WMTV – Madison, Wisconsin Wisconsin is well known for its heavy drinking lifestyle, but many Madison residents are beginning to change their views on alcohol.
New Fashioned Sobriety is one organisation that provides assistance to people trying to stop drinking or reduce their consumption.
Nicole Peaslee, a founding member of New Fashioned Sobriety, said, “We’re not a traditional recovery group, we’re more centred around community and connection and forming friendships.
Peaslee encountered a fork in the road regarding alcohol nearly four years ago. “I had been doubting my own drinking for a while. I just thought I was putting myself in a box,” Peaslee remarked.
“I made the decision to stop drinking when I was 30 because I was imagining my life at 40 or 50 and I didn’t like what I saw. That really, truly saddened me.
NEW GENRE SOBRIETY
The native of Madison set up a personal Instagram account so she could communicate with other sober individuals online. Peaslee stated, “I wasn’t really looking for like a programme; I was just looking for connection with other people. I needed to hear other people’s experiences and learn how they overcame their obstacles.
She met Sarah Patnaude and Jenny Peabody, two other sober Madison-area women, through the sober Instagram community.
The group made the decision to launch New Fashioned Sobriety on Instagram in January 2020. The idea was straightforward: socialise with other sober individuals, tell your story if you’d like to, and offer one another support.
Shortly after the group’s founding, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, so they opted to host hangouts using Zoom. They were able to reach people not just in Wisconsin but all over the nation thanks to this.
The group was able to start holding in-person meet-ups as well, including hikes, trips to coffee shops, craft nights, and more as the spread of COVID-19 began to slow.
As of right now, the account has more than 2,500 followers, and Peaslee plans to organise monthly meetups in the Madison region this year.
It’s a really beautiful life that I highly recommend, so I would just urge anyone who is thinking about it or feeling like they desperately need it to reach out, Peaslee said.
AN ATTEMPT AT SOBRITY
The owner of the Blind Shot Social Club on the east side of Madison, Michelle Duvall, is revolutionising the bar scene.
She has developed what she calls the largest mocktail menu in Wisconsin. Duvall said, “We can still have a fun, elegant drink, but that doesn’t necessarily have to include alcohol.
Duvall made sure that there were alternatives to water and soda for non-drinkers when she and her husband opened the bar, restaurant, and indoor golf simulation facility in 2021.
People may have been drinking more than they had intended to in the middle of 2021, when the pandemic is still active, or they may have begun to reexamine their relationship with alcohol or the reasons behind their drinking. People are suddenly showing a lot of interest in non-alcoholic products, according to Duvall.
Given that Duvall has been sober for almost nine years, this is a personal project for her.
“While working in bars and going to college, I just started drinking quite a bit—way more than I should have or needed to—and I reached a point in my late 20s when I realised I couldn’t keep up this pace any longer. I recently stopped drinking, but my entire world has been the restaurant and bar industry. That is what I am capable of doing. I was able to continue working as a bartender and managing restaurants and other things while abstaining from alcohol.
Blind Shot’s drink menu currently features 13 non-alcoholic cocktails, but Duvall anticipates that number to increase as demand increases.
“This is of greater interest to people. More locally produced goods, such as non-alcoholic spirits from nearby distilleries and non-alcoholic beers from nearby breweries, are now available. It just keeps going up and up.
Dr. Elizabeth Salisbury-Afshar of UW Health finds this change in drinking habits encouraging. Salisbury-Afshar expressed optimism that, going forward, there will be a more welcoming environment for people who are trying to abstain, whether it’s due to an alcohol use disorder or for other, more general health reasons.
However, according to the addiction specialist, heavy drinking contributes significantly to Wisconsin’s higher rates of alcohol use disorder in adults. She also notes that binge drinking is particularly prevalent among people aged 21 to 35.
According to Salisbury-Afshar, “Unfortunately, sometimes people want to know an exact cutoff and the reality is, you know, we see 30-year-olds in the hospital who have liver failure and will die if they don’t get a new liver and we see other 30-year-olds with similar drinking patterns who have liver damage but may not be at the same point.”
She advised anyone looking to stop smoking to start by speaking with their doctor. She added that improving your mental health and quitting drinking go hand in hand. In some cases, seeking counselling may be the first step in learning new coping mechanisms to deal with depression or anxiety. Once we begin working on those, reducing alcohol consumption becomes much simpler.
According to Salisbury-Afshar, abstinence has numerous positive effects on one’s physical health in addition to improving mental health.
“We are aware that people with high blood pressure or diabetes can better manage their conditions when they refrain from drinking for a long time. People can get their blood pressure and diabetes under better control and frequently feel that their sleep is much better after even just one month of abstaining from alcohol.
According to her, inability to cut back or constant thoughts of drinking are indications that additional professional help, such as counselling or inpatient care, may be required.
“The diagnosis of an alcohol use disorder, or addiction to alcohol, is really more about the behaviours and symptoms that someone has, which can include things like constantly wanting to drink, drinking and having it have negative effects, and that can even be people who only occasionally drink.”
Dr. Salisbury-Afshar added that attempting to quit drinking cold turkey can be risky for people who have long-term, heavy alcohol use. In this situation, the individual might require a medically supervised withdrawal to help them get through it safely.
Erin Sullivan, a reporter and anchor for NBC15’s The Morning Show, also discussed her personal connection to this story.
She gave some advice for those hoping to change their drinking habits while participating in a discussion on The Morning Show. She has been alcohol-free for 1.5 years.