May 27 2021
Sober Dave is a 56 year old man in South London. He began drinking when he was fourteen years old and by the time he was forty, he was drinking a litre of vodka every night. Dave quit drinking in January 2019 and since then has gained a large audience.
If you enjoyed this episode please don’t forget to subscribe, rate and share the podcast so it can reach more people that it will serve and benefit.
Make sure to follow Alex's journey on instagram @alexmcrobs and join her yoga, meditation, barre and coaching classes at www.themindfullifepractice.com.
Intro: Welcome to the "Sober Yoga Girl" podcast with Alex McRobs, international yoga teacher and sober coach. I broke up with booze for good in 2019 and now I'm here to help others do the same. You're not alone and a sober life can be fun and fulfilling. Let me show you how.
Alex: All right. Hello, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Sober Yoga Girl. I am super excited to have Sober Dave with me on today's episode. And Sober Dave is someone who drank for four decades. He's based in the U.K. He has now been sober for over two years and he is also a sober coach. So welcome, Dave, and thanks so much for being here.
Dave: It's so lovely that you've invited me. I really appreciate. How are you today?
Alex: I'm good. Actually, I'm almost at two years sober, by the way. It's going to be my two years next week.
Dave: Oh, congratulations.
Alex: Thank you. What's your sober date?
Dave: January the 7th, 2019.
Alex: Amazing. So, you're just a few months ahead of me.
Dave: Three months I think. Yeah.
Alex: Oh, and today-- No, today's 8th. I was going to say it would be your, yesterday was your--
Dave: Two years, three months yesterday.
Alex: It's amazing. It's huge. Congrats. So, why don't we jump right in and we'll start off by if you can just kind of tell me a bit about yourself, give me some context on like, who you are and where you're from and kind of your life story.
Dave: Yeah, sure. So, my name's Dave. I am based in London, not far from all the lovely tourist area of Chelsea and all around there. It's lovely where I live from Wandsworth Common. I started drinking when I was 14 years old, which seems to be quite a typical age back in the day. And at first, what I would consider maybe like, a normal social drinker, you know, although it's young, we could get in the pubs in those days without I.D., which might appear strange now, but there is no such thing. And I looked a bit old. I was quite big for my age. So, I just got in there. And yeah, I used to get drunk a lot. But at that age, it's a new thing, isn't it? Probably if you went back to the age now, you would absolutely hate the taste of it, which probably did then. But you mix with the crowd, and then it kind of got into the wrong crowd then. So, we used to hang around the shops. There's an area that I lived in this circle, is a big roundabout with shops around it. And we used to hang around there with cans of beer and stuff like that. Classy. But then, we started going clubbing. And what a typical lad would do, really. And I know I was renowned for being a bit of a drinker, but it was never a problem because I've been drinking the week. You know, it was never really-- it was a weekend thing. And then, I suppose in my 20s, I carried on with that social scene. It was more in my 30s and 40s that got in trouble.
Alex: And so, I guess that kind of covers sort of leads into the next question, which is like, so you sort of covered how you started drinking, but how did your drinking increase over time?
Dave: Yeah, so I was always a lager man, lager lout. I was renowned for drinking pretty quickly. You know, I was a bit of a glugger. So, as I said to you, like in my 20s that I was sort of always the last one standing in a pub the next day on a Sunday bragging about how drunk I got the night before. I was in my 30s that I started going to a local pub and I developed the nickname called "glugs" ironically, because people were astounded by how fast and many pints I could drink in a session.
Dave: So, I used to drink five or six pints in an hour.
Dave: I also used to do the whole session as well. So on a Sunday, the pubs is open at midday and close at 10:30 pm and I quite often did the hosting and people would leave and come back. Are you still here, glugs? You know, and I would get up and go to work in the morning.
Alex: Oh my God.
Dave: Yeah. And I was a bit younger then so seemed to handle it. But throughout my 30s, it increased that I was more and more in there, you know, like poppin' there after work. Quite often leave my van there and walking home and stuff like that. So, I was a real regular then and I even at the place at the bar that I would sit, you know. Then I moved, and that's when I really got in trouble because it was a couple of miles away from the pub and I was near a pub but I didn't like it. So, I started to drink indoors. And that is declined city end because where we were, a supermarket had to deal on like three bottles of wine for Tanner. So I used to buy them and quite often drink two, and then that started drifting into three. And I start to put on a lot of weight. So I googled, what alcohol is the least amount of calories? And it pop, Mr. Vodka. So, I started on vodka and that literally when you say a decline, I ended up from my mid 40s onwards drinking a liter a night of vodka.
Dave: By at weekends it was more because I would always finish work at lunchtime Friday, go shopping, and get all my stashing for weekend knowing that I wouldn't go out. I was like a recluse. So I'd shuffle into my house at say, 2:00 p.m. with all the shopping and the bags were clanking away and come out Monday morning looking like absolute death, you know, regretting it. What I've done? I've got to stop drinking. Of course, by mid-afternoon, voice in head, we can have one. We can have two. Just get a bottle just in case. And then, you're back on the hamster wheel of the week. Can't you waste this same old--
Alex: Wow. And that is, once you hit going into the vodka, that is when you know like, for myself, it's like, I like the taste of beer. But once you've shifted to something where, you know, vodka doesn't taste good.
Dave: Oh, it doesn't. I don't know if anyone was to be honest, what we've really drink for the taste, we drink for the effect.
Dave: And with the vodka, I mean, I was even buying the cheap brand supermarket version. It was something like, £15 for a liter. And I will coft in and I would pull, Oh, I've got a glass here, so I don't even say that, but that's water, right, thankfully.
Dave: But that would probably be that amount of vodka for my first drink and top out with tonic just to get that huge dopamine hit at the beginning and then I'll relax. And then, I used to put my bottle next to me, and my tonic next to me, and some snacks and turn the tally on that for the night. So, I'll just sit there all night glugging the bottle down until I have a pass out or I would finish it. And then to think, what I've done? And then goes to bed. So and I did that for four, five years really every day. So I got to a stage that I was massively overweight. I didn't have any real relationships in that time because I didn't want them up because I just wanted to-- I was in a bubble, you know, of just not only self destruction, but I just wasn't so sure. But the irony is, I got a call from a TV company asking me to interview to be on a makeover show. I know you've seen the makeover shows, right?
Dave: So I went for the interview at ITV and I got the job. And all of a sudden I'm thinking, chase, I mean, like talk about chalk and cheese gone from being a reclusive drinker to then joining a team on the telly that we all used to each other. And they said, right, you've got to drive to Coventry and you've got me up in this pub. I was like, this is so out of my comfort zone. And I walked in there. There was lots of camera crew on whatever we're having dinner and whatever. And I sat down and obviously because I drink within a few minutes, I knew I was one of the lads and I fit in like a glove. And I mean, talk about being an influence. I mean, in the drinking side of that because we used to hit it hard after a show. And that was a whole new level of drinking as well, because I was a reclusive drinker going to a social drink and then going back to a reclusive drink. So my whole life was always involved in dri nking. There was never a part of it that wasn't, you know. And I remember one night we got in late from filming and instead of buying a pint each at the bar, our rounds were a bottle of wine each. And I have four bottles of wine.
Dave: And then got up in the morning and had to film a whole day of this makeover. And I don't know I did it. I don't even think I've watched the episode because they want to see the state of seeing.
Alex: Oh God, I know what you mean when you just feel so awful that you're like this whole day is just--
Dave: Yeah. I was poisoned. But then what came from that was the whole new chapter in my life which affected everything, leading up to me giving drinking. So maybe I can touch on that later or now or--
Alex: Yeah. Let's talk about that. What was it that made you want to quit?
Dave: So basically, I've been doing this show for a few years and we rocked up in Wandsworth in this beautiful little mews. And there was loads of us, you know, 100 people out of doing this house. And the lady we did it for was a cancer suffer when she had triplets. She was-- she had triplets, IVF, and six months later, she got breast cancer. And our partner left and she was on her own. And the whole community rallied around and they gave us some money, but were afraid preserve cook food from wherever. And then they go into the show and they agreed to do a makeover. So we did a job and a house. She'd come back. I don't even know Peter Andre, but he was the presenter and I'd gone to him. Hello. Give me a little nudge. Emma got out. She's now my wife, by the way.
Alex: Oh my God. Congratulations.
Dave: Yeah. She got out and I said, bloody hell, she's gorgeous. Few weeks later, when the show was aired, I went on Twitter, was tweeting about social media earlier, and I sent her a message. I was drunk and I said, I mean, the crew where all together just watching your show, it's fantastic. You're amazing. And us sitting around him, a bottle of vodka, you know, that was the stories I told myself. And anyway, we carried the conversation on and we arranged for date. And one day before our first date, it was Christmas jump over here and I sent her a text message. Hi Em, send me a picture of your Christmas jumper. Didn't hear all day long. Nothing. I thought maybe she got cold feet about tomorrow. And anyway, she sent me a message that night and I didn't realize she'd been at the hospital all day and she was rediagnosed with cancer.
Dave: Right. And we hadn't even had a date yet. Met the next day. And my gut instinct was, look, it's crack on. And a few days later, we were in the chemo ward and she was put in the cold cap on pain, plugged up to the chemotherapy machine. So it wasn't your normal, you know, dinner, first kiss on the first date, it was straight in there. And we got night have a really, really well, really quickly. And it was a year. Off to a treatment. After she got through that, that I sold my house and agreed to move in. Right. But previous to that, I knew I had to sort my drink out. And I hadn't because each day I was like, I'll do it tomorrow. I'll do it tomorrow. And it was probably a few days before I moved in and I just, without a few drinks and I just made a confession. I said, I got something to tell you and I sold my house. I'd complete everything. And I said to her, I think I'm a functioning alcoholic. And she looks at me and her mouth was open she said, what? And I just-- I don't know what to do and whatever. Anyway, she went in to complete denial. It was almost like she went... I moved in. But what happened when I moved in was obviously I hadn't sorted out my drinking. And I was climbing up the wall because she's not a drinker. And, you know, I was thinking of said, well, she have a bottle of wine with dinner and that she went, oh, no, no, no. I do cup of tea do you mean. That I was literally for the first few days, it was that I was forced into cold turkey but I didn't have any withdrawals or anything. But I was like psychologically climbing the walls. But, you know, when we're big drinkers, we're very clever and devious so I gradually started introduce it into the family home, you know. And then, of course, she had cancer twice. I was feeding her alcohol so that's obviously not good for her. I always wasn't thinking, you know. So I started drinking more and then she started to say to me, you're right. You look different in that. Obviously drunk, you know. Then that's when the problems started. I started hiding alcohol. I started lying. I started drinking heavily. I would drink three, 8.4% ciders before she got in from work. This started on one. And basically, towards the end, before I gave up, I just knew that. I had two ways to go. Carry on with what I was doing or change direction because I've lost everything. And that to be honest, I'll be pretty much surprised if I was still alive now, if I carried on drinking.
Alex: Wow. And so how did you-- what strategies did you use when you decided to give it up? Like how did you-- what did you do?
Dave: When I read Annie Grace's book, she was talking about her father, that he just gave up, as it seemed. Because there's a thing called subliminal-- no, spontaneous sobriety, which appears you just give up. Stop after years and years of drinking and it appeared that I did that. But I think a lot of it was that subliminally I kept telling myself I had to stop, I had to stop. And when I said to me, I can't deal with this anymore. I used to my default set was, I know, I know, I've got to do something about it. And obviously to her, here we go again, here we go again, because you can only do it so many times. And in one day I got up on a Monday morning with a terrible hangover, as usual, and a friend of mine up the road in my views, drop me a text and it said, Hi Dave, how about we give up alcohol together firm and see where we are in our health and marriage and our general life pattern, you know? And I looked it and I went, you're having a laugh mate. I can't even stop three days let alone three months. But you know what? It trickled in throughout the day. And I started to think, where would I be? What-- how would my health be, how would things be with them where I have my weight problem be and my mental health, you know? And then I text him about 5:00 o'clock and I said, are you in? He said, yeah, I am, which is rare for him. And I wandered over and I looked him and I said, let's do it. And that was it. That was two years, three months ago, and I hadn't looked back since and I didn't relapse, I didn't do anything because I think we know with big drinkers that all or nothing people, you know, and I was very old with my drinking, but when I decide to do something, I'm very all with that. So I stopped on that day and after a few difficult time to built to, you know, especially after four decades is pretty much a life, isn't it? But I became so focused on everything I was achieving.
Dave: Seven, eight days later, my wife was rediagnosed with cancer.
Dave: So it was at that time that I thought, what do I do? Because it'd be easy to just say, I can't give up now. This is a nightmare, you know, but I did the opposite because I thought she needs me. And for one, like, we were sharing the same bed every night where before I would be falling asleep on the sofa every night. And I went to a treatment and I was fresh out, cuddled up at night and made her feel safe and stuff, and we went through the whole treatment again and I was present. And that really helped my sobriety as well, because that can do-- me going on a massive drinking spree. Not again, you know, poor me victim or going the other way, and to be honest, it's the best thing I ever did for both of us in our marriage because we regained our closeness and-- but, you know, that was a real challenge at the time. And it would have been easy for me to just go back to it.
Alex: Yeah, so tell me more about like what was the-- what were like the hardest parts of sobriety, like getting sober?
Dave: I mean, obviously there's the cravings and the triggers and stuff which the cravings a lot more like a physical thing, aren't they? Because you're just yearning. You're lacking the sugar from the alcohol. So I started eating a lot of chocolate and stuff like that. But it was more getting used to the change of lifestyles where I live, Wandsworth Common, is beautiful over there. But the local pub there is over sort of in the corner over there. And I walk my dog one day and I thought, Oh my God, I would literally love to just wander over there and have a couple of beers and I'd really struggle with that thought process. And I just stopped in my tracks and I knew that I was on a cusp of doing it.
Dave: So I turned left and I walked a different road and I walked past the tennis courts, past the Bowling Green around the other side and it went. And I thought that could have been-- that was probably three months in, I suppose, you know. So with treatment and that was pretty focused on supporting her in that. But, you know, you got the pink cloud and, you know, the honeymoon period is over and stuff. And it was then spring, the sun was out. So that was reacting with me sitting in a pub. But then I, you know, caught of in some are coaching that if you wind it forward and you think about how you would feel and the next day.
Dave: It's so powerful because I-- that changed it for me, you know? It would have changed everything for us and for them. She would have thought, Oh no, we're back here. She was still having treatment and that and I just stuck my heels in. And of course, I started my Instagram account as well which I felt accountable to other people because that's like climbing the ladder, isn't it? The more you go through sobriety, the-- you know, you ache really. And I say to people when I say, oh, I'm only two weeks sober. I say, no, you're two weeks sober. You know, that's amazing. And it is because in the beginning, each hour can be if-- so to reach-- So I found myself supporting other people and saying, come on, reaching my hand, you can do it and whatever. And that really helped me as well because I was accountable to other people. And I thought, well, I can't let them down because they are looking at me to support them. And they're relying on what I say in that. So I just got stronger and stronger and stronger. And I find it really powerful to actually journal how I was feeling as well. And half my Instagram was sharing my journey, good and bad. I've always been very honest about things. I've never made it all flowery. And hey, this is wonderful because it's not always wonderful. You know, and that was just such a big thing now and now, it's a full time job, really. But I love it.
Alex: Yeah, so tell me how did it end up transitioning into becoming your work?
Dave: I became sober. I was training to be a counselor.
Dave: I've always been fascinated in how we think, how we react, and I've always been someone who likes to help people. I get a real thrill out of it, you know. So I've done my level two, level three. But then my mum became ill and unfortunately she passed away too, in a crucial part of level three. And I tried to go to college and they said, look Dave, you know, it's-- please take some time off. And I was drinking more. And I just stopped going and I said, look, maybe I can start again next year. But I found with helping people with their alcohol, I could really tie into it, you know. It's almost like a sixth sense. So I'm trying to be a peer mentor, did a bit of volunteer in-- absolutely loved. I did a course on mental health, first aid in, you know, so become that and NLP life coach, I'm qualified in that. And then I've just finished a course with Joline Park on Gray Area Drinking, which I think is another fascinating subject. And yeah, become certified last Friday. And I just love that line of work. And now I've transitioned from my old job of 40 years, which obviously on the show. I was Dave the carpet. I did carpet company. And I never thought, ever, I would have a career change. But I virtually do it full time now and I absolutely love it. Every ounce of me is just the best job in the world.
Alex: So tell me about kind of how you work with people as a coach. Do you do group programs? Do you do one on one? Kind of, what what do you do?
Dave: Well, because of lockdown everything is on Zoom now, isn't it?
Dave: But actually, I work with people all over the world. I've helped people in the States, in Australia, Iceland, Alaska, which is a fantastic.
Alex: That's amazing.
Dave: Ireland, you know, everywhere. And I work on a one to one basis. And since I've finished my course, I work with people help in both their nervous system by introducing supplements, changing their diet, introducing sematic. So meditation, breathing techniques, because when I gave up, and of course, yoga, you know... nerve exercises is all these tools I've picked up from doing the course because I think nowadays we rely on white knuckling quite a bit.
Dave: And I do this test called the Braverman test, and it works out if you're deficient on anything like your gapper or dopamine and serotonin. And if you are, I can help support that with nutrition and supplements and boost up so it makes it easier. And ultimately, most people book 30 days and then decide to carry on after. And yeah, my success rate is really good because I'm a good motivator as well, you know, because I've been there so I've got the lived experience. But now I've got the tools from all the things that I've learned as well.
Alex: Absolutely. And, you know, I've had quite a few. I do sober coaching as well. And I've had other sober coaches on the show. And what I love is that everyone has kind of their own sort of expertise. And there are so many people out in the world that are struggling with this. And I feel like, you know, what we do together is like collective and, you know, someone who might be drawn to you for, like, that whole aspect of like holistic healing through supplements. Like, that's not something I know about at all, but that's really cool. And that sounds like that's kind of what makes you unique.
Dave: Yeah, I love it. I mean, I've learned so much about it. And in fact, I did this test to myself and I was really lacking in Gapo as well. So--
Dave: I've started taking some more magnesium and zinc and change my diet even after adding things like almonds, you know, lovely fresh almonds at certain parts of the day. You know, balancing out your blood sugar levels more throughout the day by in small and regularly, you know, that stops the cravings just hitting you hard. And--
Dave: I'm on a journey with my coach and as well because, you know, as you know, as a coach, it's organic, isn't it? You just forever. And even having these conversations like today, you pick things up and inspires you to maybe look at things differently. And I just-- I've joined her mastermind group which continues from the course for a year. So I'm going to pick up more resources and grow in that area as well. So, you know, I mean, I'm 57 this year, right? I could easily be looking at retirement and thinking, well, you know, I've been in my trade all my life, why would I want to do anything else? But one, I've given myself an extra lease of life by a long shot, and two, I don't have to be 25 to be doing it, you know what I mean? You know, I've got a world of experience in the field. I've seen it all. Trust me, I'm just learning all these new things that really float my boat but what I got be careful of is that, I don't overkill it with myself because I go to bed at night and I'm reading books on addiction and I just love it.
Dave: I can't overdo it. I've got a watch on sloppy feel most coming to take my mind off it because you need some form of escape, didn't you?
Alex: Oh my God. You know, I can relate to so much of what you said in this episode. Like, I think I'm so similar to you in-- Well, first of all, like you were talking earlier about how you're just like kind of a rip the band-aid off, like, okay, now I'm quitting alcohol. And I was exactly the same. And now I've also exactly the same just been fueled by my sobriety and I'm like obsessed with my work. So I will just spend, you know, like yesterday was my birthday and I actually spent the entire day working and everyone was like, you should take a day off. I'm like, but I don't want to.
Dave: Happy birthday.
Alex: Thank you.
Dave: I was in bed every night and I was on my iPad watching Below Deck, have you seen that?
Dave: Oh, my God, it's awful. And I'm watching a YouTube video of... and the two narratives couldn't be more opposite, you know, hey, whatever floats your boat.
Alex: Yeah, exactly. And I like what you said to you about, like, how the kind of the coaching is, like, evolving over time. And, you know, every time I talk to someone new, I pick something up. And, you know, when I hear you talk about your programs, I'm like, oh, I should do that. I should find out, like, you know, what supplements I need to take to balance myself. And so it's cool how you just, like, constantly learning and picking up things from kind of everyone you speak to.
Dave: Yeah. Absolutely.
Alex: People listening to this episode want to find you, sort of where can they find you and and do you have any, like, offerings coming up? I know I saw one of your workshops, your writing workshop, which looks amazing. The Dear Alcohol Workshop.
Dave: Yeah. Well, my wife's writer, actually, and she holds these Vytas workshops. And I said to her, you know what? I think there's a real niche there for-- because we both know that journaling is such a powerful part of early sobriety, like writing down your feelings, acknowledging--
Dave: Because of how you feel and you can look back at it later on and think, God, I've achieved so much since then. Oh, I can learn so much from how I felt that time, you know, and I also encourage my clients to write a letter to alcohol, because at the end of the day, you are in a relationship, you know, so having a sordid affair and the affair always wins. And I wrote a divorce letter to alcohol. You know, I had a complete breakup there. And when I finished it, I read it about 10 times and I felt really empowered and I thought. You know, so do like that I'm so over this now.
Dave: And you can put it in an envelope in a drawer, you can even post it, just put it in a blank envelope or whatever, however you want to do it by getting the emotions out of you onto paper. So we designed these write workshops, which incorporates at the end write in the letter to alcohol. And we can share and we can discuss... workshops is that a few days later they actually sink in. You know, so many people have said to them, my God, that's-- I feel so different since that workshop. And I know they are like an hour long or something and they're heinous really. But these are all other things that are useful for people, you know. It's building this cyber toolbox, isn't it? With a variety of different things. You don't have to have the same screwdriver in there. You go have a multiple of different resources, tools, you know, and that's like with my Instagram, I try to make that a place of resources so people can go on there. And I've got loads of lives on there. I've got videos, book reviews. I've just really, really tried to mix it up, you know, just so it's almost like a one stop page for people to get some inspiration from, you know.
Dave: So that's a... she stand where people can find me actually. Some on my Instagram @soberdave.