What I’ve Learned from Four Years of Alcohol Freedom, 150 Podcasts and 30 Alcoholidays

Episode 150 January 31, 2024 00:32:34
What I’ve Learned from Four Years of Alcohol Freedom, 150 Podcasts and 30 Alcoholidays
Alcohol Tipping Point
What I’ve Learned from Four Years of Alcohol Freedom, 150 Podcasts and 30 Alcoholidays

Jan 31 2024 | 00:32:34

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Hosted By

Deb Masner

Show Notes

This January, I celebrated some big milestones for Alcohol Tipping Point. I hosted my 30th Alcoholiday, a monthly program to help you practice not drinking, and this is my 150th podcast episode. The biggest milestone, though, is celebrating four years of alcohol freedom!!! 

In this episode, I share lessons I’ve learned that have really helped me stay sober, live a full life, and help you.

I’m so grateful to you for listening to the show and participating in Alcoholidays. It’s my honor to help you change your drinking. 

Ready to change your drinking? Join the next Alcohol Tipping Point Alcoholiday! Monthly dry group to help you take a break from drinking with online support and tools. Find out more here: https://www.alcoholtippingpoint.com/alcoholiday Use code: LOVE to save 20%       

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:01] 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've 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. 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. [00:00:41] Close. All right, here we go. This is a big celebratory episode. I realized that this month of January 2024, I am celebrating four years alcohol free. My quit drinking date was January 1, 2020. Yes. I was one of those people that kept their new year's resolution. And then also, this is the 150th episode of the Alcoholiday Tipping Point podcast. I can't believe it. And then this month, January 2024, is the 30th dry month I've led. So if you're not aware, I do a monthly, I call them alcoholiday holidays. So they are monthly programs to help you practice not drinking and just give you support and community and accountability and all that good stuff. So I was like, wow. Realize I had all these big milestones happening in January, and I feel pretty proud. And I also feel very, very grateful to you all because a lot of you have been on this journey since the beginning. You've been listening, you've done an alcoholiday. Maybe you're an alcohol free badass now. And I think that is so awesome. And it makes me just full of joy and gratitude, and it gives me purpose, and honestly, it keeps me sober. It keeps me alcohol free. It's really helpful for me, and to be able to help other people is a huge honor. So I want to thank you so, so much. Whatever form you've been in, however you've been participating or listening, just thank you so much. It does not go unnoticed, and I'm proud of you for even thinking about changing your drinking. [00:02:41] All right, so I just kind of wanted to share, I guess, just thoughts, thoughts about this milestone, what I've learned along the way. And I thought they might be helpful to you also. And then, of course, I want to invite you to the next alcohol day, which will be in February. We start the first of every month. I would love to have you join. You can. Alcohol tipping point. [00:03:07] Alcoholiday always put the link in the show notes and I give you 20% off. And if you've done it before, you're considered an alumni and you get a super big discount. So email me for that discount, [email protected] but if you find yourself struggling with drinking, struggling with stopping, starting over again, feeling shame, feeling awful about this thing, this thing in your life, I want you to know you're not alone. And I want to offer you support. So come join the next alcohol day. It's a great group. You'll get daily emails, we do twice weekly meetings, we have a chat feed. It's on a private group, it's not in Facebook, it's a private platform that I use. And it's just full of lots of tools to help you change your drinking. And you don't have to be perfect. It's about practicing. It's about changing the habit. [00:04:11] And so, yeah, come check it out. Alcoholtippingpoint.com alcoholiday. Love to have you join. All right. I jotted down a few notes to go over about things that I've learned along the way. And they're either from being alcohol free or from this podcast, or even just being part of this world, this odd world I find myself in now, where I'm kind of in collaboration. Well, not always collaboration, we'll get to that. But in community with other people who are helping change drinking, change drinking habits for other people in the world. Let's talk about what I've learned. So I'm just going to go through my notes and just share some thoughts. So, first off, a lesson that I've learned in the past four years has really been this idea of the 50 50 rule. And the idea of that is that life is 50 50. Sometimes it's awesome, sometimes it's awful, and it's everything in between. [00:05:19] And I think that is such a powerful lesson, especially if you're turning to drinking to feel better. [00:05:27] I want you to know it's so normal. We are hardwired to turn to drinking to feel better because we are hardwired to move towards pleasure and away from pain in the quickest way possible. And our brain has learned alcoholiday does this, does it really quickly, and it's normal. And so you have developed this habit of drinking to feel better. [00:05:54] However, feeling good all the time just isn't possible. And it isn't life, right? There are so many different things that happen in our lives that bring us joy or sorrow or excitement or anxiety or what have you and the thing is, they pass. [00:06:20] They pass if we allow them to. But what we've gotten really good at is trying to change our state, trying to feel better all the time. And when you can let go of trying to feel better all the time, let go of that and just realize, like, you know what? Sometimes I am going to feel sad. Sometimes I'm going to feel angry. Sometimes I'm going to be anxious. [00:06:44] And that's okay. It will pass. Just like sometimes I'm going to feel joy. Sometimes I'm going to feel like laughing. Sometimes I'm just going to feel really accepted and loved. But I'm not going to always feel that way either. [00:07:04] So it's just like the seasons. The seasons pass. The weather. The weather is such a good analogy for feelings, thoughts, because it changes. It's like your brain is the sky and your feelings and thoughts are the weather. And sometimes it's rainy, and sometimes it's cloudy or sunny. [00:07:27] And that's just what makes your life, that's just what makes life, your life unique and beautiful and interesting. [00:07:35] And so that brought me comfort. When I first learned this concept. I was like, oh, I don't have to feel happy all the time. In fact, that's not even, like, possible. Okay? Oh, yeah, I'll feel sad sometimes. And that's okay. That's normal. That's just part of being human. That's the human experience. [00:07:58] And that kind of guides me through because I don't have the alcohol anymore to turn to, I guess. I have my phone. I have other ways to deal and cope with life and I'll still do them. [00:08:13] But I do have this just reminder and knowledge and different perspective. Like, it's okay. It's okay to feel sad or angry or lonely. That's okay. And that's normal. So that was a really helpful lesson for me to learn. [00:08:30] The other thing I learned from removing alcohol is that life still happens. [00:08:36] Life happens. [00:08:39] People die, pets die. [00:08:42] Relationships change. All of that still happens because removing alcohol doesn't fix everything. [00:08:50] I think we know that intuitively. I think the message that gets across, and I like to put this across too, because I think removing alcohol is like the number one thing you can do to improve your life. Life is still going to happen. And wherever you are, wherever you go, there you are, right? You're still going to be there. Circumstances are still going to, you have the same job, same marriage, whatever, same kids, that's all still going to be there. [00:09:20] And then you're going to have these different things thrown your way. That's still going to happen. [00:09:30] I think that your life gets easier and better by removing the alcohol, but there's still going to be shitty parts of life, because that's just life, and that kind of goes back to the 50 50 rule, right? And so just, it doesn't fix everything. And that's okay. You may find that once you remove the alcohol, there's some other things you need to work on. [00:09:53] An interesting thing happened to me, and this is just a health example, but when I removed the alcohol, I realized I was still getting headaches. I just thought they were headaches and wicked hangovers, right? I didn't think they were migraines, but I knew, like, if I could take. Here's the irony, too. My mom has migraines. My sister has migraines. My daughters have migraines. It runs in the family. But what I knew is, if I take a migraine med, and I know you're not supposed to do this, but I did it. So I knew, oh, if I take one of these migraine meds from one of these people in my life, my headache goes away. [00:10:38] Maybe I have migraines because it had been like a full year since I had given up drinking, and I was like, I am still getting these headaches, these migraines. So I did go and officially get diagnosed with migraines. [00:10:55] And it was from. [00:10:57] I spent years not getting treated for them because I thought it was from drinking. And of course, drinking exacerbated them. But what I mean to say is, I removed the alcohol, but there was still something else there that I needed to address, and you may find that for yourself, too. [00:11:17] And so, just keeping that in mind, all right, another lesson I've learned, and I've learned from you all this comes from podcasts and from people doing the alcoholiday. And people who have quit drinking, is you need a tether. [00:11:34] You need a tether to keep you alcohol free, to remind you of what life was like before and whatever tether that is, because I've had people ask, like, do I have to go? Am I going to be talking about this the rest of my life? Do I have to go to meetings for the rest of my life? Do I have to read quit lip for the rest of my life? Or whatever? [00:11:59] I think it's different for everybody, but I think you need some kind of tether connecting you to the alcohol free community or sober community, whatever that looks like for you. And I talked to Lynn about this, the sober grandma. And for her, it's just keeping her Instagram account and keeping in touch. For some people, it's like listening to podcasts every once in a while, or for some people, they really want to join a community or a group, and that's helpful for them because they still want to be around other people who get it. So whatever tether that looks like for you, just recognize that your brain is going to convince you that it wasn't that bad. This is also why a lot of people go back to drinking, right? Your brain and society is going to try to convince you, like, well, it wasn't that bad. I kept my job. [00:12:54] I'm still married. Maybe I can just have one. [00:12:57] And that can be a slippery slope for a lot of people. And then you just find yourself right back at it. And it's a story I've heard again and again. I've heard stories of people who have had 15 years, ten years. I mean, you name it, and they start to drink again, and it doesn't happen all at once. [00:13:16] It happens slowly, and then before they know it, they're like, shit, I have a problem. I have a problem again. Now I need to unwind it again. And so that's why I say you just need some kind of tether, something that is keeping you accountable to yourself, maybe to others, maybe it's community, whatever that looks like for you. Going back to, why do we forget that it was so bad? Why do we go back to drinking? Well, your brain has something called fading effect bias, and that means that it remembers the good things and it forgets the bad things. And that is just another built in biological mechanism. So that we have babies again, we go through childbirth again. It was so that the hunters went out and hunted again. [00:14:11] We tend to play down what was bad and fade it out and then remember what was good. I mean, I've even done that with old boyfriends until I've gone. I remember going back and I was kind of romanticized. They do call it romanticizing, too. And you may find yourself romanticizing about drinking, but if you go back to your journals or something, you'll see like, oh, it was bad. It was pretty bad. I was miserable. I was miserable. And so just know that it's normal, this fading effect bias, it's normal to kind of forget. That's one of the things, though I do have to remind myself. I'm four years out. I think it's hopeful for people, too, even though I talk about it drink. This is my job, right? I don't think about drinking personally. I'm not, like, consumed by. When is my next drink? How much am I going to drink? Where am I going to drink? What days? I'm not consumed by thinking about drinking. And I do feel like I've forgotten sometimes how hard it was at the beginning, how just raw and vulnerable you feel. [00:15:27] And so that's why I like leading these dry months, because it's just amazing to see people go through them and transform and change. And it's a great reminder for me, and I realize, and I want to give you hope. Like, you're not always going to feel that way like you did in the first 30 days. It will get better. It definitely gets better. You don't feel so raw or vulnerable. [00:15:54] So that's kind of my thoughts on having a tether. Another thought is just, this has come up a lot, actually, with dry January and just this kind of sober, quote unquote, influencer world that I'm sort of part of peripherally or whatnot. But what I'm finding is a lot of people are still very adamant about doing it a certain way. And it's not even just aa people. It's on both sides. It's all kinds of people, right? [00:16:33] I don't know what happens to us in society, and we do it in all kinds of groups that you're like, shouldn't we have more unity? Right? Shouldn't we all be together against alcohol? But no, it's still, even within the tribes are littler tribes. And I don't know. It's just a constant battle. But what I think, what I believe, and I hope this comes across, is there are many ways to change your drinking. [00:17:07] None is right or wrong. [00:17:10] It's what works for you. And so that is my goal, is to give you a lot of different tools and tips and stories and just different aspects to help you change your drinking. [00:17:26] And that's because I felt like there were only two ways to change my drinking. I thought I had to go to aa or inpatient rehab, and that was it. It was very, just black and white thinking. [00:17:42] And so that's why I want you to know, like, man, there's so many different ways. You just got to find the right combination that works for you, the special ingredient that goes into your secret sauce, whatever that is. And that's okay. [00:17:58] I don't understand the judgment that comes from people with dry January. I was starting to see a lot of sober people, big name people who have written books and whatnot, really put down dry January and people who do dry January and just judging, like, maybe you don't really have a problem. It's not a big deal. Good for you. Doing dry January. I have to do dry the rest of my life or whatever. [00:18:28] That's fine. [00:18:30] We need a low barrier to entry for people to change their drinking, because we don't need you to wait to get to rock bottom or to show up in the ER. We can address this now before it does get bad. And listen, it doesn't have to be a drinking problem to have a problem with drinking. You could give up drinking because alcohol is shit for your health. And I'm going to get more into that. But I will say there are some camps out there where it kind of gets to these two camps, right? Alcohol is the problem, or you're the problem. And you'll even hear some people say, like, alcohol is not the problem, it's not the alcohol. You'll hear that a lot, right? It's not the alcohol. And this is something I vehemently disagree with. [00:19:28] What I think is absolutely, alcohol is the problem, is a public health crisis. [00:19:38] And you can also develop a problem with alcohol, and then that becomes your responsibility to change it. And I've talked before about, like, I needed to combine these two concepts, that alcohol shit for your health. And I had a problem, I needed to take responsibility for that. And that was part of my secret sauce, right? But alcohol. Let's just stop and talk about alcohol for a second. I know you've heard a lot of this, but sometimes I hear stuff like this about alcoholiday and I get pissed off. I really do. And that's because I'm a nurse. I've been in healthcare for 20 plus years. I work in preventative health. [00:20:23] It drives me crazy, right? That we're blaming the person and not the alcohol. Alcoholiday is a highly addictive substance. It's a toxin, it's a carcinogen. [00:20:35] Of course we need to blame alcohol. Of course we need to blame it. [00:20:41] Some of the latest statistics are like 80,000 deaths in the US per year. 3 million deaths per year worldwide. 3 million deaths worldwide per year. That is too many. [00:20:59] That is way too many. [00:21:04] This is one of the things I'm like, I want to bring more attention to this because of my background in health, because I think this really needs to happen. So when we think about, I think a lot of these people who are talking to like, it's not the alcohol, this person has a problem. [00:21:24] And I'd say it's both. [00:21:27] But there are still 25 30% of adults that aren't dependent, that maybe wouldn't even be considered alcohol. Use disorder, but they're still drinking. Risky. Risky drinking. That's actually what the CDC calls it. And risky drinking, y'all, it's not that much. So when we're talking about risky drinking, what we're talking about, it cracks me up that they use the term risky drinking. Sounds very eighty s to me. But when we're talking about risky drinking, we're talking about for women and men over age 65 and women. Right. So anyone over 65, no more than seven drinks a week, that would be one drink a day. That's considered, quote unquote, risky. For healthy men, it's no more than 14 drinks a week, which would be two drinks a day. Right. For healthy men, 21 to 65, that's just regular, healthy adults. Right. But for people who have health considerations, that would be anybody taking prescription or over the counter medications. That's most medications you do not take with alcohol, right. [00:22:47] Even just if you're taking it for depression, think about tylenol. You do not want to drink with tylenol. And most of your prescription meds you don't want to drink with. You're advised medically not to drink with. And then also if you have some kind of medical condition that can be worsened by alcohol, anything related to your liver, your heart, your pancreas, anything. If you have cancer risk, anything like that, then any part of drinking is considered risky drinking. So that is a lot of risky drinkers out there. There's a lot of people who haven't hit quote unquote rock bottom, but it's everybody else. [00:23:34] So I like to point that out. Like, okay, we need to address this public health crisis and all the deaths it's causing and all the risks it's causing. And there's the immediate risk. There's all the motor vehicle crashes, drowning, falls, accidents, there's domestic violence, there's homicide and suicide. [00:24:02] So, linked to drinking, right. And then there's the overdose, the alcohol poisoning, the unintentional pregnancies. There's the sexual assaults, there's child abuse. [00:24:18] I mean, there's just all kinds of things, right, associated with drinking. But then we're talking about long term risks. We're talking about our health risks, and it affects every organ of your body. So we are talking about hypertension, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, cancer, pancreatitis, diabetes, depression, anxiety, neurological damage. Like, I could go on and on. So, yes, this is about the alcohol. And that messaging needs to get out there. It needs to continue to get out there. We have got to stop blaming the person and not the alcohol. Now, I will say I got fired up about this because I kept seeing all this dry January stuff and people poo pooing it because I think, oh my God, everybody should do dry January if you're even thinking about not drinking. Yes. Good for you. That's awesome. [00:25:20] We need it to be like smoking or tobacco, right? [00:25:24] But there was a gal, very influential sober person, has a podcast, written a book. I actually very much respect this person. However, she put a reel out about it being about the person and not about the alcohol. [00:25:44] I honestly don't even remember what her reel was about. But I did post on it and what I wrote was, here we go again, blaming the person, not the alcohol. It's no wonder people become addicted and have mental and physical health consequences from consuming the most widely available and socially accepted drug in the world. We need things like dry January and sober curiosity to raise worldwide awareness to the harmful effects of alcohol. We need safe, nonjudgmental places for people to learn about alcohol and practice not drinking, not shame them into sobriety or send them back to drinking. [00:26:27] So that's what I wrote on her post, and she deleted it and she blocked me. So there was no conversation or anything. [00:26:38] And it was a real bummer. But it happens, and that's her prerogative. [00:26:46] It's her stuff and it's her messaging, and that's okay. [00:26:50] But I think we're doing a disservice to people in the world if we can't have these conversations, if we can't really affect bigger change with drinking and alcohol. Because the other thing about things like dry January, sober curiosity, alcoholiday, all of this is it helps reduce stigma and shame. [00:27:16] And a lot of the reasons people don't get help with their drinking is because they feel shame and stigma and they don't want to tell anybody that they have a problem. [00:27:28] And that needs to change. That really needs to change. I am passionate about that. I'm going to be open to all modes of recovery and changing your drinking because I think that is so important. And I think if someone goes from 20 drinks to three drinks, that is something to be celebrated and not shamed until it's down to zero. [00:27:51] I am going to advocate for drinking less or not at all now, personally and professionally. I'm not going to teach moderation. My thing is teaching people not to drink, practicing not drinking and whatnot, and drinking less. You all have tried moderation. I know that if you're listening to this podcast, you have tried moderation. I don't need to teach that. And I don't really want to teach that because my message is really drink less, or ideally, not at all. But I know that it's hard to get there. It is really hard to get there. And that's the process of change. [00:28:35] We can't expect someone to just all of a sudden decide they're done with drinking and be done and expect them to be perfect. No, you need some tools and support and some ways to help you change your relationship with drinking, whatever that looks like for you, because we are all unique. [00:28:56] But it is the alcohol. I've had people from all over the world, Iceland, Africa, Indonesia, mainly the United States. I will say this is an english speaking podcast, and I'm based in the United States. But any place that Alcohol has been introduced, people have developed drinking problems. [00:29:22] Any place, when we find proof of life in outer space, if we find aliens, we introduce alcohol to aliens, the aliens are going to develop drinking problems. [00:29:38] Actually, the aliens are probably going to be, what the hell? Hell no. You want me to drink this ethanol poison anyway. I kind of get on a soapbox about that, and I guess maybe I'm just as aggressive as the other side, but I still think whatever works for you, I really know. I think we need to have more. [00:30:06] And this actually came from Don Nicholl, who is the founder of she recovers, and she said we need more unity, not uniformity in recovery. She used the word recovery, and I couldn't agree more. Could not agree more. [00:30:27] Okay, so those are my thoughts. Those are my thoughts. With this celebrating four years, alcoholiday free 150 podcast episodes and 30 alcoholiday. I can't believe it. I want to say thank you again for listening. I hope that this gives you hope and helps you keep going. Helps you know that you're not alone and that you can change your drinking. [00:30:58] There is help out there for you. And if you do that through me, that's wonderful. And if you find someone else or something else that works for you, that is wonderful, too, right? My goal is just to help you drink less or not at all. So come join the next alcoholiday. [00:31:17] It's alcoholtippingpoint.com alcoholiday. [00:31:22] Drop me a line. Send me an email. I would love to hear from you. And I just want to thank you again from the bottom of my heart. This gives me meaning and purpose, and I'm just so honored to help you with this. And I'm here for you. I am rooting you on. You can do this. [00:31:44] I'll talk to you next week. [00:31:49] 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 alcoholiday Tipping point and check out my website, alcoholtippingpoint.com 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 talked about for the rest of your week, and until then, talk to you next time you our.

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