When I started telling friends that I was thinking of giving up alcohol, I was mostly given a green light of approval, but with a caveat: as long as I didn’t get too preachy about it. Over four months since my last drink, I am going to try really hard not to cross that line, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult not to communicate about something that I have not only spent a lot of 2018 thinking about but that has also improved my life so immensely.
As Dry January begins, I want to encourage as many people reading this as possible to give it a go. But if you do, I’d also ask that instead of seeing a month off the booze as something to endure, as something to ‘get through’, that you instead see it as an opportunity for something else, something different and perhaps something better. I’m going to write more about the benefits I’ve seen from going alcohol-free later this month (so, it’s your choice whether you click on that link or continue to follow me in the meantime!), but to kick things off, I thought I’d put together a bumper list of all the resources I’ve used since I started this exploration back in May (yep, it’s been a long and winding process to get to this point – more on that later too… maybe).
These recommendations span books, blogs, podcasts and Instagram profiles and cross a wide range of alcohol-free thinking and teachings, from alcohol use disorder and 12 step programmes to grey area drinking and general wellbeing. Wherever you find yourself on that spectrum (even if you’re only just a teeny bit sober curious), hopefully there’s something in this list that resonates. I’m presenting this all without comment about mine (or anyone else’s, for that matter) drinking – for now – purely just as a list of stuff I’ve come across, read, looked at, or listened to.
Books I’ve read
This is the book that started it all for me – it’s part memoir, part science and something just changed for me after reading this book. Admittedly, I think it poured water on a seed that was already sprouting within my brain, but this book just spoke to me. I recommend either starting here, or with…
This book takes all of the things you’re taught about alcohol (it helps me loosen up, it helps me relieve stress, it makes me happy etc.) and disproves them. No really, it literally takes each of those points and tells you why and how they are wrong. I read this once I’d already stopped drinking, so for me it was more of a reinforcer than a mind changer, but I know if I had read it earlier it would have been the latter.
ALSO! Both Catherine and Annie have journals/workbooks relating to their books above:
This is straight up memoir and probably one of my favourite books of all time. It’s already firmly planted on my list to re-read in 2019 due to it being hilarious, honest and relatable. I read this on Kindle and made so many highlights through it that I’m going to buy a paperback version to scribble all over.
No book has ever seared me with it’s honesty quite like this one. There were passages I had to re-read, I was in awe that a writer had the nerve to publish such frank admissions. There were occasions where it tipped into sounding a tad too privileged, but this collection of essays that covers drinking, careers, relationships, feminism and more and is well worth a read.
I first discovered Lisa on Instagram – she’s an NYC lawyer who (again) is shockingly honest about the level of her alcohol and cocaine addiction, especially given she still has a corporate job in law. She so graphically describes the daily grimness (for want of a better word) of being perpetually either high or hungover, that you’ll feel a bit icky (in a ‘oh yeh, hangovers are horrible’ way). I learnt a lot from this book.
This was recommended by a friend that’s not drunk for several years, and is another memoir/research mix. I enjoyed this as the writer is a highly successful journalist (showing not all alcoholics live on park benches) and I enjoyed the way she combined personal story with interviews and research. A lot of the reviews I’ve read hoped this would be more factual, given the title, but I love reading memoir so this didn’t bother me.
Other books I’ve read
(which I’d move onto after reading the above, personally)
The Sober Diaries by Clare Pooley – would recommend for anyone with children.
The Sober Revolution by Sarah Turner and Lucy Rocca – a good all round staple in this genre.
Recovery by Russell Brand – tackles addiction of all kinds and I somewhat struggle with his writing style (I much prefer to listen to audio of him), but if you’re a fan of his, definitely give this a go.
Books that are on my to-read list
This podcast is now defunct, but there’s still an enormous back catalogue to listen to online from two of the pioneers of the online sobriety community.
Fearne Cotton’s interview podcast is by no means only about drinking (although the topic crops up from time to time), but it’s a great listen on all-round wellbeing.
Aidan is one of my favourite non-drinking people on Instagram – more on that below – and this podcast is just lovely. Not too heavy chat from two people that never identified as alcoholics, they just think life is better without drink.
I follow *so many* (so, so many) GREAT sober women on Instagram so I’m just going to link to a big ole bunch and you can click through to your heart’s content: