Monthly Archives: June 2014

Alcohol and social norms

Alcohol Research UK recently shared the introduction to a research and development grant looking into ‘alcohol related social norm perceptions in university students: a review of effective interventions’ for change (dated August 2010).  The introduction had some interesting research quoted that supports my anecdotal experience of ‘social norms theory’.

‘Social norms theory’ was first proposed by Perkins and Berkowitz in 1986, after their investigation into student drinking behaviour appeared to demonstrate a ‘pluralistic ignorance effect’ (where everyone assesses a situation by observing what other people do, and which is a major influence on normative social behaviour) in relation to misperceptions of behavioural drinking norms. Studies conducted on American college campuses consistently demonstrate that students overestimate both the alcohol use and approval of drinking of others, thus producing elevated norms, which make excessive alcohol consumption seem common and acceptable (e.g. Borsari and Carey, 2001). The approach suggests that changing these mis-perceptions through normative feedback should lead individual students to reduce their personal levels of drinking, and social normative approaches have been increasingly applied to interventions to attempt to change undergraduate drinking behaviour. This trend developed in the United States and appears to be increasing in popularity in the United Kingdom.

Borsari, B. & Carey, K.B. (2001) Peer influences in college drinking: a review of the research. Journal of Substance Abuse, 13, 391-424

The Home Office have funded a pilot ‘Alcohol Impact’ scheme across seven Universities in England and Wales in a bid to “create a social norm of responsible alcohol consumption by students.”

If the findings are robust it would be interesting to compare the findings to other social groups and to see if the theory applies more widely within British culture.  I’m sure that it isn’t just students who overestimate both the alcohol use and approval of drinking of others!  What do you think?

83 days to go

Nonconformity and living booze free

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music”

I LOVE Jason Silva and he is my newest addiction 😉 He creates short video’s that are philosophical and challenge your thinking called Shots of Awe and you can subscribe on Youtube.  This is his latest one which is fabulous!



So much of this journey, the sober journey, feels non-conformist.  It feels like everyone in the UK drinks and so you feel marked out as different when you stop drinking booze.

I am so motivated by this quote:

We are all free to create our own reality, but it’s only when we are bold enough to decondition our thinking, to transcend … the reality tunnel — this linguistic and conceptual and symbolic framework that constructs reality, this “animatrix” pulled in front of your eyes — blinding you from ecstatic visions of what might be behind those walls. We are larvae who haven’t turned themselves into butterflies yet. ~Jason Silva

I just love this!  What do you think?

84 days to go



In The Rooms

I discovered recently that there is an online Anonymous community that you can join called In The Rooms.  It is a global recovery community that includes all the fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Alanon and many many more.  You can attend online video meetings or  you can find a non virtual meeting local to you.  There is lots of content on the site including daily meditations.

Up until last week I had not attended an AA meeting but had been turning the idea over in my head for a good few months as some of my fellow sober bloggers swear by it and I was looking to make friends locally and non virtually to help my sober journey moving forward.  If you aren’t sure about AA and are looking to dip your toe in the water then In The Rooms is a great place to start.  I will share my feelings about my meeting experience in another post.

I know that anonymity is a key part of the Anonymous belief system so hope I haven’t done wrong by posting this up and if people have any experience of In The Rooms that they would like to share then please do 🙂

85 days to go


Lipstick and Liquor

I have fairly recently become a member of the Booze Free Brigade on Yahoo Groups who are a fabulous bunch of folks supporting each other privately on their journeys and I am learning so much from being around them and being part of the conversation.  I really recommend it!

Anyways a film was mentioned as part of a discussion that I had not heard of and I will be watching it at some point this week-end.  The film is titled ‘Lipstick and Liquor’ and this is the synopsis and link.

A cold, December day. A mystery unfolds.

Thirty-nine year old Julie Kroll stumbles away from a minor car accident, leaving behind her eight-year old daughter… and an open container of alcohol. As darkness descends, she disappears.

‘Lipstick & Liquor’ explores the secret in the suburbs. A growing number of women are abusing alcohol and becoming alcohol dependent. DUI arrests of women are up 30% from a decade ago, while arrests for men are down. Binge drinking among women is also on the rise. Yet, if you were to ask a woman’s friends and family if she has a drinking problem, they might very well say no. The reason? Women are more likely to drink alone and to hide it. Their problem is less likely to be recognized by a doctor and more likely to reach advanced stages before it’s discovered.

The documentary begins with the haunting story of Kroll, a suburban mother from Woodbridge, VA, who goes missing after a minor car crash in the dead of winter. While family and friends search desperately, a seemingly indifferent police department and a blinding blizzard hamper attempts to find her.

As the story develops, ‘Lipstick & Liquor’ introduces us to four remarkable women who have faced their own battles with alcohol addiction and triumphed. Each one has an amazing story that will resonate with viewers and touch other women who may recognize themselves in these heartfelt accounts.

The film seeks to shake off the stigma associated with women who drink and to provide understanding and insight into the struggle to stay sober. ‘Lipstick & Liquor’ includes expert commentary from medical researchers, addiction specialists, and authors who shed light on the conditions impacting the increase in excessive alcohol use among American women.

The documentary was released in 2012 and lasts 80 mins.  You can buy it via Amazon, iTunes and others or you can rent it to watch.  Let me know any feedback if you watch it too 🙂

86 days to go

Changing your Life

This is so good I watched it several times.  So much of what Todd Herman discussed with Marie Forleo is applicable to quitting booze and how to reframe giving it up as WOW rather than OWW! 😉

So the top 5 tips he recommends to changing habits:

  1. Know what you’re seeking – visualise a life with less booze or without it
  2. Set trigger goals – little micro-changes you can make to make your goal more likely
  3. Set improvement goals – this means numbers with a date attached; for example 5 days booze free by 3 weeks from today either individually or consecutively
  4. Gather a tribe!!  Yo yo sober cheerleading posse  🙂
  5. Script your setbacks – know how you’ll decline a drink or how you’ll manage a relapse and anticipate how you’ll feel or react.

Gold, just gold and hope you found it as useful as I did.  What did you think of it?

87 days to go


Practicing self-compassion

“nor silver-shedding tears could penetrate her uncompassionate sire” Shakespeare

This TED presentation was shared on Soberistas and I liked it and thought I would share it here too.  The Space between Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion by Dr Kristen Neff.

I liked it because sometimes I behave in such an uncompassionate way towards myself it makes me wince and this is a reminder that to build self esteem we must practice self-compassion.

I hope you enjoy it and let me know what you think 🙂

88 days to go

Almost Alcoholic to Social Drinker

I loved reading the book ‘Almost Alcoholic’ by Robert Doyle and Joseph Nowinski but I was left with this nagging question that I can’t shrug off and which wolfie is quietly nurturing.

So many of their case studies who were in the ‘almost alcoholic’ zone seemed to be able to go back to normal social drinking after some self-help work or psychological therapeutic input.  Now don’t get me wrong they are clear that there are some who cannot go back to this type of drinking however hard they try.  They talk about drinking developing to the point of dependence or a person having co-occurring conditions, such as mental health problems.

In the UK substance abuse or misuse is seen and treated as part of the mental health service within the wider children and young people’s services if you are under the age of 17.  Both mental health, drugs and alcohol carry the same type of stigma for young people and adults despite huge campaigns to change it (for example the time to change campaign).  Which is why I struggle to accept where I am and am still looking for a way round.  As you know I’ve been having Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) specifically to look at my drinking and having done a series of posts on drinking thinking.   In the near future I will start to look at my thoughts and the formulations that we are working on to share them with you here.  I posted before about a friend of mine who had CBT and turned their drinking around completely.  This both fascinates, excites and scares me.  Could I do the same, would I want to and what if I can’t?  I’m still trying to figure that out.

89 days to go

Mrs D you are amazeballs!!

I have just finished watching Mrs D’s interview on New Zealand TV and feel compelled to share it!


I watched this and cried because it resonated so deeply with me and because I so admire what you have done and continue to do.

When I first started sober blogging you were the first person to comment on my blog and I will be eternally grateful to you for reaching out to me from across the globe, through the power of the internet, to let me know I was not alone.

I one day would so love to meet you in real life and give you the biggest hug and say thank you in person.

You are changing lives and that is just amazing to me 🙂

Shine on you sober warrior!

90 days to go



Physical Health Check in (3)

So each couple of months I’ve been doing a kind of physical health MOT on myself and seeing what differences I note.  You can read my previous two check in’s here and here.

Now at 9 months this is what I see:

If the doctor had asked me to stick my tongue out and say ‘ahhh’ 9 months ago it wouldn’t have been a pretty sight.  Alcohol dehydrates and depletes the body of folic acid and leaves you with a lovely white coated and split furry tongue.  Yum!  Now it is lovely and pink and no coatings of any kind.

Not constantly swilling my mouth with red wine on a daily basis means my teeth are whiter, although gallons of tea has replaced this and that can also stain your teeth.

In the last six years I’ve spent a small mortgage on expensive face products, daily microfoliants, moisturisers etc trying to make my skin look better.  A colleague commented to me only last week how well I looked and how I no longer looked ‘grey’.  Said expensive products finally working?  Nope, that’ll be quitting the drink.  I’m going to save a fortune!!

I used to suffer with terrible hay fever every summer and used to start taking anti-histamines in May and not stop until October.  Not this year.  Haven’t taken one tablet as hasn’t been necessary.  This is because beer, wine and other spirits contain histamines – the chemical that sets off allergy symptoms in the body, effectively worsening any hay fever symptoms you have.

The only negative symptom I have had recently is pain in my right deltoid and bicep muscles (so shoulder and upper arm).  My osteopath says that it is referred liver pain as the nerves that serve the liver also serve this area.  I see this as a good sign that the liver is healing after all the abuse it took.  Ironically this is my drinking arm so I just see it as a way of my body reminding me that going back to drinking is a bad idea!!

91 days to go

Pride comes before a fall

I really don’t get this about myself.  So I felt some pride because I got through a shitty time and didn’t drink and the voice still starts up anyway.  You know, the ‘too big for your own boots’ and ‘pride comes before a fall’ stuff.  It makes me want to scream because I feel like I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

Where does this come from?  Is it just me who swings from feeling they are as worthless as something you just trod in to feeling like they are behaving like a cocky gobby upstart in the time it takes to blink?  Is this wolfie words from different angles?  I know Brene Brown talks about it as ‘foreboding joy’ and I blogged about it here.

I know it is related to practicing gratitude and I try to do that on a daily basis with my email gratitude buddy.  I know it’s because I come from a thinking pattern of shame, scarcity and fear and I rationally logically get that but when will my soul & heart catch up with my head?  I know it is related to vulnerability and the fear that it is going to be taken away.  But it is in my control damn it.  I control whether I pick up that first drink.  So why oh f**king why am I giving myself a hard time for doing well?  I emailed Belle recently saying that wolfie had donned steel toe-capped Doc Martin’s and was giving the inside of my skull a good kicking as that is what it felt like.  I said that the cacophony of self-sabotage had reached DEFCON 1 and I just wanted to check out and ‘get out of my head’.

And maybe that’s what it’s about.  I am so close to feeling like my shame, scarcity and fear is diminishing and receding that I have to try to destroy it.  Try to take the shine off of it by saying to myself it’s fragile and I’m not good enough to have this.  Trying to put myself back to Day 1 and maintaining the status quo of feeling shitty about myself.

It’s like this is wolfie’s last stand.  That if I can get to 9 months and not crack that a major milestone has been achieved.  If only in my head 😉 ……

92 days to go – hang on, it is 9 months today!!