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Before I introduce you to my new friend Julia, I wanted to first state that we are not offering medical advice. If you (or someone you know) has an issue with alcohol there are resources such as: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), recovery programs, and working with your primary care doctor and/or a mental health professional.
Getting to Sober
In September of 2021, Julia was realizing that although she was in therapy, taking medication for her depression, exercising, and in a healthy relationship with her partner, she was still struggling mentally and trying to get to the root of why.
September 13th, she went to YouTube and searched, “What happens when you take a break from alcohol?” With research, she realized that the depressive symptoms she was experiencing on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesdays was from pouring gasoline on the fire due to alcohol. The two accounts she had found were EuphoricAF and StephStill. These accounts talk about the science behind alcohol and
When she made the decision to quit drinking, she was only drinking on the weekends in social settings.
Once you stop drinking, you realize how obsessed our society is with alcohol.Julia, That1SoberFriend
Do You Have an Unhealthy Relationship with Alcohol?
How do you know if you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol? You still want to have friends and go out, but you know you’re not doing what’s best for your body, your mental health, and yourself?
Instead of asking yourself, “Is it that bad?” Ask yourself, “Is it bad enough? Is enough of my life being negatively affected by me consuming alcohol?”
It’s confusing and we’ve all had plenty of nights where we put ourselves in dangerous situations. Especially in college! But it wasn’t every time Julia drank that she was putting herself in these situations. But her podcast shows that you don’t have to hit rock bottom to pursue a life of sobriety.
Try a 30-day break and compare before, during, and after— what happens in your life?
Protecting Your Sobriety
Julia knew her sobriety was fragile. Because of this, she chose to not go out for a few months. When she was ready to go out with people who were drinking was driving herself to and from situations that involved alcohol. She also brought non-alcoholic beverages with her to parties.
People don’t really care what’s in your hand, as long as there’s something in your hand when at social functions.Julia, That1SoberFriend
If you’re looking for alcohol-free alternatives in one place, Sèchey is a an online and in-store (in Charleston!) retailer that has everything you could ever need for an elevated night of mindful “drinking”.
Sobriety Defined… sort of.
Everyone’s definition of sober is different. Some people use alcohol-free, sober-curious, soberish…
Sobriety depends on the individual and the mentality of what each individual. People should go with what they feel most comfortable with. It’s okay if your definition is different from the next person. Maybe you can’t drink something such as kombucha, another person can’t use tobacco, and the next person can.
Do what is best for you.
One of the resources that Julia first discovered was through Steph Still’s YouTube channel. There are online meetups to seek out community that will make your sobriety rock-solid. Being able to talk out loud your issues and frustrations with people around your age is so, so helpful.
You can make the decision to not drink, but to do it alone isn’t fair to you.
Supporting a Sober Friend
Maybe you’ve found this because you’re trying to support a friend who is sober while you are not. First of all, amazing! Julia and myself have had great experiences with people who support sobriety and sober curiosity.
For the people who are sober, you may have to give your friends time to digest the news. Lifestyle shifts can be hard to adjust to and they’re human, too.
For the people who want to support a sober friend, be inclusive and make the decision not seem like such a big deal. Of course, be supportive! But, try to show them gentleness and kindness. Let that person know that although there’s a shift in their social life, your friendship won’t strain because of it. The person giving up alcohol has enough guilt, they don’t need to explain to someone when they’ll see you if it’s not in social settings that involve alcohol.
Asking how you can support someone is helpful, too. Offer alternatives besides just going to a bar or a restaurant. Some people can’t be around drinking, some aren’t comfortable being in bars. Things like yoga, art shows, farmers markets, workouts, cooking classes, activities that the only activity isn’t drinking.
You may have to give up selfish wants to support friends who are exploring sobriety. It may not be what you want to do, but what your friend needs. Giving up one Friday night for a friend who can’t be around alcohol isn’t going to screw up your social life.
ADVICE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF
Try to stop giving yourself a hard time. Julia looks back and can realize she made her fair share of mistakes— whether she was drinking or not. She had been through a lot and it makes sense why she was experiencing pain and holding onto trauma. But in the meantime, beating yourself up isn’t doing any good.
It’s important to reflect and understand that you don’t want to be the person you once were, but shame doesn’t get people sober or keep people sober.
Shame doesn’t get or keep people sober.Julia, That1SoberFriend
Julia Reyes from that1soberfriend has been alcohol-free for 11 months and lives in Chicago. She started a TikTok during her sober-curious phase to give her an outlet and share her experience with others on living without alcohol. She’s built a community of 28,000 followers who are young and sober. She is now a motivational speaker who talks about sobriety in your younger years.