The Alcohol 'Problem' Podcast

In conversation with Millie Gooch

February 13, 2024 James Morris / Millie Gooch Season 2 Episode 8
The Alcohol 'Problem' Podcast
In conversation with Millie Gooch
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode we talk to Millie Gooch, founder of Sober Girl Society. Millie talks about her journey to sobriety and how this led her to setting up alcohol free spaces and events for the sober curious. We discuss the current role of sobriety and possible reasons behind recent growth in sobriety movements, mindful drinking and other alcohol-free communities. 

As a journalist, Millie has written for a range of publications and has been featured everywhere from ELLE and Stylist to the BBC and British Vogue. Her debut book, The Sober Girl Society Handbook, was released in January 2021 and in 2022, she received the Media Award from the Research Society on Alcohol for her contributions in helping disseminate empirical research on alcohol and creating a safe space for people to explore alcohol-free living. She is an ambassador for Alcohol Change UK

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James (00:20.921)
So, hi Millie, thanks so much for joining me on this episode. If we can start off, can you just tell me a bit about yourself and your journey and, you know, kind of how you got to this place in terms of kind of, yeah, like alcohol and all the kind of brilliant stuff you do.

 Millie (00:52.45)
Yeah, of course. And thank you so much for having me as well. So I really started drinking when I went to university. That was like my big introduction to it. I wasn't really a drinker when I was younger, apart from, you know, the odd smell of ice at a family party. But when I went to uni, I was kind of really straight away like indoctrinated into that nightlife culture. And I got a job in a bar.

I won't name the bar, but it's a very famous chain known for being particularly boozy. And so it was kind of free bar every night. And I went from pretty much a nothing drinker to like a three, four night a week binge drinker. And slowly, I think over the three years I was at uni, alcohol had turned from something that I just did because everyone else did and because it was fun to something that I felt like I was relying on and not in a physical dependency way, but in like, I needed it for confidence. And if I was anxious or stressed about exams, I would go out and drink. And that was kind of, I didn't even really notice the change, but looking back now, I know that there kind of was a change. And then after university, I went to work in several kind of boozy industries, although now to be honest, everyone I speak to says their industry is boozy, but I went to work in PR first of all, and then I went to work in journalism. And my drinking just kind of continued in the way that it did when I was at university, but it just started getting a bit worse and I was like doing silly stuff and you know, embarrassing myself at work parties. I was living in Kent and working in London. So I was like falling asleep on the train on the way home and putting myself in really vulnerable situations. And I just really started to notice the effect that alcohol was having on my mental health. So I was really, really anxious all the time. I was low all the time.

I went to the doctors for anxiety and depression and was just really struggling. I was just not enjoying my life. And the only sort of enjoyment that I seemed to get out of life was when I was going out drinking. So I would go out Thursday, Friday night, be completely hammered, binge drink a lot. And I'm quite short, little as well. So I was drinking a lot for my height of weight. And then the next day was waking up and just feeling absolutely horrendous, like really bad classic beer fear, hangover anxiety. I was really suffering with blackout. So I would like not remember how I got home or not remember large portions of my night. And then I kind of the effects of the hangover would wear off like a few days later. And then I'd be like, I know what's a great idea drinking. And so I just was in this cycle really of being really anxious drinking for less anxious and.

And that was just how it went for like most of my early 20s. And then when I was 26, I went on a night out and just got horrendously drunk and woke up the next morning and just thought, I cannot do this anymore. My life is just drinking, going to work, like recovering, drinking, going to work, being hungover. And I just, I didn't want to do it anymore. So I decided there and then I was going to stop drinking and all my friends found it hilarious because I'd said so many times, I'm never drinking again. Um, and then just stuck to it and then yes, it'll be six years, literally actually six years in on Sunday. So two days time, it will be six years of, of not drinking. So this is actually the weekend. So, um, sort of, yeah, full circled in this podcast really on the weekend of like my worst drinking probably six years ago.

James (04:20.573)
Yeah, that's so interesting. And, you know, I relate to a lot of that because, yeah, my kind of journey into the alcohol field came sort of from a fairly similar personal experience. I mean, I actually stopped drinking my second year of university as an undergrad, but I'd started at like 14 in parks. And I think I'm a bit old in here because I was like teenager in the 90s when it was like really what they call peak booze.

And yeah, it was just so normalised, but yeah, university really was an opportunity. I remember like looking forward to going to university and like being able to drink as much as I wanted and as often as I wanted. But yeah, it very much was a cycle of, yeah, very heavy binge drinking, feeling really rough and very anxious a lot of the time recovering and then just going straight back into it.

And then, yeah, ending up in this cycle of drinking a lot, doing a lot of stupid or regrettable stuff. And then, yeah, having a lot of recovery time, really bad hangovers. And yeah, the anxiety was huge for me that I remember distinctly having strong waves of like almost like panic attacks, but just feeling really anxious, kind of weird sweating fits. And my thought cycle was just, I just need a drink to sort of calm me down. But yeah, when I did stop in my second year, those, that anxiety stuff just sort of disappeared almost immediately. So I think in that case, it was very much, you know, it's like the brain gets thrown out of balance from not being able to regulate all the things, the sort of effects of the alcohol on the brain, sort of makes you feel good in the moment, maybe, or does what it does. But the cost of that is throwing it all out of sync. So yeah, I think the anxiety is know, probably the biggest thing that most people relate to, isn't it, when there's a real tangible benefit to kind of stopping or cutting down for some people.

And so, yeah, do you think there was anything particular about that kind of one occasion? You know, I'm really interested in what it is that kind of triggered people to make the change, and you know you said your friends laughed because you'd said it many times before, but do you identify anything particular about that particular occasion that meant it was the kind of one that meant you stuck to it?

 
Millie (07:19.982)

Yeah, do you know what? Weirdly, I always say it probably wasn't even like the worst hangover, but I think in a way that kind of helped it because I think when there'd been times where I'd woken up and I'd like done something really stupid or like couldn't remember the entirety of my night because I felt so like embarrassed and ashamed and low, the only thing I wanted to do was drink and then forget about the embarrassing things that I'd done. Whereas this one, I like kind of remembered most of my night. I know, like I knew I hadn't done anything horrendous. And weirdly, I think having that bit of clarity the next morning was kind of helpful. And I feel like I'd been getting weird signs, like the months leading up to it. So I remember I was on the tube to work and there was a copy of Stylist magazine and it had an interview with Katherine Gray talking about her new book. And I remember reading the interview and I was like, oh wow, like her drinking kind of sounds like mine. And there had just been like little conversations that I had overheard. So I think I'd started thinking about it.

And then almost having that clarity on the hangover to just be like, I feel horrendous, I feel really low, I feel really terrible, but I haven't done anything embarrassing that is making me wanna just go out and drink to forget. Weirdly, I think that was kind of helpful about the hangover. So it wasn't like, I always say it, well, it wasn't like a rock bottom. It was just, I almost had like a bit of clarity to be able to see that this was it.

 
James (08:38.393)

Yes, yeah that makes a lot of sense because I mean there's a lot of debate in the addiction field about kind of guilt and shame obviously and yeah there's definitely some strong evidence that they're very negative effects in general because you know if you feel guilty and shameful and you're kind of you know you've developed a maybe problematic relationship with some kind of addiction then the obvious you know kind of almost automatic instinct is to reach for that kind of drug or behaviour or whatever to alleviate it in the moment and that can obviously be a vicious cycle. So I guess in the sense you're saying it wasn't so bad that you could kind of take a step back from it and go, well, this isn't great, but I'm not feeling so terrible about it. I feel like I need to go out and drink immediately.

And the other thing you were saying there that I thought was really interesting was about, yeah, I always blame my memory lapses on the consequence of my teenage binge drinking. Yeah, oh yeah. Oh yeah, and the other thing I thought was really interesting there is about the kind of process that people, you know, behavior change is a process. It's this, you know, it's not useful to think of it as like, right, you just make a decision and you do it. you know, for a whole range of reasons, you know, getting to that point of like deciding to do something can take people a very long time, dependent on so many different factors and then doing it is a kind of arguably whole different thing in itself, although the separation is, is a false distinction. But yeah, definitely I had a lot of dissonance leading up to when the the time that I stopped drinking and then it was actually a physical health problem that really sort of pushed my motivation to kind of change it. I definitely have had a lot of sort of conflicting thought processes before then.

And so, and what was it like in the period after you did stop drinking? You know, I certainly found that it was really, I mean, interesting is maybe not the best word because it was difficult in a lot of ways because some people really didn't accept it and didn't like it. And some sort of, I mean, in some ways, I said they weren't real friendships because they depended on drinking. I've got some good friendships that lasted, even though some people couldn't understand it. But did you find a lot of challenges in terms of the impact on your social life and circle?

 

Millie (11:13.582)

Yeah, for sure. I mean, I definitely at the beginning got a lot of like, oh, you're going to be boring. But also I always say, I think my friends didn't think I'd stick to it. So at the beginning, they weren't really like really pressuring me. I think they were just like, she's going through a phase, let her get on with it and she'll be back drinking. And I think then by the time they realized it was going to be a permanent thing or a long-term thing, I think they were like, oh, we know. She looks really happy. She's obviously feeling great. We're not having to carry her out of clubs anymore because she's drunk and crying. I think they realized that because not as much changed as they thought would, they couldn't really make a fuss about it. So that's the only thing I think saved me slightly from having the peer pressure. I've weirdly got more peer pressure from colleagues or strangers and I was so I was single when I first stopped drinking so when I was going on dates and I was talking to people on dating apps I was getting a lot of like oh you don't drink that's weird which luckily I think is changing now but at like six years ago people thought it was weird um so those were like some of the biggest challenges weirdly like I was actually really lucky with my friends but I really do think that was down to the fact that they just purely didn't believe that I was going to stick to it.

 

James (12:31.421)

Yeah, yeah, and then I guess over time they kind of realised that you were still the same person and you weren't suddenly really boring just because you didn't drink and, you know, like change their perceptions a bit around that. I think there's a lot of peer pressure just comes from people feeling threatened, like that they'll have to change their behaviour or they're going to, you know, like, be made to feel bad by you or whatever. So just, yeah, sometimes just persevering and people become more accepting of it.

 

Millie (12:56.606)

Yeah, 100%. It's just a time thing. I think like people always say to me, how do you get your friends to come around? I'm like, you just got to like grin and bear it. And then when they realize that how much happier you are and that you're still fun, they'll get over it. It just takes time.

 

James (13:12.209)

Yeah, and the dating thing must have been really tricky because I think, you know, obviously there's a lot of social pressure and a lot of contexts, but I think around dating in particular, it's almost just a standard assumption, you know, for most people, you just, we just go for a drink, but yeah.

 
Millie (13:28.234)

Yeah, a hundred percent. Like dating, I think is, is such a minefield anyway. But then when you add into the, the mix that you don't drink, and I mean, like, luckily I do think that is changing. And I know there's been a lot of research out there about people are opting for dry dates, even if they are drinkers, which is really interesting and more like activity focused dates rather than just going for drinks. But I think the trend at the time when I was first dating was just like drinks. And if you suggested anything else, people would think you're weird. And it was that like or having to come up with a line when people would say, do you want to go for a drink? And you're like, yeah, I do. But just so you know, mine's not alcohol. Like that would be normally the point that I would tell them. So I think, I think navigating that, that was hard. And I didn't know anyone else who was a non-drinker at the time. So having to like work those things out for myself is a bit of trial and error, I think.

 

James (14:17.997)

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, definitely. You know, when I look back on the kind of period where I stopped drinking, it was really an exercise in determination, you know, like being determined to do things despite all those pressures. And then despite maybe some psychological cravings and stuff as well that, yes, it sort of takes us of a certain mindset to be really determined not to kind of give into pressures and, and Yeah, and I think, you know, again, looking at the addiction literature, like self-efficacy is such a big factor, you know, there's belief, confidence in yourself to be able to make a change. And that main source of that, or developing it comes from just kind of doing it. But of course, yeah, having kind of peer examples or being able to read an article in a magazine that kind of maybe models that it's possible is going to be you know, really helpful. But can you tell me a bit more about what you've gone on to do? And you know, you've kind of, yeah, done loads of really amazing stuff. And I think in kind of creating that or pushing or helping that kind of norm and like modeling examples or creating spaces for people to, yeah, not drink essentially.
 

Millie (15:32.622)

Yeah. So when, when I stopped drinking, I was working as a journalist. So I kind of started writing about that experience on like different platforms and, you know, bit on social media and, and was just like getting nice messages of people kind of connecting with it. And then at the same time, like I said, around the dating, I didn't have anyone to talk to about not drinking. I did not know a single other person going through what I was going through. And even if you don't feel like you need medical support or help, I think there's a lot around like, I don't know, just sharing your experience with others and having people that you can relate to. And I always say it's a bit like being the only single one in a friendship group when all your friends are married and they can give you all the advice in the world and they can be really supportive and they can be there for you, but they just don't get it. And I kind of wanted to find people that got it and I could ask like, Oh, when do you tell your dates that you don't drink or you know, what do you do on a Friday night when you fancy a glass of wine? Like, are there any good alcohol-free wines that you know of? And so both worlds kind of collided together in that I looked on social media for support and, you know, maybe there's a group out there. And at the same time, I didn't feel like AA was the right fit for me. I know more about it now. And, but at the time all I had was what had been depicted to me, you know, on screen, it was going to be a room of 65 year old men and they were going to laugh me out when I said, look, I can go a few days without drinking when I do drink.

binge drink and I don't really know how to stop it on the night. So I kind of thought, you know, I'll get laughed out. So I wanted to find something that was like a community, that was people that either didn't drink or just drinking wasn't necessarily a priority. And maybe we could do fun things that didn't involve drinking. Maybe we could just like, you know, meet up and chat about what we were going through. And so I kind of...

I decided that I was going to start it because basically I couldn't find it. And I started an Instagram page called Sober Girl Society. And originally it was just kind of me sharing some of the stuff that I was writing about my kind of sober journey. I was about seven months sober when I started it. So I kind of got through those initial stages. And then, you know, sharing any alcohol-free drinks I could find because at the time there was like nothing. So if I came across something, it was like gold dust. So I started doing that. And then got talking to people and over time people were like, it would be really cool if we could meet up. And from there, the community just expanded. So we started running like meetups and events and it's never been a recovery program. It's not a recovery program. It's literally just a community of girls who wanna do fun stuff together that doesn't revolve around drinking. It's really open to everyone. So you don't have to be sober. You can be a fully fledged drinker.

 But if you just want to come and do fun stuff that doesn't revolve around drinking, if maybe you want a break, if you're doing dry January or one of those campaigns, you can come in and join. So that is, yeah, I think we're now the largest community for sober and sober curious women. And we run events and meetups across the country. And a lot of what we do are like practical. I wanted to do events that would end up with practical skills. So a lot of people would say things to me like, oh, you know I want to quit drinking or I want to cut down on my drinking, but I could not get on a dance floor sober." So we were like, okay, how do we tackle that? Let's run some dance classes that can help give you the confidence and empower you to get on the dance floor. And then we had the same problem with people saying, oh, I'm going on dates at the moment, but I just don't feel sexy unless I have a drink. So we were like, okay, let's do ballets classes. And then people were saying, oh, I go to a lot of business events and corporate events and it's really surrounded by drinking. I don't know how to you know, mix with people and introduce myself. So we were like, let's do our mixer events, you know, a bit like speed dating, but for friend dating. So every event has like a bit of a practical element to it. And yeah, that's like the main basis of what we do basically.

 

James (20:40.117)

But I guess one of the things I do feel, and I think it's really interesting is how, kind of spaces and movements like yours, like Sober Girl Society and many others, I remember kind of Sober Easter and Club Soda, and too many to mention, I guess, all kind of feeling, I think, different important spaces. But essentially what I feel that these are doing is kind of organically responding to, you know, like a demand for like, alcohol free, or, you know, non drinking kind of identities and lifestyles that involve kind of like social network support around it. Because, you know, Alcoholics Anonymous works for lots of people, but it tends to work for people who, you know, go to it because they feel things have got pretty bad. So therefore they are tend to be at a kind of more severe end of the spectrum. And exactly as you say, you know, the kind of, you know, kind of narratives around long periods of very heavy drinking and hitting bottom and kind of losing everything are kind of common narratives in AA. But I actually dipped into it for a bit, partly because yeah, I had the same experience of kind of not really having anyone around me who understood.

 

what I was, why I would do that. And I really, really enjoyed the kind of, to meet a group of people that were saying, you're doing the right thing. I just, it just never, it was never a good fit for me to sort of identify with a kind of disease model. And yeah, most of the people were quite a bit older of me. I do remember hearing one or two other, or remember one or two other cases of people sort of saying, I just, I'm not really, I don't think, you know, if I'm an alcoholic, but I do binge drink and have serious problems as a result of that. I mean, AA does have the kind of saying that the only requirement to attend is a desire to not drink. So I think, but I think I really like that idea of this. You don't have to identify as a non-drinker or a drinker or whatever. You just have to want to come and do something that's not about kind of getting off your face, if you like. So yeah.

 

Millie (22:54.202)

Yeah. And we have, we have girls come to the events that also go to AA because like I said, we're not a program. I think you mentioned some like soberistas, I think they have a lot of like coaching programs and things like that. We don't, we don't really have anything like that. It's mainly events and meetups. So people can do other things alongside. So we have people who come for all different reasons. Some, you know, have been in rehab, some have been to AA, some have never, ever drunk, some don't drink for religious reasons. So the you know, we had a requirement, the only requirement for us is that you don't turn up to that event having drunk or drink at the event. Apart from that, like we're just providing an alcohol free space where people can come and like, you know, dip in. I think it's a good starting point for a lot of people also that are like terrified of that they actually want to give up completely, but they don't even know where to begin. So almost if they develop those skills, first of all, gain confidence that they can do hard things without a drink.

 

James (24:16.465)

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And you know, like we're social beings, you know, we need, I think that's part of the reason why, you know, alcohol has evolved to be such a culturally normalised aspect of society. So embedded in socialising is that, you know, sort of, you know, as our kind of one of our primary goals is human beings is to kind of socialise and alcohol, you know, can give a bit of Dutch courage and, you know, there are some social benefits to it, arguably, but they've just become way over, sort of, over relied upon or the benefits even overemphasized. I remember just sort of thinking, you know, as a drinker that, you know, I couldn't ever go to a social event or I couldn't ever have fun or be myself without drinking. Those beliefs, yes, it's kind of, it seems weird to me now to think that I had those thoughts, but at the same time it does reflect to cycle stereotypes or kind of norms and expectations about it.

And how do you feel about the kind of, you know, the like, the kind of the changing culture now overall? I mean, I guess it's generally, or pretty positive in the sense that, yeah, like you said, when you first did it, there wasn't really much in the way of alcohol-free drinks or other people that would really kind of understand or spaces to go and engage in. And now it's kind of really accelerating. So do you feel it's kind of all good and what do you think are the best aspects about it?

James (26:45.693)

you know, we're seeing growing low and no drinks market, lots of different sober spaces. You know, how do you feel about this kind of, you know, sort of acceleration towards acknowledging non-drinking or positive sobriety to put a kind of label on it compared to like, obviously when you first stopped and it was, yeah, it was arguably very different and more difficult to see.

 
Millie (27:07.014)

Yeah. I mean, I think for the majority of it, it's a great thing. I think the fact that, you know, spaces have become more inclusive. I can go into a bar and there's more than just Diet Coke on the menu. I think all of those kinds of things are really great. And the fact that I now tell people I don't drink and the first thing is I'm not met with is like, why did you have a problem? Like the fact that that's becoming more acceptable, I think is great.

I think it's hard now with like sober spaces particularly, because I think where this is like ramped up so quickly, you're getting like unregulated sober coaching and like there's a lot of stuff that I think could be an issue, but I think on the whole, I think it's generally a positive move forward, which is great. And I think for the first few years I noticed it, it was a lot of women kind of driving this conversation, but I've noticed the last couple of years, a lot more men started talking about their sobriety journey and not drinking less. So I think that is great. I think the one thing I'm always really conscious of, and I know this is of interest to you as well, is not really, really heavily pushing the abstinence model. And it worked for me, it doesn't work for everyone. And that's why I want our events to be really inclusive because I know myself, I've got friends and family who have got perfectly okay relationships with alcohol. They could...probably do with drinking a bit less and want to drink less. So I think it's important that it's not just sobriety is the only way and that we're also talking about people can really benefit from drinking less and drinking within the guidelines and things like that. So I think that's the one thing that I do kind of keep at the back of my mind as well in that like, abstinence is great for me and it works for me, but not everyone's gonna identify with that. And I don't wanna put people off drinking less. So like, especially over the last, I think when I first stopped drinking and started telling people about it and talking about it, I was very much shouting from the rooftops about sobriety. And then we had this kind of introduction of like sober curiosity and I got really interested in harm reduction. And that to me became like an important thread of like talking about it. So when I released the book the first time around, it was, it came out in 2020 and then it got re-released in 2022 with an extra chapter about mindful drinking, sober curiosity and harm reduction because I thought that was a really important chapter that had maybe been missed in the first instance because I think it's just important and just as valid to be honest.

 

James (29:41.029)

Yeah, so interesting. And yeah, and I think that's, that's really great that you recognise that because, yeah, like, you know, like, definitely abstinence or sobriety or whatever you want to call it is, you know, a good thing, you know, like alcohol is, yeah, it's very complicated, but generally, it's not good for us, you know, less is more from a health point of view. And that said, you know, like I do drink in moderation.

 

which I define pretty much as the recommended guidelines. And I sort of almost tried it again after eight years of not drinking, almost as a bit of an experiment because by that time I was working in the field and aware of like alternative ideas to the one that, if you've had a problem, you can never drink again. And also because I'd been to AA and not really identified with it. But yeah, like I definitely sort of over kind of valued what I thought sort of felt I might be missing out on and you know like drinking moderation for me is nice, you know it's nice to have a drink with a meal or um you know like you know a social drink here and there if I fancy it but like yeah just kind of any amount that's going to sort of impair my sleep or make me feel a bit rough or whatever is definitely not worth it and not something that I'm very careful about avoiding so I think there's some you know for a lot of people you know those

 

James (31:06.941)

those kind of benefits of kind of low level drinking are fine. And yeah, some people like easily get caught up in drinking more than that, not because they actually want to, just because of all the things we've talked about, the social pressures or stress and so on. Um, so I do think that, yeah, like just creating more options, um, you know, for people to do things that are like alcohol-free alternatives that allow them time to...space to enjoy themselves without relying on alcohol will help them with that kind of goal. I mean I play golf with a few you know few people and some of them say you know I don't even like golf that much it just keeps them out of the pub all day and you know like I think we've all got love hate relationships with golf but anyway I always talk about on the podcast which is probably a bit annoying for most listeners but yeah I think yeah the option you know just not being too prescriptive about You know, the narratives and ideas around alcohol are very binary, black and white and fixed, aren't they? So I think going back to what I was saying earlier, these are kind of organic developments of a need to have a more diverse and broad approach to kind of drinking and not drinking in more healthy or more kind of flexible or social ways.

 

Millie (32:25.106)

Yeah, a hundred percent. And I mean, to be honest, I think a lot of, a lot of my interest in this as well came from, so my, my dad's about, yeah, two and a half, three years ago had a stroke and my dad is not someone that will, and they largely thought it was, you know, in, as a result of drinking quite heavily. He is never someone in a million years that will go sober. Like he just won't, I know that, but introducing him to like alcohol-free beers and

 

getting him to talk about his relationship with alcohol and things like that have been so helpful and he's really, really reduced his drinking. And as a result is, you know, so much healthier and happier. And I think that's when I got really interested in it as well because I was like, there's so many people out there who are just never, ever, ever gonna subscribe to an abstinence way of life. So to kind of dismiss that and be like, well, I'm not gonna engage with that because my thing is being too total, that I think was a bit of a turning point for me.

 

James (33:22.033)

Yeah, I think that's a really, really great example of exactly the kind of thing I was trying to say that, you know, there's a lot of people out there who, you know, maybe it's not, you know, they're not experiencing the blackouts and all the kind of, you know, more severe problems and they still highly value alcohol in their life. And maybe in some ways they overvalue those kind of positive appraisals and maybe in some ways they don't. But yeah, like, why is just not this idea of kind of being a bit more mindful about it and kind of experimenting with cutting down a bit. And I think dry January is a really good way of allowing people to test that out. Just obviously I also think it's also important that it's not just seen as like oh January is the month where you cut down and it's good it could be other kind of

 

James (34:11.097)

narratives and ideas and spaces for like practicing moderation more in general and yeah I think the alcohol-free drinks are really great way of enabling that you know sometimes I have you know I've always got a few in the fridge and if I feel like I want an alcohol-free beer on a school night then yeah I can kind of do that. And so do you have any sort of plans going forward? Are you you're continuing with the community and doing the events and yeah like um Is there anything else you want to add or say about, or maybe, do you feel like the decline in youth drinking, do you have a sense of particularly what's caused it or do you think it's just kind of in line with what we're saying? There's just kind of been a development that was needed out of too much focus on alcohol.

 

Millie (35:00.27)

Yeah, I mean, I think it's been a whole perfect storm of things. There's a really interesting thread that I'm sort of seeing at the moment where we're getting a lot of girls coming to our events who are like 18, 19, and their parents are like 45, and they don't want to drink because they've seen the kind of not bad things, but the things that have happened to their parents as a result of drinking. So like one girl that came to an event, you know, her dad had been in rehab when she was younger and I think Jen's very good at being very like aware of this idea of, you know, like generational patterns and wanting to like, you know, break those things. So I think a lot are not drinking for that reason now. That's like a new trend that I've sort of seen coming in because I think a lot of their parents were, you know, part of that really boozy generation of like being in the 90s and

 

So as a result, a lot of them are not wanting to follow that path, which I think is very interesting. I think social media has had a huge impact in, I always like a positive and negative way, so like in a, in a way, I think there's that real fear of instant documentation. I like, I know when I was first drinking, it wasn't a worry for me because I would take out a digital camera the next day would have to sift through and upload the album manually to Facebook.

 

Whereas that's not a thing anymore. Like they're worried about, oh, something going up with them on like Snapchat or, you know, being an escort and being caught on the mail online sidebar of shame, like I think there's that real worry. And also even silly things that, well, they don't want to drunk call their ex. And cause now everyone's got a phone in their hand. That's like an added layer of something that could go wrong when you're drinking. So I think there's that side of it. But then I think social media in like a positive senses, made the world seem more accessible in terms of like travels more accessible, building your own businesses more accessible and, and achievable as well. Also. So a lot of them are thinking about, you know, actually rather than going out and drinking and feeling rubbish, I want to do this, I want to spend my time doing this and I want to go to this cool event. I've seen, I want to go to this nice restaurant I've seen, like, I think their priorities are kind of really shifting.

 

I think, you know, health and wellness is huge at the moment. Everyone seems to be running a half marathon on my social media. I don't know about you. And I think that's like a natural thing as well. I think generally they're becoming more conscious consumers. You know, you've seen sustainability, the rise of that, the rise of veganism. I think alcohol is probably the natural one, but then, you know, there's also the naysayers that say it's cause they're doing more drugs and I do think drug use is still rife among teenagers. And Gen Z particularly. I just think maybe alcohol, they're realizing is not the best drug actually. And everyone's skin now as well. I think people just can't really afford to drink. I mean, the cost of living crisis, I think a lot of people are saying, well, you know, I could go out and spend my money on this and then I feel really crap the next day. Or I could spend it going to this gym class that I really want to go to that's gonna make me feel better or go to this place I've seen everyone on TikTok is going to like.

 

I think in that sense that that's kind of changed it as well. So I think there's a lot of reasons. I don't think it's just one reason. I also think, I don't know. I think sometimes the stats might be like, make it seem that less young people are drinking, that more young people are going sober than they are. I don't know if that makes sense.

 

James (38:55.505)

that makes total sense, you know, if your parents do something that, you know, like kids going, oh, that, oh, no, that's so cringe, my parents is doing that, so I'm not going to do that. And so I definitely think that sort of theory plays out. But then there's mixed evidence, because, you know, it's also a risk factor for addiction, or if your parents have had like drug or alcohol problems, then you're kind of more likely to technically, so it can kind of go either way. But yeah, I think they're all really important like factors for consideration and all probably playing a role in different ways. Um, but yeah, I do think, yeah, I think a lot of the narratives and this discussions around like alcohol and alcohol policy and, you know, even like minimum pricing, cause Scotland have just introduced, you know, or announced a higher rate of minimum unit pricing, which I think on the whole is a good thing, but you know, controversial, but all the debates are always about like.

 

Well, what's the trend, you know, and actually, I still think there's a lot of very heavy problematic drinking in young people. And I think we're still higher than the European average for like teenage or young children and young adolescents, binge drinking. So, yeah, like it's kind of a lot depends on which way you cut the cake. But yeah. And.Yeah. Weirdly, I think it's more millennial, like from what I see, I think it's more millennials cutting down rather than necessarily Gen Zed, but that's just what I see. I don't know if that is the truth.

 

James (40:26.093)

Yeah, I always get them mixed up. I've given up trying to remember what age is who. I think I'm just a millennial but on the last edge of it. But yeah, Millie that's been brilliant. Thank you so much for, I mean it's fantastic what you do and I think you're really good at it. Whenever I've seen your content I think, oh I wish I was good at doing stuff like that and putting these things out.

 

Millie (40:51.934)

Oh my god, I will help you anytime, any advice you want. Yeah. Yeah, for sure.

 

James (40:54.281)

That'd be fantastic. I'll probably take you up on that offer. And yeah, just like, yeah, some really brilliant insights. And yeah, like, I'm really excited that you're kind of now starting out or some way through a masters looking at kind of the role of podcasts in kind of, do you say sober curious? Is that your kind of best way of like describing what's going on?

 

Millie (41:17.19)

Yeah. So yeah, so we're in the Super Curious podcast, but I mean, yeah, we say we're a community for sober and sober curious people. I think it, I think it's a good terminology for people because it feels like they can just like, you know, have a little dip in, but they don't have to kind of jump into it. So I quite like that. I know a lot of people, like every time something comes up about sober curious people are like, oh, there's a word for everything these days. But I think it's quite nice because I think it allows people to exactly that, like get curious and just understand. I mean, it's quite interchangeable. I think we're mindful drinking. I think mindful drinking is probably more of like a UK term and so curious has kind of come from over the pond. But yeah, I think it's a nice word because I think it allows people to get curious and you know, that's what it's about.

 

James (42:00.829)

I like mindful drinking because I think it is a useful way about thinking about, like, like what I was saying about drinking, but being really kind of clear about how much you want to drink and doing it in a kind of moderate way or a way that kind of works for you. But I'm aware that a lot of people use it as kind of for not drinking. And then, yeah, when I discussed that with Adrian Charles, a lot of people said, I kind of got it the wrong way I was talking about mindful drinking as like mindfulness while you're drinking. So like sort of being aware of like what the effect it's having on you and all that kind of stuff which I think is quite a useful way of thinking about but a lot of people are like no that's not mindful drinking. So yeah.

 

Millie (42:34.697)

 

Yeah, but that's how sort of like club soda define it. Mindful drinking, as a mindful drinker, you could be alcohol free, but you could also be a moderator. But that's kind of how they talk about it is like being more mindful and you know, understanding how alcohol is affecting you before you kind of move on to the next drink and sitting with it. And so yeah, I think that's how I think about mindful drinking.

 

James (43:03.813)

Yeah, I like that. Yeah, I do. But you know, it's hard to come up with terms, I think, for kind of moderation and you know, like the history of controlled drinking is so controversial for a lot of kind of unfair reasons. But yeah, all the terminology around it is still kind of a lot of controversy or stigma even around these kind of ideas. You know, I used to joke about

moderation march as an alternative to January or in addition to. It was kind of a joke but some people go yeah that's quite a good idea. I don't know if it would ever actually catch on. Yeah, kind of the more the better I guess. Well Millie thanks again so much. It's been brilliant and like let's keep in touch. Thanks so much.


Millie (43:40.292)

Yeah, you should do it. Get moderation marks, mindful marks, you can get them all in there.


Millie (43:54.071)

Absolutely. No, thank you so much for having me.