Hello Everyone and welcome to a slightly different edition of Papyrus and Peppermint!
A lot of people will have chosen to embrace Dry January this year and if you have, hello! Others may be questioning their relationship with alcohol and re-evaluating their connection with it, and again if it’s you – hi! If you fall into neither of those categories then hello to you too(!) – I still encourage you to read ahead, as you may still find a lot of what I’m going to say useful. Before I start I will say this is in no way a judgey, preachy post or trying to encourage you one way or another. You absolutely do what’s healthy for you and which brings you the most peace. No judgement on this blog.
This week however i’m going to be talking with you all about a book that helped me power through the first few weeks of embracing sobriety (I’m coming up 4 months people, woop!) and some of the alcohol free or no alcohol beverages that I’ve been enjoying along the way and fully recommend.
I know from doing Dry January myself that this is the week when you start to either think a)WOOP I’M NEARLY THERE b) GOD IM BORED F THIS or c) Maybe I’ll just continue?
There is absolutely more to life in sobriety than just Diet Coke and water – sober does not mean boring, you just have to know what options you have which is often a struggle when faced with social situations or situations where you would normally turn to alcohol.
However you may be looking at this (fully sober/sober curious/considering mindful drinking) then you will definitely want in on good motivational books and on great, easily accessible alternatives. A westernised world that fully embraces alcohol as a cultural norm can be difficult to separate from and to feel like not drinking is weird or unattainable, so I hope this post helps you if thats how it feels to you!
Before I start I must just stress that alcohol withdrawal symptoms are seriously dangerous and that the more you drink the more you will likely experience them. If you are concerned you might be dependent on alcohol, you should seek medical advice to help you cut down and stop your drinking safely. None of the below recommendations are replacements for medical care or psychological help, so please ensure that you consult your GP first before taking any book or product recommendations or any advice from this blog post. You can find out more about symptoms and alcohol support services, here
The Sober Girl Society Handbook by Millie Gooch
When I decided to break up with booze the first thing I did was journaled and then went online to find a community – a community of like minded people are important in any big life change. I stumbled across the sober girl society on IG (@sobergirlsociety) and then onto Millie Gooch’s handbook, swiftly purchased myself a copy and got down to reading it.
Firstly, nope, you do not have to identify as a girl to read this book! It is written from the perspective of a woman and her experience but provides tools and advice to anybody who may be concerned about harmful drinking. Secondly, this book is more targeted to those with harmful drinking* issues, rather than those with alcohol dependency issues, but it can of course aid both in terms of information and social tools.
“Medically, alcohol dependence is recognised as a type of ‘alcohol-use disorder’ which can be treated. It’s different to *‘harmful drinking’ (another type of alcohol-use disorder) which is a pattern of heavy drinking which causes damage to your health, but without actual dependence.”Drink Aware
Thirdly, this book is targeted at those who are sober, and those who are sober curious. What’s sober curious you may ask? Simply curious about sobriety – that might mean moderation, mindful drinking, learning more or looking for alternatives.
I found this book to be super relatable, and in really good spirit (no pun intended!) – it is written in an upbeat, fun way whilst also being really honest, brutal and factual.
I found out so much about the science behind alcohol, about what it does to your body, what creates hanxiety (hangover anxiety), and it also provided great tools to tackle that first night out, that bottomless brunch, those initially difficult talks with loved ones and friends, colleagues etc about not drinking and arms you with great tools to help you stick to your decision.
It’s a really insightful book about why alcohol plays such a key role in our lives (hint, its fucking everywhere!), which may help you understand why you’ve got to the drinking habit that you have (we all have one if you look closely enough at yourself), alcohol in the media, how it impacts the NHS, how it impacts the body of folks with vulvas (such as fertility, periods etc), how it impacts every body in terms of immunity, your organs (including skin) and finally, the utter JOY of regaining your mornings and having a better relationship with your physical and mental health, your finances, your career and your relationships. No more hangovers!
CAN’T PUT IT DOWN RATING: 5/5
There were honestly a lot of WOW(!) moments for me reading this book, I felt heard, I learnt, I understood and most importantly I felt really bloody normal! Why is it such a shock that a poison is well.. poisonous?
I also found a really great community and new sober friends who can relate to my experiences, which I’m grateful to have found. This gave me a rocket boost and so much confidence, so 5/5 for me!
You can find the book online or in bookstores, rrp £14.99.
WASHED DOWN WITH:
One of the first things I did after finding a community of like minded people was find out what they drink. Diet Coke gets boring, makes you fart and keeps you awake, I always enjoyed unwinding on an evening or weekend with something ‘special’ and it was important to me to feel like I still had access to something ‘special’ that would help me unwind. Pints of Diet Coke was not going to cut the mustard and I couldnt just drink those forever!
So, if youre newly sober, sober curious, doing dry January or just want to see what’s available thats really good in my opinion, read ahead!
There are of course lots of really good 0% beers, you’ve probably seen those advertised – but they aren’t for everyone, so what I’m going to chat about here is the lesser known drinks.
Before we do, lets differentiate from two different terms that I’ll discuss in the drinks below – ‘alcohol free’ and ‘no/zero alcohol’.
Alcohol free, perhaps surprisingly – still contains alcohol! The % varies by country, so I’m not going to quote anything here so as not to misinform. However you will not get any kind of buzz from an alcohol free drink and you’ll often find a similar % in fermented goods and some fruits.
Zero Alcohol: No Alcohol % at all, it’s a completely soft drink essentially.
Needing something to celebrate with and not sure how what to put in the fancy glass? Meet Nozeco. It’s classified as alcohol free in the UK, it’s de-alcoholised wine and tastes great. I had this over Christmas and was a perfect replacement at the Christmas Dinner! It really doesnt taste any different to normal Prosecco, so an easy straight swap if alcohol free is acceptable to you. Bottle is usually £3-4 and sometimes available in Aldi! This one is a special edition rose!
CLEAN CO CLEAN G:
Gin or red wine was my go to weekend drink or night out drink. This alternative, whilst pricey, is completely no-alcohol and tastes great! I’ve mixed it with different soft mixers and created some delicious tasting drinks. As my other half said who tried some, ‘YOU WOULD NOT KNOW THE DIFFERENCE!!’. I really recommend this, although due to the current high price point it may be one to buy on offer (which you’ll likely find right now with it being Dry Jan!). Usual price is around £16 for a bottle.
Okay so I’m absolutely freaking obsessed with these, thats very fair to say. These contain no alcohol, but they contain 15mg CBD. Nope, they do not contain trippy drugs. CBD is a substance found in cannabis but that contains zero THC in the CBD that is legal for sale in the UK (THC is the chemical that gets you high). CBD is said to relax you, clear your mind, relieve anxiety, ease aches, pains and joint stiffness. It is also said to benefit sleep. Well, since giving up drinking, I was already sleeping better but since drinking these I have nowhere near the amount of aches and pains, and I find them great to relax with on an evening after a busy work day. My purchase also came with a CALM app subscription which I’ve found so useful! If CBD is acceptable for you I can totally recommend these! There are limits to the maximum CBD you should consume per day, and some people may wish to consult with a GP first, so if youre not sure, ask, and always read the label and any product safety advice.
You’ll find these in most supermarkets, Amazon, or directly online. Usually around £6/4 drinks.
My favourite is the elderflower mint, it mixes really well with the clean g to create a fantastic mocktail too!
I hope this has been really helpful and interesting post for you. If youre still a little wary about asking a barman for something just ask ‘what non-alcoholic drinks do you have’. I expected to be judged the first time I asked and had the convo with the bartender, but I was actually greeted with support and admiration, which felt great. Some bars will just have diet coke, but you’ll be surprised at what they’ve got now that there’s more alternatives on the market. I asked in my local country pub the other day and was absolutely blown away!
So, whatever your circumstances, goals, or aims, you got this – and I hope this spurs you on!
DMs always open at @papyrusandpeppermint for anyone wishing to chat, but your likes, follows, comments on here or on IG are appreciated as always.
See you next time for a fiction review!
Until the next chapter,