Not Drinking (Alcohol) Today Podcast

Justine Whitchurch - Thriving After Addiction

March 17, 2024 Isabella Ferguson and Meg Webb Season 3 Episode 73
Justine Whitchurch - Thriving After Addiction
Not Drinking (Alcohol) Today Podcast
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Not Drinking (Alcohol) Today Podcast
Justine Whitchurch - Thriving After Addiction
Mar 17, 2024 Season 3 Episode 73
Isabella Ferguson and Meg Webb

Justine Whitchurch was on our TVs in the 90's, thriving on the surface, but drinking to soothe anxiety and OCD underneath. In this episode, Justine's story reveals the harsh realities of addiction—how it can lead us to isolation, shame, near death — and turn us into someone we hardly recognise.  As with many of us, Justine's dependence on alcohol slowly grew and eventually took over.  Following a family intervention, after nearly dying from alcohol poisoning, Justine surrendered to recovery.  From there, Justine did the work and and grew from strength to strength.  Justine shares the process that she followed to regain control of her life, emphasising the importance of establishing healthy habits to replace the once-destructive patterns of addiction and the societal pressures that often accompany the decision to abstain. This episode offers  hope and guidance for anyone seeking to drink less alcohol and rediscover their health, fitness and purpose.

LEARN MORE ABOUT JUSTINE WHITCHUCH

Instagram: @jusswhitchurch

Web: https://justinewhitchurch.com.au

MEG

Megan Webb: https://glassfulfilled.com.au
Instagram: @glassfulfilled
Unwined Bookclub: https://www.alcoholfreedom.com.au/unwinedbookclub
Sober Socialising workshop at Seadrift Distillery: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/confident-and-cozy-alcohol-free-socialising-for-winter-tickets-934198341387?aff=oddtdtcreator

BELLA

Isabella Ferguson: https://isabellaferguson.com.au
Instagram: @alcoholandstresswithisabella
Free 5-Day DO I HAVE A DRINKING PROBLEM? Clarify and focus series: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/doIhaveadrinkingproblemwithisabellaferguson
Alcohol Freedom Small Group Challenge - Register here: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/alcoholfreedomchallenge
The Alcohol Revolution 6-Week Program (Online or Podcast): ...

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Justine Whitchurch was on our TVs in the 90's, thriving on the surface, but drinking to soothe anxiety and OCD underneath. In this episode, Justine's story reveals the harsh realities of addiction—how it can lead us to isolation, shame, near death — and turn us into someone we hardly recognise.  As with many of us, Justine's dependence on alcohol slowly grew and eventually took over.  Following a family intervention, after nearly dying from alcohol poisoning, Justine surrendered to recovery.  From there, Justine did the work and and grew from strength to strength.  Justine shares the process that she followed to regain control of her life, emphasising the importance of establishing healthy habits to replace the once-destructive patterns of addiction and the societal pressures that often accompany the decision to abstain. This episode offers  hope and guidance for anyone seeking to drink less alcohol and rediscover their health, fitness and purpose.

LEARN MORE ABOUT JUSTINE WHITCHUCH

Instagram: @jusswhitchurch

Web: https://justinewhitchurch.com.au

MEG

Megan Webb: https://glassfulfilled.com.au
Instagram: @glassfulfilled
Unwined Bookclub: https://www.alcoholfreedom.com.au/unwinedbookclub
Sober Socialising workshop at Seadrift Distillery: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/confident-and-cozy-alcohol-free-socialising-for-winter-tickets-934198341387?aff=oddtdtcreator

BELLA

Isabella Ferguson: https://isabellaferguson.com.au
Instagram: @alcoholandstresswithisabella
Free 5-Day DO I HAVE A DRINKING PROBLEM? Clarify and focus series: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/doIhaveadrinkingproblemwithisabellaferguson
Alcohol Freedom Small Group Challenge - Register here: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/alcoholfreedomchallenge
The Alcohol Revolution 6-Week Program (Online or Podcast): ...

Speaker 1:

Hello everybody. By request, we've got Justine Wichurch on the podcast today. Justine is a sobriety speaker, health and fitness coach and writer of the most fabulous book, Subriety Delivered Everything Alcohol Promised. It is such a great title because it's just so true. A big, heartfelt, warm welcome to you, justine.

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much. Thank you for having me on.

Speaker 1:

Oh, you're welcome. I really just love the way that you talk so openly and clearly about how alcohol impacted your life, but you also then really tell how wonderful it is on the other side, and for that I just want to give you just a big thanks, because you are really inspiring others and motivating others to look at their drinking and know that if you want to take the alcohol free path, it can be really worthwhile and fun and you're not giving up anything. You're actually gaining. But if we could, could we just talk a little about where alcohol got to the point for you. We just went. Yeah, I'm looking at this as a real problem and I've got to make some changes.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, well, it was a slow burn, probably just like most people who had, I guess, addiction at the level that I ended up with, which was, by all accounts, it got me to near death. I was told that I probably had about three months to go, but it was look, to cut a very long story short, I think I discovered that alcohol became a great medecator for me in my probably in my very early twenties, late teens, and then I've had sabbaticals through the years where I didn't drink a lot at all, but I had always found it to be incredibly useful to calm my head, my nerves, my anxiety. I have obsessive compulsive disorder and generally anything where life would got a little bit tough. Yeah, it stepped straight in, it was my friend, so I didn't have to deal with the uncomfortable, you know, and uncomfortable, painful situations that I was potentially facing. Well, I didn't have to face them head on anyway. I could, you know, escape? Yeah, I had.

Speaker 2:

In my early thirties I had a marriage breakdown and that was quite messy, and I definitely know that's when my, my alcohol intake increased dramatically and once again, it was a medecator or wasn't going out partying having fun. Yeah, it was a medecator, and you know, by all accounts, society says that's okay to do that as well. You know, you've had a bad day. Oh my God, have a drink. You know, yeah, you've had an argument with your partner. Your girlfriend says come on over, we'll crack a bottle open because that's what we do, right, that's what we do, that's, that's our coping mechanism and I think, with all of those personal things that were going on.

Speaker 2:

And then, you know, over the next couple of years, my daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I could make excuses, I could make a million and one excuses. My mental health got worse and the more I drank, the more my mental health got even worse. And then more I drank. So it became this vicious cycle and before I know it, you know, it had had me absolutely by the balls physically, psychologically, in in, in every capacity. It became a full blown addiction and in the last 12 months, you know, I was drinking almost 24, seven and very, very, very unwell. So it was, it was I was in dire straits.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and when those behaviors were happening, I can imagine would have felt quite alone and disconnected from everybody else and probably quite confused about why all of this was happening. Were you trying to manage it all by yourself?

Speaker 2:

100%, because who wants to tell anybody, who wants, whoever wants to tell somebody that they're completely powerless over anything? Really? And I didn't, I was ashamed, I was embarrassed, I didn't. Yeah, at the end of the day, your brain's not, you're not functioning at all. So when you say connection, there was no connection to anything, no connection to self, so it's not even.

Speaker 2:

I don't think I even had the analytical tools to be able to say I just knew I was in deep sheet and I didn't really know how to get out. And, to be fair, there was periods of time where I didn't want to get out because I didn't want to stop drinking, yeah, yeah. So you know, on a on a number of occasions when I kind of, I guess, attempted to get help where it was, oh, I went to a kinesiologist because they could give me a magic potion that would make it all better, or I could have a specific massage or therapy, and then it would all go away and I'd go to the psychologist and I'd talk about all the other things. But the elephant in the room was that I was drinking far too much and I never I only ever disclosed what I wanted to disclose and what I was ready to face.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, I can complain. I relate to that.

Speaker 2:

No, so nobody knew. And well, until nobody knew, until everybody knew. Does that make sense? When it was, it was just, it was not possible to disguise anymore.

Speaker 1:

And with that was there a degree of surrender, like did you have to kind of put the white flag up and say to yourself all right, I can't do this alone. There is a big problem here. I need external help.

Speaker 2:

I actually had full intervention from my family. So when I say near death alcoholic, I literally was so in the last, the last few months of 2011,. I was. I was still living in Melbourne with my my new husband at the time and my kids and my family are all on the Gold Coast and there was a bit of a mercy dash to bring me back myself and the kids back my husband at the time. He made the transition, but my parents are all up here and they brought me up to Queensland, put me into specialist doctors and saw the full extent of where I was at. Plus, they could look after my kids.

Speaker 2:

So I was told in no uncertain terms that I needed to go to rehab and they really did try and get me to go in as a resident and I was able to negotiate going in this daypatient because I talk about this all the time. I cared about nothing at that at that point other than my kids and I think if for me at the time and I still think it was the right decision if the kids have been taken away from me in a go, you know, in in the fact that I've, you know, I've gone into a residential program, I think that would have been the last straw for me, because everything else was indicating, you know, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I didn't go.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and instead you did a day program. And what was it in that program that worked for you?

Speaker 2:

Oh, there was a number of things that worked for me, but you know, I think I'd never tried group therapy before. I had done a lot of individual counselling and I think the fact that I could be in an environment where other people were sharing their stories was, you know, it was super, super, super empowering for me. There's just a different level of understanding and on top of that, the type of therapy that we're given was a lot of mindfulness and being present. And you know by, I guess my profession at the time, before I stopped being able to work at all, was a workplace trainer and assessment. I've done a lot of NLP, so I actually understood all of these concepts and I think I needed to. I needed to be in an environment where I was given practical tools and strategy and an understanding of what goes on in my head when this is happening.

Speaker 2:

But the people around me, you know, I know now that you know I'm an empath. I feed off other people's energy. I all of those things combined and being home with family. It was just the right time. But I say this all the time I dragged my feet. I was not a willing participant to begin with. I was ticking everybody else's boxes, my doctor's boxes, my family's boxes. I just was going through the motions until things started to click and I had some clarity, because I didn't my head, my body, everything was just in a state.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, I mean, you can't really comprehend at that point, when your body is just so flooded with alcohol and the shame, the disappointment, the anxiety and all the things that you're self medicating are going to sort of start bubbling up to the surface as well. You can't comprehend a life without alcohol, can you? And there's such fear attached to that because, well, it's the unknown, you haven't done it before.

Speaker 2:

That's it. You need the evidence. I mean, I still, and to be fair, even that first year when I came out of the rehab programs, I still drank. I still, in the back of my head, thought I can? You know? I've got this. Now I don't medicate anymore, I can be a social drinker, but I'll set myself boundaries. You can't drink just in four months, or you can't drink for three months and you can only drink on this specific, you know occasion. And then it just got crazy and I was like every time I made I did drink. All the promises and the boundaries I'd set for myself never stayed in place. So it became more anxious about drinking than I almost was after. But it was. I honestly, I mean, I get it. I've been there. I looked at life and thought, how that? Am I ever going to function, not just in society, but what if something happens? How like hope? Yeah, I haven't got something to calm me down.

Speaker 1:

And that's Australian society, where our alcohol is the quick, quick fix for absolutely everything for stress, for our reward, for our anxiety, for numbing out from escaping who we are. And just in this, this is what I just really love about everything that you advocate out there about sobriety, that, in a way, where there's a void inside of us that is somehow led us to drink, and it might be because we're disconnected with our values, who we are, our purpose, but of course we're abandoning ourselves and we're drinking, we're escaping it, so we're never going to tap into that. But then afterwards you've kind of got room then to, without alcohol, get to know who you are and was that something that really worked for you? And have you found that that's what's happened for you on the other side?

Speaker 2:

I love that. Look, you've actually that. There's a lot in what you just said. Yeah, yes, 100% we you mentioned connection before we become completely disconnected from ourselves. Yeah, you know when, when we're drinking, and even in moderation, it's still a drug, it's still mind-altering, it's, it's giving you fog. You know we could go on and on and on the science behind it, but it's it's. They say that with addiction in particular, and you know, without alcohol, when you start drinking at those sorts of levels, you kind of stop any growth whatsoever emotional, spiritual, everything. So you're going back to that time. Now. Some of us have been doing this since we were teenagers. Yeah, in some shape or form, and that's what.

Speaker 2:

I'm holding my hand up. Yeah, so I? There was a massive. Who the hell am I? When I stopped drinking? And I, in my late teens and my twenties, I was super vivacious, I was ambitious, I was in the music industry, I traveled the world.

Speaker 2:

I was, you know, I was a 90s pop star, I did a whole heap of things without even thinking. And then I had these sabbatical years, especially my all of my 30s. I would almost say in some shape or form. I don't know. You know, apart from how there's other things, like I had children I would, I got out of an extremely traumatic marriage at the time, so there's all these other things that had happened that I'd not dealt with either. So there was identity crisis, there was little to no self worth, self esteem, all of those things.

Speaker 2:

So you know, for me and I talk about this all the time because it's part of the core, the core of the, the, the my foundation of wellness is when I started exercising and training and building physical strength, my mental strength grew and I had the capacity then to be able to decipher what was going on and I truly believe I became much more connected with what's myself, and and and everything.

Speaker 2:

You know little signs I could I had. My intuition was back. Yeah, and I think I don't, I've re-found or I kind of recalled some of the stuff from when I was younger, when I was much more in control and very confident and ready to take on the world, but at the same time, I had all this newfound wisdom and I was a different person, so I thought it was a clean slate. I could reinvent myself, however the hell I wanted. You know the JK Rowling. Rock bottom was the sole foundation of which I rebuilt my life is honestly like my mantra you can do whatever the hell you want when you actually know who you are and who you are is not linear either.

Speaker 2:

That changes, you know. I've just hit 10 years sober and in that 10 years so good Congratulations. I remember five minutes at a time and you know what. I honestly hope that never leaves me, that. I still remember that desperation and as much as you know, people say, well, you've got to move on. I certainly, most have certainly, moved on and I don't think about it all the time, but I hope that it's not far in my recollection because that's a life I know I never, ever, ever, ever want to live again.

Speaker 1:

Oh no, there's too much hard work pulling yourself out of that place to ever want to go back, but I'm happier than I've had loads of you know nothing.

Speaker 2:

I've had life challenges no different to what I had before when I thought I had to use alcohol to cope. I've just gone through you know. You know I've had another divorce. You know all of the things that go with that health scares, family thing, all sorts of things and I was like, oh my God, all these things, how will I ever cope? But I've coped so much better than when I did drinking, and that for me, there's the evidence and it's being able to connect with yourself and know what you need at any point in time.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and look, how do you do that? What are some tips that you might have that would just help men and women out there to work out who they are? It's a question I get asked a lot and it's a hard one to answer.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I don't know. I suppose, in terms of who you are, I honestly think it's the signals, the signs everywhere when you become. I call it cyber clarity. Cyber clarity for me really forced me to listen to the little signs because they were always there For me.

Speaker 2:

Some of the big things in terms of my purpose, one of my more tragic, I guess one of the most horrid parts for me to remember with my addiction there was many, but I did have a pretty severe emergency room visit where I was. That's when I was told that I didn't have that much longer if I continued my habits and I was on the emergency and I prayed and said God, whatever it takes, I'll do whatever it takes to pay you back if you somehow get me out of this. And I had no idea what that meant whatsoever. And then when, quite a few years later, when I started writing and blogging about my story and different things and all of a sudden I had I'd engaged people who were, they were messaging me and saying I don't know how to get out, I'm you and I knew that straight away, that's when I had the ability to go. I think this is it.

Speaker 2:

Because, yeah because, I'm connecting and I am strong enough and I have skills where I am able to lead a path for others. I have a voice. Sometimes it's stronger than others, and that voice needs to be heard so that everybody that is suffering and doesn't know the way out is assured that there is support and that there is a myriad of things that demonstrate, including myself, that you can live successfully and happily on the other side of the bottle.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I just I got goosebumps when you said that. And just in I too had a hospital visit and from there there was this wonderful doctor that just said you owe it to yourself to sort this out. And she wouldn't let me off the ward until I got myself up to Biombay treatment center and I did four weeks there in absolute sheer terror, anxiety about how the heck I was going to transition back into society. And I still left thinking, you know, I could still moderate. So from there it started for me very similarly a deep dive into well, what do I want to do? Who am I? What's my purpose?

Speaker 1:

Because I do think that and I call it my flashing red zone the few years before I got to that point where things my drinking got dangerous, I was suppressing a real loud roar that I wasn't living in alignment with who I wanted to be, but I just didn't know how to get there, and that pain was being done with alcohol. So similarly, yeah, I had to work out well, let's do some work, who do you want to be? And it also led to this similar style of work as you. But you were certainly a trailblazer, justine. You were out there like quite a few years before. There has been quite a surge of sobriety coaches.

Speaker 1:

So how has it transformed your life? Being for one of a better phrase, I guess the poster girl or poster person was sobriety. That's inspiring so many people in Australia and beyond.

Speaker 2:

It's interesting because sometimes I forget that I might be talking, I might be writing and doing all these things, but I forget that there is this greater audience and you only know what you know right, and there's a certain amount of people that will engage, a certain amount of people, a certain message and certain kind of people you might coach, but they're the silent listeners as well and I forget that sometimes until I get a silent listener. We've been watching you for the last however many years and, honestly, I had one person message me the other day who said that I actually blocked your account for a period of time because I couldn't face what you were saying. And now I realize it was all my issues and it's amazing. I think, well, that is incredible. I look, it just makes me happy that I know that I've made the right decision and that I can continue, that I've still got plenty of gas left in me and a lot more to do, because we're not. We're still at epidemic levels. There's still. It's no time to stop.

Speaker 2:

Yes, there's a lot more people like myself out there in the industry and that's wonderful with a similar kind of message, but we're all unique and I think that the point for me is that I need to remember that people, that you know, people find different things in different people. It's like there's no one way to recover, right? So my job is not done, because there is a lot of people out there doing the same thing as me. It's even more important now that I continue on this path, because there's a lot of people that are still waiting to find their I don't like to call it inspiration at all. It's their hope, their hope, yeah, their hope, because inspiration gets bandied around all the time and you know I don't see my journeys inspiring. I just want to demonstrate hope.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, nicely said, Because it is a silent endemic out there, particularly with women that may look pretty bloody good on paper and are operating well out in society, but inside in their homes they're doing this secret act of drinking and it's taken a whole life of their own. So, yes, to be able to see hope that there is a way out is gold.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and on other levels too. You know part of what I talk about. You know I'm 50, I'm going to be 51 in April and I you know the physical and the psychological benefits. I know that there's been the 10 years of not drinking has done some reverse aging and you know, and the way that I live now and my values all demonstrate that there is no cap on the age that you are as a woman or as a man, to going out there and living your best life. Yeah, no, it's never too late. I know I see this with women all the time, with everything. You know I'm a fitness coach as well. So, you know, with weight loss, I've had my day. You know I looked great and I was trying to be like what are you talking about? What is your casual day? There is no cap on this. No, you might look like a 20 year old, but why not be the best version of you?

Speaker 1:

Yes, yes, I love that. What are you most proud of in all that you've achieved over well, your 10 years of being alcohol free.

Speaker 2:

Oh being 10 years, alcohol free is probably a large part of it. I am proud of the fact that my children have had a present and a mother that the mother that they deserved for the last 10 years. That's probably my main. I still get emotional talking about it yes.

Speaker 2:

But that's probably one of my main things is that you know I've been there for them. You know I'm certainly no perfect mum, but it's just a different level of care and that I am able to be a voice for those that can't speak loudly. That's probably it. You know, I had a time when I didn't speak myself and then, you know it was. Yeah, it's all of those things combined.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, your kids must be so proud they get to just have role modelling within their households that you don't need an external substance to to add value to your life, that you can do it without it. All comes from within. I mean, wow, not many households have that.

Speaker 2:

No, and it's you know.

Speaker 2:

We have this ongoing conversation in our house because, at the end of the day, it's mental health that we're not looking after and we're medicating mental health in some shape or form most of us and so the conversation in my house has been a continual talk about where we're all at, because, you know, I do have mental health conditions that are quite genetic, so you know, there's members of my family that struggle from time to time as well.

Speaker 2:

So it's about teaching the kids alternative coping mechanisms and knowing that they are there, and that's actually something that I'm working on at the moment in my business. I've got a program that I'm looking at putting into high schools. That's not just you shouldn't drink, it is. This is my story, and I want to relate particularly to females and males as well, but young females that stress and overwhelm are going to be inevitable in your life, but here are some alternative coping mechanisms outside of drugs and alcohol that will, you know, be beneficial for you for the rest of your life and, just you know, demonstrating that you don't have to do that with chemicals.

Speaker 1:

I really love that kind of program that you're going. You're sort of getting the message out to Prevention At that age group when things are awkward, risk takings there they're spreading their wings for independence. And yeah, of course, if you don't have any other skills in your toolkit at that age, alcohols are pretty available Substance there that we all have grabbed on and wow, I mean, that's what we did, didn't we? In the 1980s and 90s you used it for anxiety and connection and all of it because we didn't know anything else. So I'd love to hear a bit more about this program. What's on the horizon there for you?

Speaker 2:

Well, that's I said it, it's all I'm writing some of the yes, It'll be more of a I guess you know going presentation kind of scenario.

Speaker 1:

Fantastic.

Speaker 2:

Rather than something that's an ongoing program, but yeah, it's. I'm probably about three quarters through writing it at the moment, and then next step is to start approaching the school. So I'm doing a full rebrand at the moment of my entire business. So there's so many things going on in the background, including my change of name. I'm actually going back to my maiden name for the first time in 24 years. Ah, what's that? So Santoviac? Oh, it's good, the call's got a good ring. I'll be forever spelling it like I did for the year 26.

Speaker 2:

But you talk about reinvention. You know I'm 10 years sober and yeah, I've. You know I'm, you know, being separated for a good period of time, the last sort of, you know, couple of years. But that is identifying with part of the old me as well, mm-hmm, and I don't regret handing over my name, but in some cases I do. It's for that. It's one of those, I don't know, one of those things. Maybe it's that, maybe that's my middle-aged crisis, I don't know.

Speaker 1:

But it's also a full circle kind of moment, yeah, and I get it Like I get it and I've been thinking about this a bit in the work that I've been doing as well that when we were growing up you know the early days we all of our freedom, our youth, adventure, adventurous spirit was very much anchored and attached to alcohol. So you know, when we tried to have those feelings that are on when our kids were a bit more independent, alcohol was very much often then connected. So once that's out the door we don't need it anymore. We can go a bit more into that sort of full circle realm and tap back into who we were as a younger person without alcohol. It'd be quite freeing, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it was a bit waffly. I'm a little bit different, sorry, justine. No, no, no, no, I totally get it. Yeah, because it's funny you say that because I was without thinking about it in great detail. I'm like, yes, that is what I want to do. That is what I want to do. I know that I identify with that person, yet I've been you know something else for so long. And then all of a sudden, and I probably some anxiety with myself, I'm like, oh, but hang on, there was parts of that person as well that you don't like. Are you sure you want to go back to that? Yeah, because hang on.

Speaker 2:

You know that was the person that was learning that alcohol could be your medicator and you weren't. So you weren't sure of yourself. You were gone home, but you weren't sure of yourself. Do you want to go back to being that person? So I've gone through a whole mind process of hang on a second. This is your opportunity. You know how they talk about. Right, a letter to your younger self. Oh yeah, right a letter to your younger self. What would you tell yourself? I can actually step back into my younger self in some shape or form. Yeah, and leave that again. How I want to leave that.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, Just sounds so comforting and lovely. I just love that whole concept as well. Yeah, just before we get into just a bit more of a I guess a chat about what you've got in the horizon and what you're doing right now, what would you say to somebody out there that is finding it hard to break up with the booze when they know and they know, they've known for quite some time that it's problematic? What should they do as first steps?

Speaker 2:

Look, I mean when people are starting to question their relationship with alcohol. I've said this before, it's already. If it's talking to you on a subconscious level which is that's what it is it's already an issue. It's just becoming louder. I think for me, the very first thing is acknowledging that, but I'm super quick to say jump into some support Now, whether that's through social media, counseling, gp, I always say you know often although often sometimes the GP's aren't brilliant, mine, was great, but some aren't.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you gotta shop around.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so we can go to and say look, I'm drinking seven drinks a night. I think I've got an issue. And they go oh, I drink five, don't worry about it. Yeah, I've heard that before.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's horrible. That has to change. It really does.

Speaker 2:

It does, but I think it's depending on your consumption level. Clearly, if there's intervention needed like myself and potentially you by the sounds, but yeah, then you know there's medication needed you don't just stop, but start replacing those unhealthy coping mechanisms with healthy ones. I will advocate exercise to the cows. Come home, swap the glass for your runners and walk, walk, walk, walk. In the beginning it's a distraction, but what you don't realize is that, physiologically, when you're moving like that, you're creating all of this change of hormones and endorphins and things that your body is not used to anymore because alcohol depletes you of all of that. So it's working in so many different ways and it will become your mental strength. It will become you know you physically will feel better and it's distracting you from what you're wanting to do. They're the first two, honestly, and then they're not rocket science. It's get some kind of help. Yeah, Tell somebody, become accountable and then start to do something, Thank you. Automatically replacing those unhealthy habits with healthy habits.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I've heard you advocate a lot around a really good daily routine.

Speaker 2:

It's kind of like a mental health practice.

Speaker 1:

It's key.

Speaker 2:

I don't think it's different. I think it's. You know, whether it's addiction or just shit, mental health, At any point in time, structure and routine is absolutely necessary. It gives us, it's in itself, care. When I was in rehab, we had a guest speaker come in and talk who had bipolar and it was interesting he was talking about when he has his manic episodes or depressive episodes or whatever he was having. He pulled back on everything in his life that was unnecessary and focused on the basics. Now, for me, that's sleeping, eating relatively well and exercising and everything else.

Speaker 2:

When you're starting to feel good or safe or comfortable, like you know in the case of with alcohol, if it's something that you're wanting to stop, you add back in as you feel comfortable. The shitty party is you're probably not going to be able to socialize as you have previously for a few times. That's not online. It's your safety. You can't. You know we are not superhuman and it's no amount of willpower. If that is what you're used to doing, that's going to keep you completely safe. It's just, you know, give yourself a break, yes, and actually step back, because it's not forever. And that's what I think you know and what you think you're missing out on. Now you're going to look down the track and go. I wasn't missing out on anything at all, because that's actually not really quite how I want to live anymore anyway.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you were only showing up in a version of yourself.

Speaker 2:

That wasn't really productive and the brain groups. Look, I mean, this is the big thing and this is where I'm quite provocative. Yeah, we'll call it. Is that? You know, we have a very bullying, very much a bullying culture in Australia where alcohol obsessed and it's just not right and it doesn't allow people who are suffering and you know, saying, look, I don't want to drink today. You know we pressure, pressure, pressure. It's like we pressurize people to to so that, so that we feel better about what we're doing ourselves. That's right.

Speaker 2:

It's just. It's just, it's unfair and I don't think it gives well, I know it doesn't give people the opportunity to do what they think is best for them. So some of these friend groups that you have, or family that's the other shitty part of it as well. Yes, it may be a case of what else do you have in common with these people other than you drink, but you have to get down the track once again to realize that that's the case.

Speaker 1:

You know, you're in an incubator period for the first six weeks, if not three months, aren't you? And if it just means socializing on a very different scale, limited time, different activities, different friends, and then slowly you start noticing, well, the people I gravitate more to, more probably one on one, well, they're not big drinkers anyway. So all of that, you just got to be prepared for it to slowly change, and it opens the room then for new quality friends to come on in. Yeah, that is so true. But yeah, australian society has a lot to answer for. But I think there always has to be one that is the first in a group that kind of taps out and says, yeah, okay, alcohol is not going to play as large a part in the way I socialize anymore. And then it's contagious.

Speaker 2:

Oh, it still is. So it's my partner. He's not had a drink in. He just told 15 months and he just let himself a goal of like I don't want to drink for the next year. Have fabulous. And you know, blokey, bloke, you know, and mates are all I guess. To begin with, you know, I know that he most certainly felt like probably the odd one out and there was a certain amount of withdrawing from friend groups and stuff as well. But the amount of his mates that have message and gone, you know he's still on the side of the side of the word. He's like yeah, I'm gonna jump back on, I can't see the. They're like oh, you know they're, they're I'll be using that word, they're inspired, but they're like wow, I think you can do it. Yeah, like an eye, and I'm like see it's, it's, it is contagious and you're role modeling without even knowing that you're role modeling.

Speaker 1:

Spot on, spot on. So you've mentioned a little bit about the amazing programs that are in the pipeline there for schools and youth. What else are you doing in this space? What's in the horizon? I've just got the feeling that you're a person that will never sit, still always thinking of new things ahead and keeping yourself busy. I'd love to hear a bit more.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I definitely am looking at, I'm going to be doing a lot more speaking, public speaking, yeah, I think you know we're always. I suppose there's always an element of reinvention, but not so much of a reinvention when I look back and I reflect on probably some of the spaces or the places or the things that I do best, and one of them, I think, is my ability to be able to talk to people and tell my story and, you know, reach people on a different level. So where am I most impactful in that sort of situation? So speaking and writing, but definitely the speaking and taking that into different platforms as well corporate, and then clearly with the prevention, with schools and things like that, and then my programs. We're doing a bit of a real reshuffle of that as well, because I want not everybody, can you know access one-on-one coaching and things like that. So I'm looking at memberships and programs where you're getting some of what I deliver, and then others where there's still the one-on-one coaching.

Speaker 2:

But at the end of the day, fitness and health, being a fitness coach is always going to be a core part of what I personally offer, as opposed to you know, I'm not a qualified drug and alcohol counselor. So I won't ever, until there's a point when I do have that sort of qualification. That's not what I'm doing. I'm a lived expert. So I give you my tips on how I got sober and how I stay sober, but my foundation of wellness, which is what I bang out about, is always going to be health and fitness. So you know, they're at the core of all of my programs and my one-on-one coaching and they will continue to be, just with a little bit of elevating things a little bit.

Speaker 1:

Yeah Well, you do motivate and give hope. I was going to say inspire because I listened to one of your podcasts that you did with somebody else beforehand. It was all about you just got to exercise and before I popped on I thought, yeah God, I've really got to go and do my six Ks. So it does work and I feel better for it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think it's definitely. You know it's not. It's super essential in the early days, definitely, and that is something that you know when we talk about how did I get off that. You know that cycle and you know what was one of the most beneficial things for me in early recovery. I was like I'm going to lose it, but then it becomes maintenance and it's you know, it's definitely something that will continue to keep you on track with your sobriety, but also with your mental health, which is what we want to keep right to begin with, as much as we can, because that was always probably the catalyst that made us pick up the drink in the first place.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, for me it's turning to sugar and if I'm not doing those things then it's ridiculous. Thank you for just making little shifts, little micro shifts in Australian culture, making it okay for people to say, yeah, I'm not going to drink today. That makes it's just slowly shifting what our cultural norms are around our whole and that's a big thing, big thing for everybody. Justine, thank you for coming on. Oh, you're welcome. Oh you're welcome. Where would you love people to find you as your first point of call?

Speaker 2:

Probably on my Instagram at the moment. Well, I'm doing this rebrand and this rebuild, but my Instagram you can always find me. Plus, I've got links in there to everything. Anyway, I am very open to people messaging me. I don't you know, I see a lot of that's part of my whole. It's about engagement, so if you've got a question, just message me. I will get back to you in some shape or form. Yeah, I mean my website's there as well, but it's all links in my Instagram. It's probably easiest way to get it.

Speaker 1:

Yep Love it. Thank you once again.

Speaker 2:

You're welcome. All right bye.

The Journey to Sobriety
Rebuilding Identity and Finding Purpose
Finding Hope and Reinventing Yourself
Overcoming Addiction and Building Healthy Habits