There are new models emerging for the treatment of alcoholism and other addictions, and for that I am grateful. We need to move beyond the “one size fits all model” and programs that advocate for abstinence only.

The approach I have developed does not even fit within the mainstream way of viewing a person’s relationship to alcohol or drugs. It is not for people who identify as an addict and it is not a treatment program.

Most of us do not fit into the rigid definitions of what is perceived to be an addiction. Most of us are not daily drinkers, we do not need a drink when we first wake up in order to function, we haven’t lost our house or our job and our lives haven’t been completely derailed by a substance that we can’t live without.

That said, alcohol does affect our lives in significant ways. Sometimes when we go out to “have a few,” we can’t stop. We reach for the bottle of red when we get home after a stressful day at work, and feel like shit the next day. We get into fights with our significant others. We use alcohol as a way of meeting people and then end up with unwanted or regrettable sexual encounters. We are less focused, we have more hungover days that we care to admit, we fall off track with healthy eating habits or exercise, we have less energy than we used to.

Alcohol is the most socially recognized, acceptable and celebrated drug out there. Thousands of us consume it without a second thought, and it is often the unquestioned antidote to stress, loneliness, boredom, the recipe for fun and letting loose.

The traditional models for treating addictions fail our evolving culture and leave many of us out. They fail most women who struggle with the role of alcohol in our lives, yet do not classify ourselves as addicts.

That’s why we need a new approach to redefining our relationship to alcohol, that isn’t “all or nothing,” punitive, shaming or didactic.

This approach is for the majority of us that are somewhere in between… we are not at the far reaches of either addict or abstainer.

This approach is for those of us “in-betweeners”… because our culture is evolving and so are we. We deserve a new lens to see ourselves through, we deserve a new option for our healing.

I developed this approach first and foremost for myself and my friends… competent, educated, socially aware women in their 30s who seemed to have it all together… except for this shameful and confusing relationship to alcohol. Since launching the program, it has resonated with both women and men from a diverse set of experiences: college students and recent grads, single or remarried mothers, stockbrokers and finance guys whose fast-pace life is catching up with them, CEOs of companies, musicians and artists, healthcare professionals and more.

Evolve is a program that serves women who want to redefine their relationship to alcohol. After reading the four core principles of the approach you will see why this resonates with such a diverse cross-section of our society in our evolving culture.

Evolve offers Unconditional Support:

You are accepted and celebrates as you are, at any given stage of your journey. Whether you are thriving or in the throws of a set back, you are welcome any time, with open arms. We understand that everyone’s path is different, and we honour and respect that. We know that all of us are living with enough shame and self-blame that the last thing we need is to feel fearful of blaming and shaming from others. With this unconditional support comes the opportunity to be unafraid of being honest about what is really going on. As one participant writes: “I like the positive encouragement to keep trying to make steps – weather they are large or small – rather than 100% never again type of approach. This removes the feelings of ‘failure.’”

Evolve is Self-directed:

It encourages and allows each person the opportunity to define their own goals, and admits that you do have the power to change. Ultimately, you know what you want – I will support you to dig deep and discover the plan that works best for you. The words of two participants explain this best:

“I love it because it’s focused on your individual journey and relationship to alcohol and nutrition. For some that may look like turning into a non-drinker for good, for others it could be to cut out for a short time to recalibrate and reassess your relationship of why and how you choose to drink and others to just cut back on the overall quantity.”

“What really stands out for me is the sense of autonomy, or freedom to choose. I hate being told what to do and what I get from our conversations is a strong level of support but also the freedom to make my own choices without guilt or shame.”

Evolve is Holistic:

This program is about much more than what you put into your body. The approach is more holistic than just a treatment or nutrition plan. We work with many parts of your life, including work-life balance, exercise, spirituality, relationships, sexuality and more. I help to identify and address the underlying beliefs around body image, food and self care that lead to issues with alcohol consumption, from a place of experience and compassion.

Evolve is based on Personal and Shared Accountability:

It’s about getting clear about your intentions, for yourself first and foremost. Once you have set clear intentions, we come up with a holistic plan to help you stick to your intentions. Your intentions are you guide, and eliminate the chitter-chatter and grey areas around your wellness plan. Sharing your intentions with your significant other, best friend, “Sip Sister”* or support group is key to helping you stay supported and accountable.

Evolve’s in-depth work is based on a coaching model, designed to help you reach your health and life goals by making step-by-step changes to your relationship to alcohol, diet and lifestyle. Coaching is completely focused on you; starting from where you are in your life now and getting you where you want to go. Your coach acts as your guide, your cheerleader, your BS* detector, your accountability partner, your resident expert, your confidant… helping you gain control of and take responsibility for your body and your life, by redefining your relationship to alcohol. And guess what? You get to enjoy everything even more than you thought possible.

So there you have it… I’d love to hear your thoughts on these guiding principles and whether you can see yourself or someone you know using. Or, was there anything unclear or confusing? That doesn’t quite sit right? These are a work in progress and I’d love your feedback!


*If you’d like to know more about Sip Sisters and how you can get support, click this link to set up a free session with me. Let’s chat!