How to get through sobriety with 9 essential truths from Laura McKowen
Getting through sobriety can be one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences of your life.
Laura McKowen, founder of The Luckiest Club, an international sobriety support community and best selling author of We Are The Luckiest, The Surprising Magic Of A Sober Life is here to help us through the process.
In Laura’s new book, Push Off From Here – The 9 Essential Truths To Get You Through Sobriety she shares how to get through sobriety in a modern exploration of addiction, sharing practical advise for achieving sobriety and living a fulfilling life in recovery.
“Sobriety is not a punishment, but the beginning of the greatest adventure of your life. When we make the brave, rebellious choice to live without numbing ourselves with alcohol, we open ourselves up to the pain and struggle of life, yes, but also to its boundless joy, freedom and meaning.” – Laura McKowen, Push Off From Here – The 9 Essential Truths To Get You Through Sobriety
Tune in to hear Casey and Laura discuss:
- The first steps to take to change your relationship with alcohol
Laura’s 9 essential truths to get you through sobriety
New questions you should ask yourself to find out if “alcohol is your thing”
- Why Laura finds the labels “alcoholic” and “addict” punitive, limiting and binary
- Our thoughts on moderation, harm reduction + abstinence
- The exhausting mental load required to manage and control your alcohol intake
- The evolution of the recovery movement since AA was founded 88 years ago
- Why Casey struggled with the truth that alcohol was her thing
- Why Laura struggled with the truth that she couldn’t do it alone
- The mass delusion of alcohol culture
- Why feeling grief when stopping drinking is natural
Laura will help you see the drinking culture we live in, and why so many of us struggle with drinking “responsibly”, in a new light.
“The way alcohol is socially accepted and celebrated is a form of gaslighting. It leads us to believe that when someone struggles to control their alcohol use, it is a failure of the individual, rather than the natural result of ingesting a highly addictive substance.” – Laura McKowen
Laura McKowen’s 9 truths to get you through sobriety
- It is not your fault. Laura stresses the importance of understanding that addiction is not a moral failing or a character flaw. It is a disease that can affect anyone, regardless of their background or circumstances.
- It is your responsibility. While addiction is not your fault, it is your responsibility to take action and seek help. It requires a willingness to confront the problem and take steps towards recovery.
- It is unfair that this is your thing. Laura acknowledges that addiction can feel unfair and overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone in your struggles.
- This is your thing. Despite the unfairness of addiction, it’s important to take ownership of your journey towards sobriety. No one else can do it for you.
- This will never stop being your thing. The importance of facing addiction head-on is crucial. It’s not something that will go away on its own, and it’s necessary to take action in order to overcome it.
6. You can’t do it alone. While it’s important to take responsibility for your own recovery, it’s also important to acknowledge that you can’t do it alone. Seeking help and support from others is crucial for success.
7. Only you can do it. While support from others is important, ultimately, it’s up to you to do the work and make the changes necessary for a successful recovery.
- You are loved. Laura reminds listeners that they are loved and valued, even in the midst of their struggles with addiction. This love can come from family, friends, or a support group.
- We will never stop reminding you of these things. These truths serve as a reminder that addiction is a complex issue that requires both self-reflection and community support to overcome. By acknowledging that it is not their fault, individuals can begin to let go of any shame or guilt they may feel about their addiction.
Laura’s book provides a refreshing perspective on sobriety, one that focuses on self-compassion, community support, and personal growth. She encourages readers to embrace the challenges of sobriety and find meaning and purpose in their lives without relying on substances.
Whether you are just beginning your sobriety journey or have been in recovery for years, “Push Off From Here” offers valuable insights and inspiration to help you stay on track and live your best life.
Previous Interview with Laura McKowen, Author of We Are The Luckiest, on The Hello Someday Podcast: Episode 46: Saying Yes To A Bigger Life with Laura Mckowen
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Connect with Laura McKowen
Laura McKowen is the bestselling author of We Are The Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life and Founder of The Luckiest Club, an international sobriety support community. She has been published in The New York Times, and her work has been featured in The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, the TODAY show, and more.
To learn more about Laura check out her website www.lauramckowen.com
To learn more about Laura’s international sobriety support community and how to join, head over to www.theluckiestclub.com
Follow Laura on Instagram @laura_mckowen Instagram
Follow The Luckiest Club on Instagram @theluckiestclub Instagram
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READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THIS PODCAST INTERVIEW
How To Get Through Sobriety with Laura McKowen
drinking, alcohol, people, book, life, thought, sobriety, sober, grief, living, talking, started, culture, hard, women, AAA, fault, feel, gaslighting, read
SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Laura McKowen
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 buzz, 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.
Hi there. Today, my guest is someone that you probably already know. It’s Laura McKowen. She’s the best-selling author of We Are The Luckiest, The Surprising Magic Of A Sober Life. She’s the founder of The Luckiest Club (TLC), an International Sobriety Support Community, and has been published in the New York Times. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, that Today’s Show, and more. Today, we’re talking about her second book, Push Off From Here: 9 Essential Truths to Get You Through Sobriety (and Everything Else). And it’s been released this week.
So, before anything else, I just want to welcome you, Laura. Thanks for being here.
Thank you. So happy to be here with you, Casey. Yeah, I’m excited.
Casey McGuire Davidson 02:07
Because I’ve been reading your book over the last two weeks and like, underlining absolutely everything and posting it on social. We can talk about it, you had a quiz there about like, is drinking your thing. And I went through it. I circled like, I forget, there were 44 things. I think I circled 30 of them. Thinking back around when I was drinking. So yeah, it is spot on.
Thank you. Yeah, I thought it was I wanted to come up with a better quiz because I thought that the 12 question one that’s out there. Or it’s either 12 or 20, depending on which one you look at didn’t quite cover the internal stuff that goes on. It’s more telling.
Casey McGuire Davidson 02:51
So yeah, to me, internal stuff. You know, it’s so funny, even with the 12 questions. I was like, Oh, I’m seven out of 12. And then I was like, cause I’ve never stayed home from work because I was hungover. And then I was like, unless you kept me going to work feeling like garbage. Coming home midday, because I told me like that somehow, it’s different. You know? Yeah, you could like, to squeeze out of the questions.
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Anyone who’s read We Are The Luckiest probably has read your 9 Things because it’s listed right at the beginning. Before you go into the book itself. Is there any chance just as we get started? Could you read them to us?
Oh, sure. I have them memorized because we save him in every The Luckiest Club (TLC) meeting. And obviously I wrote a book on him. So, I don’t even need to read them. I will just say them. These are the 9 things:
- It is not your fault.
- It is your responsibility.
- It’s unfair that this is your thing.
- This is your thing.
- This will never stop being your thing until you face it.
- You can’t do it alone.
- Only you can do it.
- You are loved.
- We will never stop reminding you of these things.
Casey McGuire Davidson 04:15
Yeah, I know which one I thought of those sort of nine truths. That was the hardest one and the most important one for me to accept. But do you have one of those nine that you’re like? Yeah, this is the big one that tripped me up. And the one that once I accepted this truth really helped me move forward.
Yeah, absolutely. It was. You can’t do it alone.
Casey McGuire Davidson 04:42
All right. For me, it was this is your thing. You know, yeah, yeah. That, for me, was the one I fought against for the longest time. Trying to be like, it’s not a thing. You know, like nothing to see here. Move along.
Yep. It’s a lot for a lot of people. and I fought. I fought against that to me. Yeah, big time. Yeah. But the harder part for me was not being knowing I realizing or admitting or surrender to the fact that I couldn’t do it alone. I really wanted to. Yeah, I really didn’t want other people to watch me go through what I had to go through.
Casey McGuire Davidson 05:18
Well, so can you talk about that one, in particular? Sure.
You know, and it’s just a lot of these are juxtaposed against each other. So, it’s not your fault, and it is your responsibility. And before this is comes before, only you can do it. So, it’s, you can’t do it alone. And only you can do it. People tend to lean one way or the other, I think, and for me, that you can’t do it alone is such an anti-American message. It’s such a, we. We want to believe, and we love to think of the individual as all powerful and able to manifest whatever reality they want or need. Or could imagine, and a lot of self-help even teaches us that, you know, it’s the, it’s the legacy of the West. And in some ways, it’s beautiful. The idea that there’s all this power inside of you, and that, if you know that, that if you just dig in hard enough that that it’s a meritocracy, right, if you put any effort or attack crazy, if you just put in the effort, it’s going to yield the reward of equal measure. And it’s not the case for so many things for so many reasons.
And for me, I had really prized myself, and one of my major coping mechanisms was just to not be needy. To be very independent. To not, you know, to be smart enough and capable enough, and on all those all, everything enough to just power through on my own. And I had always been told that I was so resilient, and I was so strong, and I was, I was able, you know, I was capable, and all those things that I had, that had gotten me really far, you know, I had. I am resilient, I have a good bounce back. You know, it’s, it’s a quality of mine, I’ve been able to, I had always been able to push through somehow on willpower, or luck, or motivation, or all these things that that really do carry us far. But in some areas of life, they’re not enough.
And I had a really hard time allowing that to be true. It felt like weakness, it felt gross, felt embarrassing, felt humiliating, and what has what has to happen, when you allow to you allow yourself to say that you need help, and you allow other people in is that they have to see you and see what’s really going on. And you have to admit that you’re out of depth. And that sucks. It sucks.
Casey McGuire Davidson 08:18
Yeah. I mean, I totally agree. I remember when I finally kind of started opening up to people, I did it, you know, on a secret private Facebook group seven years ago. And as I was going through early sobriety, I realized that I was telling this group of strangers, so much more than my, even my best friend knew about me, or certainly my husband, because I didn’t tell him a lot of it. You know, I only told him the acceptable parts of what was hard, which is my boss is a nightmare. And I have too much stress and the schedule is crazy. But I didn’t tell anyone, all the things you see everyone and you’re like, oh, life is fine. You tell them like the surface difficulties as a way to bond but not the real stuff. And part of it is like, I don’t think they want to hear it. Or they won’t understand, or they’ll tell me to stop drinking or did go to marriage counseling or whatever it is. Right?
Yeah. Right. We want to protect our drinking too. Like I’m not going to tell you how bad it is. Because I don’t want to like you said have to stop. Yeah.
Well, so how did you take those first steps? Have you can’t do it alone? Because I mean, it is scary.
Yeah, I mean, I did it. Absolutely. And only when I had had to, because my back was just against the wall and I had to try to do something to stop drinking because everyone in my life well, not everyone but you know, my immediate family. My co-parent, my daughter’s father. He was. We were separated at the time, but like, they were watching. And if I didn’t start to get my shit together, I was going to lose my daughter, and who knows what else.
But it was her. It was the losing potential of losing her that I wouldn’t. I couldn’t cope with that. So, I was forced into it. And what I did was, I didn’t go, like to my first 12 Step meeting, seeking help, I really didn’t, I was like, I’m going to check this box, I’m going to learn how to get sober on my own type of thing. You know, I wasn’t actually looking for help. So, it kind of happened on accident. That way. And what I found, what a lot of people find is you go in to these spaces, and you hear people say these things that you have thought and felt that you never imagined could be said out loud. And you start to the, the shame starts to crumble a little bit and you start to crave that truth, because it’s cathartic. And you start to, you start to feel a connection to these people. And they’re experienced what, whether you like it or not, you know, whether you fight it or not, which I did. And so, it was very slow and very reluctant. And then, I started to want wanted, eventually, I wanted to know people who are going through what I was going through, I wanted to start to try to tell the truth, I wanted to. I was. I started to be okay. Saying like, I’m a little scared to go to this work event. I’m, I’m scared to go on this trip to New York, for work, because I have always drink in the past. And I don’t know how to do this. Or like, how do I get through this weekend? This fucking sucks? Yeah, how do I do this? So, it was like that. It’s very, it was very slow, very tentative. I still don’t like it. I still don’t like admitting that I need help. I still don’t like asking for help. I still don’t like counting myself into a group. I just, it’s still hard for me. Do you feel like, you’re, I mean, are you an introvert?
Yeah, I am. But it’s that’s not it? That’s not what it was? No, it’s not. It’s just this deep seated. desire to be self-sufficient. And smart enough. Yeah. And capable enough to do it on my own.
Casey McGuire Davidson 12:40
I think part of that, too, is like, you know, the society, we’re raised in whatever you got positive affirmations for, as a child, like, for me, it was, you’re competent, you’re responsible, you can deal with things. You know, to some extent, my husband was like, some version of you don’t have mental health issues, you know, based on previous relationships, like, Oh, you’re so positive, and you know, just deal with life. And so, when I found myself, struggling with my mental health, because I was drinking, and, or maybe I was drinking, because I was struggling with my mental health. I was like, I can’t say anything about it or admit it, because then that’s one of the things that people love about me, you know?
Yeah. Yep. Yeah, I do know. Yeah, it’s, it’s a lot of that too, for sure.
Casey McGuire Davidson
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Casey McGuire Davidson 13:35
One of the things I love about your nine things that you lay out really clearly and push off from here, is use the nine thing sort of go through a lot of the resistance that people have to giving up alcohol or to admitting this is your thing, in terms of, it’s not your fault, kind of what you start with, you go into the idea that, you know, addiction can be seen, as you call it ritualized, compulsive comfort seeking, which is a normal response to adversity. And I thought that was really helpful. And I hadn’t really thought about it that way before that, of course, you have gone down this road and you need to have self-compassion and healing. It’s not your fault.
Yeah, it’s hard for I mean, I think that I know those weren’t my exact words. I know. That’s a quote, The ritualized compulsive comfort seeking. I love how that was phrased. Because it’s comfort seeking that, you know, we’re always just trying to get our needs met. We’re trying to get out of the pain that we’re in or avoid it. We’re trying to make connections we’re trying to not you know, to do what we need to do to get what we need and want. And it’s the most human thing in the world to do that, and alcohols everywhere, and it’s accessible, and it’s largely seen as no big deal. And celebrated and, and all of that. And so of course, there are second to you can’t do it alone. It’s not your fault was, was the hardest for me to allow myself to believe because it sounded so victim.
Yeah, you know, and I felt so terrible and shitty about what I had done to people, which those things were real. Yeah, you know, I had behaved in ways that I, that were devastating to me, to the people around me, I lied, I cheated I, you know, put people in, I was flaky, I put people in my including my daughter in danger. You know, I made people wonder about me all the time, I worried a lot of people. And I felt terrible about those things. And so, you know, we largely think that the way that we’re going to change is to punish ourselves. And we can’t allow ourselves to believe that I couldn’t, I had been raised in this very, you know, personal responsibility is the ultimate thing forever. And anything that sounds like victim speak is going to, like, it’s just not allowed. And so, I had to work through a lot to allow that I think the culture has softened a bit there, at least in sobriety circles, it’s, we’ve talked, started talking about it a lot differently in the past 10 years. And I think that. I mean, maybe it’s just because I’m on the inside of it, not the outside.
Yeah, but I do believe it’s starting to change. Or I thought when I said, If I said to myself, This is not my fault, that it was very big to me, but also that it wouldn’t allow me to actually change like, that wasn’t going to get me there. Bad to just like, suck it up and fix it. Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 17:07
And, you know, I think that’s interesting that you said that you think that starting to change in recovery circles. But I think also, in society at large, I mean, to some extent, you talked about in the book, how finally, the conversation is shifting, especially around women and alcohol from like, a them problem to a weed problem, meaning the prevalence of alcohol in society is sort of a public health issue. And the idea that we need to put warning labels on, you know, alcoholic beverages the way we do with smoking. One thing I thought was interesting, you actually start the introduction of push off from here, by, you know, giving a brief cultural history of addiction recovery, and the impact of Alcoholics Anonymous, which I know is where you started. But when you were talking about the idea of, it’s not your fault, and how we’re sort of coming to accept that more in recovery circles, I attended a for a while, and you talk about in the book that, that there is a certain aspect where in AAA, it is seen as your fault, meaning it’s a disease and you’re powerless against it, but there’s also a lot of within the 12 steps of moral inventory. And, and, you know, you versus them. What Why did you start off that way?
Yeah, well, just to make comment on that. I think I think what, it’s not, I don’t have any issue with the 12 steps, I actually think they’re beautiful. But what’s missing in that story is just the context that we have now about trauma, about all the things that impact why someone might drink problematically or fall into any addiction of any kind, we just, that wasn’t known information, then and so there’s a huge part of that story that is just missing.
Yeah. From within a culture and it’s not even their fault. You know, it’s just that, that information wasn’t available at the time. And what we know now is that there’s a significant correlation to adverse childhood experiences or ACEs and, and trauma in whether or not someone will become addicted to substances. And that’s a huge part of it’s not your fault. You know, it’s it can’t be overstated. And the other part that’s missing the other piece of context is the cultural part. You know, there’s a, we can’t say enough about how I spent a lot of time talking about the culture of alcohol, because you just can’t overstate what the messaging does to someone who becomes addicted when this is the most normalized everywhere accessible? In all places have an and not just accessible but like stamp of approval? You absolutely should be doing this if you’re doing it right. Like what that does to someone who then fails to do it. Right.
Yeah. Right. So that’s the part that’s missing. The reason I started the book with that, as part a big part of the introduction is because it’s I think it’s just really important context to understand where this book fits in with all the other books about addiction and recovery. I wanted to under to sort of bring people into the present. With context, yeah, what, you know, how did we, I could say all these things, but they don’t mean much unless you understand where we’re coming from. And that’s why I did that. And I also think it’s just really interesting. You know, a lot of times, recovery books will be compared to Alcoholics Anonymous. And I don’t want this to be that. And I wanted to explain why, why it’s not that but also why what, you know, what the shortcomings and criticisms are of, of AAA, in my view.
Casey McGuire Davidson 21:23
Yeah. And I think that it’s important because AAA is still in popular culture, but also, you mentioned in medical and therapy and mental health circles, like the thing de facto people are aware of like, the 8800 pound gorilla, or whatever it is. So, a lot of people aren’t aware of any other recovery pathways, or they’re not seen as legitimate.
Yeah, they’re not even most people aren’t even aware of the fact that when they talk about recovery in this country, they are using language from AAA. Yeah, that it’s just, it is the culture, it’s not even. It’s just the water that we’ve been swimming in. And that’s, that’s not even necessarily a bad thing. But it has some bad parts, or some negative parts or some limiting parts, you know, culture does dictate so much. And unless you say, like, this is where we got the language that we use, when what do people say, when you if someone has a drinking problem, what’s the first thing that someone says to do go to a meeting? Yeah, well, they’re talking about an AAA meeting. And they’ve seen these meetings portrayed in films since like, the 60s. And there’s all this language and people kind of have an idea what the 12 steps are, there’s got involved and there’s a men’s and you’re working your program. And so, all this language, which has become the language of recovery, and like you said, not just in recovery circles, but in the medical system, in popular culture in movies and film in Hollywood, in everywhere, it’s not I mean, you go to your therapist, yes, chances are, that’s unless they are really embroiled in in the recovery process. They’re not going to recommend anything outside of AAA there. Yeah.
In the idea of it’s this binary choice. I mean, I’ve heard of many, you know, people I know who have raised the question that they’re drinking, or worried about it, and their doctor or their therapist, or someone else has said, Well, you’re not an alcoholic. Do you know what I mean? And so it was, you know, it’s just starting to change that people are actually becoming aware of the alcohol use disorder spectrum, where it’s not black and white. And like you said, it’s just part of the culture that most people aren’t even aware of that is based off that program.
Exactly. And so, when something defines what we think it means to be sober, what it means to have an addiction, what it does, when it when, when something defines our entire experience, we don’t question it until you like zoom way out. And then you can start to go, Oh, where did this even come from? And who said it and why. And, and that’s important. It’s really important. And yes, so that’s, those were the reasons I wanted to go through that. And when it you know, you mentioned we were talking about the culture we’re living in and a section in push up from here talks about the mass delusion of alcohol culture. I thought this one line was really interesting. I wanted to read it to you because I hadn’t thought of the word gaslighting, as related to this before and thinking of about the years that I struggled with drinking and trying to control it and not controlling it, and literally my main thought was what the fuck is wrong with me? Like that was the coursing through my veins. And you wrote the way alcohol is socially accepted and celebrated is a form of gaslighting. It leads us to believe that when someone struggles to control their alcohol use, it’s a failure of the individual, rather than the natural result of ingesting a highly addictive substance.
Casey McGuire Davidson 25:40
I just thought that like the word, gaslighting, and you said I want to relieve you from the gaslighting effect of such a widespread cultural delusion, misinformation, and social acceptance around alcohol. You are not the problem. You are not broken. You are part of a broken paradigm.
Yep. Yes. And that is a very different message than what I came into sobriety thinking. I mean, it’s been written about since then quite a lot. The Hollywood occurred. Definitely, I would say, in many ways pioneered and sort of really pushed the, the edge on this, in her book quit like a woman and her other work. Annie Grace has done that. It’s something that was not said ever before that, you know, was you’re the problem. Fix it. You know, there, there’s nothing wrong with what’s going on here. It’s that you can’t handle your alcohol, you have this thing, you have this thing called alcoholism. I don’t know what to tell you. And yeah, we don’t you know, it’s just what it is. And us. normies are fine. And you’re not. And that’s just the way it is tough. Well…
Casey McGuire Davidson 27:00
and the alcohol industry has been fighting very, very hard for decades to keep that as the narrative as the 100 prevailing wisdom. Yeah, I talked to Holly on the podcast a couple weeks ago. And, and I completely agree, I think I’ve told you, I started out, I mean, before I stopped drinking, probably in the months before taking walks at work, listening to the home podcast, it was a huge part of sort of my path of like hearing other women, my age, talking about drinking and stopping drinking, and you talking about motherhood. And then I actually took Holly’s hip sobriety school way back in the day, when I gaze out free, I think I was her third class. So that I mean, what you’re when I was reading your book, and that approach, and talking about the gaslighting and our culture, I mean, it was such a breath of fresh air to hear that and understand that as I was a sociology major in college and American history, like, I’m used to studying the effects of society, on our culture, and what we believe and how we behave. And I was like, Oh, my God, this puts the pieces together for me and did help me, you know, internalize before you ever wrote this, the idea of it’s not your fault.
Yeah. Yes, I think and that’s so awesome. And I’m so glad that that is. I think a lot of people that are getting quads, a lot of women definitely because this messaging hits different for women, I think, yeah. There’s just added layers and complexities to it, especially mothers. But yeah, I think that you can’t talk about addiction or sobriety without talking about this anymore. You just can’t. When as it relates to alcohol. Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 29:00
And I think that it’s really open the conversation to people who aren’t, you know, don’t get to the point where I know I got and you got where you’re like, I mean, I was like, Oh, shit, this is going to screw up my life. But a lot of people now I mean, you look at the articles, right? In the New York Times in the Wall Street Journal and dry January, and women and alcohol and the today’s show, I mean, it really does. It’s starting to shift in society around the idea of a public health issue. And that’s huge, because it’s getting people sort of early intervention like, you know, hey, yes, stage one breast cancer or diabetes or something else.
Yeah, no, totally. It’s that for the first time major news publication came out and said, look, the alcohol industry, big alcohol has been gassed. guiding you that they’ve been feeding you these messages for the past 30, 40, 50 years that are just straight up, not true. And there is no safe amount of alcohol period. Not, you know, alcohol in moderation can be healthy is healthy, which is what we were raised thinking is good for you. It’s good for you.
I mean, those are the things that are actually being said now, big, you know, platforms, science based platforms like Andrew Berman’s podcast, have done episodes about, like, the massive effects, negative effects of alcohol on the brain and body and even he as he’s going through it is like apologizing, and like saying, I hate to break this to you. I’m so sorry. I trust me. I’m not judging anybody. But this is just the reality. And I couldn’t believe it either when I got into the literature that you want with this information, but even the recommended one drink a day for a woman. Yeah, it actually does have cancer.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, it is it is changing slowly. It is there. You know, and there’s ever other places where this is becoming evident the rise of all the non-alcoholic drink choices, non-alcoholic bars, we know that millennials and younger are drinking less. So, it’s good. It’s trending in the right direction ever so slowly?
Casey McGuire Davidson 31:24
Yeah. And unfortunately, like Baby Boomers and Gen X, which I am, are the biggest drinkers. Right? I mean, it. It’s really amazing. So, and I think that also when you talk about the culture when we were coming up, it was it was so ingrained in what we did and how we bonded and our friends and alcohols addictive. So, you see you map that out 20, 30, 40 years, and it’s hard to kind of climb out of that hole.
Yeah, you look at any movie or show that’s on now that depicts a woman my age 40 in her 40s, She has a glass of wine in her hands. Always. And I mean, it used to fire me up so bad, but now I just picked God. Really so lame.
Casey McGuire Davidson 32:16
Yeah, exactly. And one of the things you talk about in the book is you talk about moderation, harm reduction, and abstinence and your views on that. Will you tell us a little bit about that?
Sure. So, I wanted to be clear that where I stood in this book, and where I, where that my community, the luckiest club stance, and I think harm reduction is there’s a lot more we need to know about that I am a fan of harm reduction as a way to eventually get sober and abstinent, for good. But I wanted to communicate that this isn’t a book that’s going to help you learn how to manage alcohol, how to control it, how to drink and safety, how to drink less. That’s not what this book is, there are many books and communities that are in service of that this is not one of them. And the reason why is not based on some like moral issue, or even hard science, like I don’t, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a researcher. I’m not a clinician. It’s solely based on the fact that, in my experience, and in the experience of many people that I have been witness to. There’s just no amount of alcohol, I can’t imagine wasting the energy and time to figure out how to fit a few ounces of liquid into my body, every day week, whatever so that I could moderate it. Yeah. And giving that and giving up what I got from sobriety. Just the exchange is it doesn’t make sense. There’s just no, I would not want to forsake what I have been given, which is everything. Just to figure out how to keep alcohol in my life somehow. So that’s, that’s why I talk about that in mind. I wanted to be clear about that. Because I wanted to be clear about it. You know, there’s books that are about that this isn’t one of them.
Casey McGuire Davidson 34:35
Yeah, I mean, I, I totally agree with you. And I also you know, I do one on one coaching and women come to me and I’m like, just to be clear, I am not a moderation coach. So, if your goal is to drink two glasses twice a week, I’m not the right coach for you. And the reason is that almost anyone who comes to this point weight has been trying to moderate for years and years and years and years. And you talk about that mental load that’s required to plan and monitor and adjust and control and manage the ideal alcohol intake, it absorbs so much of your life, that you don’t have space to move forward. And you don’t ever address those like inherent, unconscious subconscious limiting beliefs that alcohol is so important that you couldn’t possibly eliminate it from your life. And that’s a lot of the work you need to do to actually get away from the hole that has on you. So yeah, I’m glad you wrote about that. But tell me about harm reduction, because a lot of people confuse harm reduction with moderation, right? It kind of looks Yeah.
Yeah, I’m not a harm reduction expert by any stretch. But harm reduction is it can be titrating, your use down over a period of time that’s safe, and also manageable to you given extenuating circumstances in your lives. I mean, look, some people are not in a situation physically, psychologically, emotionally, where they can just stop, even if even if it was easy to do, which it’s not, they couldn’t, they’re just not able to do that they might be they might not have the physical environment that makes it possible, they might be living in a dangerous situation, they might be really acutely addicted. And, and it’s dangerous for them to, to just stop they there’s a lot of reasons why it’s not advisable even to do that. So that’s part of harm reduction. And then there’s also you know, people aren’t, usually aren’t only addicted to one thing. I know, I was, I was into pills, I was into alcohol, I was into men, I was into a lot of a lot of behaviors that were hurting me and harming me. And some of the harm reduction model is to address one thing at a time. Yeah. Not to just to take away everything because it’s not only typically impossible, but it’s just too much too fast. It’s not sustainable. And again, even dangerous. So that’s, that’s part of what harm reduction is. And you know, it’s harm reduction. It’s also Suboxone, people who have addiction to opiates get on Suboxone for a period of time to help them go through the withdrawal process and build up their muscles for life. Yeah, so they can eventually get off there. And it’s also like the goal, right, not to keep this substance in your life in some way. But part of the process.
Yes, exactly. Whereas moderation is the goal is to find this, in my view, very false. sense of safety just sounds like held me honestly, like,
Casey McGuire Davidson 38:21
yeah, it was, I mean, I live there unsuccessfully, failing on the regular basis, and beating myself up for not being able to write control this addictive substance and keep it in my life. Yeah,
now, I wasn’t very interested in moderating. I always wanted to drink I always wanted to drink to get drunk. Yeah. But of course, I tried mechanisms to control. You know, I wanted to get to the very drunk part, but not the blackout part. I wanted to get to the very drunk part, but not the part where I woke up in strangers beds, I wanted, I wanted like to go as far as I could, without all the big, bad, ugly consequences. Yes. So, some for that is some form of moderation, I guess. But yeah, it’s just hell. And this isn’t that book.
Casey McGuire Davidson 39:11
Yeah. One of the things I actually have so many friends and clients and people I know who love the luckiest club, community and group and I actually recommend it all the time for people who are looking for finding other people on this path. And I think one of the things you mentioned in your book, but why it’s so attractive is you wrote one of the guiding principles of the luckiest club is that sobriety isn’t a punishment, but the beginning of the greatest adventure of your life when you make the brave, rebellious choice, to live without numbing yourself and working towards joy, freedom and meaning. I mean, that’s a very different take than sort of the truth. rational view in society of what life when you are quote unquote sober alcohol free. You’ve stopped drinking what that looks like.
Right? Oh, what I thought it would be. I was just I always say I thought it would be like the best like this B version, you know, like a B movie, like, no one really wants to live that plot. But if it’s all you got, I guess I guess it’ll do you know, very boring, very lack devoid of color very, no, no real excitement or fun or love involves just blind and yeah, as, as it, we view it as a punishment. Yes, largely, you know, or this consequence, I guess I’ve just been really fucked up, and not being able to control yourself. And I don’t look at it that way. And it’s not my experience that that’s what it is, and not what we not what we talk about in the luckiest club.
Casey McGuire Davidson 41:00
Yeah, and people, you know, need, and appreciate that positive aspect of it. I mean, getting real and sharing the hard parts, but also celebrating, the difference is between living alcohol-free versus living in the sort of like highs and lows and constant exhaustion of drinking, recovering from drinking, trying to piece together the night. One thing that hit me really hard in the book, and I recommend everybody read it, because it’s super powerful, is you did this very detailed, two versions of a sober versus a drinking scenario of going out with your friends. And you know, I actually read it to a client yesterday when I was talking to her because it was so true. In terms of, you know, I have a couple of drinks before I go out. I get there and I drink it too fast. And no one else is close to finishing their drinks. I tried to signal the, you know, the waiter to get a drink. I wake up at 3am. People have texted me saying, Are you okay? You know, all the big things and the little things that happen?
Mm hmm. Yeah. And that make? I mean, the big, big part of that is like, I’m not focused on anything that’s happening actually happening. I’m not focused on my friends or the conversation or being there and the food and all of that and focus on when can I get my next drink? And then before I know it, I’m unconscious, blacked out, at home, waking up going, what the fuck happened. And that was every night that I went out for most of my, you know, 20s and 30s. Yeah, versus an entirely different experience. I do want to say, you know, we don’t, I don’t ever want to veer into this toxic positivity land where it’s like, sobriety is just great. And there. Of course, anyone who’s touched my work, I hope knows that I am very honest about the sadness and the grief. And it’s hard. It’s really hard to get sober. And it’s not great all the time. Life isn’t great all the time. But it’s just real. It’s living a real experience versus this, like, shall act fake one that you just worked so hard to maintain.
Casey McGuire Davidson 43:30
Yeah, well, and one of the things you just mentioned grief, and I took some notes on that, too. Because, you know, I think that it’s normal to feel sadness when you stopped drinking. I mean, my therapist said to me in the beginning, like it’s been your most constant companion, more than your husband more than your kids, you know, you take it everywhere with you, you hang out with it every night. Everything you do is with drinking, I mean, whatever it is, and you talk about how we’re not seeing it’s not seen as you don’t deserve to feel grief when people think you deserve the loss. I’m not stating it right. But I thought that was really interesting.
Yeah, there’s we have all these spoken and unspoken rules about who is allowed to feel grief under what circumstances and alcohol addiction is definitely not one of those cases where we are very allowing people to feel grief about having to change. Yeah. At all. Whereas, if you lose somebody, chances are people are going to be sorry for your loss and anticipate that you’re going to go through grief and within that even there are more unspoken rules. You know, if you lose a parent that’s elderly. It’s like, okay, we understand that. But you’re, you know, you don’t get as big of an allotment of grief as you do if you were to lose a child, for example, which is like the ultimate, you know, allowance of grief possible. And so, we have a lot of, like I said, unspoken. Unspoken beliefs about who’s allowed to feel grief. And people who get sober or have to get sober are not given much, much allowance. And when I grief, admitting that I was realizing, and admitting that I was going through grief was like, Holy shit, it was a game changer.
Casey McGuire Davidson 45:43
Yeah. Yeah. And I think that’s one of the things I mean, sort of all of these things, is why you can’t do it alone. And you have to find other people who get it, which may not be your best friend or your partner or your mother or whoever it is, because, or even your therapist if they haven’t gone through it like they can help you. But they won’t understand the grief and the difficulty and why hitting day 14, which is the longest you’ve gone in five years is a Herculean feat, you know?
That’s right. Yeah. Yes, I talked about needing other noodles. Yeah, call them noodles and TLC. You know, we need people who get our experience. Exactly. And I always equate it to being a parent. If you tried to survive raising children without talking to other parents. It would be damn near impossible. Yeah, definitely lonely. Hard. From a practical and emotional level, you know, like, how do I do this thing? What happens here? When my you know, my kid won’t sleep through the night? What do I do to just not and we need each other and so we don’t just need people. We need our people.
Casey McGuire Davidson 47:07
Yeah. Yeah. Why do you call them noodles? It’s babblers, right. Yeah, there’s, it’s silly,
and it just sort of took in, in TLC. But it came from when I was getting sober. I was talking to this woman after meeting once or on the phone or something, I don’t know. And I was telling her, like, explaining all my mental gymnastics about whether or not I should go to this work event. And like, should I go, you know, the all the things we do? Should I go? Should I not go? Am I what would I order? Do I want to order a Diet Coke or a club soda and lime? If this if my boss asked me, if I’m not drinking, what am I going to say? Versus if my coworker like my best friend at work asked me if I’m not drinking, what do I say to them? And just these like, Oh my God, all the things that we have to think about and that, that feel like it feels crazy. When you’re going through it. It feels like a lot. And I remember just going like verbally dumping on her and going I’m sorry, that’s just a lot like, who does this? She’s like, all of us. Do you just said she said you’re just another noodle and the soup. I was like, Oh, that’s so great. And it’s funny. Right? Oh, yeah.
So just another noodle in the soup. So, when we started TLC, we started calling ourselves and the other members noodles. And it just kind of stuck. Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 48:40
In your questions that you write about. I mean, like I said, I circled almost all of them. But how do you know if alcohol is your thing? I mean, some of the questions I was like, you know, in a way that I suppose some people don’t answer, but like, have you worried about how much you like to drink? Are you anxious or irritable? If you can’t drink when you want to? This one, maybe do you rush through making dinner or other activities so you can get to the part where you can drink does almost everyone you know, drink? Do you feel like you’d lose your social life? I was like, yep, yep. Yep. You know, when I was. Yeah.
Yeah, I was trying to get at the feelings underneath. Really? Yeah. Because it’s not always about you know, one of the I think the first question you read is like, it’s not. Do you worry about how much you drink? But do you worry about how much you like to drink? Yes, that was that bigger tip off. It was like, I really like this like, like on a like lustful level. Like I need this type of thing. It scared me. Way, early, way early. Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 49:52
When you mentioned that the first book you ever read was, Drinking A Love Story by Carolyn Knapp. And that was mine too. Like, even the name of it, I was like, yes, it’s a love story. And I love it so much that I don’t, I need to control it, so that I never have to. So, I can’t. And it’s kind of a toxic relationship, it’s a toxic boyfriend, they kind of have to get away from, you know.
Totally. I personally did what I said. What alcohol does to us. We would not want to be around it at all. Exactly. Yeah, I think it’s a lot of people’s first book that are our age, because it was one of very few that were out there by women. Yeah, for a long time. And she said a lot of things before any of us ever said anything. And she’s also happens to be a phenomenal writer.
Casey McGuire Davidson 50:49
You know, I loved it. I felt so much understanding and comfort. And yet it was also a cautionary tale, because I read it a good eight years before I stopped drinking. So, it’s that idea of like, well, I’m not there, you know. So same, you go back and forth. You know, and you don’t have to have all those experiences, or get to that point to be like, Yeah, this sounds familiar. You know?
No, no, you don’t? Yeah. At all?
Casey McGuire Davidson 51:20
Well, so tell me what you want. Anyone listening to this, who might be in the early phases of questioning their drinking, or in early sobriety are sort of that tough place of going back and forth and changing their mind? Like, what would you like them to know? Hmm.
I think you just need to know that it’s going to be okay. There’s just this year of looking at it, thinking about it, talking about it, like, it’s, it’s going to be okay. And 99% of the things that you think are going to happen if you stop drinking? Won’t, or they’ll just be different than you think. I begin and the book was saying it is, by every account, the best thing that’s ever happened to me, is falling into this addiction, and having to get sober. And you can’t hear that oftentimes, for a long time. You don’t believe it? You can’t hear it. But if you can just let any amount of that seep in. Yeah. Yeah, it’s going to be okay. Yeah, it’s going to be okay.
Casey McGuire Davidson 52:40
And not only can you, you know, not do it alone. But you’re not alone. I mean, there are so many people just like you who are struggling with this, but also on the other side, who…
Oh, yeah, exactly.
Like you did. So, you know, like you said, it’s not your fault. But there’s also nothing wrong with you. It just is it’s your thing, right? It’s your thing. We all have things that’s the other part. Like this thing isn’t any weirder or, or embarrassing, or gross, or strange? Or it’s just another thing we all go through, go through stuff now. So no, you’re not. You’re not alone. And to me, that wasn’t necessarily comforting. Because I think I like, we all want to think that we’re sort of special, like, no one could actually understand my insides, my life and how I feel and so you aren’t alone. And this experience is, will meet you where you are, like, I hate to say it, you’re not that special. Like, you’re important, but you’re not that special. And that’s good news. It’s not bad news. Because in this process, you are going to find what does make you so fantastic, and unique and extraordinary. Yeah, drinking is the most boring thing ever. Yeah. It really is like, it really is. If you think about it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 54:16
Oh my god. I mean, I remember like thinking, oh, you know, my husband’s going to think I’m so boring. If I don’t drink in the worst, like, I’m going to be boring. Or even worse. I’m going to be bored. Like, oh, yeah, it’s going to be bored. That’s, I remember thinking like, what do people do who don’t drink? Do they just sit there in silence and like, stare at each other? Which is so crazy, but that’s what I believed. And when I think back, I’m like, oh, yeah, because me getting drunk alone on the couch and passing out like that was super exciting for my husband like that was yeah, you know.
Yeah, I know. We get our perspective gets very warped. Yeah, what do you do? and you’re not saying that the time was exciting. 90% of the time was pretty lame.
It was pretty lame. Pretty boring. Pretty, pretty sad. Yeah, yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 55:12
Yeah. Oh, I have to tell you. I was thrilled when I got to the end of the book. And I saw you recommended this podcast is. So, thank you so much for doing such an honor.
Yeah, you’re so welcome. I it comes up a lot. And I know that I, I love that you’re doing it? And yeah, of course, I’m happy to. I was happy. I was so happy to be able to list so many resources. Yeah. That didn’t exist. Five years ago.
Casey McGuire Davidson 55:45
Yeah. I mean, the world is really changing. And that is awesome. Just as the conversation grows, like, it’s not a secret that you have to seek out and, and never talk about anymore. It’s part of, you know, one thing I love is, you know, I’ve heard from lots of people that this is a podcast that they can send to their girlfriends, or their mother or their sister as part of like, an intelligent discussion about the ways we cope. And whether it’s working. It’s not sort of, oh my God. You know, when I read, Drinking A Love Story, I was so terrified that anyone would know, I was worried about my drinking, I would like to read it on my Kindle and then open for other books. So, it would be like, pushed down in my queue in case my husband lifted up my Kindle. I mean, my God, the amount of secrecy around it was insane.
Well, you’re bringing down the shame, you know that that’s what you’re doing. And that’s amazing.
Casey McGuire Davidson 56:46
Well, so are so many other people that I know your books help so much. They’re hugely popular. TLC is amazing. I have so many friends who love it. So, thank you, and I really appreciate you taking the time to be on here.
Yeah. Thanks for having me.
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.