Sobriety & Recovery FAQ

Our founder, Lindsay Sutherland Boal, gets authentic and real about her personal experience in this candid FAQ on her journey from overdrinking to alcohol-free living.

Sober curious

Recovery is for those who need to heal something that has happened for which they have used alcohol to self-medicate. Sobriety is the lifestyle of not drinking. One can be in sobriety without the need for recovery, but one cannot be in recovery from alcohol use disorder without sobriety.

The simple response is you can do all of it, just without the 12% booze. I know, it’s not always that simple. Just know that many restaurants are following the sober movement and providing amazing no-booze alternatives that look and taste a lot like celebratory drinks. Remember: it’s about the people and the moment, not about the alcohol content of what’s in your glass.

Likely, yes. I’ve lost touch with my drinking buddies, but my social circle has exploded with powerful, purposeful women both in recovery and not.

No, you do not, however you may wish to speak with your family doctor. I didn’t and wish I did.

I chose to tell people whose lives may be impacted by my choice. For example, I told my husband because I wanted his support and I needed him not to bring booze in the house. With everyone else, I lied a lot because it was easier to say, “I’m on a cleanse” than “I’m a problem drinker and am trying to address my issues.”

Many folks know in their heart if they have an issue. Watch this video where I discuss the Three Levels of Addiction.

Here on She Walks Canada, you are welcome to join any Virtual Conversation. You can also connect through our private Facebook group to find sober friends, accountability buddies, share your wins, ask questions, and support others on the same path. I also encourage you to check out the Motivation area of the website for resources I found helpful, including books, podcasts, articles, and more.

Get on your shoes, start walking, and join one of our Virtual Conversations. Connect with other sober women on our Facebook group. In short, get active in the sober community.

Then don’t. I was dead set against going to a “group”. It wasn’t for me. Then I went to an all-women’s private group, like the Virtual Conversations here on She Walks Canada, and I was hooked. Why don’t you try one?

“Dry” has an end date, for example Dry January, whereas “sober” is a lifestyle choice.

Early sobriety

Just like every dependency and addiction is different, so is every recovery. Having said that, I experienced a full rollercoaster of exhaustion, euphoria, irritability, anxiety, joy, calm, hope, and grief. I found apps like Easy Quit Drinking to be very helpful during this time. It tallied my sober days, offered success badges, and provided progress infographics about how my health was improving.

Use whatever serves you. I found a great resource in a psychotherapist as I was moving through month 3 and beyond. There are many forms of treatment that can be helpful that I did not use but understand have been helpful, including acupuncture, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), and sobriety coaches.

I did not and wish that I had.

Shame and guilt were difficult emotions for me from the beginning until about month six. The best way for me to deal with it was to talk about it. It seems counter intuitive, I know. Virtual support groups, like what we offer here on She Walks Canada, are exactly for this purpose. Check out our Virtual Conversations or join one of my calls. I call it “The ShamegriLa” where we arrive at our beautiful, private online room, dump our shame, then checkout feeling refreshed leaving our “shame-bags” behind.

It was for me. I cut up watermelon and left it at eye level in the fridge ready-to-go at all times. I ate three huge watermelons a week for about 18 months. I still eat watermelon every day.

There were days I felt really good and there were days I didn’t. I decided to accept both and not question anything too much.

For me, while I certainly experienced good days at the beginning, once I reached 6 months sober something just clicked. Everything began to feel easier. My sobriety was showing—meaning, I was looking well, rested, and I was happy and engaged. I noticed and so did those around me. Once that “click” happened it continued to snowball.

Been there. I came to understand that I didn’t really want to drink. What I really wanted was to numb out. I really wanted a break. I really wanted a hug. When you want to drink, ask yourself what are you really needing? And don’t judge it. If it’s to numb out, that’s ok, you are collecting data that will help you understand what you really need, what your triggers are, and how to put trigger blockers in place before you reach for booze.

I went to an organized recovery meeting once a week. Additionally, I met with a sober friend from that group during each week where we simulated the format of the organized meeting. That friend, who chooses to keep her sobriety journey private, is now one of my favourite people. We got sober together and are both thriving now.

You can attend the She Walks Canada Virtual Conversations and/or join the private Facebook page to connect with other sober women for support, accountability buddies, and friendship.

Check out the Resources area on this website. Many of my favourite books, podcasts, Instagram accounts, and other resources are listed there. I leaned heavily into these resources for guidance and support.

Virtual Conversations

Go to Virtual Conversations where you’ll find several facilitators and meetings to choose from. Explore the meeting options and if you would like to participate, click the yellow button to register, and an invite will be sent to your email. 

I hear you and understand. I dreaded a sharing circle, until I learned what was actually involved. The facilitator may start the call with an introduction on a topic in which she believes she has a deep understanding. For example, mindset during recovery.

After that, everyone will briefly introduce themselves and express something that went well for the week. I would say something like, “My name is Lindsay and this week I went to social gathering and had no desire to drink.” Once everyone who wishes to introduce themselves does so, the floor is open to anyone who wishes to share anything related to their journey. Depending on how many participants are in the session, these shares usually range between under 5 minutes.

These meetings are designed so that any woman may speak when and if she chooses to without the chance of interruption, crosstalk, or advice. Once she has spoken there is a moment of settling or holding space until the next woman is ready to speak. When everyone’s done, we express our gratitude, and the call is over.

It is our expectation that there will be no more than 12.

Yes, from time to time I will be there, but not always. I will facilitate my own calls and may on occasion join in with others.

Our calls are facilitated by licensed or certified coaches/professionals in the recovery space.

Please refer to Virtual Conversations to view all the available Zoom calls in various time zones.

Yes, you do not need a Zoom account to join one of our Virtual Conversations. Once you click on REGISTER NOW you will receive an email with a link and instructions from the facilitator.

No, you decide. Some women may have their video off or on, their mic off or on. They may choose to use a fake name. They may choose to share or simply choose to listen.

For partners of women in sobriety/recovery (featuring Lindsay's husband, Craig)

Craig: I didn’t want to have to change my life because Lindsay quit drinking. I wanted to support her, but I didn’t want that to cost me my lifestyle. I like to go to the pub with my friends, watch the game, and have a few pints. She told me what she needed which was that she didn’t care if I drank, she just didn’t want any red wine in the house.

Lindsay: The recovery and sobriety process brought up a lot of emotions like anxiety, irritability, and frustration. I needed a lot of space to process all I was feeling. My husband did three things that were helpful:

  1. He kept his opinions about my experience to himself
  2. He never brought red wine into the house
  3. He often told me how proud he was of me for making the changes I wanted to make

Craig: I didn’t but ask your wife what she thinks.

Lindsay: I did not ask my husband to stop but is important to ask your partner what she needs. I didn’t care if my husband drank in the house provided it was not anything I would have enjoyed.

Craig: She’s a cheap date.

Lindsay: Ask her what her needs are. The beginning is tough, so there may be extra measures taken to get her sobriety off to a good start.

Craig: I tried to understand by talking to her and just being present.

Lindsay: I suggest asking her. When I was at my worst is when I needed the most from Craig. The best thing he did for me was to give me a big hug and tell me he was proud of me. You can’t do the work for your partner, but you can hug her while she does the work for herself.

Craig: I asked Lindsay if she wanted to talk. Most of the time she did.

Lindsay: Yes, ask her. I was very open to talking about it with Craig, but there were plenty of times I was grumpy and didn’t want to talk. And that’s ok.

Craig: Ask her what a milestone means to her.

Lindsay: For sure, ask her. For me, in the first year, I celebrated the 24th of each month. My husband would start the day with something like, “Another month, baby. I’m really proud of you” and then he’d give me a hug. At month 8, he told me that I was easier to be around because I was nicer to myself. Many women do celebrate the one-year anniversary. Which means flowers, a card, that kind of thing. After that, ask her what she wants to celebrate, but you’re probably off the hook.

Craig: I tried to reinforce the idea that life didn’t have to totally change just because of sobriety. All the good things will still be good things.

Lindsay: Ask her what she needs. I appreciated it when my husband told me he didn’t know how to support me. He asked me to tell him how. One of the best things he did is he told his buddies that I had stopped drinking. He talked to them like he was proud of me. Whenever I saw his friends, they would tell me how cool it was that I was sober. That meant a lot to me that “all the boys” were on my side too.