I was speaking to someone the other day who was struggling with their drinking and was trying to quit. Not an unusual sequence of events you’d think, but in fact, it was unusual because they didn’t know me through Alcohol Explained, they are a parent of a child who is in my son’s class at school.
She asked me about AA and I told her my experience; that whilst the program didn’t seem to help, meeting other people who had struggled with their drinking was invaluable.
In Alcohol Explained 2 I go into a lot of detail about self-image; about how we perceive ourselves. We spend years cultivating the image of a drinker. My drinking makes me funny, sociable, independent, it’s my shield, my pressure valve. It shows I’m strong, mature, a maverick, sophisticated, that I fit in and am a part of a group. It’s different for everyone of course, but essentially drinking becomes ‘part of who I am’. We also have a preconceived (and very false) idea of ‘sobriety’. It’s boring. It’s sitting outside of the group whilst everyone else has fun, it needs constant work, we think of ‘recovering alcoholics’ and we think of haggard people, huddled in meetings spending every day working hard at being sober.
A big part of stopping that a lot of people miss is changing this image. Seeing the reality of ourselves as a drinker; overweight, out of shape, tired, lethargic, unable to cope with even the very smallest upset. In essence, slave to a drug. And when we quit? Well, it’s still you, just a stronger, calmer, fitter, happier version of yourself.
One of the best ways of changing your self-image is to join a sober community, but one where sobriety is seen as what it really is; a positive lifestyle choice designed to make sure you live your very best and most enjoyable life. Surround yourself with people who are sober, because you will find people who you like and respect, and it can help you find your new self-image. The internet has given us many dubious things; false information presented and taken as absolute fact, ever-decreasing attention spans as we are literally drowning in ‘information’, and a population of people who seem to do nothing but stare at their devices all day long. But one positive is that it allows us to connect with others. If you want a sober tribe you no longer need to find people in your local community, you can find people online to make contact with.
Which brings me in my usual wordy way to the point of this blog post! I was invited some time ago to be a guest on the Sober Awkward podcast, which is where I met Victoria Vanstone, who is now branching out and setting up a new, free, online community called Cuppa, which she introduces below: Victoria Vanstone is the creator of Cuppa – the free social network for the sober and sober curious. She’s a mum of three, a writer and passionate alcohol-free living advocate (Oh, and an ex-pisshead).
‘I am over 4 years alcohol-free and started writing about my very socially acceptable form of overdrinking on the day I gave up. That became my blog www.drunkmummysobermummy.com and then my book, which I hope will be out next year. By chance, 3 years into my sobriety I met Lucy and we decided to start recording our conversations about being mums navigating this booze-drenched world one fizzy water at a time.’
Their podcast ‘Sober Awkward’ gets 40 thousand downloads a month and their funny, and often humiliating, stories help others feel less alone in their mission to ditch the booze. The Cuppa community has been a long time coming. Over the last few years Vic says she has become fed up of getting asked ‘Where do I go to get help?’ and not having a straight answer.
But now she proudly says ‘You go to Cuppa! It’s all there.’
Cuppa has been designed to prop up your sober journey and run alongside some professional support. Treading this zig zaggy path can sometimes feel isolating, so cuppa is here to fill that gap and give you the tools and community to not only get sober, but stay sober. There are lots of exciting resources being added to Cuppa over the next few months. You will be able to find therapists on there, sobriety courses and a discount alcohol-free store.
There are already lots of events happening, different ways to connect with people all over the world and organise your own & Meet for Cuppa events. Vic’s aim is to keep Cuppa free for all users so that everyone has the support they need when they need it and offer paid courses for those that want to take a deeper look into their relationship with alcohol. Cuppa is for anyone that has ever questioned their drinking habit and accepts that although some of our stories and choices of support may differ, we are all on Cuppa for the same reason.
Vic made this site because she didn’t want anyone else to feel like she did, lost between the pub and an AA meeting.
She missed out on getting the help because she didn’t feel her overdrinking was really worthy of support. It wasn’t until she got therapy and managed to unravel her over-drinking that she was able to understand her own behaviour and stop the downward spiral. She hopes this platform allows you to talk openly about your drinking, let go of the shame and stigma that runs alongside it, identify where you sit on the vast alcohol spectrum, get advice from others, share your story and step into a healthier and more authentic lifestyle. I hope you find all the tools and support you so deserve. Just go to www.cuppa.community and join the free community today!
You can also access the Alcohol Explained online course through Cuppa with a 10% discount.