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9 Tips From Sober Entrepreneurs On Making Your Office Sober-Friendly

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Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve had the honor and challenge of creating places people love to work. And I think, for the most part, I’ve done a decent job. However, it wasn’t until I began my own sobriety journey a few years ago that I fully recognized how prominently alcohol shows up in the workplace — even the ones I helped create.

As the world reopens, there’s been no shortage of discussion about the future of work. We’re talking about transforming the way companies approach office space, remote work, sick day policies, travel, and entertainment. The reopening of corporate America presents a long-overdue opportunity to revisit our workplace culture, and bring inclusion and employee wellbeing to the forefront. One way to do that? A more mindful approach to how alcohol shows up (and doesn’t!) in your workplace.

I had the honor of collaborating with Kelsey Moreira, CEO & Founder of Doughp, to put our ideas to paper. Kelsey has been sober for nearly 6 years, and has literally made mental health her business. In addition to creating seriously legit cookie dough, Doughp donates 1% of sales to She Recovers, and has created a company culture where mental health comes first. Here are our tips for a more sober-friendly office.

Kelsey Moreira, CEO & Founder of Doughp Kelsey Moreira, CEO & Founder of Doughp

1. Educate about alcohol use disorder: Statistically, there are likely people in your own professional community who are struggling to manage their drinking. To be more inclusive of people navigating sobriety or moderation, whether that’s your employee base, or your customer base, it’s crucial to understand alcohol use disorder (AUD). For far too long, excessive alcohol use has been viewed as a moral failing instead of the medical condition it is. Leaders and decision-makers should familiarize themselves with the leading science about AUD, including what influences it, how it displays itself in individuals, and alcohol treatment options. This might require challenging your own biases about alcohol consumption. That’s part of the process.

2. Swap out the keg: With your newfound knowledge about AUD, consider putting in a keg of kombucha in place of alcohol in the office. Putting alcohol at the front & center of events puts pressure on staff to cozy up to the bar or risk being left out of valuable team building and conversations with management that may be happening over a glass of whiskey. If you’re not willing to ditch the office booze entirely, consider aiming for a 1-to-1 ratio between alcoholic and non-alcoholic options: this includes non-alcoholic beers, wines, and spirits. You could even create your own alcohol-free cocktail inspired by Monument’s digital drinkbook, Delish AF. Options are plentiful, and everyone deserves a celebratory drink.

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. Be a thoughtful event planner: Having a business dinner or event? Pick a restaurant with a thoughtful alcohol-free cocktail menu or ensure the caterer is asked to prepare a list of fun alternative drinks outside of just water. Let all of your employees, vendors, and clients feel comfortable ordering what suits them without fear of visual judgment or questions like “What’s wrong with you tonight?” and “Why aren’t you drinking?” Alcohol-free cocktails can be a great tool for creating a festive environment without pressure or judgment.

4. Celebrate sober milestones just like other milestones: Encourage discussion around sobriety by celebrating milestones like sober birthdays in exactly the same manner as you do regular birthdays. If your employee or teammate made the decision to change their life for the better, that should 100% be celebrated, like running a marathon, or achieving a meaningful life milestone. Make them feel extra special with cookie dough, confetti and the Doughp Sober Birthday Box — launching mid May!

Doughp cookie doughPhoto courtesy of Doughp

5. Provide resources to your workforce: It’s inspiring to see how companies are expanding their employee benefits beyond the traditional medical and dental. Wellness extends far beyond our physical wellbeing, and employee benefits and resources should reflect that. Check in with your benefits providers or EAP to see how you might offer online alcohol treatment as a benefit to your employees. You can also connect with the Monument partnerships team about sharing evidence-based resources with your workforce by emailing partnerships@joinmonument.com.

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

6. Mental Health Mondays: This practice has been a game-changer at Doughp as part of their Mental Health Policy. (Check out a template to implement in your company here!) Using Slack or another internal communication tool? Encourage conversation about the tough stuff in life by starting a Mental Health Monday channel and asking each employee to share one high and one low from the last week. This opens a more honest dialogue in the workplace and cultivates a deeper understanding of what’s happening in your employees’ lives. Remember: vulnerability starts at the top! Chime in each week and don’t hold back on your own shares. Also be sure to engage and show support when an employee also opens up. This will show your team it’s a safe place where they can bring their full selves to the office.

7. Team building doesn’t require booze: If you’re sober, it can be uncomfortable to hear that the team building event this quarter is wine tasting in Napa. Most wineries don’t keep many N/A options on hand. Keep your whole team in mind when planning retreats and team building events. Encourage your team to get creative and help come up with ideas. Think outside the box: painting classes, museums, cooking classes, pottery, hiking. Team Monument’s favorite activities to date? Bowling, trivia, and an alcohol-free cocktail tasting. An added bonus is that your employees will form even more authentic connections, without the influence or potential negative effects of alcohol.

 

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8. Check in on your company communications: This one is two-fold. First, check in on how you converse with your employees. Next time you draft a company-wide announcement, ask yourself: how might this be received by someone struggling to manage their drinking right now? How about someone who is sober? Be mindful of your language. Let’s leave “Wine o’ Clock” (far, far) behind us. Second, proactively encourage people to reflect on their relationship with alcohol in a way that feels positive and encouraging. Invite speakers to talk about substance use disorders and recovery. Share resources in a wellness-specific newsletter. And if you’re comfortable, share your own story…

9. Sober business leader? We’d love to hear from you! If you’re a sober business leader, we’d love to get in touch through social media (@doughp & @joinmonument) or via our contact emails. Sharing your story, to one person or thousands, helps break the stigma. Willing to share your story, and/or have ideas about how to create more sober-friendly offices? Let’s chat!

It’s been an honor learning from Kelsey about how she’s building a mental health-first culture at Doughp, and sharing her wisdom beyond her own office (or Zoom) walls. Sobriety is a superpower, and it’s our hope that business leaders recognize that, and embrace it in all facets of their company culture. It’s great for business, and great for your people. Here’s an alcohol-free cheers to that.

Mike Russell, CEO & Co-Founder of MonumentMike Russell, CEO & Co-Founder of Monument

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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.

I Needed Help To Stop Drinking, So I Built My Next Startup

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My Drinking Years

Most people don’t know I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Friends, employees and even my parents didn’t know that I struggled to control my drinking until I told them. Some as recently as a few weeks ago.

After working in finance out of college I entered the party promotion business with pretty instant success. Partying and drinking became my livelihood, and I was good at it. I would only drink when going out, but I was going out all the time. My binges and 48-hour hangovers came and went and came and went, and no one seemed to be bothered by it.

“Was I addicted to alcohol? I didn’t know where I fit on the spectrum of people with alcohol use issues, or if I qualified at all.”

After seven years of promoting I decided to transition out of that business and ‘settle down,’ but the drinking behaviors followed me into my next chapter. I founded two startups, married my incredible wife, had two beautiful kids, and continued to binge drink. I would only drink once every week or two, but I would find myself out until the morning and sleeping through the days as my kids stirred asking why their dad was so sleepy.

Was I addicted to alcohol? I didn’t know where I fit on the spectrum of people with alcohol use issues, or if I qualified at all. But I knew I wanted to stop drinking and needed help doing it. I knew I felt deeply embarrassed. I searched for support only to find myself feeling more adrift and alone than ever.

I reached out to outpatient centers and the first one to get back to me took three weeks to respond, only to tell me there was a two month waitlist until they could speak with me. I didn’t feel comfortable in the group meetings I tried but desperately wanted to regain control over my life by controlling my drinking.

“That’s why I’m making treatment to help people change their drinking my business. Because while there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution to changing your relationship with alcohol, people deserve to have options...”

Getting Treatment

(See more about personalized treatment options at joinmonument.com)

My breakthrough happened in February of 2018 when I had given up on my online research and group meetings, and asked a sober friend for his advice. He recommended a medication he had been taking that reduced his desire to drink. I learned there were FDA-approved prescription medications to help people moderate or stop their drinking, and that’s when my treatment journey began in earnest.

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

I saw a glimpse into what my life could be like without alcohol: showing up to a 3-year-old’s birthday party at 11AM instead of sleeping through it, missing work only for family vacations and the occasional fishing trip, being the attentive, high-energy, family-over-everything dad my kids deserve.

I haven’t had a drink since the first day I began my prescription. And there have been moments of weakness and temptation. When I stopped drinking I had to face what I was drowning out with alcohol, and that’s a challenge I confront every day.

No one told me about the anxiety, anger, and impulses that might come with getting sober, and I work through that with therapy. Counseling has helped me develop coping mechanisms and understand those negative feelings. Even through the more trying days and nights I have found that the combination of medication, therapy, and peer support has more power than my drinking. I have found early morning weekend hours are some of my favorites. I have found I’m a pretty awesome dad.

 

My Mission

That’s why I’m making treatment to help people change their drinking my business. Because while there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution to changing your relationship with alcohol, people deserve to have options. People should be able to get support as soon as they’re ready to take the leap.

They should know about the medication that might have saved my life. They should understand that working with a therapist can transform their recovery. They should know they don’t have to go it alone. Finding other ‘I don’t drink that often but can’t stop once I start’ drinkers in online forums has helped me work through many of my feelings of isolation and shame.

And after hearing stories of people driving hours to free group meetings, lying to their manager about leaving work for therapy, or skipping therapy altogether because of cost or inconvenience, I decided I had to find a way to make treatment accessible and affordable. I did the research, dreamt up my ideal treatment program, and put together a plan: Monument was born.

Monument is an online treatment platform for those looking to change their relationship with alcohol. Designed to support sobriety or moderation, Monument plans are personalized to members’ goals, lifestyles, and preferences.

While I’m proud of my journey, I’m a work in progress. I built Monument for myself as much as I did for the 38 million problem drinkers in the US, and the friends, family, parents, and children of those people. You can find me posting my triumphs and challenges in the Monument community, where our members are encouraged to ask questions and share experiences throughout their journey.

To me, success means getting as many people as possible the help they need whenever they need it, because life shouldn’t have to stop for recovery. Success also means changing how the world views alcohol dependence. I want people to feel proud to share their story and to make the decision to seek treatment. It’s a decision that has given me so much more out of my life.

If you think drinking less can give you or someone you know more, I would be honored if you’d consider joining Monument’s online alcohol treatment programAnd to anyone in recovery, I’m proud to be on this journey with you.

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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.