Juice Crawls Are the New Bar Crawls?

Unknown-1It’s hard to imagine yet incredibly refreshing to envision that juice crawls have taken hold and for some, are replacing the traditional bar crawl. Millennials are looking for healthful, alternative ways to socialize, so why not do so via social gatherings rooted in exercise, meditation, or…juice?

Here’s an article about why booze-free events are becoming increasingly popular…


How Novelist Joyce Maynard Realized She Had a Drinking Problem

UnderInfluenceWEBIn a candid 3-part series for The Huffington Post, Drinking Diaries book and blog contributor, Joyce Maynard, reveals how writing her new novel, “Under the Influence,” led her to examine her increasingly fraught relationship with alcohol. We can’t wait to read her new novel. Below is an excerpt from her Huffington Post piece:

“I was reading a book I wrote when I realized: I had to give up drinking.

This happened a few months back. I had just finished writing this novel, and was reading it over one more time, the way I always do before a piece of my work is published. And it was hearing my own words about addiction to alcohol, spoken in the voice of my fictional character, that revealed to me what my daily morning headache, and my trips to the recycling bin with all those empty bottles, had not.

There was a reason why I had been able to get into the head of a woman who had a problem with alcohol. I had one too.”

To read the entire post, click here.


A Month With No Drink–Two Years and Counting

images-3Two days, ago, I completed my now annual no-alcohol September. It obviously was not as novel an endeavor as last year’s (my first go at it), which I wrote about in a post linked here and have also pasted below. But going a month without drinking still posed its challenges and continues to be an experiment–a sort of test of my energy, my self-control, my mindfulness, and my emotional state.

September has always been an exciting month for me. While it marks the end of summer–a season that is hard not to love–I have a soft spot for autumn. For me, September is a time of renewal, and harkens back to my love of fresh, clean notebooks and brand spanking new sharpened pencils at the start of each new school year. So it seems right that September is an opportunity to cleanse my system of the tasty glasses of wine and chilled pints of beer I so enjoy consuming during the year’s remaining 11 months.

September is also a month filled with Jewish holidays–some happy, some not. As we both celebrate and repent with friends and family, flanked over crowded tables of food and drink, it seemed easy to focus on the spirit of togetherness rather than the gentle buzz that often fuels my conversation at a slightly faster (read: less inhibited) speed.

I will admit that the earlier part of the month was the toughest. The house was abuzz with two kids back to school, frenetic afternoons and no more leisurely summer dinners. A glass of wine would have been just the antidote, slowing things down a bit in order to wallow in the remnants of warm nights and after-dinner walks to the park with our dogs.

Without booze, however, my focus was clear and I was able to linger in the moment, mental energy intact. As the days of September continued, I began to think of one upcoming day in particular–my son’s bar mitzvah which was taking place on September 22nd. After months of planning every detail, including the selection of wines that I did not taste but instead lined up one evening for my husband and a couple of friends to compare and contrast–I wondered how it would feel to fill my glass with seltzer rather than alcohol.

“You know, you can have a bye on the 21st,” my husband told me. “It’s your son’s bar mitzvah.”

“I know,” I answered, unwilling to commit one way or the other.

The bar mitzvah day approached, and I started to take my mental temperature–would it be easier to give a speech with some wine in my system? Yes. Would it take less effort to navigate the room, schmoozing with relatives I rarely see? Yes. Did I need a liquid boost to bring me to the center of a rousing hora? No.

So I let the decision hang in the air, waiting to see how I felt on that day. It arrived, and after a beautiful service in the synagogue, our crowd of family and friends moved into the sukkah for cocktails. The sunlight was streaming through the leaves and branches that covered the bamboo ceiling of this temporary structure, and I felt overcome with the emotion of the day. I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t stressed. I was happy and calm and reveling in the moment. I walked over to the bar and ordered a glass of white wine and enjoyed every sip.

After that day, I continued my month alcohol-free. And now, I’m kind of glad it’s October.

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A Month With No Drink–Six Days To Go


calendar-crossed-outJust over three years ago, I wrote a post on Drinking Diaries, announcing that my husband and I were going to be alcohol-free on Mondays. It sounds like no big deal–and it wasn’t–but it was the first time we had made a conscious decision to keep wine off the dinner table. We’re not big drinkers, but it wasn’t strange for us to have a glass of wine with dinner nearly every night. Three years later, we’ve stuck to our alcohol-free Mondays, and often opt for seltzer or iced tea on other days too.

In my continued effort to explore the role drinking plays in my life–and in celebration of our new Drinking Diaries anthology–I decided to go alcohol-free for the month of September. I’d been looking for an excuse to try abstaining for a month, ever since I interviewed Carrie Wilkens, PhD, cofounder and clinical director of the Center for Motivation and Change in New York City, for an article I wrote called “The Art of Mindful Drinking,” During our interview, I remember Dr. Wilkens saying that one of the first things she suggests patients do is to take time off of drinking. And so, I did.

Here’s what I learned:

  • It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
  • I missed drinking most on Friday nights, a sacred evening for our family when we have a longer-than-normal dinner and always stay home.
  • I strangely enjoyed the challenge of saying “no,” particularly during occasions when I would normally have had a glass of wine or two, such as during our book party and at a gourmet dinner out with my husband.
  • All this time, I thought it was wine that was making me tired. But it turns out I still doze off in front of the TV–even without any alcohol in my system.
  • Last weekend, I had to tell a waiter several times that I wasn’t drinking, as he refreshed the glasses at our table from a giant pitcher of red sangria. It made me empathize with other abstainers.
  • I’d expected to feel more clear-headed and energetic without the alcohol, but I basically feel the same. Perhaps the amount I normally drink isn’t enough to make me feel fuzzy and lethargic?
  • I miss drinking when I’m eating a good dinner. There is no doubt that for me, wine not only takes the edge off, but also enhances flavors, adding to my enjoyment of food.
During that same interview with Dr. Wilkens, she explained that “It’s not unreasonable to have alcohol as a part of your life, as long as you are able to assess whether or not you are relying on it too much.” The key, she added, is imageslearning to consume consciously enough to know how you’re being affected.

Consciously is the key word here. And taking the month off of drinking has made me more aware than ever of when and how much I’m consuming. Another positive factor came from a parenting perspective–it felt beneficial showing my kids that I wasn’t drinking, allowing them to see that I am mindful of my alcohol consumption.

A month without drinking has me feeling refreshed and triumphant, and I’ll probably do this again at some point in the future. I’d be lying, though, if I said I’m not looking forward to the end of the month. I can already “taste” the tannins of a full-bodied cabernet in my mind. But first, I still have six more days to go.

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An Excerpt from "Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety," A Memoir by Sacha Z. Scoblic

We’re thrilled to bring you a sneak peek of Sacha Z. Scoblic’s memoir, Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety (Citadel Press). Unlike most “alcoholism” memoirs, which focus on viagra cheap the descent, Scoblic navigates the tricky territory of pulling herself up after her drinking days are done. How to craft a meaningful (and fun!) life without alcohol?

The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 4, Drinks for Drunks (A Field Guide to the Sobriety Wilderness):

“It’s not safe outside. The city—any city—is littered with my drug of choice…suddenly you realize that everything is a bar now: the coffee bar, the frozen-yogurt bar, the chocolate bar, the pizza bar—and there is nowhere left to run except straight to the dive liquor store that sells the hard stuff with no bullshit on the side, where the only thing that separates you from feeling normal is a thin brown-paper bag and the time it takes you to walk home.

In other words, you can’t just leave the house sober and hope for the best; you have to be armed…

I wasn’t ready to enter a bar and even had strong mixed feelings about most sit-down restaurants. Walking home from work had come to seem like running an alcoholic gauntlet. Mainly, I just stayed home, snug and indoors—practicing my overeating and Internet shopping.

I was feeling self-hating and grumpy at six months sober when Joanna asked me to her house for a dinner party. What better time to take another stab at a social life? I was suffering from such an acute case of cabin fever that I decided to say yes to the invitation instead of squinting my eyes and wondering, What does she really want from me? Peter and I set out for Joanna and her husband, Elliott’s house with carefully calibrated expectations (It may be hard, but don’t be opposed to having a good time) and flowers (When you can’t bring a bottle of wine for your host, bring the gift of allergens!). Still, within moments of our arrival, just after the first awful question had been asked—“What can I get you to drink?”—I came to a sudden and horrible conclusion: People hate alcoholics.

It’s not that I expect special treatment. But, if you invite me  over for dinner, maybe buy some club soda—or Diet Coke. I don’t expect a refrigerator full of hundreds of flavors of Snapple, sodas in every hue, or novelty beverages of all stripes, but something other than water would be nice. There was nothing worse than when Joanna turned to her guests with a flourish and listed our options: “We have wine, beer, whiskey, gin-and-tonics, or homemade tequila punch. Sacha, can I get you some water?” She might as well have said, “I have spent hundreds of dollars on exciting beverages for all of my guests but you, Sacha. You, however, may have this lead-based city water I found coming out of the tap in my bathroom sink.” Honestly, she wouldn’t serve venison to her vegetarian friends, would she? Or let her vegan guest eat the peas while everyone else sank their teeth into prime rib and bacon-infused mashed potatoes?

Photo credit Kaveh Sardari

Already seething, I pulled the baguette and cheese board to my side of the table and gave Joanna’s other guests, a schoolteacher and a lawyer, sidelong dirty looks when they reached for a piece. Don’t even think about it. Cheese is my cocktail, bitch! Drink your tequila punch and leave me alone! I ate my bread and water—like a prisoner!—while the others drank their spirits. Little did I know, the worst was yet to come: “Dinner!” sang Joanna from the kitchen. “Coq au vin!” Well, fuck me.

Sacha Z. Scoblic is a Washington, DC-based journalist, whose work has appeared in The New Republic, The Guardian, and Reader’s Digest. Scoblic has also contributed to the Proof blog at The New York Times. You can find her on twitter at sachaZscoblic.




How to Drink Around an Ex-Drinker

izs009500by Amy Lee Coy

When everybody’s doin’ it, it doesn’t seem so strange. —-Black Light All Stars, “Dreams”

You know the scene… everyone is having a great time at the party until “Jenny” walks over and declines a drink because, she says, “I quit.”

“Oh…” we say. “That’s good. That’s great. Good for you.” And then we bee-line it anywhere so we can feel comfortable sipping our chardonnay again.

If a speedy escape feels rude or unresolved, then what should you do when you find yourself seated next to the only ex-drinker at the party? Should you reach for your wine discreetly, being careful not to show signs of pleasure as you swallow the tasty elixir? Should you decline that much anticipated glass of merlot for the sake of your new acquaintance? Should you pretend like everything is normal? Is everything normal?

As an ex-drinker who took her lust for liquor much too far, and as an author who writes about addiction, particularly in terms of reaching out to help people who are not helped by Alcoholics Anonymous, I understand and empathize with both sides of the coin: the drinker and the ex-drinker. In my non-drinking life today, I have found the most difficult thing about being at parties as an ex-drinker is not the lure of the olive-spiked vodka martinis or the sparkling, free-flowing champagne that passes me by–it’s being around drinkers who are so discomfited by my non-drinking status that I become the buzz-kill of the evening before I even have a chance to speak.

Because every ex-drinker is in a different stage in their “life after drinking,” it is difficult to offer a single solution to bridge the awkward gap between the drinker at the party and the anxiety provoking ex-drinker. However, having been in both positions, I can offer some general guidelines for what to do when faced with the dilemma.

#1. Relax! It is not true that every ex-drinker has unresolved issues with alcohol. Yes, some ex-drinkers are still sensitive to the sights and sounds of alcohol, but if merely watching you consume your chardonnay sets a person off on a five day bender, then they should not be attending parties where alcohol is served. It is not your responsibility to ensure an ex-drinker’s ongoing stability. However, it is your responsibility to be kind and considerate just as you would be with anyone else you meet at a party. Everyone appreciates warmth and kindness.

#2. Do not dote. Most people who quit drinking or using drugs do not share that information with the world until they are weeks or months into their sobriety. Even then, it should, ideally, be left up to the ex-drinker if and when they want to write, “I’m an ex-drinker” across their forehead. Today, five years after I’ve quit drinking, I still try not to reveal my ex-drinker status in social drinking situations simply because I know that information makes people uncomfortable. However, there are those times when a host or hostess is so intent on getting me a drink that I finally just have to say, “No, I quit drinking.” That usually does it. It also tends to add unsolicited sympathy, attention and doting–all of which serve to make me more uncomfortable, not less. So try to be as attentive (or inattentive) as you would be in the company of a drinker. Again, relax.

#3. You? There are legitimate reasons why drinkers often feel uncomfortable around ex-drinkers: anticipated or experienced feelings of being judged for enjoying their drink; fear that they might set the ex-drinker off on a bender at the mere sight of their drinking; fear that the ex-drinker is abstaining in order to be a watchdog of sorts, all too ready to bust them if they let too loose. I know the “born again” ex-drinker (and ex-smoker) type.  But most ex-drinkers I know are not “born agains” and prefer not to discuss or harp on anyone’s drinking behavior. So if you find you are really weirding out while drinking in front of an ex-drinker, you might think about looking into your own issues.

#4. There is a limit. The truth is that not all ex-drinkers are bothered by the presence of alcohol. Even so, there is a limit to how much temptation an ex-drinker should have to take. Just as many ex-drinkers are fabulous hosts and hostesses, serving the finest wine and drink to their guests in spite of not sipping a drop themselves, it is always nice when a drinking person is conscious of an ex-drinker’s status and provides equally graceful consideration. I would not entice a dieter by wafting the delicious scent of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies under their nose. Gentleness and consideration are appreciated. But even more than that, I believe ordinary normalness is the behavior that is most desired, appropriate and appreciated by ex-drinkers. Our differences are only as large and important as we make them.

Amy Lee Coy is the author of From Death Do I Part: How I Freed Myself From Addictionwww.fromdeathdoipart.com. She is a writer, artist and musician living in Southern California.

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