I loved reading the latest post from the hugely successful author and motivational speaker Gabrielle Bernstein, she was sharing an update post that she wrote some years ago and revealing that October is her ‘soberversary’ and she is 13 years sober.
As the month of October starts, Macmillan Cancer Support are challenging people to give up drinking alcohol for 31 days to raise money and help them support even more people facing cancer. Go Sober for October is an opportunity to support a great cause, but also a great chance for people to experience the changes to their mind and body that take place after a month of abstinence from alcohol. Of course some people are already on their sobriety journey and others are going to use the #gosoberforoctober ‘campaign’ to kickstart the end of their dependence on alcohol. Now is the time to give yourself the challenge of Going Sober for October. The charity suggests telling yourself that you can do it, getting your friends on board and making your plan for alternatives. These tips can work when the triggers come and you feel like reaching for the beer or your favourite tipple – but for change to be long lasting, it’s really about mindset, and in the Janey Loves Platinum Awards recently one winner was leading coach Jo De Rosa, founder and author of Quantum Sobriety. Jo is aiming to change the conversation around addiction, as someone who has been there done it and got the T-shirt, with her own journey; from hopeless alcohol and drug addict to total freedom.
The great thing about these kinds of months, like dry January is that it can make it easier to ‘fit in’ because when we are in a culture where alcohol is so prevalent, it can feel hard to be the odd one out.
Read Gabrielle Bernstein’s post https://bit.ly/2QntZAv for some of her insights into the most important tools to use in sober recovery, I was pleased to see that they include EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique. I’ve been a fan for a long time and trained as a practitioner and I’ve found it incredibly helpful as a simple DIY tool to help to release old beliefs and negative thought patterns. I’ve used it even to reduce pain and fear. If you can see a practitioner, it’s even more powerful, and consider too a session of Matrix Re-imprinting which is incredible for removing blocks and old unhelpful patterns of behaviour. The root cause of any addiction can often be trauma and how we care for ourselves. While it may seem woolly and woo woo, self love is actually key in becoming all you can be. I interviewed Gabrielle when her card deck and her book ‘Judgement Detox’ came out and she is a big believer in daily meditation.
This is something very much echoed by Jo De Rosa, she knows all there is to know about addiction, to alcohol, cigarettes, food, partying, and other substances, she was a ‘functioning addict’ and experienced addiction for years, hiding her addiction to many people in her life as she led a double persona as a party girl/yoga teacher.
Jo felt totally powerless and alone, so a conventional 12-step program didn’t appeal to her even though she knew she had a severe problem. She threw herself into her yoga teaching, practice, and meditation, at the same time as living a double life as an addict. Over time her practice gave her insight into why she was in such a place. Jo wants to change the conversation around addiction, addicts are viewed as weak by society, but Jo believes the opposite to be true. Addicts are often strong willed and very driven, and Jo shows addicts how to use their drive to do something positive rather than negative, changing the focus and using their drive for good.
Jo believes that Going Sober for October is a really great first step, jumping into a group of people with a mission takes the spotlight and the pressure off you as an individual and at the end of the month you could definitely be feeling more empowered, with more clarity of thinking and generally feeling healthier both physically and mentally.
Alcohol is so ingrained in our culture, particularly in our social conditioning and addiction is seen as a very negative and shameful thing. Jo doesn’t use the words ‘in recovery’ or ‘alcoholic’ – ‘Quantum Sobriety’ is about choosing your individual path of reality, and everything is possible. There are many offerings in the ‘Quantum Sobriety’ approach including meditation downloads, a book, online programme’s and residential retreats in Suffolk. QuantumSobriety.com
Another sober hero coming up to her 13th year is Stephanie Chivers, a habit and addiction specialist. She says:
About 12 years ago my life changed. It started off as the worst day and in that clichéd way I hit my rock bottom. Everyone has one and it’s at different levels for all of us. Mine was a short stay in custody just before Christmas. I had drunk a huge amount (however I had been drinking daily for a while).
Luckily it was a massive shock, big enough to stop me in my tracks, make me think. Think about what had happened to my life, how had I ended up there, how had I let things get this bad? In that moment, I took full responsibility for my behaviour and my life.
It wasn’t easy but in that first year I set about changing my life, yes pretty much my whole life and I didn’t do it in a year obviously, it took time, a lot of time. I stopped drinking, taking drugs and partying, that’s where the change started for me.
There have been so many benefits for me. The biggest one is the clarity, it still is amazing. I very rarely get confused or am a slave to my emotions. Obviously, no hangovers, looking and feeling healthy, I am 49 and I feel great. I sleep well, I eat healthy and I exercise, this has been a constant reality for the last 12 years, well most of the time, I am not perfect. Going out and not having to worry, feel ashamed, feel bad about my behaviour is also a huge plus. I applied myself to my job and my training and did well, I did up my home, paid off my debts. I became a drug and alcohol worker, a bloody good one and really worked at it. I am a master practitioner of NLP and a coach now. I love my work, I love helping people to live happier healthier lives, it’s a buzz.
I don’t want to have a disease, I don’t want to label myself as an addict, and I don’t want to say that I am in recovery. I am a person that has learnt skills that enable me to have choice and live the life I want.
My biggest tip for habit change is to focus on putting in the new, rather than not doing the thing you want to change. https://www.ichange21.com/
Jonathan Turner from the Soberpunks blog says
After discovering punk and rock music at 15 years old, and spending my time reading about the crazy drunken antics of bands like Guns ‘n’ Roses and Sex Pistols, I was drawn to the promised delights of booze and fags like chavs to a Love Island convention. Fast forward 10 years and I’d managed to fashion a makeshift ‘rock and roll lifestyle’ of my own, playing my own regular live shows that were designed to celebrate the world of drunken oblivion, and staggering through the next ten years into my mid-thirties leaving a trail of empty bottles clinking behind me. At 35 I was struggling. The weekend binges were losing their shine. The hangovers brought mind-fog and paranoia, which affected my ability to carry out my stressful dayjob in project management, and also the drinking and junk food had turned me into quite the fat bastard. I was unhappy, and the beer had now become a crutch for temporary escapism. Both the solution, and the problem.
I was lucky enough to meet my wife Emma, and with her support I quit the drinking for good on 8th September 2015 after a particularly nasty time following a holiday together in France. I was going to lose her if I didn’t sort my shit out, and that was enough to spur me on.
That first year wasn’t easy, what with the booze cravings, and the spare time I suddenly had on my hands every weekend. Also, I was fully sober for the first time since being 15 – I had a lot of growing up to do! There were struggles and frustrated tears, but with Emma’s support I got through, and things started to get easier. And then the weirdest thing happened: life started to get AWESOME. Turns out life can be pretty fuckin’ fun when you have a clear head and a ton of energy!
To celebrate my first year of sobriety I started writing a sweary blog called Soberpunks, which I use to capture and share my drunken stories, general meanderings, and also tips and advice from my experience of giving up the booze. A wonderful and unexpected bonus of this is that I’ve managed to help a few people out along the way, and I still get an amazing warm fuzzy feeling whenever someone drops me an email to say that the blog has helped them get their life back. There aren’t many men talking about this problem these days, and I think people have embraced the gritty male view of alcoholism that my blog brings.
Today I am 1055 days sober, and I continue to blog about the benefits of a life lived sober. These days I’m 2st lighter, I enjoy my work, I have spare cash since I’m not spunking it all on beer and taxis and takeaways, and I spend my spare time writing and rock climbing. Life is good, man. I’ve been given a second chance, and I owe it all to sobriety.
If I had to choose one piece of advice to give someone trying to quit drink, then it would be: Play the tape to the end. Before you pick up that first drink, imagine how you will feel tomorrow when you wake up. Imagine the empty wallet, the dry mouth, the banging head, the pissed jeans (if you’re a classy guy), and the paranoia about the things you might have said and done.
All of these problems can go away. Life can improve immeasurably. It’s easy. Just don’t pick up that first drink, dude.
There is of course a big trend for giving up alcohol right now, but there is also a trend for Mindful Drinking, for those who want to ‘moderate’ their drinking .
Mindful Drinking Heroes
Jussi Tolvi one of the founders of Club Soda who run a huge online community and are also behind the Mindful Drinking Festivals held recently in London and Glasgow, considers himself a ‘Mindful Drinker ‘
“I guess my drinking habits were not that unusual: a few glasses a couple of times a week, and the odd binge every now and then. But I was feeling the bad effects more and more: horrible hangovers, feeling tired, putting on weight. So I tried to cut down, and managed a few weeks of more moderate consumption, but it usually crept up again. Until I took 18 months completely off, and during that time something clicked for me. I’ve since managed to drink mindfully: just two drinks at most, and not very often.
Now as a founder of Club Soda I’ve seen many people try to achieve the same thing. Some do it easily, some struggle, and some just can’t seem to be able to do it at all. I wish I could reveal ‘the secret’ to moderation, but I’m not sure there is one. Find the information, plan ahead, and then do your best.
You may find that after taking the challenge of a month off for October, you have more energy, you lose a few pounds (and raise some pounds for charity!), you sleep better and feel happier…who knows you might just want to take some of the tips and advice and stick with it. Lets raise a glass to that!