Two years ago today, Soberistas.com was launched. Originating in thoughts and feelings borne out one of the worst moments of my life, the website has grown bigger than I ever imagined it would. What began as a pondering, an internal dissatisfaction with the way society viewed alcohol dependency and the available help that was on offer at the time, took on a life of its own and became an entity.
Because Soberistas.com is a public forum, those who use the site have moulded it. Its character and inherent appeal (its non-judgmental and friendly, supportive nature) stem from the thousands of blogs, comments and discussions that have been posted during the last twenty-four months. None of that was foreseeable, as pre-launch I had no idea who would be logging onto the site to share their thoughts on drinking and sobriety – or even if anyone would bother to log on at all. All I was aware of back in the summer of 2011, when I first began to toy with the idea of setting up a social network site for those with alcohol-dependency issues, was that I was certain there were lots of people out there who felt the same way I did. I just hoped they would find a site like Soberistas a helpful way of dealing with their booze-related issues.
I remember a few years ago when, during the space of one week and at the height of my most destructive drinking behaviour, I toppled into an empty bath at three o’clock in the morning whilst brushing my teeth (always striving to prove I wasn’t that drunk by sticking to my bedtime routine!), banging my head hard and waking up my boyfriend who had long since marched off to bed, irritated by my unwillingness to call it a night. A couple of days later, I awoke early to the unmistakeable stench of vomit, and quickly understood that I had thrown up whilst asleep all over the floor next to my side of the bed. The same boyfriend had been on his hands and knees mopping away as I’d coughed and spluttered and teetered on the brink of choking, and had then manipulated me into the recovery position so that I didn’t die during the night.
These occurrences did not register with me, as they should have. I did not seek medical advice, look up an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting to attend, or even decide to temporarily quit drinking.
I now recognise the most important quality of Soberistas as being the provision of a yardstick, a means of contextualising a drink problem. If I had logged onto Soberistas during that period of my life, I would have recognised instantly that the problems I was experiencing with regards to alcohol were not mine alone or something to laugh off with bravado, and the sheer fact that others were in the same boat and seeking to change would more than likely have prompted me to do the same.
As it was, I spoke to nobody, brushed it under the carpet (again) and decided that the answer was simply to learn the art of moderation. Which, of course, never happened.
My life has completely changed since quitting alcohol, and I stand firm in my belief that anyone who has repeatedly demonstrated that they do not posses an off switch would be far happier if they stopped trying to locate one. Stopping drinking for such people equates to the beginning of self-love, contentment and living a full life. Freeing the mind by calling it a day on the fight with alcohol is a true gift.
And the real value in Soberistas lies in its ability to help anyone who has crossed the line into dependent drinking take on board the notion that they do have a problem with alcohol, and that simply because the wheels have not yet fallen off entirely, there is still a real need for addressing the issue – sooner rather than later. Interacting with others who truly understand how you feel about the consequences of out-of-control drinking is a remedy in itself as far as I am concerned. Even better, to witness like-minded people who have admitted they have a problem controlling their alcohol consumption and who have then gone on to quit and feel happy about doing so, is a huge motivator for anyone at the very beginning of their sober journey.