Quitter: Drinking, Relapse + Recovery with Erica C. Barnett
There is no cookie cutter way to quit drinking.
Often it takes many tries to find out what level of support you need to navigate life without drinking as a way to cope with life and what framework of recovery works for you.
My guest today is Erica C. Barnett, the Seattle author of the book Quitter: A Memoir of Drinking, Relapse and Recovery.
Erica’s experience with drinking and quitting drinking illustrates that it often takes a lot of trying to know what works for you. And that being able to move from relying on drinking pretty heavily as your main coping mechanism to not drinking and being able to sustain that often takes a number of tries.
I loved my conversation with Erica and we covered a lot of ground.
We talked about the good and the bad in drinking, quitting drinking and life in recovery.
Plus Erica shared a ton about the ins and outs of the world of outpatient + inpatient treatment and detox facilities, which I knew very little about before our conversation.
In this episode, Erica and I chat about
- How awesome it is that we’re now able (with a few years distance from quitting drinking) to laugh at ‘all of it’ (our drinking, the situations we got into, the things we screwed up, the times we tried to stop drinking and failed, our paths to sobriety and everything in between)
- The rapid increase in women binge drinking and drinking daily during the 2020 quarantine and COVID pandmeic and the relentless messaging in our society encouraging (and pressuring) women to drink everyday
- How fucked up it is that our society first encourages and trivializes women’s reliance on wine as “cute” or “funny” and then blames women for becoming addicted to an addictive substance
- Why despite the fact that alcohol use disorders are more common than opioid addiction and kill more people, alcohol is positioned as an almost entirely fun and harmless substance
- Why relapse is more often than not a part of recovery yet relapse is treated as a personal failure rather than a near-inevitability
- The differences between the many paths to recovery including cognitive behavioral therapy, 12 step programs, online alcohol-free groups, inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities, medically supervised detox services, sober coaching and everything in between
- The judgement surrounding addiction and how it can be harmful to recovering addicts.
- The treatment industry and how it relies on repeat customers to keep it profitable and thriving – as well as Erica’s personal experiences (what worked and what didn’t) at various treatment centers
About Erica C. Barnett
Erica is a longtime political journalist and the author of a great book, Quitter: A Memoir of Drinking, Relapse and Recovery. She founded and edits the website PublicCola.com, which covers local news and politics in Seattle.
Links and resources mentioned
Grab a copy of Quitter: A Memoir of Drinking, Relapse, and Recovery
Check out Erica’s blog, Thecisforcrank.com
Connect with Erica C. Barnett
Follow Erica on Twitter @ericacbarnett
Connect with Erica on Instagram @ericabarnett
Connect with Casey McGuire Davidson
Get support during the holiday season from women who are on the alcohol-free path with the guide on How to find and join my Favorite Private Sober Facebook groups
Connect with Casey
Take a screenshot of your favorite episode, post it on your Instagram and tag me @caseymdavidson and tell me your biggest takeaway!
Want to read the full transcript of this podcast episode? Scroll down on this page.
READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THIS PODCAST INTERVIEW
Quitter: Drinking, Relapse + Recovery with Erica C. Barnett
drinking, people, women, sober, alcohol, treatment, book, talking, wine, triggers, feel, treatment center, life, addiction, day, quit, hard, thought, friends, years, political, journalist, quitter, memoir, relapse, recovery, local news, Sober Book Club, life without alcohol, avoid, lonely, finding friends, Sobriety, celebrity, call, discussion, amazing, learned, clear, different parts, resonated, topics, dig into, clear, takes a lot of trying, know what works for you, move from, relying, coping mechanism, sustain, different ways, support, stop drinking, move forward, life, helpful, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), 12 step programs, quarantine, COVID, becoming, problematic, fun, listen, own experience, recovery group, tools, relaxing, trip, down memory lane, PTSD, your story, therapy, A.A., inpatient, outpatient, detox, rock bottom, decide, realization, habitually, day one, tried, trying, succeed, alcoholic, addict, love yourself, difficult time, layers of support, build yourself, deal with, psychological trauma, coping mechanism, abandoned, self-reliant, move on, resilient, white-knuckle, miracles, cope with life, hold it together, disciplined, badass, earning, living, booze, easier on yourself, motivation, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, time consuming, self-sabotage, crazy, choose, overcompensating, thoughts, feeling, writing down, honest, open way, working on, say, I’m sorry, scariest, part, healing process, amends, apologizing, making things right, rewarding, realistically, self-compassion, learn your lesson, gift, research, public policy, self-reported, release, tension, pressure, culture, mothers, grandmothers, cycle of thinking, Instagram, essential, habits, resilient, invincible, affects, impacts, severe denial, progression, hospital, self-sustaining, sober travel blog, tips, kit, concrete strategies, self-delusion, infinite, path, experience, attitude, relapse, fail, inpatient program, avoid triggers, taught, brain, science, tool, living life, responsibilities, husbands, kids, families, grocery store, secret drinker, sober podcasts, sober audios, self-justification, coffee, brunches, creative, world, opens up, self confidence, poisons, choosing, femininity, empowerment, attractiveness, fun, freedom, SHE RECOVERS®, perspective, decondition, required, privilege, curate, social media feed, quotes, farmers market, newsletter, bike club, judgment, amends, shameful, personal failing, internalize, internal work, shame, stigma, anti-anxiety drug, exercising more, sleeping better, proud of myself, positive feedback, powerful, listening, talk therapy, keep trying, another chance, journey, worth it
SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Erica C. Barnett
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.
Hi there. Today my guest is Erica C. Barnett. Erica is a longtime political journalist and the author of Quitter: A Memoir of Drinking, Relapse, and Recovery. She founded an edit the website PubliCola, which covers local news and politics in Seattle.
I’m really excited to have Erica on today, because we actually got to talk to Erica about her book a couple weeks ago. I’m a member of a pretty awesome Sober Book Club here in Seattle. We used to gather monthly and my friend Ingrid’s house for brunch and discussion and to see a bunch of people. And you might know about Ingrid or have heard her talk. My 6th podcast episode was with her about life without alcohol and how to avoid being lonely and finding friends in sobriety.
But last month, we read Quitter. Erica joined us to talk about the book. So we felt like we had a celebrity on the call. And I loved the discussion because we had 15 women on the call, who I actually know pretty well. And it was amazing to me how much I learned about them as they asked questions and had a discussion about Erica’s book, and to learn what different parts of the book resonated with each of them and the number of topics that we were able to dig into.
So, Erica’s book makes it clear that it often takes a lot of trying to know what works for you. And that being able to move from relying on drinking pretty heavily are as your main coping mechanism to not drinking and being able to sustain that often takes a number of tries. And I know that was true for me. And Erica’s book goes into a ton of detail around that, as well as, all the different ways that she tried or the support, she used to finally stop drinking and move forward with her life.
In this podcast, we’re gonna talk about how helpful Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was for Erica, how a lot of doctors and counselors and public policy even push. They’re only aware of 12 step programs as a support to quit drinking, which is somewhat of a one size fits all approach, which may not work for women as well as a more holistic approach. And also about how women during quarantine, during COVID are drinking more and more and how that’s becoming more problematic.
So Erica, thank you so much for being here.
Thank you so much for having me.
Yeah, I feel like I know you now after talking. We’re both reading your book and talking with you on the book club. So I’m really excited to have this discussion.
Me too. Yeah, the book club was wonderful and I loved getting to know all of you guys a little bit. And it’s just it’s always so fun to listen to people’s own experiences and how they got sober and how they’re staying sober because it’s like it’s just so different for every person. And I know that a lot of people in the book club are members of another recovery group and non 12 step recovery group. And you know, I got sober using the 12 step program. And a lot of other tools that I described in the book. So you know, it just was really a lot of different things that ended up working for me in combination after relaxing, as you said over and over again.
Casey McGuire Davidson 05:00
Yeah, and it was a little bit of sort of a trip down memory lane for a lot of us because you live in Seattle and did a ton of your drinking here.
All of us clearly did a lot of drinking in Seattle. Right. And so, both the bars you mentioned the places and neighborhoods, you mentioned, some of the women in the group had gone to some of the same outpatient or inpatient programs that you mentioned in the book. So, we talked about, you know, some, some PTSD, some women were feeling as they as they read different portions of the programs that you’d been to. But to get started, for people who haven’t read the book, will you tell us a little bit about it and your story?
Sure. So the book is called, or the subtitle is a memoir of drinking, relapse and recovery. And it’s really a book about relapse. I mean, it tells kind of my whole story and my drinking story. But most of the time, I think that I was really drinking heavily, I was trying to quit. And, you know, so the book is about all the things that I tried to do to quit and how things just kind of kept getting worse and worse and worse. And, you know, in the process of quitting, relaxing, trying new things, you know, I tried all different kinds of therapy, I tried, a I tried non A.A. groups, I went to inpatient, outpatient, detox, like everything you can imagine, you know, I, I learned a couple things, I learned a lot of things, but one is that there’s no such thing as rock bottom, the only rock bottom is death. And you know, you can decide and come to that realization that today is the day to quit, you know, after drinking for a year and not really losing anything, or you can be like me, and I believe that I had to go through everything that I had to go through to get to sobriety for myself, but you know, I lost my job, I lost my friends, I lost the trust of my family. And, and I did get sober despite all that. And that was after like, I don’t know how many relapses dozens. And so, I think the main sort of point of the book is that you can still find recovery, whatever that means for you. Even if you don’t find it right away. And you shouldn’t think of a relapse, if you want to think of it as a relapse. I mean, there’s different ways of conceiving of you know, slips and drinking again, and things like that. I just use the word relapse, because it feels true to me. And, you know, you can you can relapse over and over and you can still get it. Yeah, whatever it.
Yeah, you know what, I think that there is not a single person who love drinking, whether habitually the way it made you feel, etc., and has stopped drinking, who didn’t fight it for a long time, didn’t worry about it didn’t have a whole bunch of day ones, where they were like, That’s it, I’m going to take a longer break. And then 3 days later,4 days later, 3 months later, goes back to drinking and finds themselves in the exact same place. And I think that reading your book, and realizing how many times you tried to quit, and actually how much more dire it seemed to get over the years, you know, to the point where you were going to detox facilities. That there is a day for everyone who doesn’t, you know, doesn’t stop trying, and lives a happy life in sobriety, where one day and you don’t know what day it is, that just happens to be your last day one. And as long as you don’t stop trying, regardless of how many times you’ve tried and failed. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to succeed this time.
Yeah, actually, the way you put that your last day one just kind of gave me chills right now, because I was just thinking about, like, what my last day one was. And yeah, it was just, it was just really like any other day in my life at that time. And I just woke up, and I realized that I wasn’t going to drink anymore. And I don’t know what changed. And I think like, it’s been really interesting.
The books been out for a few months now. And I get, you know, just tons and tons of feedback over social media and email about, you know, people from people who’ve read the book, who are not, who have a family member who is an alcoholic or an addict. And they say that the thing that was most surprising and often most helpful for them was realizing that it wasn’t that you know, they have to push the person to hit rock bottom or the person just needs to like, get a little bit worse. It was that there’s really no way of predicting when that last day one is going to happen. And you can’t really push it or force it either. I mean, that’s one of the one of the tragedies of the way we think about addiction in this country. Is that We think that you can get people into a situation, whether it’s by putting them in jail or forcing them into treatment or, you know, not helping them out financially anymore, so they end up on the streets or whatever. We think that that is going to push people to, you know, actually, “get it” and it just doesn’t work that way. I don’t know, anybody who’s gotten sober that way.
Yeah. Go ahead and pin it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 10:24
Yeah. I mean, I think it’s also the concept which I love this, this phrase of, you can’t hate yourself, well, you have to love yourself enough not to drink. Because, you know, I don’t know what the right answer is for people who have hit increasing bottoms and just are in a really difficult place and are sometimes dragging down family and friends with them. And, you know, their parents and spouses are just having a really difficult time. But I can’t imagine that when your life sucks enough, and you have zero support that’s going to help you pull yourself out, you know, because then you don’t really I mean, you need layers of support, to build yourself back up again. And you know, to deal with all the habitual addiction, psychological trauma, coping mechanisms, that that drove you to drink in the first place. And so by leaving someone with zero supports, you know, and they’re just destitute, that’s really hard to have them pull themselves together at that point.
Yeah, I mean, I, I had support the whole time, even though I didn’t feel like I did. I felt like everybody had abandoned me. But I but I had tremendous support. I mean, I came out, and I was of, you know, the last detox that I went to, which is, which is how the last thing that I did, you know, in the treatment system before getting sober, and I didn’t think I had any trauma. Like, I was, like, that whole concept of trauma. Like I had always thought of myself as very self-reliant person and somebody who, you know, you know, anything that was bad that ever happened to me, I could just kind of brush it off and move on. And like, Yes, I am a very resilient person, I think. And I think all of us who come out of addiction are resilient, like, inherently, because we have, you know, we’ve come out of a really traumatic experience.
But yeah, I had no idea I’d ever had any trauma in my life. I mean, I had to go to therapy for a couple years before, I was able to really deal with a lot of the stuff that, that I would ultimately, you know, sort of start taking on but that was like years into sobriety. So, yeah, I think that there’s it’s not just, you know, you go into treatment and, and you don’t have any supports coming out or you don’t go into treatment, you just try to white-knuckle it. I mean, that’s so unlikely to work. I know it works for some people. But I think those people are, you know, kind of miracles.
Really hard for me and I had a ton of support.
Casey McGuire Davidson 13:11
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, 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.
I love that you say resilient because, you know it cracks me up because when I was drinking, I was like, What is wrong with me? Why do I have no discipline? Why don’t you know, why can’t I follow through? Why do I keep you know sort of like the marshmallow test right where you get one marshmallow and you’re supposed to not eat it for an hour and then you get a second marshmallow and I would always like drink eat the marshmallow right away or like drink the bottle. Like I’m like yeah, yeah, yeah, I want to live a happy healthy life. But fuck there is a glass of wine in front of me and you know, I am not going to like not eat that marshmallow. Right. And so, but then I think now knowing like, women who cope with life and somehow hold it together and go to work, manage kids, and somehow, still work out in the morning despite being brutally hungover. Like, you are the most disciplined people in the world, like holy shit, you’re running a marathon with like, a ball and chain tied to your ankle, like you are a badass, and it sucks. And you can make your life so much easier by getting more support and kicking it.
Yeah, I mean, that’s one of the things I talk about in the book is like, people think that people who have addictions are lazy, and you know, and just weak. But I mean, it was so much work to maintain an addiction, like both from the fact that, you know, I kept earning a living, and I would spend, you know, thousands of dollars a year, thousands and thousands of dollars a year on booze. And not to mention on hospitals, on detoxes, on all the you know, on therapy on whatever. And I was still dragging myself into work every day, you know, somehow performing at a level that I didn’t get fired until I finally did get fired. And yeah, and I just, I felt like absolute dogshit every single second of every single day. And it’s so hard to even like, you know, I look back on that now. And I’m like, I don’t understand who that person was, like I, I mean, I do, but intellectually, just looking back at it, like, wow, like, you could have made it so much easier on yourself.
If somehow you had gotten this motivation, like a little bit earlier, like, I don’t know, about 5 years earlier than you did. But no, I mean, I, I went, like you said the bond chain like every single day, just dragging myself through life feeling horrible. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, everything. And yeah, it was, it was time consuming.
Casey McGuire Davidson 16:43
Yeah, it’s not easy. Like, and also like, the amount of self-sabotage we do to ourselves is crazy. And you know, when you say it is not easy, it isn’t like, I’m amazed when I finally stopped drinking, and make no mistake, that is not easy to do, either. Some people are like, Yeah, not drinking as hard. But drinking is pretty hard to like, they’re both hard. You just choose your rich one. And not drinking gets a whole hell of a lot easier over time. Whereas drinking gets harder and harder for your life. But, you know, I quit drinking. Oh, my God, all the overcompensating and the crazy thoughts and the trying to cope and make sure nobody knows and the feeling like dogshit like that all went away. And I was like, Oh, my God, my life’s not as hard as I thought it was for a decade.
Yeah, I mean, I think the hardest thing about getting sober. And this is something that I actually do you think that the 12 steps get really right, but so does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I mean, there’s, you know, I think the two are very, very similar in how they work, the sort of writing down what you’ve done in an honest and open way with yourself, like writing down the ways that you’ve hurt people, or you know, maybe it’s not writing, I mean, CBT is really heavy on writing to, and I’ve heard that people who don’t like to write really don’t like either of these processes, and I get it. But writing down who you’ve hurt and how, and then thinking about, you know, and working yourself up to the point where you can say, I’m sorry, that is that, to me, was the scariest part. And I think it was one of the things that kind of stopped me from getting sober because I knew I’d have to face all of that in some way. But when you actually do that, it is such a healing process. And so that is the hard part. The hard part is doing, you know, you can call it amends or you can call it healing, or you can call it apologizing or whatever, but it’s making things right, to the extent that you can with people, that’s that was really the hard part. But it was actually, I think, the most rewarding part. And I’m sure, like, you hear that from people in A.A. all the time, but it’s also part of CBT you know, you look at things realistically, and don’t over dramatize them and try to deal with them.
Casey McGuire Davidson 19:05
Yeah. And also having some self-compassion for yourself, and whether that’s realizing that you’re not the worst human being in the world, because there are thousands of other women and men out there who’ve done similar things. And they say, Yep, I did that, too. Yep, that’s normal. You know? Nope, that’s, you know, you finally get to a point where you can laugh over some of it. You know, in retrospect, now, that’s the crazy thing. Like I’ve got less than 6 years sober right now, I’m sitting here with, you know, 5 years and some months. And I can laugh at all of it.
Yeah, I love it all. Like, actually with other people who quit drinking, I’m always like, you know, even with a grid, like, where I was like, Yeah, my mom never gave me a cabbage patch off. It’s probably why I drink like, it’s just kind of funny.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I got fired from work after passing. In the bathroom on two successive days, like exact same thing happened there likely again. Yeah. And I’m just like, wow, like you really didn’t learn your lesson that first time hot, you just had to come back and do it again. I mean, there’s so much and it’s so funny because like, I’ve talked to people. I’ve talked to people I worked with at the time, who I wasn’t really close to then and we’ve talked since and you know, there are people there who are sober at my old workplace and, and they’re like, you know, of course, they’re like, yeah, we didn’t think you’re gonna make it but god damn, you’re such a bitch. You’re such a bitch to us. And I was I was like, horrible to everybody there and I was horrible to the women who were there who were trying to help me. And I talked about a couple of them in the book. And I think I hopefully make it clear in the writing that like, my thinking that they were horrible at the time was all about me. Yeah, all about me feeling bad. And now like that, I kind of made amends to them. And we’ve talked like, we can all kind of laugh about it now, which is just like such a gift. Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 21:03
No, I hear you. Like, you know, and it’s a different kind of laughing because I would laugh at some of the Should I did when I was drinking, but it was sort of “Aha”, I’m gonna play this off. It’s no big deal. Like, was that funny? And now I like really laugh at it just to be like, wow, that was fucked up. But hysterical, like I at one point, was taking a cab to LA x with a co-worker. And I was brutally hung over on a business trip. And just, I tend to get carsick anyway, but I was in the backseat, and we were just stopping going throughout it, LA and we finally pulled up like at the airport, and right before I threw up all over myself, like I was like, trying to roll down the window and breathe and like, you know, I’m, you know, this is ridiculous. And I was like, maybe he’ll think I’m pregnant. But I was drinking a shitload the night before. So I was like, damn it. And, you know, I said to my husband, I was like, You don’t think he’s gonna tell anyone? Do you? And he was like, You fucking threw up on yourself? Pretty sure. It’s gonna make the other rounds. I was like, yeah. Yeah, that was pretty bad. Diving back into to some of the topics that we talked about. I know, in the beginning, you mentioned that so much news is coming out that especially during the quarantine, during the COVID, since February, March, like women and men, but women especially are drinking more and more, can you tell me what I know? You’re really into the research and the public policy around this. But what have you seen?
Well, I mean, every… It feels like every day. And, you know, a story just came out a couple days ago that said that, that people in general, Americans are drinking 14% more and binge drinking some larger percent more, but that most of that is among women. And that’s self-reported. So you can be pretty sure the real numbers are higher.
Yeah, like double. I mean, yeah. Like, did you ever tell your doctor the truth, when they asked how much you drink? I mean, ever? Like, maybe 2 drinks a day? I don’t know. But yeah, I mean, I think that, you know, women in particular, especially women with kids are, you know, are really having to take on more than ever before with no pressure valve, that they can, you know, really release some of the tension that is caused by having to like live in the same space 24 hours a day with people not being able to really get away having to do you know, most of the childcare, most of the housework, and all the stuff that’s always true, only now, it’s more true. And there’s no like vacation, there’s no spa day, there’s no like, just getting out of the house. And like, I mean, you know, some people have access to daycare still, but you know, it’s just, it’s just so much more pressure. And I think, you know, and I think there’s also a culture, especially if you’re like an online person, and you’re reading about, you know, what your friends are doing, and you’re on Instagram, there’s so much pressure to, to drink every day. I mean, and literally to drink every day, like I you know, I go on my Twitter feed, and it’s just, it’s lots and lots of women talking about how, you know, it’s five o’clock somewhere at three o’clock in the afternoon and starting, you know, starting their daily drinking, and it’s, it’s really, you know, people kind of, I beat this drum probably a little too much online, and on Twitter, particularly, and people are kind of like, you know, oh, she’s such a killjoy.
But you know, this stuff actually does kill people and the way people get addictions, you know, from the way people go from like a little bit of a problem drinker to, you know, full blown alcoholic in the middle of, you know, in full blown addiction is by stuff like this. I mean, I didn’t drink too much until I did. Yeah, um, I didn’t really start drinking heavily until I was almost in my 30s. Actually, maybe in my 30s, and I didn’t really develop problem until I was in my 30s. And then I was like, off to the races. And that was it. And so yeah, I think we trivialize this stuff way too much. And we think it’s cute.
Casey McGuire Davidson 25:14
Well, I think that’s I completely agree with you. And, you know, with the data, you know, being about women increasing binge drinking and daily drinking over the past 8 months, that’s one thing, but it’s actually been increasing for 20 plus years. I mean, the numbers of women who binge drink who drink daily who drank way more than their mothers or grandmothers ever did, is skyrocketing. And, you know, a year or so ago, it came out that the highest increase in death rate among people from alcohol was among white women aged, you know, 40 to 60, which is terrifying. So, I mean, it is a real problem. And when people say why, why can’t I drink like a normal person? You know, sometimes it’s like, hey, with the iceberg, you only see the part above the water. Like, we don’t know what everyone’s relationship with alcohol is. But I think that there are way more women struggling with daily hangovers and drinking too much, and the cycle of thinking, Oh, my God, I won’t drink and then saying screw it and drinking again, then we know about I mean, every, every time you see someone on Instagram, and are like, Why can I drink like them? Like you don’t know what they’re going?,
Yeah you don’t know. Like, just because they’re presenting this face to the world doesn’t mean that that’s the real face. And it’s, it’s really what’s going on. I mean, I think too, you know, one reason that you see a lot of, you know, I wouldn’t say middle aged women, but you know, women starting at about 35, on up to about 60, who go from, you know, “normal” drinking to addiction or alcoholism is because I mean, our bodies are just different. And we and I, you know, I don’t mean to, like be essential just about it or anything, but we have more body fat, we absorb alcohol differently, it affects our livers and our organs differently. And it tends to affect us, you know, faster tends to go from just, you know, casual drinking to problem drinking to addiction a lot faster and on a faster progression, then then with men and men also tend to kind of develop those habits when they’re younger, and their bodies are more resilient. And I think that, you know, the fact that that’s kind of the most the biggest growing category of people who are dying are, you know, in their 40s, and 50s. And 60s should tell us something, I mean, that should cause massive, massive alarm. But you know, because it’s a trend that only exists among women. We see a story about it now. And then but we don’t see, you know, I mean, imagine if that was if that was men, if it was like, Oh, my God, middle aged, white men are all suffering from the same problem. I mean, it would be considered an absolute national emergency. But because we’re talking about women, it isn’t. And I think that’s, you know, I think that’s just really telling that, you know, every year so we get another story. And it’s like, it’s like, oh, new study shows that you know that women are dying a ton more, or women are binge drinking more than they were last year. And then it just kind of gets shoved in the drawer. And nothing’s ever really done about it,
when we don’t want to admit it. Because I mean, I know that when I was drinking a bottle of wine at night, or about one and a half a wine, I still thought that those stories did not apply to me, because I was drinking, like all my friends were drinking. And, you know, it’s not a problem if you’re going to a bar with coworkers and having a couple of big glasses of wine and then coming home and opening a bottle and sitting on the couch with your spouse. Right? Like, that’s not a problem. And we also all think we’re invincible and we also all think that you know, dying earlier is not going to happen to us and all the crap and that’s normal right there. There are a ton of people out there and I think that everybody think they can’t get it. I said look at COVID. I mean, everybody thinks they’re invincible.
Casey McGuire Davidson 29:13
Yeah. And you also like, it’s so progressive and insidious. I mean, you describe this perfectly in a book in your book, but it’s, it’s, it’s fast and really slow, right? So you somewhat don’t notice the little bits of how it affects you and impacts you like for me, no one told me that I needed to quit drinking like it. People were kind of surprised when including my husband. He was like, Are you sure? Are you overreacting? I mean, I knew right? Like, I remember trying to put on mascara in my hand shaking and was just like, Holy fuck, you know, I remember looking at my eyes and starting to be like, I feel like they’re starting to look yellow. Like, there were certain signs that I knew, but then I was like, Oh, I must just not have. I must have drinking drank too much coffee. Like, that’s ridiculous with like, why my hand was like shaking putting on mascara.
Yeah, yeah. And, and I, I remember I mean, there was a friend who came over to my apartment when I was in treatment the first time. And he told me later that he came by and I said, and he said, I said, Why don’t you stop by because it was somebody that I didn’t see very often. And he was like, well, I thought you might have died. And I was like, and this was, you know, this is my first my first course of treatment. And so at the time, I was like, still in very severe denial, and I was in with a lot of women who were not, we’re kind of about in the same place that I was at the time or maybe a little bit, you know, not quite as far along in their progression. So, I just kind of thought, Well, you know, we’re all fine. And I’m like, these women. And so I, why would anybody think I would die, that’s crazy. And, and then I went to another treatment center, and it was co-ed, it was much larger. And I just really got to see, you know, just the whole range of people. I met a woman who, like had multiple organ failure, you know, multiple times, and she was in treatment for the fifth or sixth time. And, you know, I met people who had to leave treatment because they’re too sick. And they had to go to the hospital and like, you know, be taken care of there and put on dialysis and things like that. So that’s when I realized I think, you know, Oh, right. Like, I’m not exempt from this. Yeah, this could actually kill me. And, and I think that that just took a while for me to realize, because it is just a slow progression. And, you know, for I was like I was my hands are shaking all the time, by the time I quit, like for the last probably a year or two, which is nuts. Like, why would anyone live with that, but that was just how my life became, and I didn’t really think a lot of it, or I didn’t think I had many, you know, options. Yes. Quitting one option, that’s too hard, you know? Yeah, I told myself,
Casey McGuire Davidson 32:06
or you’re like, I will fail anyway. So what’s the point or, you know, all those thoughts that sort of keep you drinking. And I think that what helped me stop was not the idea that, Oh, my God, this, I’m going to get really bad because again, that’s hard to imagine, you know, the idea that you, you know, it won’t happen to you, but just trusting other people, that it’s better. You know, life is better without alcohol, it’s not this awful experience of isolation and deprivation and longing for the rest of your life. And, and I was asking you, just before we got on the call, because I wanted to know, like, what’s your life? Like, today? You know, you were talking about going to the gym and going on vacation and doing a ton of work. And after reading your book of all those years of struggle on some real hard bottoms, like in my mind that night and day, you know,
yeah, it’s completely different. I mean, I, let’s see, you know, 6 years ago, before I, I went to the last treatment center that I went to, and then got sober a little bit after that, I was spending most of my time just sleeping, like drinking and passed out. And I was so sick. And I, you know, it was hard to move around physically. And, and I didn’t do good work. And like the idea of writing a book. I mean, I had it in my mind, you know, that it was something I would do someday, if I could ever quit drinking, but I didn’t think that it was possible. And now, I mean, my, my life is so full, you know, I, I have a partner who has never seen me drink, which is just wild to me. And you know, and it’s kind of like, it’s kind of one reason I keep going to, to A.A. meetings so I could be around people that I can talk about this shit with.
Yeah, cause partners, just like you didn’t What? Huh? And so, but that’s really I mean, that’s really amazing. I run my own business, which I started, you know, pretty quickly after I stopped drinking, but now it’s self-sustaining. I have an employee, which is also nuts. And yeah, and until the pandemic, I mean, I traveled all the time, which is one of the really big perks of running our business. And one reason I, I mean, among many reasons that I didn’t want to work for anybody else. And I just kind of made that decision. And so where would you travel tip? Well, the last place I went before the pandemic was Tokyo. And I was so fun. And then we have plans to go. I have plans to visit my college best friend who lives in Germany. And I tried to kind of make my way to where he lives via, you know, various kind of other countries around there every year and then that trip was planned for March so it didn’t happen. But and now we’re doing kind of stateside stuff. Yeah. So, yeah. So it’s, you know, it’s kind of it’s coming back. I mean, that was that was such an essential part of my life. And I actually started a blog that was a sober travel blog. And then of course, like the pandemic kit, too.
Casey McGuire Davidson 35:15
God, I love that because I was tear. I’m a huge traveler, like, I’m a homebody, and I love traveling the world. And I think it is one of the things that trips up so many women that they can’t imagine going on vacation and traveling without alcohol. So I would love to read your sober travel blog. And I have a ton of tips too. Because since I quit drinking, you know, I went to Venice and Croatian, Amsterdam and Greece and Mexico and Hawaii and camping with friends and all the things I mean, I drink 365 nights a year, so I drink during everything. But there are really concrete strategies of you know, from you know, planning your trip on Pinterest, like, Don’t look for the best cocktail bars, look for the best brunch places, the best cafes, the morning bike tours, the you know, all these cool things that you’ve kind of had blinders on and only gone to the restaurants with the amazing bottles of wine and only gone to the bars. And you know, Oktoberfest like there’s a whole world out there that you haven’t even looked at.
Yeah, I mean, unfortunately, I thought that maybe quitting drinking would make me into more of a morning person and six years in it has not nocturnal as I was before,
Casey McGuire Davidson 36:38
I’ve always been a morning person, but I would just like drink early and pass out early.
Yeah, yeah, I did that too. Actually, I did briefly become a morning person, because I would wake up with the shakes at 4:00 a.m. for like a year. Well, that’s one way to turn it around.
Yeah, that was that was a whole interesting period of lying to myself about that. Because, you know, I mean, if I can get to the store, when they open at 7:00 a.m. to get my first bottle of the day, then I’m a morning person. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I did pick a path for self-delusion is like infinite.
Casey McGuire Davidson 37:13
So one of the things I loved on our conversation in the book club is you talked, I don’t know that much about the treatment system. It wasn’t sort of my path in my experience. But I thought it was really interesting how you talked about how that system that business is really focused on repeat customers, how the 28 day treatment area came around, and also how it’s not really a good fit for women, like when you were talking about like women being told that they need to do chores, because of your ego need to be broken down or needs to be broken down and how, you know, a lot of the women there are wives and mothers and you know, chores are not the thing that they need to do to heal. So tell me about that world, because a lot of people may not know about it, or may have gone through it and don’t have a critical is to, quote unquote, why it didn’t work, right.
Yeah, I mean, I think and what was so weird, the first place I went was all women. And it was the same way. I mean, the attitude was you don’t know how to live a responsible life. You’ve never had any responsibilities. And we need to one of our jobs is to teach you how to do basic things, because you don’t know how to do that anymore.
Casey McGuire Davidson 38:30
And so, it’s so condescending to write. So condescending and paternalistic.
Yeah, and I will say, I mean, I did have a good experience at the second treatment center I went to, but it was kind of despite a lot of things. And there’s a lot I would change. But
Casey McGuire Davidson 38:46
what I think that treatment does help a lot of women. I mean, one of the things I love when I go on these, like secret Facebook groups of women, when someone’s like, I’m going to treatment tomorrow or whatever, there’s so many women being like, that’s so great. I’m so proud of you, you are prioritizing your life, it is going to be amazing that you get to work on yourself. So I love that attitude, too. Because you’re finally like being like, Okay, I need to do this. And what I’ve tried isn’t working. But I also when you were talking about it see the flip side in terms of why it’s not like a panacea, like you’re going to be fixed in 28 days?
Oh, yeah, definitely not. I mean, the when I so when I went to the second treatment place, it was, as I mentioned, is a lot larger. So I met a lot more people and, you know, there were people who were in there for the 19th 20th time. And you look at that, and you know, and you say, huh, okay, so are you going to come in here 25 more times, or is there like a point where you say treatment doesn’t work, at least not for you, at least not the system. And I think that part of the reason it doesn’t, it isn’t effective at actually you know, “getting you sober” the first time is because it’s not designed to teach you what to do when you relapse. The treatment for relapse is more treatment in, you know, in the minds of treatment facilities. And so if you fail, it’s because you know, if you, “fail by drinking” or using again, it’s because you didn’t go to their inpatient program, or you didn’t do you know, the follow ups at three months, or you just you failed to stay in their system in a proper, you know, in a proper way, according to them. And so you need to come back to treatment for 28 days. And I find that, you know, I find that really infuriating, because I’ve a small sample size, I’ve only been twice, but both times I went, they taught me how to avoid triggers. And they taught me you know, tools for not drinking again. But the fact is, most people do drink again, when they leave treatment, that is just a statistical reality. And so at that point, you know, treatment centers, if they want to be effective, should say, Okay, how do we help people deal with it when that happens? The problem is, if they were effective, that way, they wouldn’t get people coming back in the door. And it’s the revolving door that allows, you know, so many hundreds and thousands of treatments that are still exist in this country. If they if they worked, if they you know, got people sober, and they were able to stay sober, then a lot of them would shut down, frankly.
Casey McGuire Davidson 41:27
Yeah, and you also mentioned, which I had no idea about is the concept of how it became 28 days, like, you know, I mean, there’s even that Sandra Bullock movie, right? 28 days, but tell me, which we watched in treatment? Oh, you did? What’s that, like, here? Learn?
I guess. I mean, I actually really liked that movie. But you know, it’s, it’s very cheesy, and it presents a very unrealistic version of how things go. But, um, but yeah, I mean, it came out of I’m gonna, I’m gonna forget the exact details of this. But it came out of what, what the military was willing to pay for soldiers who came back from, you know, from foreign wars, addicted to various things, you know, heroin, primarily, and alcohol. And it was never based on any kind of, of actual, like scientific knowledge about how the brain works, or how long it takes to kind of get your get your brain back after a period of addiction, because that’s totally, you know, dependent on the person, depending on the drug or alcohol. And what the latest science says is that, you know, simultaneously, treatment should go on for a lot longer than 21 days, 28 days. For some people, it is 21 days. But also, it doesn’t necessarily need to be inpatient that entire time, because one of the things that, paradoxically, happens when you go to 28 day treatment you’re kind of locked off from the world is, even though you’re learning to do you know, quote, unquote, learning to make your bed and learning to clean the steps or whatever, you which, by the way, I think is a way for them to save money as well.
Casey McGuire Davidson 43:03
I thought that to like, clean the toilets, it’s like, yeah, exactly paying you.
But yeah, but at the same time, you’re kind of, you’re kind of so removed from the normal world, that you’re not dealing with anything. And so what is most effective for most people, and I don’t know that this would have been effective for me, because I was, you know, the kind of person who couldn’t go more than a couple hours without drinking, but for most people is, is intensive outpatient treatment, where you’re just checking in checking and checking in, but you’re not, but you’re also living your life, you know, and maybe if you have a job, you’re working your job, if you have a family, you’re seeing your family, or you’re living in sober living, which I know, you know, a lot of women that are a number of women that I that I’ve met over the years, you know, with husbands and kids, and you know, and all those responsibilities, and they’re going to sober living and living, you know, away from their families for a while. And that can be really helpful. So, but the 28 day, you know, compressed track, it just, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I mean, I remember there was one lecture I went to at the second treatment facility I went to, and it was so interesting, but it was about how the brain how like neuron or said, neurons and receptors in the brain interacted with alcohol and drugs and uppers and downers and all this stuff. But I watched it about a weekend and I absorbed zero, because your brain, like can barely process anything. By the time you get out of that 28 day treatment, you know, you’re sort of coming out of the fog, but that takes years. Yeah. And so the kind of there’s also like an issue with just the pedagogical nature of it, like you’re sitting there watching videos, and often the videos are from the 70s you know, and you’re reading books that are also from the 70s and oh my god that’s reminded me of like the bad sexual harassment videos that you used to have, much like in work to like check off.
Yeah, I’ve done the Ethical Treatment. And I was like Jesus Christ, what it sounds like. It really felt like being in like sex ed and like,
yes for something. Because you’re, I mean, the, the treatment center that I went to, there’s like, there are all these black and white videos, the treatment center were somehow affiliated with this priest. It wasn’t like a Catholic or religious treatment center. But there was a priest involved in it somehow at some point, it’s passed. So we had to watch all these videos at this priest talking. And I mean, everybody made fun of it. nobody listened. It was ridiculous. It was just a way to, like, get us to sit in a room for a little while and feel like we were spending our time doing something that was treatment related. But it was so silly.
And so yeah, so I just, I think for most people treatment 28 day treatment probably is a waste of money.
And it’s expensive, right?
It’s very expensive. But for someone. Um, so mine, mine cost 10,000 and 12,000, respectively. So that’s like on the lower end, and you can spend a lot more, but for 28 days, that is not cheap for anyone.
No. And I ended up, I mean, I had insurance, but I still ended up in just massive, massive debt. Yeah, coming out of, you know, the whole, you know, the hospitals and the detoxes. And the whole thing, yes, detox is also not cheap. You know, that’s thousands of dollars.
Casey McGuire Davidson 46:23
Wow. And that’s just a couple days, right for medically supervised detox. Well, and I, you know, I truly believe like, it takes what it takes and keep trying and keep getting support. And if you’re doing something, and it’s not enough to help you stop drinking, if you want to, or if that’s what you need to do. Keep trying, right, like we talked about, everybody has a last “day one”.
But I do like, you know, I have friends who’ve been to intensive outpatient where they work and then 3 nights a week, they go for 3 hours or something on the weekend. And what I liked about what you’ve said is that, you know, you said that when you’re in inpatient, they sort of teach you to avoid “triggers”. And it’s not realistic, right? You’re locked away from your home from your kids from your spouse, who may or may not be drinking from coworkers who go to happy hours, or work stress or whatever it is. And that, you know, for the male concept of triggers, it’s often like, don’t go by that bar when you drink with your buddies, or don’t go to the party and for you, and for a lot of women, you know, we buy our wine at the grocery store, right? the grocery store is a trigger people in your life or triggers.
Yeah, I mean, the grocery store was the hardest thing for me. And for a while, I had to talk to somebody while I was actually like, physically grocery shopping so that I would like not see the wine aisle, and you know, and the booze aisle, because it was just such It was so familiar to me to just drop, you know, a box of wine or a bottle of vodka in my basket. And I think that yeah, I mean, and I think a lot of women, like I was a secret home drinker, and I live alone. So it’s very easy, but you know, I have visitors and, and so I, you know, the trigger was my home, the trigger was, you know, just everything between my home and in the store.
It was the bus, you know, it was work. It wasn’t like, Oh, you just have to avoid that bar and those buddies for a little while. Yeah. And, and I think that’s more typical of women’s experience, and we do we are more likely to be secret drinkers at home or to just, you know, drink some publicly and then some privately I also did that for a long time. Yeah. So yeah, I just I just I found that to be completely absurd. And, you know, hey, I’m sure it works for some people, but it’s good to know that that such thing as triggers exists, but you also have to learn like, how to live with them because you can’t stop going grocery store.
Casey McGuire Davidson 49:01
Yeah, well, I agree. Like when I was in early sobriety and I always tell my clients you know, hey, think about this. Like, don’t go to the grocery store when you’re hungry. Don’t go to the grocery store in late afternoon or evening like go in the morning when you’re most you know you have your most willpower your most plan your it’s not when you typically drink and I listen to you know, sober podcasts and sober audios when I was just shopping around like with the earbuds in my ears like that really helped me and I wouldn’t go by the wine aisle. I mean, that would be insanity. And I you know, I wouldn’t buy my husband beer for probably six months like now I do because it’s not it’s not triggering for a while but for a long time I was like, I’m not buying you beer like I didn’t make him not drinking the house because beer wasn’t my jam but there was 0 wine there. To this day is no wine in my house like nope, you can bring it and you have to leave with it because a bottle in my house what’s the point and be I’ll just It will absorb a corner of my mind like I will know where it is at every moment in my day. But you’re right like the triggers are I mean, I drive around my town. I drank it every single place there was like you know, I drove to my friend’s house we didn’t think about this we have a great Seattle She Recovers group. And one person had this fabulous great get together sharing circle during COVID. It was like, under an open air bar. And we sat for apart everyone were masks. It was it was awesome. After we hadn’t seen each other in six months, and it’s in my neighborhood, I happen to live near 90 wine tasting rooms. I mean, wouldn’t go like Redmond. So we were just like, come out to our area. We’ll go to her farm. It’ll be fabulous. So we had all these women driving from like downtown Seattle, West Seattle, and you have to go through the wine circle, where there are just an end people, you know, people are like, that was kind of triggering for me. Like, oh, shit, I didn’t even think about that. It Yeah. Yeah. Because I’m four and a half years in and I’m used to it. But I was like, yikes, that was probably it.
Yeah, I have to remember and be compassionate for that first six months,
Casey McGuire Davidson 51:17
I felt like I felt like anything that happened would like I’d be knocked over and grabbing a glass of wine. Like,
yeah, now it’s like, I can go to a bar. And it’s almost like everything is just kind of blurred.
Casey McGuire Davidson 51:30
I notice it. I do notice it. Of course I do. Like people are always like, do you ever want to have a glass of wine? And I’m like, yeah, of course I do. It looks great. And I used to love it. But I don’t want any of the shit that comes with it. Like, and it is not worth it to me. Like I know enough. I’ve tried to stop and then gone back to drinking. And it takes me to the same place. So no thing. Yeah, I love that thought of the triggers. And also helping people manage the triggers, right? Because sometimes if you’re if you’re going to a, you know, I do coaching, if you’re going to intensive outpatient or working with a therapist, you get to talk about those triggers in real time and your fears and what you need prepare for it, right? Like, Oh, god, I’m going to work and the team’s going to happier on Thursday. And I really feel like, I need to do it or at least stop by you get to talk about that. And maybe the answer is don’t go. A lot of times, it’s don’t go like if you had the stomach flu, you wouldn’t go but you know, it’s still there, that’s a trigger and then feeling like you’re missing out or you’re being judged for not going, as opposed to you’re going away for 28 days with your triggers. And then you’re out with very little support.
Yeah, and I think the peer pressure on women also is just greater to participate in those things. Because otherwise, I mean, we want to be at the table all the time, right? Like, because we’re so often excluded from table. So if there’s like, like, I’m not, you know, I this is hypothetical, I work for myself, okay. And very much for this reason, among many others, but like, you know, you might not get invited to go play golf with the guys, but you’re probably going to get invited to the happy hour. And then if you miss that, like, what does that say about you? And, you know, just the amount of pressure is real. And I feel that too as a journalist, when I, when I first quit, I thought, oh my god, like, I’m never gonna be able to network with people. Because all networking happens over drinks. I mean, like, and that is, that is totally still the case. But I found that that kind of networking actually wasn’t as valuable as I thought it was. Yeah, I’m sure I’m missing out on things. But I also know how to just kind of be a pest now, in a way that I didn’t, you know, just as a journalist and kind of keeping myself on people’s radar and I don’t have to drink and go to the bars and spend a lot of money to do that. And also like there’s this thing called coffee.
Casey McGuire Davidson 53:53
Yeah. Oh my god, which I truly did not realize before like I never considered let’s get coffee, as I know that sounds silly
that does everybody. You’re in Seattle.
I was happy. Yeah, I drink coffee. Everybody in Seattle drink but it did not occur to me that like you could say let’s meet at 10 o’clock in the morning over coffee that was just thinkable to me. Which sounds I realized like so much of the stuff we think sounds insane and it’s all self-justification. But that is truly what I felt.
Like, I’ve turned sort of dinners or happy hours with a lot of my girlfriends into brunches like I love Sunday brunch plus you get away from your kids, a lot of my friends and kids and you know. But we go down since you know Seattle to Pike Place Market and we meet at Cafe Campania, which is this incredible French restaurant, and they have just amazing espressos and lattes and incredible food and you go get flowers in the market afterwards and you’re by the water. It’s just a beautiful special experience. I think more than going out to a restaurant and drinking a ton of wine. So, you know, you just sort of get creative. And like you said, your world actually opens up.
Yeah, I mean, there’s so there’s so much there’s like a whole day before noon. I mean, I’m not a morning person, as I said, but like, I was never, like, ready to face anything before noon before. Oh, yeah. And so, yeah, it’s just, it is amazing how they work. And you just kind of realized, I mean, for me, a lot of it was trying to feel like I fit in. And I think that is true of a lot of people who start drinking. It’s, there’s a lot of, you know, self confidence that goes into it. And, you know, and I just didn’t, I didn’t feel comfortable in my skin. And so the idea of like, I can’t go to the happy hour, and I’ll miss out was also wrapped up in you know, people will think that I’m lame or square or whatever. And it’s like, you know, I’m 43 years old at this point. Like, I am a square, like no matter what, like, I have a square at this point. And it’s fine.
Casey McGuire Davidson 55:59
When I think that’s also a lot of the reason that women start drinking more. It’s pretty common when they have kids. And it’s not all about like, Oh my god, it’s hard to have kids I mean, it is and the toddler years are hard. Tip for anyone listening to it. It’s actually easier when you stop drinking, I swear to God, and I know you don’t believe me, I quit when my daughter was 22 months, and I drank through my entire son’s, I quit the first time when he was five the second time when he was eight. So it actually is way easier to parent when you’re not hungover and short tempered and feeling guilty and defensive. But a lot of the reason I think I started drinking more than a lot of my friends was to sort of reclaim that. I’m not lame. I’m still a badass. I can still have fun when you are tied down to this little adorable but damn, they cry a lot and whine creature who is with you? 24. Seven. You’re like, yeah, I may be scrubbing the toilet and changing diapers. But I’m still a badass.
Yeah, yeah. And there’s so much messaging that tells us that too.
Yeah. And so question for you, too. One of the things we talked about on our book club call was, you know, a lot of people may or may not have read Holly Whitaker’s book Quit Like A Woman. But you said one of the things you’d loved about it was just her anger at the alcohol industry and how you feel that too, and I definitely, I feel like most women who quit drinking, it’s like they finally like, since they’ve been in The Truman Show. And they finally step outside the bubble and are like, holy shit, we’ve been lied to. But like, tell me about that anger and, and what pisses you off the most?
Boy, um, well, I like I said, I’m on Twitter a lot, I get a lot of advertising, I see online advertising all the time. And, like, and it’s just, it’s not like one thing, it’s just the accumulation of the messaging around like, you, you woman, like can I can be a cool like, 20 something drinker. And then you can be like a cool 30 something mom drinker. And then you know, once you, you know, kind of become like, 40,50, you know, irrelevant to the culture or whatever, you can be the wacky, like Lady Who sits in her, you know, her rocking chair and drinks wine all day, or martinis or whatever. Like, there’s always a way that culture slots, women into positions where they just are drinking. And it’s supposed to be appealing. And so, you know, I mean, we went to like, my boyfriend and I were in like, a small town recently, and just kind of, Oh, actually, you know, it might have been, it was near Bellingham, we’re going through this bookstore. And, you know, this is during COVID, we’re walking around with our little masks on and, like, we get to this display of magnets. And it’s just like, all like these terrible jokes about drinking, you know, like, oops, forgot to bring, brought wine home instead of milk again, tea, you know, and it’s just so it’s not just, it’s not just one thing, it’s the fact that we’ve absorbed this culture that says that, you know, because the alcohol industry, you know, sees women as this, you know, new market to, you know, to really, really expand and expand and expand. We’re just constantly hit with this messaging, and particularly around wine, you know, this idea that this is like, the feminine way to just essentially be drunk all day. And it’s not feminine or masculine. It’s just, you know, it’s just a poison that you’re choosing to put into your body. And, like, that’s fine. Like, as I’ve said, you know, many times in writing, like I put poisons in my body all the time, like I’m drinking a diet coke right now, that’s probably not good for me. I eat way too much sugar because that’s what happens sometimes when you quit drinking. And you know, and that’s all bad. Like, I’m aware of that and people can drink and it’s fine for them, but we’re supposed to believe. But it’s not a poison or so slowly that it’s always fun and always produces these, you know, wonderful results and makes us better women and more entertaining women and more interesting sparkling women. And that’s what makes me mad.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:00:13
Well, in the same way about body image, right, like, it’s the same thing about, you know, every woman who’s put on a magazine is thin, every woman who is pushed in any way is thin, you know, even the people who are incredibly in shape or airbrush, like even, you know, the team, you know, team Cosmo, or all these things like, you know, it’s how to get a boy and how to do your hair and how to lose 10 pounds. And, you know, it’s the alcohol way that they’re that they’re marketing to women shaping women. They’re just associating femininity, and empowerment and attractiveness, and fun and freedom. And all these things with a liquid in the class, and that is very targeted. And then when you worry about it, or when it becomes obvious, it’s a problem. It’s a joke, like those socks. I hate those fucking socks that are like, if on the bottom of the socks, it’s like, oh, yeah, just bring mom wine. And I’m just like, that’s a freaking nightmare. Like, what the fuck, that’s not what could happen like this is this is my prediction once like, once the alcohol marketing to women, you know, at once marketing wine to women is exhausted, and it becomes passed. It’s going to be like tequila or whiskey, or one of these things that sort of coated masculine now.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:01:36
And like, already heard that with when the gin is starting to be the new, like gin clubs for women and mixing gin. And then that’s just going to be like, Oh, you’re even a cooler woman, you’re more of a sophisticated woman, like, it’s just not going to stop. And they do it with men too. I mean, I remember the old commercials, like back in the day. And it was when I was actually studying advertising in college that they use this as an example where it used to be. And I’m dating myself, like the weekends belonged to Nick. And like, that was the that was the tag phrase. That was commercials. And then it was the night belong to Nick Loeb, like this year. And then it was the day’s belong to Nick Loeb. And then I shit you not, it became McKillip. Some days are better than others. Like that was literally the evolution of the tag. Yeah. And it’s so obvious when you look at that. It’s to like, okay, now people are drinking on the weekends, but we really need them to drink every night. And then like what I mean, like every day.
Yeah. Like, maybe you can just have a little, like, half glass of beer in the morning. Like, I mean, it was good, right? Like, we’re like, well, we don’t drink on the weekends or in the morning. Well, except my Moses.
Yeah. And it’s, it’s insidious. It’ll never end. You know, and I think that I think the only tool is to be like, media literate. And to, you know, and to counter program. Yeah. with, you know, which is what I think, you know, groups like SHE RECOVERS® and, and groups like, you know, the women’s a group that I that I go to, which is just like, reminding you like, Oh, actually, there’s like a really, really dark side to this. And there’s not that much of an upside, because it doesn’t actually make you look like the woman and the advertisements.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:03:28
Yeah. And I don’t like it. It’s actually really unattractive to be, you know, super drunk and slurring and not remembering shit and losing your phone at a at a work party. And of course, I’m not talking about myself. It’s not pretty.
That’s another great thing about sobriety. You don’t lose your phone as much.
You never do. You never lose your phone. You never forget what you said, Your boss. Like, I remember coming home from a work party. And I was like, my phone is missing. Where’s my phone? And so I used that, like, find your phone shit. It was in the back of my boss’s car, which was 15 miles away because she had to drive me home like, yeah, that’s totally professional. And I was a Director at this company. Like, I literally don’t remember that happening. And I had to call her with my husband’s phone and be like, so I think like, and then just like, What do you say? Thanks for driving home. I guess I must not have eaten, you know, I don’t even know right, like something and then a sort of like shamefully walk in on Monday and see if anyone’s going to say anything to me.
So, yeah, the idea that you’re sophisticated, is not always true. And I love that you, you know, said about how you need to change your perspective. I think of it as deconditioning yourself from, you know, your entire lifetime of conditioning about what alcohol means and what it does and how it’s required and a privilege, and I really think that one have the great ways to do that is to actually curate your social media feed. And that’s actually really easy to do on Instagram, because there are so many incredible people out there who are alcohol free. Like, once you find a couple of them, you’ll just go down this rabbit hole of more people and they are posting about how great it is to not drink and all the things they’re doing without alcohol and quotes that make you really think that like, not drinking is an incredible choice. And you know, you fill your feed, you are like, Oh my god, there’s a huge universe out there people who don’t drink and you know, I love Hello, Sunday morning, which is out of Australia, and just people posting about, you know, all the things they’re doing without alcohol. And then also like, fucking unsubscribe from your winery that you’re following. Like, I used to get the window wine, like monthly email happenings. And I think I was sober for a couple of months when I was like, Why the fuck? Don’t I just hit unsubscribe? Like, this is annoying me making me feel bad making me feel like I’m missing out? Like, let me subscribe to the farmers market newsletter and the local bike club. Like, you know,
yeah, yeah, there are all kinds of things you can do and talking to people in, you know, private groups on Facebook or on zoom is also, you know, super helpful or just listening. I mean, I have I have friends, a couple friends right now who are struggling and trying to get sober. And, you know, and they’re like, Oh, do I have to go to A.A. meetings, I was like, Well, you know, I mean, personally, I recommend trying it. Because it’s free. And because you’ll get a lot of people’s, you know, perspectives and experience, but I was like, you don’t have to talk, you can just like, show up, prove you’re human being by like, you know, talking to the administrator, and then like, dip out, you know, just put your, your, you know, take your photo down, whatever, and just listen. And even that, I mean, is better than like, just sitting on your computer and getting all this messaging that there’s something wrong with you or that you’re missing out.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:07:01
Yeah, and one of the things you talk about often is that all the judgment surrounding addiction can be really harmful to recovering addicts. And, you know, the notion that they’re, you know, 90% of the population can drink, quote, unquote, responsibly, and that there’s something wrong with you, if you can’t control your drinking, if you can’t control basically taking an addictive substance, like, what’s wrong with you. So tell me a little bit more about that.
Yeah, I mean, I think I think that the thing that was hardest for me, besides just kind of realizing I was going to have to make amends to people and all that stuff, was this notion that you know, that I have something to be ashamed of, because of some personal failing. And myself and I and this is this is actually one area where I think, you know, you were mentioning that a can be problematic, and you know, and it’s done by amateurs, and it’s done differently everywhere, despite the fact that the book that they use hasn’t changed since the 30s is that, you know, they teach you that you have a character defect, I don’t think it’s a character defect, I don’t think that you become addicted to something because of character defects. And so I think that, you know, we absorb that, and we take that into, you know, into our brains and hearts. And we, you know, it requires a lot of work to think of addiction, not as something that’s shameful, but it’s something that just happens to some people just like diabetes, just like you know, any other disease. It’s a deadly brain. It’s a potentially deadly brain disease. And it happens to some of us.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:08:30
Yeah, I love that potentially deadly brain disease. I mean, yeah, I put, it looks so good. Yeah. I mean, yeah, I mean, like diabetes, right? Like, it’s just, it’s, it doesn’t work for your body, and you have to make a change to what you ingest.
I think it’s really important, you know, to think and to realize, and to just sort of internalize the fact that if people treat you as if being, not drinking or not being able to drink is shameful. Turn it around on them. I mean, just you know, it, you have to internalize the fact that it’s not your fault. And that can take, you know, and that takes work, and it takes, you know, real hard internal work, but the, you know, if somebody says, Why aren’t you drinking? You know, I might say, you know, I mean, usually I just say I don’t drink? And if they say why I’ll say, Well, you know, why do you drink, you know, or I’ll say, Oh, I’m an alcoholic, and just stare them? Right? I’ll keep them quiet, right?
Yeah. And it’s like, and if they have an N, often what happens from that is that people will, you know, sort of say, oh, okay, and not and sort of walk off awkwardly. And then what I found is a lot of times, people will approach me later and be like, so. Yeah. So tell me about how you kind of how did you figure out you had a drinking problem because they’re asking for themselves? Yeah. And so people who are really interested in your drinking like They probably have a reason.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:10:01
I think I’ve actually had really awesome conversations with people. And trust me, I did not do this at first, right? I think that you, you share whatever is right for you when you’re at the right time. But a couple years in, you know, I, I was even before I kind of became sober coach or anything, I just was like, Yeah, I quit drinking. And they’re like, really? And I’m like, yeah, haven’t had a drink in three years. And they’re like, wow, why? I’m like, you know, it was just, you know, it’s addictive. And it’s, it’s hard. You know, it’s hard to just have a couple of you really love it. And I loved it. And it was making me feel awful and spiky, my anxiety and I just feel a ton better without it. And typically, a lot of people have been like, That’s awesome, good for you. Or, gosh, I, my buddy, just, you know, just went to rehab or, or my, my mother quit drinking, or, I mean, there is not a person in this world who does not know someone who has struggled with alcohol or something else. And I found that like, you know, the photographer at my old office at L’Oréal was just like talking to me, after I said that, you know, he was taking a headshot of me, and we had an incredible conversation about his best friend. And trust me, that would never have happened if I hadn’t been like, Oh, I used to drink and I quit.
I was I was on the phone the other day with like, like doing the most mundane, like business thing that I have to do for with the with the tax office at the state. And, and I’m talking to this guy, and he’s like, by the way, I looked you up and I saw your book, and he’s like, you know, and I’ve been sober for 13 years. And we started talking about, like, you know, what it was like getting sober in this area. And like living in Seattle, you know, 20 years ago, and like, we have this like, great conversation. Like, and if this is like a guy at the insurance office, you know,
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:11:56
the more you get open to it. And only when you’re ready, the more support you find. And the more you realize you’re not alone, like I had this guitar teacher. And he was like, Oh, so what made you decide to start playing guitar? And I was like, well, I quit drinking, and I just kind of thought it’d be a great thing to do it, you know, in the evenings, and I’ve always wanted to do it. So what the hell and he was like, Oh, yeah, I’m sober 13 years, and I’m just like, oh, wow, we had this whole new level of like, cool. Like, whatever it was. And you know, that wouldn’t have happened. So I think you’re totally right. Like, the stigma is also often because nobody talks about it, right? And the more you’re open, and the less you label and judge yourself, the more you know, people are going to pick up on that and not feel like it is the pariah to even mention it, or you know, that you’re going to, you know, shatter like glass. If someone says something, they’re just gonna be like, oh, wow, it sounds like that’s good. You know, good for you.
Yeah, it takes a while. I mean, if you know, for me, I am like an oversharer by nature, so it didn’t take. But like, a lot of people are very private. And I totally understand that too. But I do think like, to the extent that you can talk about it openly after whatever period, you know, of time feels comfortable. That’s how we get rid of shame. And that’s how we get rid of stigma is by is by saying, this is something that happens to a lot of people, a lot of people because this is an addictive substance that a lot of people consume. So it just, you know, stands to reason that a lot of people get addicted to it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:13:32
And I think, even as you share your story, people pick up on that, too. They’re like, wow, you know, Erica, you’re successful, you’re smart, you went to college, you have a good life, and, and she’s just like me, you know, and so I’m not somehow have this, you know, character flaw, that this happened to me. And even if you don’t talk to other people, I think it’s really important to shift that conversation in your own head about, you know, there’s something wrong with me or this is something to be ashamed of even just extending yourself that self-compassion helps you so much just move through life more happily. So I also wanted to mention, we talked on this briefly, but it does blow my mind. We talked about this when we were talking about how many women are drinking and, and the increase in real medical, you know, negative outcomes for people who drink too much and how we think we’re sort of immune or it won’t happen to us. But, you know, I know in your book, you talk about alcohol use disorders, that they’re more common than opioid addiction, even though that is what’s all over the news and is tragic, but it kills more people than opioid addiction. 88,000 at last count every single year, higher.
I mean, honestly, like that’s, that is the last count. And I think that if it can only be 8000 a year, I mean, I’m sure it’s higher, but think about that. I mean, it’s like up there with heart disease and cancer. And, you know, despite that they’re not the only warning label is if you’re pregnant, like, there’s no indication that like, 80,000 people die from overconsumption of this, this substance every year, it’s marketed as harmless.
It’s a percentage in two. I mean, why are there not warning labels?
I mean, because of lobbying.
But yeah, I mean, I think if there was, if there was like, you know, I mean, if you look at opioids, there was a lot of marketing of opioids, and that really contributed to the epidemic that’s happening now. And, you know, and so their efforts to crack down on the marketing, but the marketing for opioids was not everybody should be taking opioids, it was, you know, if you’re in pain, like you need this, this you need, you need Oxycontin, and it’s totally not addictive, don’t even worry about it. So that is like, that’s a slice of the population. But alcohol is marketed to everyone as being safe, and, you know, maybe even healthy, you know, there’s always alcohol funded studies all the time about how wine is healthy. And so, you know, and maybe even beer and oh, maybe even vodka, you know, so maybe alcohol itself is healthy. And it’s not, and it’s a carcinogenic causes heart disease, and it causes all these problems. And people who don’t even have alcohol use disorders, necessarily, but you know, who are consuming this thing that is just like an E.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:16:29
I mean, it is a poison one. Forget about drunk driving and everything else, and not being able to take care of people should something happen to your family after you drink a bottle of wine or, you know, whatever it is, so, but yeah, it’s a huge, huge issue. And I’ve had even people I know who’ve said, who’ve had breast cancer, who’ve had various, you know, serious kinds of breast cancer and treatments who have said, gone to their doctor and said, Well, I really want to stop drinking, because of the association with breast cancer. And this is their doctor for that. And the doctor said, Well, I don’t think you need to be that hard on yourself, like a glass every once in a while. And this person, which is so hard to do, is saying I don’t want to drink like nobody says that if there is not something underneath it. And so then she’s saying it’s always popping up in my mind that even my doctor says it’s okay, so am I overreacting? And I’m like, that is about her and her relationship with alcohol. And I mean, it’s not true, right? The American Cancer Association just finally said that zero level of alcohol is healthy and that it causes cancer.
Yeah, and but you know, that that’s a blip for one day, and then there’s just like, the barrage, you know, of constant, you know, this is good for you this relieve stress. Yeah, no, I mean, somebody was, somebody was telling me that they like went in for panic attacks. And we’re told, basically, you need to go home and drink a glass of wine. And, and that by doctor.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:18:03
Even though drinking causes anxiety, and that comes with it.
Is it seen as like, as seen as an anti-anxiety drug? And, you know, I mean, just imagine, like, I don’t know, imagine if we were prescribing, you know, Ambien and oh, I guess we are, where we are. But it’s just another example of me, my doctor, when I was, you know, trying to get sober. Of course, I was totally dishonest with my doctor. And I lied about how much I drank. But you know, she never pressed me even when it was obvious. Even when I came in, I had tachycardia one time, and had to go to the hospital. And that was at that doctor’s and she never said, you know, does this have anything to do with your drinking? Yes, you would think like, that’s a logical step. But it’s just, it’s just not something we think of.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:18:49
One thing, I mean, I wasn’t honest with my doctor until I actually stopped drinking, which is crazy. And I went in to my doctor, and I was, you know, talking about other things. And she was like, wow, you seem so much better than you were a year ago. What would What are you doing? And I said, Well, I quit drinking and my anxieties down and like, I’m exercising more, and I’m sleeping better. And she was like, holy shit. I wish every patient I had would do this. Because look at you, you know, like, it’s night and day. And I was like, yeah, I’m really proud of myself, you know, which is more positive feedback than you get from anyone else. And I know that not every doctor reacts that way. And a lot of it is about how educated your doctor is, and what their own personal relationship with alcohol is. I mean, I’ve worked with a lot of women who are nurses, who struggle with drinking, and there is that period of denial before that period of sort of knowledge and like, Oh, damn, you know, we all buy into that culture, even if you’re a doctor, even if you’re a nurse. So I know one of the things that I feel like is the message that I personally took away from your book is that it takes a lot of trying to know what works for you. I think that’s so powerful. So tell, you know, tell me about that. And if there’s anything you want to leave women with who might be listening to this?
Yeah, I mean, I think I think that, for me, I tried traditional Talk Therapy, I tried Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which, again, like shout out to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, it’s the best. I tried a when I was still drinking, which, you know, I don’t really advise that. But, you know, I tried a non 12 step program, I tried like atheist A, which is like a whole other like mail trip to go on. But the point is, you know, and I went to treatment, I went to detox, I did, like, thing after thing after thing. And the thing that ultimately worked was all of those. I don’t think there’s anything that I tried that I didn’t get something out of, you know, including going to detox, you know, and just detoxing for five days, including, I mean, I talked in the book about one detox I went to that was like, for indigent people. And it was free. I didn’t know that when I showed up, and I stay there. And I ended up leaving against medical advice, because it was just, it was horrible. And I was like, I don’t belong here with these people. Because I thought I was better than them. I learned something from that. And so, um, I would not have gotten sober. I think I truly believe if I hadn’t been through all those things first. So whatever it takes, even if it’s, you know, even if like, you go to your first day meeting, and you’re like, Oh, my God, this is the thing for me, like, and you’re, you know, and you’re one of those people that just gets it right away. That’s great. But if you’re not, that’s great, too, because you just have to keep trying. And it’s you know, it’s a pain in the ass sometimes. And you know, it isn’t always fun. And a lot of this journey has been really hard. But, but it was, but every step along the way was worth it. So, you know, I think that the main message of the book is just don’t give up. Because, you know, you always have another chance.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:22:06
I love that. That’s awesome. And I think that’s a great place to leave this. How would you suggest that people other than buying your book can follow you a link to the book in the show notes, but I think people might want to learn more about you and the work you’re doing.
Yeah, I’m so I’m on Twitter, @EricaC.Barnett. Erica’s with a C. And I’m also on Facebook. I don’t update there that much. I’m on Instagram. That is mostly the Erica’s travel and cooking channel.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:22:39
So I want to follow that. I’ll put it in the show notes.
Send me the love. Yeah, so I’m on all the major social media.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:22:45
Cool. That’s awesome. Thank you so much for coming on.
I really appreciate it. Thank you for having me. It’s been so much fun.
So thank you for coming on here. I couldn’t appreciate it more.
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.
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 Sober Girl’s 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.
Learn how to let go of alcohol as a coping mechanism, how to shift your mindset about sobriety and change your drinking habits, how to create healthy routines to cope with anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism, the importance of self-care in early sobriety, and why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to live an alcohol free life.
Be sure to grab the Free Sober Girl’s Guide To Quitting Drinking right here.
Are you subscribed to my podcast? If you’re not, I want to encourage you to do that today. I don’t want you to miss an episode.
I’m adding a bunch of bonus episodes to the mix and if you’re not subscribed there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on those. Click here to subscribe in iTunes!
Now if you’re feeling extra loving, I would be really grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too. Those reviews help other people find my podcast and they’re also fun for me to go in and read. Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. Thank you!