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

  • Brilliantly done Belle and team. The need to ‘categorise’ people into ‘alcoholics’ and ‘non-alcoholics’ is such an obstacle in general society, and so much time is wasted doing this. The misunderstanding and judgement by the interviewer (for good radio or not) is so demonstrative of the general need to stereotype, and is what makes it so difficult for people like us to go out into the world sober. Sometimes I feel like the questions and comments I get about my sober journey are to assure others that they are indeed OK, and that if they can decide that I am an alcoholic, it will make them feel better about their own drinking. Yeah, whatever!!! IF I can help them in some way by being honest and vulnerable about my own journey, then I am sure I am making a difference somehow. I agree with Belle that its just a word and it doesn’t matter. Alcoholic or not, your resources have changed my life Belle. I am on Day 66 of my second go at sobriety after a 6 month return to drinking, and I feel amazing. It hasn’t been easy and there has been A LOT of challenges, but the ‘just keep going’ answer to Wolfie has really resonated with me. Waking up feeling happy, clear and light, and above all, with my self-respect in tact, is worth all the hard stuff.

  • All I know is that my experience with a sober coach (Belle) and the community around this online resource provided me the path I needed to sobriety, one that I did not find at AA. I found that Belle’s approach was based in not only a reality built on first hand experience but insight filtered through her clarity, humor and compassion. I am almost 4 years sober and am ever grateful for having my life back and all the possibilities that being sober opens up.
    So, thank you Belle and thank you fellow travelers on the sober journey.
    Regarding this interview, in the face of a very skeptical interviewer, I thought that you (Belle) spoke with clarity and insight as you always do. Well done…(glitter and parade in your honor!). And thanks to Bemmy Girl and Sarah for sharing so openly (glitter and parade in your honor!).

  • AA is all about peer advisors. Sober sponsors are just people further along the program who have racked up some tips and experiences and are willing to share them. What I found here is the same idea but without The Book or the religious aspects that I found impossible to devote myself to. How could I go there if I was ‘faking’ my assimilation?

  • Brilliant, Belle, and well done Sarah and Bemmy Girl, you’re all 3 brave ones! All three of you presented yourselves articulately, and authentically and you’ll never know the people you reached by sharing your stories and offering your help. Bravo! It’s ok if Emma doesn’t “get it,” that’s not who you were speaking to anyway….you were reaching out to those like us who need help and are offering a lifeline! I know its been life-saving for me! What’s better than that! Love to all!

  • It is an interesting one about the ethics.

    Belle I’m a presuming that you aren’t a member of any professional body – as there probably isn’t one about anyway to cover sober coaches.

    For me I’ve chosen to train professionally as a counsellor and join a professional body – therefore I have not a code of ethics I should follow. So someone presenting about drinking/drug use to me I need to carefully think through the issues of them stopping without medical help. Do I refer them to a specialist about that or not? I’d be wary of not if I had to sit in a professional review tribunal. But currently I wouldn’t market myself as a sober coach I’d market myself as just a counsellor or psychotherapist even if I did put in a specialism of addictions.

  • from Retiring Party Girl: In AA, normal non-licensed people sponsor other people and act as their sober coach. I see you doing the same thing. The difference between you and people in AA vs: (most) professionals, is that you and the sponsor have walked in their shoes before. You can empathize instead of sympathize. Someone that has walked my path before, and is ahead of me on that path and closer to the light and understands the journey is more important (IMO) than a “professional” who has studied my issues through research and books. Just like in AA. you are never demanding that we do certain things or even requiring payment. You are only acting as a guide, offering suggestions and listening. You are offering support. How could that type of support ever be unethical? Unethical would be sending me free drinks tickets in the mail. ?