Audio: BBC Radio 5 Live with Emma Barnett (May 3, 2017)

This is Sober Podcast Episode #192 for my longer sober podcast series.

This was my first experience ‘explaining’ sober coaching and quitting drinking to someone in the media who doesn’t know anything about it, is perhaps skeptical, and wonders why we quit. I didn’t realize, of course, that asking provocative and slightly confrontational questions makes for better radio. I think I was expecting something more touchy-lovely 🙂

i have to say thanks (again!) to Bemmy Girl and Sarah for coming on the show with me. brave souls you are. braver than i would have been if the roles were reversed.

Below i’ve posted the entire 17 minute podcast. usually i just post a clip but today, thanks to some really lovely donations to the Sober Good Works fund (thanks!), i’m posting this audio for everyone to listen to – even if you’re not a paying podcast subscriber.


after you listen, post a comment and tell me how you would have addressed Emma’s concern about whether it’s ‘ethical or not’ to be a sober coach for people who could be ‘in denial’ (her words) and who should see ‘a professional’ … so tell me, what would you like Emma to know?
after 48 hrs, I’ll pick one comment and that person will get a present. 



Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Over the next 48 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a present funded by the Sober Good Works donations.


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

62 thoughts to “Audio: BBC Radio 5 Live with Emma Barnett (May 3, 2017)”

  1. I think you handled it brilliantly.

    I would add that not only is it ethical, it’s crucial. Many individuals would not be open to or comfortable with seeing a professional and may go much much longer without addressing their issue. Sober coaching is one fantastic tool among many. It can be used on its own if it gets the job done, or in conjunction with other tools if necessary.

    1. Emma Barnett’s format did not seem confrontational. She asked straightforward questions. When she asked you how you qualified, you answered succinctly. Seeing a medical professional is an option you encourage penpals to explore, if you denied membership to people who seek medical professionals or other help then maybe that would be potentially unethical. The reason that could be considered unethical is because you stand in a fiduciary relationship with your pen pals in which the balance of power is automatically shifted to you, as the Coach.
      You don’t lay out those restriction – so the answer is a no, your Sober Coaching program is not unethical.

  2. First of all, you were all flipping amazing! I was so proud to be a part of the sober community listening to you all and just to think of the numbers of people you’ve given hope to by talking about your experiences and allowing them to identify with you. A massively huge hug to you all because I expect it put you all way outside of your comfort zones. And a special big hug for Sarah for putting her brave pants on – you are a true warrior.

    I think, in response to Emma, that if you have found something that works for you and that you identify with then I’m not sure that whether or not it is ethical is really an appropriate question. If you were taking people’s money and not helping them or giving them any support then that would not be ethical, but that’s not the case. The medical profession and ‘professionals’ in my experience mostly fall woefully short of understanding the nature of overdrinking and the mindset that goes with it. You have personal experience of this and that makes you better placed to help people than someone who doesn’t have a wolfie voice but who is a ‘professional’.

    I think she’s also missing the point that you are spending a lot of your time helping people and that you also need to live. I’m sure she wouldn’t do her job for free just because she has the experience that enables her to do it. I think you have a fantastic balance between the free stuff and the paid stuff. Jeez, I have so much more to say but I have to go to a meeting. Thanks again to you all, you amazing bunch of women [and all the boys too, of course!] xxx

  3. Just echoing Indy’s comment above, I thought the question was deliberately provocative, but worse was that it seemed to be based on the presumption that everyone who’s an ‘alcoholic’ would by definition always end up at AA if only they admit they have a problem. It also suggests that there’s only one way to help with the issue.

    Anyway, all of you did fabulously well! Good work ladies! 🙂

  4. That I was really excellent. Well done all of you. Asking if it is ethical is a ridiculous question when you think of the skewed world we live in where alcohol, a poison etc, is so widely available and, where I live in the UK anyway, there is very little professional help available (having asked numerous Drs for help over the years). That is not “ethical”. Thank you Radio Heroes. Xxx

  5. An excellent interview, you were all brilliant. How can anyone using a sober coach be in denial, surely not addressing the issue in any form is denial. If the definition of an alcoholic is a person who cannot go 24 hours without an alcoholic drink then there are a lot of people who have 1 glass of wine or beer or G&T a night that must be alcoholics. Good luck Sarah xx

  6. I thought you handled it fantastically and the two guests were amazing. So brave. I personally didnt get the feeling she was being deliberately provacative… More that she really just doesnt get it. More power to her! Im one of the ones who use your free tools, in fact, signing up to your 100 day challenge was my first sober act. I did it by the way! It was funny hearing your voice, i have something totally different in my head when i read your emails every day. As far as ‘is it ethical’ ah, yes. Your experience is valuable and is making a difference. Youre helping people do somethin they find difficult, something that is healthy and will improve their life. Something they can do in conjunction with other tools and programs. Good on you.

  7. You were brilliant Belle, Sarah and Bemmy Girl. One thing that came to my mind is that AA doesn’t provide “professional” support either. You get helped by other people who used to drink and our now successfully sober…. sound familiar? You offer an alternative which, as you so eloquently said, is wholly anonymous and doesn’t require you to label yourself. There isn’t a “one size fits all” solution to freeing yourself from alcohol and I think it’s wonderful to have so many sources of support and inspiration to draw on online, which means that so many people who would have remained stuck in that pattern of over-drinking are able to stop.

  8. I thought the interviewer did a perfectly professional job — asking interesting, skeptical questions that would get interesting, illuminating answers — and that all three of you handled it beautifully.

  9. Well done…I think talking about how people get hung up on if they are an alcoholic or not is very educational. People understand why you would change your diet if a doctor said you were pre-diabetic, but why would you stop drinking if you are not an alcoholic???? Because shit gets really ugly when drinking gets that bad…suddenly you are not talking about some online support and sober coaching…you are talking about rehab…you are talking about missing work and time with your kids…the neighbors finding out and your husband leaving because he is sick of it. Where do you think this elevator is going? Down…hit the stop button and get the hell off. I don’t know where i read this but i always think of this quote, “if you are an alcoholic, you shouldn’t drink…if you are not an alcoholic, it is ok not to drink.” I quit worrying about whether i was an alcoholic and just went ahead and quit drinking, and 255 days later i don’t worry about that anymore…i just don’t drink.

  10. You all did great. I would have replied that the question should not be ‘is it ethical?’, it should be ‘does it work?’ and is there a demand for sober coaching?, which your own statistics on the number of people you’ve coached confirms that there is. If people didn’t want it, and didn’t want to pay or didn’t get what they needed from it, you wouldn’t still be doing it after all this time!

  11. Agree completely with the earlier comments – the questions were interesting and handled so eloquently. I am so proud to belong to this sober community . The question about how ethical sober coaching is was intriguing . I as stated in an earlier comment – AA is successful as it is based on “one alcoholic helping another by sharing their experience” – the ethics of which are not questioned. As for the denial aspect – I guess if someone is visiting a sober website it is likely to be because they have concerns about their drinking – which I would not take to be “in denial ”
    The 3 of you were all so brave and absolutely brilliant – well done.
    I don’t have any problem with charges being made for sober coaching – although AA does not charge, it does very much rely on the financial donations of the people attending the meetings.
    I really liked the tone of the answers – could of been easy to get defensive, but you didn’t !

    1. Agreed! I actually learned a lot from the way you guys handled the questions … I would have likely jumped to defense mode; instead, your calm confident responses were very persuasive.

  12. You did a fabulous job, especially given the short amount of time you were given to reply to multi-layered questions. I would argue that the majority of resources for people struggling with alcohol are not in the form of licensed professionals, and only a minority of people struggling would be able to afford months and months of therapy/rehab/treatment that it would take to truly feel comfortable in sobriety. Many “professional” services may begin one’s journey into not drinking, but in the long term other outlets for support are usually sought. I feel blessed to have your blog, and others, as well as all of your sober tools, many I have yet to take advantage of, to use while I find my way in sobriety. Thanks Belle!

  13. Well Done Belle
    I think what we have in common those of us who over drink / drank is we want to stop.
    But it’s hard and so we need sober people who we relate too !
    Like you said it does not matter how you stop.
    What matters is you stop.

  14. Excellent interview. Congrats to you all for trying to relate over-drinking to people who just may not get it. Not having an off switch is something “normal drinkers” just can’t grasp. So sober coaching is probably just as difficult to grasp for a lot of people. Having said that, I am grateful for this community as I continue to struggle. But hearing Sarah and Bemmy Girl makes me feel less broken so yes, this community and sober coach is ethical. It provides support to those of us who may not have reached out otherwise. AA meetings are not for me. I don’t like labels as we are all a sum of many parts. And we are not in denial …that is why we are reaching out. Keep up the great work and let’s keep reaching out to one another.

  15. Everyone did a great job!!! This has been the only way I’ve been able to stay sober. This is after going to rehab twice and AA.

  16. It was great to hear this subject being discussed so openly and honestly on the radio. This needs to happen more. And for longer! The presenter was just very hung up on semantics. Which, as you say Belle, really does act as a barrier loaded with shame and embarrassment. Who cares if we use the words alcoholic, binge drinker, problem drinker or jelly bellied big-time booze guzzler. The words do not matter, it is how we FEEL about how much (or how little) we are drinking.

    Bravo to sober coaches! X

  17. I loved it! I didn’t get her use of the word denial, if you’re with a sober coach, isn’t that the opposite of denial? If you were coaching her to try to moderate, that would be different.
    I hop this helped you reach a lot of people.
    Great job, everyone!

  18. Belle, you are just so articulate it is amazing. You handled the interview very well and the interviewer was not exactly touchy-feely about the topic, was she? My first thought when she asked whether it was “ethical” was that in AA you don’t get trained “counselors” yet it is an accepted form of “treatment” so why not sober coaching? Sarah and Bemmy Girl were great, too – and both told my story about how I found your blog. Good job!

  19. As Kazia said previously (and you did a great job of making clear), what you call it doesn’t really matter. Whether it’s a half bottle of wine that fucks you up, or a bottle of vodka , all the same!
    She was a bit provocative, but if I didn’t know about TTAD, those are the questions I’d want to hear.
    Lovely job, all.

  20. Wow, you guys were amazing!
    As to her question on if it it ethical, I believe that yes, in every way it is. The way she throws the word alcoholic around kinda irked me. I think it is a stupid word and it clumps people who decide that drinking is not cohesive with their life anymore, into this outcast group of people who have a incurable “disease”.
    It puts shame on us that we are somehow total failures and why can’t we be “normal” drinkers. Alcohol is essential a poison and there is nothing “normal” about poisoning yourself everyday.

    And to boot, why are we the alcoholics? We are/have done something, like find a sober coach (in my opinion a life coach) to help us find and reach our real potential. Why is it socially acceptable to drink and not too be quite on quote sober.

    Sounds backwards to me.

    1. Yeah, my thoughts too, you guys did a great job. Proud of you, thanks for representing. It’s really becoming a movement.

  21. Great interview and great comments … i love the anonymity this provides while still allowing me to be me and not colored by what someone elses perception of a problem drinker is. I don’t get that from living in a small town and attending AA meetings where everyone knows everyone or having it documented in my health records when I visit a “professional ” to discuss it. I get it here from your emails and podcast and classes where I’ll gladly pay someone who was walked the walk before and can help me… nothing unethical or dishonest in anything you do Belle! I’m sure I speak for many in saying I’m glad you’re my coach.

  22. Ethical? What is ethical or professional about doctors labeling someone who is asking for help to quit drinking? I have been to the professional doctors and therapists and they either put me in the category of being an Alcoholic, which of course sent me spiraling down to doom or that I wasn’t an Alcoholic which of course gave me permission to drink more. AA is not solely comprised of professionals and most professionals are not solely comprised of EX- boozers. Seeking medical attention may be required for some in the beginning, but having a sober online coach to add support can help sustain the sobriety long term. Seeking true anonymous support from a sober person who professionally runs a sober business is not about morals and ethics; it is about learning new ways to live life without alcohol.
    In other words (for the Belle followers) It is about learning how to shut Wolfie the Fuck up!

    PS- Applause! Applause!! You were all so wonderful in the interview!

  23. With regard to the question of whether or not it “is ethical” to be a sober coach, Emma Barnett does not realize that sobriety is not a “one size fits all” process. Getting to sobriety is a multi-faceted process and that’s where the idea of having a s sober toolkit comes in. Just going to AA or seeking professional help is not the only answer. We need lots of different support, not just one thing. In my opinion, it is ethical to be a sober coach and to have a sober coach – it is one important piece of the sober toolkit.

    Thank you Belle, Bemmy Girl and Sarah for speaking about this important subject.

  24. from anonymous: “I would tell Emma, There is no better support than someone who has been in my shoes with drinking and found sobriety. Being heard and understood is the point of the sober coach. I already know I drink too much and it is a problem. I don’t need the shame of the AA label, “Alcoholic”. I don’t need the psycho-babble or medication some “professional” could provide. Tried it and did not work anyway. I need to know I am not helpless against any substance, that I am not broken or flawed, that I CAN fix myself. Someone who found sobriety has a thought pattern I can relate to and her cheerleading, suggestions analogies give me clarity and hope.”

  25. Excellent. I really loved that you focused on the “obsession” as opposed to quantity or consequences. What/Why we drink matters little… it’s that mental fixation on the act of drinking that is the problem, whether you call yourself an alcoholic or an over-drinker. Also, it is odd that she focused on sober coaching as perhaps unethical but referred to AA. AA is all about one alcoholic helping another… it isn’t a professional organization. What qualifies us to help each other is a shared experience. The three of you were awesome!!

  26. Awesome podcast -very relevant to the drinking community …. and to the sober community ….i think when you realize that you are not alone ….that other people in the world have “wolfie” talking to them everyday about whether to drink or not or how to moderate……you reach out wherever you can for help ……i thought for years that AA was the only answer but i never wanted to be part of that group… stand up and tell all my drunken stories and downfalls-it isnt annonymous at all …..I love the sober coaches -you can tell them everything ….i also think we know if we need a dr’s input or the coach would know and ditect you there if need be ……whatever wogks ….do it ….i thought I was alone in my thoughts and realize now i am not …..thank you for being there Belle

  27. Is it ethical ? Looking past the use of the word “ethical”, The real question being asked was ; “Is it legal ?” Like asking the good Samaritan if it was acceptable to help a Jew. By Jewish authority they were not to associate. Ethics are subjective. Do what is the right thing to do by the dictates of your own heart
    Jewish law, Roman law both have an objective. Some for the welfare of the individual and many for the self serving agenda of the state
    Laws, restrictions, licences and controls are “sold “under the guise of “ethics”. I sincerely hope that others will see through that embedded “question”
    Thank you for the good Samaritan you are. I am so fortunate to have found you. Thanks to you I am on day 4 of my sobriety !

  28. I would much rather talk to someone who can freely share their own personal experiences, which a Professional cannot do. You opened my eyes to this in your recent podcast and I was surprised by that. Peer to Peer is a major focus of recovery in professional and AA settings.

    Just because you charge money for something does not make it unethical. Even if you charged for everything you did it would still not be unethical. Rehab facilities charge money, are they unethical?

    What you do is the opposite of unethical (it’s highly ethical, kind and generous) in that you offer so many free resources for people who can’t afford more or for people who are still lurkers and not ready to jump in yet. You don’t use any questionable tactics or pressure to get people to use your paid services. Never not once have I felt any hard sell.

    Great interview-you do a great job of answering/explaining things very clearly. Tough to do when you don’t know what they are going to ask you.

    Thank you, Belle, and also to Bemmy and Sarah for sharing your wisdom and thoughts.


  29. I found this interview very interesting, and believe it is very eye opening for many people. The fact that it is being talked about publicly is huge, and I hope to hear more about this in the media. It would help people who don’t have a drink problem understand the people who drink more than they want to and struggle to be a “normal” drinker. My husband doesn’t understand why I have to quit , or why I can’t moderate. “Just have a glass or two every once in a while” he says. Doesn’t work that way for me. I’ve tried explaining to him what it’s like in my head concerning alcohol, but he didn’t get it, or doesn’t want to. I think hearing about this in the media would help others understand this, and help those who struggle with drinking find new solutions.
    Thank you Belle, Sara, and Bemmygirl for doing this!

  30. A huge congrats to Belle, Bemmy Girl and Sarah. You gals all did a fantastic job. Unlike some of the others who have commented, I actually thought Emma might have been be a little more schooled up on the definition of a problem drinker due to her question about worrying about if you have enough alcohol in the house. To her question about whether it was ‘ethical’ to offer help as a sober coach, I would say that if the goal is to help people stop drinking who want to stop drinking, any tools, supports, methods, etc. are squarely on the table–and the more, the better!

    Because our society places such a stigma on problem drinkers and the word ‘alcoholic’ is so loaded, way too many who desperately need help will keep drinking and suffering behind closed doors. I would love a ‘part 3’ interview where the question as to whether it was ‘ethical’ to label people with overuse problems in general was addressed 🙂 I didn’t get the impression she was trying to wind anyone up…I just think she may not realize how many people cannot talk to their doctors or a medical professional because of their deep and understandable fear of being labeled an ‘alcoholic’ and risking possible negative judgement from society. In a perfect world, whoever needed help to stop overusing an addictive substance could march right into their doctors offices, friends houses, etc, and get the support they need–without the risk of any negative consequences…but this is not the world we live in. Not yet, anyway 😉

    One last thing in my long comment. I think asking if someone is an ‘alcoholic’ is the wrong question and can lead many to keep drinking and living sub-par lives because they are not ‘that bad.’ The right question is–how does one feel about their drinking? Whether its 2 glasses a day or 2 bottles a day, if a person’s internal landscape is bleak due to their consumption–than its time to be a freaking trailblazer and join the cool sober kids, because life is too short to live it feeling sub par! I think sobriety will be akin to non-smokers 5 years from now. And that will be a glorious thing.

  31. Well done! I happen to think “is it ethical?” is a legit question, and she gave you a wonderful opportunity to explain why, yes, indeed, it is ethical. Really, a great gift to be able to answer that! Those rapid fire questions with lots of interruptions would rattle me – you were so poised!

  32. I went to three professionals, including a GP, when I first became concerned about my drinking. None of them took me seriously as I seemed to be functioning (one of them suggested I wasn’t in a bad enough state). So, even though I knew I had a problem, I began to tell myself (I didn’t know then it was wolfie) that maybe I was okay. More than ten years later,much further down the drinking path, I came across Belle. I think the question put by the presenter denies my ability to choose for myself the best source of help for me (which might not be the same for someone else). As far as charging is concerned, I felt it was a lot of money to do jumpstart but I knew just how much I was spending on alcohol and that my health deserved at least that much. And the cost really is so little for all the support Belle gives.

    I think my definition of an alcoholic, if I had to use that word, would be someone – me – who drinks regularly, wants to stop and finds they can’t. As Belle said in the interview, the quantity is not the issue.

    Thank you to all three of you for the light you cast.

  33. I absolutely think it’s ethical for someone that’s been through it, and come out sober, to be giving advice!!! Those are the BEST qualified people. Someone that only knows addiction from reading/getting an education in it, has no true understanding of what it’s like to have that voice going on in your head, or how to deal with it. I also completely agree that AA is not anonymous, and that label of being an alcoholic and attending a meeting where everyone can see you, is terrifying to most people. Online feels much safer and “over-drinking” has far less stigma attached to it. BTW…no one in AA is a “professional” either. Lovely job by all 3 of you on the interview and I completely agree…whatever works for each individual person, is the right path to getting, and staying, sober. There is no right way or wrong way.

  34. All three of you did a wonderful job of describing how Sober Coaching helps and your individual involvement with it. As a therapist and as a client I can tell you that I spent LOTS of money in therapy over the years and never mentioned my drinking. That wasn’t the problem…it was what everyone else around me was doing! Well, it turns out that this was a big part of “the problem” or my problem, anyway. I don’t have a issue with the word ‘alcoholic’. AA has been very helpful to me (I’ve been sober for four years and four months) and Belle’s blog has been very helpful, also. I think what’s been most helpful about it has been the community…the people in the meetings who have similar experiences. This really works to reduce shame. Steps, sponsors, believing in a higher power…these are all aspects of AA that work for some people and not for others. Belle, I think what you’re doing is fantastic.

  35. Thank you Belle, Bemmy and Sarah for raising awareness to the idea of not drinking. Being sober for the sake of choosing not to drink. If I heard this conversation prior to my Day 1, I would be so relieved that others had the same problem with alcohol that I had and there was hope for me through a sober coach and a sober community. I drank privately which was a very lonely place to be. I have no doubt that you gave hope to someone listening out there. Since Emma seemed so focused on the quantity of drinks I wondered if she was having concerns about her own consumption. Thanks to all! I love that we are all in this together.

  36. I think the three of you were amazing – like others I felt very proud to be part of the community and very protective of you all!

    I think the fact the questions were asked enabled them to be answered – therefore creating an understanding for listeners who perhaps don’t get it or is thinking about starting their sober journey and wonders about the whole sober coach thing. If anyone doesn’t get it well they probably won’t be needing any support! If they do get it then when perhaps they look for support either now, next week or next year then your answers validated just how and why you can help (as well as the other options available) I think the answers you all gave were informative and inspirational for those looking to become sober.

    Thank you!

  37. I haven’t read the other comments, so I might be repeating what has already been said. I think you all did a great job and the interview was successful.

    I believe the main thing that was missing, that was suspect for the interviewer, was your “lack of credentials”, that you don’t have a framed certificate on your wall. In this place and time, people don’t trust that you’ve got the goods unless you’re official–that is, you’ve read some books, taken some tests, and paid an organization to issue you a piece of paper. This is coming from someone with two masters degrees–which don’t necessarily make me more of an expert that a person in my field without them.

    However what really matters is that you’ve dramatically changed the lives of thousands: newly sober folks plus, via the domino effect, their kids, parents, spouses, coworkers, friends, and potential drunk-driving victims. You are a beautiful butterfly on a wheel.

    Take me: I have three little kids who now have a mother who doesn’t pass out drunk, who puts them to bed after bathing, who is more patient and happy, who has more time to spend with them, who could hop in the car and drive them to the hospital in an emergency, who won’t embarrass them at weddings and funerals, and who won’t suffer alcohol-related dementia or die of alcohol-related cancer or cirrhosis. They (and their future families) would thank you, if they only knew.

    Another issue is that you have a unique constituency. You are not one size fits all, nor are your messages. Which is a good thing for what you do because it is self-limiting. You would be overwhelmed if thousands more were clamoring for your attention. You couldn’t respond with your singular attention to each person, and the effect would be lost.

    You have a certain voice that speaks to a particular type of person. I read their comments and know we are eerily similar. You speak with intelligence, with a certain irreverent sense of humor, and a sailor’s mouth–you speak our language.

    And thank goodness for all of it!

  38. All of you were so calm and did a fabulous job! Way to be brave.

    I think the interviewer was too focused on the term “alcoholic”. I think “normal” drinkers take comfort in the idea of alcoholics because it protects them and justifies their own drinking — if there weren’t alcoholics, then they couldn’t be considered “normal”. Does that make sense? I’Ve noticed this with my husband. He gets a bit uncomfortable if I suggest I’m not an alcoholic, but someone who has trouble controlling the amount I drink.

    The fact is that alcohol is an addictive substance and anyone who takes a drink is susceptible to drinking more than they intended. Alcoholic or normal drinker.

  39. Hi Belle, I thought the interview went great. All 3 of you answered the questions perfect. I think the interviewer was just trying to get cold hard facts about sober coaching and she was trying to do it quickly in the time alotted. I think the questions she asked that were more skeptical were good. She was asking what some listeners might have been thinking. You all answered honestly and I believe it was a brilliant interview. So happy to have it on the air. I know the interview is already helping people as I type and I’m so happy for whoever they are!
    Shine that light!

  40. Emma’s attitude is typical of people who do not have Wolfie (or an inner addict) sharing space inside their head. The three of you explained your positions very well; Emma just didn’t get it.

    AA is based on the proven track record that alcoholics can stick together to keep themselves and their friends-who-used-to-drink-too-much sober. That is what Belle is doing, though Belle doesn’t make me sit in a dank church basement and sip bad coffee out of a styrofoam cup at 8:00 at night.

    There is more than one way to define over-drinking, more than one way to define rock bottom, and more than one way to address it all. If someone is sober today, and even better if they are happy being sober today, then they are choosing the right option for them today.

    Early sobriety is a terrible time; I was scared spitless, ashamed, self-pitying, bereft, and a little unhinged. I would not have lasted more than a few days without the support of friends, bloggers, and like-minded people who I had just met a minute ago but who were willing to tell me their stories and share their experience, strength and hope with me.

    With 803 sober days behind me, the day-to-day has definitely gotten much easier. But I will never be alcohol-proof, and I am not willing to try to go it alone because I know very well what the result will be. Some days, an AA meeting is what helps me. Sometimes, a 1-minute audio message is just the trick. Other times, reading an email from a fellow member of a sober online group to which I belong sets me right again. We former drinkers a terminally unique, and our recovery program needs to be tailored to our individual needs as they occur.

    And Belle, if one person listening, wondering if her drinking has crossed the line into the problem category, now gets help whether through AA, a sober coach, or whatever works for her personally, then all of this was worth it and then some.

  41. You were so well-spoken, Belle. It sounded to me like the interviewer was holding the position of some traditional and judgemental ideas about drinking as well as the term “alcoholic”. I think that the landscape of recovery from alcohol is changing and it will be a process to pull away from the ideas that AA is the only way, the “right” way, and that identifying as an alcoholic is critical to success (as in if you don’t admit it you are one then you are in denial). Thank you for sharing this!

  42. That was a fantastic interview. Well Done all three of you. Bemmy Girl and Sarah – you were incredibly brave. This interview will have helped so many listeners. I don’t think the interviewer was being provocative, I think she was clueless. She was holding on to some old notion of an alcoholic that kept her in her comfort zone. You are so right, Belle. It is not the quantity of alcohol but our level of discomfort with how much we are drinking and how difficult it is to stop, that lets us know that we have a problem with an addictive substance. It was wonderful to hear the comments from listeners too. Thanks

  43. Hi Belle, I thought you did really well – as did Sarah and Bemmy Girl. It sounded to me as though, as is often the case, Emma just didn’t ‘get it’.

    The ethical question – I believe it is ethical. I think you’ve explored this really well in your two most recent podcasts, ‘What your therapist can’t tell you’ – it might be worth directing her to them to hear your arguments in detail.

    I believe that if you were communicating with someone who you believed needed to seek the help of a professional, you would steer them gently in the right direction. It’s like peer support I suppose, and you wouldn’t be as popular as you are without doing a bloody good job.

    Overall, well done to the three of you. If I wasn’t already aware of what Belle does and heard that radio programme, I would definitely be getting in touch for support 🙂 xx

  44. Listening to this I tried to rewind myself back to four months ago when I was still drinking pretty much full time. I know I would have listened in tears and it would have felt like all three of you were holding out your hands and saying ‘come this way, there’s help for you this way’… the presenters questions may well have been the same as my Wolfie voice trying to undermine the process of seeking support, your responses cut thought that crap with warmth and experience. There’ll be people who heard this interview and whose lives change because of it, who feel like you’re holding the door open for them to heal.
    This is very brave, very cool stuff and all three of you totally rock, xxxxx

  45. Great to see the message getting out on the radio that it’s not black and white – social drinker or addicted, AA or no help!

    Congratulations to all three interviewees for speaking so positively; with facts and humour, and without sounding defensive in any way. It probably felt challenging on the receiving end, but from outside it seemed more ‘where the questions came from’ rather than ‘how they were asked’ that was the problem.

    That lurking there was the ogre of ‘The Alcoholic’ – that old prejudice portraying over-drinkers as outside the norm; flawed victims, stuck in their weakness and denial; with just one recognised way out …. at risk of false hopes from unethical charlatans distracting from the first step of recognising their true condition.

    Go girls for ‘calling bullshit’ on this, and letting people know there is a healthier and more accessible sober community out there, adaptable to individual circumstance. One that really is anonymous and that you can reach out for at the first signs of anxiety; to explore a whole variety of other people’s experiences and support suggestions. With sober coaching as optional extra ‘tough love’ support if you do decide to make changes.

    AA never did it for me. This does.

  46. Firstly, I really enjoyed the chat and congratulations to you all for bringing a taboo type topic into the mainstream
    Belle, I think you handled the ‘ethical’ comment well. I think in regards to drinking or sober coaching, we seek out someone who we can relate to but more importantly who is not drinking successfully and who previously had a problem. At the end of the day we have to stop drinking ourselves. A sober coach , not matter how many qualifications won’t mean much unless they understand the battles that come up with drinking and becoming sober. We need someone who has walked the road and is living happily sober
    Thanks for all you do xxx

  47. from r: Fantastic job ladies!! Well done. I would have said to Emma that I think as a society we are drinking so much more then we have ever before that it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine the word alcoholic. I feel regardless of if i or anyone else says I’m an alcoholic it’s irrelevant as my drinking is a problem to me and that alone is enough for me to seek help.

  48. from Renne in Rochester: Excellent interview! Emma definitely asked the ‘hard’ questions with a ‘harder’ tone but it made for good radio as you mentioned.

    There is no difference between a sober coach and any other non-degreed trainer (Weight Watcher leader for example) – it would be the same as asking if Weight Watchers was an ethical organization. Or AA – I’m sure ‘sponsors’ are not psychologists. You, and those others provide tools. Some people … need medical help as well – which you clearly state upfront….

  49. from Sandpiper: Awesome job on the radio, Belle!! I felt proud to be apart of this little community. And my opinion about the ethical question, is that, it’s just a very bad question. She doesn’t get it. How can helping others be unethical? Well done.

Leave a Reply