Audio: Behind the Scenes with the BBC

Below i’ve uploaded a clip from archived podcast #216 “Behind the Scenes with the BBC.”

This is a special behind-the-scenes audio recorded February 2017. I was contacted by Hannah Smith, freelance journalist with the BBC, and she wanted some background information before I did some live, on-air interviews for the BBC in May of 2017.

She also asks me about being the poster-child for sobriety, and my answer may surprise you.

To get you started, you can listen to this clip from the beginning of the audio, and then you can add your comments below. My blog allows anonymous comments.

If you’d like to listen to the whole thing, you can use the link to download at the bottom of the post.


Do you think that sobriety has an ‘image problem’? Tell me your thoughts.



Download the entire podcast episode #216

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(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 24 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

  • I think it definitely has an image problem. Most people that I know that I speak to about me not drinking don’t get it…often it’s questioned “ so do you have the occasional drink – say at Christmas?” And they are so surprised when I say no.
    I think the “image problem “ is why give up a good sociable thing unless it’s absolutely necessary. And one would only need to if one had a really really bad problem.
    Alcohol is seen as a treat or as an added benefit to relaxation and fun times. As a reward after a long day or week. Or “ well you’ll certainly need a drink after this” kind of attitude.
    Sobriety is only seen as a need if one is “alcoholic “ or if there’s a special need to abstain.

  • I am not sure if sobriety itself has an image problem, many very “cool” people advocate it nowadays. I think I have a problem seeing myself as being as fun and exciting when sober as I imagine myself to be when drinking!

  • “All of the things we wanna fix…” this bit strikes a chord in me. I was able to finally shut Wolfe up last year, and was sober for six months. I had more energy, my relationship with my hubby was much better, I lost fifteen pounds, life was great. But then I slid gradually back into drinking. Every now and then became every week, became every few days, became every other day. So wolfie is a bastard! And complacency is a bitch! And thanks to you, Belle, and all the supports available through your website and podcasts and emails, I knew what to do about it. so I showed wolfie out the door and am back on track. THANK YOU

  • Belle, you’re hitting the nail on the head with this one as per usual. My doctor once asked me how much I drink, I answered xx glasses of wine a day, his answer was thanks for sharing that but I meant how much water do you drink!!! Doesn’t that just show where I was!!

  • I was so happy to see a drinks advert yesterday which included an af option! Step in the right direction for advertisers 👍 more of this please! Day 24 and can see day 30 on the horizon….everything in my life is getting better 😃 so proud of myself and all down to you Belle x

  • i’d turn this around and say drinking has an image problem – we need to stop normalizing it, stop advertising it, stop allowing it to be constantly pushed to our society and kids. all the marketing makes drinking appear different than it actually is, which is really an image of wolfie sitting there full of sh!+.

  • Being a non-drinker, ex-drinker, pro-sober, alcohol-free (whatever you want to call it) has a hugely negative image. People assume I had a massive alcohol problem and I’m now a bit boring as I chose to stop drinking and never started again. The reality is I stopped drinking as a trial to see if it helped with my physical and mental health (I was really struggling with anxiety). Someone had made a comment that perhaps my friends didn’t see the best version of me (hangovers, prioritising my “wine time” over all other time, etc.) and I realised that was so true and, most importantly, I wasn’t seeing or experiencing the best version of me. So I stopped drinking. One day, one week, one month… And with each passing day my anxiety lessened, I started to get stuff done, had more time and more energy, more confidence to try new things and after 2 years – totally sober and totally loving the new me. Life is SO much easier without the hangover…

  • I do think sobriety is boo’d on and made fun of. Especially in certain industries, although it seems like it’s all the industries nowadays, including stay at home moms and dads. I do think there are more “sober curious” people now though too, or at least it’s not as frowned upon to be interested in sobriety. Most of the people I surround myself with are “work hard play harder” types and getting smashed is encouraged. Although we have recently moved and no longer have that type of reputation, maybe we can make more sober friends here. I am so much happier being sober, and I do have a couple of sober guy friends at work, but I’d love to make some girlfriends and do things other than drink 🙂

  • Doctors and therapists should learn about the different nuances to alcohol dependence. The current “Am I an alcoholic?” diagnostic is missing millions women, especially, whose other complaints like fatigue and anxiety can be improved by stopping drinking. This knowledge is important for medical school and psych students
    to study and inform their patients of. They can become supports too once they get educated.

  • When I pondered this question, I imagined myself pre quitting drinking, pre-Belle! I would have said that non drinkers are boring as hell, cannot relax, stuck up sort of people.Now I think this was part Wolfie, part pure unadulterated jealousy! The fact that they had enough self control to just not drink.
    I find that most people really don’t care if I drink or not, those are probably ‘normal’ drinkers. The ones who do care most likely have a loud Wolfie voice of their own…

  • Yep…ah ha moment when you said we never see someone who didn’t hit a rock bottom just decide to honestly think about the possibility of improving so many aspects of his or her life by not drinking alcohol.

  • I think sobriety does have an image and each image is different to each person. Mine image is like a self portrait of happiness with bright colors, smiles and laughs and playing a board game at 9PM with a sparkling water on ice with a lime squeeze 🙂

  • I am struggling a hell of a lot with drinking right now. I cut down a lot a few months back, and then now I’m drinking more than ever.
    I know I need support. I have set a reminder on my phone to reach out to that support I should. But something is stopping me. A week ago I contacted a bunch of rehabs, and then realised I couldn’t afford it.
    I wish I could get on top of this, but honestly I don’t know how anymore. I stopped once before for a couple of years. Then lockdown happened. And I don’t know. It just made sense to start again. It began it moderation. It quickly escalated (obviously)
    I’m just stuck.

  • from Scrappy: I do think it has an image problem. The thought of sobriety in my mind meant I would become boring. I know now that is not true but I equated it to boring people or very religious, no drinking, no cards, no dancing, no music, you should pray all day people. People afraid of life.

  • from LizzieB: Thanks for sharing. Such important points raised. The whole idea of rehab and AA being only known options is eye opening. I am not a joiner (Weight Watcher meeting drop out…hell, I didn’t make it to Girl Scouts as I was a Brownie dropout!). Not even sure what prompted me to search online but thank God I found you Belle!

  • I love the aspect that you bring up about not drinking being another way to help us live our best lives. That takes the shame out of it and makes it a choice about bettering ourselves so that all these other aspects (relationships, weight, anxiety, etc) can then improve.

  • Right now, I just know that my sense of shame over how much I was really drinking (no one truly knew but me – at least that’s what I like to think) is not there any more. So now, I can just figure out life without that hanging over my head. And I learned that the AA was was not for me- it just heaped more shame on my head, which wasn’t really any better than the booze.

  • Image problem ? Undoubtedly. How many people in my life know that Ive been sober since Jan? 2. 2! This IS my achievement of the year – the thing of which I’m most proud. And drinking has a false image problem. How many people in my life knew I was worried about drinking. Honestly – none. How long had I been worried- at least a decade.

  • Over 2 years sober and so grateful for the daily support from Belle and the sober online community! I have great pride in the fact that I know I can pick up my kid at anytime in the day or night and not be over the limit – it’s not even a question that comes up in my head anymore. I agree that there is an image problem with the word “alcoholic” because it is associated with those that have hit rock-bottom when many of us never got to that stage. If we spoke more about how all the various issues in our life would actually be improved after removing the alcohol, then we as a society could start to have the conversation on why we need the alcohol crutch in the first place instead of pointing fingers at the alcoholic for not being able to control consumption of a highly addictive substance. It’s either you are a tea-totaller (no fun to be around) or raging alcoholic (avoid at all costs) and the rest of us in the gray areas in between. I love having a hangover free life and take pride in the fact that I can depend on myself every morning even if I’m not really a morning person!

  • So true! Movies tend to go two ways. Way 1 : alcohol is festive and fancy and all the bad things happening because of it look funny in retrospect (What Happens in Vegas, Bridesmaids, Bad Moms, The Hangover…). The drinking is not the problem, it’s the thing that make all things go wonky, sure, but we don’t dwell on that. The focus is on the fun. Option 2 : alcohol is poison and it ruins your life to the point of no return and the only thing you can do if you want to survive is going to AA (Bree in Desperate Housewives, Lydecker in Dark Angel…). They tell you how hard it is, how sad your life is gonna be… It’s always this all or nothing, black and white, good vs. bad, sick vs. healthy view on things. There’s no in between. Personally, I’m not interested in consequences. I’m interested in how I got there. When did the booze start affecting my life? When did I start questioning it? What happened in my brain before I even thought of AA??

  • The media does depict very stereotypical “alcoholics”. I do feel like things are starting to shift though in some ways, especially how people who feel they have a drinking problem view themselves. I believe the online sober world has helped with that. I’m on day 81. I feel so good about myself, and have a sense of accomplishment. If I were doing this alone with out the online world, I know I would be struggling with all of this so much more, especially emotionally.

  • This is the thing that got me here. The concept of “I drink more than I’d like”. I read your blog and I was like “I’m the same!”. Nobody knew. I had the successful career, house, relationship, did yoga, dance, wrote a book. But alcohol was holding me back from feeling connected to my soul and my joy. Alcohol was standing in between me and my best life. Thank-you so much for opening the conversation up to include the whole spectrum of problem drinking. It saved me.

  • Sobriety definitely has an image problem. I have never heard anyone mention the nondrinking of another person without a qualifier of either “because of” the person’s religion or because that person is in treatment (for alcohol or drugs, always court ordered).

    Casual conversation in my social circle about drinking often centers around cutting back on drinking. I’ve never heard anyone talk about quitting. Maybe, just maybe, as more and more of us quit, Sobriety’s image will shift from that of rock bottom car accident to one of Full of Life and Awesome. We can all be lighthouses. Quietly standing on the shore waiting for more people to come join us in the freedom of not having to think about drinking.

  • Image problem: what do most people picture when they hear the word “alcoholic”? My guess is that their first thought is of an unshaven, unkempt, pee soaked man living under a bridge with a bottle that is hidden away in a paper bag. The bogeyman of alcoholism. They don’t see the elderly lady who works at the bake sale who has a broad smile on her face. Why is she smiling? Because she’s working the bake sale and was able to be there on time with no hangover and no guilt or shame. The association of someone “dirty” or a person who is a “moral failure” was strong for me and to identify myself as one of “them” prevented me from getting help for myself. When I finally went to AA and saw a normal looking, cross-section of society I was relieved. Over drinking comes in all shapes, sizes, and stories. Reading sober blogs was instrumental for me to wrap my mind around the questions I was unable to ask publicly due to deep seated fears and shame.

  • Bam! That’s it exactly. I didn’t have anything “horrible” happen. No car crash, no waking up somewhere else. I had a job, kids, a mortgage. I just felt like shit. And I knew why, and I pretended that wasn’t it. I googled articles that said that drinking daily DIDN’T cause weight gain. I told myself it was just my age. I went to my very physical job every day feeling like garbage and telling myself that the job was just hard, it had nothing to do with the bottle of wine. I deserved the wine BECAUSE my job was so difficult. I had major sleep problems. Went to the doctor and she didn’t ask how much I drank – she gave me sleeping pills!!! I told myself it was the start of menopause. And now? Now I sleep all night, nearly always. Now my muffin top has melted away. Now I wake up, with perhaps sometimes an achy body, but a clear head. I remember things. I get way more done, I can drive after supper. My life hasn’t improved dramatically, but it has improved in a thousand small ways. And those smalls are all adding up slowly but surely. There’s no part of my life that hasn’t improved. You nailed it, Belle. As usual.

  • So right Belle! All the things that felt out of control in my life – gaining weight, spending too much money, feeling crappy – all of that and more comes into alignment when I don’t drink!!! And I can control whether or not I pour the booze into a glass and tip it into my mouth. I am the one who gets to make that choice in my life.

  • So true that many things I was trying to fix before (sleep, mood, aches and pains, anxiety, depression, brain fog) got way better by removing alcohol. It is a keystone solution and clears the field to see what is actually a problem in my life and not a side effect of alcohol. Life not perfect after 640 days, but so many “problems” went away by simply making this one change. I feel like i am clear enough to see what the real issues are without alcohol clouding my perception.

  • I like what you said about the image of the person seeking to remove alcohol from their life is either that of the person that hits bottom and goes to AA or gets surrounded by family/friends in an intervention – that’s what non-problem drinkers see and generally think of when they think about people that have a problem with alcohol. They don’t think about those of us that do the online “do I drink too much?” surveys or sit at our computers seeking help to eliminate alcohol from our lives without going to an AA meeting or similar. Many of us lead pretty normal lives over and above the fact that we can’t control our alcohol intake like ‘normal people’ can. There are many thousands of us out here looking for help of the sort that you and others provide, and by golly gee Ms Belle – we’re some kind of thankful for you!!!

  • Great interview Belle. We need more shout outs like yours about the success of on line support in sobriety. It is indeed a self improvement tool available 24/7.

  • I definitely feel there is a view of the “sober life” which tends to be a negative one. I am in the second month of living alcohol free and feel I still am “defending” my choice…..that living without alcohol is not that I am missing something, but that I am gaining so much more. Its had to explain to people who I feel probably a little bit want to be me but am afraid to take that first step so thus they want me to be them, just have a glass of wine, they say, that will be fine. Since I have become alcohol free, it is amazing the reasons people use to drink and to try and convince others to drink. I hope that the tides turn and people will start to see alcohol free living more in the positive light that it is…..I haven’t give up something, I have chosen to be content and happy without the help of wine.

  • Back in the early 2000’s I was sober for a few years at a time with the help of AA, but I was terribly ashamed and miserable, I felt like a failure. The difference now is that with the online support, I’m learning to not just deal with life on life’s terms again, but more importantly to love myself and take care of myself. That probably sounds silly. but its true. Maybe its my age/stage in life, or that as a single mom, my kids are in college and I’ve done my job there, but I feel such a sense of relief in the AF lifestyle. Sober treats!!! what a great thing. yoga without being hung over, exercise, just being healthy again. Day 38, and at first I didnt think 100 days was possible, but it feels different this time. The “alcoholic” label was very shaming to me, but now I’m letting that go. I dont use it. I’m ok with not being able to drink, its more of I chose not to drink today, its not misery. Alcohol is just not good for me and the life I want.