Based on this Instagram post below👇🏼 I finally decided to write down resources I found helpful for sobriety. It feels vulnerable to share all of this because it's so personal, but I've posted about it enough online to learn that this is something that others are seeking too, so at the very least I hope this is helpful for someone.
Please keep this in mind: these books, podcasts, support groups, and alternative drinking delights are simply some of the things that helped me. There are a TON of other resources and professionals out there that may feel like a better fit for the reasons you're curious about giving up alcohol. Start with some podcasts and search from there. Find voices and conversations that you find relatable. I think it's important to see yourself in the stories in order to begin healing. There's a spectrum of alcohol use from celebratory toast to coping mechanism, and there is a ton of support available for anyone on the latter end.
Keep exploring if you are curious. Try not to be hard on yourself in the process. The benefits of going alcohol-free are substantial on your health: better quality sleep, reduced risk of several cancers, less anxiety, and so many more. I put a few tips that worked for me in navigating social situations near the end, too.
Books that helped me
- Sober Curious, Ruby Warrington - I started here and I can honestly say that if not for listening to this book every day on a treadmill at a rec. center during COVID, I might not have committed to the rest of this path. I'm not saying you need to pick up running to get it; I am not a runner. So when I found myself running while listening to audiobooks on sobriety, I knew I was having some sort of reckoning with life.
- Quit Like a Woman, Holly Whitaker - A title that swept the nation, and for good reason. Personally, I hate the title. But the contents are tough to ignore. Holly Whittaker took a feminist approach to sobriety and personally, I'm glad I listened to it after Sober Curious though because the tone was a little more abrasive. I always listened to this one in the car.
- Untamed, Glennon Doyle - Not directly about sobriety but she does talk about it in the book. It's more about having a reckoning with the path that's been set out for women. Again, feminists approach to some very honest revelations. Her way of explaining things and connecting the dots on something is next to none. The chapters are in small, bite size pieces so you can digest them slowly. I always took myself on 5km walks for this one.
Podcasts I found interesting and relatable
- Here is a long list from Tempest that I have not made my way through yet but am so glad that it exists.
- Here's a playlist of episodes that I started listening to before and during my pursuit of sobriety. I started building this playlist on November 17th, 2020, and my first day of sobriety was December 26th, 2020. I wasn't having many conversations about this with my friends. Listening to the conversations other people were having on the topic was really helpful for me to get my head around it and drop the stigma that comes along with deciding to not drink alcohol anymore. Save this playlist and I'll keep adding to it as I hear things that are relevant.
- The Tempest - founded by Holly Whittaker and an incredible online community and resource for anyone looking to make the commitment. They provide coaches, education, and access to other people on the same path as you. Tons of info on their site, well worth checking out.
- The Luckiest Club - Similar to The Tempest but in her own way. Founded by Laura Mckowen, co-creater of the Home Podcast
- She Recovers - founded by Taryn Strong and her mother, Dawn Nickel. Taryn offers trauma informed recovery meditation and yoga classes that I linked here, and Dawn holds a Ph.D. in health care policy with extensive experience in researching and writing about women experiencing substance use disorders, mental health challenges, and intimate partner violence. They now have a global team and community of women celebrating recovery and host annual gatherings for connection, with Elizabeth Gilbert speaking at their next event in Chicago. Taryn and Dawn are both Vancouver Island/Salt Spring Island locals.
- The New Social - founded by Elizabeth Kecki as a way to build a local Victoria community from what she has gotten out of Lauren Mckowen's club. She hosts gatherings and retreats here on Vancouver Island.
- Dry Society Girls - Founded by Meerah Jayakumar out of Toronto as a resource for living sober with non-alcoholic recommendations and more. Follow her for memes and stay tuned for more from her with Picot!
- AA - The OG and it really is quite something. I went to a few meetings this past Spring and was pleasantly overwhelmed with the no BS honesty, kindness support in the room. I was so intimidated but was welcomed so earnestly. It wasn't for me, but I'm glad I went and I can genuinely see that value it has provided for so many. You can find meetings at almost every hour in any city you live in.
- An addiction and trauma-focused therapist. I highly recommend this for anyone who has used alcohol as a means of coping with some deeper issues and discomforts.
- Soda Stream or the dreamy Aarke Carbonator - I have never drunk so much water and sparkling water in my life. I'm so hydrated. I feel fabulous and my skin loves it.
Favourite bubbly water additions:
- 1tsp lemon juice and pinch of salt
- splash of chilled Calm or Rise Tea
- 1tsp lime juice +1tsp jalapeño- infused simple syrup
Sansorium - the non-alcoholic wine marketplace that I came across in the summer! They offer 10% off first orders and shipping was SO fast from Vancouver.
- Sol Bru, Developed by herbalists and bartenders, these sugar-free aperitifs are my favourite to mix in with soda water and citrus.
- Acid League: living tonics and more fermented things to add to your sparkling water. I believe they are based out of Quebec.
- Proxies: formally a part of Acid League as their non-alcoholic wine selection but they branched out and made themselves a name of their own.
Tips for being in a situation where you say no to alcohol or have to be around it:
You don't need to explain yourself. It's okay to jut say you're not drinking right now. If you're a woman, the next question you might get is about pregnancy. Ugh.It's perfectly fine to just say no to going out, or saying yes to your favourite restaurant and ordering bubbly water instead of wine. If that's too challenging at the beginning (it was for me), then suggest lunch, coffee, a fitness class, a walk or something that doesn't usually lead to ordering whatever your drink of choice is.
It's possible that some friends will take it harder than others by continuing to offer you alcohol, especially if it's is the main thing you have in common.
Here's the phrase that I have relied on for two years and I have received ZERO pushback on:
I'm not drinking right now, I feel happier and healthier without it.
Hard truth: if anyone in your life doesn't want you to be happier and healthier, too, you might have to really think about that. Some people find it threatening to see others doing something they themselves want, but know it's hard to try or achieve. Protect the part of yourself that is yearning for more. If you're curious enough to know what it would be like to live without alcohol, then it's worth trying and the benefits are truly immeasurable. It's also likely that once you learn about the negative health side effects from Sober Curious or Quit Like a Woman, it will change your desire for it.
BYOB - bring your own bubbly
I once had someone tell me that they have no idea what to offer me if I'm not drinking alcohol, and I thought that was just ridiculous. So to save that situation again, I come prepared! I got in the habit of bringing my Sodastream bottle with me instead of a bottle of wine to a dinner party. Sometimes I got fancy and brought la criox. Just come prepared for yourself and no one will feel like they have to provide a drink for you. Water is also trés chic.
Once you get on your way of not drinking, feeling empowered every time you say no, learning about the health benefits of sobriety (sleeping better, less anxiety, reduced cancer risk...), try not to push it on other people. Just keep doing this for yourself, and if someone is curious, too, then they'll ask for more details, or open up about their own curiosity. It's okay to share about how you're doing with it all if they ask, but no one likes the person who goes around trying to tell everyone to do crossfit and turn vegan, so the same thing applies for sobriety. Trust that people will see and feel the positive difference in you the more you stick with it, and they will come to you if they are interested.
Celebs: they're just like us.
A few who have decided not to drink alcohol anymore:
Eva Mendez, Elizabeth Gilbert, Brene Brown, Calvin Harris, Brad Pitt, Common, Blake Lively, Jason Bateman, Jason Segal, Jennifer Lopez, Hank Azaria, Russel Brand, Tyra Banks, Kendrick Lamar, Daniel Radcliff, Lucy Hale, Leona Lewis, Lana Del Ray, Pharrell, Gerard Butler, Jennifer Hudson, Zac Effron, Colin Farell, Jack & Kelly Osbourne.