Interview with Lucy Rocca, co-author of “The Sober Revolution: Women Calling Time on Wine O’Clock”

by Caren on December 11, 2013

Lucy RoccaFrom time to time, we post short interviews with interesting people about their thoughts and feelings on women and drinking. There is such a wide array of perspectives about this topic, and we are excited to gain insight into as many as possible and to share them with you.

Lucy Rocca is the founder of Soberistas.com, a social network site for women who have a troubled relationship with alcohol. She is also the co-author of The Sober Revolution: Women Calling Time on Wine o’clock and Your 6 Week Plan, and lives in Sheffield, England, with her fiancé Sean and two daughters.

Drinking Diaries: How old were you when you had your first drink and what was it?

Lucy Rocca: I was probably about 8 or 9 and it would have been white wine. My parents used to occasionally let me have a sip with Sunday dinner, as many parents do in the hope that it will make alcohol less of a big deal. The first time I got drunk I was 13, and that was on a selection of spirits at a Christmas party.

How did/does your family treat drinking?

My family have always been fairly moderate drinkers, although since I set up Soberistas.com my parents have both cut out wine completely and drink far less than they used to. My partner Sean drinks when he goes out with friends but not really at home.

How do you approach alcohol in your everyday life?

If I didn’t run Soberistas.com and write books about alcohol, then I probably wouldn’t give it a second thought these days! As an ex-problem drinker I regard alcohol as a substance that should be used with caution. It is heavily and effectively marketed, under-regulated and addictive – with any other substance, people would be in uproar about that, but with booze it regularly gets swept under the carpet and ignored.

My life has turned around 100% for the better since I quit drinking, so I really don’t have a great opinion of the stuff!

If you have kids, how is the subject of drinking handled? Do you drink in front of them? With them?images-5

I don’t drink at all, and my partner rarely drinks at home. As we live in a society that promotes excessive consumption of alcohol so widely, I am keen to try and counteract that as much as possible by not bringing our children up in a house in which people drink regularly. I would rather they grow up with parents who they witness being fit and healthy. My oldest is almost 15 so the issue of alcohol has been raised – she doesn’t seem to have the self-destruct button that I had at her age (fingers crossed she’ll stay that way!!) so I’m not too worried. I’ve told her that she needs to make her own mistakes and that I’m not going to be draconian about booze just because of my own experiences. Having said that, I have warned her extensively about the dangers of drinking too much, such as unprotected sex, agreeing to sex with someone you would never sleep with sober, and all the other risky behaviours that people engage in when they are drunk.

Have you ever had a phase in your life when you drank more or less?

When I got divorced aged 27 I really hit the bottle. I was lonely, frightened, depressed and heartbroken so I drank to escape my reality. I have always been a binge drinker since I first started drinking in my early teens, but that was definitely my peak. I stopped drinking in April 2011 so the last two and a half years are when I consider my life to have started properly, minus all the negative repercussions of booze.

What’s your drink of choice? Why?

I used to drink wine, usually white but red too. Also beer when I went out because I used to get too drunk on wine and often ended up making a fool of myself in public. Wine is marketed (certainly in the UK) at women and presented as something which is fairly innocuous, occasionally even healthy, and always sophisticated and suave – I fell for all of that hook, line and sinker.

Can you tell us about the best time you ever had drinking?

I did have some good times when drunk, but the negatives always outweighed the positives. The good times don’t stand out that much because I used to drink so much I can barely remember them! The ones that do stand out do so for bad reasons, i.e. when I became so drunk that something terrible happened.

What about the worst time?

The worst time, without a shadow of a doubt, was when I drank three bottles of wine on my own, plus a litre of cider, and then collapsed unconscious outside my house (I’d gone out for a cigarette). I woke up in hospital at 3 am the following morning with no recollection of how I had wound up there. It turned out that a friend had found me while I was throwing up, unconscious on the pavement (sidewalk), and called an ambulance. That was the last time I ever drank alcohol.

Has drinking ever affected—either negatively or positively—a relationship of yours?

My alcohol dependency landed me in various relationships that I would never have entered into had I been sober. So yes, alcohol has influenced all my relationships in a negative way, other than the one I have currently with my fiancé, Sean, which is great.

Has culture or religion influenced your drinking?

I think culture, definitely. I’m an atheist so definitely no religious influences, but culturally, yes. So many films and songs portray alcohol as a cool, rock ‘n roll thing to get into. My old persona was hedonistic, a bit of a wild child – I know that I based (albeit subconsciously at the time) a lot of that on role models in the music and film industries.

How has alcoholism affected your life?

Drinking turned me into something I wasn’t, it held me back hugely. I lived for wine and nothing else so I was incredibly unproductive and really just frittered 20 years of my life away before I realized what I was doing. In a positive sense, alcohol dependency has led me to founding Soberistas.com, becoming a published author and meeting some incredible people, so I am pleased that I am where I am right now – and I wouldn’t be here without alcohol. It has been a part of my life, a big part; I’m just grateful that I worked things out and quit drinking when I did. Now I have the rest of my life to enjoy without the haze that alcohol creates.

If you could be any drink, what would it be? Why?

A nice cup of tea! Because I’m English, I love tea and it’s a reliable source of comfort – you always know where you’re at with a cup of tea, and there is none of the unpredictability that alcohol brings about!

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