sober socialising – seven survival tips

“Are you afraid of getting sober?” is one of the questions we ask at our workshops.  The response we get from the group is invariably “well yes…”

Their biggest fear?  How on earth do I cope with parties, functions, restaurants, networking etc. without a glass of wine in my hand?

Well amazingly it is possible to be alcohol free and have a social life but it takes practice and perseverance – try our seven survival tips and let us know how you get on…

  1. Remember alcohol is not a fun machine – it’s actually you, your friends and the environment that provide the fun – not the contents of your glass.
  2. Fake it till you make it.  Just slap a smile on your face and commit to an hour of making a real effort.  You are under no obligation to be the “life and soul” of the party and entertain everyone else – maybe just try listening hard to what people are saying – they will love it!
  3. It’s nobody’s business why you are not drinking but people are nosy – have an explanation up your sleeve to get them off your case – “I’m on meds” or “I’m on a health kick” are classics and who can argue with either of those?
  4. Always have an escape plan.  Stay long enough to be polite but if you are really suffering then just go.  You can leave whenever you like – it’s not a big deal.  You came – and now you are going.
  5. Early sobriety is really hard work but if you don’t want to become a recluse then you need to put in the work.  Then one evening you will realise that you are having an awesome time without even thinking about what is in your glass.
  6. Relish waking up with a clear head and plenty of energy the next morning – even if it wasn’t the best night ever you will have total recall and can now get on with your day.
  7. Finally – look on the bright side – when you are sober, the chances of you making a fool of yourself (or crashing your car) are greatly reduced.
    That is a very good thing.  Trust me on that one.

7 Ways Alcohol Impacts Your Looks…

Many of us spend a fortune on “beauty treatments” not to mention gym membership and organic food bills but the quickest and certainly the cheapest way to get your freshness back is to ditch the drink…

If you need convincing then just check out Nicola in the photos – Nicola came to one of our workshops and as a result she quit drinking – she took a photo before she stopped and then again after just a few weeks of not drinking – they say a picture speaks a thousand words so I will say no more..

I will just post a quick listicle of how drinking impacts your looks…

  1.  Tired eyes – evening drinking affects your sleep – it cuts REM cycles from 5 or 7 to just 1 or 2 so you wake up feeling tired
  2. Grey skin – alcohol is a diuretic and makes your kidneys pass more fluids.  Skin needs moisture to stay healthy and will become dull
  3. Sagging – regular drinking can leave your skin missing the essential vitamins and minerals that help keep it elastic and smooth
  4. Red blotches – alcohol dilutes the small bood vessels in your skin which can result in red blotches
  5. It ages you – New York nutritionist Jairo Rodriguez always tells his patients “if you want to look older, then go ahead and drink!”
  6. Drinking leads to zinc deficiency which can lead to hairloss so those luscious locks may suffer as well as your face!
  7. We all want to be slim but did you know your body will not even think about burning any fat until its got rid of that deadly alcohol you drank?

We have more workshops coming up in September – make a booking and we will throw in a complimentary online support system called “Take a Break” which will get you through an alcohol free month – a great way to prepare for a workshop and find out how dependent you may have become.

If you don’t live in Cape Town or Joburg then just sign up for “Take a Break” – have an alcohol free month and get your sparkle back!

Just don’t forget to do that selfie at the beginning and end of your alcohol free month – send it to us and we will send you a WorldWithoutWine t-shirt.

janet x






Stress and Recovery – Guest Blog from Bill Weiss

7 Ways Stress Can Make Recovery More Difficult

Stress is not totally awful as most people assume. In fact, stress is an incredibly important part of our survival as a human species. Before modern industrialization, we were left to our own devices to survive against the wild. The subtle crack of a twig beneath a potential predators foot was enough to incite a stress response in our system to help us survive. This fight-or-flight response is so integral in our makeup as a being that we can see its effects in virtually everything that we do.

The problem?

Modern technology has placed us in a unique situation where our brains are not fully equipped to handle the everyday stressors that we now have. Rather than acknowledging an overflowing inbox as a manageable task, our brains jump into survival mode and produce cortisol so that we have enough stamina to complete the task.

Perhaps a dose of cortisol once a day would provide a healthy boost of energy, as needed. Unfortunately, very few of us have just an overflowing inbox to deal with. Instead, we have stressful tasks, demands, and urgencies all throughout the day. As a result, we are continuously pumped with cortisol, which can break down the body in harmful ways.

For a recovering addict, this can place serious strain on their ability to stay sober. Though this is a normal and common struggle for many recovering addicts, it is totally manageable. As you can imagine, managing stress is an important part of addiction recovery.   Not convinced that you need to manage your stress?

Here are 7 ways that stress can sneakily make an addiction worse:

1. Cortisol can damage brain function.

When the brain is stressed, cortisol levels heighten. When this happens regularly, cortisol can damage the way the brain functions. The hippocampus, the region responsible for emotion regulation, shrinks with chronic stress. This makes it more difficult for a person to control their emotions, which increases cravings and turning to substances to cope.

2. Substances are used to relieve stress.

Certain drugs used to relieve stress, such as alcohol, Valium and Xanax, limit how the central nervous system responds to stress. These substances do this by slowing the nervous system’s response, which then lowers everything from blood pressure and heart rate to body temperature and respiration. When a person is dealing with chronic stress, they may rely more heavily on substances that seem to counteract that stress.

The problem? They do not actually learn how to cope with stress without substances, which increases the risk of being addicted to xanax. Instead of giving in to the substances, or instead of suffering through more unbearable cravings, get your stress under control. Practice healthy habits, such as yoga and meditation, or even long-distance running. Get plenty of sleep, spend time with loved ones, and provide yourself with a creative outlet. Manage your stress, yourself, so that you don’t feel the urge to turn to a substance.

3. Substances change the brain, making it difficult to stop use.

Substance abuse, no matter the duration, significantly alters the chemical balance of the brain. Cocaine, for example, floods the brain with a neurotransmitter called dopamine, signaling to the brain to stop producing more. Though cocaine quickly leaves the body, the signal to the brain lingers for days. The same can be said for Ecstasy and serotonin. With a slowed production of serotonin, the abuser can feel depressed, anxious, and low in energy for days after use. This is where the popular term “Suicide Sunday” was born: based on the effects of the drug on the neurotransmitters in the brain.

Many addicts struggle through this comedown period, leading many to turn back to using. Stress also naturally alters the chemical balance in the brain so that you are left, once again, sluggishly producing neurotransmitters. Many recovering addicts will recognize the feelings of this slump and will crave the substances that can temporarily boost their brains. This makes stress a very dangerous trigger for many recovering addicts.

4. Stress Lowers Impulse Control.

Poor impulse control is very strongly correlated with stress, meaning that the more stressed we are the less impulse control we have. It’s not all in the head, either. Chronic stress, such as rush hour traffic and dance recitals, decreases gray matter in the brain in the regions most associated with stress regulation. When the brain is unable to regulate stress, it is unable to manage other areas of the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex. This area is perhaps the most important of all to the recovering addict because it is where we control our impulses and make complex decisions. By leading a stressful life you are removing your armor against cravings: impulse control.

5. Traumatic events and stress are closely linked.

When children undergo high levels of stress or experience a traumatic event at a young age, they’re more likely to cope with stress through the use of drugs and alcohol. Trauma like abuse, abandonment or neglect can lead to substance abuse as a coping mechanism. Additionally, substance abuse can increase the risk of a traumatic event occurring. Not only can trauma lead to substance use, but substance use can raise the risk of trauma, especially in children and teenagers.

6. Trauma (extreme stress) can lead to alcohol or drug abuse.

Trauma is strongly linked with substance abuse and addiction. The stress disorder PTSD, which is caused by a traumatic event, is especially notorious for being linked with addiction. When people have PTSD, they’re unable to turn off their fight-or-flight response. This can lead to sleeping problems, re-experiencing the event, avoiding certain situations, feeling irritable, feeling anxious, always being on edge, memory lapses and poor self-confidence. Some people with PTSD even find it difficult to experience joy. Often, people with PTSD will self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, which can not only increase stress but can also get in the way of other treatments and recovery plans.

7. Detox can cause stress.

When a person is trying to recover from addiction, the detox process can trigger a stress response in the body. This almost certainly increases cravings and withdrawal. In order to detox effectively, a combination of strategies should be used. Options for detox include medications to help with side effects or to stabilize mood, behavior therapies, and counseling or support groups.

People who are suffering from addiction and stress will benefit first from understanding the disease model of addiction, and then immense support. Battling stress should not be a traumatic in itself! Instead, seek healthy ways to reduce your stress and don’t be afraid to reach out to your support network. Prevent your stress from making addiction recovery even more difficult than it already is!



Bill Weiss is an advocate of long-term sobriety. As a member of the recovery community, he feels it is important to spread awareness of alcohol and drug misuse. Being personally affected and having family members struggling, it is a personal quest of his to get the facts about substance misuse in the public domain.

getting the sparkle back…

This is my first blogpost for more than a year – not because I “fell off the wagon” but because I have been busy building my alcohol free life – and making it awesome.

I started blogging the day I stopped drinking and used it to track my first year of sobriety – first blogpost was May 2015 so if you want the whole story just click HERE

I hope this new post is reaching some of those kind people who encouraged me through those tough early months – would love to hear from you and anyone else who would like to leave a comment!

One of the best things about sobriety has been the opportunity to help other people via the worldwithoutwine workshops – we run them in Cape Town and Joburg and more than a hundred people have attended – about a third of those people have stopped drinking completely, another third of them have cut down and the rest did not reply to our survey so I have concluded that they are still “in contemplation”.

Contemplation is actually a vital part of the change process – my decade of trying (and failing) to moderate was definitely “contemplation” before I finally accepted that I would have to stop drinking completely.

My biggest learning as I begin my third year of sobriety is that putting down that last alcoholic drink is just the beginning. If you don’t make some serious changes in your life then you end up trying to live your normal life with a big hole in it – where the booze used to be. I certainly went through that phase, feeling depressed – and stuck because I couldn’t even chase away the blues with wine. I used say that I felt as if I had lost more than I had gained – but now I feel the opposite. Now I know that you need to fill that big hole with stuff that’s going to lift you up, connect you with others and broaden your horizons.

I have learned so much about addiction since I got sober so am planning to share some of those learnings, as well as some personal insights, via a weekly blogpost – please follow me if you’d like to get notification when I post.

Never forget that the opposite of addiction is connection.

I leave you with a quote from Mary Karr:-

“When I got sober, I thought giving up was saying goodbye to all the fun and all the sparkle, and it turned out to be just the opposite”

That’s when the sparkle started for me”.

janet x



Testimonial (via What’s App WWW Group)

“Good morning to my awesome WWW-family.  Today will be my first birthday on my sobriety journey and I am really looking forward to this.  I am now on day 68 and very sober.  I am full of energy and have managed to fill the “free time” with constructive activities.  I will be drinking today as I celebrate my birthday with my family – drinking tea, juice and unfermented red grape juice.  Thank you to Janet, Zaida and to all of you for saving my life.  I am truly blessed.”

12th May

(from a whisky drinker who attended our Joburg workshop in April 2017)


Testimonials from our Workshops…


“I was very nervous to attend my first World Without Wine workshop in January 2016 – knowing I had to give up wine but not knowing how it would all work out. I have always been a drinker and kept up with the guys. I only realised it was a family issue when my sister got really out of hand and needed rehab to stop cos she was suicidal and that was only about 5 – 8 years ago! Then I started having too much wine “to cope” as a mother but it changed me and I had to stop.

Well I should never have worried about being nervous at my first WWW meeting. The minute I met Janet Gourand and her team (Zaida and Mandy) I felt that this was right. They were warm, accepting and fun. I felt drawn into the fold and have been with WWW since then. I really thought the workshop so worthwhile as it allowed us to tell our stories and no matter how “bad” they were, we could all laugh, compare notes and feel as if we were still human. Like-minded people with similar issues could chat and not be judged.

No one likes to admit they have an alcohol problem but most alcohol problems are like a disease – uncontrollable in some ways but also resolvable in other ways. We can always get better but it is so much easier when you do it with friends. Janet has become a friend to all of us who attended her workshops. She never judges, only accepts and guides, assists and notices. If you have issues with alcohol, my recommendation is to do the workshop then sign for recovery then wellness coaching. Stick to your goals and your life will change forever. I have been dry for 14 months now thanks to WWW and that first workshop!”



“If I could give a written testimonial I would say that the biggest lesson I took from your workshop was the realisation that I was not alone in my dependence on alcohol and that I was not a “loser” or a failure, in fact my fellow participants were highly successful people and all battling the same problem.”