Joy took her last drink on July 12, 2014.  This is her story.

Update on the Alcohol is Sh!t book!  Launch date, September 7, 2019, is less than a month away!

On today’s episode Paul talks about the phrase ‘spontaneous sobriety’.  What is it?  What does it mean?

Spontaneous sobriety means quitting drinking without any formal treatment such as rehab, inpatient treatment, or out-patient treatment.  12-step programs are not formal treatment due to the fact you can go when you want, work with, or without, a sponsor, and there is not a formal way to work the steps.

The majority of people get sober without formal help.  According to the NESARC about 50% of all people that recovered from alcohol dependence did so completely on their own.

So how does one spontaneously ditch the booze?  The listen to their body, read books, listen to podcasts, attend 12-step meetings, read blogs, talk to their therapist, join online recovery groups (like CaféRE), etc.…  You talk about it; you burn the ships.



[10:40] Paul introduces Joy. 


Joy was born and raised in the suburbs of southeast Michigan and she moved to Connecticut about 15 years ago.  She is 42 years old, has been married for almost 15 years, and has 2 sons.  For work Joy is a holistic nurse practitioner, sober and grey area drinking coach, and a dance teacher.  She enjoys dancing, yoga, being outside, and reading.


[17:40] Give us a background on your drinking.


Joy started drinking pretty regularly in her teenage years.  There was drinking in her household so it felt like the natural thing to do.  During high school there were binging and blackout moments.  Before college she had a rock-climbing accident, where alcohol was involved, which resulted in her having to change her direction in college from dance to healthcare.  She continued to drink heavily in college and got a DUI when she was 20.


[18:35] Whne you got that DUI was there a concern?


Joy says it was a terrifying experience.  She had to spend the night in jail, in a very big correctional facility.  After the DUI Joy felt like she could still continue to drink, she just needed to be smarter about it, like not drive.


In her 30s it became more apparent that her drinking was a problem.  There was more morning after conversations with her husband.  She tried moderating, only drinking on the weekends, but was unsuccessful.


[19:50] You mentioned that your husband commented that your drinking doesn’t make sense, can you explain that?


She says here she was, done with graduate school to be a nurse practitioner, she was a yoga teacher and really holistically health minded, but at the same time drinking heavily.  She also would smoke cigarettes when she drank.  It was like the two Joys didn’t compute.  There was the highly functioning Joy going to her job at the hospital and teaching yoga classes, and then there was the Joy that was drinking everyday and smoking.


[22:15] Bring us up to speed, did the other shoe drop?


Joy says it did.  She was 30 pounds heavier; her health was not doing well; her depression was not being treated.  But Joy says it was really when she was home with her two young children and one of them asked her to hand him his toy.  She asked him what one and he said, “It’s the one behind your wine glass.”.   This rocked Joy’s world.  It was one thing for her to be home drinking wine while taking care of her young children, it was something else that one of them knew it.


[24:35] What did you do after that? 


Joy says she did what everyone thinks they have to do; she went to AA.  She was 37 years old.  She says she had issue with when you go to AA you have to stand up and introduce yourself and proclaim that you’re an alcoholic.  At this time Joy wasn’t sure she was an alcoholic, but she knew she had to do something and AA was all she could think of.  Standing up and admitting that she was an alcoholic in front of a group of strangers was cathartic for Joy.  It allowed her to take the next step forward which was addressing what she was going to do next.


[27:00] What happened after that? 


Joy went to AA for a little while, got a sponsor that was really helped her get through the first few weeks of being AF.  But Joy wasn’t drawn to AA, she didn’t find the positivity, or forward movement, she was hoping to find.


So, Joy turned to the internet and started looking for other recovery avenues that were geared towards women.  She found Woman for Sobriety, which is a different self-help program.  There weren’t any meetings local to Joy so she started participating in online chat meetings.  After she had a year of sobriety she applied and became a moderator of meetings for them in her town.


[30:30] What was it like going through the first couple social events alcohol free?


Joy learned that she definitely had some social anxiety, it was stressful, and she felt awkward.  She says she took a lot of things off of her social calendar.  She instead filled her time with other things, and instead of focusing on what she was not doing anymore she was focusing on what she was doing.


[34:20] What are some of the things that have been removed from your life since you quit drinking?


Joy says that there have been some friendships and there were some activities, such as concerts, that she gave up for a while, but has since returned to enjoying in sobriety.  She has been careful with what she has allowed back into her life with her main focus now being a parent and her family.


[38:10] What are some of the themes you have encountered in the last 5 years? 


The first year Joy was just dedicated on getting the moments.  Year two was being OK with things as they were.  Year 3 and 4 were similar to year 2, but Joy was stepping out more into experiences that may have been a little scarier, being a little more daring and finding great encouragement through those accomplishments.


[41:20] Talk to us about being a grey area drinking coach.


Joy says the grey area is the area between rock bottom and not drinking at all.


[46:50] Rapid Fire Round


  1. Worst memory from drinking?


Having my friends stay home with my kids while I drove myself to the hospital because I thought I had given myself pancreatitis because I drank too much.


  1. What is your plan moving forward?


My plan is to continue to find great connection with other women similar to me and offer them resources and tools to help them create a new life doing what they love without alcohol.


  1. What is your favorite resource in recovery?


Women for Sobriety and Yoga of Recovery.


  1. In regards to sobriety what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?


Just take a moment and breathe and know that this too shall pass.


  1. What parting piece of advice can you give to listeners?


If you are questioning, at all, if you need to take a break then I invite you to give it 30 days.


  1. If listeners want to find you, do you have a website?


  1. You might have a drinking problem if…


You are constantly thinking about when you’re going to get your next drink.



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