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Sobriety & Society: Why is drinking so cool?

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

In this episode, I will dive into the whole culture around alcohol in North America and expat culture, versus the culture around smoking cigarettes. Why is it that alcohol is seen as so cool, and we pressure people to drink once they've quit, but we'd never behave that way if their drug was cigarettes?

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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.

Hello, welcome back to another episode of Sober Yoga Girl with your host, Alex McRobs. This week, we are going to talk about sobriety and society, and what makes drinking so cool? So when I was very early on in my sobriety, I was having a conversation with a family member about being alcohol free. And she said that since being alcohol free was new to me, it was normal that I would talk about it so much. But soon people wouldn't even notice it. And I talk about it less and less. And she said to me, look at grandad. After he quit cigarettes, he didn't walk into every room and announce, I don't smoke anymore. No one even asked him about it after a while. And she did have a point. And I did agree with her. On one level, right, being a non drinker is going to become my new normal. And maybe one day I would start thinking about it and talking about it less and less. But I said to her that, in my opinion, grandad quitting smoking and myself quitting drinking are two very different things. Right? They were probably equally different, difficult for us individually, required equal commitment, equal diligence, but culturally they're different things. So my grandad quit smoking in 2008. And in that point in North America, which is where I grew up, cigarettes were widely understood as being not good for you. Smoking cigarettes wasn't glamorized. We were getting inundated with messages about how bad smoking was for us. My grandad would hide from us whenever he was having a cigarette. And my four year old sister happened across him smoking one day, and she had this face in this voice of disbelief and she said, grandad, are you smoking? He didn't walk into bars where cigarette o'clock was written on the board. And the way that, you know, wine o'clock is these days. I was in an icebreaker setting when I was around 100 days alcohol free. And the question was, what makes you happy? And a woman literally said tequila. And I don't think someone would ever say cigarettes like that, right? So I think at the point in his life when he was a teenager and young adult, smoking was really cool. And if you tried to quit then, people probably would have made fun of him and pressured him to smoke again. By the time he quit drinking, smoking wasn't encouraged. At least it wasn't in the culture that we were living in, in Canada. When my grandad quit smoking in the 2000s, he didn't walk into rooms every day where his friends and his family and his coworkers were offering him cigarettes, asking him why he didn't smoke and questioning his choice. Right? He wasn't faced with continuous peer pressure to smoke. People probably celebrated this achievement. And, you know, it was an addiction that we all knew, was so harmful for your health at that point. So, of course, after he quit drinking, he didn't go into rooms announcing that he no longer smoked because it just wasn't a part of his daily social interactions. And I don't mean to diminish my grandad's achievement and effort because I think it is huge. This man literally smoked two packs of cigarettes every day from age 14 until age like, 80. Honestly, it is amazing that he quit and it was significant and I want to celebrate that. But I do want to compare the culture of cigarettes to the culture of alcohol today. So when I quit drinking, I didn't have this experience. I was raised in and I live in a society where drinking is common and encouraged both in North America, both in the expat cultures in the Middle East that I've been part of. Right? We live in a society where alcohol is celebrated. It's praised, it's integrated in every social situation. In expat situations, you know, special occasions revolve around having a drink, birthdays, Christmas parties, engagements. They're all done with the glass in hand. Dates take place at bars. Dinners and barbecues take place with wine and beer. In Abu Dhabi, there is this huge expat thing that is like all you can drink brunches and ladies nights where women drink for free. And not only is drinking common, but it's encouraged. At the very first party that I ever went to in high school, I was 14 years old. I remember hearing a classmate who I thought was very cool at the time, say to a boy, you're not drinking? Why are you even here? Go home. And that was the first clear message that I ever heard about drinking being cool and non drinking being uncool. Go home if you're not drinking. Right? We don't want you here. You don't belong. And I was never told at a party to go home. But these are some of the things that were said to me in the first 90 days that I quit drinking. So when I chose to order a mocktail, a waiter said to me, you're so boring. When I told a friend that I want to quit alcohol for life, he said to me, whoa, whoa, whoa, let's not get too crazy. When I told a colleague that I wanted to quit, he said in disbelief, can't you just cut back? Why do you need to quit altogether? People have asked me if I'm pregnant. People have asked me, have you always not drink? People have said, just have this one. Why not? It's free. Could you imagine if anyone said any of those things to my grandad? Right? If he said he didn't want to have a smoke, someone said, you're so boring. If he said he didn't want to have a smoke, could you imagine if people said, whoa, let's not get too crazy if he told people he had quit smoking? Do you think his colleagues ever said to him, can't you just cut back? Why do you need to quit smoking altogether? Right? Do you think people ever said to him, just have this one cigarette, it's free. The hardest thing that ever happened to me was my first date as a nondrinker on day 21. Leading up to this date, I was so afraid to tell him that I was a nondrinker that I worded it in a text as taking a break from booze. Even though I already knew I was quitting long term, that's how scared I was. I was afraid that he'd react really badly and I felt the need to tell him ahead of time that I didn't drink in case he wanted to cancel the date on me. And he spent the first 15 minutes of the day trying to convince me to have a drink with him. What's the big deal with just having one? I had to literally persuade this guy to support me in being sober. And we did have a few more dates, which is shocking. And he did come around to eventually be a supporter of me not drinking on a night out that we had a few weeks later. But needless to say, our lifestyles were not going to be suitable matches and it was not a happily ever after. It might have been if we met a month prior, which is crazy to me. If I met him a month prior, I probably would have ended up dating him for a long time. So my question is, what is with this? Why is there this culture of drinking being cool and not drinking being uncool? Why is there this culture of peer pressuring people to drink when they say no? Why is it this way? You know, could I-- could you imagine if I quit smoking and people were saying stuff like this to me, just have one cigarette. It's free. Can't you just cut back smoking? Why you need to quit altogether? Oh, you're not having a cigarette? You're boring. Like that is wild. Our culture encourages us to drink. Our language of getting together revolves around going out for a drink and not buying into it was something that I needed to explain to people around me. And no one ever questioned me when I gave up meat the way that they did when I gave up alcohol. No one ever tried to pressure me into eating meat with them. They were just like, cool. And I have found that the key to getting all through this pressure is a few things. You have to be confident. You have to be strong willed. You have to be sure that you're going to say no. And most importantly, you have to find pockets of society that support your journey. So if none of your friends support it or none of your friends get it, you need to find that community elsewhere. There's a lot of great free Facebook groups which can provide one form of support and that really boosted me along for the beginning of my sobriety. I found that having actual connections in person helped even more, and that is why I created Sober Girls Yoga. We get to meet on Zoom, you know, once a week every day, connect, share our stories and that really helps us feel like we are not alone in this, right? No one gets through life alone. It takes a village. And in this case, when you're making a choice that is so different than the rest of society, you need to kind of rally your people to help you get through it. So it's pretty common in the yoga world to drink very little. My friends from the gym generally didn't drink heavily. And so those people kind of helped me along the way in the beginning. Amidst the friends that were not awesome about it, many friends stood out to me as epically awesome. So when I was around 41 days alcohol free, a bartender accidentally served me a drink with alcohol and my friends, like, tore apart the management of the restaurant because they just thought it was completely ridiculous that I had been served alcohol and they ended up getting me a free dinner and free a free brunch a few weeks later. And so those were amazingly supportive friends. So even though there were ones that weren't supportive, there were some that were amazing. So I totally agree that my mom was right, that people will get used to it. Sober will come normal. I'll stop talking about it so frequently. But what I don't think is normal is our culture around alcohol. The pressure to drink to be part of something. The idea that drinking is this key to relieve stress. The concept that drinking is cooler than not drinking. The idea that you're not fine if you don't have a drink. So I am actively choosing to advocate and to share about my alcohol free life and my sobriety, because I want to be part of a movement that suggests that there is another way. Right? I don't judge people that drink. I don't question you. I will never pressure you to get sober with me or quit with me. But before I quit drinking, I never got any messages that being sober would be cool or that life without drinking would be fun. So I am here to say that it is. Because in my opinion, being sober is cool. Contrary to popular belief. And when you quit alcohol, your life can be way more fun. So when you quit drinking, there's going to be people that say, you know, you're not ordering a drink? You're so boring. What's the big deal with just having one? You used to be such a good time. Can't you just cut back? Why do you need to quit altogether? And I would recommend that you just look for the people that say, I'm so proud of you because they're there and find those people and focus on those people. And the one thing that I realized when I think about and what I write about this is that the culture of smoking was not always this way. Right? It probably was the same way the culture around alcohol was 80 years ago when my grandad was first starting smoking. And what changed? Time, education, probably some strong advocates that paved the way. And I think the culture around alcohol is like this, too. I think that the Sober Revolution is coming. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode, if you are watching it on YouTube, there is my co-host, Princess, and if you're listening in on a podcast software, I just have my sweet little Princess with me and that's my cat. And don't forget to, like, subscribe, share, comment and share it with anyone you think would benefit from this kind of open dialog. And I will see you next week. Bye.


Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of Sober Yoga Girl with Alex McRobs. I Fam so, so grateful for every one of you. Don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss the next one and leave a review before you go. See you soon. Bye.

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1 comentario

Annabel Price
Annabel Price
10 jul 2021

This was so good ❤️❤️❤️thank you 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🥰🥰🥰

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