Halloween dance

Why I Got Sober On Halloween And Never Looked Back

Halloween dance

Three years ago today, I stopped drinking. It was after an incredibly uninspiring Halloween party — so uninspiring that I’m still surprised that that was it: the last time I drank. 

That evening wasn’t a rock-bottom. I’ve had countless “rock-bottoms.” I’d tried to quit drinking, substitute my drinking, limit my drinking, only-drink-one-drink my drinking, text-my-therapist-after-one-drink my drinking many times before. These declarations to change typically came after the nights one might expect (i.e., I never want to have a night like that ever again.) Yet what was distinct about this time, on October 28, 2017, was that I didn’t declare anything. I’d given up on expectations. I wanted to feel better — physically, mentally, and emotionally — and that’s the only declaration I needed to stay sober, if only for those twenty-four hours. 

carved pumpkins

What I’d learn is that life wouldn’t stop when I stopped drinking, and of course, neither did the Holidays, which are so infamously complicated. Drinking may simply feel like par for the course. That makes sense. Drinking was for me, and it is for many! You are not alone. If, however, you’re on the fence of whether to do a clean Halloween, here’s why I think it’s worth it. 

Your alcohol-free decision-making is the ultimate superpower

Of course, with the pandemic happening around us, questions of “do I go out?” or “do I stay in?” might feel less relevant. This year, your options may feel particularly limited. Nonetheless, we’re still confronted with: do I have a drink? What should we do tonight? Without drinking, I can make decisions about my night with certainty. “What do I want?” “What do I need?” and “What do I do?” can all be answered — authentically. Hey, I don’t want to go to the Virtual Village Halloween Day Parade, or hey, I definitely do want to watch what’s on Syfy’s 31 Days of Halloween. I assure you, whatever celebratory options come your way, your alcohol-free discernment will be a superpower.

Your costume won’t lose its luster

My final, pre-sobriety Halloween costume was Michelle Graham as Felicity Shagwell from Austin Powers. Naturally, by the end of the evening, my shoes were off, my hair poof had deflated, and I started referring to myself as “a go-go girl.” It just so happened that last Halloween I dressed up as Felicity Shagwell, that’s right, once more. Only this time, nothing missed in action. Now, as it happens, last Halloween, I dressed up, again, as Felicity Shagwell, and nothing fell by the wayside. Boots stayed on. Hair stayed poofed. And, I remember seeing Bjork from across the dancefloor. Repeat: Bjork. Dancing. Next to me. And I remember it. 

candy corn

Relish in all-you-can-eat candy-eating

Perhaps you’re like me and were the kid who divided their candy haul into categories: snickers bites, snickers bars, kit-kat singles, the giveaway pile (almond joy, peanut m&ms, gumballs), etc. Growing up, I broke down Halloween into two clear, equally essential factions: 50% costume, 50% candy. Shouldn’t it always be this way? 

So, when Halloween comes around, I enjoy every single bite from every single bag I pick up for myself at CVS. Who doesn’t want sweetness and nostalgia, all in one wrapper? In my sobriety, I have reframed the idea of treating myself. Instead of booze, it’s the simplicity of drugstore candy, good music, and great company. And trust me, with time, it does the job. No tricks about it. 

nighttime moon

The bottom line is, spending Holidays alcohol-free can be spooky. Your first AF Halloween may have its challenges, and that’s a part of the process. Sure, my first Halloween sober was different — I stayed in with friends, watched Harry Potter IV, ordered artichoke pizza, and demolished a few bags of candy. But it was like it was as a kid, and how remarkable is it that I’ve gotten to reclaim that? I can choose who I want to be and how I’d like to spend it. Sobriety gives me that freedom. 

I now savor the days designed for fun. And hey, I got to savor my first sighting of Bjork. And now you Possibly Maybe can too.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

Couple holding hands

How to Identify Codependency And What To Do About It

Does someone you love struggle with unhealthy drinking? Get free expert resources ->

Couple holding hands

Alcohol use disorder (or “AUD”) can bring about emotions like self-loathing, depression, shame, and fear for those struggling to manage their unhealthy relationship with alcohol. It’s important to remember: AUD is a medical condition, not a moral failing. Those close to someone with AUD are also often faced with complicated, painful feelings of their own. If you are in a strained relationship with someone living with AUD, you are not alone. Perhaps you feel a tug between being nurturing and giving and practicing “tough love.” Maybe boundaries have been blurred. Do your loved one’s needs always come before your own? If so, we may be looking at codependency.

Fortunately, codependency is common and treatable. With a new foundation of skills, a strong support-network, therapeutic care, or all of the above, we can dismantle a codependency issue from its roots. You can build your independence, and your loved one can build theirs, too. It’s with this independence that you can establish healthy boundaries, honor your relationship, and celebrate your authentic selves.

What does codependency mean?

There is no one-size-fits-all model for codependency. Frequently, family members and friends don’t know they’re engaging in codependent behavior. Codependency can be hard to identify, especially from within the relationship. Many times, the “codependent,” or in this case, the loved one of someone with AUD, may believe they are doing what’s in that person’s best interest. A codependent person often feels a sense of purpose when they are needed, joy when they make sacrifices, and maintain their unhealthy behavior because they believe it’s coming from a place of love. Their own life is often taken over by their necessity to fill a caretaker role, and in turn, the codependent partner frequently serves as an enabler.

I want to be very clear: codependency is incredibly common within family systems, and particularly systems where a family member has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and/or struggles with other mental health conditions. There is no shame in codependence. A codependent relationship is often well-intentioned, but it ultimately doesn’t serve you or your loved one.

Unhealthy drinking affects everyone. Learn how to support a loved one, and get support for YOU along the way. Sign up for our newsletter

We’re all on our own paths, and in order to build a family system with healthy dynamics, everyone has to do their individual, internal work. You’ve made it here, which is already a huge step toward healing codependent tendencies.

4 Signs of codependency

If you’re unsure where you fall on the codependency spectrum, I encourage you to reflect on the following signs of codependency:

  • A lack of personal boundaries. Your limits aren’t clear or respected by both sides of the relationship. You take on responsibility for your loved one’s emotions and actions on top of your own.
  • Reliance for self-esteem. Needing your loved one to help boost or maintain your self-esteem. Your sense of purpose and pride is tied to caring for this other person, even subconsciously. You associate your self worth with your partner’s behavior and sentiments.
  • Putting off your own needs. Helping your loved one frequently gets in the way of tending to your own needs. You neglect other components of your life and well-being and prioritize other people’s feelings over your own.
  • Difficulty sharing, speaking or communicating your feelings. You shy away from emotional support, and it’s challenging to be honest about how you’re feeling due to the desire to protect the other person or out of fear of their reaction.
  • Denial about the codependent nature of the relationship. In denying your own needs, you believe you’re caring for the other person.

If any of these scenarios ring true, remember that navigating a codependent relationship takes patience, and most importantly, compassion. With time, persistence, and commitment, you can and will overcome these codependent behaviors. And we’re here to help.

If you’re starting your journey of changing codependent behavior, I know it can seem daunting. Let’s talk about where to begin.

Where you can start to reduce codependent tendencies

Commonly, one of the hardest balances to strike is between tough-love and nurturance. There are circumstances where you will have to set limits and establish healthy boundaries. There will also be times when your loved one may simply need a hug or a listening ear. Knowing when to practice tough-love versus nurturing care can be challenging, and with the help of your own support team, you can balance these two approaches. You can consult with a therapist, join a Monument online alcohol support group, or write out your thoughts on a forum.

Making progress together: For family, friends, and those in recovery

One of the most effective strategies for achieving sobriety or moderation is engaging with friends and family. This group is for those looking to cut back on drinking and those supporting them. Join the discussion about how to better understand one another and support each other throughout this journey.
Check out the Schedule

It’s absolutely achievable that patients can reach their goals, and family and friends can act as their support — mindfully. You and your loved one are deserving of it.

Breaking out of codependency is a huge step forward toward mutual recovery and fostering a healthy relationship. If you can identify it and take action, you’re already well on your way. And remember, you are not on this journey alone!

Does someone you love struggle with unhealthy drinking? Get free expert resources ->

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

Thank You Scrabble Tiles

Example Emails To Invite Your Friends And Family To Monument

Thank You Scrabble Tiles

If you’re here, you’ve made a choice to examine your relationship with alcohol. That’s something to be really proud of. At Monument we encourage members to check out all that we have to offer – support groups, medication to stop drinking, therapy, reading & resources, and the forum – because you deserve options, and multiple avenues of support.

Your support network is one of the most important factors to consider when establishing a treatment plan, recovery tools, and route to long term success. That’s why we recommend you invite friends and family to join you along the way.

Here are 4 fill-in-the-blank email templates to send to anyone you’d like to invite to Monument. By joining the community they can better understand what you’re going through, and join an online alcohol support group for friends and family to learn how to support you and themselves simultaneously.

Template 1: Join Me On Monument 

Subject: Invite to Monument

Hi [name],

I wanted to let you know that I joined Monument [# days/weeks/months ago]. Monument is an online platform for those looking to change their relationship with alcohol. And hey, I’m one of those people!

I’m enrolled in a [Community/Physician Care/Total Care (Bi-Weekly)/Total Care (Weekly)] plan, which you can read more about here.

If you’re willing, I’d love for you to join me in the Monument community. You can sign up here for free. This will give you access to the anonymous forum, expert resources, and a support group for friends and family. Here’s more info if you’re interested:

Someone You Love Joined Monument. Now What?

Your support means so much to me, and I hope you’ll sign up. Thank you so much for being so special to me. You’re one of the reasons I made the choice to change my drinking. I’m excited to get more out of my life, and give more to those I love most.

Love,
[name]

Template 2: Update About Monument

Subject: Invite to Monument

Hi [name],

As you know, I joined Monument [# days/weeks/months ago] to change my relationship with alcohol. And now, Monument is inviting friends and family to sign up and get more involved in the treatment journey.

If you’re willing, I’d love for you to join me in the community. You can sign up here for free. This will give you access to the anonymous forum, expert resources, and a support group for friends and family. Here’s more info if you’re interested:

Someone You Love Joined Monument. Now What?

Your support means so much to me, and I hope you’ll sign up. Thank you so much for being so special to me. You’re one of the reasons I made the choice to change my drinking. I’m excited to get more out of my life, and give more to those I love.

Love,
[name]

Template 3: FYI About Monument

Subject: Invite to Monument

Hi [name],

I wanted to send a quick note A) thanking you for being such an important part of my life, and B) giving you a quick update about what I’ve been up to. I recently joined Monument, an online platform for anyone looking to change their relationship with alcohol. I’m excited to see how drinking less can give me more out of my life, relationships, etc.

If you want to learn more about Monument, you can check it out here: http://joinmonument.com/

You can also sign up here for free if you’re interested in checking out the anonymous forum, expert resources, and support groups that have been a part of my journey.

This is meaningful to me so I wanted to share it with you! Thank you for being someone I can confide in, and for always motivating me to live life to the fullest.

Love,
[Name]

Template 4: I Know My Drinking Has Been Hard On You 

Subject: Invite to Monument

Hi [name],

I wanted to let you know that I joined Monument [# days/weeks/months ago]. Monument is an online platform for those looking to change their relationship with alcohol. I know my drinking has strained our relationship, and I’m putting in the work to make a meaningful change.

I’m enrolled in a [Community/Physician Care/Total Care (Bi-Weekly)/Total Care (Weekly)] plan, which you can read more about here.

I’m deeply sorry for the pain my alcohol use has caused you. While I can’t change the past, I am committed to changing my future with the support of Monument’s online community and expert clinicians. I am doing this for me, and I am also doing this for you.

While I heal and grow, I hope you will take time for self-care and healing, too, because you deserve it. If you’re willing, I’d love for you to join me in the Monument community. You can sign up here for free. This will give you access to the anonymous forum, friends & family resources, and the twice-weekly support group ‘Caring for yourself while caring for someone in recovery.’ Here’s more about information:

Someone You Love Joined Monument. Now What?

Thank you so much for being so special to me. I’m eager to make this change, and appreciate your support and love more than you know.

Best,
[name]

Looking for a different template? Request one by writing to us in the Monument community.

Walking Arm In Arm

Someone You Love Joined Monument. Now What?

Does someone you love struggle with unhealthy drinking? Get free expert resources ->

Walking Arm In Arm If you’re reading this, you’re someone special to someone who has joined Monument to change their relationship with alcohol. And they would appreciate your support in making that change, which can be a really challenging thing to do. It can also be really challenging to be in your shoes, and we’re here to support you. Below is what you need to know about what it means to join Monument, and what you can expect along the way.

Addiction is an isolating disease. A crucial part of the recovery process for individuals struggling with substance use disorders is for them to re-engage with healthy attachments and to surround themselves with people that make them feel safe, supported and loved. Including friends and family in their process can increase their chances of achieving goals and stability. An individual's support network plays a vital role in their recovery and is one of the most important factors to consider when establishing a treatment plan, recovery tools and route to long term success.
Laura Diamond, LMHC, EdM, MA

About Alcohol Use Disorder

Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder is a crucial component of understanding what your friend or family member is going through, how you are (or aren’t) involved, and how to support sustained recovery. Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a medical condition, like heart disease is. It is not a moral failing. Like other medical problems, AUD has symptoms, a natural history, and treatment options.

AUD is characterized by drinking more than you want and for longer than you want, despite wanting to cut down. It’s also characterized by having strong urges to drink during certain times of the day. And this is more common than you think. An estimated 15 million people in the United States alone live with AUD. Statistically speaking, AUD is 50–60% genetically determined. Gene interactions are complex, so there are hundreds of genes that shape how someone ends up developing AUD, and to what degree. The range of severity comes down to how these genes are expressed.

For a deeper dive into the AUD spectrum, you can read more about Alcohol Use Disorder and its signs. What’s most important to know is that your loved one is dealing with a health condition that can be treated with an evidence-based approach.

Woman Looking At iPad

About Monument

If someone you love joined Monument, they are putting in the work to change their drinking. Monument connects our members to physicians and therapists specialized in treating Alcohol Use Disorder. We also provide community support via an anonymous forum, and therapist-moderated online alcohol support groups. Here’s a closer look at our treatment plans:

Physician Care: Members connect with a licensed physician to share their medical history and goals. Their physician will prescribe FDA-approved medication if they deem it safe and appropriate, and recommend next steps on their recovery journey. Members can get in touch with their physician via chat at any time.

Total Care (Bi-Weekly or Weekly): Members connect with a licensed physician to share their medical history and goals. Their physician will prescribe FDA-approved medication if they deem it safe and appropriate, and recommend next steps on their recovery journey. Members also meet with a specialized therapist to develop a custom curriculum of therapy sessions that can empower them to reach their goals. Depending on their plan and desired level of support, members will meet with their therapist on a biweekly or weekly basis. Alcohol therapy is an incredibly effective tool to make a long-lasting change.

Unhealthy drinking affects everyone. Learn how to support a loved one, and get support for YOU along the way. Sign up for our newsletter

Unfamiliar with medication options to support goals for sobriety or moderation? You’re not alone! Only 9% of people who are good candidates are currently prescribed them. We’re working to change that. Read more about medication to stop drinking with Monument.

If you have any questions about our online alcohol treatment plans, we encourage you to post in the community. We’re here to help you understand what your loved one is experiencing, and how we’re going to support them in making a change. Here’s more about what you can expect during the first few months of treatment.

Making progress together: For family, friends, and those in recovery

One of the most effective strategies for achieving sobriety or moderation is engaging with friends and family. This group is for those looking to cut back on drinking and those supporting them. Join the discussion about how to better understand one another and support each other throughout this journey.
Check out the Schedule

What To Expect In Early Recovery

Early recovery can be particularly challenging for many reasons, and several of them have to do with brain chemistry, and brain recovery. If your loved one seems unlike themselves in the early days, weeks, and months of sobriety or moderation, that is to be expected for the following reasons.

Your loved one may experience acute withdrawal
Alcohol is what’s known as a sedative hypnotic, or more commonly, a ‘downer.’ When one’s alcohol consumption increases significantly, they will confront the physiological effects of that, like sedation, inability to accomplish tasks, and beyond. Our body realizes that our drinking is increasing, and reacts to achieve a new steady state.

Without heavy alcohol use, the brain self-moderates the electrical activity and racing thoughts taking place every day. With heavy alcohol use, those self-moderating signals are replaced with alcohol. The brain thinks: I don’t need to do the work anymore, alcohol has it covered. When we remove alcohol from the equation after heavy drinking (AKA ‘get sober’), our brain needs to play catch up. We’re left to confront those racing thoughts with no moderation, natural, or alcohol-induced. Restlessness, tremulousness, anxiety, and panic are common. Acute withdrawal can take on many forms of varying severities. If someone you know is considering quitting alcohol cold turkey or experiencing withdrawal symptoms, they should check in with a physician immediately to understand the best course of action and treatment. Supervised detox may be recommended for safety.

Here’s the good news: our brain heals. And it often can get back to that more regulated, steady state in only a few days with the appropriate care.

Brain mold

They might also experience post-acute alcohol withdrawal
When people hear the word “withdrawal,” they often think about acute withdrawal. There’s also a chance of post-acute withdrawal, which is often defined by longer periods of sleep disturbances, fogginess, restlessness, irritability, and anxiety.

Post-acute alcohol withdrawal lasts anywhere from weeks to months. It can be very discouraging because while someone might be making significant progress on cutting back on drinking, they might not feel improvements in their mood. However, this will get better. And in the meantime, that’s where recovery resources (like therapy and support groups), and friends and family’s encouragement can play an especially important role.

Co-occuring conditions
For those navigating AUD, co-occuring conditions can be very common. AUD is often accompanied by disorders such as anxiety or depression, and is intensified by trauma, stressors and societal impact. Alcohol is often used to self-soothe the uncomfortable feelings, and when someone stops drinking, they confront these feelings in full force. That can be very challenging, which is why we offer personalized therapy to meet specific needs and alleviate multiple issues. For example, a therapy program might address the interaction between alcohol and depression, how alcohol relates to anxiety, and other mental health factors.

How you can support them while also supporting yourself

Now that you know more about what to expect in early recovery, it’s important to talk about how to take care of yourself throughout this journey. Sabrina Spotorno, therapist on the Monument platform, shared her insight into how to support yourself while supporting someone in recovery. She shares how to build resiliency at any stage of coping with a loved one’s disordered drinking cycle, and how to prioritize your needs.

Making progress together: For family, friends, and those in recovery

One of the most effective strategies for achieving sobriety or moderation is engaging with friends and family. This group is for those looking to cut back on drinking and those supporting them. Join the discussion about how to better understand one another and support each other throughout this journey.
Check out the Schedule

If someone you love has joined Monument, they’ve made a choice to get more out of life, and give more to those around them. Joining Monument is both an act of self-love, and love for those they care most about. And while there might be challenges for both of you along the way, you are never alone, and all of your feelings are valid. We’re here to support you.

Does someone you love struggle with unhealthy drinking? Get free expert resources ->

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you or anyone else need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

10 Alcohol-Free, Black-Owned Beverage Brands To Shop Right Now

When I quit drinking alcohol, I didn’t think about experimenting with alcohol-free drinks. I focused more on my physical and mental health, and regaining the confidence to socialize without inebriation. 

Now, I understand how beneficial it is to consume healthy, tasty drinks throughout sobriety. I’m conscious of the packaging, ingredients, brand ethos, what the flavor does to my senses, and the aftertaste. It’s a visceral experience that never occurred to me while misusing alcohol. Quick consumption was the goal back then – feeling good is the goal today.

As the weather gets colder and holiday season approaches, many no-alcohol options provide great benefits. Some can support your immunity, and can make great gifts. If you’re alcohol-free or looking for alcohol alternatives, stock up on these Black-owned beverage brands for year-round comfort. I spoke with the owners of Calabash Tea & Tonic, Candid Tea, and Replenish Kombucha to learn more about the collective impact they’re working toward.

Brooklyn Tea

Brooklyn Tea, located in Brooklyn, New York is a calm, inviting nook offering loose leaf tea blends. Owners Jamila McGill and Alphonso “Ali” Wright have received an outpouring of support and press this year, including a shoutout by Shonda Rhimes on Twitter and a feature in Beyonce’s directory of Black-owned businesses. 

Despite a surge in online orders, their commitment to community is still key to the work. They provide compost to a local community garden through Tahuti Ma’at, and recently launched their first Brooklyn Tea Scholarship and Community Leadership Award. The first scholarship assisted their employee, Euralis, with her college tuition. The inaugural award ceremony honored Little Sun People, a Brooklyn-based, culturally-responsive pre-school. Shop Brooklyn Tea | Follow @brooklyntea on Instagram

 

Calabash Tea & Tonic

Dr. Sunyatta Amen, owner of Calabash Tea & Tonic, is a fifth-generation master herbalist and naturopathic doctor. Based in Washington DC, she describes her tea shop as a “people’s pharmacy” that connects modern communities back to natural medicine. “When you’re out of touch with nature, you’re depleted. And that’s what causes anxiety, depression, and feelings of hopelessness,” Dr. Amen said. 

 

A sociable alternative to the bar, Dr. Amen believes not serving alcohol has helped foster a strong, communal environment. “Being a part of community, to me, is the new sexy,” Dr. Amen said. And she walks the walk – Calabash Tea & Tonic has been rated Yelp’s most loved DC restaurant for 15 consecutive years. Shop Calabash Tea & Tonic | Follow @calabashtea on Instagram

 

BLK & Bold

Founded by Pernell Cezar and Rod Johnson, BLK & Bold is an online-only specialty coffee company that centers social impact and conscious consumerism. They donate 5% of profits to organizations that support marginalized youth, prioritizing urban farming and food justice programs, as well as education and wellness projects. BLK & Bold is sold at Target and Whole Foods, and is Amazon’s best selling coffee brand. Shop BLK & Bold | Follow @blkandbold on Instagram    

 

Chicago French Press

Based in Chicago, Illinois, Chicago French Press was founded by Kris Christian, a former Wall Street analyst and lifelong coffee enthusiast. Christian wanted to cut back on the added sugar, eventually blending fruits and nuts to create a naturally sweet cup of coffee. 

Chicago French Press donates 5% of proceeds to local organizations like The Take Back, which provides Chicago’s South Side youth with school supplies, meals, and scholarships. Shop Chicago French Press | Follow @chicagofrenchpress on Instagram

 

Candid Tea

Founded by Courtney Alexandria, Candid Tea started as a lifestyle blog and grew into a product-based, service-driven business. Though a lifelong tea-drinker, Alexandria didn’t know much about the wellness benefits found in tea until she eagerly researched. As Alexandria learned, her palette grew, and her passion for tea amplified. “Tea is so much more than liquid in a cup,” Alexandria said. “It’s accessible to anyone.” 

She wants woman-identified folks to see themselves in each tea blend, so all products, like “The Game Changer,” are created with a meaningful intention. Alexandria also donates 10% of monthly profits to a non-profit or charitable organization. She selects local and national efforts that support, empower, and enable women to collaborate in community. Shop Candid Tea | Follow @candidtea on Instagram

 

Me & the Bees

Founded by Mikaila Ulmer at age four, Me & the Bees is a lemonade company dedicated to bee advocacy, youth engagement, and social entrepreneurship. Produced with ingredients like flaxseed and honey from bees, Ulmer, now fifteen, operates the business from Austin, Texas with her parents, D’Andra and Theo Ulmer. Me & the Bees promotes bee conservation through the Healthy Hive Foundation, and Ulmer’s memoir, Bee Fearless, was released in August 2020. Shop Me & the Bees | Follow @mikailasbees on Instagram

 

Replenish Kombucha

Angel Jackson, owner of Replenish Kombucha, is always thinking about alternatives to Western medicine. She started making kombucha for her family as a bubbly alternative to sweet teas and sodas – two staple drinks in Memphis, Tennessee, tastily known as the “barbecue belt.” 

Replenish Kombucha, a family-run operation, is the only kombucha brewery in Memphis. “We’ve been warmly welcomed,” Jackson said. “Reaching out to community and letting them know who we are is still one of the most important pieces to our business.”

Through Replenish Kombucha, Jackson wants consumers to feel happy, fun, and active. “Your gut is the seed of your emotions,” she said. The gut-happy probiotics found in kombucha can certainly lead the way. Shop Replenish Kombucha | Follow @replenishkombucha on Instagram

 

Boss Blend Coffee

Driven by a desire to connect Black people with high-quality coffee, Kalisha “Fly” Carmichael founded Boss Blend Coffee. She’s been featured in the Museum of Food and Drink’s Black-owned business directory, and launched a GoFundMe campaign to crowdfund for operating expenses and team expansion. Shop Boss Blend Coffee | Follow @bossblendcoffeeco on Instagram | Support the GoFundMe campaign

 

Tea Please

With dessert-flavored teas, iced teas, and wellbeing blends, Tea Please founder Jasmine Oliver provides something sweet, chilled, and soothing. Serve yourself “Vanilla Horchata” for a daytime pick-me-up, or “Sweet Dreams” for a nighttime reset. Shop Tea Please | Follow @teaplease on Instagram

Muniq

Through Muniq, founder Marc Washington aims to preserve the legacy of his sister, Monica. She was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and passed away due to complications during childbirth. By centering gut health, the shake company urges us to understand the role that gut health plays in managing our overall wellbeing, from blood sugar levels to digestion and immunity. Shop Muniq | Follow @muniqlife on Instagram

No matter your flavor, going alcohol-free doesn’t mean your options will be limited. Actually, it can help you consume – and take care of yourself – in a brand new way. Supporting mission-driven, Black-owned business is the cherry on top.  

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

7 Myths About Treatment To Change Your Drinking

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If you’re exploring treatment to change your drinking, you’re practicing self-care. And that’s something to be proud of.

Establishing a healthy relationship with alcohol, whether that means moderating your drinking, or stopping altogether, can give you so much more out of your life. Here are just a few reasons Monument community members have made the choice to change their drinking:

So, why do only 10% of people with Alcohol Use Disorder get treatment in the current system?

Reasons include cost, rigid treatment modalities, stigma, and more. We built Monument to break down these barriers.

If you’ve thought one or more of the below treatment myths to be true, it’s not because you’re uninformed. It’s because for many years, these myths were perpetuated, and there was no alternative way of thinking. There weren’t options for everyone. Treatment wasn’t personalized. There wasn’t the science and research to support an evidence-based approach.

But that’s changed. We’re working with leading experts and clinicians to re-write the rules, and debunk these myths for good.

Myth 1 👩🏽‍⚕️: “Drinking is a moral failing. Why would I talk to a doctor?”

Fact: Alcohol Use Disorder is a medical condition, like heart disease is.

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a medical condition that can be diagnosed by a physician and treated with evidence-based tools. Drinking habits are not in any way related to someone’s moral compass or understanding of right and wrong. AUD is a biopsychosocial disorder, which means biological, psychological, and social conditions interact to influence someone’s drinking behaviors.

Unlike many traditional recovery programs, Monument employs tools like cognitive behavioral therapy and FDA-approved medication that research has proven to work. We connect members to licensed physicians and therapists specialized in treating substance use disorders. In many traditional programs, counselors and coaches often administer care. Treating AUD like the medical condition it is reduces the stigma, and increases the likelihood of patient success.

Myth 2 📉: “My drinking isn’t severe enough to seek support.”

Fact: Alcohol Use Disorder is diagnosed on a spectrum from mild to severe.

Severity of Alcohol Use Disorder is diagnosed based on 11 criteria, and depending on the criteria you meet, you may either receive no diagnosis, or a mild, moderate, or severe diagnosis. And here’s another fact: no matter where you are on that spectrum (or if you aren’t at all), you can build a healthier relationship with alcohol. At Monument, our physicians and therapists consider your diagnosis, medical history, and goals in crafting an online alcohol treatment plan. And that will look different for everyone, whether your drinking is more mild, severe, or anywhere in between.

You don’t need to ‘hit rock bottom’ to make the choice to live a healthier live. If your drinking is no longer enabling you to live the life you want and deserve, it’s a great idea to create distance. (Read: How To Psychologically Distance Yourself From People…And Alcohol.)

 

Myth 3 🏷️: “They’re going to make me say I’m an alcoholic.”

Fact: drinking is something you do, not who you are.

And more importantly, it’s something you can change. So why would we make you label yourself with a temporary behavior? If you find freedom in using that terminology, we encourage you to identify however is most empowering to you. But you will never be asked to label yourself in any way.

Our CEO & Co-Founder Mike didn’t identify with the word, which was a big barrier for him getting the treatment that helped him get and stay sober.

In the Monument community, including the forum and therapist-moderated support groups, you don’t even have to share your name if you want to remain truly anonymous. We hope one day changing your drinking will be a point of pride, and something we want to shout from the rooftops. However, we recognize we have work to do to reduce the stigma, and encourage you to remain as anonymous as you feel comfortable with.

get the relief and support you deserve. Click to explore treatment options

Myth 4 ♾️: “If I start treatment, I have to commit to a lifetime of abstinence.”

Fact: “You don’t need to see the entire staircase to take the first step.”

This is a nugget of wisdom from Sabrina, a licensed therapist on the Monument platform. Many Monument members join with goals for moderation, and after working with a physician and therapist, determine sobriety might be the best goal for them. And vice versa. Some members join with the intent to stop drinking entirely, and later explore how they might be able to build a healthy relationship with alcohol through moderation. This journey is rarely a linear one, and you’re allowed to change your goals and aspirations as you build a deeper sense of your ideal self.

Regardless of where you are, you don’t need to know where you want to be to take a closer look at your relationship with alcohol. Join a free support group. Post in the community. Read a few expert insights. These steps can amount to meaningful self-reflection and enable change.

Myth 5 📅: “If I drink, I have to start all over again.”

Fact: Progress doesn’t go away with a setback.

If day counting is motivating for you, we encourage you to keep at it. However, “continuous days sober” or “continuous days moderating” are not the only way we measure success at Monument. Because days, weeks, months, or even years of progress aren’t washed away with a drink. We view progress as committing to better understand your needs, building alcohol-free coping mechanisms, practicing healthier self-talk, building productive boundaries, and so much more.

If you do drink in ways that are inconsistent with your goals, we encourage you to work with your physician and therapist to understand why, align on a plan to reduce the likelihood of it happening again, and continue to build upon your achievements to date.

Myth 6 🕒: “I don’t have time for this right now.”

Fact: Treatment can happen on your own time.

Life shouldn’t have to stop for treatment. That’s why we connect members to support groups, and therapists and physicians (your ‘Care Team’) entirely via video chat. And we offer flexible scheduling that works around your life. On average, a member connects with their physician and/or therapist within one week of signing up for Monument. We know you’re busy, which is why we want to make fitting in treatment as easy as possible. You can also reschedule virtual appointments as needed.

Myth 7 : “It’s too late for me.”

Fact: It’s not.

If you feel like you’ve tried everything to quit, or have been drinking heavily for too many years to make a change, we understand why that can be intimidating. But our clinicians have worked with people who have been drinking in unhealthy ways for many, many years, and have made a meaningful change.

It’s not too late to treat a medical condition with a medical solution. It might be challenging to build new habits, and rewire your thought processes, but you don’t have to do it alone. You can check out our free resources including expert insights, connect with others navigating similar challenges in the community, and work with leading clinicians who have seen whatever you’re going through before. You CAN do this.

 Get expert insights delivered to your inbox. Click to join the free community. Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.
Sunset Women

How I Navigate ‘Wine Mom’ Culture Without Wine

Sunset Women

When I first quit drinking, I didn’t know what the plan was long-term. Was I taking a temporary break? Would this actually stick? Did I just have my last drink…ever?

out myself and my alcohol consumption: moderation did not work, because I never wanted to stop at just one drink.

I also knew that alcohol use disorder ran in my family and that my average 3–4 glasses of wine per night were way over the lines of ‘healthy’ for me. As a mother of two young children, parenting with a vicious hangover was perhaps the most miserable, self-inflicting pain I have ever encountered. After a night of drinking wine, I woke up one morning with a pounding headache and a weak stomach determined never to experience another hangover for the rest of my life.

I read books on unhealthy drinking, such as the Big Book and This Naked Mind Controls Alcohol. And I worked with a therapist on understanding my aching desire to begin drinking alcohol every night and numb out reality.

Navigating sobriety or moderation for women (Mon/Sat)

Women face a unique set of challenges in navigating sobriety and moderation. Join the discussion about gender-specific topics such as stigma, trauma, and gender inequalities. All expressions of female identity are welcome.
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Those first few weeks were difficult, but as long as I could control my environment and my schedule, I knew what to do to physically stay away from alcohol. If there wasn’t alcohol in the house, I couldn’t start drinking alcohol at home and around my kids. 

Perhaps the most challenging part was navigating the experiences I could not control as a woman and a mother— mainly, social gatherings and the cultural norm of drinking. Weddings, funerals, book clubs, even moms sidelined at the Sunday afternoon soccer game are known to break out some bubbly or sneak cocktails in their tumblers. 

Alcohol is everywhere, and to be social in this world often means to be surrounded by alcohol consumption. Especially when navigating what’s come to be known as  “wine mom culture.” 

What is “wine mom culture”?

 Wine mom culture can mean something different to everyone. However, on the internet, wine mom culture has come to be associated with using alcohol to cope with the stress of parenting, to connect with other moms, and to find moments of relief by drinking. To me, one memory clearly defines the wine mom culture I had become surrounded by. 

I remember so clearly a play date at another mom’s house, back when I was still early in my sobriety. Almost the moment I stepped through the front door, the mom giggled, “Mimosa time!” And my body froze. I did not know how to handle that. Yes, we can plan, we can engineer, and we can practice, but when it comes to social functions, things can frequently feel out of our control. We don’t have power over others. The good news is, we can control how we show up and navigate mommy wine culture” with our own set of tools. (Hint: alcohol not included.)

cocktail on table

How to navigate “wine mom culture”

Now, nearly three years sober, I’ve developed my own sobriety toolkit that I use in social situations where alcohol is present.  Here’s how I socialize without the “mommy juice,” and have just as good of a time as everyone else (if not better!).

Always bring a fun drink.

I’ve become known for bringing a unique non-alcoholic beverage with me to parties now. Honestly, I just add it to the party cooler and share it with anyone else who might be interested. You can even drink it in a wine glass if you want. Spoiler alert: someone always wants to join the alcohol-free party. Sometimes people are just looking for an invitation to abstain, and a companion to do it with. My go-to alcohol alternative? Soda water with a splash of flavored vinegar.

Check out Monument’s Delish AF for some fun non-alcoholic cocktail ideas.

Look for the other non-drinkers in the room.

There is a misconception when you’re drinking that everyone else is drinking too. When you start to look more closely, however, you will quickly recognize that there are almost always a few non-drinkers mingling (and having a great time, I should add). I realized that I wasn’t the only sober woman in the room. I frequently feel drawn towards those folks, and we have great conversations — without the cacophony of slurring that most social drinking elicits. Making more meaningful connections is a huge benefit of sobriety.

Put your own needs first.

I have learned that the importance of my sobriety trumps any sense of obligation or pressure. Whether it’s Christmas day or a dear friend’s wedding, if I ever feel triggered or unsteady, I give myself permission to leave. Full, unequivocal validation that my needs are important. If that means going home, so be it. If the people in your life are advocates for your wellbeing, they will understand. And moreover, they will actively support you. I’ve never regretted prioritizing my needs.

The freedom of sobriety is the most empowering gift I’ve ever given myself. However, it’s not always easy. As humans, we are socially structured and need to coexist in a world where most people drink. Being alcohol-free can feel ostracizing at times. You may wonder if you will ever feel comfortable in your own skin again, let alone going out to a party or a football game. But I can promise you that with time and practice, you too can enjoy the social engagement of life as you once did without an alcoholic beverage. The best part is you will remember what you did and said the next morning, too.

And that is something to celebrate.

How To Manage Your Drinking This Election Season

The election is fast-approaching, which can naturally cause anxiety given the uncertainty it brings. Take a moment and ask yourself, how am I doing? On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your anxiety level in the past few weeks? For many, that number is higher than they’d like it to be, and it’s understandable. We’re living in an unpredictable time, and with that comes fear. We’re also living amidst a lot of tragedy, which can result in trauma and grieving. Wherever your feelings are coming from, they are valid, and you are not alone. You are not alone in feeling anxious, and you are not alone if you want to drink. The good news is you don’t have to. By learning about why this anxiety exists, we can practice ways to manage it without alcohol.

Why you’re feeling anxious and want to drink

The collateral damage from the pandemic has had severe implications for people’s mental health. Alcohol use has increased significantly since the start of the pandemic because healthy and familiar coping mechanisms no longer feel sufficient or accessible.

Election-related anxiety can have a similar effect: we’re left feeling helpless, and our healthy coping mechanisms don’t seem to do the trick for this unique brand of stress.

Let’s break it down physiologically. When anxious thoughts occur, they trigger a gland inside the brain called the hypothalamus. This is known as the “fight or flight” gland. If you have ever watched a horror movie, you may have noticed yourself getting nervous about the person in the film. That’s because the hypothalamus can’t tell if you are in the film or watching it. Your hypothalamus cannot discern reality and perceived reality. In turn, our bodies release adrenaline and trigger a stress response. It’s completely normal to feel the urge to drink to self-soothe the stress. However, if you continue to drink to cope with stress, the hypothalamus gland ‘learns’ that you need alcohol to manage stress, which creates dependency. And then it feels even harder to manage stress without it.

Similar to that movie, real-life election suspense, and the possibility of what’s on the other side, can create anxiety that feels inescapable. It can be tempting to fall into the cycle of alcohol dependency and escapism, but there are healthier coping mechanisms that will help you keep that anxiety at bay.

How to manage election-related stress

In the case of pre-election anxiety, limiting political media consumption can be incredibly effective for calming our fight-or-flight instincts that could lead to a drink. And I know, turn off the TV may seem like an obvious answer. Here are five alternatives.

1. Give yourself a boundary.

Media is everywhere, and it can be hard to make a clean break and delete your Twitter account or unplug your cable box. Sometimes, the most efficient method for conquering habits (whatever they may be), is to set realistic boundaries for yourself. For example, I can only watch the news with a friend/partner or I can only go on such-and-such website one day per week. You have the power to flip the channel, even for an evening, and you don’t have to do it alone. This can help you create a balance between staying informed, and managing the stress that can come along with it.

2. Find engaging content alternatives to balance your schedule.

After you’ve set your boundaries, find healthier alternatives. For example, if you’ve decided to only watch the news when with your partner, you can seek out entertainment content in your free time. Binge-watching something other than political media — ideally, fictional television can be a feel-good alternative to the news (and doesn’t leave you with an emotional hangover). Options like cooking shows can also inspire offline activities — like preparing a new meal — and create a productive distraction.

And if you’re feeling the urge to drink, you can always join a virtual therapist-moderated support group or sign up for alcohol therapy with a therapist specialized in helping people change their relationship with alcohol. I moderate “Navigating relationship challenges while managing your drinking,” “Moderation in the time of Coronavirus,” and “Navigating sobriety or moderation for men.” I’m always impressed and inspired by the supportive environment, and actionable tips shared by our members.

Moderation in the time of Coronavirus

The global pandemic is affecting our behaviors in many ways, including our alcohol consumption. Join the discussion about assessing your own drinking behaviors and creating healthier habits through moderation.
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3. Shake and stir an alcohol-free beverage.

Say you do keep the news on — that is completely understandable. The next step here is to detach election content consumption from the ritual of alcohol consumption. When you’re craving a drink, consider reaching for an alcohol-free cocktail instead. The brain can identify the alcohol alternative as comparable reinforcement, without the potentially harmful outcomes of drinking alcohol.

Need some inspiration? Check out Monument’s Delish AF for some fun non-alcoholic cocktail ideas.

4. Focus on what you can control.

If you keep the news on and are still feeling anxious, it can be helpful to channel that energy into action. Taking service-oriented action is a great way to fill time with non-alcohol-related activity, and replace those feelings of helplessness with feelings of productivity. Make sure you’re registered to vote. Encourage others to do so. Make calls, share information, or volunteer. Combating fear of the intangible with tangible action can serve both you and your community.

5. Try, right now, to take one deep breath, and exhale.

Breathe in again through the mouth for eight seconds, hold it for four seconds, and exhale again — through the nose — for eight seconds.

An anxiety cycle can quite literally be interrupted by breathing. Oxygen dilutes the number of neurotransmitters in the prefrontal cortex, where anxiety dwells. The reduction of neurotransmitters sends a message over to the hypothalamus: You are not in danger right now. This reset can create the clarity you need to focus on self-care and take steps forward.

Of course, elections significantly impact our lives — as both individuals and as a society at large. You have every right to feel anxious, particularly in the context of our current political climate. Whatever you are feeling is valid.

I hope the above tips are helpful in interrupting cycles of anxiety and focusing on what’s in your control. You can do this!

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

person and mountain

How To Distance Yourself From People…And Alcohol

person and mountain

Our relationship with alcohol isn’t so different from our relationship with people. It’s complex, unique, and always evolving. One sign of an un-healthy relationship to anything or anyone is when our personal needs become secondary to the needs of something or someone else.

Managing your drinking through quarantine

A free, therapist-moderated support group moderated by the author, 
Sabrina Sportono
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When a relationship that once brought us joy exhibits signs of abuse, heartache, and self-doubt, it’s safe to say it’s no longer serving us in the way that it needs to. Okay, so now what? When my patients describe unhealthy relationships with sub-
stances or people, I recommend they take steps towards what’s called psychological distancing. Here’s how.

Laptop On Table

Psychological Distancing 101

Our relationship with alcohol isn’t so different from our relationship with people. It’s complex, unique, and always evolving. One sign of an un-healthy relationship to anything or anyone is when our personal needs become secondary to the needs of something or someone else.

Create new adventures

Psychological Distancing is a concept in developmental psychology. It focuses on building self-awareness in order to establish a sense of autonomy from 
our surroundings and leave room for personal growth.

While we are all in some way attached to the people, places, and things around us, it is how deeply attached we are that can alter our self-confidence and sense of self. We naturally possess a sense of what we need to live our fullest lives, but certain circum-stances, relationships, and various forms of trauma can condition us to believe otherwise. The relationships we form to these people, experiences, and substances is what we call a narcissistic bond. Here’s how to break these bonds and get closer to our ideal-selves

“You are able to respectfully back away from an unhealthy attachment and begin healing. I tell my patients to think of acceptance as an act of self-love.”

Adventure can feel nonexistent in narcissistic relationships because what becomes your sole purpose is fueling the ego of the narcissist, or in the case of alcohol, dedicating all of your thoughts and time to drinking. It is as if there is one channel playing at all times. The good news is, you have the power to change it. Even the act of planning to do something outside of your routine can be healing. Engaging in new relationships, hobbies, and experiences outside of that unhealthy bond is an incredibly effective tool in creating necessary distance.

Coffee Shop Table

Understand your boundaries

In narcissistic bonds, we’re conditioned to feel that we’re nothing without the person or substance we’re bonded to. In reality, boundaries and independence are a necessary part of any healthy relationship.

In the case of alcohol, creating boundaries often means examining your relationship with drinking, and building coping mechanisms to create the distance that’s right for you. I wrote this piece to help you better understand what amount of distance, whether that means moderation or sobriety, will empower you to live your fullest life.

Therapy can be a really effective tool to build those coping mechanisms and create that distance. Therapy provides a platform to work on modifying self-destructive behaviors, obtaining healthier coping responses, building relapse prevention skills, establishing boundaries, improving communication skills, and increasing self-efficacy. If you’re interested in therapy, I encourage you to check out Monument’s personalized treatment options. Members receive a specialized treatment plan, designed to help you reach your sobriety or moderation goals, while keeping in mind co-occurring conditions surrounding alcohol and PTSD, depression, and other mental health factors.

In relationships with other people, you can also work out boundary setting with the support of a therapist. Monument also offers a free therapist-moderated support group about navigating relationship challenges while managing your drinking.

And finally, it’s important to understand that sometimes boundaries aren’t enough. In relationships with narcissists, their suffering often plays out in a projection. They often see your emotions as weaknesses because that is how they view their own. And your emotions are valid and deserve to be recognized. Enter: accepting the end of unhealthy relationships.

Radically accept things as they are, not as we wish them to be

Sometimes, the reality is that there is no way to keep a person, place, or thing in our lives in a healthy way. Whether that means you explored moderating your drinking, and decide sobriety is best for you, or are in a relationship with another person that is stripping you of confidence and joy. Accepting that you need to end that relationship may initially feel like failure.

It’s common to mistake acceptance with defeat. Acceptance isn’t throwing in the towel. So let’s look at the difference: The major distinction between acceptance and defeat is what brings you freedom. Acceptance gives back the freedom to move on from the narcissistic bond, and seek closure. You are able to respectfully back away from an unhealthy attachment and begin healing. I tell my patients to think of acceptance as an act of self-love.

Sitting At Sunset

Be aware of where you get validation

Regardless of where you are in your healing process, it can be hard to let go of the feeling that your character is built on others’ perceptions of you, and past behaviors. It’s crucial to be mindful of this. Otherwise, we risk filling any gaps of validation with substances.

So, ask yourself, what do I genuinely appreciate about myself regardless of what anyone has to say? Even the people whose opinions matter the most to me? Answer this question, write it down, and say it out loud a few times a day. Eventually, with practice, you’ll become your default source of approval. You won’t need validation from others or seek relief from alcohol. The narcissistic bond will break and you’ll step into the empowered, liberated individual that you are.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.