Voiceover: Welcome to the Options Save Lives weekly live stream, where we spend an hour each week exploring life improving topics through the lens of alcohol recovery, and the Sinclair Method. Every week we take on a new question, topic or common challenge to empower people to either build a better relationship with alcohol, or to eliminate it completely. Episodes are filmed live on Twitch at twitch.tv/cthreefoundation, and the audience is encouraged to ask questions and engage with the host and guests. The Options Save Lives weekly stream is hosted by Executive Director Jenny Williamson, and is produced by the C Three Foundation with the support of R Street Institute and other generous sponsors. For more information about the C Three Foundation, or the Sinclair Method, visit our website at cthreefoundation.org.
Jenny: Hello, everyone, how are you today? Thanks for tuning into the Options Save Lives weekly live stream. As always, I'm Jenny Williamson, Executive Director at the C Three Foundation and your host for the next hour. How is everybody today? We are broadcasting live from the C Three office here in Fort Myers, Florida. Where are you guys watching from? Let us know in the chat, and if you are a first timer to the stream, welcome. Make sure you pop in and say “Hello.”
This week we're going to talk about Dry January with Moderation Management's Mary Reid. How many of you out there in our live audience are doing Dry January this year? Alright, well I see our normal people are out there in the audience. Thanks a lot. So we are thrilled to have Mary with us today, because for some reason, there are a lot of misconceptions about the compatibility of alcohol free challenges like Dry January, with harm reduction in moderation modalities like the Sinclair Method. So we hope that by the time our hour is up today that you'll understand how Dry January, the Sinclair Method and Moderation Management can all be combined to help you reach your alcohol reduction, moderation or elimination goals. So how many of you out there have some questions or experience with Dry January or Moderation Management before we begin? So if you do, go ahead and put those questions in the chat area as soon as you have them, and we will go through them all, as many as we can, at the Q&A at the end.
So before we dive in, let me go ahead and introduce our guest today. Mary Reid is the Executive Director of Moderation Management Network, a peer support community that supports its members in their choice to change their relationship with alcohol, whether that be by pursuing moderation or abstinence for a period of time. Moderation Management hosts dryuary.org every January for anyone who wants to take a break from drinking for the month. So Mary first reached out to C Three about three and a half years ago. Since then, Claudia has been a guest for at least one of Moderation Management's events and we've been looking for the right opportunity to include Mary on one of our broadcasts. So we are thrilled that you're here today, Mary. Go ahead and say “Hi,” and we can make sure that our audience can hear you.
Mary: Hi everybody, and I'm thrilled to be here. It’s nice to meet Jenny face to face and connect with you guys.
Jenny: So before we get in, one of the staples of our show is to start with an easy little icebreaker. So Mary, what is your favorite thing about January or the beginning of a new year?
Mary: I think it's all the possibilities of the, the coming year, you know. I think, you know I've done away with the resolution thing for years, but I’m always looking for growth, and it's always just kind of fun to sit there and consider the changes you want to make in the next year. One of the biggest tools for me when I first started changing, trying to change my relationship with alcohol, is to, I wrote down a description, word description, of who I wanted to be at five years from then, and I didn't. That description didn't come true, but it got me going. So I think it's always fun to look ahead, or exciting.
Jenny: Yeah, one of the things that I love about January and a new year is basically, just from a standpoint of working in the nonprofit field is, November and December, the end of the year, is absolutely chaotic in nonprofit work. And I imagine with Dry January, yours probably continues all throughout the month as well with it being the busiest time, or a very busy time for you. So January for me, a lot of people are running headlong into their new ideas and goals. For me it's a time to kind of sit back and finally take a breath. I'm a planner, so I like to, that's when I like to sit down and just say “Okay, what am I going to do now?” And that's when I start making my lists and everything else, so I kind of shift mine a month beyond, but like you I stopped doing New Year's resolutions quite a while back. That's literally the only New Year's Resolution I've ever kept was to never do one again.
Mary: There you go.
Jenny: So why don't you start off, Mary, by telling us a little bit of a history of Dry January.
Mary: Well, the Dry January campaigns or the Dry Month campaigns actually started over in the UK, I believe about 10 years ago, 2012. I am not really sure when MM got involved in it and it kind of was, it doesn't make much sense for a program that supports people who want to moderate to do a dry month campaign. But the way it happened is that one of our board members saw the great response the UK was having, and Australia, and said, “Let's bring this over to the US.” And he didn't really have the resources. I'm not sure we had the resources, but he asked for our help in basically writing the daily posts, getting the word out, setting up the website, and so we did. And actually the first few years, I finally got involved either in 2014, 2015, I'm not sure, we weren't even really allowed to say, mention MM. And I know you guys probably all have your little catchphrases and terms that you use. We couldn't use any of ours like ab scene or modding, because it was supposed to be totally separate from Moderation Management. And it was supposed to be modeled after the ones in the UK which is really a government driven campaign to, not necessarily focused where people identify with having a problem with alcohol, just an alcohol based campaign, but also to raise funds for cancer research or cancer hospitals. So that's how it started out with MM. And it was kind of like, Okay, we're gonna all act like we don't have a drinking problem. We're not concerned about it. We're gonna make this fun and light and just get people to take a break. It has never really taken off in the US with that focus, and our members came to rely on it as a month for a break from alcohol. So we've kind of evolved to where it is basically focused for people that are concerned about their drinking either for the last few months during the holiday season, or as it's grown through COVID and they just want a break. So we do address the people that are concerned about their drinking and want to break from drinking. They want to build the benefits of taking a break.
Jenny: Well, you actually answered my next questions which were: How long have you been involved in it? And how they've changed and grown over the years? So that's great. It says we're on the same page for what we want to really talk about here. So some people are just starting to reduce their alcohol consumption, and they might find a full Dry January a little bit overwhelming. So why don't we talk a little bit about ways that they can still take part in Dry January, but in a way that's more manageable. Maybe even if that means shifting a little bit to more of a like a “damp” January. So tell me about your experience since you've got what is that like six, eight years now, of doing this, in helping people ease in when they feel like an entire month may be overwhelming.
Mary: Okay. I see this as kind of follow the same evolution that MM has. As many people that have ever known about MM for years, there used to be a real hard line about, you, to join MM, you've got to get 30 days abstinence first, you know, and if you can't do that, then probably MM is not for you. That kept me from joining MM for like 20 years.
Mary: And we never want anybody to do that, you know. So the same thing was with Dryuary when it started, it was supposed to be a strictly abstinence program, and if a person chooses it, every individual knows himself. So if you're an individual that sets yourself up, says “I have a goal and I have to meet that 100%,” then go for it, you know. But we do have a lot of people that are going through what we call the dryer January, and we wouldn't want anybody to miss out on the benefits of Dryuary because they've got a birthday coming up, they've got a wedding coming up, or they just slipped one night, and they say “Okay, now I can't do Dryuary because, you know, I had a drink. Now I'm off. I'm gonna unsubscribe. I'm not gonna enjoy any of the rest of the benefits. I'm just gonna say forget it.” So, you know, you'll find that it's relaxed quite a bit through the years, and that you will find people on there that are, plan to have a drink at some point, or ones that have already slipped and said, “Oh, I feel so bad.” And it's like, Okay, you make the decision. You make the decision on whether you want to continue and try to get more dry days in and how it's going to benefit you, or whether you want to pursue a different path. So it's really up to the individual and how hard they are on themselves. And we try to encourage them not to be that hard on themselves, to be forgiving. And of course anyone that's been drinking daily or heavily daily shouldn't do Dryuary. I mean shouldn't, unless they've kind of done a taper off or got to a point where they're comfortable, then it's dangerous. So it's really both basically a month to try to do the best you can, to try to get what benefits you can out of it, no matter whether you're 100% successful or not.
Jenny: And there's a resilience factor in that as well in the sense that if you are, if you're giving it a shot, and you slip up, or whether it's a slip up or whether it's an event and you're like, “you know what, I'm just going to drink today.” Being able to then turn around and say “Okay, yeah, my plan was 30 days abstinent, but I had a drink or two yesterday. I still have three weeks left in the month.” Let's talk a little bit about the benefit of remembering that resilience and building that resilience to be able to say, “Okay, I wasn't perfect, but I can still move forward.”
Mary: And you can still so get the confidence in yourself from it. You know, even the big campaigns like in the UK, they give out what's called golden tickets or golden coupons. So if somebody has a plan to drink that month, they donate another $25 or a golden coupon, you know, and that kind of relieves some of that guilt and is going to a good cause. So we said that in our first post for Dryuary this year. If you want to, if you plan to have a drink this month, if you're going to still beat yourself up about it, and you want to feel, give a donation to your favorite charity or MM or whether that be C Three Foundation, if that helps relieve some of the guilt that you're feeling. But, you know, I think we all can make sense of, okay, if I slip up once, if I slip up twice and I still get 28 days, there's a lot of benefit in that. We've got a lot, probably had 10 people sign up today who said “Okay, I didn't think I was going to do this, but I want to do it now,” and that's fine.
Jenny: Yeah, it's never too late to start.
Jenny: And there's such a benefit in challenging yourself to see where you're at as well. And that's something that, maybe you're not there, but maybe you are and you haven't given yourself enough credit. So, in your opinion, what are some of the most important tools people need to be successful during Dry January.
Mary: I think they have to have a plan, and don't underestimate how large a presence alcohol is in our lives. You know, we all think we're going to be able to go, and go about our daily processes, you know, do our daily routines, and we'll just cut out alcohol. And the biggest thing that people find out is that, all of a sudden they're there, and they don't know what to do with themselves without drinking. They don't cook, they've never cooked without drinking, having a glass of wine. They’ve never sat down and played a game with the kids, or they've never watched a Netflix show without sitting there with a drink. So it is, don't underestimate that, it's big and it takes a while to actually fill those hours. You think well, I'm busy anyway, but you'll be surprised at how much alcohol slows us down and takes time away from us that we don't realize. And I know when, I actually, through MM, I abstained for eight years and when I first decided to abstain for the foreseeable future, I filled every minute of every day. It was almost like a frantic thing in a manic, okay today at 9:10 I'm going to do this and at 9:15 I'm doing this, and for me that was kind of necessary, but it got exhausting, but it was necessary at first. And after a while you're able to relax that and kind of just enjoy feeling normal with that and doing your normal things without alcohol. Another thing to really consider is that the first week is usually uncomfortable for people, because of the urges, not necessarily because of withdrawals, but sleep seems to be the biggest problem people have, is finding out how to sleep without having those drinks to get them to sleep. And we've just today before I came on here, a lady was like, yesterday she'd written us, “Oh my God, I can't stand it. You know, I can't sleep. Will this just go away?” and I said “Well tonight.” She woke up today and she said, “Oh my God, I feel great.” So, funny thing is that usually sleep is what will cause a lot of people to break their commitment on Dryuary, because they’ve just got to get to sleep, and they don't know any other way to do it.
Jenny: Now we have a lot of people that watch our streams and are trying to help friends and family members who are on the Sinclair Method. And so, can you talk a little bit about how having somebody in your support system do Dry January with you, what are the benefits of that for both?
Mary: I think, you know, we often have couples that do it together, and that's always good, because it takes away that temptation you have from your partner sitting there saying, “Well, it's five o'clock and I'm going to have my glass of wine” and you're not having yours, and that is a big problem for some people. Also when you're wavering, you have somebody to turn to and say, “Yeah, I'm feeling weak about it,” you know, “accountabili-buddy,” and hopefully they will, hopefully they'll say, “Okay, you can do this. We can do this. We're doing this together” and hopefully they won't say, “We're feeling weak too, let's just have one.” No, but I think it does help, and I think also it takes away if you do it in a collective group, as when you sign up for Dryuary, and as more people become aware of the Dry January campaigns, you can sit there and tell people that are asking you, your friends, and they're saying, “I'm having a party tonight” and you say “Well I'm not drinking,” and they say “Why?” it takes away some of that stigma that we're all are always worried about, you know. When they, when we say, well we're not drinking or we're slowing down and people automatically say, “Oh my God, you have a drinking problem” or “I don't want to hang around with you anymore,” if you can say I'm doing Dry January because I’m gonna, you know, donate all the money that I saved to charity or I just want to get a healthy start, it takes away some of that pressure.
Jenny: And I mean one of the things that we see especially as a benefit to support systems, is a lot of times the member of the relationship who does not struggle with alcohol can build a little bit of empathy toward their loved one, because they start noticing then when they might have just randomly grabbed for alcohol. And it's, I've always thought, as someone who has been blessed to have not become addicted through my dangerous drinking years, that I'm lucky that I didn't become addicted. But if it can be difficult for me as someone who is not addicted to say, “Oh wait, no, I made a commitment not to drink,” then how much more difficult is that for somebody who physically, chemically became addicted to alcohol? So it's an empathy builder, as well, that can help people to understand where their loved one is coming from and the struggles that they're going through. So we've always tried to encourage loved ones to try to step alongside those alcohol free challenges with their loved one on the Sinclair Method for that.
Mary: And I think another advantage to that is, you know, so often, when someone's in a relationship with somebody that has problem drinking or is addicted, and it’s causing problems in the relationship, and it's causing problems in that other person's personal life, you know, it affects everybody around us. It's so easy to sit there and say “Just quit, go to AA, just quit.” But they've never experienced what life is with, like with somebody that is not drinking at all. That their lives are going to have to change, too. That their circle of friends will change, that their social activities will change, you know, and they just say, “Okay, if you quit drinking, all our problems will be solved.” And that's just not the truth, you know, there are new problems that come along with it.
Jenny: It would be wonderful if it were that easy.
Mary: So yeah, so it's kind of like a trial. It's like, okay, you want me to quit drinking, let's do this for a month and let's see how, how you feel about it after that.
Jenny: And you mentioned sleep, but what other kind of struggles or stumbling blocks do you see that people have to prepare for that can pop up for people trying to do Dry January the first time?
Mary: Again, the social, you know, the social interactions. Some people feel like, some people are really uncomfortable that they cannot be around anybody that's drinking or around alcohol or have alcohol in the house or socialize at all with their friends, because they're not drinking. Luckily, I never had that problem. I knew when I quit for that period that my husband still drank daily, all my friends drank and I like bars. And so I knew that was going to be part of my recovery. But it is, that is a problem for some, so they feel isolated. Boredom is probably a big thing, because as I said, not only do you not know what to do when you're not drinking, everything's gonna feel kind of flat for a while, you know. Drinking enhances our feelings and so the good feelings and the bad feelings, so it makes everything a little more interesting, and it takes a while to get back to that normal sense of feeling, and actually feeling. It's kind of a shock the first time you really laugh when you're not drinking, you know, it's like, it's so different and it feels so good, or to feel really like joy that’s not brought about by drinking. But the other part of that, the down part of that, is that sometimes it's really hard to feel anything, you know, you just feel flat.
Jenny: And how would someone plan for that feeling to be able to deal with it?
Mary: Oh, gosh, I think, first of all, it's about plan before you actually start the campaign. Before you start Dryuary, kind of start making your plans for what you want to do that month that you wouldn't be able to do if you were drinking. Maybe an interest that you used to have that has gone away, because you're spending too much time drinking. Try to actually maybe do a little more self-exploration, self-care. For me, the biggest thing that really helped me, I love routines, I love rituals, so I built rituals around not drinking. I loved my nightly ritual. Some people meditate. Some people, I’m a Catholic, I do my rosary, which is kind of a meditation, but it's my one hour a day where I'm sat and quiet. That became something that I didn't want to give up to drinking again, you know, that I didn't want to lose once I started moderating and drinking again. And it's an incentive to stay within my limits. So it's, it's to make it to explore, I would say exploration, to make it an adventure, to make an exploration of yourself and what you enjoy outside of drinking.
Jenny: And what do you find are some of the top benefits that people have from doing Dry January?
Mary: Once the sleep thing gets figured out in the first week, they love the sleep. That's one thing that everybody's usually really surprised by how much better they sleep. The mood, you know, alcohol is a depressant. And even if you're moderating, I can tell when I moderate, if I drink three days in a row, my mood is lower, you know and so mood’s better. You, even people today are already recording after our seventh day, that they can feel a difference in their mood. And just, it just, we never really quite realize until it's gone, how much more difficult alcohol drinking makes everything in life. You know, you wake up and you're tired and it makes getting to going to work harder, you're kind of fuzzy. So it makes doing the things that work harder. So it's kind of like a relief to just kind of set it aside for a while.
Jenny: Alright, and what kind of advice do you have for people once January ends? Like, what then?
Mary: Well, one benefit I was gonna mention that, when you asked about that, that they are showing, studies are showing that the people that do Dryuary do tend to reduce their drinking further on in the year. There's been several articles about that, you know, that it carries over, and we hear a lot of people say that it starts to escalate again, once a holiday season comes around, or, you know, when stressors come. Everybody's been stressed with COVID, so that escalates but really to make your plan. Take this month when you're clear headed and you're feeling those benefits and you don't want to lose them. Start making a plan about how am I going to do this? How am I going to not lose this when I drank? How much do I want to drink and maybe start looking for other support options like C Three Foundation or Moderate or any of the programs out there that will help you.
Jenny: So why do you think that there is still a misconception that harm reduction in moderation is incompatible with alcohol free challenges like this.
Mary: I don't really know. I mean, I think because the people that are pursuing harm reduction and moderation are afraid of being abstinent. So there's that fear, And then there's a fear of failure. So they say “Well, I'm not going to do that because I don't want to abstain to begin with.” And so they're not going to set themselves up for success. But, you know, as I said earlier, when I joined MM which is probably 12 years ago, 30 was a big deal, and if you couldn't do a 30-day abstinence, you shouldn’t be in MM, and it kept me from joining for decades. And so then I thought, well, I've gotta have some help, and I'm not ready to abstain, and so I'm just going to join MM. I don't know if I thought that people were gonna knock on my door to see if I was drinking or what. I'm just not gonna tell anybody I'm not doing a 30. And so I joined and I had no intention of ever doing a 30-day abstinent period and then about a month after I was there, somebody said “Would you buddy up with me?” and I thought, Oh, okay. So I did and I didn't make it and I made it 20 plus days or so. And so okay, now I'm gonna moderate and I did that over and over for a year. I’d moderate for maybe 10 days successfully and then I’d go right back to my old drinking habits which was daily, heavy drinking. And then I’d say okay, now I'm going to do a 30, and it was just a rinse and repeat over and over for a year. Probably tried six, at least six different 30s. Always made it to 20 days or so but never succeeded. So at the end of the year, I felt like a total failure. I couldn't moderate. I couldn't get a 30. But I'd kept track of how many abstinent days I had, and I had, because I tried, because I didn't succeed at 30s and kept trying, I had an abstinence over 66% of the year and this was somebody who was a daily, heavy drinker, that didn't even count wine as drinking. It was only the hard liquor that counted. And I thought well, I can do this and so I had lost my fear of abstinence. So I think that is literally why there is some hesitation to push abstinent periods on people that are just trying to moderate, harm reduction.
Jenny: You said something that I have seen over and over again in people using the Sinclair Method. You said at the end of your year, you felt like a failure. You felt like you had just failed every time you tried to do something, and you felt miserable about yourself. And then you go back and you see that you had a 66%, two thirds of the year you were actually succeeding, whereas if you hadn't tried it wouldn't have, it would have been zero.
Mary: Right, exactly.
Jenny: And it's always amazing to me how the human mind works. We are so bad at looking at large spans of time. And we are also very bad at recognizing our own successes. We're such our own worst critic. And you tracking those alcohol free days, very similar to what we do, is we have people on the Sinclair Method track their drinks, and so it's data that just exists. It's neither good nor bad, but it can tell you objectively how you've done. And you were able to turn from feeling like a failure and feeling like you had not succeeded at what you were trying to do or even making yourself better along the way, to look at the data and say “Oh, wow!”
Mary: I know. It was a surprise, and I hate tracking actually. And I don't have any of the apps or anything, but when I did that year was really simple. I just got a paper calendar and wrote abstinence, A for abstinent, M for moderate or D for drunk. And that was my simple thing and I counted it up. And that’s what we do also, we do also what's called a kickstart moderation program, an introduction to moderation tools, and the first week is really just establishing a baseline and tracking. While tracking will help you, make you more mindful and will help in itself reduce your drinking because you're recognizing that, but also it's a better testimony than your own memory. Yeah, you're right, we're such critics. We always think about our failures, and that we were not 100%, so we're a failure.
Jenny: Right. And that goes across really any kind of behavioral change, you know, it's not specific to substance use. It's exercising, it’s eating better, it’s, you know, trying to build a sleep routine, anything that you're trying to change, it seems that that theme really is pretty consistent. It's hard, and we tend to look at our most recent shortcomings as being encapsulate of our entire journey when they're not.
Mary: Right. And we're taking, you know, yeah, we’re so unsympathetic to ourselves, and we're sympathetic and empathetic to others, you know. We're taking that lifelong, most of us have this habit for 10, 20, 30 years, especially in our generation and my generation anyway where you were told that if you're going to do anything about your drinking, you have to abstain. If you're worried, you have to abstain. So we didn't do anything until we were in our 40s, 50s. Still most interests that we get at MM and the most clicks we get on links are women who are in their 60s and above, so hopefully that will change to where we get people coming in younger, you know, and we're offering them something other than abstinence as the only solution. Um, so I lost track of my original question. There she goes, off track.
Jenny: That's fine. Audience, if you guys have any questions or comments, please make sure you get those into the chat area. Yes, there are a lot more people out there than normal, but you're all being kind of quiet today. So I know you're all enthralled with what we're talking about, but definitely add some questions and comments in there, because we're going to get to our Q&A in about 10 minutes or so, and love to get you guys involved.
Mary: One thing I want to bring up also Jenny,
Mary: is that for some people, for someone that has been drinking daily and whether it's heavy or not, you know, abstinence, like you said, you know, what's the negative thing or who shouldn't do Dryuary? You know, for a lot of us, abstinence, even one-day abstinence, is really too big a step to take as a first step. I know, I was one of those people that woke up every day with a hangover and said “I'm not drinking today” and by four o'clock of course I was drinking or earlier. And that's too big a step for a lot of us. So it's really important to say if you're going to go into Dryuary and if it's just going to make you feel bad about yourself, choose another solution, you know, choose, just choose a step that you can take. We usually like to call it the power of one tool, you know, what is one step that you can take right now? Can you delay drinking by one hour? Can you drink one drink less? Can you make each drink last an hour? Do something that you can do so you build on success. So if Dryuary, you just feel like I've got to do this because I want immediate change, and then if you don't make it past four days, if you don't make it to the first day, you're beating yourself up and that's not the right choice for you.
Jenny: You know, we actually wrote kind of an article for TSM people to gauge where they're at and what they can do, and that article gets a lot of traction every year. But it’s pretty much the same thing, is if you don't, if you're not having any alcohol free days at all, trying to go jump from zero to 30 is, it can actually be dangerous.
Mary: Right. Exactly.
Jenny: It can be very dangerous. But if you've been, if you've already reduced your drinking by half of what you were before you started doing anything at all, and you're working in alcohol free days here or there, even if you just try an alcohol free weekend to start, or an alcohol free week, or maybe, you know what, you're just a little tentative because it's January, we've already got started, you're not really sure and you want to go do dry February instead, you know you can literally do these 30 day challenges and alcohol free challenge any day, any time. And I love listening to you talk about some of the hints and compromises along the way for people who find it overwhelming. A lot of these are the exact same tips that we give people who are on the Sinclair Method for trying to even work in their first alcohol free day, you know, delay 15 minutes a day until you're delaying several hours. Just keep adding as it feels comfortable. So let's talk a bit about why somebody on Moderation Management may want to also check out the Sinclair Method and vice versa, because really the two are so compatible for anyone who doesn't have absolute sobriety as their final goal.
Mary: Right, and we have several people that are using naltrexone either as the Sinclair Method or on a daily basis depending on who's prescribing it for them. You know, there is no one solution for everybody. One thing I have found out, especially now that there are more moderation supportive groups out there. It used to be we were the only game in town and then the HARMS came up, HAMS came along or, you know, developed, and it was always just moderation just isn't possible. But now in the last five years, or maybe more, you've seen so much more moderation support. That there's a bunch of groups out there and what I have found like, we're not in competition with each other, at least I don't feel we are and I know the people that I work with, like you and our sponsors who all have their own programs, we're not in competition. We realize that when you're struggling with alcohol, you're gonna try anything that's out there. You want help, and you're going to find something or you're going to find a combination of programs that work for you, and that's all we want. We want, if we're the doorway to where you find help otherwise, whether that be through medication assisted moderation or abstinence, or if that even brings you to a different moderating group, moderation group. Good. I mean, the purpose is to help people become healthier and happier with themselves, and whether that's from us or anybody else. So how do we work together? You know, we have several people, like I said, that are using naltrexone as part of their recovery, or other medications. We always say we are not the resource. We are not a Sinclair Method group. I always refer them over to your page, you know, but they support each other, you know. They'll get a thread going, especially on our Facebook group, about, you know, how, what's working for them. They'll find each other and you can never have too much support in your corner.
Jenny: Absolutely. I mean, as I read this in one of our support groups years ago and it stuck with me. You can't build a house with just a hammer. You need a full box of tools. And for me, what I have seen over the years is that so many people who have a goal of being, I mean they use the term normal drinker, but I don't actually think that such a thing really exists. I don't think they're, normal is too vague. But when people want to just be able to drink from time to time and only have one maybe once or twice a month or some people once or twice a year, just using medication only works with the biological and neurological connections. It doesn't address habits. It doesn't address triggers. And so, working with other tools such as Moderation Management, can help work on those other aspects. I think of it more as a self-help, just personal growth type of situation, which let's face it, there's no stigma that is attached to personal growth and self-improvement. So it's also a great way to frame it in your mind. You're making yourself closer to being the person that you want to be. It's personal growth and self-help. So, why don't you tell everybody a little bit more about some of the tools that Moderation Management helps people to develop, to be successful in recovery.
Mary: Okay. Well, when I joined MM I was drawn to it, because it kind of let me design my own recovery. I didn't want anybody to say you have to do this, and then you have to do this step, and you have to do this step. And I am not critical of AA. It's helped a lot of people. It's helped a lot of people in my family. I really actually like most of its beliefs and everything, but the, I didn’t want to go to meetings. And so I knew it wouldn't work for me because that is the core of their program is the meetings, and so, and I knew I probably needed to abstain at the time. So MM is kind of a self-guided peer support program. But I also realized when I was struggling with alcohol there were times I wanted somebody to say you need to do this and then this, and then this. So we came up with a program about a couple years ago called Kickstart Moderation, which just basically is four weeks learning tools and tasks and different strategies to moderate and actually forming a community, and I think probably our biggest tool is our community. And as you said, you know, that stretches, you can be a member of more than one community, you know, and then you can bring the things that you learn from C Three Foundation over to us over at MM and vice versa, and we learn from each other. So I think that's our biggest tool, not only for accountability, but also to have that support and have somebody that understands us, that understands what we're going through. You know, it's kind of like a positive Me Too movement when you hear somebody's story, and you're going Oh, me too. You know, I've always been afraid to express that or tell my story, because you know, how bad I feel about it. So that I think community is our biggest tool. The other thing we just did, there's just some really, you know, common sense tools that we use, you know, like you said, they're reduce a little bit at a time, take a step that you can, become accountable in some way. Accountability was a big tool for me. Just saying I was going to do something to a group of people, when I couldn't say that to, like my friends, say I'm not going to drink and they're on point, “Oh, come on.” So you have that support there. We have meetings. We have daily meetings, several a day. And that has grown a lot. I’m sure you guys have seen that growth through to COVID that Zoom has been our best friend. So we, a lot of people love their meetings, they depend on that. As you guys know, that I like maybe I didn't want to go to meetings, but now I do, but that that took a while. So I think that really our community is our biggest tool.
Jenny: That sounds wonderful. We've got a comment in the audience, about a friend who does Dry January in Movember when her husband attempts to grow his mustache.
Mary: Okay, I guess they can support each other in that. No shaving and no drinking.
Jenny: Hey, whatever works.
Mary: Right. Exactly.
Jenny: So in fact, next week, we're going to be talking, our special guest is coming in to talk about shifting habits, and so I know we do a lot of talk at C Three, talking about making habits manageable. Changing them slowly by replacing them without trying to overhaul everything and go from zero to 120 miles an hour, in a blink of an eye.
Mary: We use what's called, we call it a divorce tool. You know, we have some, like we brought up cooking. A lot of people think I haven't cooked a meal in years, you know, without having a glass of wine or something. And you know, it's like divorce just one thing from drinking, you know, and you know, whether that's coming in the minute you get in the house and going for a beer, get a glass or, you know, get a bottle of water instead. Just that one thing, just break that one little routine that you have.
Jenny: So what do you think about all of the, now there are like craft brewers who do non-alcoholic beers that are also jumping in on the Dry January theme and doing like Dry January packs of NA beers. Have you seen that?
Mary: I think it's wonderful. I wish I was a beer drinker. I wish they would come up with a good NA wine. We're still in search of that holy grail. Nobody’s found one yet.
Jenny: Yeah, I keep seeing that. I've never been, I was never really a wine drinker to begin with, so looking for NA wines has never been something that I have wanted to do. But when I was drinking, I was drinking largely craft beers, because I loved the uniqueness. I liked trying the different styles from the different breweries, and so I love that the NA beer industry is really starting to take off in that niche. But everybody who puts anything in about wine, they're all almost always, I would say 99 out of 100 of them are, “Well I gave it a try and it was lackluster.”
Mary: But the NA beers have been a great tool for people that are beer drinkers, you know, and I've heard lots of them say they like them even better taste wise than their regular beers. So, you know, we had one man who did Dryuary, I think last year was his first year, and really relied on NA beers, and after that, he's gone abstinent now. And he just, he found that he could, and he worked for the alcohol industry. He was big up in the alcohol industry. So it is a great tool. And you know there are some actually other liquors out there. I think the NA gin and stuff and tequila by Ritual. I hear those are pretty good.
Jenny: I haven't tried that yet, but the thing that I do miss about drinking alcohol was tequila, so I'm almost, I'm afraid to try the Ritual tequila because I’m just afraid that I'm going to be disappointed. And so I've just really dragged my feet on it and just stuck with the NA beers. We've got one of our commenters from the audience who's in the UK says that they love Dry January because the supermarkets in the UK put the alcohol free options first and foremost, making them easier to find.
Mary: Yeah, because they are hard to find in a liquor store. I live in a really small town in Colorado most of the time, and I was really surprised one day when I walked in. I mean this is a, is probably smaller than most people's closets, walk in closets. And on the counter there was a six pack or four pack, however they come, of WellBeing. Yeah and so I’m like wow, that's cool, ya know, so otherwise you have to go ask for them.
Jenny: And we have a first time chatter out there that says “I tried the Sinclair Method for a year and unfortunately it didn't work for me. I found Moderation Management a year ago and it has changed my life. So I'm grateful for both. Mary is an amazing, hard working woman and MM is blessed to have her.
Mary: Thank you. Ah, there's that one fan I paid to come.
Jenny: Well, they're doing a good job then.
Mary: That’s right. She earned it, or he earned it whatever. That was great.
Jenny: Yeah, so yeah, I mean, I also, I mean I stopped drinking for health reasons, but I've, it's funny, when I first started with C Three what I, my first year I did a personal what I called a one and done challenge. I just wanted to, I did it for two reasons. One, I wanted to just build empathy. If I, as somebody without an addiction, had a hard time saying no to the second glass, then it caused me to think okay, so people with an addiction, of course, they're going to have a much harder time, but also because it ended up being a great conversation starter. “Oh, how come you're only having one tonight?” And so it allowed me to then talk about the work that I do and stuff like that. But yeah, I definitely am glad to see more non-alcoholic options out there now that I've stopped drinking, and love that they're actually beyond what O’Douls used to be. They're no longer just that one alcohol free beer that you'd have begrudgingly and not enjoy.
Mary: I was a Jack Daniels drinker for decades, and, my god, if they would come up with a Jack Daniels, you know, there's just you get your favorite tastes, but I don't want to trigger anybody or anything. But, you know, you talk about the one and done and yeah, that's the other thing about beating ourselves up. I think one thing I've really seen in the last few years is also a lot more books that have come out that explain the physiological effects that alcohol has and what it does to us and why we have such a problem saying no to that second or third drink. You know, and not with the bent that it’s okay, if you're feeling this way, you should abstain. It's just the way it is. It's the chemical properties of alcohol is going to make us want more, and so you got to respect that instead of just sitting there saying, “I'm just too weak. I'm such a weak person. I cannot turn.” There's the other story, we always tell ourselves that becomes a truth. “Once I start, I can't stop.” Well, yes you can, but you've got to learn how to put the mechanisms in place to allow that to happen. You can't do shots, you know, you can’t do shots, one shot right after the other and then stop. I mean, I'm sure there are some people that can do shots and have one shot and stuff. I was never a shot person, but it seems to be lethal. But it's, you have to learn about the power that alcohol has over us, physiologically.
Jenny: And I just saw an article a couple weeks ago that they did a study where women in particular can be driven to over drink by stress alone, whereas for the most part, men have to already be drinking, for stress to cause them to over drink.
Jenny: So sometimes just knowing also the differences in physiology can also help, because you know what to look for. Knowing what the risks are helps you look for different things. We see people also who aren't aware that if they've had certain weight loss surgery, that can make them a higher risk for developing alcohol use disorder. So it's like, the more proactive a person can be in trying to use moderating tools, whether that's with or without the assistance of medication, the more proactive you are, the better your chances of success are. Or at least you'll get to a success faster, because you haven't let yourself fall down the rabbit hole by constantly telling yourself what a failure you are.
Mary: And I think another thing about some advantages that are probably also a detriment to trying hard for abstinent periods is that we all have learned to use alcohol as a stress reduction as basically a bottle, open the bottle and it does whatever we want it to do. Reduces our stress, relaxes us and makes us happier. And that's probably one of the hard things when you're in an abstinent period is to realize some of these feelings are normal. You know, it's normal to be nervous before like a meeting like this. It's, and we’ve just always dulled those feelings, and we've got to learn how to live with those feelings again and recognize what is normal and what is actually an amped up feeling, what is too much anxiety that needs to be dealt with. Because anyway for me, who drank from the time I was fourteen, that I didn't really know that that was all normal feelings. You know, they were always bad. If I felt nervous, that's a bad feeling. Do something about it. If I felt anxious, if I felt worried, that's a bad feeling, do something about it. Get rid of it. Some of that's just part of living.
Jenny: Absolutely. It is absolutely just a part of living and it's just normal that in any situation, if you don't feel good in the situation, you want to change that. It's just that we've, you know, from the time we see television and hear radio, we’re inundated with the advertisements that tell us that alcohol is the fix for those feelings.
Mary: For everything. Right. Right.
Jenny: Well, we are almost out of time. So audience, get any last minute questions or comments in, and Mary, so what's one thing you'd like to leave the audience with today?
Mary: I would like to leave them with, you know, if you are interested in Dryuary at all or abstaining or moderation, don't let it scare you. Don't be afraid. Don't, you know, I heard so often. Like, “I'm afraid I'll fail.” If you fail, so what? How is that going to be different than where you are right now? And if you get one abstinent day, is that an improvement? If you just read the post, if you just join the community and lurk and maybe you'll be ready for it next year or maybe you'll be ready next month or in June. You know, if it just gets you to where you start working towards it, you start losing your fear of trying something new, that will change your relationship.
Jenny: All right, well, we are almost out of time. Audience, you have been wonderful as always. Thank you for spending the last hour with us. Are you guys inspired to take on the rest of January for a dry January now? I hope so. So audience, go ahead and fill that chat area with some gratitude for today's guest. I hope that you found as much value in this discussion as I have. If you came in late or if you want to share or watch the stream again, we will have today's video up on our website, YouTube, Vimeo, Anchor and Spotify, all hopefully by the end of today. And as soon as we're able to, we'll add the transcripts and closed captioning as well.
Next week, we're going to be joined by Katie Lain from Embody Daily and the newly created Thrive community. And we're going to talk a bit about shifting habits, so start thinking about those questions now. If you found value in this broadcast, we hope you'll hit the donate button in our profile or head to our website to make a donation at cthreefoundation.org/donate. You can follow our channel to get broadcast alerts and subscribe to our channel to go ad free and to get some bonus emoji to use. If you're an Amazon Prime member, you can subscribe to our channel for free. You can also send gifts subscriptions to other viewers, cheer, drop bits, host our channel, etc. If you'd like to suggest a guest or topic for a future broadcast, we've got a link to a Google form that has been dropping in the chat and is also on our main Schedule page. If you're on the Sinclair Method, and you're looking for more peer support, or you just want to join the C Three Foundation community, we've got you covered with groups on Facebook, Discord and the Options Save Lives forum. And I will make sure that when we post our video for today's episode that on our website there will be both a Dryuary and a Moderation Management link that you can click on to check out more about both Moderation Management and Dry January. And that's it for the day. Mary, everybody is saying many thanks and they're glad you're here and I will get you all of the links next week. But thank you so much for being here with us, and audience, be gentle with yourself and with others. We will see you again next week, same time right here on Twitch. Bye everybody.
Voiceover: You've been watching the Options Save Lives weekly live stream hosted by Executive Director Jenny Williamson, and produced by the C Three Foundation with the support of R Street Institute and other generous supporters. For more information about the C Three Foundation or the Sinclair Method, visit our website at cthreefoundation.org. If you have a question you want answered live on air, to make guest suggestions, or to support the show, let us know. You can reach us through our website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or on Discord. Join us each week as we continue to discuss more ways to help you build a better relationship with alcohol, or to eliminate it completely. Because recovery from alcohol use disorder is not a one size fits all process. Options are available and Options Save Lives.