’s mind, that’s abandonment. I got the template for addiction: a lot of emotional pain, which I suppressed.”

Addiction is Rooted in Shame, Trauma and Brain Physiology

Most of us have not endured such terrible hardship, but we have possibly experienced trauma on other levels. For me, it was emotional abandonment by my alcoholic mother. If you are feeling shame and guilt about something, it is time to talk about it. Find someone who will listen, truly listen, as you offload. Remember that you are not alone.

I have been learning a lot about why people drink and how the brain is involved. My coaching course is about listening, providing a safe place for someone with an addictive behaviour, and assisting them to find their way out of the quagmire.

Addiction to alcohol is rife globally and there are many reasons for this: trauma, shame and a brain situation that can be changed. Many of know that stress triggers these emotions and symptoms and what a year has 2020 been for stress! Some researchers say that alcoholism stems from genetic and environmental factors.

Morten Hesse wrote a paper entitled “What Does Addiction Mean to Me” in which he concluded that “addiction is a condition that influences the life of millions of people. Addiction to tobacco and alcohol constitute a serious burden of disease in many societies, and addiction to drugs such as cannabis, amphetamine, heroin and cocaine is associated with a range of negative outcomes.”

Today we recognize addiction as a chronic disease that changes both brain structure and function. Just as cardiovascular disease damages the heart and diabetes impairs the pancreas, addiction hijacks the brain. This happens as the brain goes through a series of changes, beginning with recognition of pleasure and ending with a drive toward compulsive behaviour.

The Brain and Dopamine

The brain registers all pleasures in the same way, whether they originate with a psychoactive drug, a monetary reward, a sexual encounter, or a satisfying meal. In the brain, pleasure has a distinct signature: the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, a cluster of nerve cells lying underneath the cerebral cortex. Dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens is so consistently tied with pleasure that neuroscientists refer to the region as the brain’s pleasure centre.

All drugs of abuse, from alcohol and nicotine to heroin, cause a particularly powerful surge of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. The likelihood that the use of a drug or participation in a rewarding activity will lead to addiction is directly linked to the speed with which it promotes dopamine release, the intensity of that release, and the reliability of that release.

What Does this Mean for YOU?

This makes for deep thinking. I was thinking so hard about it that I made the connection between my own lack of joy and what must be my low levels of dopamine. When I stopped drinking 5 years ago, I also stopped that dopamine surge in my brain. I got very low and felt very blue when I gave up alcohol. Now I know why.

If you feel this way, or if this has happened to you, take my advice. Talk to someone. Get help from an online recovery coach to talk to you about the way forward. Get out of your head, out of your ongoing thoughts about drinking, and get into the NOW. If you can live from this moment to the next 5 minutes, you are doing well. But if you keep harking back to that joyous feeling when you drank alcohol, or all the hilarious things you did when drunk, you will stay stuck in your addiction.

What is Shame?

When someone feels shame and turns to alcohol or another substance to blot out that feeling, they stand to lose a lot. Shame is so painful to the psyche that most people will do anything to avoid it, even though it is a natural emotion that everyone has. Shame is a physiologic response of the autonomic nervous system. You might blush, have a rapid heartbeat, break into a sweat, freeze, hang your head, slump your shoulders, avoid eye contact, withdraw, even get dizzy or nauseous.

Guilt is a right or wrong judgment about your behaviour, but shame is a feeling about yourself. Guilt motivates you to want to correct or repair the error. In contrast, shame is an intense global feeling of inadequacy, inferiority, or self-loathing. You want to hide or disappear. In front of others, you feel exposed and humiliated, as if they can see your flaws.

The worst part of it is a profound sense of separation — from yourself and from others. It’s disintegrating, meaning that you lose touch with all the other parts of yourself, and you also feel disconnected from everyone else. Shame induces unconscious beliefs, such as: I’m a failure, I’m not important, I’m unlovable, and so on.

As with all emotions, shame passes. But for addicts it hangs around, often beneath consciousness, and leads to other painful feelings and problematic behaviours. Many people who drink are ashamed of who they are.

When shame becomes all-pervasive, it paralyzes spontaneity. A chronic sense of unworthiness and inferiority can result in depression, hopelessness, and despair, until you become numb, feeling disconnected from life and everyone else. Shame can lead to addiction. Here are a few of the other symptoms that are derived from shame:

  • Perfectionism
  • Low self-esteem
  • People-pleasing
  • Guilt

More About Recovery Coaching

I have learned so much about alcohol addiction in my ongoing recovery coaching course. I want to focus on people who drink as it is close to my heart. I want to assist those who have fallen prey, like I did, to the enticing and devious character of alcohol.

The course I chose is run by U-ACT, the Ubuntu Addiction Community Trust. Wow! The people I have met, the humbling experiences I have heard and the safe container I was invited into! What an experience it is to work with people who have been through so much shame and so much loss in their lives that all they want to do is to help others!

U-ACT Mission

To provide those challenged by substance use and addiction, and behavioural disorders a secure, inspirational space to make positive changes in their lives and encourage others around them to do the same.

​To support and empower our professional recovery coaches to build successful businesses in the niche of recovery and wellness.

​For the U-ACT model to become the blueprint for effective and engaging recovery solutions.

To find support and funding to build a sustainable program which becomes the number one destination for those seeking professional, accessible support and help.

Join me on your coaching journey. Free sessions to set you free! I use models and diagrams to make things easy for you and we work together in the PRESENT to take you FORWARD in your life.

My details:

Janis Theron



I Stopped Drinking But My Partner Still Drinks


I stopped drinking 5 years ago but my partner still drinks. When I started to delve into this issue, I found that there are numerous drinkers who ditched the booze – but their partners did not. I found that I was part of a tribe of sober women and men – some who battle with the fact that their partners still drink, and others who have come to terms with it and live in simple happiness. The reality is, however, that some marriages disintegrated for this very reason.

Then suddenly there I was, last week, sipping huge cappuccinos with my friend – who has stopped drinking, but her partner still drinks. She called me in distress because she had decided to leave him. She had decided to escape the toxic patterns of drinking, then accusing, then criticising, then disconnecting.

We stirred the froth on our coffees and sipped quietly. Sonia * was clearly in a dilemma. She stopped drinking 3 years ago – but her partner is stuck and has not changed. And to make things worse, the previous night he had managed half a bottle of whiskey on the rocks. Then he started to criticise her unhappiness and grumpiness.

“Why don’t you just leave, then?” he demanded. She could not leave. No money, nowhere to go. So, she decided to move into the spare bedroom. Next morning, her partner was contrite and wanted to start again. Needless to say, the story continues…

For many people, it happens every time. For Sonia, it creates ongoing stress in her life. She was worried that she WAS unhappy and grumpy and that this showed in her face and demeanour. It seemed to me that Sonia was growing and discovering her way in her midlife, but her husband was clearly stuck. Behind the alcoholic curtain. Yet again, every marriage deserves a chance, and it takes two partners in a marriage to get help.

The Story of our Lives as Drinkers then Non-Drinkers

When I stopped drinking 5 years ago, my partner stopped drinking – during the week. He still drinks during the weekends. Is that a problem for me? Should it be a problem for me? I think that it all depends on the circumstances, the history of the relationship, the history of my own drinking – and all the emotions involved.

I have been thinking back to how I was when I met my husband: we worked for the same NGO and met up at after-work evenings in local Johannesburg pubs. We drank and got drunk; during weekends we drank and got drunk. When we got engaged and moved to the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, we spend weekends braaing and exploring country restaurants – drinking beer and wine all the time.

“It’s hard having a partner who drinks most evenings,” commiserated Molly. “I used that as an excuse for a long time. I still wish he didn’t drink as I would prefer a home free of alcohol. I have made that request a few times, but he won’t conceive of it at all.” Molly has been on and off her wine for 15 years. She is vulnerable to triggers where she believes that alcohol is “a turning away from her deepest longings.”

Our Partners are NOT Us

Molly’s partner is not like her. He is not drawn to alcohol like she is. Her husband is a moderate drinker who can leave a glass half full and go to bed! “I have had to overcome my resentment of his easy relationship to wine…. he used to tell me he missed the companionship of me sharing a glass with him. But that’s stopped. At one point, I was stuck in a cycle of not getting past 2 months sober.”

Molly then packed the alcohol away in the garage and was forced to change her habits. She now makes herbal teas after dinner, she studies a lot and she chooses to massage her children’s shoulders at social braai evenings to keep her hands busy. The things we do to fit in. Have you stopped drinking but your partner still drinks?

Jim told me his story. “My wife and I were big drinking buddies until I stopped. Initially, I hated the fact that she was still drinking and felt holier than thou, to be honest. We had a few arguments about it and I eventually saw the light – that it is her problem if she continues to drink. As we know, only she can change that.”

Jim still pours his partner drinks and if she gets funny or argumentative after or during drinking, he backs off and says he has to “walk the dogs, or feed the birds, or whatever”. This way, things are much calmer. It is funny yet revealing that Jim’s wife stockpiled booze when she realised that Level 3 Lockdown did not include alcohol!

Avoiding the Situation When Only One of You Drinks

How does that feel? One partner drinks so the other partner avoids the situation? That sounds so familiar to me! When I stopped drinking, I avoided my partner and his need to drink. When I asked him why he drinks, he said he likes it. I watch him surreptitiously during weekends, his big 3-day binge. I watch the wine glass reaching his lips every second, like a child sipping orange juice.

I am fortunate that my husband chose to do the January Challenge and now, with no alcohol freely available in South Africa, he is still sober. I am wondering if he will drink again when the laws are lifted. And whether he will go right back there, to the 3-day binge drinking?

Megan Peters (The Temper) reckons that she was terrified to tell her drinking partner that she had stopped drinking. I mean, they had met during drunken times and got together during binge drinking weekends together.

When I came to him and said, “I’m quitting drinking for a while,” he was shocked. He told me that I was overreacting and being dramatic. I remember being crushed that he wasn’t immediately supportive and proud of me. In fact, he was defensive, telling me that I shouldn’t expect him to quit just because I did. I was so raw and exposed. It felt like a slap in the face.

Megan’s story has a happy ending: her partner became super proud of her and bragged about her achievements to all his buddies. Thing is, he still drinks and she still has to cope with alcohol in their home.

For Brenda, it was all about a boyfriend who loved alcohol when she stopped drinking.  She was not a big drinker, but she did drink when she met this guy, to please him and fit in. Then she stopped drinking after a Tribe Sober workshop and things changed.

Saving the Other or Surviving the Guilt

During their 3-year relationship they broke up several times, due to issues of addiction (he moved from alcohol to smoking dagga and a vape). They drifted apart and she realised that she had been trying to help her partner to stop his addictions.

“I miss this guy, but I know it is the right thing to do,” Brenda said of their final break-up 6 months ago. “For me, it’s a good example of how changing my behaviour had a positive effect on him and he also stopped drinking for a while. But by then we had split up. He is never going to stop the weed. I don’t like the smell or taste of it, so it had a huge impact on my experience of him.”

She recognises that this boyfriend is just the way he is. “Maybe I was too harsh on him? At the moment, I am happily single and enjoying my sober journey.”

Kerry Neville (HuffPost) also left her partner who drank while she battled with sobriety. Because she was riddled with guilt, which equates to shame.

When I got sober, I didn’t ask my then-husband to quit drinking. In the foggy, shame-filled logic of early sobriety, I felt guilty. After all, he had moved the booze from a locked cabinet (which I easily picked open with a kabob skewer) to some other super secret place in support of my recovery.

After a few months, he asked her if he could bring some booze back into the house. She agreed. But what she did not realise is that her home would be packed with bottles of hard liquor again. “The cabinet was reassembled with the delicious clutter of scotch, gin, vodka, ouzo, tsipouro, brandy, kahlua, rum, tequila, and wine. It was mostly fine, except when it wasn’t.”

She talks about the intimacy that gets lost between the bottle, the boozy breath and her increasing rigidity, thanks to her battle with sobriety. It is not surprising that her husband found another woman and the relationship ended. She was no longer that girl who met her husband all those years ago and drank and had sex and forgot what happened the night before. She started to realise just how much she had changed.

“What was becoming clear, too, was that the “me” who had married my husband, who had spent years and years drinking at ports of call all over the world, and waking up hungover and ashamed in these places, was no longer able to sit on the couch and pretend that his drinking with me was okay. Alcohol muddies intentions.”

Kelly lives alone now and allows her sober self to indulge in other tastes like fresh oranges and sweets. She works out to clear her irritations and gives her kids and dog plenty of hugs. Life does go on. Some of us stay with partners who still drink even when we have stopped drinking. Others move on. It takes hard work and inner knowing.

Take this Good Advice!

I think that the best advice I have read around this topic is from This Naked Mind. Annie Grace is lucid and honest when she says that every relationship demands compromise, regardless of whether one partner drinks or not. And marriage involves loving someone for who they are.

My advice: Make it a priority to keep your marriage and your friendships together as you navigate this massive change. If this is the focus, rather than changing their behavior, than the reality is there is a much higher chance of their behavior changing! 

Read her four tips for survival in a marriage when only one partner drinks – it can be done!

Remember that it takes 60 days to change a habit. Have you thought about persuading your partner to do the 66-day challenge? Just a thought…

*Names have been changed.

Turning Your Rock Bottom into a Golden Opportunity

Have you ever thought about turning your rock bottom into a golden opportunity? Is it time for you to leave the shame of drinking too much behind?

When we reach rock bottom as drinkers, we dig ourselves into a deep dark hole and we need to start climbing out, towards the light. For many of us, things get very bad before they get better.

Many people with ‘alcohol use disorder’ or alcoholism often hit rock bottom before they admit to having a problem and asking for help. Sometimes, they need to hit rock bottom a few times before they realise that they are drinking too much for health and safety. Only then do they reach out.

Many drinkers (and it could be you) have lost partners, children, important items such as car keys, money, cell phones and computers because of their drinking. Some people lose jobs and homes! When people hit rock bottom, they find it hard to look within and often look without. They blame others for their misfortunes. Then the shame and guilt start to eat them up.

What Exactly is Rock Bottom?

In the alcohol research field, “hitting bottom” is a phrase that has been used to describe a tipping point at which an individual decides to change his or her drinking behavior. This tipping point is often conceptualized in-part as a culmination of alcohol-related problems; however, this tipping point of hitting bottom may be different for each individual. For example, one individual may perceive his or her drinking as hitting bottom after losing his or her job, spouse, and home, whereas another individual’s hitting bottom may consist of experiencing serious physical problems caused or exacerbated by alcohol use (e.g., liver cirrhosis) that lead the individual to feel a need to change his or her drinking behavior.

This is where the first step of the AA 12 Steps could be handy: admit that we are powerless over alcohol and that our lives have become unmanageable.

While I have never advocated or followed the 12 Steps, I do see how useful they can be to an alcoholic. Remember too that “alcoholics ruin lives” due to extreme egoism and self-involvement where the next drink is all that matters to them.

When hitting rock bottom, the drinking person feels shame and guilt. They start to realise deep down that they have harmed others (physically or emotionally or spiritually) and have been wrong. This is when the golden opportunity is a distant glow.

How Do We Know When We Have Reached Rock Bottom?

This is a personal decline and varies per individual. For some, it may only mean a blackout where they cannot remember how they got home last night. For others, it can mean crashing a car, writing off a relationship and ending up jobless.

It is true, therefore, that drinking may feel fun and happy to those who need alcohol. These drinkers like to justify their constant use of, and need for, alcohol. But in the end, that drinking rears up its dark side and stabs us in the back!

Most heavy drinkers need to seek help. Get online recovery counselling or go to a treatment centre to dry out. Ask for help. Talk to sober friends. Explore your need for alcohol and find out why you have reached the path of no return.

Many alcoholics drink to run away from the shame and the guilt of childhood experiences. Other drinkers tend to feel fear, sadness and anger due to situations they have experienced in life. These emotions darken the way forward and ruin relationships and self-belief.

There is a myth that people need to “hit rock bottom” before getting sober. “Rock bottom” literally means hitting the bottom of the barrel in life. It is the lowest point for you that you can go in your addiction journey. Your rock bottom will be uncomfortable as you will need to reassess who you really are.

How Long Does it Take to Hit Rock Bottom?

Everyone has their own personal rock bottom and it can take a long time to get there. The more people drink, the higher their tolerance levels get and the more alcohol they need. A vicious circle indeed!

Often more damage is done as the person takes in more alcohol and avoids reasoning or social connections. The worst part is that a drinker will avoid admitting they have a problem until the problem hits them in the face and they are forced to face their demons.

“The longer a person waits to hit rock bottom, the more damage that is done—physically, mentally, and emotionally…Getting sober is worth the work.”

Many drinkers who reach rock bottom do the work to get sober and find meaning in their lives again. This is the great opportunity to reach for gold and make life work even better than ever! Many people do turn their rock bottom into a golden opportunity.

Some alcoholics go to rehab and treatment centres to get dry and do some psychological exploration around their problem. This is courageous and meaningful!

My Alcoholic Childhood

I remember when I was growing up and my parents were high functioning alcoholics. As a child and teenager, I sensed that something was wrong at home, but I never knew exactly what it was. During my midlife when I stopped drinking, I started to read about alcoholic parents.

I discovered a lot about my childhood and my parents. They were high-functioning alcoholics who allowed us kids plenty of freedom. They were mostly concerned about the next drink, the next party and the next outing. All alcohol-driven and related.

When my sister became an addicted drinker and then turned to drugs, the sh*t hit the fan and we started to realise. She went to rehab then tried to reform me. She was a party animal who had many rock bottoms. I was the “mommy needs wine” kind of drinker who was happy with 4 glasses of wine a night. But it started to get worse and I needed more – I started to use wine to avoid personal dramas in my life.

When I had a major blackout, that became my rock bottom, and I knew in my heart that I had to change my life. That was 5 years ago. I know that it is my duty and my responsibility to change my life. I cannot blame others for where I was, or for where I am at now.

I love learning about the physiology of the brain and how and why we drink more than others. There are scientific reasons and that helps us remove the blame and shame, the guilt and self-hatred.

Studies show that alcohol has an enormous impact on the body’s central nervous system. Even worse, alcohol has negative impacts on particular parts of the brain. Not everyone experiences blackouts when they drink a lot which means there is a genetic influence at play. And some blackouts are broken up or splintered while others are complete and involve a large portion of time.

It is frightening to note that ongoing drinking can change the hippocampus part of the brain, and its related structures, on a cellular level, affecting learning and memory. When someone drinks a lot at one time, a blackout is likely. But not everyone.

Large amounts of alcohol, particularly if consumed rapidly, can produce partial (i.e., fragmentary) or complete (i.e., en bloc) blackouts, which are periods of memory loss for events that transpired while a person was drinking. Blackouts are much more common among social drinkers–including college drinkers–than was previously assumed and have been found to encompass events ranging from conversations to intercourse.

If this has happened to you, it is time to acknowledge the damage and move on. Many alcoholics and almost alcoholics have managed to reboot their lives after horrendous blackouts. Ditching the drink and rediscovering your zest for real life is a challenge and excitement.

Check out these 10 Ways to Turn your Rock Bottom into a Golden Opportunity

  1. Reflection and Realization – At the bottom, you feel darkness and despair. You realize just how far off course you were, and that your life choices were simply not sustainable. You may feel anger, fear, sadness, mixed in with shame and guilt. You decide that you will move forward, into the light.
  2. Dysfunctional Behaviors Revealed – At the bottom, all your dysfunctional behaviors are finally revealed. If you never hit your lowest point, the dysfunctions continue to go unnoticed and unchecked. This sets you up for a harder fall later. You build your life up on a lie – until that rock bottom moment, when you must face the truth.
  3. Gaining Fresh Perspective – Hitting rock bottom is the beginning of questioning everything that you’ve ever thought to be true. The very fabric of your life is turned upside down and examined in raw detail. It’s from this point that you build again, from the ground up, with a fresh perspective based on your renewed sense of clarity.
  4. Self-Awareness of Bad Habits & Behaviors – At the bottom, your disempowering patterns and behaviors become glaringly obvious. The triggers that kept you repeating those behavior patterns come into sharp focus. You realize that hitting rock bottom was not only inevitable but necessary, because those behaviors were simply not conducive to your growth.
  5. Trusting in Life – Rock bottom is where you realize you were not where you thought you were in life. Ego’s death grip loosens when you come to this realization; you start to trust life and choose to live in the moment more often. And it feels good.
  6.  6. Humility – You gain humility. You see that life is not black and white and that you don’t know everything. In fact, you realize you know very little, and you decide to become a student of life rather than a juror.
  7. Compassion – You gain compassion. You understand what it’s like for people in the depths of despair, shame, guilt, and fear. You can’t help but come back from the bottom feeling immense empathy with the human condition.
  8. Letting Go – You’re able to let go of everything because nothing is working anyway! Letting go of the old creates space for the new and soon new ideas, people, opportunities, talents, and gifts start to flood into your experience.
  9. Taking Responsibility – You begin to accept full responsibility for all the outcomes in your life. You see that blaming is futile, that complaining is dumb, and that making excuses is for the unenlightened. You realize it was you who created all the good and all the bad in your life.
  10. The Only Way is Up – The good news is that once you’ve hit rock bottom, you have to go up. You are on a great springboard that will take you away from the darkness and back into the light. Your future beckons but you need to live in the present and take it day by day.

The Way Forward after a Rock Bottom Experience

Reach out and get help. You can turn your rock bottom into something positive, your golden opportunity. The chance to get sober and help others. The chance to move away from that ego-driven life into a life where you serve others. Remember that for many drinkers, it was the shame that made them take that first sip.

Shame is often one of the very roots of drinking in the first place. Take the child who was shamed by important people in their life, then becomes the teenager who doesn’t feel “good enough”, the adult who feels socially awkward. Drinking may seem like the magic solution to feeling outgoing, better-looking, sexier, funnier. But that is not true. When you hit rock bottom it is your time to shine!

Contact Janet Gourand for your online recovery coaching session.



30. Mary Anne Shearer – Coping with Cravings the Natural Way

Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol free life!

After running Tribe Sober for 5 years and helping hundreds of people to ditch the drink and embrace alcohol-free living, I’ve learned a thing or two.  My biggest insight has been that sharing our stories around alcohol is the most powerful way we can help others – that’s why the heart of this podcast is recovery stories. 

This week I’m chatting to an inspirational woman, Mary Ann Shearer, who is a best-selling author and a motivational speaker.


 In this Episode 

  • Mary Ann is a woman before her time and was advocating veganism thirty years ago! 
  • Her first book, “The Natural Way”, was written more than 20 years ago 
  • She explained that if you give your children lots of sweet things, it sets them up for alcohol dependency later in life 
  • Mary Ann had alcoholic parents and, as a result, she craves order and control – and has never drunk alcohol 
  • We agreed that children of alcoholic parents tend to be like her – or they tend to follow the pattern of their parents 
  • 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 
  • Mary Ann feels that alcoholics are clever people who need a creative outlet – sobriety will give them the time and space to find one 
  • She explained the damage that alcohol does to our endocrine system – and how it makes menopause much worse 
  • To find out more about Mary Ann go to her website www.mary-anns.net – her book is called “The Natural Way” 

More info 

Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is only R75 (£4/$5) a month – you can join up HERE 
To access our website click HERE
To join our January Challenge click HERE – a small donation to a good cause will provide you with community and online support during January

If you want to go it alone and would still like one of our trackers then email us at info@nulltribesober.co.za

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.

 We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning. You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE.
Thank you for listening!  

29. 14 Tips to Get you Through an Alcohol-free January!

After running Tribe Sober for 5 years and helping hundreds of people to ditch the drink and embrace alcohol-free living, I’ve learned a thing or two.  My biggest insight has been that sharing our stories around alcohol is the most powerful way we can help others – that’s why the heart of this podcast is recovery stories.


This week I’m doing a solo episode – 10 reasons to do an alcohol-free January – and 14 tips to get you through.


In This Episode


  • Here in South Africa, alcohol has been banned for a few weeks – so we can’t buy any!
  • A dry month is a great way to test your dependency – if you can’t get through a month without booze, then you need to make some changes 
  • Alcohol is so toxic that just taking a month off will have significant health benefits
  • Alcohol is linked to liver disease and 7 different types of cancer – 1 glass of wine will raise your risk of breast cancer by 15%
  • Alcohol will weaken our immune systems – and put us more at risk of becoming infected with Covid
  • 20% of regular drinkers will become dependent over the years – drinking more than a bottle and a half of wine a week may damage your health
  • A month off alcohol will reduce your anxiety, freshen up your looks, help you lose weight and enable you to get some good quality sleep
  • Making a donation to our January fundraiser will give you a dopamine hit (giving makes you feel good) and enable you to receive online and community support for 31 days – you can sign up here
  • Shake up your daily routine and exercise every day
  • Be ready to cope with your emotions – if you’ve been numbing your feelings with alcohol, they will come to the surface
  • Use a journal to track your progress, note your triggers and process your emotions
  • Listen to music, make a soundtrack for your January Challenge – a real mood changer
  • Have your go-to drinks -drinknil.co.za are offering 10% discount on all their alcohol free drinks for people doing our Challenge
  • Find your tribe – its hard to do this alone – check out our membership program here
  • Please donate to our Earthchild Fundraiser – and get 30 days of community and online support – sign up link is here


Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is only R75 (£4/$5) a month – you can join up HERE
To access our website click HERE
To join our January Challenge click HERE – a small donation to a good cause will provide you with community and online support during January.
If you want to go it alone, and would still like one of our trackers, then email us at info@nulltribesober.co.za
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 8 step program and subscribe HERE.
Please subscribe and share this podcast so we can reach more people who need our help.
Thank you!

28. Eusebius McKaiser talks about his Relationship with Alcohol

After running Tribe Sober for 5 years and helping hundreds of people to ditch the drink and embrace alcohol-free living, I’ve learned a thing or two.  My biggest insight has been that sharing our stories around alcohol is the most powerful way we can help others – and that’s why the heart of this podcast is recovery stories.

This week I’m chatting to broadcaster, political analyst and author, Eusebius McKaiser.  Eusebius hosted a daily radio show in South Africa and often invited me as his guest to discuss all things alcohol-related.  Many of our community found their way to Tribe Sober via his show, so I am truly grateful for his ongoing support and friendship.


In this Episode

  • For those of us missing his radio show, Eusebius reminded us of all the other ways he engages
  • He writes regularly for the Mail & Guardian – read one of his thought provoking articles here
  • Eusebius is, of course, the author of three books – Run Racist Run, A Bantu in My Bathroom and Could I Vote DA – link to all 3 books is here
  • His latest project is a book show called Cover to Cover – three episodes already in the can – here is Episode 1
  • We talked about his relationship with alcohol – he began drinking at college and then periodically binge drank during his 20’s and 30’s
  • Always competitive, he still managed to pass all his degrees and build a successful career
  • Eusebius signed up for Dry January a couple of years ago, and to his surprise maintained his alcohol-free period for six months
  • He then signed up for the next Dry January and, apart from one glass of wine, has not had a drink for a year
  • He thinks his alcohol-free lifestyle may be permanent this time and we discuss the benefits he is experiencing
  • He explained how he has substituted different kinds of music for alcohol – to stimulate the right mood when he is writing
  • We agreed that as we get older we tend to start “self-medicating” with alcohol – convincing ourselves that it is “fun”
  • Eusebius wrote a blog for our website – called “Sober Diary Reflections” – you can read it here 
  • He mentioned my Goodbye to Alcohol letter, which you can hear me reading out on his show here
  • He feels strongly that it’s not our job to justify the fact that we are not drinking – and that the onus should be on those challenging us
  • We talked about Earthchild and how the children on the Cape Flats rarely get to experience quiet and a feeling of peace
  • The yoga classes provided by Earthchild can bring those children some relief from their difficult environment
  • So please donate to our Earthchild Fundraiser – and get 30 days of community and online support – the link is HERE

More Info


Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is only R75 (£4/$5) a month – you can access more info and sign up HERE
To access our website click HERE
To join our Dry January Fundraiser click HERE
Please subscribe and share this podcast!

27. Janna Kretzmar, Founder of the Earthchild Project

Tribe Sober – Inspiring an Alcohol Free Life!
After running Tribe Sober for 5 years and helping hundreds of people to ditch the drink and embrace alcohol-free living, I’ve learned a thing or two.  My biggest insight has been that sharing our stories around alcohol is the most powerful way we can help others – that’s why the heart of this podcast is recovery stories.
This week I’m chatting to a truly inspirational woman – Janna Kretzmar –  Founder of the Earthchild Project.

In this Episode

  • 2020 was the sixth year that Tribe Sober collaborated with the Earthchild Project for the Dry January Challenge
  • Over the years, we have raised more than R220,000, so, in this episode, we discover how that money has helped 880 children
  • Janna tells us how she came up with the idea to start the project in 2007 – and why she thinks it’s been such a successful project
  • She worked on an eco-project in Brazil and read a book by a yogi about a project in schools in India – these were her influences
  • She realised that it was important to partner with the schools/teachers for the long term – not just come in for short term projects
  • Earthchild Clothing paid the salary of their first facilitator so that’s how they got their name
  • We talked about the power of positive role models in communities and how she is developing young leaders
  • Earthchild provides yoga classes, gardening lessons, eco-clubs, hiking clubs – connecting the children with their bodies and the environment
  • The children come from communities with high levels of gang violence and unemployment – yoga provides a tool to help them cope with stress
  • Some of the children who started yoga classes when they were 6 years old are now young leaders working in the Earthchild Project

More info

Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is only R75 (£4/$5) a month – you can join up HERE To access our website click HERE
To join our Dry January Annual Fundraiser click HERE – a small donation will provide you with community and online support during January.

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 8-step 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.
We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.
You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE
Thank you for listening!

26. From Addiction to Mindfulness – Michael Gallagher

Tribe Sober – Inspiring an Alcohol-Free Life!

After running Tribe Sober for 5 years and helping hundreds of people to ditch the drink and embrace alcohol-free living, I’ve learned a thing or two. My biggest insight has been that sharing our stories around alcohol is the most powerful way we can help others – that’s why the heart of this podcast is recovery stories.

This week I’m chatting to Michael Gallagher – an author, a speaker and a coach.

In this Episode

  • Michael talks about his hectic childhood – with a mother who was a Jehovah’s Witness and a father who was a career criminal
  • Looking back on his years as an addict, Michael realises he “mistook pleasure for happiness”
  • He built a successful career in sales but was still drinking heavily – mostly vodka
  • During his last stay in rehab he attempted suicide and cried out for help – and something shifted for him
  • We talked about the importance of living in line with your values – creativity and loyalty are important values for Michael
  • We need to know what’s driving us so that we can stop drinking and change our lives
  • We talked about how corporates promote the “work hard, play hard” culture – and that the “play hard” always involves alcohol
  • Michael is trying to change this by promoting mindfulness and meditation programs within companies
  • Michael has written a book called “Waking Up – A Guide for Transformation – available on Kindle and at Amazon
  • For more information on Michael and his work check out his website:- https://michaelgallagherspeaks.com/


More info

Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is only R75 (£4/$5) a month – you can join up HERE
To access our website click 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 membership 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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

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

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

25. How I Stopped Drinking – Carlen Makes Some Changes

Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!

After running Tribe Sober for 5 years and helping hundreds of people to ditch the drink and embrace alcohol-free living, I’ve learned a thing or two.  My biggest insight has been that sharing our stories around alcohol is the most powerful way we can help others – that’s why the heart of this podcast is recovery stories.

This week I’m chatting to Carlen – who works in the wine industry!


In this Episode

  • Carlen had been a bit worried about her drinking for a long time and knew she needed to make a change
  • She did a private workshop more than 6 months ago and found it quite easy to stop drinking
  • She was really clear about WHY she wanted to make a change – no more fights with husband, no more health worries
  • She requested a Sober Buddy who helped her enormously – a bit of extra support and accountability
  • We both agreed that it’s so important to know WHY a change is needed – reasons which will keep you on track over the months
  • Four years ago Carlen had a hypertension episode – in ICU – has regular check ups – since she gave up drinking, it has improved dramatically
  • She is finding her running is so much better now that she’s stopped drinking – it’s on a different level
  • The cognitive dissonance has gone – no more voices in her head saying, “How, why, what did I say?” etc
  • No more waking up at 2am feeling full of regrets and shame – sleep has improved – plenty of energy
  • Carlen is in the wine industry and is still enchanted by the process – she can still taste – but doesn’t see herself as a drinker any more
  • She keeps a tracker and ticks off her alcohol-free day in the morning – she doesn’t want to have to correct it later!
  • Carlen has been in advertising and is in the wine industry so the marketing doesn’t get to her
  • The fact that there are so many AF products on the market has made it SO much easier to give up drinking
  • She loves seeing new people joining – and how the others in the community help them get through
  • Carlen has started a blog about her journey which is called wynvlieg.com
  • If you would like a copy of our tracker and/or our “Finding Your Why” exercise please email us at info@nulltribesober.co.za

More info

Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is only R75 (£4/$5) a month – you can join up HERE
To access our website click 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 membership 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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

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

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

24. Drink Nil: Alcohol-Free Drinks – Fiona & Caroline Set up Shop

Tribe Sober – Your Guide to Alcohol-free Living!

After running Tribe Sober for 5 years and helping hundreds of people to ditch the drink and embrace alcohol-free living, I’ve learned a thing or two. My biggest insight has been that sharing our stories around alcohol is the most powerful way we can help others – that’s why the heart of this podcast is recovery stories.

This week we’re chatting to Fiona and Caroline – who have just launched South Africa’s first online store for Alcohol-Free drinks – Drink Nil

In this Episode

  • I have witnessed a revolution in the AF drinks market since I stopped drinking 6 years ago
  • The choices available have gone from zero to more than one hundred!
  • Duchess was the first, then AF beers and now AF wines – plus many more
  • Caroline, who comes from the wine industry, was planning to create an AF drink of her own but cash-flow was an issue
  • So she decided to create an online platform, specialising in AF drinks – and drinknil.co.za was born – in October 2020
  • We discuss how the demand for AF drinks is coming from different groups – moms, millennials, the health conscious – and people who just need to drink less – or not at all!
  • We talked about the irony of eating healthily, exercising daily, doing yoga – and then drinking a bottle of wine a day!
  • We discussed the fact that our community often bemoans the fact that alcohol-free wines just “don’t taste the same”
  • Caroline made the excellent point that perhaps the manufacturers shouldn’t be raising our expectations by packaging the AF wines exactly like alcoholic wine – we agreed the AF choices should be seen in a category all of their own
  • Fiona took us through the difference between alcohol-free, non-alcoholic and de-alcoholised categories

More info

Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is only R75 (£4/$5) a month – you can join up HERE
To access our website click 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 8-step 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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

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

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

23. Alcohol and our Mental Health – Jo Borrill

Tribe Sober – Inspiring an Alcohol-free Life!

After running Tribe Sober for 5 years and helping hundreds of people to ditch the drink and embrace alcohol-free living, I’ve learned a thing or two.  My biggest insight has been that sharing our stories around alcohol is the most powerful way we can help others – that’s why the heart of this podcast is recovery stories.

This week we’re chatting to Jo who achieved 2 years of sobriety but then relapsed.  Have a listen and find out how she bravely got back on track and tried again..

In this Episode

  • Jo started blogging the day she gave up drinking – her blog was called “Coins in a Jar”
  • She put a coin in a glass jar to represent each alcohol-free day – seeing them pile up kept her motivated
  • She did well and achieved almost 2 years of sobriety – however when she moved to a new city, things started to change
  • Jo had become a bit complacent and started to take a few sips of her husband’s beers from time to time
  • Before she knew what had happened, she was buying wine and back into the old routines
  • After a few months, she knew she had to get back on track, but this time round she tried a different approach
  • She decided to tackle her underlying issues – she’s always suffered from depression so she decided to go to a psychiatrist
  • Jo took some meds, got some therapy – and stopped drinking – and began to feel much much better
  • She is now a few months in as sober again, and feels stronger this time around
  • We agreed that the danger of relapse can be higher for people who don’t take the time to deal with their underlying issues
  • You can catch up with Jo’s new blog on Facebook – this time she’s called it “Coins in a Cracked Jar”

More info

Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is only R75 (£5/$6) a month – you can join up HERE
To access our website click 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 Membership 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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

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

You can catch our FB live on Saturday mornings (11am SAST) and you can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

22. How I Stopped Drinking – Ken Middleton

Tribe Sober – Your Guide to Alcohol-free Living!

After running Tribe Sober for 5 years and helping hundreds of people to ditch the drink and embrace alcohol-free living, I’ve learned a thing or two.  My biggest insight has been that sharing our stories around alcohol is the most powerful way we can help others – that’s why the heart of this podcast is recovery stories.

In this brand new series, however, we are also interviewing some experts – we’ve got a doctor, a psychiatrist, a professor, a journalist – and this week we get to meet author and sobriety advocate, Ken Middleton.


In this Episode

  • Ken explains that when he became an entrepreneur, he decided to “give it his all” by ditching the drink and putting in 100% effort
  • His thinking behind this decision was that alcohol wasn’t ruining his life, but it WAS preventing him from developing his potential
  • He was planning to take a break from alcohol, but once he started experiencing the benefits he decided to continue without it
  • We talked about the “work hard, play hard culture” that prevails in many corporates – and how it will catch up with you eventually
  • The science tells us that after a couple of decades of heavy drinking, many of us will become dependent
  • We agreed we should never wait until we hit “rock bottom” – it makes far more sense to step off the slippery slope while you can
  • Ken explained how his travel routine changed when he stopped drinking – rather than staying in a bar he actually explored the city!
  • He wants others to discover how to thrive in an alcohol-free life, and he writes regularly for Medium
  • He has his own newsletter and is writing a book
  • You can read his article about the science of why you should quit drinking HERE
  • You can subscribe to his newsletter – Alcohol is Not Your Friend HERE

More info

Subscription membership for Tribe Sober is only R75 (£5/$6) a month – you can join up HERE
To access our website click 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 membership 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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

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

You can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

21. Testing Alcohol use with CDT Testing – Jean Deenmamode

Tribe Sober – Inspiring an Alcohol-free Life!

After running Tribe Sober for 5 years and helping hundreds of people to ditch the drink and embrace alcohol-free living, I’ve learned a thing or two.  My biggest insight has been that sharing our stories around alcohol is the most powerful way we can help others – that’s why the heart of this podcast is recovery stories.

We are, however,  also interviewing some experts over the next few episodes – we’ve got a doctor, a psychiatrist, a professor, a journalist – and this week we kick off by interviewing Mauritian scientist, Jean Deenmamode, about the CDT test.


In this Episode

  • Jean takes us through his career development and explains how he first came across CDT testing back in 2008
  • He explains how the traditional “liver function” that many of us rely on is just not a reliable indicator of whether or not alcohol is harming our health
  • Alcohol harms many other parts of our bodies, so there is no reason to focus only on the liver – for example, it is linked to 7 different types of cancer
  • The CDT test is a simple blood test that will show elevated markers if a person has been regularly drinking half a bottle of wine or more
  • These elevated markers are a clear indication that alcohol is taking its toll on the body and that a change needs to be made
  • It’s not a test that puts people in a box and calls them an “alcoholic – it’s a lifestyle assessment that can prompt them to change their drinking habits
  • Seeing the results in black and white (as a number) can make all the difference – and often shocks people into taking action
  • If people do a CDT test they get an early warning and may be able to adjust their consumption, rather than having to stop drinking completely
  • If you drink within the low risk limits of one and a half of bottles a week, you are unlikely to be harming your health
  • When a patient presents with anxiety/depression, a doctor can do a CDT test to open the conversation about the patients drinking habits
  • Alcohol increases anxiety and when people give up drinking their anxiety will often lift
  • The test is inexpensive (30 Euros, R600) and can be arranged by your Doctor
  • Tribe Sober members can contact Dr Judy who will arrange for the test
  • If you are unable to source the test then you can contact Jean Deenmamode directly on +44(0)7917026152 or j.deenmamode@nullbtinternet.com

More info

Subscription membership is only R75 (£5/$6) a month – you can join up HERE
To access our website click 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 membership 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.

We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.

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

You can join our private Facebook group HERE

Thank you for listening!

Till Next Week

Janet x

Why We Get the Blues in Early Sobriety

Are you wondering why we get the blues in early sobriety? Starting out on a sober life after a life brimming with alcohol can be daunting. When you stop drinking, you start to realise that alcohol abuse likes to link hands with depression.

When you are navigating early sobriety, you discover fascinating alcohol withdrawal symptoms. One of these is feeling blue – something many non-drinkers learn to deal with daily.

Maintaining your sobriety is also about managing this state of depression. For many people, it is as if the mind has shut down and the emotions are sitting in a deep dark hole somewhere. In actual fact, it has a lot to do with the brain and the physiology of how this fantastic organ works.

Maybe you have made a commitment to join the Tribe Sober January Challenge which brings emotional upheaval closer? Take heart when you learn that getting the blues in early sobriety is a common symptom which can be remedied with a bit of perseverance and a lot of self-care.

Why Me?

I remember when I first gave up alcohol for good. I felt very low and very resentful. My busy mind played tricks on me, constantly asking: why am I the chosen one who must give up alcohol? Why is everyone else still drinking and having fun? It’s not fair!

Yvonne * has been dealing with her own depression during early sobriety. When she started the January Challenge, she also got the blues. She used to drink a bottle of wine or a few beers during the week, and up to 2 bottles of wine during the weekend.

“I felt my body simply needed a break to detoxify and I thought doing it in January might be easier, as a lot of people are doing it,” she explained.

Yvonne confided that 2019 and 2020 were very emotional years for her, thanks to the Covid-19 Pandemic, quitting her job and dealing with some health issues. “I’m a social person and most of my friends love wine and drinking,” she admitted.

I remember the stories during the Covid 19 year and how hard it was for many people to manage their drinking. When my first attempt to ditch the alcohol 5 years ago failed after 8 months, I started to read. Articles about drinking, stopping drinking, and when does sobriety get easier?

How Dopamine Drives the Brain

When I finally conquered the blues during early sobriety, I discovered health. I quickly became a compulsive vegetarian who walks daily and simply loves yoga. I still get depressed off and on like everyone else, but I know that I need to find my spark and keep on going. So many people think alcohol is the answer to depression, but in fact, it makes depression worse.

According to Drink Aware in the UK, “drinking heavily and regularly is associated with symptoms of depression, although it can be difficult to separate cause and effect… What we do know is that alcohol affects several nerve-chemical systems within our bodies which are important in regulating our mood.”

Getting the blues during recovery is quite a scientific event. So says an article I read in Tempest, a contemporary recovery company that helps people stop drinking. Holly Glenn Whitaker started Hip Sobriety and moved on to found The Temper, where she ‘explores life through the lens of sobriety, addiction, and recovery’.

Anyway, the article is about dopamine and addiction recovery. This hormone, neurotransmitter or chemical plays several important roles in the brain and body. Too much or too little dopamine can cause diseases. Two of these are Parkinson’s disease and drug addiction.

Dopamine, unlike other neurotransmitters, plays a crucial role in the brain’s motivation and reward system — and contributes to our survival as a human race. Dopamine creates rewarding experiences and is, essentially, the one chemical that takes in pleasure and signals to the body: This experience is worth repeating.

The problem is that the dopamine system can make you believe that certain experiences are worth remembering — and repeating — over and over again, even if the experience is harmful to the body (hence the problem with alcohol or drugs).

This is backed up by Medical Life Sciences News: Dopamine is the chemical that mediates pleasure in the brain. This means food, sex, and several drugs of abuse are also stimulants of dopamine release in the brain, particularly in areas such as the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex.

If your dopamine levels are low, you could experience a wide range of issues, such as loss of balance, muscle cramps, low energy, weight change, anxiety, mood swings, a low sex drive, hallucinations, or depression. It follows that some people are more susceptible to alcoholism, thanks to their dopamine levels.

In fact, a study published in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging shows that people with a family history of alcohol use disorder release more dopamine in expectation of alcohol and may be at a greater risk for alcohol use disorder.

When you remove alcohol from your life, for 30 days or forever, you feel depressed. The alcohol has disrupted your brain’s neurotransmitter system and you need to rediscover your clean balance in life.

Getting the Blues during the January Challenge

Yvonne says that she felt anxious and depressed when she stopped drinking this January. She tends to get anxious when she drinks, especially when there is something worrying her – like when she quit her job. She lives in Singapore and is currently working on her own business idea. It is therefore not worth drinking and getting anxious all over again.

“Singapore has a vibrant drinking culture amongst expats,” she explains. “It lifts your mood when you’re meeting with other people over drinks and dinner for sure. But it can turn quite quickly once you’ve reached a certain threshold. At least, that is what happened to me. I decided to ditch the drink for a while as mental health is super important to me.”

Yvonne worked with a counsellor to overcome negative thought patterns and tried meditating to rewire her brain. She says she may still drink again but not right now.

It takes time to rewire the brain. It also takes time to change a habit or to achieve a personal aim in your life. It may take days or weeks or months but you will feel joy again when your dopamine levels start to behave.

Clare Pooley, author of The Sober Diaries, sums it all up: “And the problem is, the longer you spend wallowing around in those early dark days of despair, the more you manage to re-enforce the idea in your subconscious that that’s what sobriety is all about.”

Giving up drinking for 3 days, 3 weeks and then 3 months has an amazing effect on your body:

  • 1 day – your body will begin to clear the alcohol from your system and you can start to ‘detox’; your blood sugar will normalise
  • 1 week – your sleep patterns improve
  • 2 weeks – no more reflux and noticeable weight loss
  • 3-4 weeks – decreased blood pressure
  • 4 weeks – you look better as you prevent premature ageing of your skin
  • 4-8 weeks – your liver will start shedding the excess fat and can recover in 4-8 weeks
  • 12 weeks (3 months) – your blood cells will start to renew so you feel much more energetic and healthier.

Each day of sobriety helps to heal the brain, so over time, you naturally start feeling better. It is hard embarking on a Dry January because the first 30 to 60 days of your sobriety tend to be the most difficult. “Not only are you dealing with detox, but your brain is also trying to regain homeostasis.”

The good news is that as you continue to stay sober, your brain starts to heal itself. The opposite of addiction is connection and connection does wonders for your dopamine levels. The longer you stay sober, the longer you give your brain to adjust and produce those neurotransmitters again. It is therefore possible to in long-term sobriety and to be very happy!

You’ll also find that your depression starts to go away as you accomplish different goals. When you set specific goals and accomplish them, the brain gives you bursts of serotonin and dopamine to encourage you to continue pursuing goals. So, a great strategy is to set small, daily goals for yourself like going to a meeting or talking to your support group as well as bigger, weekly and monthly goals.

By now, hopefully you have stopped wondering why we get the blues in early sobriety! You have hopefully learned new things about your brain and addiction. And that you are not alone. Just as we are all not alone during the Covid 19 Pandemic. Click HERE to start the January Challenge if you have not done so already.

*Not real names…

Roberta’s Letter

Is today the day? I think so. On a morning like this, a morning when you wake up nauseous and contrite – sorry because I let myself down again, and inflicted way too many glasses of champagne and wine, pure toxicity into my system. Nauseous because that is what poison does to the system – an unequivocal signaling of unwanted toxins desperately attempting to abandon ship. The party is followed by a night of dehydration, insomnia and hideously painful cramps, caused by a body deprived of essential fluid.

After almost 60 days of sobriety, not for the first time, the contrast is devastating. Up to then and during my almost 60 days of not drinking, I had been feeling well, sleeping well (despite having to to go off HRT after almost 16 years), all good. 

This time at least I did not embarrass myself by becoming too loud, obnoxious or aggressive, just me myself looking at this person ‘having fun like everybody else’. Look world, instagrammers, friends, I too am having a ‘gorgeous’ glass of bubbly like everybody else? Don’t I look the part? What is this desperate insane need to belong to a tribe I should have no business wanting to belong to? Is is a lifetime of being the outsider, different, and so wanting to blend?

All this tells me I have to rewrite my aspirations, become my own advocate for health and strength, by my rules.

I salute and still mourn my devastatingly beautiful and clever mother, who succumbed to the alcohol/barbiturate gods. I salute and still mourn my handsome and talented violinist father, who lost it all in the bars of Spain and Portugal. Mr Jekyll and Hyde – because of you, in spite of you.

So alcohol, I never liked you much, but there was always this pressure to hang out with you – not any more. You go your way and I go my way. 

The End

Can a Drinking Problem Mean that you are an Alcoholic?

Can a drinking problem mean that you are an alcoholic? Do you want to stop drinking in case you are an alcoholic? Or do you want to stop drinking because it is the right thing to do? In this blog, find out all about the levels or degrees of drinking: problem drinking and alcoholism, heavy drinking, binge drinking and casual drinking. Where do YOU fit in?

If you are reading this, it is probably because you drink, a bit too much. You feel that maybe it is time to stop drinking. Maybe you Googled “I want to stop drinking” or “Am I an alcoholic?” This could mean that you feel uncomfortable about the amount of alcohol you are consuming every day.

If you are reading this, it is probably because you drink, a bit too much. You feel that maybe it is time to stop drinking. Maybe you Googled “I want to stop drinking” or “Am I an alcoholic?” This could mean that you feel uncomfortable about the amount of alcohol you are consuming every day.

At Tribe Sober, we know a lot about drinkers, ‘moderators’, ‘problem drinkers’, ‘almost alcoholics’ – and alcoholics. 

Many who choose Tribe Sober do so because they knew deep down inside that they have, or had, an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. She had to go. Or you had to go. What a choice!

Problem Drinkers vs Alcoholics

Let’s open up the discussion around problem drinkers and alcoholics. The trending phrase, “almost alcoholic” is choosy as it kind of lets us off the hook of being “completely alcoholic”. But what is the difference? A glass a night? A bottle a night? Who defines these terms and how are they defined from country to country, town to town, social class to social class?

I think we all know someone who drinks. South Africans are a nation of drinkers. As a drinker, I would always feel OK about my daily wine habit because I was brought up by drinking parents. They normalised booze and having a daily tipple. I also felt OK because all my friends drank. It turns out that as drinkers, we choose our friends according to our lifestyles. I don’t know about you, but I always mixed with other drinkers. People who didn’t drink were boring and weird! 

The irony is that now that I don’t drink, I see myself as normal and people who drink as abnormal! According to the American Addiction Centers, Alcohol.org, there are two kinds of people who have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol: problem drinkers and alcoholics. Knowing the differences brings light into your own life, and those of others who drink.

  • Alcoholics are addicted to alcohol. They are physically and mentally dependent on it. Alcoholics find it hard not to drink and struggle with dependency every day. Alcoholics can achieve sobriety, but they will always be an alcoholic and at risk for relapse. They will often relapse after just one drink, no matter how long they have been sober.”
  • “Problem drinkers are not physically dependent on alcohol. They can go days, week, or months without drinking, if they want to. If they abstain, they will not have detox symptoms. They may drink a lot, or they may drink occasionally. The issue problem drinkers have is that when they do drink, it causes an issue in their life or in the life of someone they know. They may say and do things that hurt others or themselves. Drinking is not a problem for these individuals, but it does create problems in their lives.

Does this ring bells for you? Another term being bandied about at the moment is “alcohol use disorder” which is a euphemism for alcoholism. It names a chronic, relapsing disease.

On the other hand, problem drinking is not a disease. It can be treated. It usually affects the drinker in some negative ways.

Problem Drinker Signs

  • Missing class or work.
  • Avoiding family and friends or become isolated, wanting to drink alone.
  • Feeling depressed.
  • Becoming angry or violent.
  • Spending money, creating financial problems.
  • Taking risks with lives – your own and others.
  • Having unsafe sexual relations with someone, especially strangers.
  • Losing friends, or dumping old friends for new friends who drink regularly.
  • Having blackouts.
  • Driving drunk.
  • Getting arrested for drinking behaviour.

Problem drinkers become devious and don’t want to talk about their drinking. They hide the amount they drink, lie about how much they drink, and they avoid people who may be concerned about it. The problem drinker usually knows deep down inside that there is a problem. This is when they turn to Google to find out what it means to be a drinker and why they drink so much. This is when they need professional advice and counselling.

Signs of Alcoholism

  • Using alcohol in higher amounts or for a longer time than originally intended.
  • Being unable to cut down on alcohol use despite a desire to do so.
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of alcohol.
  • Cravings, or a strong desire to use alcohol.
  • Being unable to fulfill major obligations at home, work, or school because of alcohol use.
  • Continuing to abuse alcohol despite negative interpersonal or social problems that are likely due to alcohol use.
  • Giving up previously enjoyed social, occupational, or recreational activities because of alcohol use.
  • Using alcohol in physically dangerous situations (such as driving or operating machinery).
  • Continuing to abuse alcohol despite the presence of a psychological or physical problem that is probably due to alcohol use.
  • Having a tolerance (i.e. needing to drink increasingly large or more frequent amounts of alcohol to achieve desired effect).
  • Developing symptoms of withdrawal when efforts are made to stop using alcohol.

Ask yourself if you have a drinking problem and see if you can answer these questions:

  1. Do you defend your relationship with alcohol if people notice you drink a lot?
  2. Do you drink to feel great and important?
  3. Does alcohol allow you a good time with others?
  4. Do you feel happy when drinking?
  5. Do you need a drink to feel comfortable in social situations?
  6. Does drinking boost your self-confidence?
  7. Does drinking lighten your stress loads?
  8. Do you feel guilty or depressed after you drink because your subconscious knows better?

Many of you who are reading this article right now probably enjoy a drink some or most days of the week. You enjoy it and you really don’t think that you have a problem. But woe betide anyone who questions your drinking, makes comments or laughs at you! 

Image: https://www.alcohol.org/alcoholism/or-is-it-just-a-problem/ 

Heavy Drinking vs Binge Drinking

In the UK, heavy drinking for men over the age of 65 means having 2 drinks a day, or more than 14 drinks a week. Binge drinking, on the other hand, mean having 5 or more drinks within 2 hours.  Heavy drinking is a continuous abuse of alcohol whereas binge drinking is consuming a lot of alcohol in a very short time. Binge drinkers tend to be weekend drinkers, but heavy drinkers drink all the time.

According to the Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health, published by the World Health Organisation in 2018, the highest levels of alcohol consumption are in Europe. But Africa bears the heaviest burden of disease and injury attributed to alcohol. The report finds that while inaction on alcohol control is widespread, there is also hope.

According to the WHO’s data, South Africa’s drinking population consumers 28.9 litres of pure alcohol – per capita – a year, the fifth highest consumption rate in the world, below Namibia (31.3 litres), Eswatini (32.7 litres), Cook Islands (32.9 litres) and Tunisia (33.4 litres).

Hoo boy, we do NOT want to be part of that data! We want to stop drinking! Which is why we read Tribe Sober and other sobriety websites, not so?

It is interesting to note that heavy drinkers choose large glasses or drinking vessels. I remember ensuring I had large wine glasses in all colours on my shelves: I had green, purple and pink glasses of glorious designs that could hold 2 glasses of wine easily! Heavy drinkers are often attached to a particular large glass that must be theirs all the time. 

The alcohol industry makes a lot of money from heavy drinkers. Binge drinkers tend to make up for their abstention on week days, consuming litres of alcohol on weekends. Turns out that if you binge drink just one night a week, you are damaging your body more than if you drink one glass of alcohol per night. 

According to Vinepair.com, “With binge drinking, your body suffers from a high level of toxicity. In addition, it’s difficult for your body to metabolize high amounts of alcohol at one time. When large amounts of alcohol are present in your body all at once, the body suffers many abnormalities and consequences, such as distorted hearing and vision, difficulty breathing, and vomiting, to name just a few. Consuming one drink a day every day is much better for the body, as your body can easily metabolize small amounts of alcohol.”

What is going to be for you? Complete abstention from alcohol because you think you may have a drinking problem? Do you find yourself in the category of heavy drinker or binge drinker? These things we can control. We can control Diabetes 2 too, but we don’t want to get it! Take steps today to improve your health and STOP DRINKING.

Image: https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/alcohol-abuse/faq/am-i-an-alcoholic/



Alcohol and the Media – Do Alcohol Advertisements on Social Media Tempt you to Drink?

Alcohol and the media – two subjects close to my heart, as an ex-drinker and a writer. The merging of the two concepts is a recent and evolving subject in human history. Danger lies on the horizon when social media giants hang out with alcohol companies and brand marketing agencies.

The History of Alcohol

Alcohol on its own is bad enough. But when it became a friend of the media, things got worse. Alcohol companies jumped into bed with social media giants and marketing companies fought for their piece of the pie. They all think it is fun to promote drinking and to make millions from it.

Alcohol has been part of human history since the early Egyptians fermented drinks made from grains, fruit juices and honey. The early Greeks concocted mead made from honey and water while the Indians of 2000 B C loved sura, their rice alcoholic drink. 

In those ancient days, it was mainly the men who drank alcohol. The number of women drinking alcohol, however, has risen steadily since the turn of the century. There are many reasons for this, with modernisation and feminism playing key roles. 

The History of the Media

It is interesting to note that throughout history, the media was also wrapped up in power plays and politics – between men. In recent years, women have come to play increasingly powerful roles in the media. Yet they are increasingly influenced by the media – and alcohol. 

Have you noticed that modern social media moguls tend to be men? 

  • Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google in September 1998 while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University in California
  • Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook, with help from peers at Harvard College, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes
  • Kevin Systrom launched Instagram in 2010  
  • Jack Dorsey became a billionaire when he co-founded Twitter in 2006  
  • Brian Acton and Jan Koum developed Whatsapp which is owned by Facebook.

What do these stats tell you? Men rule the way all ages and genders regard the media and react to news, views and advertisements. 

Alcohol Advertising on Social Media Has a Lot to Answer For

This blog is about the massive influence that alcohol advertising has on social media sites, impacting young people and women in dangerous ways.

Social media is a giant digital communication platform revered by the youth of today. The top seven social media platforms are: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and Reddit. Social Network Sites (SNS) are extremely popular amongst young people who are highly influenced by branding, marketing and FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out).

I mean, I am 52 and still suffer FOMO when I am on Facebook because there are so many people who lead perfect lives! Why am I not ecstatic every day of MY life dammit?! I guess I need a drink?

Moving on…

… to contemporary research around the issue of alcohol and the media, especially social media. Amanda Marie Atkinson recently published a paper entitled “An exploration of alcohol advertising on social networking sites: an analysis of content, interactions and young people’s perspectives”. 

She is a senior researcher within the Public Health Institute since2006 who focuses on young people’s (gendered) drinking cultures, and substance use. She is especially interested in media representations of drug and alcohol use, media and marketing influence and the gendered nature of substance use.

Women are Targeted by Alcohol Marketing on Social Media

Atkinson discusses how women are now targeted on social media, and how marketing is changing in relation to gender and sex. In the UK, the gender gap in drinking has narrowed, as women catch up to men in the frequency and intensity of their drinking patterns. Pubs are becoming more inclusive of women and target women. So, women are seen to be socialising in public more often. This makes them an easier target for alcohol marketers. 

Research also reveals that the social media and drinking culture online is more prevalent amongst young women. They take photos and selfies of them drinking with friends at events and these are posted and liked on social media like Facebook and Instagram. 

“Young people increasingly communicate and interact via social digital media such as Social Network Sites (SNS), where they discuss and display alcohol-related content. SNS have also become an important aspect of the alcohol industry’s multi-platform marketing strategies, which may contribute to the creation of intoxigenic digital spaces in which young people learn about alcohol.”

Atkinson found that young people online would be susceptible to alcohol marketing, sharing and liking certain brands. Young people discuss their nights out, what they drank and where they drank. Young people identify with certain brands and ways of drinking. And they are highly influenced by their peers and who they hang out with.

According to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, girls as young as 7th grade (14 years old) are affected by alcohol advertising which then causes alcohol-related issues in their lives by 9th grade (age 16). They are exposed to alcohol advertising on TV, when their parents drink, at school and on social media. 

In this infographic, the dangers of social media and alcohol marketing are stressed: “the 10 alcohol brands underage females are most likely to drink have more than 42 million likes from persons of all ages on Facebook.”

Amanda Atkinson featured on a Phil Cain online webinar, Alcohol in the Media: Reclaiming our perceptions” in November. Phil Cain is a forward-thinking journalist with an interest in alcohol and its impacts on all ages, all genders and all sectors of society. He explores how the end of 2020 has heightened the focus on alcohol during global lockdowns as millions of people face economic hardships, depression, death in the family from Covid 19 and more. 

Conned by Social Media Giants

The media plays a huge role in convincing people to drink and be happy. Social media companies such as Facebook and Google (which owns YouTube) became bosom buddies with huge, global alcohol companies. 

“By 2015, three beer and two spirits brands were reported to have more than 10 million fans on their Facebook pages.” The alcohol industry is in cahoots with social media to con their social media users to drink more (me and you) but all of this is secret.

Facebook for Business does not pussyfoot around! They go all out to ensure that people are influenced to buy the alcohol brands they support. Facebook organised a survey of more than 3000 people in 6 countries to find out how they drink, how they talk about drinks and when they drink.

The survey aimed to find out “how different drinks pair with occasions, when and how people talk about drinks, and about emerging new trends. Our findings can help marketers working in the beverage industry understand how to engage with and target the right people at the right time.”

Unbelievable! Facebook for Business recommends that marketers develop their strategies around the fact that “beverages are a vital part of our everyday lives, elevating little moments into something bigger, cementing social bonds and fueling special occasions.”

Who believes this hogwash? Millions of social media users, that is who! Facebook for Business also knows that most drinkers who use social media are constantly on their mobile smart phones. And that thousands of Facebook and Instagram users were influenced by alcohol advertisements to buy alcohol. In fact, they found that 3 in 10 people surveyed were having a drink while scrolling Facebook or Instagram! 

Think About our Kids!

What about the consequences for young people when it comes to addiction issues? Many of them start to drink alcohol thanks to social media advertisements. 

In fact, DrugRehab.com reveals that posting alcohol-related content on social media is associated with high rates of alcohol consumption, cravings and alcohol addiction. Social media messages can in fact influence a person’s drinking habits to the point of an increase, then addiction.

It is now common knowledge that Facebook encourages alcohol companies to spend their budgets advertising on their platform. It is very worrying that this kind of marketing tends to normalise daily drinking and abnormal weekend binge drinking.  

The alcohol company is not the only factor in the social media alcohol marketing issue: social media users themselves organise parties and events on Facebook, promoting drinking and various alcoholic products. They share posts, videos, and photos across social media platforms. Teenagers who use social media are three times more likely to indulge in alcohol! 

What are social media companies doing about this? Not much! The dangers of such messages cause ripple effects of abuse in a community.

Women are increasingly targeted thanks to their love of social media and their continuing empowerment in the business world. New alcohol products are centred around low-kilojoule beverages and feminine fruity beers while adverts show women concerned with being slim, in fashion, beautiful and wealthy. 

These commercials play on the need for women to belong to a sisterhood or tribe, to be sexy parents and still juggle all the balls while having a trendy drink. And women get sucked into this and believe it.

Social media memes and ads portray mothers as busy people who needed “mummy juice” or who looked forward to “wine o’clock”. This normalises drinking and motherhood and makes mothers feel justified in drinking and breastfeeding and looking after husband. 

Social media has a lot to answer for when it comes to attracting young people and women into the dangerous world of alcohol addiction. It is planned marketing, aimed at creating wealth for all involved: alcohol companies, marketing agencies and social media giants. 

Only the consumer is impacted forever, as an addict needing to spend his/her money on rehab! Yes, danger lies on the horizon when social media giants hang out with alcohol companies and brand marketing agencies.

How to Stop Drinking and Succeed – Tips From our Men

When you Google “how to stop drinking wine” and Tribe Sober pops up first, you know that it is meant to be. 

And when you really don’t want to get help for your drinking, but you hear Janet Gourand, founder of Tribe Sober, on the radio talking about stopping drinking, you stop dead in your tracks. 

Coincidence or not, two men drinkers I know tell these true stories. Janet’s saga certainly echoed their stories.  Unbeknown to each other, they reached out to TS and signed up for workshops based on recovery coaching.

The Tribe Sober workshops are designed to help drinkers moderate their drinking and, first prize, get sober. This blog concerns the reasons men drink – and then want to stop drinking. It also touches on the differences between men and women drinkers.

Drinking Fills up the Spaces

For many men, drinking alcohol takes up a lot of time in their busy lives. They drink after work to relax, or at work to enhance their creativity. The men who agreed to feature in this blog were displaying alcoholic addiction symptoms. Something made them reach out for alcohol rehabilitation, counseling, or coaching. Maybe they were “almost alcoholic” or had “alcohol use disorder”.  They are busy men who liked drinking but who had never really thought about why they were drinking.  

“I think if I had to say why I drank while I was a drinker, I would have said that I drink for relaxation, to be “one of the boys”, a sense of entitlement, work hard play hard, etc,” admits Nathan. * 

“Today, however, after 45 months of alcohol- free living, my answer is different. I was drinking to numb out all the tough parts of my life, too scared to face the difficult but important life issues head on.” 

Nathan’s honesty can help so many other men to come to terms with their drinking. Get to the bottom of why men drink. Find out how the childhood pain, the relationship failures, the work stress and the financial burdens have overwhelmed you to the point of drinking yourself into alcoholism. 

For Kurt, drinking alcohol had a different flavour completely: “I was a happy moments drinker: mostly with friends and with my wife during weekends and vacation. Drinking nights with colleagues also helped me be creative and think out of the box during some difficult professional moments.” 

But when he realised that he drank more and more because he liked the feeling of being a bit tipsy. He also realised that he was not good at moderating his liquor – so he decided to stop drinking. He also wanted to get in shape again, lose weight and improve his health.

Deciding to Stop Drinking

Jim drank because, “It was the thing to do. My parents both drank heavily and all 5 of their kids followed suit. I started regularly at around 14. All school parties were drink fueled. I drank heavily in the army and right through my career.” 

When he retired early and moved to the family wine farm, he said that he drank copious litres of booze. “I really outdid myself! G&T x 2 or 3, then half a dozen beers and a bottle or two of wine a night!” Of course, he gained weight and his health and relationship with his long-suffering wife started to take strain. That is when he decided enough is enough.

It is interesting to compare these reasons for drinking with a study done in 1993 on 781 drinkers in Michigan, USA, to find out WHY people drink. Men drank more than women. The reasons were mainly:

  • Coping with Stress
  • Drinking because friends drink
  • Social reasons

“If someone drinks alcohol primarily to reduce stress, then this individual is most likely to drink under times of stress; it is at these times that there is fit between the individual’s personal motives and life situation. If someone else drinks alcohol primarily in order to socialize, then this individual is most likely to drink during periods of social activity.” 

The study added that those who drink when stressed drank more alcohol when stressed. And those who drank to be sociable drank more alcohol when at social events. 

According to Vertava Health, men are more likely to engage in drinking to model after others who drink, or in giving in to pressure from peers who encourage them to consume alcohol in social settings. Men tend to express feelings of empowerment with alcohol consumption and may drink to feel emboldened in social situations. Men who have high expectations of performance, whether from their own perceptions or from those of family, are far more likely to drink to regain a sense of confidence from the effects of alcohol.

Men Drink More than Women

Men drink more than women and battle to give up the bottle in the long term. More women give up booze for the rest of their lives than men. This has all been revealed in another study done in September 2009 entitled “Gender and Alcohol Consumption: Patterns from the Multinational Genacis Project”.  

The study surveyed the drinking behaviour of men and women in 35 countries in a 10-year period from 1997 to 2007. It noted that “among drinkers, the prevalence of high-frequency drinking was consistently greatest in the oldest age group, particularly among men.” It concluded that “men still exceed women in drinking and high-volume drinking, although gender ratios vary. Better explanations are needed for why more women than men quit drinking …”

Nathan quit drinking because:

  • He was drinking more frequently in his 40’s than in his 30’s which scared him. “I knew there was a problem brewing and that the next decade would likely look much worse.”
  • He had significant health issues (adrenal fatigue and massive hormone imbalances) which were simply not getting any better, no matter what health interventions he tried. He was even seeing an integrated doctor every quarter for more than 2 years. But nothing changed. “Interestingly, the drinking never presented as a major issue with my doctor.”

For some men, like Kurt and Peter, the need to stop drinking is also a need for a lifestyle change, not a fear of addiction issues. Kurt wanted to feel fresh every morning again and he found that drinking only on weekends was a farce as it undid all the sobriety he enjoyed during the week.

Discovering Tribe Sober

Peter said that for him, joining Tribe Sober was “perhaps less about purely ditching alcohol, and more a convenient catalyst towards fully embracing a lifestyle that also includes vegetarianism and meditation.”

Kurt was attracted to the Tribe Sober 66-day Challenge because he loves challenges. It was not because he thought he had “drinking issues” because he saw himself as a fully functioning, successful and happy person. Don’t we all? Until we stop drinking and then we meet our real selves!

For Jim, doing the Sober Spring Challenge with Tribe Sober support meant health improvement 100%; relationships improvement 100%. “My biggest win is not having the stomach-turning anxiety which affected my life for 40 years. It’s difficult to actually verbalise how good that feels!!” He admits to forcing down industrial quantities of Pistachio ice cream though!

I take my hat off to these men! They have overcome so many obstacles and been able to look within and come to terms with what was a dependence on alcohol. Studies have revealed that men find it harder to give up alcohol in the long term than women. But women suffer alcohol addiction more than men. 

The fact that men are starting to stop drinking is pertinent to this blog. It is evident that upon searching Google for things like “I want to stop drinking” or “help for alcoholics” or “counselors and coaching for addiction” men are finding Tribe Sober up there amongst the best.

Kurt reinforces this: “I did the Tribe Sober 66 days and decided to prolong to 100 days because it sounded even better. After 100 days, my then 13 years old daughter simply challenged me by saying: ‘100 days is OK, but one full year sober would be a real challenge and make me proud’. How could I resist?” 

The Brain and Dopamine

Which brings us to the brain. Pleasurable things in our lives stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter or brain chemical that affects the brain’s reward center. According to Dr. Robert Swift, the difficulties people experience trying to stop an addiction like alcohol may depend on the time they have been drinking and the intensity of their use (abuse). 

Swift added that dopamine “can stimulate people’s interest in and enjoyment of alcohol, so they continue to drink.” The brain tells the drinker that this activity is pleasurable. Until a point. That point of no return when heavy, frequent drinking fades away this enjoyment of alcohol. 

“The brain gets sensitized to the release of dopamine… As the brain becomes tolerant to alcohol, people need to drink more and more, in a sense, to feel good, and this begins the transition from liking alcohol to becoming addicted to it.”

It is time to educate ourselves about this kind of physiological reason behind the addiction. Aim to be like Kurt, Nick and Jim – better role models for your children. Sleep better, experience better digestion and enjoyment of food, be a good listener and leave parties early. And you will always be the one who drives safely home.

Tips for men from men on how to stop drinking

  • Know your why: why do you want to stop drinking?
  • Getting back into shape and health is a huge benefit.
  • If someone offers you a drink, simply say NO THANKS and that is that. No explanation required. 
  • Drink lots of water
  • Tell your mates you’ve stopped drinking and to please support you.
  • Find a go to drink when you go out and take your own if necessary. The first 2 weeks are the worst, after that it improves every day!
  • It’s a tough journey initially, however the benefits far outweigh the perceived “loss”. It’s like having a second chance at a brand-new, high-quality life. Just do it!

*Names have been changed.


Janis Theron

28 November 2020

Alcohol and the Menopause

Alcohol and the menopause: two issues that become intertwined in the lives of many women globally. Why do so many middle-aged women grapple with alcohol and the menopause.

“Your story is going to be so personal. There are so many stories and journeys. Find out what works for you – it may not work for someone else.” 

Coach Rakale Hannah speaks up for millions of women worldwide experiencing menopause. She knows that alcohol messes with the menopause, big time. In fact, it intensifies the symptoms so much that the drinking menopausal woman becomes ill.

Embrace Your Femininity

Dedicated to helping her clients stop the alcohol during menopause, Hannah encourages all women to embrace their femininity in their middle life. They need to educate themselves about this time of their lives – and to appreciate it. 

“You are not alone, and these are not embarrassing symptoms!” she reiterates. “You are not going mad – get up close to it, value it and love it.”

Really? We must love the menopause with all of its crazy symptoms? Who wants daily headaches, mood swings, hot flushes, intensified allergies, night sweats, panic attacks and bloating? Who wants extreme fatigue, weight gain, memory lapses, incontinence, dizziness and hair loss? Why should we women past the age of 50 put up with irritability, depression, decreased libido, brittle nails, muscle tension and body odour?

The list goes on and on. But now hear this: the menopause is a natural, universally scheduled transition period that all women experience (or endure!). The best way to deal with the change of life is a) to learn as much as possible about all dimensions and dynamics of being 50 something, and b)to find the joy as we fall in love with our new selves.  Manage your menopause with good nutrition, plenty of exercise, quality sleep – and no alcohol! In fact, the course highlights the extraordinary relationship between alcohol and the menopause.  


Nutrition is the foundation of human health, right? Carey Davis-Munro should know. She was so sport mad in her youth that she drove her body to a complete breakdown. Eventually she collapsed from sheer exhaustion and found herself on the operating table three times. 

One doctor finally diagnosed high levels of metal in her body. This could mean Alzheimer’s disease in the long term. Then she got Endometriosis and had one ovary removed. This brought on early menopause and the rest, as they say, is history.

Davis-Munro can today boast about being the author of Eat Nourish Flourish: 12 Steps to Healthier Family Food. To get there, she had to learn many hard lessons. 

“I got a lot wrong! But I spent many years learning and getting it right,” she exclaims. 

Menopause is exacerbated by alcohol which is full of empty calories and offers zero nutritional value. Only we who stop the alcohol can see this.

Cut Out the Alcohol 

“Alcohol is a menopause no-no. Not only does it fast-track a burgeoning waistline, for some it may trigger hot flushes, worsen anxiety, and increase your risk of developing osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease,” stresses Davis-Munro. “During menopause, it can also take longer to recover from a hangover – meaning you’re more tired and less able to manage symptoms.”

Her nutrition course focuses on eating well to boost bone density, promote heart health, maintain a healthy weight and good hydration levels. Choose the right carbs without having to cut them out entirely. For example, a diet packed full of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, potatoes, pulses and whole grains is a diet packed full of food from the earth. 

Processed food is the wrong choice! Women who cut out alcohol often battle with the increased desire for sugar to fulfil the glucose addiction that comes with drinking. Then Munro-Davis advises her clients to go for home-cooked meals with fresh farm ingredients and plenty of fresh fruit. Steer away from the wine bottle or sweet cocktail.

Tips from A Vogel

According to A Vogel, “the hormonal changes going on throughout your body are creating a big need for extra nutrition. You need more vitamins, more minerals and a lot more protein to help keep everything in balance. And if you’re not eating well enough or simply not getting enough nutrition on a daily basis, your body is basically hungry, which can cause cravings or affect your appetite.”

Mackie Vadacchino, an A Vogel adviser, continues that this is not good for us for a number of reasons. “We know that sugar is bad for us and can contribute to heart palpitations, hot flashes and joint aches and pains, and trigger panic attacks and anxiety. And we also know that menopause is a time when we’re already struggling with our weight, so if our calorie count from sugar or sugary foods starts to rise, it can add on a whole other layer of stress as well.”

Alcohol is a sugary substitute for feeling good. It fools us into wanting more and more and it is laden with sugary kilojoules that sit on our hips and bellies. Drinking alcohol during menopause simply multiplies the above symptoms until ill-health is the result. Alcohol and the menopause can never be friends in the war against aging.

Exercise is the Next Step

Kate Sansum is a personal trainer who advocates exercise, exercise, exercise! Specialising in perimenopause and menopause, Sansum has been teaching fitness and health for 32 years. She has found her niche market in ladies who would not normally have gone to the gym. More women are asking for information regarding their midlife health and wellness.

“I wanted to find a way how I could help ladies maintain their mojo. I mean, I have kids and grandkids and I need exercise!” she laughs. 

“I had to say enough is enough, so I took a 28-day challenge and so many of my menopausal symptoms disappeared. Then I decided to go one year without alcohol.” She is now hooked on sobriety and health.

NEAT Means Fit

She advocates the NEAT way of exercising where you don’t need a treadmill or a hectic bootcamp. All you need is non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)

“It simply means any energy your body expends over and above sleeping, eating and working out. Even small activities count, so typing on a keyboard, using the hairdryer and tapping your toes to music all contribute to NEAT calories burned.”

Exercising during menopause means managing your weight (which is often a problem for women in their mid-life), boosting your mood and reducing the risks of depression and dementia. When you make time to move you also lessen the risks of heart disease, diabetes 2, cancers and other diseases. 

Strengthen those bones as you walk or do Pilates or Yoga and listen to your fitness needs. Drinking alcohol has been found to reduce the will to do exercise, to get up and go in the mornings. The real benefits of exercise boost the sober women who want to make a difference to their health and longevity. 

Get Sober and Sleep Better

Sober women know that one of the foundations for a healthy menopause is sleep. Getting enough sleep can be difficult as the body goes through so many symptoms of change. Doing good daily exercise deepens your nightly sleep. Eating healthy fruits and vegetables with less preservatives and sugars deepens your nightly sleep. And stopping the ravages of alcohol will contribute to much better-quality sleep too. The liver is involved! Did you know that your liver ensures a balanced hormone level in your body? 

According to the A Vogel website, “your liver plays a critical role when it comes to your hormones. Your liver isn’t responsible for secreting or producing your hormones – that job belongs to the numerous endocrine glands located around your body as well as organs such as you ovaries – but your liver does deal with these hormones once they have served their purpose. Once the hormones circulating in your system have accomplished their task, whether it be triggering a stress reaction or getting you ready for ovulation, they report to your liver, where they are broken down and deactivated – this prevents a hormonal imbalance from occurring.”

Poor liver function. The liver acts as a filtering system for the body, helping metabolize food and chemicals (including alcohol itself), and pulling toxins from the bloodstream. Like nearly all of the body’s organs, the liver functions according to circadian rhythms. Alcohol interferes with these circadian rhythms regulating the liver, and can contribute to compromised liver function, liver toxicity and disease. 

Journal your thoughts, make changes to your diet, get better sleep and exercise daily. But most of all, ditch the alcohol! Menopause will be a breeze.

Sign up for our annual Dry January Fundraiser and get community and online support for 30 alcohol free days – a great start to 2021!

Are You in Early Recovery and Not Really Coping?

Are you in early recovery and finding that you are not really coping? You have ditched the drink and are trying desperately to stay afloat in this mad world? You have these voices inside your head: praising all your efforts to be sober one minute, then egging you on to have just one tiny drink the next. You want to be free, right?

It is hard to be in early recovery and to know what to do. You are not really coping because you don’t know what to expect. From you (your mind and your body, your addicted thoughts, and your sense of purpose) and from life itself. You are suddenly without the crutch you depended on your entire life. This feels like dangling from a rope over a gorge 1km down. You feel vulnerable, alone, and afraid.

We Have Felt Your Pain

Join the club. Many of us have been there. I chose to stop drinking before I was labelled as an alcoholic. Or as an almost alcoholic. Or as someone who has alcohol misuse disorder. Did you merely misuse the substance, or did you depend on it like an alcoholic would?

All these labels. Be free of them when you choose recovery. 

This blog will hopefully assist those of you still not coping with being freshly sober. More and more people, and many of them women, have found themselves increasingly dependent on their “daily glass of wine”. 

This soon becomes a “daily 3 glasses of wine” and then a bottle. A bottle of wine is only 4 to 5 large glasses of wine! How did that happen? And you didn’t even feel the effects of those 5 glasses. So you felt as if you could easily open a second bottle?

I Was There Too

It is hard to realise this and then try to stop. I know. I used to stop-start a lot. I always made sure I had at least 2 dry days in a week. Then the rest of the week, I would be having my 4 large glasses of wine a night (which is a bottle). I used to look forward to my first glass from midday onwards. I knew that at 5pm I would sipping a Chardonnay or a Chenin Blanc. Followed by my 3 red glasses – should I buy a Shiraz or a Pinotage and how much should I spend? That was my daily self-talk. Was it yours too?  

Then I would take a break. A week off to detox and get fit again.  Stop that morning blur where my eyes were puffy and my thoughts just a little too thick and slow. And so it would continue. You know the story. 

I knew that the wine was bad for me. I used to Google health articles to remind myself of that fact. But still I could not give up for good. Is this called addiction?

I like the way I felt and looked when not drinking, but if I drove past the Kwik Spar and had time, I stopped for wine. Urgh!

Why Do You (And So Many Women) Drink Daily?

  • You feel stressed: you have had a long day with the kids, at the office, in the traffic (we can always find a reason to have that first glass)
  • You do it every night and you have designed a convenient daily habit
  • You are celebrating or mourning something: someone’s birthday, funeral, promotion at work, lottery ticket win, baby, loss of job, the list goes on
  • Your husband drinks every day, and your friends do it too
  • You have always done it and your family condoned it
  • You want to still be that fun and festive person you always were around the braai, or in the pub, or at the night club
  • It is an easy escape route from things that annoy or anger you – such as people at work, the kids, the routine at home, the weather
  • You are bored or alone and it feels good
  • Simply: you like it, you like the way it makes you feel!

Change Your Lenses

Time to change the kind of lenses you are looking through. Time to put on the reality lenses and see life in the raw. Pack away those rose-tinted, blurry lenses. It is time to listen to the good voice in your head. Not the bad voice that tells you it is OK to have wine. 

It is time to admit that you need recovery. And that if you are not coping then you need professional help. Find out what made you decide that you need recovery. Then find out how to help yourself recover and move towards sobriety. 

You need to tell or ask yourself these things:

  • Do you really want to be sober?
  • Play the movie forward: think about the morning feeling of shame and guilt if you do drink; think about the silly things you say when you are on your fifth glass of wine, or second bottle. Think of all the things that you forget.
  • Do you want to feel fresh and healthy forever? 
  • Give your body a break from all the substance abuse and let it live.
  • Get quality and quantity sleep. 
  • Do you really need that social life connected to alcohol or can you choose to be quiet, knitting and reading every night?
  • A mocktail is tastier than wine and far better for you.
  • Do not believe that alcohol is a relaxant – it is far from that. You will awaken in the night and you will be all over the place at once, just not relaxing.

The media is packed with wonderful tips which we can all read and all benefit from. Being in recovery is not for sissies. Admit that you need recovery. This is the first, biggest and hardest step you must take. Then you find out if you are coping or not. If you are really not coping, take note:

These seven steps could change your life:

  1.  Accept that if you want things to change, things need to change

Change your friends if necessary, change where you spend your time, and change family interactions. Just for a while, or maybe forever. It depends on you. 

   2.  Stop trying to do it alone

Tell someone, anyone. Tell a few people. Those who will understand. Having someone to answer to and to turn to when things get rough is vital.  Be honest. 

    3. Willpower alone won’t work 

Willpower runs out. You need accountability and help. It takes a complete mindset and lifestyle change. 

   4. Educate yourself

Learn how addiction works. Read about it, speak to people, join forums and sober groups. Share your feelings. 

   5. Learn to understand yourself better

Are you happy? Why do you drink? What are you hiding? Find a mentor.

   6. Try to be useful

Find ways to help other people. Look around you. Everywhere, there is struggle. Volunteer at the homeless shelter or a poor school. 

   7. Develop a gratitude practice

Gratitude works. Notice the beauty around you. Notice the world and its people. Smell the roses.

Reach out. Something better is waiting for you.

How do you know if you are an alcoholic? To assess your alcohol consumption, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you frequently intend to stop at one drink and over imbibe?
  • Have you tried to quit drinking and been unsuccessful?
  • Do you drink almost every day?
  • Do you get cravings for alcohol?
  • Do you miss school, work, or family functions because you’re hangover?
  • Is your drinking causing problems in your family life or friendships?
  • Has your drinking caused you to give up the activities you once enjoyed?
  • Is your alcohol consumption stretching your income?
  • Does your drinking put you in a position dangerous to yourself or others?
  • Is your drinking affecting your physical health?
  • Do you require increasing amounts of alcohol to get that happy feeling a drink or two used to give you?
  • Do you feel depressed, insecure, anxious, irritable, or unloved because of your drinking?
  • When you don’t drink, do you experience withdrawal symptoms like headaches, irritability, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, or tremors?


Lucy’s Letter

Dear Alcohol,

You are toxic, you are heartless, you are cruel.

You have stolen what should have been some of my best years, you are not going to give me my worst ones and kill me slowly whilst I am still alive.

I have but one beautiful life and I now intend to live it. No thanks, no goodbyes, you can simply fuck off.



Tessa’s Letter

Goodbye, my old companion. I held you for a true friend, maybe a lover even from time to time. But at the least I thought you were a dependable friend that would be ALWAYS there for me.

Sooth me, comfort me. Cheer me up. Understand me. Join me. Be crazy with me. Be lonely with me. Sad with me. Scared with me. Know me. But I discovered you were not a friend.

Slowly I came to realize that you did nothing for me but rob me of my dignity, health, peace of mind. You made me stink and didn’t even tell me. You made me blab and say stupid things. Made me postpone the important things and be cranky at my children.

You were jealous every time I was with someone else. You wanted me home alone all to yourself, leaving me with nothing in my life but you. You made me feel like a stupid, weak fool. I thought I knew you but I could not have been more wrong.

Our ways have parted now and that is OK. I assume I will not see you again this lifetime. Everything is better now. Lighter, more loving. More creative and more productive.

You were a stone hanging around my neck and made me feel like drowning in life. I thank you for your decency to show up every time I needed you. And for sticking around. Loyal you were. But I can handle it on my own now. You don’t know any better. You see you used me and took all of my energy and a lot of joy. I will not be open for reminiscing on the past.

Take care,


Sober Spring 2020. A Retrospective. By Andrea

What a trip it has been, this 66 Day Sober Challenge. A roller coaster of emotions, with days of elation followed by days of despair. I started the challenge out of desperation, and ended it empowered.

By my late twenties I started to realise that my drinking was no longer under my control. Since I did most of my drinking alone, and was high-functioning at work, I could get away with it.

But my drinking began to terrify me. I knew I wasn’t in control because I kept breaking the rules I made for myself, often a mere 8 hours after I made them.

7am: I am NOT drinking today. 5pm: Drinking again.
I needed more accountability. I read about the Sober Spring Challenge and decided to commit. I was not (and still am not) comfortable with quitting ‘forever’, but needed something longer than a month. 

Other than a Sober October in 2018 that I white-knuckled through, sober stretches of more than 4 days have been very rare in the past 7 years. I have been reading about alcohol misuse, sobriety, addiction, etc extensively in those years. Quit-lit, scientific articles, blogs, podcasts – volumes of it. But only by engaging with these concepts after a significant period alcohol-free have I been able to fully absorb all of the information. Through a sober, clear-headed understanding of the biology of alcohol addiction and the alcohol-centered nature of society, I have for the first time been able to forgive myself for my past actions. 

My alcohol-free period has enabled me to plough through a long list of neglected ‘life admin’ – things that often did not require much time or effort, but simply being hangover-free and willing to start. Ticking items off the list has been incredibly rewarding and freeing, and created the momentum to tackle larger issues in my life that required attention.

I have also rediscovered the pleasures of reading for hours, drinking soft drinks or hot chocolate, watching a movie (and remembering it!), buying nice things for myself instead of for my wine rack, sleeping well….

I fell in love again with my adoptive town of Robertson. I spent hours walking through the streets of this beautiful town, appreciating the beauty. I took in a cooking class, went hiking, browsed through pretty things at the Market, even visited gorgeous wine estates! 

Since I didn’t lose days to hangovers, I was always up for whatever social event came up, and, ironically, I ended up being more social during the challenge than I normally would’ve been when I was drinking!

I also realised that while I tended to blame certain types of events for me drinking at them (as if I had no control over what I put in my mouth, which is ridiculous), often I was the instigator of alcohol being consumed at them at all: always first to order a drink, always topping up everyone’s glasses or ordering another round. In the last year, when my drinking escalated dramatically, I have become afraid of social events where I knew I was going to be drinking; I couldn’t trust myself to behave responsibly and it terrified me.

There was a time close to the 50-day mark of the challenge when I was frighteningly close to giving up. For almost a full week, I struggled with intense cravings, lack of motivation, and questioning my motives. I was thinking about drinking multiple times a day, and I constantly felt mere moments away from relapsing. But I committed to 66 days – whatever happens – so I pushed through with the help of the wonderful Tribe Sober community, and the Universe rewarded me royally. The rough patch was followed by days of pure joy, pride, and freedom.

The Sober Challenged stretched from 1 September to 5 November. Often during the 66 days I would worry about what I was going to do on 6 November, especially since it fell on a Friday. Would I drink? If so, how much? Will I be able to handle it? Will I do it alone or with someone?

Two weeks before the end of the challenge the answer came in the form of an endurance walking event for charity. Date: 7 November. I wanted to take part, and I knew I had to be sober for it. I entered immediately and prepared myself for the event. I had a blast. Not only did I win the event, but I raised a handsome amount for worthy causes, and had the opportunity to commit myself more closely to a charity that has always been close to my heart. I would never have been able to do this if I still drank. 

I have never been comfortable with the commitment to NEVER drink again. In fact, nothing triggers wine cravings as much as the thought that I’d never drink again. And I have started drinking (and, painfully, bingeing on) alcohol again since ending the challenge. But it IS different. After 66 days of experiencing the joys of sobriety, I can no longer drink without the awareness of what it will cost me. I am forever grateful to Tribe Sober for helping me get to this place where, at 33, I finally feel in charge of my own destiny. As is clear from this email, I still have lots of work to do, but I have hope. And this story WILL be continued. 

Thank you Janet and Tribe Sober.
– Andrea

“Alcoholics? None of Them Work Here. I’d Sack Them Straight Away.” by Jerry Rudd

Is that your take on alcoholism?  You would recognise an alcoholic straight away – most of them live on a park bench, and the others are always drunk and really violent.  And if anyone confessed to a problem, would they be sacked immediately?

Actually, it is not as easy as that. 

Alcoholics like these do exist, but they are a minority: there is no such thing as a typical alcoholic.  Many of them continue to function, and hold down responsible jobs, sometimes at a very senior level.  They can be male, female, young, old, rich, poor, pleasant or unpleasant.  Some are social drinkers, some drink alone in a bar, and some drink at home.  Also, it is not quantity which defines an alcoholic: it is the inability to control drinking.

This not to deny that alcohol is a problem.  According to the charity Brake, up to 35% of road deaths worldwide are related to drunk driving, and working in a warehouse while drunk is equally dangerous.  Both are unacceptable. On the other hand, addiction is a serious mental health issue which must be treated as such. Sacking people at the first hint of a problem will result in the problem remaining hidden, and increase rather than decrease the likelihood of drunk driving.   Establishing a policy which takes account of both these issues is a difficult challenge, but it is one which must be met.

Most non-recovering alcoholics deny, even to themselves, that there is a problem. They may blame some external factor, and convince themselves that drinking is helping to relieve stress, whereas actually it does the opposite. They may be able to exert some control, for example not drinking for a few days, and use this to convince themselves that they are not alcoholics.  In reality, unless someone is prepared to admit to alcoholism, or indeed any other form of addiction, they will not be able to begin recovery.

Once that important step has been taken, help can at last be given.  It is extremely rare for an alcoholic to be able to stop drinking without help.

Some also misuse alcohol. This is not the same thing as addiction, and we refer to its use as in too great a quantity and/or at the wrong time.  Some non-alcoholics regularly drink too much, with a long term effect on their health.  Others drink to excess only occasionally, perhaps at a party, and some people only get drunk once in a lifetime. A driver who drinks two pints on Friday night, and next drives on Monday morning, is not misusing alcohol.  However, if they drink two pints in the middle of a shift, or eight pints the night before, they would be. 

Alcohol Policies

I strongly recommend that every organisation establishes a drug and alcohol policy.  This should be designed to deal with problems quickly, effectively, and consistently; to protect employees and others; and at the same time encourage people to seek help. 

The policy might include:

  1. Recognition that an alcoholism is illness 
  2. Providing education and training for managers
  3. The importance of early identification and treatment
  4. Assurance of confidentiality
  5. Help available, from managers, supervisors, company doctor, occupational health departments, or outside organisations
  6. Is alcohol testing included?
  7. The disciplinary position. In my opinion this should be very different where an employee comes forward, admits to a problem, and seeks help; compared to a case in which they admit the problem only after being found working under the influence of drink
  8. Provision of paid sick leave for agreed treatment 
  9. The individual’s right to return to the same job after effective treatment and any conditions that may apply, such as the use of alcohol locks on vehicles 
  10. Whether a second course of treatment will be allowed in the event of a relapse
  11. Termination of employment on grounds of ill health where treatment is unsuccessful
  12. Policy with respect to convictions for offenses outside the workplace.

Some would say that different policies should apply to different groups of employees, but I would disagree.  For example, a stock record clerk might not be in immediate danger while sitting at a computer screen, but may carelessly leave a trip hazard for others in the office. Or might need to enter a more dangerous area, for example going into the warehouse to check on some stock.  To suggest that a truck driver should be dismissed for drunk driving, but that a sales director who does so after entertaining customers should retain their job, is to my mind indefensible.  My view is that the policy should apply equally to everyone. 

Treatments Available

There are several types of treatment available.  There is no right or wrong type: different people respond better or less well to each.  Indeed, many find that they need more than one type of help in order to enter recovery. Anyone with a drink problem would be well-advised to consult their doctor, but some, understandably, prefer not to do so.   

Options include:

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous, the most famous organisation, which has helped millions of people world-wide to achieve sobriety since it was founded in the 1930s. 
  2. Tribe Sober, an international online network – hold workshops and meetups via Zoom – 8 step program for subscription members – tribesober.com
  3. Other self-help groups.  There are countless smaller organisations, many of which do excellent work
  4. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). This is based on the idea that one’s thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected
  5. Counselling.  This might be a brief intervention, perhaps as little as 10 minutes, which can be effective where someone is not yet addicted. Longer, repeated sessions will be needed in more serious cases. 
  6. Medication.  This should only be used when prescribed by a medical practitioner 
  7. Residential care. Typically, a 28-day period, during which a variety of therapies are offered.  This can be expensive if you are self-funding, but many people will feel that is justified, as it may save their life.  


Alcohol policies require a difficult balancing act.  On the one hand driving and other activities whilst under the influence can be very dangerous, but on the other, alcoholism (and drug addiction) are serious and life-threatening illnesses which should be treated as sympathetically as any other illness.

Implementing a drug and alcohol policy will in narrow terms cost money, but this should be more than offset by benefits in improved productivity and reduced accident rates.  

There are legal obligations on employers to manage this issue, to prevent employees becoming a danger to themselves or others.  I would strongly recommend the drafting and implementation of a drug and alcohol policy by every company as a key step in doing so. 

– Jerry Rudd

Jerry Rudd is the author of “Health and Safety in Logistics”, published by Kogan Page, which is available on the Publisher’s website or on Amazon.  This includes chapters on mental health and drug and alcohol policies, as well as on other aspects of Health and Safety. 


How to Navigate this Festive Season Without the Wine

There must be ways you can navigate this festive season without the wine, surely? Or are you worried that it is not possible to enjoy a drink-free Christmas in 2020? Why on earth should we have to ditch the wine after all that we have been through? After all that the world has been through? 

2020 was The Year of Covid 19. It was the year of Lockdowns and restrictions. It was the year we were forced to STOP in our tracks and think about our too-busy lives. For many of us, it will be easy to navigate this festive season without the wine. For others, however, it might just be the hardest thing to do at the end of 2020. To even imagine navigate Christmas and New Year without an alcoholic beverage would be hell! 

Bankrupt and Depressed or Solvent and Sober?

Drinking and the Coronavirus Pandemic go hand in hand for some people. These people simply drank more during the global crisis when we were all masked for months and online for everything.

It is true that many of these Covid-19 drinkers became extremely depressed. Many of them became very bankrupt too as they lost their jobs AND bought booze on the black market. Did the booze help, I wonder? 

Other people decided to give up the drink entirely. These people stayed solvent and sober. They can look forward to a drink-free Christmas to celebrate their year. They will be able to navigate the festive season without the wine. I will too!

Drinking to This and That and The Next Thing!

My husband will not be enjoying a drink-free Christmas because he says 2020 deserves many drinks. When South African President Cyril Ramaphosa gave his first speech at the end of March 2020, my husband’s anger was palpable. And it continued to pulsate for the next 8 long months of lockdown. 

He had stockpiled some beers and some red wine and some whiskey. Which he seemed to keep going with gifts from old friends who had extra stash. He drank daily, from afternoons right through to bedtime. When this booze ran out, my husband refused to navigate lockdown without the wine. But wine was too expensive on the black market. So, he found a recipe for homemade cider and started his production process in our garage. The cars were moved out, the gas cooker was turned on and the house was filled with the smell of apples. 

Bags of apples, brown sugar and yeast hid the dining room table. The shops ran out of yeast and the flies got drunk on the fumes.

A Comedy of Errors?

The comedy continued for months. Until Ramaphosa announced that alcohol sales were on again. The drinks flowed in our house every afternoon, into the night. Lots of them. Then one day, hubby announced he would be having drink-free weeks and only drinking on weekends. I asked myself: is he going to navigate lockdown now without the wine? 

Well, he made up for the sober weeks with plenty of alcohol on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. I don’t know about you, but I call this binge drinking. Binge drinking is a huge problem in South Africa and the world. 

But getting back to our subject: how to navigate this festive season without the wine. This is very do-able. The rock bottom theme for 2020 for most people on the planet opens doors for getting back up and climbing life’s long ladder. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, we too can rise from the sadness, the debt, the shock, and the unreality of the horror. 

The closing of 2020 and the opening of 2021 is a time of hope, new beginnings. Drinking through this very enlightening process and era will cloud the positive energies. Join me as we navigate this festive season without the wine. I know December can be a challenging month if you’ve recently quit drinking or you’re trying to drink less.

10 Tips on How to Navigate this Festive Season Without the Wine

  1. Think Ahead. Get your mind right during December: you want to feel refreshed and happy about your decision to not drink. Get enough sleep and look forward to the week of festivities. Prepare yourself for the craziness and make sure you have a plan.
  2. Prepare a Plan of Action: 
  • buy yourself some Alcohol-Free drinks to have in hand when others are drinking or making toasts
  • have something to do that keeps your hands and mind busy: knitting, cooking, baking, making decorations with the kids, tidying the kitchen
  • keep a great film for later
  • keep some treats you love in the kitchen where you can sneak away to indulge. 

     3. Tell one person about your plan to be sober this Christmas. This will hold you accountable and remind the other drinkers that you were in control and remember everything.

     4. Offer to be the photographer for the special occasions. You will keep busy and take crispy clear photographs of a time to remember.

     5. Lay out your fitness gear every night before you to go bed; when you awaken, sip a coffee and set off on your chosen fitness regime: walking, running, cycling, gym or swimming. Do it daily, throughout the festive season.

     6. Be ready to answer all of the “why are you not drinking” questions with a smile, a giggle and a NO answer. Whose business is it anyway? Check out these fab responses.

    7. Hang out with the kids, who will be much more fun and interesting as others drink. Play games, watch movies, and climb the jungle gym outside – or take them for a walk.

    8. Make sure you look terrific and stay that way all week. It will boost your self-esteem and get the others to notice your bright freshness as they awaken daily with ghastly hangovers.

   9. Have a plan of action to leave the party if things get out of hand. Go in your own car which you can then drive home. If your partner has too much to drink, he/she can stay the night or get a lift home. Make this clear before you go out to a party: “I am taking my car so that I can escape when I get bored or tired. You can call the Uber.”

  10.  Treat yourself: a long hot bath, something decadently delicious, a weekend away somewhere after the festivities have died down (because you don’t waste money on booze).

Check out this article too. Remember that navigating this festive season without the wine is achievable. It is entirely up to you. Go for it and good luck!


Starting a New Conversation About Alcohol

A five-year milestone calls for a new conversation. This one is about ditching the drink. Being sober for 5 years requires a new way of talking about alcohol and living without alcohol. It depends on finding the right tribe. So, let’s change the conversation about drinking. Let’s look a bit deeper at new buzz words like ‘sober curious’, ‘almost alcoholic’ and ‘moderate drinking’. 

Conversations with Janis invites you to chat frankly about Living Without Wine. How does it feel? Are you coping or not? Are there definite pros and cons of sobriety? Who is supporting your, or not?

Giving up the booze comes with its own truckload of highs and lows. Let’s discuss your good days and your bad days. Is a Tribe Sober a drama, comedy, thriller or absolute horror story for you? Did you win friends and influence people or are you in hiding from all those who still drink?

Buzz Words and Labels

In my blogs, I will I touch on my own experiences as we discuss whether alcohol will ever rule the world. Or whether we are recovering addicts or former alcoholics. Or is that former addicts or recovering alcoholics?! Maybe we are all “almost alcoholic”? Maybe we are none of these labels at all!

I personally stay away from that word ‘alcoholic’ and think of myself now as a non-drinker. Even talking about ‘being sober’ and ‘sobriety’ is too much for me. It is what it is, right? At least we are all trying to stop the booze messing up our lives. 

For many people struggling with their drinking, it is not easy to find an affordable online recovery coach. Like Janet Gourand. Janet has been around now for as long as I have been sober – 5 amazing years!  

Sharing our Stuff

Janet has brought all of us together on this unique platform. Conversations with Janis will delve into juicy subjects trending around the themes of abstinence from alcohol and whether moderation works. We will peep into the sober curious buzz and what it means to be an almost alcoholic. I will also explore how the rich and famous treat alcohol addiction – and why so many celebrities are binning the booze. 

But best of all, we will be in conversation. I look forward to your honest feedback about my blogs and how best to tackle the relevant issues in your life. Engage with me, chat to me about the content and how it makes you feel. We are team members seeking a common goal – ditching the drink.

More about Me

I found Tribe Sober at the right time in my life. I had to get sober, I wanted to get sober and, unbeknown to me, hundreds of other women were in the same boat. Then along came Janet Gourand. She too was in the same boat, but she was the captain of the boat! I jumped on board and even today, I wonder if I had alcohol use disorder or if I just drank a little too much? I never once considered that I was an alcoholic like my mother. She drank daily, bottles of cheap ‘Tassies’. Unlike her, I was able to take breaks from drinking for days and weeks if need be. I was also super healthy, despite the booze, and controlled the amount of wine I consumed daily. 

This all changed. One day, I knew that I had to stop drinking. Luckily, I reached out to Janet Gourand and the then very new Tribe Sober. It was meant to be. I am proud to say that I was 5 years sober on 26 December 2020. 

Joining Janet

I first met Janet when I spotted her photograph and story in the Business Times of the Sunday Times more than 5 years ago. I hid the article away in a drawer. A few months later, I attended the second Tribe Sober workshop ever. I was feeling terrified of life without wine – but excited about being forever sober.

The early Tribe Sober (Tribe Sober) reflected Janet’s new path – she too was newly sober and trying hard to make her new business work. The first few workshops took place in fancy hotel venues, in board rooms! We all needed the orderly programme and schedule. We all needed to be there and to be shown what to do! Today, Zoom meetings and workshops dominate the way we all communicate. The website too (and this blog) is a strong tool we use to gather our fans and keep them reading and learning and sharing.

Reflections and Predictions

Reaching 5 years without my daily wine glass brought back many memories, many realisations and many awkward moments for me. I had the best of times; I had the worst of times. The biggest realisation for me is that drinking alcohol permeated my life. It affected my decisions – unwise decisions based on confused choices. 

Some of the crazy things I did under the influence include: choosing boyfriends who did not love me, driving drunk often, crashing 3 cars, having unprotected sex a few times, making rash decisions about where I wanted to be in life, and hiding away from reality and big decisions.

I know that alcohol-free living is for those who want to make a change. For their own sake. Change the conversation now, right here, right now.

Listen to my Podcast here.

The Work is Never Done

If you are a recovering alcoholic or drinker, keep striving to be sober. Keep connecting: the opposite of addiction is connection. Connect with like-minded people, read as much as you can about the pros of abstention from alcohol, and take charge of your daily life. 

Some tips from me:

  • Find a new hobby that fills your days (I did a Kids Yoga Course and can now teach)
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise! Choose something you love and do it daily (I walk and do yoga)
  • Take your vitamins: Vitamin B, C, E, D, magnesium and calcium. 
  • Detox your liver and body (I took Milk Thistle for one month and love Dandelion)
  • Find sober friends and see them regularly
  • Say NO to social events when you feel stressed or triggered. I do!
  • Help others – giving of yourself is humbling and fulfilling.

Janis x


20. My 5 Years of Sobriety! – Janis

October 3, 2020

Tribe Sober – Your Guide to Alcohol-free Living!

After running Tribe Sober for 5 years and helping hundreds of people to ditch the drink and embrace alcohol-free living, I’ve learned a thing or two.  My biggest insight has been that sharing our stories around alcohol is the most powerful way we can help others – that’s why the heart of this podcast is recovery stories.

Janis came to a workshop back in 2016 and has recently celebrated her fifth Soberversary.

In this Episode

  • Janis had tried taking regular breaks from alcohol but it never quite stuck
  • She even managed 8 months of sobriety once – then tried to moderate, but found herself back drinking heavily within weeks
  • It was a blackout one Christmas that made her decide to make a change
  • We both agreed that when we drink heavily our world “shrinks” – all we care about is alcohol-related activities
  • She saw an article in the Sunday Times about Tribe Sober – and booked herself on the next workshop
  • Janis loved connecting with other people who were struggling with alcohol and after the workshop she stayed in touch – the connection helped her to make a permanent change
  • She is now 5 years sober and feels “renewed” – so much energy – she knows that sobriety has helped her get through the menopause
  • She made and drank a lot of kombucha when she first stopped drinking – also drank AF beers
  • Janis connects much better to her children and has a group of Sober Buddies that she hangs out with
  • We both agreed that we get a lot of pleasure from everyday activities these days – now that we no longer rely on the chemical high from alcohol
  • The alcohol free drinks industry is exploding which is a positive sign and many young people are drinking less
  • We talked about how many people know that they must drink less, but have no idea HOW to cut down and how Tribe Sober can help
  • Tribe Sober provides tools and community support to enable people to change their relationship with alcohol

More info

To access our website click HERE – subscription membership is only R75 (£5/$6) a month – 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 membership program and subscribe HERE.

19. How I Stopped Drinking – Ashleigh’s Story

September 26, 2020

Tribe Sober – Inspiring an Alcohol-free Life!

After running Tribe Sober for 5 years and helping hundreds of people to ditch the drink and embrace alcohol-free living, I’ve learned a thing or two.  My biggest insight has been that sharing our stories around alcohol is the most powerful way we can help others – that’s why the heart of this podcast is recovery stories.

Ashleigh came to a workshop back in August 2018 and has recently celebrated her second Soberversary.


In this Episode

  • Ashleigh’s first scrape with alcohol came when she was expelled from school at the age of 15!
  • In her 30’s, she recognised that there could be a problem when she found herself making lots of rules around her drinking – rules that she promptly broke!
  • At the end of the workshop, she knew it would be pointless committing to “moderation” – she had to go “all in” – she knew she had crossed the line with her drinking and there was no looking back
  • She felt confident leaving the workshop – she had her toolkit, some new information and people to connect with – she felt she could do this
  • In the beginning, she treated herself to hot chocolate, coffee and cake, etc – but as time went on, she weaned herself off the sweet things – and has now lost 10kgs!
  • Ashleigh has experienced so many benefits of her sobriety – she is certainly less anxious and more confident these days
  • So the workshop was a real turning point in Ashley’s life – at the age of 40, she has celebrated two years of sobriety and has a different future ahead
  • She fully recognised that if she hadn’t taken this step, she could have been in a very different place in 5 years time – alcohol is a very “slippery fish” as she said!

More info

To access our website click HERE and to read about subscription membership click HERE.
If you missed the Sober Spring start date then just email us for info on the next Challenge

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 membership program and subscribe HERE.


18. How We Go from Liking to Wanting to Needing Alcohol

September 19, 2020

Tribe Sober – Inspiring an Alcohol-free Life!

After running Tribe Sober for 5 years and helping hundreds of people to ditch the drink and embrace alcohol-free living, I’ve learned a thing or two.  My biggest insight has been that sharing our stories around alcohol is the most powerful way we can help others – that’s why the heart of this podcast is recovery stories.

We’ve heard some heartwarming stories so far – stories about people becoming dependent on alcohol and then finding their way out of it again.

This week I’m doing a solo episode on the science behind alcohol dependency which underlines the importance of taking a break.

So sign up for Sober Spring 2020 – starts 21st September – sign up HERE

If you’ve missed Sober Spring then drop us a line at janet@nulltribesober.com

We’ll let you know when the next challenge will take place.

In this Episode

  • In our 20’s and 30’s, we tend to be social drinkers – then some of us start using alcohol to cope with stress or loneliness
  • As we get into our 40’s or 50’s, we discover just how bad alcohol is for us – so we try to cut down or stop
  • We discover that this is not so easy to do
  • The harsh truth is that after 20 years of drinking, we are almost certain to develop a dependency on alcohol
  • When we drink, we create an endorphin spike (the buzz) but our brain produces dynorphin to calm it down
  • So we drink more to prolong the buzz, but over time this means that we have to drink more and more to get the same result
  • Three things are happening when we drink – we get an endorphin spike and a dopamine hit
  • Apart from making you feel good, dopamine is the “learning” molecule and will create triggers
  • Eventually your brain will “pre-empt” the trigger and produce dynorphin
  • This will make you feel low and you will need the drink, just to feel normal
  • Eventually our bodies get so reliant on alcohol that we don’t produce dopamine naturally any more
  • The result is that we will lose interest in everyday pleasures – the only thing we enjoy is the artificial boost we get from alcohol
  • That’s the definition of an alcoholic – let us help you get off the slippery slope.  To Sign Up for Sober Spring 2020 click HERE

More info

To access our website click HERE and to read about subscription membership click HERE.
If you missed the Sober Spring start date then just email us for info on the next Challenge

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 membership program and subscribe HERE.



17. How I Ditched the Drink and Changed my Life! – Lucy’s Story

September 12, 2020

Tribe Sober – Inspiring an Alcohol-free Life!

After running Tribe Sober for 5 years and helping hundreds of people to ditch the drink and embrace alcohol-free living, I’ve learned a thing or two.  My biggest insight has been that sharing our stories around alcohol is the most powerful way we can help others – that’s why the heart of this podcast is recovery stories.

In this episode I interview Lucy who I met at our first London workshop back in 2018. Since then, not only has she ditched the drink and transformed her own health, but so too has she helped many other people in our community. Lucy just hit her second Soberversary and is loving her alcohol-free life!


In this Episode

  • Lucy was a social drinker until her 40’s but then started using it to self-medicate her work-related stress
  • She tried to moderate as she was determined to be “normal” but it never really stuck – in spite of her many “rules”
  • She had managed to give up for short periods – Dry January, etc
  • Lucy came to the workshop with 1 month of sobriety – she wanted a boost to make sure she stayed on track
  • She had also read Clare Pooley’s book, The Sober Diaries, which inspired her
  • She loved the workshop because she got a lot of info and connected with others on the same path
  • Lucy stayed connected with these people via the WhatsApp group
  • She also became a member and got her subscription fee back in one week of not drinking!
  • One of the things she loves about the Members’ WhatsApp group is all the information that is circulated
  • She loves the support and friendship in the Membership – we all understand each other
  • The weekly Zoom cafe has added another layer of connection for the community
  • We talked about the value of the annual and 66-day trackers which Lucy designed
  • Lucy listed the many benefits of sobriety – she particularly loves not having her life revolve around alcohol!
  • She is a cheerleader for the Sober Springers and finds the mutual support heartwarming
  • She urges people to sign up for the Sober Spring starting on 21st September – there is nothing to lose! To Sign Up for Sober Spring