It pains me to write this, but it’s often true: giving up the bottle can make you feel a whole lot better. While I love cocktail hour on a bar stool and splitting a bottle of wine over dinner, I can acknowledge that the stretches of time I’ve gone without alcohol have resulted in clearer skin and better sleep. And yet, I can’t give up my beloved bordeaux.
But there’s a big difference between a couple of glasses of wine, and a habit that interferes with the rest of your life. Sarah Turner and Lucy Rocca are co-authors of the book The Sober Revolution: Women Calling Time on Wine O’Clock; further, Rocca started Soberistas.com to help women ditch problem drinking and feel better about both their health and behaviour, and Turner is a therapist with Harrogate Sanctuary. Here, they explain their own relationships with alcohol and how much better they feel after ditching the habit.
Q: Why did you start Soberistas?
Lucy: I set up Soberistas.com in November 2012 because I realized during my own experience of beating an alcohol dependency that there was a need for an online support group aimed at women. As a heavy drinker of 20 years, I never considered myself an alcoholic, as I always associated that word with those who are seriously and physically addicted to alcohol – I never put myself in this bracket, and therefore did not feel that AA was an appropriate source of help for me. What I did realize (and have since been proven right, thousands of times over on Soberistas.com) is that peer support from like-minded people is a brilliant way to feel motivated and supported in the difficulties faced by those who are alcohol-dependent.
Q: Why do so many women rely on alcohol as a coping mechanism?
Lucy: I became seriously dependent on alcohol as a crutch when I was going through a divorce in my late 20s. The years that followed during which I was a single parent were particularly tough and the wine then became a constant, and in large volumes. This is a common reason why many women hit the wine, but I also think we have a lot on our plates in general. Juggling kids, work, and the household chores, as well as maintaining our looks in a society that places a high value on female appearance, all contribute to feelings of stress and low self-worth.
Many women drink in an effort to switch off from these emotions in the evening. I also believe that many women drink as a confidence booster in social situations.
Q: There’s a lot of room between enjoying a glass of wine over dinner and becoming a problem drinker; where do you advise women to draw the line?
Sarah: Each woman I see is unique, some want to stop drinking because they are uncomfortable with it, others have had catastrophic consequences and have to give up before more harm is done. When drinking alcohol stops being fun for you and those you love, it’s time to rethink your drinking. When you have to start lying about your drinking, becoming defensive about how much you drink, losing memory because of drinking, missing work, missing appointments, missing at least three quarters of Sunday because of a hard Friday and Saturday night. All of the above generally become more visible over 30.
Q: How has giving up alcohol improved your life?
Lucy: My life is unrecognizable as a non-drinker to the one I lived when I regularly drank one to two bottles of wine a night. Stopping drinking has been like a rebirth for me – life only really began when I sobered up. The list is endless:
1. I have more energy
2. I’m a better parent
3. I am a million times more productive
4. I like myself finally after 20 years of self-loathing
5. I look better
6. I sleep better
7. I eat better
8. I look after my body and prioritize keeping fit
9. I read more
10. I’m a more considerate and caring partner
You can purchase Sarah and Lucy’s book, The Sober Revolution here.
Have you recently given up drinking? Share with us how its improved your life in the comment section below.