Finding Alcohol Freedom in Your Golden Years: It’s Never Too Late to Change with Peggi Cooney

Episode 173 July 10, 2024 00:50:51
Finding Alcohol Freedom in Your Golden Years: It’s Never Too Late to Change with Peggi Cooney
Alcohol Tipping Point
Finding Alcohol Freedom in Your Golden Years: It’s Never Too Late to Change with Peggi Cooney

Jul 10 2024 | 00:50:51


Hosted By

Deb Masner

Show Notes

Peggi Cooney is an author, speaker and sobriety advocate. She holds a Masters of Social Work and has 26 years of experience in Child Welfare and Adult Protective Services. She is currently a social work instructor/coach for UC Davis. Peggi is the author of This Side of Alcohol: Random Thoughts and Candid Words of Pain, Hope, Humor and Love – and All that is Possible in Sobriety. She is also the Chief Connections Officer for Zero Proof Experiences/Sober in the City where she partners with founder Susie Streelman to provide alcohol free social experiences all over the world.  

Peggi found alcohol freedom in her 60s and shows us it’s never too late to change your drinking! 

We chat about: 

Join me, Peggi and many others for the Sober in the City Seattle event September 6th-8th 2024. I’d love to see you there and meet in real life.  

Find Peggi: 
IG: @thissideofalcohol 

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:02] Speaker A: Welcome to the Alcohol Tipping Point podcast. I'm your host, Deb Maisner. I'm a registered nurse, health coach, and alcohol free badass. I have found that there's more than one way to address drinking. If you've ever asked yourself if drinking is taking more than it's giving, or if you found that you're drinking more than usual, you may have reached your own alcohol tipping point. The alcohol tipping point is a podcast for you to find tips, tools, and thoughts to change your drinking. Whether you're ready to quit forever or a week, this is the place for you. You are not stuck, and you can change. Let's get started. Welcome back to the Alcohol Tipping Point podcast. Today on the show is Peggy Cooney. Peggy is an author, speaker, and sobriety advocate. She holds a master's of social work and has 26 years of experience in child welfare and adult protective services. She's currently a social work instructor and coach for UC Davis. Peggy is also the author of this side of random thoughts and candid words of pain, hope, humor, and love and all that is possible in sobriety. And on top of that, she's also the chief connections officer for zero proof experiences where she partners with founder Susie Strilman to provide alcohol free social experiences all over the world. And I'm super excited to join them for the next sober in the city event, which is in Seattle. So I will make sure to link to that in the podcast notes. I would love to see people in real life give you a hug, give you a high five, and just experience an event without alcohol, having fun, learning new things, having mocktails, all that good stuff. So welcome to the show, Peggy. Oh, I also wanted to add that Peggy found alcohol freedom in her sixties, and she shows us it's never too late to change your drinking. So welcome, Peggy. [00:02:08] Speaker B: Thanks. It's wonderful to be here. [00:02:10] Speaker A: Yeah, I'm excited to get to know you a little bit more. I've heard about you and your book and your advocacy, and my heart connects to you as coming from a helping profession. I'm in the nursing world. You've been in the social work world. Thank you so much for being here. How do I do with the intro? Do you feel like you would add anything to that about who you are and what you do? [00:02:38] Speaker B: I would only add that I am a grandmother. She's 13. My daughter has two sets of twins. And just a shout out to my granddaughter Tegan, who just won sectionals last night in softball. So we're a sports family and really excited to to be able to actually go to state playoffs on Saturday. Oh, fun. [00:03:02] Speaker A: Congrats to her. I love, love sober, sober grandmas. I love your story also, because there are so many misconceptions around older adults having drinking problems, getting sober, changing their drinking, all that good stuff. And, and I found in my experience, too, I have a lot of older people who join my groups. And older, I'm saying, like, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies. And I even have people reach out in their seventies and they'll say, like, am I too old to join your group? Am I too old to do this? And I'm like, no. Like, in fact, now is, you know, there's, it's never too late to change your drinking. Never. And there is a larger prevalence of older adults with drinking problems, and part of that is due to our health and how we process alcohol. And then there's a whole other layer to that, like, third act of life. So share with us your experience, Peggy. [00:04:11] Speaker B: Well, let me just, let me just tell you the story. I was always a social drinker. I grew up in a very alky centric family. In fact, one of the most coveted positions in my family was when you were ten, you got to be that martini garnish maker for my parents martini. So everything in my family revolved around alcohol. And I really, really said as a young person that I wasn't, I was never going to drink. I can still just talking about that. I conjured gin up and, you know, I can, I can pictured in my head, and it smelled like gasoline. And so I pretty much didn't drink a lot when it, when I was in my twenties, if I did, it was never one. Looking back, that's very interesting for me is that I didn't drink very often at all, but I never had one drink. I can't remember a time that I just had one. Right? So, so there was that sort of binge part to my drinking, I think. Again, you know, culturally, I grew up in a family that never had just one either. So, and so really, we didn't even have even, even as a parent, we didn't have alcohol in the house, really. We had, you know, we would drink when we went out socially or if we had company over, we would get alcohol for that particular event. So it wasn't something. In fact, kind of a funny story is that when my children were around in their early twenties, I'd had these beautiful alcohol bottles. I don't know if you remember at Costco, they had, like, tequila with a glass blown agave plant in the middle and we just got in this beautiful buffet in our dining room. And again, when your kids are finally out of the house, you can have some nice things right in your house, because everything else was destroyed. So I had all these gorgeous bottles on top of my buffet. And I know that one day we're. I forget why, but I said, let's just open one of them and have a drink. And my kids were like, mom, there's no alcohol in there. We drank all the alcohol and just put in food coloring and put the labels back on. [00:06:22] Speaker A: I did that to my parents and parents friends. That's hilarious. [00:06:27] Speaker B: Clever, because I didn't. The labels were not disturbed. I have no idea if they steamed them off or whatever, but, I mean, I couldn't tell that the bottles were open. So that was kind of funny. So that really kind of speaks to how much I drank at home. I just didn't. I just didn't. And then, like, in my early fifties, I am a social worker, and again, I was experiencing other people's trauma on a daily basis. No one was really talking about it then. They're starting to talk about secondary traumatic stress right now. And as my social work career took off, I started to really experience that systematic trauma. Maybe you had that in your position, too, but I felt that oftentimes we were doing. We weren't. We were doing more harm than good. We would separate kids from their parents because of safety and then put them in a foster home. That wasn't much better. Not dishing foster homes. There are some good ones out there. So the secondary, that daily trauma, also the system trauma. And I ended up being Alyssa Bloor, which is, you know, nothing I want to talk about here, but those layers of what happened to me, and I wasn't processing any of it. And also, you know, something we might talk about later, but also early adverse childhood experiences also affect you later as an adult. And if you have. There's ten basic aces that adverse childhood experiences. And if you have a or more, your probability or your likelihood of being addicted to something is 700%. So kind of the whistleblower thing threw me over, and I think part of it again, and I'm making assumptions about you, but when you pick a career in the helping field, you don't feel like you have the right to talk about it. It wasn't like I was going to go into child welfare or adult services and not know that I was going to see trauma every day. So it's not something we automatically talk about with other people. So that kind of layering of what happened to me trauma wise, and also at the same time, which I didn't connect until maybe a few months ago, and I'm almost five years, was menopause. I had severe insomnia. I did not have hot flashes like other people. I thought I was fine mood wise. My family will argue with that differently. They will argue against my, I was fine, but I didn't have the really big symptoms. So I thought. So I didn't associate the menopause with insomnia. I had severe insomnia, I mean, just awful. And so I didn't connect those two, really, until last year. So the trauma of work menopause was a perfect storm for me, not sleeping. And my doctor prescribed Xanax, which we know now is probably one of the worst things for you to have. And, and it didn't really, it worked for a little while, you know, and then, and then they moved me to Ambien and, which is really bad for women. And, and then my doctor said, I just found out that Ambien is really bad for you, so I'm going to take you off of it. And I thought, I think I was awake for a week, actually. Getting off Ambien was harder for me than getting off alcohol, seriously. So that's when I just went, oh, I'll have a couple glasses of wine to go to sleep. And that's really where it started. And we know what that does to us, but it doesn't work. But it works for a little while, just like the other things. And then when I went through all this at work, I was, I made that major switch from really social drinking to numbing. And that's when it's dangerous, obviously, I didn't know it at the time, so that's really where it started. And, and my body, again, being in my sixties, alcohol does affect women differently. We metabolize alcohol very differently than men, even. And so I could have a bottle. It really, really went from like one glass to a whole bottle, maybe within a year. And I was really kind of getting through work. Never had a day drinking problem, but just getting through work and then trying and then really looking forward to that wine. And then I retired. I stuck it out for two years and retired. And then I started working for UC Davis. And about three years, then I got an instructor of the year award out of 1800 people. And I went home that night, that was in 2018, and I went home that night and drank a bottle of wine. So the words were coming in my head, like, you have everything right now. And look, what you're doing would take me another nine months and a pretty, you know, a pretty significant event for me to stop drinking. But that's really the first words that really came into my head that said, you, you got a problem. It's just not normal for you to, you know, to really have everything you want in life and then go home and drink a bottle of wine. [00:12:07] Speaker A: So, thank you for sharing your experience. And just, I hear from a lot of women your age that didn't really drink that much growing up, didn't really, you know, until their kids left the house, until they retired menopause. You bring up, like, these big transitions in our lives that are so difficult, even if they're positive ones. [00:12:34] Speaker B: Absolutely. [00:12:36] Speaker A: Yeah. Yeah. Where we just kind of feel untethered and, like you said, turn to alcohol, to numb, outd, to self medicate your insomnia symptoms and all that. Yeah. So then how did you quit? How did you unwind? And did you know, like, you wanted to quit, or were you kind of still, like, maybe moderate? [00:13:01] Speaker B: No, I didn't want to quit. I had, you know, I knew I was in trouble, but I really wasn't at that place yet. And again, I think. I think most people who consider themselves to be, you know, fairly successful, you know, in their careers, I just was seeking that. That normal thing that we all seek, those of us that have issues around the fact, I just need to do this right. I just need to drink right. And so there I had these fantasies in my head, which I did do. I'm. Lindsay got married. My daughter got married, and I stopped nine months before she got married. And then at the rehearsal dinner, started drinking again. And, boy, does it come back with invention. It's really interesting, you know, thinking you would have just one. But, yeah. So I had a couple incidents where I passed out. And again, my family has. My family and my friends have made a lot of excuses for me. Peggy, you have a really hard job. No matter, you know, it's understandable that what you see every day, you know, you deserve to have a drink. So up until July 11 of 2019, everyone in my life was making excuses except my husband, who was really pissed at me. He left several times, and it just, you know, and then I would talk my way back into having a drink again, and he, you know, it would. He would relent. But I had a couple incidents. One, you know, again, where I just walked out in my garage and passed out. And my. My best friends, who were over for dinner, you know, I was humiliated, just mortified. Called them, and they're like, it's okay. We know how hard you are. My daughter would say, mom, you just need to eat before you drink. You don't eat when you drink, and that hits you faster, and blah, blah, blah. And then on July 11, we had a picnic, my husband side of that, my husband side of the family, to have a yearly picnic in the lake Tahoe. And I didn't drink all day because I didn't want to embarrass my daughter. Cause I embarrassed her a couple times before that. So when we got back to the cabin we were all renting, I had a couple shots of whiskey. And I don't even drink whiskey. I hate it. Cause again, just that calming effect. And my husband, I think he thought I was slurring my words. I have no idea if I was or nothing. I'd been out in the sun for like 8 hours, and he just threw a fit. He was screaming at me. My family walked in, my daughter with. With two sets of twins. There were three and seven. And Paul left with no intention of ever returning. He's back. And then. And then my, my daughter sat me down the next day and said, mom, if. If you want the kind of relationship, you know, if you want a relationship with me, Jason, and the kids, you have to do something about your drinking. And that was. That was just too high a price for me. I get choked up every time I say those words. It was too high of a price for me to pay. And I was done. I would almost wish she would have done it earlier. Yeah. [00:16:14] Speaker A: Why do you think that our family and our friends are so forgiving? Or they just dismissive of your problem? Or you were saying, like, they're like, of course you're, you know, of course, Peggy, you're passing out. Of course you're drinking too much. You have a really hard job. And why do you think that is? [00:16:38] Speaker B: You know, I do think that people that aren't in the fields that we were, we are in the helping fields, medical, you know, social work, vets, you know, all of that. I just think they do think our jobs are super hard. I mean, it's their viewpoint, and they are. They're very stressful, stressful jobs. My husband, on the other hand, was so critical of everything I was doing. There was never a time until later where he said, I'm really worried about you. How can I help? And so his criticism pushed me, and I'm not. And really, I was drinking at him at the end, you know, and, you know, I was. I was freeze. You know, I had emotional problems, blah, blah, blah. And I know he was super frustrated. And again, he didn't understand the science. He's never had a drinking problem. So in his mind, and. And to some extent, my daughters, too, if, you know, just stop drinking. That's all you got to do. [00:17:36] Speaker A: So easy. Stop. [00:17:41] Speaker B: I'm so glad you told me that, because I had. I couldn't figure it out. [00:17:47] Speaker A: Well, so they don't get it, but I actually had different experiences with. So I would tell my nursing friend, like, I had a nurse practitioner, a psychiatric nurse practitioner friend, one of my best friends, and she's like, I don't really think you have that bad of a problem. And I had, you know, told another one of my best friends who was a PA in Ob GYn, I think you're fine. And I think so on the other end of things, and maybe you went through this as a social worker in the medical profession. My friend that was a psychiatric nurse practitioner, she was seeing people, like, at their rock bottom. She was seeing severe alcohol use disorder. They were in the medical field, like, were used to people coming into the ER and detoxing. Even when I worked as a nurse on the med surg unit, part of my panel was detoxing veterans, and they needed to be hospitalized, you know, all this stuff. So it was, compared to them, I was fine. [00:18:52] Speaker B: Well, I've never heard it put that way. And that makes so much sense. [00:18:56] Speaker A: Yeah. Because. And I justified it for myself for a long time because I was like, well, I'm not that bad. I don't need medical detox. I don't need rehab. I'm still married. I have kids. I'm still working. I'm doing well at my job. I'm on the PTA. You know what I mean? That comparison kept me stuck for so long, and. Yeah. And so as a social worker, though, I imagine you were working with families where it was obviously addiction was a huge problem, and you comparing yourself to them just was apples and oranges. Right? [00:19:38] Speaker B: Well, it really wasn't. And I think that is that the cognitive dissonance was painful. The cognitive dissonance was just painful because I would, you know, I was. I was removing or separating kids from their parents and going home and passing out at the end. So, I mean, not every night, but it did happen. And so I felt like such a hypocrite, really. A lot of self loathing started to happen around that time because, you know, obviously my addiction was just not as far as theirs. [00:20:20] Speaker A: Yeah. Yeah. So that's when you get to the point where you're like, okay, now I have a problem, and I'm still doing it even though I don't want to. And I feel like a fraud, like, telling these people how they feel should live their life. And I'm not in line with that. [00:20:43] Speaker B: It's pretty painful. And, you know, there were many times that I was. That I had a low grade fever or low grade hangover. Sorry. Yeah. Low grade hangover. You know. Oh, yeah. You know, when I was teaching and, you know, and still getting a teacher of the year award. So, again, I had these messages that were saying, oh, you're not that bad. It's just kind of normal. You sort of deserve it. [00:21:06] Speaker A: Yeah. And I think to your point, and I think to your point before, when you were saying, like, my life is going well, like, I have. I'm getting this instructor of the year award. I'm a grandma. Like, I shouldn't be having a drinking problem. I shouldn't. You know, I know better. Like, that kind of shoulding all over yourself kind of adds an additional layer of shame. [00:21:41] Speaker B: Yeah. And I was angry at first, too, you know, because I wanted to be the one to make that decision. Correct. And it really was sort of taken out of my hand. So I was pretty angry at first because I want. I still had this fantasy to, you know, before that happened that I would be the one to stop drinking. And I did several times. I, you know, had several periods where. Where, you know, I didn't drink, and. But, you know, I did none of the work to keep it there. [00:22:11] Speaker A: Yeah. Yeah, I get that. When people. When people now do see you and they say, I think you have a drinking problem. I don't like to see you drink like your husband and then your daughter. Then there's, like, this rebellious side that comes out that's like, fuck, you don't tell me what to do. [00:22:30] Speaker B: Yeah. Especially with Paul, because, you know, you know, it becomes very complicated. I'm a stepmother. You know, it's our second marriage. We've been married 38 years. And, you know, he sort of shared things with. With his adult daughters that he had no business sharing it with. So, you know, that. That's kind of the. We've had to heal from that because my relationship with them is never gonna be the same. And that, you know, that's painful. And so I. You know, it's a lot of work. It's a lot of work to stay together, and, you know, we're working it out. You know, we've done a good job working it out again when two books really changed. His attitude towards all of this is, you know, this naked mind. And alcohol explained. He really liked alcohol explained, but I was very, I was very angry at him. I still, you know, I'm still working through some of that because, again, you know, my relationship with my stepdaughters is really strained because of my husband. And it's interesting because they still think that I need to go to rehab. They're mad that I didn't go to rehab. So go figure, you know, five years, five years on the 12th and, you know, I didn't do it. [00:23:48] Speaker A: So wait, five years on the 12th of this month. [00:23:51] Speaker B: Wow. [00:23:52] Speaker A: Of July. Oh, my gosh. [00:23:54] Speaker B: That's amazing. [00:23:56] Speaker A: Congratulations. I love that this is coming out on your, around your five year anniversary. Well, tell us how, how you stop then. How you quit. What happened? [00:24:08] Speaker B: It's such, I was up at the cabin. I did ask, you know, I, when Lindsey asked me to do something about my drinking, I was like, what can I do to prove to them right now that I'm serious about doing that? It was, you can't imagine how awkward it was. And you can't imagine how awful it was to have two three year olds and two seven year olds witness Paul's anger, right? And, you know, now they're, I mean, I'm sure they're fine. They have a sober grandmother and the younger ones will probably never remember it, but, and we, we actually have really off, you know, kind of off topic. You have great conversations, the twelve year olds and I, when we go to the local grocery store and look at all the myriad of alcopop drinks that are targeted at them, you know, I'm not saying they should never drink, but what, what we talk about is education. Around, around, they are after you. You are twelve years old. This is pink because of you. So I hope, you know, we can, we can do that. So that day, that day, I asked Brett, my son, who was also there, and, and sons are funny, right? So he, he said to me, mom, just don't drink around Lindsey. Oh, this solution. I go, no, Brett, I really think that Paul left. You know, Lindsay had this talk with me and actually I really welcomed it, even though I was really sick. So I went to an AA meeting that night in Lake Tahoe, which is very interesting because in Lake Tahoe, you know, where we were, everybody in the AA meetings were doctors and nurse. You know, they were like professionals. It was kind of funny. And then the next day on my Facebook page, Jen couch and Sobersys went right across my Facebook page. She has a really good algorithm. I signed up for a 21 day reset, made a Marco that day, and really, the rest is history because I still am friends with those. Probably half the women in the group, really. We have seen each other in person. So that's really what started that. I took Annie Grace's 100 day challenge. I can't remember what it was. And then took Laura McCowen's. Of course, we are the luckiest in living color, you know, joined TLC, and by that time, I was. I was posting daily on my experience of being alcohol free. I started at day 96, went all the way through a year, and then I started posting weekly, and. Which really turned into my book. So that. That posting, people are like, you really need to write a book. Never really thought about writing a book before, and it's, you know, it's been pretty successful. I just had somebody text me this morning and saying, you know, your book changed my life. And I think. I think it's not. It's not this great literary piece, but because I'm very honest about what I was going through, people say, oh, my gosh, that was me. That was me, too. And I think that that feeling of not being alone is so important for us to start to heal. So I just, you know, like, everything I do, I, you know, I drank 150%, and I got alcohol free the same way. [00:27:32] Speaker A: That's awesome. And I like how you shared the different modalities. You did. Like, you tried eight, and then you got into the online world of things. And that's kind of how I started with an Annie Grace ad, came across my Facebook feed for this naked mind, for the book. And all these people were saying, I read this book, which is a good book, and I'm glad. And it is good for, like, people who don't get it to read it also, just because it's really about alcohol in society and the bigger beliefs we have around alcohol. And I think it's really paradigm shifting, because for so long, it's been like, you are broken. You can't drink like a normal person. You are, you know, morally flawed, whatever. But this was like, okay, let's look at alcohol and how it really affects us and how it's been promoted and all that stuff. And I always say this with a caveat. Like, it wasn't until I could marry those two concepts of, yes, alcohol, shit for your health. And there's big marketing, big alcohol marketing, just all this societal stuff. And it's my responsibility. [00:28:50] Speaker B: So I still take that, I really love that, Deb, because it, I live my life this way, and I think that that's what I try to help out with the families that we serve is, it is not your fault, but it is your responsibility. And I think that, that, you know, that's one of Laura McCown's nine things. And, but I, I truly believe that that's exactly, exactly where we need to be. And Dow said Johnson's book, drink is another one. She's so ahead of her time. She wrote it ten years ago around big alcohol, going after women. [00:29:28] Speaker A: Yes. Yes. Well, let's get back to you and kind of your situation and maybe helping people, maybe our older listeners, people in the third act, like, what are some unique challenges for people who are in their golden years or, you know, old skew on the older side of things. [00:29:49] Speaker B: Yeah. I'm not sure that I, that I have a lot of advice for that. I don't, you know, I think it's harder, you know, to quit when you're younger. I think that's a huge, a huge issue. I think for, I think that we can't do it alone. We have to be able to find someone in our lives that, you know, that, that you can just try it out. I know that I, I see a lot of people that are just starting, you know, that will contact me, that are like, maybe, I think I might have an alcohol problem. I'm not sure if I do. And really planning the seed. I think it's really important wherever I go. And I'm probably going off a little bit here, but even, like, my doctor. Right. She's a younger person and I'm asking her, are you asking people how much they drink? And yes, it says on your little sheet, but really, are you asking the questions? We have to ask questions in a really respectful way. Right. And I think when we see our friends kind of going overboard to be able to say, I really care about yours. Anything I can do to help. Right. Yeah. I mean, I really don't, I just know that for a lot of older people and I'm not, I don't consider, even though I'm a little older, I don't consider myself there yet. Like, I haven't lost a spouse or, you know, I've never been a person who kind of has the hat. I haven't had those major shifts in my life where I feel lonely when you have five kids between the two of you, when, when your kids are out of the house. To me, it wasn't a, it wasn't, I didn't have an empty nest syndrome. I had a freedom syndrome. So, so big major life changes for older people really are triggers for some of those things, especially, you know, when you lose a spouse or, or you're going through, you know, something in your life, especially caretakers that one of the other groups that I'm, you know, I'm including in the book I'm writing is, is really interviewing caretakers where people are taking care of their elderly parents. My parents both died when I was 19, so I haven't had that experience. But I see a huge turn to alcohol for my friends who are taking care of their elderly parents. [00:32:14] Speaker A: Oh, yes, I've seen that quite a bit in people in my groups. Absolutely. And I will just add when I was doing a little research for our podcast just for older adults, that they estimate the prevalence of drinking problem to be up to 16% of older adults. It varies per study, but SAMHSA, the substance abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, estimates that the number of older adults with alcohol use disorder is expected to double by 2050. And that's just our population getting older. But just, you know, going to the health effects of alcohol, you know, when we get older, it's. You have less tolerance. You're not metabolizing unwell. A lot of older people are on medications. That's drinking on top of that. [00:33:12] Speaker B: Yeah, yeah, that's really big. I mean, the, the combination of Xanax and a drink is, is really scary. It's so scary. And doctors aren't really talking about that. They're not prescribed. You know, again, I see, I see a real healthy downturn in prescriptions for Ambien and benzos, you know, and I think that's a positive thing. Elderly people take it. That's a deadly combination. Also, I was going to say about that. Yeah, I can't remember now having a moment. [00:33:55] Speaker A: No, I agree. I think that if health and wellness professionals spent as much time talking about diet and exercise, if they spent as much time advocating for decreased alcohol use as they do promoting exercise and diet, we'd have a tremendous reduction. And chronic diseases, because alcohol contributes to 200 diseases like it is. And so I really hope that we get more and more of that health conversation going at your annual visits so that we can prevent these chronic diseases so you don't end up with the heart attack, with the stroke, in the ER, with an accident. I mean, even when I was looking up stats about older people, they had 43% of drivers aged 65 and older who died in crashes were alcohol impaired. That's from our national highway. [00:34:56] Speaker B: That is big. [00:34:58] Speaker A: Yeah. Yeah. So I think it definitely needs to be addressed. And there's so many ways to change your drinking. Like you were saying you tried different ways. What are some of your other top tips for someone changing their drinking once. [00:35:19] Speaker B: You decide really protecting your sobriety at all costs. Right. That I love. Laura McCown in our meeting the other day talked about Augustin Burrows saying, you know, 100% of the time, people who stop drinking stop drinking. I mean, that's paraphrasing his quote of very, you know, and so especially in the beginning when you're, when you're trying to stay away from events that, where I stay away from events where alcohol is the main event, I just don't go to them. I can now and I can, you know, but if I do go to an event where alcohol is pretty prevalent, I drive my own car, I make sure that I have an escape route. Really taking 1 minute, ten minutes, a half an hour, a morning, an evening at a time, not, not feeling like, oh my God, I'm never going to drink the rest of my life. But really taking them into small pieces, daily pieces, that motto one day at a time is really, really important and really understanding that if you can just get through some of those cravings that happen, just hitting your head on the pillow sober every night, and it just adds up. I'm very stubborn and so I will never break a five year alcohol free streak. I just won't do it. So, and that first part, so hard that, that first part to get through is so hard. And you just cannot do it alone. You have to join some sort of community. And I, one of the issues I see very often in the five years that I've been doing this work is that the spouses don't want them to quit. And that's a giant problem. When people say you're no fun anymore and really push alcohol on their spouses. That's something I obviously haven't had to deal with. [00:37:24] Speaker A: Yeah, you kind of have the opposite of. Yeah, but I see that a lot, too. Like your, your spouse was your drinking buddy and then it becomes really difficult when one person changes and the other doesn't. [00:37:38] Speaker B: I do see, though, that people drink less. You know? You know, I, it took me again, year four, where I really felt comfortable around my family because they all drank. Everyone in my family drinks because before I could feel othered real easy. I remember the second I didn't. The first year we went away. Doing something different for those traditional holidays is really important. I think the first year, the very first year, we spent Christmas and New Year's in Florida. And that was really helpful to me, not to be around all of it. The second year was the shit show of COVID And then the third year, I thought, you know, this is great. My son, you know, we're shifting and the kids are having the holidays now. But it was a, it was a really tough time for me. You know, people would say, do you want a strawberry margarita? Do you want a strawberry margarita? And skip me. So I felt kind of othered. And then last year was my, my favorite so far. I got, my son had Thanksgiving and my ex, my husband, my brother, my boys all were sitting on the couch together. And it felt, for the first time, really felt so comfortable. Not, of course, I did have my daughter in law that was pregnant. So there was two of us. Not tricky, but for those of people that feel like, oh, my gosh, I'm never going to feel like I fit in you, well, it does take time. It's really natural to feel others, you know, even, even now sometimes. Like Brett said the other day, mom, remember I took this picture that, you know, this is the picture of that, of Tegan, you know, on Tahoe trip. And, you know, I'm sure he didn't have the intention to bring that up, but that's a very painful day for me. Right. So everyone's. And those things will come up for me, but not, not often. [00:39:44] Speaker A: And what do you think are other, you know, besides time? Because people don't want to hear that. They're like, I want to feel better now. Like, what are other ways that you can feel not othered? You know, stay community. [00:39:58] Speaker B: You have to stay in community. No matter what you pick, you have to stay. You have to be around other people that don't drink because that, that's where you can vent and say, deb, my son just pissed me off today because he brought up, you know, one of my drinking times. And you, you talk about those things and they just dissipate. If you're able to talk about it with other people that get it, then really, that, that just strengthens your conviction. [00:40:28] Speaker A: Yeah, I think so, too. Just know that makes you feel less alone and people are like, literally in your back pocket. You can do. You can do something online, you can even just having one friend that gets it because our family, people that don't get it, they don't get it. Like, we might as well be talking about corn on the cob. I think that's what Bell Robertson kind of jokes about, like, people who don't get it. It's almost like if you were obsessed with corn on the cob and when you last had corn on the cob and how many corn on the cobs did you have? And, like, Peggy talking about, my last court on the cob was July 12. And I just. It's funny to us, but it kind of helps us understand, like, oh, some people just don't think about drinking as much as we do or did. And to find some other people that do and they're similar to you is so helpful. So, so helpful. So one of the things. Oh, yeah, go ahead. [00:41:35] Speaker B: No, I was just going to say that, you know, again, it could be anything, right? If we have all those traumas in our lives and most of us have a lot of trauma, not necessarily our parents fault, it just part of our livestock trauma is that if you. I think what's so beautiful about, about determining alcohol free is that you're able to talk about all those things, because if you don't, it's going to pop out somewhere. You're going to be overeating your relationship problems, maybe prescription drugs, maybe smoking, maybe you're spending too much. Yours and mine happen to be alcohol, but because you're not processing all that trauma, it's like a whack a mole. Right. You know, you're trying to take care of it here. And that's what happens sometimes. And when we, when we just stop drinking and we don't do any of the work. Right. Because it's still, you know, it's going to pop up somewhere. I was just at a conference, a social work conference in LA where I did a presentation and I look out on the sea of a thousand people, and so many of them are overweight. Social workers eat their stress. And so I'm very lucky because I, UC Davis encourages me to talk about my loop experience. So I get to. And it's such a gift to be able to teach new workers and talk about this if we don't talk about what we're going through every day. Like, I envision having Zoom meetings for social workers in the way we do with recovery because they can't, they don't talk about it, they don't process it, and it will pop up somewhere. And eating disorders are huge in our field. [00:43:25] Speaker A: Yeah. Yeah. I think that's been a real change, that whole lived experience and sharing ourselves more with other. You see it in the college field. I talked to a professor in Canada, and she's big on, like, recovery, on college campuses. But she had never liked, came out to her cohorts like, oh, hey, I'm sober now. Like, she kept that secret and she didn't teach her students about that. You know, she's PhD psychology professor and so now she's like walking the talk and she's sharing her experience and she's making it easier for other people to open up and share like what you're doing in your position at UC Davis. And that's wonderful. [00:44:18] Speaker B: I'm really lucky. Yeah. My director is just all over it. And so, you know, I've even done some presentations at conferences about that whack a mole theory. [00:44:31] Speaker A: Yeah, well, share about sober in the city and Seattle and like how what that is all about. [00:44:41] Speaker B: Oh, thanks. Yeah, I'm Susie and I work together. Suzy Spielman, she is on the COVID of after magazine, by the way. [00:44:48] Speaker A: I saw that and cover the podcast, too. [00:44:53] Speaker B: So we, we just got back from Bali with nine, nine women alcohol free trips. That was really amazing. So Seattle is going to be our 7th event. So it's our second alcohol free event. We are featuring non alk products from the Pacific Northwest. So we're really excited about that. Jessica Seedlander, who's the founder and, and owner of Joyous Wines, is going to be our keynote speaker. We have all kinds of things planned. Casey Davidson from hello Sunday is going to do a presentation on Friday night. We have a drum circle, which I'm super excited about. We have done that before at UC Davis. And it's. It's like you have one heartbeat. It's really cool. Yours truly is going to be presenting. We have about eight, nine different sessions on Saturday that you can choose from. Yours truly is going, what are you, what are you presenting on? [00:45:53] Speaker A: I'm presenting on managing your mind. [00:45:59] Speaker B: That's going to be exciting. Then we have a four course dinner on Saturday night with Jessica being our keynote, maybe a little dancing afterwards. And then I'm doing a workshop on Sunday called three Little questions to live a simple life, which is kind of a self mapping process. So we're really excited. It's just we started out with one little dinner in Long Beach, 45 people in 2022, January of 2022. So we're just two years old. The other thing I'd love to just share about it is we did add a membership this year and I'm in my element because I get to facilitate two meetings a week. We work on some really cool topics. This week we have part one. We were talking about, what are you still holding on to? What are some of the things you're still holding on to. And we're going to talk a little bit more about that next week with Becky Volmer's book. You're not stuck. We are really a program that says I'm alcohol free now. What were a compliment to everyone else's program. I have to say that if you're in a course, TLC, whatever, you know what the business that you do sober, cis, whatever, we are just kind of icing on the cake or just a compliment to anything else that you're already involved with. So we'd love to have you try this out. [00:47:26] Speaker A: That's awesome. Yeah. I want to encourage people to come to Seattle. So that's September 16 through the 8th of 2024, and we'll all stay at the hotel together and it will just be like fun and bonding. And I hope there's dance. There better be dancing on Saturday because I want to dance. Awesome. [00:47:46] Speaker B: I'm getting a knee replacement on the 15th, so I should be good to go. [00:47:51] Speaker A: Oh, yeah, you can dance. You could dance in your seat, right? That's so fun. I love that. I love the other side of alcohol. And that ties in nicely with your book, this side of alcohol. How can people find you? [00:48:09] Speaker B: I have a really interactive Facebook page. It is this side of alcohol, so you can join that also this and then my book can be found pretty much anywhere. And I did the audio a couple of years ago and that, that was so fun and so cathartic. So it's available, especially if you're just starting out. I think this book is, you know what I've been told, the feedback I get is that it's very helpful around starting out because I don't hold back. [00:48:41] Speaker A: I love it. [00:48:42] Speaker B: My husband wrote the final chapter, so he did. [00:48:47] Speaker A: That's like full circle moment. [00:48:49] Speaker B: Yeah. It's so interesting because he's very reserved and never thought that he would even do that just really quickly. So I had him go out to the cabin and read the manuscript. I didn't want him to keep coming back to me and making feedback, so I made him go up there all by himself. And so I was pretty nervous because, you know, it's a pretty open, open book. And he came back and he said, there's only one thing I don't like. And I'm like, what? And he goes, you say the f word too much in your book. [00:49:22] Speaker A: Love that. [00:49:24] Speaker B: The last chapter, so. [00:49:26] Speaker A: Oh, I love that. Well, look for Peggy. I'll put all those links in the show notes. Any final thoughts for people who are listening and they're thinking about changing their drinking? [00:49:40] Speaker B: Just again, really, right out of Laura McKellen's nine things, it's not your fault, but it is your responsibility. I really, really believe that if you, if you really take those words to heart, you'll do the right thing. [00:49:55] Speaker A: Yeah. Well, thank you so much. I'm so glad we got a chance to connect, and I'm looking forward to seeing you in Seattle soon. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Alcohol Tipping Point podcast. Please share and review the show so you can help other people, too. I want you to know I'm always here for you, so please reach out and talk to me on Instagram at alcoholtippingpoint and check out my website,, for free resources and help. No matter where you are on your drinking journey, I want to encourage you to just keep practicing. Keep going. I promise you are not alone and you are worth it. Every day you practice not drinking is a day you can learn from. I hope you can use these tips we type talked about for the rest of your week. And until then, talk to you next time.

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