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September 15, 2022
226: Sobriety as a Way of Life | A Personal Testimony

When we talk about sobriety, we frequently speak about physical sobriety, but what is the most critical step you can take to free yourself? Today, Maya discusses how to overcome addiction and the need to modify your lifestyle...


When we talk about sobriety, we frequently speak about physical sobriety, but what is the most critical step you can take to free yourself? Today, Maya discusses how to overcome addiction and the need to modify your lifestyle to optimize your overall health. Stay tuned to learn how to practice emotional and physical sobriety.


Key takeaways to listen for 

  • How alcohol affects emotions and behavior
  • What an alcohol-reliant lifestyle looks like
  • Identifying personal triggers and the lies drinking will tell you
  • The path towards a healthier you


Resources mentioned in this episode


Website Link for this episode:
https://www.healthylifestylesolutions.org/226


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Transcript

I took my very first drink of alcohol when I was less than five years old. We still lived in Mexico, and a party had just taken place. I was curious and took a sip. That is all I remember. My mother would share that story with me years later.  

Once in the states, our home became the central place where families gathered. Alcohol was the norm.  

For years, I've had a love/hate relationship with alcohol. I love that it loosens me up. It helps me to relax. The fear comes from seeing what alcohol can do to others. Some people become very emotional, verbal, and aggressive.  

Did you listen to Tuesday's guest interview? This week I invited Janet Gourand to speak about sobriety. For the first time, I cover the topic in such detail. I felt it was about time we talked about addiction and the role of lifestyle medicine to help optimize our health. After all, reducing our use of risky substances is one of the pillars of lifestyle medicine.  

I've been listening to Janet's podcast called Tribe Sober where she highlights tribe members who have recovered from addiction. Many of her members are well-educated individuals who found themselves addicted to alcohol. Each story is so personal and enlightening. As I listened in, I could go down memory lane to see where alcohol had played a role in my life.  

My worst years with alcohol happened in my 30's after moving away from my family. Within one year, I faced 6 of the top 10 most stressful life events.  

I relocated temporarily to Mexico. I left my family, my church, and a relationship and relocated back to the states to start a new career. I was broke. I slept on the floor for six months and needed rides to work daily. 

Those six life events were: 

  1. Moving to a new home included moving out of the country 
  2. Ending a long-term relationship 
  3. Starting a new job 
  4. Facing challenging workplace stressors 
  5. Facing financial hardships 
  6. Developing health problems  

I recall feeling like a 50-year-old when I was only thirty-something. The stress and anxiety were so bad that I eventually developed panic attacks. Over time, I fell into a depression. At some point, I began to develop chronic fatigue and thyroid issues. Later on, I learned that mercury poisoning played a role in my experiencing adrenal fatigue, weight gain, and hypothyroidism.  

03:55 As I became more comfortable in my new surroundings, 

04:03-4:16 I developed friendships. But they were casual and basic. Not what my little heart needed. So

04:03-4:16 “Having drinking buddies was what felt good to me. My drinking was not out of control. I drank to self-soothe. But I also knew that it was a problem. I didn't feel any happier from drinking.”

Only a few years later did I learn about alternative forms of therapies that worked for me outside of conventional counseling. These would lead me towards breakthroughs as I worked through my traumas. I found that what I've needed most is emotional support. Group therapy is very effective for me. 

Today as I continue to learn about lifestyle medicine, I've learned that alcohol is a poison. In 1988, alcohol was declared a class 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization. The National Cancer Institute says alcohol raises breast cancer risk even at low drinking levels. And in the United States, an estimated 15 percent of breast cancer cases are related to alcohol. Team Sherzai tells us that there is a link between alcohol and Alzheimer's disease.

After learning about Janet and Triber Sober, I decided that I would never take another sip of alcohol. One may say, "oh but it's just a glass of wine". Go back to episode #225 to listen to my conversation with Janet and see if you still feel that way. It is a personal choice. 

Janet offers challenges where you can see if you have a physical addiction. While I did not experience physical symptoms, I did feel sadness. I am sad that I did not have coping strategies to manage my stress, anxiety, and depression. Today I know better.  But my younger self didn't. I can look back and see that I needed healthier relationships, my connection with God, stress management skills, exercise, and proper nutrition. I needed lifestyle medicine!

I want to help normalize sobriety. I joined Tribe Sober to be part of a movement that promotes sobriety as a way of life. I have also signed up for the Kickstart Your Sober Life online program.  

Janet is offering you, my listeners, a discount code. Today she has an online course called Kickstart Your Sober Life. Go to  tribersober.com, hit the "kickstart" tab, and use "KK2022" for a  discount.

If you are interested in this way of life, many tools and new programs are available. I plan on having another sobriety coach on the show soon.

Books that I've read and recommend- 

  • Drinking- A Love Story by Carol Knapp. Publisher's Summary: Fifteen million Americans a year are plagued with alcoholism. Five million of them are women. Many of them, like Caroline Knapp, started in their early teens and began to use alcohol as "liquid armor", a way to protect themselves against the difficult realities of life. In this extraordinarily candid and revealing memoir, Knapp offers important insights not only about alcoholism but about life itself and how we learn to cope with it. 
  • We are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life by Laura McKowen. Publisher's Summary: What could possibly be "lucky" about addiction? Absolutely nothing, thought Laura McKowen when drinking brought her to her knees. As she puts it, she "kicked and screamed . . . wishing for something - anything - else" to be her issue. The people who got to drink normally, she thought, were so damn lucky. But in the midst of early sobriety, when no longer able to anesthetize her pain and anxiety, she realized that she was actually the lucky one. Lucky to feel her feelings, live honestly, really be with her daughter, change her legacy. She recognized that "those of us who answer the invitation to  wake up, whatever our invitation, are really the luckiest of all." Here, in straight-talking chapters filled with personal stories, McKowen addresses issues such as facing facts, the question of AA, and other people's drinking. Without sugarcoating the struggles of sobriety, she relentlessly emphasizes the many blessings of an honest life, one without secrets and debilitating shame. 

Sobriety is not just about alcohol. It is about the things that we do to numb ourselves so that we can avoid feeling the pain that lies underneath. Tribe Sober helps you to create a life that you won't want to numb yourself from. Their approach is to help you thrive in life. 

A large portion of alcoholics are functioning alcoholics. 

Join or create a community of like-minded individuals. Joining or creating a community of like-minded individuals is a great way to reduce your risk for substance abuse. When you are surrounded by people who are supportive of your sobriety, it can be much easier to stay on track. There are many sobriety communities available online and in person. Find one that feels right for you and get involved.