The Next Round: What happens after you change your drinking?

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Lou Lebentz: What’s next after you’ve changed your drinking?

Club Soda co-founder Dru met the fantastic Lou Lebentz at a festival panel last summer and was drawn to her openness and warmth. Lou is a therapist, trauma specialist, and speaker who, due to her own experiences with addiction both professionally and personally, has some great lessons and insights to share about what happens once you’ve changed your drinking.

With 15 years of sobriety under her belt, as well as some fascinating experiences which helped her forge her career, Lou shares how she changed her drinking, and how, in turn, it changed her life. Her lesson was that it’s not always the booze that’s the problem, but to root out the trauma, you need to stay off the bottle. She talks to Dru on this week’s podcast about giving yourself over to the process of change, and how that is far more validating than drowning out your life.

Who is our podcast guest Lou Lebentz?

Having been a therapist for over 20 years, Lou Lebentz is well versed in alcohol, addiction, and trauma. She’s an expert in her field and a great guest to discuss what can happen after you’ve changed your drinking. What makes this story particularly interesting, though, is that Lou didn’t learn these lessons purely from her clinical training. It took a lot of self-reflection as a therapist and as a human to realise that things needed to change in her own life.

I remember assessing a woman called Jane from Richmond while I was training at The Priory. And Jane told me she was on a bottle of wine a night. And I remember thinking, ‘oh my god, I can drink a bottle of wine a night. And she’s coming into treatment and I work here’. Yeah, I was devastated because I knew that I knew that my relationship with alcohol wasn’t healthy…there is this element always of dissociation or disconnection between different parts of us if you like. And that was certainly the case for me.

Lou Lebentz

For Lou, it wasn’t just about giving up an unhealthy habit. What happens after you’ve changed your drinking habits is that you’re confronted by the reasons that you drank in the first place. This is where the real work begins.

We’re not taught how to feel, we’re not taught how to ride the waves and manage emotions in the body and how to deal with them. And we don’t know where to take them. So it becomes so natural to have a coping strategy to deal with it. When the pain in the wounded gets too great, that dissociated part of us would rather have another drink and numb it than go there. Learning to sit with our feelings is the way to long-term sobriety.

Lou Lebentz

How to learn more about what to expect when you’ve changed your drinking

Find life-changing advice, practical tips, and hear from experts on sober and mindful living on our weekly podcast with your hosts and Club Soda founders Laura Willoughby and Dru Jaeger. The Club Soda podcast is all the inspiration you need to create and sustain a life that doesn’t centre on drinking. All episodes are available wherever you subscribe to podcasts. Find your platform here.

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