In February 2018, after years of partying and hangovers started to take a toll on her mental health, Millie Gooch gave up alcohol. Seven months later, she founded Sober Girl Society - An online and real life space for women who don't drink booze.
Since then, Sober Girl Society has grown into a 100,000 people strong community, taking part in boozeless brunches and sober sweat classes across the country. Their mission? To spread the word that being alcohol-free is far from boring!
After teaming up with Millie last month to crowdsource the recipe for our latest AF Flavour (ICYMI - we're making a Mojito!), we've caught up with the author, writer and sober sensation to get her advice on how best to navigate a whole month (or longer) without alcohol!
Millie, you gave up alcohol over two and a half years ago now. What prompted you to quit drinking?
I was a classic party girl binge-drinker. I would go out, drink all the shots, black out and then wake up the next day with little recollection of my night and awful anxiety. Gradually this started to have a longer-lasting impact on my mental health so I decide to see if quitting would improve it. It did and I’ve never looked back.
In the early stages, what did you find the most difficult about giving up alcohol? And what were your coping mechanisms in moments of weakness?
A lot of my drinking was in social situations rather than at home alone so the peer-pressure, social anxiety and the need to feel ‘fun’ were quite high on the agenda. One of the biggest coping mechanisms was alcohol-free drinks, despite the fact that the options weren’t that great when I stopped, they actually helped massively – and now they just keep getting better!
And how do you think you have changed (both physically and mentally) since quitting alcohol? What’s been the biggest improvement?
Physically I have more energy. That’s not to say I’m out running marathons every day but I at least have the choice rather than being too hungover and physically not being able to. Mentally I am calmer, less anxious, more creative, kinder, more tolerant. The physical benefits are wonderful but the mental ones have far outweighed it for me.
What advice would you give to people taking part in Sober October, or using it as a stepping stone to quitting drinking completely?
There is so much help and support out there available to you. Like literally a whole world of mindful drinking - from sobriety influencers and communities to Facebook groups and apps. I am going to be doing 31 days of tips and tricks on my Instagram with actionable points throughout the whole month so if you need some accountability, come and say hi!
What's the #1 thing venues can do to make Sober October a great experience for people taking part?
Make a song and dance about your no & low offering. So often it’s not even on the menu or it’s tucked away at the back of a fridge. Put it on your socials, the pub sign outside, make everyone feel welcome and not just those buying alcohol. I’m sober, not cheap and if I find somewhere that does a really good selection, I’ll bring all my friends who do drink, I’ll probably eat there and I’ll spend nearly as much as a regular drinking on that selection!
What are some of the organisations people can turn to if they’re looking for help and support on their journey towards sobriety?
Sober Girl Society (Obviously!), Club Soda, Sober & Social, Proud and Sober, One Year No Beer and Tempest, just to name a few! There really is something out there for everyone, you just have to do some sober shopping around first!
What do you drink (or do) when you’re craving something booze-like?
The Square Root G&T! I put it in a gin glass with ice and a slice. It’s so handy because it’s just ready-to-go.
You’ve recently partnered with us to help us create a new addition to our alcohol-free range. After a public vote, we’re currently developing the recipe for an AF-Mojito; what’s the feedback been like at your end so far, and how excited are you to try the finished drink?
The feedback has been wonderful and everyone is really excited. I can’t wait to try the new flavour as I’m imagining it will become my new go-to drink!
Millie’s new book The Sober Girl Society Handbook: An empowering guide to living hangover free! Out is available to pre-order online now. Taking part in Sober October? Treat yourself to Our Sober October Mixed Case!