How To Be A Mindful Drinker
What does it mean to be a “mindful drinker”?
Mindful drinking is about becoming more aware of how your body and mind are affected by alcohol, and how you use alcohol to relate to the people around you.
Mindful drinkers notice, learn and ultimately take control of their drinking.
Today I’m welcoming Laura Willoughby, the co-founder of Club Soda, the mindful drinking movement.
Club Soda describes mindful drinking as the combination between attention and intention. To pay attention and notice your drinking and create an intention around how you want to live as it relates to your alcohol consumption.
Many mindful drinkers moderate their drinking habits. For example, some mindful drinkers choose lower alcohol drinks, or drink fewer drinks each day, or stop drinking on weekdays, or do a longer sober sprint. And some people go completely alcohol-free.
Mindful Drinking is aimed at anyone who wants to understand their own drinking habits better, with a special emphasis on those who want to take greater control over what and how much they drink. Mindful drinking is for people who want to improve their relationship with alcohol and reduce the harm it can cause.
Club Soda’s mission is to make mindful drinking widely accepted so that everyone feels confident to change their drinking habits if they want to and to make sure that people who aren’t drinking alcohol are just as comfortable as drinkers who are, especially in social spaces where alcohol is served.
Tune into this episode to hear Casey and Laura discuss:
- Why encouraging people to drink more mindfully is the first step to taking control of your relationship with alcohol and living with intention
- Questions to ask yourself as you’re paying more attention to your drinking habits
- Why it’s important to influence the availability of non-alcoholic drink choices at bars and restaurants
- How alcohol-free drinks can be helpful in reducing your drinking and going completely alcohol-free
- Why Club Soda sees the mindful drinking movement as a broad church that includes those who are moderating drinking, choosing lower alcohol drinks, stopping drinking for a period of time or going completely alcohol-free
- What Laura learned after being sober for 10 years
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- Change your relationship with alcohol with The Sobriety Starter Kit, my signature sober coaching course to help you drink less + live more. To enroll go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com
- Grab the Free 30-Day Guide To Quitting Drinking, 30 Tips For Your First Month Alcohol-Free
More About Laura Willoughby
Laura Willoughby MBE is co-founder of Club Soda, the Mindful Drinking Movement. Their aim is to help people drink more mindfully and live well.
The inspiration for Club Soda comes from Laura’s experience of giving up drinking ten years ago. A campaigner at heart with a background in movement building and politics, she realized that one of the big sticking points was a way to support people to take a self-guided journey to change their drinking.
Club Soda was created to make mindful drinking widely accepted so that everyone feels confident to change their drinking habits if they want to.
Laura also co-hosts the club soda podcast with Drew Yeager and in the podcast they take a deep dive into the subjects that matter, including alcohol, free drinks, and life changing advice, practical tips and conversations with experts on sober and mindful living.
Follow Club Soda on Instagram @joinclubsoda
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Purchase Laura’s book, How to Be a Mindful Drinker: Cut down, stop for a bit, or quit – Kindle edition
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Want to read the full transcript of this podcast episode? Scroll down on this page.
ABOUT THE HELLO SOMEDAY PODCAST
The Hello Someday Podcast helps busy and successful women build a life they love without alcohol. Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life coach and creator of The 30-Day Guide to Quitting Drinking, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement.
Whether you know you want to stop drinking and live an alcohol free life, are sober curious, or are in recovery this podcast is for you.
In each episode Casey will share the tried and true secrets of how to drink less and live more.
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READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THIS PODCAST INTERVIEW
How To Be A Mindful Drinker
drinking, alcohol, people, red wine, pubs, beer, club soda, sober, mindful drinker, wine, uk, behavior, sobriety
SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Laura Willoughby
Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.
In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.
Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a bus, how to sit with your emotions, when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.
I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.
I’m jumping in before the episode today because I wanted to let you know that if you haven’t checked out some of the free resources on my website, you are missing out on some great support that could be helping you on your journey to drink less and live more. If you go to HelloSomedayCoaching.com you can grab the free 30-day Guide to Quitting Drinking. Over 10,000 women have downloaded the guide and it is really comprehensive what to expect on day three and day five, what to shop for, how to get ready to quit drinking, what you might feel on day 16, tips and tricks and resources to tap into. You can just go to my website, enter your email address and it will be sent right to you.
Also at HelloSomedayCoaching.com you can sign up for my completely free 60-minute masterclass, Five Secrets to Taking a Break from Drinking, even if you’ve tried and failed before. These are the mindset shifts that I go through with my private coaching clients when we first start working together. And if you’ve been stopping and starting with drinking, take 60 minutes out of your day to watch this, it will help. You can sign up for a time that works for you. And if you don’t end up being able to make that time a recording of this session will be sent to you.
And if you’re ready to make this whole quitting drinking thing easier or take a longer break from alcohol, I want you to check out my signature online sober coaching course, The Sobriety Starter Kit. It will help you move from day five and day 10 to 45 and 60 to six months and beyond by building not only your sober foundation and sober muscles, but life skills that will serve you well for the rest of your life. If you want to learn more about it, just go to sobrietystarterkit.com. And now let’s jump into the episode.
Hi, today I’m welcoming Laura Willoughby from Club Soda and we are talking about how to be a mindful drinker. Laura is the co-founder of Club Soda, The Mindful Drinking Movement. Their aim is to help people who want to drink more mindfully and live well. The inspiration for club soda comes from Laura’s experience giving up drinking 10 years ago, a campaigner at heart with her background in movement, building and politics. She realized that one of the big sticking points was a way to support people to take a self guided journey to change their drinking. Club Soda was created to make mindful drinking widely accepted, so that everyone feels confident to change their drinking habits if they want to. Society can make this easier by making sure that people who aren’t drinking alcohol are just as comfortable as drinkers who are especially in social spaces where alcohol is served. Laura also co-hosts the Club Soda podcast with Dru Jaeger and in the podcast they take a deep dive into the subjects that matter, including alcohol, free drinks, and life changing advice, practical tips and conversations with experts on sober and mindful living. So Laura, welcome to the podcast.
Thank you for having me.
Casey McGuire Davidson 05:03
Yeah, I’m so excited. And I asked you just before we got on the recording, but in your bio, it says Laura will be OBE. And I asked you what that was?
Yes, I told you basically, we have an honor system in the UK, I suspect you have something similar in the States, most countries do have some form of honor system. So I have an MBA for services to the community, which I got when I was 30. And if I was to go up the rankings, so to speak, that it goes OBE and then at the very top can become a day. And so when you hear of all of those British celebrities, like actors and stuff that are Dame or Sir Ian McKellen, and those people, that means they’ve got the top honor. So my mind is at the very bottom rung, but I didn’t get it when I was very young, which is very unusual.
Casey McGuire Davidson 05:51
Well, you got it from the queen. Is that right?
I did. It’s awarded by the Queen, signed by the Queen, and a medal.
Casey McGuire Davidson 06:01
That is very, very cool. All right, fun facts. And I love it. So we are here to talk about mindful drinking, and the work that Club Soda does. I know there are a lot of approaches for people who want to cut back or stop drinking. And I haven’t done a podcast yet on how to be a mindful drinker, or what that approach is. So will you tell me about that?
Yeah, I mean, mindful drinking, the term came about by accident, really, because we launched a pub guide. And I wanted to call it a pub guide for healthier drinkers. But we talk about low as well as no, and pubs can’t talk about being healthy if they serve alcohol, and I didn’t want to get them in trouble. So I use the phrase mindful drinking. But it was very useful because it encapsulates their guests, our whole sort of philosophy for us. So firstly, it’s not per episode, as jobs tell you what your goal should be. And so if you connect with Episode A, you could just be curious about changing your drinking habits, but not sure where you really want to go. And you’re welcome here, wherever you are in that journey. And also, because I believe fundamentally, that changing your drinking isn’t linear.
So people, you know, I tried many times to cut down and I could have probably done with connecting with people during that time, which would have made it much easier when I did change my drinking to do that. So I fully appreciate it’s not linear. And then finally, I really like using the phrase mindful drinking for a very important reason, which is, you know, I’m an alcohol free mindful drinker, some people have never drunk, and they are mindful drinkers. And some people aren’t drinking tonight, because they’re driving or they’ve got the gym tomorrow. In that point in time, they’re also mindful drinkers, we all are different types of mindful drinking, which is really important, because we all have one overlapping need, which is to have a really good drink when we’re out and not drinking alcohol.
And it’s that overlapping need, that means that there’s a very particular segment that we’re very focused on, which is, you know, substitution, finding a really good alcohol free drink, and making that widely available to everyone. Because if it’s widely available, then more people will drink alcohol, free drinks, and more people will be able to have a more mindful relationship with alcohol, whatever that might mean for them. So I like using it as an umbrella term, because I can, the number of mindful drinkers in the world is really, really high. And then when you start putting those figures in, you know, like in the UK, that’s, that’s 20 million people, you know, you begin to save up, this is a market that needs to be addressed needs to be served, that needs to have good experiences, when they’re out, that wants to feel equal, when they’re in a social situation, wants to spend money just like anybody else, but wants to do that with nice things, then then that’s where change happens. And I love it when you can make big change happen.
Casey McGuire Davidson 08:53
Yeah, I mean, I love so many things that you mentioned in there, I completely and totally agree that this isn’t linear, and that we don’t talk about it enough in terms of the way we drink, how we drink. If you want to cut back on drinking, I mean, especially in the US and I’ve heard in the UK too. It’s often this black or white thinking we’re either you quote unquote, have a real problem and cannot drink or you’re fine. Right? And so a lot of us, and I know I tried to cut back on my drinking, tried to moderate my drinking. For years, I finally realized that it was so much easier to just go alcohol free rather than for me trying to moderate because it never quite worked. I went back really quickly to a bottle of wine at night. But oh my god, the process would have been easier. I would have been happier. I would have been less internally tortured and beating myself up if I had a community to talk to during that decade, you know where I was trying to moderate.
You don’t, you don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to be perfect immediately. And you can learn vicariously from hanging around other people who are doing things differently. And actually, a good example of that is Dru, you know, Dru was one of my first sober dates a year after giving up drinking, and he was still drinking when I met him, but he was, his big issue for him was his mental health. And he said he drank occasionally. But he never drank to excess like I did. But over time, his drinking is reduced so much that he would call himself a default alcohol free mindful drinker. And he will occasionally have a beer. But that’s his process. And his need is very different to what mine was. And his has been partly about mental health, but also partly about thinking about the life that he wants to lead and where alcohol fits into that.
And I think that’s really powerful. Because often, when you’re giving something up, you’re focused on the thing that you’re giving up and not having the thing that you’re giving up. And not thinking about the life that he is you want to lead and where alcohol may or may not fit into that, or even stop you achieving that. And the thing that can keep you sober, or keep you more mindful in your drinking can be a clearer view of where you want to be. And so when people ask me now, after 10 years, if I still want a drink, I say no, because I’m living the life that I want. And therefore, I am much happier. And I don’t want to risk this, because I really enjoy this life that I have. But all of its ups and downs, it’s of course not perfect. You know, I wouldn’t suggest that in any way. But you know, the thing that keeps me with the habit that I want is that I have the life that I want, because I’ve managed to keep, you know, to the habit that I want, which is to not drink.
Casey McGuire Davidson 11:44
Yeah. And I see that there are so many new entrants these days into the alcohol free or zero proof drinks. And I love that you’re going to the pubs and you’re working with the establishments to do that. I mean, I just saw that Guinness just put out a non alcoholic drug which,
gosh, yet, it was sold out in January. And it’s I love when I meet people in this space that the different backgrounds that bring us to, to helping others change their drinking. And so there’s lots of people who are coaches and counselors, it’s not a skill that I have, and not one that I’m particularly good at because it involves too much listening. I’m so bad at that still, you know some things, drinking doesn’t change, right. But I’ve always been a campaigner. So when I set up Club Soda, really quickly, people said oh, but all the choices in pubs are terrible. So actually, in our first year of Club Soda, we did a piece of research that I got funded by local government here in the UK called nudging pubs, where I looked at all the behavior change techniques that we use in club soda, and worked out what behavior change techniques would encourage pubs and bars to think more about their non drinking customers. And that was in 2015, just before Heineken zero came out, and all of those brands started coming out. And so when they did, we found ourselves in this really unique position where we could talk about this for some authority.
And I saw because I’ve got a politics background, and I love systems change, I saw that there was a very unique role needed to talk to pubs and bars about the fact that actually there’s money in alcohol free drinks, there’s joy and delight for your customers and alcohol free drinks, and that what people are desperate for is more choice. And, you know, there’s been a wonderful combination of factors over the last few years that have now made that more possible. One is people who produce drinks. The second is more people talking about sobriety not drinking online. So habits are shifting quite fast, including most importantly, people moderating and going, Okay, I’m not going to drink for five nights a week, but I will swap out an alcoholic beer for an alcohol free beer instead. So don’t underestimate that being really important. And also, you know, our attitudes towards health are changing. So availability, visibility, and general health awareness have created this perfect storm and I really, I don’t want it to stop. I wanted to continue because normalizing and alcohol free drink would have made such a difference when we were drinking right and where our habits may have gone. If we could have been social without that drink in our hand. That would have been bliss.
Casey McGuire Davidson 14:31
Hi there. If you’re listening to this episode, and have been trying to take a break from drinking, but keep starting and stopping and starting again, I want to invite you to take a look at my on demand coaching course, the sobriety starter kit.
The sobriety starter kit is an online self study sober coaching course that will help you quit drinking and build a life you love without alcohol without white knuckling it or hating the process. The course includes the exact step by step coaching framework I work through with my private coaching clients, but at a much more affordable price than one on one coaching. And the sobriety starter kit is ready, waiting and available to support you anytime you need it. And when it fits into your schedule. You don’t need to work your life around group meetings or classes at a specific day or time.
This course is not a 30 day challenge, or a one day at a time approach. Instead, it’s a step by step formula for changing your relationship with alcohol. The course will help you turn the decision to stop drinking, from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.
You will sleep better and have more energy, you’ll look better and feel better. You’ll have more patience and less anxiety. And with my approach, you won’t feel deprived or isolated in the process. So if you’re interested in learning more about all the details, please go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com. You can start at any time and I would love to see you in the course
Yeah, and I’ve realized, you know, when I stopped drinking about six and a half years ago, the options for non alcoholic beverages were really limited. I mean, in where I was, it was sort of O’Doul’s or St Pauli’s girl beer that was not in my opinion, it didn’t taste that great to me. And since then, there’s just been this explosion in non alcoholic beverages. And it is wonderful, I find that with the women I work with. Some women don’t want to try non alcoholic beer or wine or, or sparkling Rose, or whatever it is. But for a lot of us having the same taste, having the same associations, having this really wonderful, I love Athletic Brewing Company beer, I’m an ambassador for them, it hits the spot, it makes you feel included, you’re happy about it, I share it with my friends who drink.
Yeah, absolutely. And it’s about quality of experience, in my view, which is that I don’t want to stand there with half a pint of coke as if I’m 12. And about to go making wait in the car park, my dad, I want to have a drink that I can have another one of and another one of. Because I’m not going to be sugared out by a polar. And I want to make this design for an adult palate that’s sippable, that’s got what I call speed humps in them that stopped me drinking so fast. This is different from a drink that I want to quench my thirst during the day. It’s a drink that I want to socialize with. And therefore it’s got a whole set of other important things. And when I talk to our coffee brands about what it is they’re putting in a bottle, I say you’re putting two really important valuable assets in that bottle for me, one is reward. It’s something that isn’t what I’ve been drinking throughout the day. It’s something that feels that when I clock off after work that I’m opening as a reward for me for having been yay, got through another day being a great person, all that sort of stuff. Now, I fully appreciate that. That’s because alcohol fits into our reward structure. But you know, I do have other things that I use as well. But that’s definitely, you know, one of the things that you can use substituting an alcoholic drink for an alcohol free drink.
But most importantly, the most important asset that’s in that bottle is the sense of social inclusion. And really early on in Club Soda I wrote a little short pamphlet called Rebel Non Drinking because I was very into taking your own drinks to the pub and being really in your face about it. And so my co-founders, one of my co-founders, said to me you know Laura, most people don’t want to be rebellious, they just want to be included and not stand out and just feel part of the action. And so that really made me realize that how, you know, for me it was okay to go right, I bought my own, you know, tonic thing to go on a tonic and pick my own tonic Harar, I’m going to drink pints of tea in LA, this is great fun. But for everyone else that’s not the case. They want to stand there with a pint or drink like everybody else or not feel like they’re different. And that’s got a huge amount of value to all of us because you know, our social being is really important and if we haven’t learned anything about you know, socializing over the last few years with Coronavirus you know, we you know it’s a highly valuable thing to us all and so why should you be excluded just because you’re off the strength the drinking your grass?
Casey McGuire Davidson 19:54
Yeah. And I love that. You’re an organizer, you work in social change and movement because I do feel like that’s something that’s really needed. I think that, you know, one of the things that trips people up is they go to an establishment and I always ask the server, usually the bartender is more useful and say, Oh, I actually don’t drink alcohol. What do you have? That’s really good, that’s non alcoholic. And sometimes, you know, they offer really good things. I love, you know, Virgin Mojito. But sometimes they’re like, We have Diet Coke, Coke Sprite, and I’m just like, you’re killing me here. You know what I mean?
Packed full of sugar. And what pubs beginning to realize is, it’s next to water. The healthiest thing you can drink in the pub was an alcohol free beer, three ingredients, no sugar, 55 calories. Job done, you know? And, you know, and that’s what makes it also an adult beverage, which is that it’s, it’s simply an ingredient. It’s not full of nasties. It’s something that’s designed to drink. Because actually, when we give up drinking, we’re much fuzzier about what we want to drink. Yes, we are. And it’s interesting because you, you talk about some people not wanting to drink our coffee drinkers, they may trigger them, which I totally get. And red wine was a bit sugary for me but coffee, red wine when I first started giving up drinking, but actually, I had red wine with a meal for the first time in 10 years out in a restaurant a couple of weeks ago, because I took a bottle with me.
And, you know, I think there’s been a long enough gap. It just felt wonderful to have something that felt like it went with the food. But I also now drink alcohol free beer, which I never drank when I was drinking. Yeah, I’ve now discovered it. It’s beautifully layered with speed humps, it slows me down because of the slight bitterness. And I love putting it in a wineglass or just sharing a small bottle between two people. You don’t even have to drink the whole bottle yourself. But yeah, I’ve become a bit of a beer fan. And I’ve never thought I’d be saying that 10 years ago, right?
Casey McGuire Davidson 21:59
Yeah, it’s funny. You mentioned that because I was absolutely a red wine girl. I mean, that was pretty much what I drank. Of course, I drink anything right? Mimosa is it French and beer at a sports game. But red wine was my jam. And I haven’t found a red wine that I really love that’s non alcoholic. Do you have a favorite? Yeah, I’m
naughty, who bought out the sparkling mine. They just launched their red and I tasted some early prototypes. And I’m hoping that I hadn’t just flashing a post office card. I’m hoping this post office card means that there’s a bottle waiting for me at the local post office, but also audebert should be coming to the state soon, which is an alcohol free brand from Sweden. Created by a woman who is actually an alcohol counselor, she decided that what she saw most of her clients was they wanted something interesting to drink when they were out. So she went about producing an amazing wine. And I can tell you that when we opened our pop up shop in January, that wine went quicker than you could shake a stick at and I still got two bottles of alcohol free red hex I think it’s so good.
Casey McGuire Davidson 23:08
Was that odd bird odd?
Yeah, and they’ve got sparkling and they’ve got a low intervention red and a red wine. And you may find, you know, what I find when I speak to people who are interested in red wine and in the UK, it’s one of the most popularly requested drinks is that how you feel about our coffee, red wine depends on your proximity to alcohol free alcoholic wine. So if you’re still drinking alcoholic wine are you going to be doing is comparing and comparing? But I haven’t drank wine for 10 years now. I know some of the notes I want and some of the feeling I want and the smell that I want and what I don’t like but I’m not looking for a replica I’m looking to replicate the experience not the specific liquid. So I’m not comparing them side by side and you know our coffee why red wine really comes into its own with food which is apparently how you should also drink red wine. So I’m not interested in drinking alcohol free red wine when I’m not eating food. It absolutely has its place and it goes well with it. And that’s the experience I want there. So you have to begin to see our coffee drinks as good drinks in their own right and not try and do the comparison go is this something that elevates my experience and occasion? Does it make me feel part of the gang when we’re out? Do I feel like this is special and it’s helping create my evening out and therefore does it tick all those boxes because of course it won’t ever do what alcohol does. But you know if it helps you feel all of those other things and they’re highly valuable.
Casey McGuire Davidson 24:36
Yeah, I have to say that I found because I was such a red wine drinker. I found really good alcohol free beer. Very helpful. It did not feel weird at all. I loved it. It was great. I also found I don’t know if you have it over there, but groovy Gru vi I
know that I’ve met them but I we don’t have that here with
Casey McGuire Davidson 24:59
theater. No, no Saeco alcohol free Prosecco is amazing. And they’re bubbly Rosae when I first poured red wine, and it was when I was like five and a half years sober. It weirdly did feel not triggering but just like, Oh, I remember this, like with the good and the bad associated. Yeah,
and let’s be clear, Casey, we drank red wine, because he’s got the higher ABV of all the wines. Um, because we clearly thought red wine, lips and teeth was really attractive.
Casey McGuire Davidson 25:33
And spilling it I used to kick carry around the like wine away spray in my purse, because I would like constantly spill it on carpets. And you know, whatever.
I had it on my bedroom wall because I used to sit and watch TV. I was in a shared house, by the way. So it’s not like this weird thing. And I’d sit in bed and watch TV, and then I’d knock the wine over and there was red wine stains that I mean, it’s so embarrassing. Yeah, I’ve
Casey McGuire Davidson 25:59
been there. So let’s talk about mindful drinking. I know you were co author of a book and with Club Soda, you’ve got to a sort of different process that you take people through. Can you tell me a little bit about the approach and sort of how you do that with your members?
Yeah, we’ve got an online course which we, we did a big piece of research to develop, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust, which is a big international health charity, and my co-founder Dru, who is a coach, did a lot of the work on that. But our approach isn’t to get people to set their goal straight away. Or even to state it at all, necessarily, but to think a lot more about when and where, and who and what to drink. And think about, then, you know, what would be your ideal, and where that fits into the life that you want to lead. And I, I can’t, you know, overestimate that enough that thinking about because often, you know, the shame and the self hate that comes when you’ve got to a point where you’re drinking so much, you know, you have to do something about it. The whole focus comes on, I do this thing, and it’s destroying me.
And actually, what we want people to focus on is, this is actually, you know, not the life I want to be leading, I have this idea in my head of the life that I did want to lead, how can I get there? And how can thinking about what I drink? How can we do that? And how can I start to take steps to think well, okay, if I still want to drink? Who is it that I want to drink with? What is it I want to drink? And where, what are the most sacred places for me to do that, and where it’s worth me doing that? And where are the places that I don’t want to do it. And that begins to give you some clues as to your drinking habits, the way that you drink, and what might be the best route for you.
You know, we’ll always encourage people to consider taking a break, because, you know, it begins to give you some, you know, real examples of how the sky doesn’t fall in if you’ve changed your drinking. And it also gives you a chance to experience what sobriety feels like so you can begin to put that into context. But really, it’s a journey to spend a lot more time reflecting, rather than just white knuckling it, or I’m counting the days, you know, candidates work for you then do it, but you don’t have to do it in Club Soda. And if your starting point is I’m not sure what I want to do that, we’ve got a place to start you but if you’re starting points, I want to go on call free for the foreseeable. We’ve got a place to start you there. And I think that’s the important part of that. Is that taking that time to reflect and think through, you know, what, what alcohol means in your life and be more mindful about that?
Casey McGuire Davidson 28:55
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s great in terms of you have to meet people where they are. And if you had told me 10 years before I stopped drinking, that the goal was to be completely alcohol free. That would have been a total non starter for me. I really feel like I had to go through the trial and error and the experimentation of you know, sadly waking up with a hell of a lot of hangovers being 38 and throwing up red wine in the bathroom next to my kids when my husband who were in the hotel room,
but we’d say made when we gave up I was 38 and I gave up so yeah,
Casey McGuire Davidson 29:35
yeah, you kind of get to a point where you’ve, you know, for me, tried mindful drinking, or really it was white knuckling it and trying to set all these rules about I’m not going to drink a bottle of wine a night every night and wasn’t able to do that and then tried to do a period of sobriety and found it was much easier and happier but I want under if earlier when I was sort of starting to drink heavily, but just earlier in my life or earlier in my process if it had been openly discussed mindful drinking and tools in realizing you’re not alone and exploring different options, if that would have helped.
Yeah, and I think it does help that there’s a lot more visible. So the community now talking about the stuff doing podcast talking on Instagram, even when I started Club Soda in 2015, that wasn’t there. You know. And then Millie Gooch came along a few years later, and, and suddenly, other people started talking about it and doing that in very publicly, that makes a huge difference, just to know that it’s okay to not drink, and, but we all have our own journey to get to where we were, as well. So, you know, at the end of the day, moderation, I had to stop because moderation, you know, moderation for me was going to moderate next week, and then that wouldn’t happen. I didn’t put any of the work into even trying really, it was, because I didn’t have the energy, I was too hungover to have the energy to plan to make it work. And so that there had to be a reason for me.
But you know, I was also drinking at dangerous and hazardous levels, as they would say, medically here, I suspect you may have been as well. And that’s very different to somebody who may only be drinking at the weekends. And so the pattern they’re trying to disrupt is very different. And there’s a big difference between giving up drinking in your early 20s. And your late 30s, in terms of where you are in your life as well. And, you know, I can imagine that if somebody said to us, when we were 30 case that we should give up forever, that would seem like an awfully long time. Whereas forever seems a lot shorter now that I’m meeting my late 40s. So, you know, it’s, it’s not just about, you know, where you are, at particular point in time, it’s about how much you’re drinking, it’s about how old you are, it’s about your social circumstances, it’s about, you know, for me, I didn’t have children, so I could carry on living the same lifestyle as I was in my early 20s. And, and you know, and when I ended up in a job I didn’t enjoy that also got out of control.
So, you know, there’s so many different factors that make us all different. But there’s also, what always amazes me with all of the Club Soda members is there’s so many things that make us the same. And we all like to think that we’re very different when it comes to changing drinking. But actually, whatever goal, you’ve got many of the things the same, which is you know, you need to immerse yourself in, in the literature and the information to find the stuff that that resonates with you, you need to plan and make sure that you’ve got a plan in place, you can’t moderate without go out for an evening. And moderating without a plan. You certainly can’t give up drinking without having some planning and pace, know what you do when those cravings strike. And you need to surround yourself with people who can support you in that journey as well. And so, you know, we’re not also special, we can learn a lot from each other.
Casey McGuire Davidson 33:05
Yeah, and I think knowing other people who have these conversations, who also are taking a look at their relationship with alcohol, that can help a lot, because when I was worried about my drinking, I literally didn’t know a single person in my social group who didn’t drink, you know, they didn’t all drink like I did, but there was no one who was like, I’m gonna give up alcohol. And here’s how I do it. Or I’m going to cut back and here’s why other than, Oh, I’ve never considered it because it’s not, you know, it’s not a deal. For me.
It’s also very important that, you know, I could have had people who didn’t drink around me, but they would never have given, had gone through the experience of giving up drinking. And that’s also different. So nobody understands the fact that, you know, giving up as like 100 at an epiphany is really because the emotional stuff that you’ve not dealt with for so long. For my case, since I was 14, since I started drinking, I then had to deal with and I learned so much about myself, and it was just like, Oh my God, it was like revelation after revelation, someone needs to tell you that for the first three months, you’re actually quite tired. And your body’s craving water, because it’s you know, expelling all of the alcohol and it’s, it’s your body’s recovering, right. And so you need people who understand some of that stuff and go, Yeah, you know, that’s what’s happening now.
And then, you know, when you get to two weeks, you think, Wow, maybe I’ve got this licked. Now, I’ve managed two weeks that alcohol something needs to go, you know, that’s a bit of ambivalence kicking in, and that’s really normal. But, you know, don’t give in yet two weeks is not long enough. Yes. I’d say that, you know, it was three years before all of the associations with out my emotions and alcohol had finally, you know, unwrapped themselves from around my brain. So, that was a painful three years. It’s a very exciting three years, but it was it was a really important point to notice. So you need to be able to I understand you’re experiencing context for the people who’ve been through the same thing. And that lived experience is really important and connecting with others, even if it might only be once a week. It’s really important.
Casey McGuire Davidson 35:10
Yeah. And I heard I listened to your podcast episode where you were talking about hitting your, your 10 years alcohol free, and the lessons learned. And one of the things I thought was interesting was you said that you sort of signed up for a course, when you were ready to stop drinking in and one of the reasons you wanted to create clubs sodas, you didn’t have the best experience with it, maybe you thought it was too extreme or not
You know, giving up drinking, if you’re drinking at hazardous levels is actually very dangerous. There wasn’t a single warning this is where the politician and me comes. I love it. I was in charge of commissioning services in a local authority, I knew some stuff. But I also knew what one vulnerable people look like. And there was a group of probably about 25 of us in the room, all who clearly had different drinking patterns. But we all went around our experiences at the beginning. And some of them I, you know, I had to work hard not to cry when I was listening to some people who may be losing their children, or the guy next to me who was told that he would die if he didn’t give up drinking. And that it was a group of people who needed more than basically a book being read out to them through the course of a day. Now, it worked for me to give me the space I you know, I always talk about the fact that I accidentally did some very good behavior change things I set a day, I gave myself a day of space to think about drinking, not drinking, I told my friends that I had picked that day, I accidentally on the day I decided to do it got very drunk and and started a relationship with somebody who had the same drinking habits as me who decided they would give up with me as well. So I accidentally put a lot of really important behavior change things in place.
But the other thing for me was the anger of coming out of that course. And realizing that whilst I probably wasn’t the worst drink in the room, although I don’t like to use comparisons like that. There were certainly people in that room for whom it wasn’t safe to leave that room and just suddenly stopped drinking. And also, there were people in that room who were vulnerable and needed more support, and not just to be, you know, talk to for a whole day and then sent out into the world and told that this will succeed, because we have a 90% success rate, which ultimately from that course, meant that only 2% of people asked for a refund. That’s not That’s not a success rate. That’s how many people asked for a refund. And it made me so angry that there is such an unregulated space, that there had to be something better, and why was it possible to join a club to diet, or pick up a diet magazine, but not have something similar for changing your drinking, which actually gave you the tools to do a self guided journey to support you didn’t just end after, you know, five hours in a room,
Casey McGuire Davidson 37:56
I can’t believe that and say 98% success rate, that’s insane.
It’s very, the course comes from a very popular book. And that very popular book also deals with smoking. And they’ve just tried to transplant that methodology into alcohol. And I just felt it was dangerous and unethical.
Casey McGuire Davidson 38:15
So yeah, and I heard which of course, it was, which
easy way that take it. Although, you know, spending 300 pounds or something, it’s a really good way to focus your mind and spending money is, is a good behavior changed in its own right. But there are better ways to spend it like, you know, finding yourself a therapist, that’s a lot of therapy sessions, you know, joining a community for five pound or whatever a month, getting some books, you know, finding some friends, you could spend that money in other ways.
Casey McGuire Davidson 38:48
Yeah. Oh, my gosh, it was that much money for five hours. Yeah. That is crazy.
I mean, at the end of the day, I’m a success story for the movie all night, because I didn’t know I’ve never drunk again. But you know, but I, I would always say to anybody, if you’re looking for anyone to help you change your drinking, and and nowhere do they give you a warning, that change that stopping suddenly could be very dangerous for you, then then walk away, because if they haven’t got that basic level of care, and they’re not willing to give you any support after you’ve done your day or your course or whatever, then then that’s, that’s alarm bells for me.
Casey McGuire Davidson 39:27
Yeah, absolutely. And you talk about behavior change and, and how you’ve used those principles to design the Club Soda experience. Can you tell me a little bit about what though you mentioned you know, setting the date telling friends?
That they want the University College London created, they’ve got a big behavior change unit and they created what they call a taxonomy of behavior change. There are 96 potential behavior change techniques, and some of them are things you might recognize, like, if you’ve ever had a fine for speeding, that’s a way to change people’s behavior and speeding. And governments love using fines and taxes to make change happen, or setting out guidelines, like the 14 units here in the UK. But there is a whole set of behavior change techniques, which are about positive behavior change, which are, you know, positive role modeling, which we’re doing here, we’re both good role models, and telling you how amazing it is not to drink.
And so, you know, spending time with other people who are a bit further on the journey is positive role modeling. So there’s lots of positive behavior change techniques and getting substitution, including, you know, monitoring the impacts and effects on your body, there’s a whole load of them. And then there’s even a smaller set of those that are really good for what I call self efficacy, which is giving you the tools you need to discover for yourself how to make change happen, and to learn as you go along. So it might be that you, you join up Sodor for a few months, and nothing really happens. But in that time, you’ve probably learned a few things from being part of the community. And from reading what we do that when you come back again, and people do, you’ve already got some learning in place that you can build upon. And for me that self efficacy, efficacy is really important because like, I’d say change, your drinking isn’t linear, and you want to learn something every time you you come into conversation with anybody about changing or drinking.
So those are the behavior change techniques that we use, and you know, they’re all present in our book and our courses. But also, they’re present in every single piece of work we do with pubs and bars and restaurants, we’re always going, you know, you know, what’s, you know, the key behavior change techniques for pubs and bars while making money. You know, money is a really good motivator. And there’s actually a technique that that’s called, I can’t remember what it is now, I’d have to go back and have a look. But also peer recognition and customer recognition are two really things for pubs and bars. And if they feel that they’re doing something better than somebody else, and that they’re getting good reviews from customers about something, then those will really impact on the how pubs and bars and restaurants serve non drinking customers. So you know, use all of those apps to complain if someone hasn’t got good alcohol free and, and praise them more importantly, praise them when they do and, or, you know, just by asking, when you go into a pub or bar, you begin to show that there’s interest in the market. So it might not have been a good experience for you. But it may be a good experience for the next person.
So behavior change works in all walks of life and changing the macro and the micro, self and the world around you. And you know, it’s it’s, it’s great. And I think behavior change science is a good way for us to continue to improve the ways that we help people change their drinking, because behavior change isn’t easy, right? It’s very, it’s got it might not in theory, in research, it’s actually got, you know, quite a poor success rate. But what he’s not good at doing is capturing the fact that a bit like dieting and exercise, we continue to try and enjoying we continue to do better than we did last time. And that’s the same with changing drinking, you know, if you didn’t manage to go alcohol free, but you still managed for the last few months drink less than you did before. And that’s a win in my book.
Casey McGuire Davidson 43:21
Well, I know and some of the things around behavior change that I love in that sciences is looking at your physical environment and setting up so that it supports your goals and then also your social environment. And I feel like the work you’re doing with pubs and restaurants and bars is part of that like adding the option to choose a non alcoholic beverage and encouraging the social acceptance and the widespread availability and knowledge of people who that mindful drinking is an option and that not everyone needs to drink alcohol or wants to drink alcohol compulsory right? Yeah, it’s not required.
And you know, it’s amazing here in the UK, you know, Lucky st which is an alcohol free beer brand here in the UK it’s been a top selling beer and one of our online grocery stores for the whole of this year. That’s quite amazing you know, and hopefully beer being a top seller it not just our our coffee beers out of all of the beers and that is a real massive shift but it also means that because it sells more it’s on the front page of the the online supermarket more and becomes more visible and therefore more people buy it and and and and and so you know that these are all nudges that add up into one big cultural shift and that’s
Casey McGuire Davidson 44:42
in the alcohol companies in the alcohol industry are taking notice because non alcoholic or low alcohol beers and wines and spirits are the top growth areas and they always look at market share and growth potential. And it is sort of interesting because both I mean, I’m sure you see it in the UK too. But in the US consumption event, alcohol and binge drinking went up by 41%. In 2020, it was really shocking, as well as the highest percent of people increasing binge drinking and daily drinking was parents with children under five years old. And also the death rate of people from, you know, alcohol related, you know, death went up, I think 25% year over year, whereas normally it’s two to 3%. And yet, the non alcoholic beverage industry, the sober, curious movement, the mindful drinking movement is exploding at the same time. Do you have any thoughts on that sort of dichotomy there?
Yeah, I mean, you know, we, it’s, it’s interesting how stats work, isn’t it really big. You know, Ireland, everyone knows drinks a lot in Scotland, we know everyone drinks a lot. But it’s also got a higher percentage of people who are teetotal in both of those countries than in England, right. So that means that lots of people aren’t drinking, but those that do drink are drinking a lot more. And those those figures, hide the fact that there is actually a very religious reason why there’s a lot of nondrinkers in, in those countries from doing the pledge and other religious and Presbyterian type activity is also quite big Muslim population in, in Scotland. And you can see those stats here in London, actually, you know, that like inner city, London with a lot of Muslim, there’s a lower drinking rates there. But you know, there is also people drinking a lot.
But you know, these still gradual changes, you know, a percentage here and a percentage, they’re still means that lots of people are still drinking and drinking dangerously, we’re just nudging away at it. And I have to remind myself, because I’ve been around talking about our coffee for some time now that we’re really still at the very beginning of that as a phase. And just, you know, same for you, you’re, you know, you’ve been doing this podcast for ages. But I can tell you that the idea that sobriety might even be normal is still very new to a lot of people. And you may feel you’ve been saying this every day, for the last God knows how many years, but it’s still a new concept, and it’s still new people out there to reach. So there’s still a long way to go.
And I guess we’re also hitting that cusp of the, what I might call an equalization of alcohol deaths. Because you know, my generation of women is the biggest drinking generation of women, we’re also, we’re also the wind generation where wine suddenly became cheaper and far more accessible, and was available in the supermarket. And mix and single gender socializing sort of went out of fashion. So it’s no longer acceptable for the man to go to the pub where the woman stayed at home. So there was a whole load of social change around the 80s and 90s. That meant that we women drank a lot more with die like men died from drinking, because of that. And for me, you know, quality is all about drinking pints of the lads at the bar, and drinking as much as them and you know, the damage to us is actually a lot higher, because of all sorts of gendered reasons, because of our sex.
So, you know, we’re also hitting that point as well. So, you know, it will take time, but you know, in amongst, you know, this is why it’s really important for I understand totally, why the sober status for people who have got sober is so protected, and people are very cautious of it and want to save everyone else, the heartache that we will. But ultimately, the fact that so many people are now moderating in the UK, and are looking at moderating and aren’t drinking, like four to five nights a week when they used to drink every night is still a really, really, really good thing. And something we should all be really pleased about. Yeah, it makes it easier for all of us who are going sober, but it also makes it healthier just for everybody else. And so just because the shift isn’t to sobriety doesn’t mean that there isn’t a shift happening.
Casey McGuire Davidson 49:03
Yeah, well, I think that the shift is even more important after the increase in drinking because the women I work with, you know, a lot of them did start drinking more and more in the past two, three years, and are at the point where they’re like, Alright, I’m ready to make a change, because I’m tired of hangovers. And I’m tired of feeling the way I do and the mental health impact is very real in terms of depression and anxiety.
I mean, and it’s also the fact that, you know, the health care system doesn’t tell us the things that we need to know about alcohol in reality.
Casey McGuire Davidson 49:37
Oh my gosh, that was my next topic because you’re a, you’re a movement builder. You were in politics, you’re a campaigner. I love that you work with funding. So one of my biggest things that pisses me off is the way that the alcohol lobby in the US has literally blocked research on alcohol as well as any warning Other than don’t drink when you’re pregnant, on alcohol in the same way they do for tobacco.
Yeah, and governments need to step up. So there are no, you know, we have a national health service here, which means that once the health service is decided to something’s important money goes into it, and all the tech investor stop building stuff. So at the minute, if you want to build an app around diabetes and stuff like that, amazing, there’s, there’s a budget line, there isn’t a budget line for alcohol in the NHS, here, it sits in public health as a preventative thing, and it doesn’t have any money really associated with it. Which means that we have no idea how alcohol impacts on mental health, or even the effectiveness of mental health medication, which is is actually quite huge, both in terms of how you absorb that medication, how that medication works, but also the fact that you’re likely to forget to take that medication, if you’re hungover a lot. We have no, we have no data that says how much alcohol impacts on your teeth and your eyes, on your weight, on your diabetes, on your sleep, you can go to a doctor to talk to him about your sleep, and they don’t even ask you what it is that you drink in the evening.
So we have all these medical conditions that we’re dealing with in the NHS of which was spending lots of money in what I described as a rationing service, because the NHS is about rationing, you know, health care, it’s not just a free for all. It’s got budgets, but we don’t ever go right, we need a health line, we need a line in the NHS, that alcohols that across every medical condition, we can talk to people about how their alcohol consumption will make of whatever condition they have better, easier to manage. Make it you know, that doesn’t exist. That means and that means that no money goes into it here in the UK.
Casey McGuire Davidson 51:42
Yeah. And I think that, you know, when I look at the policies here, and of course, it’s top of mind right now, and I’m sure I’ll piss a lot of people off. But whatever. That, you know, the lobby around alcohol, I feel like is associated with the lobby, around guns and gun control and research around gun deaths. And it’s just blocking information on things that have a very, very real impact on public health and safety. I mean, I know, one of the studies out of the UK. And you can tell me more about it said that the impact of alcohol in terms of harm both to society and to the individual was larger than the impact of heroin or cocaine or crack. And I’m sure that’s because of how many people drink and how much people drink. And yet people are like, well, I don’t do cocaine or heroin, so I’m okay.
But it’s also that one’s legal and the others aren’t. And don’t get me wrong here. I don’t ever imagine alcohol toxicity in society. And I’m
Casey McGuire Davidson 52:49
not either and I don’t, I don’t need it to be I don’t want it to,
and I’m not finding it, I think that we will, as human beings continue to find ways to alter our mental state. And so, you know, we do talk to, you know, people like Heineken and AB InBev, I want to influence the way the world works. And so I want to influence those organizations as well. And, you know, so big beer producers, producing more alcohol free and listening to what I say is really important. But, but it’s really interesting, because on the converse, you know, we’ve got some lobbying organizations here who deal with changing drinking as well. But then the total flop size, the minute piece of research comes out and any money that might have come from anywhere near alcohols near it, they invalidate the research. And at the minute, that’s really ridiculous, because there’s some discussion around the alibi marketing around alcohol free drinks, the minute you know, the idea that because Heineken has got a branded version of their alcoholic beverage, that that’s they’re really what they’re trying to do is get people to drink more beer, the evidence doesn’t show that that’s the case.
In fact, all of our research shows that it gives people confidence to switch to alcohol free when they can get something that they’re used to drinking in an alcohol free version. And it’s really helpful. But at the minute any research that says that a whole other group of people go no, there was there was 50 P from the alcohol industry involved in that piece of research. So it can’t be done properly, even though it may well be some really respected academics. So it’s really important that we don’t cut off our nose to spite our face. Gosh, you know, just give me a break. There was currently in the UK more regulation around alcohol free drinks, and there is around alcoholic drinks. Let’s get this into perspective. People that just drinks there’s more alcohol in fear in this country than there is and they have no regulation it can be sold to children.
Casey McGuire Davidson 54:44
Yeah, I completely. Totally agree. I think one question I have for you because you’re so involved in this work and so passionate about is what do you think is that for you like the next most important weren’t next step in terms of achievable change, or shifting or making things easier for people to drink mindfully
is still around availability and education of alcohol free drinks. So you know, we talked about behavior change earlier, what we’ve ended up doing the episode was we’ve whittled down the 9696 techniques of behavior change into ones that we felt worked for positive change, then ones that were best for self efficacy. And I feel like we’ve taken one of those behavior change techniques, which is substitution on I really want to max it basically, like substituting something alcoholic for something alcohol free is probably an incredibly powerful move that any individual can make. And society currently makes it hard to do that both in terms of legislation and our social structure, and other things. Therefore, what can I do to change that?
And so we’re looking currently, you know, our, our pop up shop in January, that we did in London, wasn’t just a shop where you could come up and pick a bottle and go, Wow, does this clear liquid look like it’d be tasted in this peer liquid, we let people try everything all 100 brands were available to try in the shop. And that was, for me, a really key moment. You know, it’s why we’ve done festivals in the past was that unless you try it, you don’t, you can’t understand how that may fit into your diet and into your lifestyle and how you might drink it when you’re stood at a bar. So that education piece is still really important. I want as many people as possible to try out coffee drinks and find the one that they really like. Not so long ago, I didn’t like that. So I hate all alcohol free drinks. So that the more we can do that, the more that people will go, Ah, that’s a really easy switch, I can switch this for this. And I could do that a couple of nights a week. And that was easy.
For me at the minute that’s turned into, I always used to say that community was the superfood of changing your drinking, right, it’s like superfood of behavior change, I actually now think I’m substitution is because then it allows you to connect with other people. By having an alcohol free drink. If you’re in a pub or bar you get connection. And so that’s where I want to focus some more of our, our energy on that education piece, helping people find the right drink, helping them by it, helping them have it in their cupboard so that whenever they want to drink, it’s there that they know when they go out, they can ask for it and it will be behind the bar, you know, that, to me is really exciting. And that then also changes our social landscape to being very accepting to anybody who doesn’t drink for whatever reason, and creates more equal socializing spaces is also really exciting.
Casey McGuire Davidson 57:37
I love that. And it’s super fun. And also, one of my favorite quotes that I’ve heard is keep the ritual change the ingredients. And I think that that is really helpful because in terms of habit change to you’re just substituting a new habit that’s familiar to you, and that that makes a big difference as well.
And at the end of the day, an alcohol free drink is just a drink, they’re no different to soft drinks, they’re soft, apart from the public got less sugar in so you know, don’t don’t get caught up if it’s triggering, absolutely don’t drink it, you know, in your nerve that works for you. But at the end of the day, they’re just drinks. You know, if I can make a confession, you know, I talk a lot about alcohol free drinks, but my favorite drink is tea I drink very fine, expensive looseleaf tea that you know comes from you know, I have dealers all around the country that supply me with my premium tea. And I you know, I really enjoy it because I’m very mindful ritual making myself a tea properly. But you know, I drink an awful lot of it. But you know, it’s not any it’s not going to stop me going to the gym tomorrow. It’s not going to give me a hangover and it’s not going to keep me awake at night and it’s not going to make me be a bit of a to add to my friends.
Casey McGuire Davidson 58:51
It’s already carry Yeah, no, that’s great. So do you have you know if people are interested in in finding out more about the non alcoholic drinks you love the work? You’re doing Club Soda? What’s the best way for them to access that? Yeah,
you can find some join ClubSoda.com sign up to our email. We have a mix of drinks, information and you know podcasts and all sorts of interesting stuff in there. And you can find this on App join Club Soda on social media.
Casey McGuire Davidson 59:21
Great. And I will put all that information in the show notes. Thank you so much, Laura. I’ve loved our conversation.
Casey McGuire Davidson 59:21
Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more.