A bottle of wine a night was normal for me

addiction alcohol alcohol culture alcohol mindset coaching bbc big drink rethink culture drinking culture podcast workplace culture Apr 24, 2024

It went on for years 

In a recent interview with the BBC, I revealed that for almost 20 years it was not unusual for me to drink a bottle of wine every night.

It was part of my professional identity

During my interview on BBC Radio Bristol, I told presenter John Darvall, that during my career as an advertising professional, it was a part of normal life, nothing "atypical or abnormal". It was, and still is, an industry where alcohol frequently features at client lunches and social events.

Prior to that, I told the BBC that my first job at Rover in Birmingham was defined by after-work drinks to become "one of the guys". In pretty much every industry we can find a permissive culture of 'work hard and play harder," I suggested. "That is what we tell ourselves, that's how we normalise drinking behaviours."

I reflected that I just  became known as a highly sociable person who liked a drink, and I continued to climb the career ladder.


'Pushed as a drug'

In my interview I explained that over time, drinking became a "crutch" to manage the demands of my everyday life. We are told, through constant cultural messaging, that there are many jobs that we can give alcohol to do. In the end I was giving it the job of helping me sleep better, feel more confident, feel more happy and feel connected. It is impressed upon us that alcohol can help, it becomes our coping mechanism. It is pushed as a drug really.

It began to take a toll on my life

It reached a point where those casual evening drinks began to affect many different areas of her life. Thankfully I never had a devastating rock bottom moment, but I was bouncing along the bottom in an unsustainable way. My children were growing older and they could notice how I was behaving and it was causing friction with my husband.

I was exhausted and scared to death

I was exhausted by the façade I was keeping up. I knew that I was addicted to alcohol but I was terrified of staying where I was and doing anything about it. I knew I had an addiction, I don't like the term alcoholic. I felt an awful lot of shame in my drinking, but there was something very strong within me that wanted to work out why I had got there and how to reverse and course-correct rather than just say 'well that's that then'".

A frightening common story  

The problem is that I am by no means unique. My story is a "frighteningly common" one. And that's why I launched The Big Drink rethink podcast - to encourage more conversations about our relationships with alcohol.  

I've been alcohol-free for around 3.5 years now. I don't measure it any more, I never have. I've never got into a place where I count days. I just don't drink any more.

With The Big Drink Rethink podcast, as well as my work as an Alcohol Mindset Coach, I hope to reach people who have a similar relationship with alcohol.

We have an alcohol-centric society that is shifting - let's explore why, let's think about our relationships, and have an open conversation about alcohol in the same way we do about mental health or menopause or any other aspects of our health.

Listen to the podcast