If yes, you are not alone. In this episode, I interview Ann and hear how she found herself drinking without thinking, and how going through my program has impacted all areas of her life and left her feeling better inside and out.
Ann was tired of never having an off-switch when it came to alcohol and found herself suffering from hangovers, guilt, and shame around her drinking. After realizing how frequently she was drinking, she wanted to bring more awareness to why this was happening and start drinking less.
Tune in this week to hear why Ann felt her drinking was a problem and some of the lessons she has learned from taking control of her drinking. Ann shares some tips to help you stop drinking without thinking, and shows you how to truly have a take-it-or-leave-it mindset around alcohol.
You are listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle Podcast with Dr. Sherry Price, episode number 22.
Welcome to Drink Less Lifestyle, a podcast for successful women who want to change their relationship with alcohol. If you want to drink less, feel healthier and start loving life again you’re in the right place. Please remember that the information in this podcast does not constitute medical advice. Now, here’s your host, Dr. Sherry Price.
Well, hello my friends. I’m so excited to be with you again this week. How are you? I have a special guest for you today. And you’ll learn all about her but I feel like she’s a little bit like my clone. We think a lot, we share a lot of the same characteristics. And I just have really enjoyed her. She was in my Drink Less Lifestyle program. And she wanted to come on the podcast and share her experience. And I think it’s always good for you to be exposed and hear other women on this journey because I don’t want you to feel alone, you’re broken, something’s wrong.
And I want you to know that wherever you are in your journey on cutting back that a lot of women are with you. And so I really wanted you to hear Ann’s story. And I’m going to have her speak here soon. And just listen to her drinking story and some of the lessons she’s learned, some of the experiences she had. And just see what resonates with you and where you can pull some tidbits and some teachings from her and her journey. And without further ado I will turn it over to Ann.
Ann, welcome to the podcast.
Ann: Thanks Sherry, it’s great to be here.
Sherry: I wanted to provide our listeners just a little bit of background about anything about yourself so they can see and understand who you are as a woman.
Ann: Sure. Well, I have a beautiful blended family. I’ve been married to my husband for about 10 years. We have a very large family. We have six children ranging in age from 14 to 20. My husband and I both have very demanding jobs. We work in the pharmaceutical industry. And we have two kids with special needs. So we are a very happy and loving family. And most days especially during the pandemic though it’s organized chaos.
Sherry: I think a lot of us feel that way. Alright, so what I want to dive into is if you can just share a little bit about where you were with your drinking, what bothered you about it? Why did you feel in your opinion it was a problem? And then maybe we can tie it into then how we first met.
Ann: Absolutely. Well, there were two areas that I really wanted to work on. The first was in regards to my daily drinking. I would have a glass of wine or two, depending on the day, after work each night or when homework was done. I thought I’m entitled to that glass of wine, that I had earned it because I had worked so hard. It was my transition to relaxation time. And it was something adult I could do. My kids were not participating. And I could do that with just my husband.
And I thought it was something that everybody did. I mean between the commercials on TV, my girl friends; I just thought everybody had wine at night. And it wasn’t until I started getting feedback as I was getting older and going to more doctors appointments and I was being honest about how much I was drinking when they asked, during the week. And they said to me, “Hey, that’s probably not a good idea. That’s not a good habit for long term health.” And I was like, “Oh, okay.”
So I wanted to work on that and cut back on my daily drinking. And then this one’s tough to talk about but the secondary of that really bothered me is that I would have these binge episodes where I would let loose. And this was when I was out, I was away from my kids and I would start out with the best intentions. I was just going to have one drink but then it’s let’s celebrate, let’s be happy. And I would have one drink, then there was two, and because it felt good then another until I had too much.
I had no idea how much I would be drinking during these episodes. And I didn’t seem to have an off switch. I might then get sick or I wouldn’t remember things. I was hung over the next day. But, Sherry, the worst part of it was the shame. It would be with me for days, almost taking me into a depression. And the crazy thing is I would vow it would never ever, ever happen again. But darn it, it did.
And I could go months, I could even go years. But then I would have these binge episodes and I was just mortified. I knew and struggled with this for so long. And that was I was so happy to find you because I needed to change this.
Sherry: Yeah. Thanks for sharing all that. I think that resonates with a lot of us and certainly me, the daily for sure. And then going off the rails, me, was quite more frequent than what you described. But it’s true, it’s like I think when we get into the responsibility areas of life and raising a family. And then if there’s challenges with the kids, and just the stress of the job, and keeping it all together. I think we try so hard to manage it all that for me I know I just looked to alcohol as this is my release. This is where I get to just not feel like I have any responsibility.
And I think a lot of women turn to alcohol for that release. And then it just becomes the way we operate. And like you said, until you start getting signs, whether it’s the doctor that’s telling you, whether you’re just feeling the shame cycle, it’s like there’s no impetus to change it unless you start feeling these negative outcomes or these negative consequences from what we’re doing. And sometimes it could just be your inner talk like, hey, this is going on too long or too much. And let’s clean this up.
So did you have a bottoming out or anything, hitting a rock bottom? Or I think some people are waiting for the pain to get greater in order for them to seek support, or help, or reach out to others. Did you feel like you hit a rock bottom of any sorts?
Ann: Well, ironically every time I had a binge episode, I felt like I hit rock bottom, in other words it was so traumatic to me to not remember things. And it was interesting because how I found you; you came up on my Facebook feed. And I was immediately intrigued because I felt like I was the only person in the world that had this problem. And I was successful. I had this great family. I had it all together supposedly. And yet I struggled with this.
And to learn that there were other women out there, other successful women who had the same struggles. And I knew that I can give up alcohol at times, I would have a dry January. So I knew I could do it but it was solely based on willpower. And this idea of being able to really take it or leave it when it came to alcohol appealed to me because I knew I didn’t want to give it up entirely. But I just knew that I wanted to be in control of it.
Sherry: And let’s go there, let’s talk about your experience in the Drink Less Lifestyle program. What was that like for you? What were some key learnings? What were some of the things that really spoke to you, that helped you change your relationship with alcohol?
Ann: Yeah. So I’ll be very honest with you. When I first started the program I was skeptical, is this really going to work? I’m investing a lot of time, I’m investing money. Is this really going to make a difference? Because I had tried different tactics on my own, and I was able to manage this, and when I did do the things like the dry January, they didn’t last for very long because I always felt like I was depriving myself or punishing myself by not going cold turkey.
And then I was resentful of other people when they were drinking and jealous. And don’t forget, drinking was my reward, my celebration. And I worried I’m not going to be as fun without alcohol. I’m not going to be the life of the party. I’m not enough without it.
Sherry: That’s so good.
Ann: So when I got into the program, it’s structured, just for folks that may not be familiar with it, it’s a series of videos that you can watch on your own as I know you know, Sherry, but just to tell everybody else. And there’s a series of worksheets that accompany those videos that help you explore and start to understand, and question your relationship with alcohol. And also in the program are coaching calls where you can discuss your individual struggles. And then you also hear from other women and their struggles.
And as I mentioned before, it’s this, not feeling alone and also beginning to learn that I wasn’t weak, or that there was something wrong with me. There were tangible reasons and preprogrammed thoughts I had about alcohol that I never stopped to look at. The program enabled me to do that and take a pause. And basically that were causing me to over-drink and I’m just going on.
But I have to tell you, I was shocked to learn about the science and the chemical effects of drinking directly on my brain. And I mean I knew about them I guess but I never ever stopped to really think about it. And this release of dopamine was what was causing me to want another drink. It wasn’t my lack of willpower, or my strength. At its core was simple, it felt good. Of course I want to keep going, why would I want to stop? And I learned in the program that I was drinking without thinking. I was making unconscious decisions about whether or not I wanted another drink.
Or if a friend said, “Let’s have another.” I let them dictate that I was going to have another drink. I wasn’t making that choice for myself. And I was giving circumstances and really the alcohol itself the power to make that decision about how much I was drinking rather than make my own choices.
Sherry: Yeah. And I think we do fall into that because we learn a certain way to be around alcohol. And so I love it that we just do step back and look at it with curiosity and questions. And say, “Okay, in this slice of life how do I want to relate to alcohol? How do I want alcohol to be in my life?”
And if I’m feeling like it’s unhealthy or not supporting my long term goals, or my health goals, or what I want to be doing. Let’s just take that pause and evaluate it with a clean slate, no judgment, dropping the shame, all of that. Because that’s when the brain can move into action of yes, I’m doing this for me without feeling the depravation kicking in. So I love that. So the questions were really helpful to you and just taking that pause and reevaluating.
And it’s true, like you mentioned, it’s just a chemical cascade that happens in our body, that our body gets used to. And if we don’t interrupt that cascade and interrupt that programming we’re just going to keep letting the habit continue. So anything that surprised you or anything that you felt like I didn’t realize I’ve learned this about yourself or about alcohol, or about anything that surprised you going through the 12 week program?
Ann: That’s a great question. Several things surprised me. But one of them was really getting into these preprogrammed thoughts that I had around alcohol. And they’re really ridiculous in some ways but they were very powerful to me. Somewhere in my youth I had heard you never pour drinks down the sink because it’s alcohol abuse. You never leave drinks sitting on the table because you just don’t do that. And I would find myself; I’d better finish this drink because I have it in front of me.
I also thought and learned that I thought I needed alcohol to be comfortable socially and to be in a situation where I would know exactly what to say and I would be funny and I would be relaxed. And it would be much more interesting. And when I really started exploring that and really started looking at some of those things were just my own insecurities, if I focused on those and I had several close friends that I shared this journey with and they were helping me through this too. It really helped me grow as a person and not try to keep escaping my feelings.
So I was shocked how much I learned just about myself as I was exploring my relationship with drinking.
Sherry: Yeah, that’s powerful. That’s powerful. Yeah, and it is an inner journey. And I always like to say that drinking is a thinking problem. You have to do this work, go inside, look at your thoughts, examine them, question them and why do we have them? And do we still really truly believe them?
Ann: And it’s hard work, I mean that’s the thing that I think I want to be very transparent about someone who’s considering doing the program is you need to be in a mind space that you are going to ask yourself difficult questions. And you are going to have to think through. But the only way you’re going to make real change is if you do that work and you really focus on it. And this is going to sound cheesy but I will tell you authentically that the program has literally changed my life. And it’s so good for me. My husband has noticed it. He’s been so supportive.
We can talk about all the benefits of not overdrinking. But just to know it is a lot of hard work but it is worth it and it makes such a difference.
Sherry: Yeah. And I think that’s key because we think it’s just a drinking thing. I’ll just let it go on. And that’s okay. But it does have a ripple effect onto a lot of relationships and a lot of areas in our life. So when you do get this under control, however that may look for you, you do see the ripple effect out to others, and people do notice, I hear that a lot. Tell me about where you’re at with your drinking now.
Ann: Okay. Well, here’s the great news. I’m in control.
Sherry: That is great news.
Ann: It’s huge, it’s huge. Yeah, I’ve got my own back. You realize how cool that is? I’ve got my own back. And that is so freeing. And I trust myself. I know that I’m going to be okay. And for me personally what works best is – I don’t want to use the word ‘limit’ because it sounds negative, but I have four drinks a week. And that could be two on Friday, two on Saturday or it could be one on Monday, one on Tuesday, one on Wednesday and one on Sunday. It works for me. And some weeks I might not have four. But I make a conscious decision about whether or not I want to drink.
So if you remember when we started the conversation, I was drinking unconsciously, I just did it because it was habit, or I felt it was the thing to do. And now I really think do I want that drink? And even after I finish a drink I ask myself, do I really want a second? And then I make that call. So I truly can take it or leave it. We talked about the ripple effect. The other thing that’s so cool is that it has had a great effect on my overall health. I think about the foods I’m putting in my body now. I think about exercising more. I am exercising more. And I sleep better.
But I have to tell you the very best gift of all is that I don’t have any more shame about my drinking. And I’m not going through those mental gymnastics of oh my God. And just that alone has been the most freeing gift and I’m so grateful for that.
Sherry: Yeah. It’s like a big weight lifted off your shoulders.
Sherry: Here’s a question I want to ask. Do you feel that you’re less fun? Do people notice or say, “You’re less fun?”
Ann: That is a great question. And they do not. As far as I know, I still get invitations to hang out, it is pandemic friendly obviously. But I actually feel like I have better more meaningful conversations. And I’m obviously remembering them and then I can be a better friend because I’m following up. And I’m a better spouse because we can have really, really good present conversations. So yeah, I think I’m still fun.
Sherry: I ask because I think a lot of people are afraid of doing this journey because alcohol has meant so much to them. And it has been that fun component, or that’s how I let loose, or that’s how I do the off button. But I just want people to know really that that’s just fear talking in our brains and it’s not really truth because when people do get to the other side and they do feel in control. I think that feels fun. I think that feels powerful. And nobody else seems to care. They’re on their own journey and our decisions don’t have to impact theirs.
And if we just show up still lovingly we can show up I think more powerfully, like you were saying, remembering conversations, following up with people, having more meaningful deeper conversations. And I really think that is a gift to ourselves, a gift to the friendship, a gift to the relationship. And I think that’s a lot of fun.
Ann: I do too.
Sherry: So the final question that I have is, you know, my word of the year is always about inspiring. Is there any advice or anything you want to leave the listeners with, that’s a tip or anything to think about for their journey?
Ann: Yes. If you are struggling, if you are beating yourself please, please, please, please get into the program and do the work. You will be surprised about what you learn about yourself and your thoughts around alcohol. It is hard to look inward but for real change you really need to. And here’s the key message, you are strong, you are so worth it and you deserve this time for yourself because it’s going to make you better inside and out. And just go for it.
Sherry: That’s so good. Yeah, any work I feel that we do on ourselves, any time that we invest in our physical health, our mental health, our emotional health, spiritual health, I think we just get so much benefit from that. It just reaps rewards in every area of our life. So I think doing this inner work is so key to living a fulfilled, and I’m able to appreciate my life more when I look inside and see. And it’s not like we’re fixing ourselves, we’re not broken, we’re just understanding ourselves.
And if we want to make habits and change them we have the power to do that and we just need to see what’s stopping us and getting in the way. And I think for a lot of women and you mentioned it as well, it’s the shame, it’s feeling alone, it’s no one else is experiencing this, or it’s just happening to me, or why can’t I figure it out? I’m smart and successful in all these other areas, this should come easy to me or natural to me because I get it in all the other areas.
But asking for help, or reaching out, or finding a system or a program that works for you I think can really set you free so you’re not cycling and just redoing the habit, and not feeling like you’re making sustainable progress and change.
Well, Ann, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. This has been awesome. I know the listeners; we can resonate with your story and our story. And really hope that they can take a piece of your journey with them as they’re exploring and going on their journey too with Drink Less Lifestyle. Thank you so much.
Ann: Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure to be here and I really appreciate all the work you’ve done in helping me and in the program. So thank you so much.
Sherry: You’re welcome.
Alright listeners, that’s a wrap on today’s episode. I will see you next week.
Thanks for listening to Drink Less Lifestyle. If you’re ready to change your relationship with drinking now check out the free guide, How to Effectively Break the Overdrinking Habit at sherryprice.com/startnow. See you next week.