Get inspired and make a positive change for yourself—quit or cut back on drinking booze. This may surprise you, but one of the simplest ways to do more of what you love in 2023 (and beyond) is to get rid of energy zappers—alcohol being one of the most notorious ones.
Are you worried you’re drinking too much? Has alcohol become a major part of your life? Do you fear it’s affecting your health? Your relationships? Your career?
Millions of people are dependent on alcohol to self-medicate trauma, stress, depression or succumbing to peer pressure to drink more than they want. They’d love to cut back but fear losing the buzz they associate with alcohol, and mistakenly believe that a sober life will doom them to a life of loss, boredom, pain, and misery.
Anyone who needs to be kept on track or inspired to kick the drinking habit and commit to living sober will find genuine help in this refreshingly insightful and solution-focused book.
Integrating ground-breaking research, neuroscience, cognitive therapy, proven tools, and teachings, in this deeply personal book, Cassandra talks candidly about her own challenges with controlling alcohol. Drawing on Eastern and Western approaches to help people suffering from alcohol dependence and addiction, Cassandra shows us how to cut back or quit drinking entirely without becoming a hermit, being ostracized, or cutting back on an enjoyable social life.
Not everyone wants or needs to join a support group to deal with their drinking problems. Many of these easy-to-implement strategies can be mastered in the privacy of your own home, office party or hip location.
Mind Your Drink is a pro-choice book—a call to enlightenment, knowledge, and empowerment. It will open your eyes and enhance your knowledge of the powerful cultural, social and economic forces that promote alcohol dependence in all of us and re-right the imbalance.
Supported by my own extraordinary and candid personal experiences, and those of others who have successfully controlled their drinking, this book is a must-read for anyone who drinks.
If you want to control your drinking and live life on your own terms, this book is for you.
If you’re a heavy drinker or love someone who is, you’ll gain support and encouragement to continue the journey to health and happiness.
If you suffer from stress, fear, doubt, or overly trying to fit in with others, Mind Your Drink will come to your rescue.
If you’d love to inspire others and lead the way by controlling alcohol, either by cutting back or giving up completely, this book is for you.
If you’re worried about the stigma of alcoholism and recovery or fear you won’t be able to kick the habit, stop holding back and read this book.
Whatever your pain, whatever your motivation, Mind Your Drink will help you achieve your goals-whether that’s getting sober or just cutting back-and create positive, permanent transformational change in your life. Take control of your drinking, relieve stress and still have fun, enjoy happier hours, improve your relationships, boost your energy and live a joy-filled li
I really like the approach that this book takes in not attempting to stop drinking totally
“I work with people and their whanau/families on a daily basis who have, have had or have recovered from Alcohol and Other Drug issues. The damage caused by AOD overuse and abuse is enormous and has ongoing negative effects on our society and future generations mainly due to observation and learned behaviours. I really like the approach that this book takes in not attempting to stop drinking totally. It instead explains and coaches how to manage and cope with consuming alcohol so that the damaging effects may be minimised. This is a very useful supportive book for ‘drinkers’ and their families. It is a book that is very easy to read and understand. I really like the quotes, sayings and tools contained therein. This book is much bigger than just the social and familial issues with alcohol – It is in a very big way about ‘Your Beautiful Mind’. It fits very well with my style of practice and that is to start with the basics and move onwards and upwards from there. I see in the book an AHA (awakening, honesty, action) moment in the book. I really get the reference to wisdom (The smart person knows what to say, the wise person knows when to say it) and the associated learning. I will be recommending this ‘must read’ book to my clients and their whanau/families and anybody else who will listen”.
~ Philipe Eyton, Counsellor, Life and Leadership Coach, BSocP, NZAC (Stud)
This approach is very different (and refreshing) from other books I’ve read
“One thing that I like about this book is that the author doesn’t trash other recovery programs whether she agrees with them or not. This approach is very different (and refreshing) from other books I’ve read that claim to be the “real or only solution” which involves tearing down other methods in the process, but as Cassandra’s book alludes–one form of recovery may work for some people and not others–it depends on the person, their physiology, background, life experience, etc. At first, I thought the segments about advertising would be boring but they actually really appealed to the part of me that loves science, facts, and proof. Reading the explanations led to many “Aha!” moments! I also felt so relieved to read there is a sober/not drinking movement going on. I felt relieved and hopeful. How I wish this was going on when I started my own drinking career in my early teens. I’m feeling so grateful to Cassandra for writing it. There is so much vital information packed into this book and I wish fervently that it ends up on the best-seller list!”
~ Lisa R
Available in paperback, hardback, and eBook from all good bookstores, including:
Alcohol, we’re told, will make you happier, more successful, attractive and socially confident.
Those who stand to profit most from your drinking don’t fight fair. Instead, driven by increasing their profits they do what they can to ensure you increase your consumption.
A post in the Advertising Age revealed what many of us rationally know:
But do we fully understand the emotional sabotaging tactics? Do you keep knocking back the booze, or swinging by to pick up more supplies even when you vowed you won’t? Do you try a new product because it promises to be sugar-free and healthy?
Society is saturated with alcohol advertising—just as cigarette advertising once was, and fast-food outlets, like McDonalds, still are.
As with all advertising, this works simply by association with positive emotional responses and maintaining the norm of drinking as a socially desirable and safe activity.
How many billboards do you see of people puking? How many magazines are ‘airbrushed’ with myths and powerful story-telling tactics which wash your brain with powerful conscious and subconscious triggers designed to make you drink?
How much messaging pops up everywhere you look—even in supposed safe places like the supermarket, seducing you with colour, sensory overload, positive imaging and lies?
You may be tempted to say that all marketing manipulates. But the truth is alcohol is in a completely different bracket from marketing shoes, watches, cars or other desirable objects.
Shopping may be addictive for some, but consumption of these products is more benign. It doesn’t cause harm to innocent people, nor suck valuable tax dollars in associated costs. People don’t die clutching their Louis Vuitton handbag, having overdosed on the latest purchase again.
Consumer beware—check out the untruths that booze barons want you to buy.
1.) Drinking is harmless
Advertisements promoting happy hours encourage excessive drinking. While we were holidaying in Fiji in 2017, posters around the pool advertised images of happy couples downing beers, with the caption, “Buckets of beer—happy hour all day.”
These buckets of beer, containing four bottles each, were quickly downed by many thirsty, hot holiday makers in the sun. Yes—they got messy, and ill!
Ads promoting excessive consumption communicate that it’s all right, indeed cool, to be obsessed by alcohol, to consume large amounts on a daily basis (as early and as often as you can) and to include it in all your activities. At the same time, all signs of trouble and any hint of addiction are repressed.
Alcohol-related problems such as injury, arguments, fights, alcohol-impaired driving, broken marriages, abused children, derailed careers, alcohol poisoning and premature death, are never even hinted at—at least not by advertisers.
2.) Problem drinking behaviours are normal
Often symptoms of alcohol, such as the need for a daily drink, are portrayed as not only normal, but desirable. A Smirnoff ad captioned “We’re Open” suggested every hour is vodka hour.
Similarly, the 2011 launch of Smirnoff’s “I choose Campaign,” for Vodka features an image of leather-clad motorcyclist, alongside the caption, “I choose t to be a hero.”
Really? My understanding of a hero is someone who rescues people from car crashes—not the drunk drivers who cause many of these fatalities.
The second ad focuses on the power of freedom with “I choose to scream”.
There is no ugly drunkenness, only laughter at people’s high jinks and high spirits, excessive drinking—and rage.
3.) Alcohol is essential to live
The following rationale was offered by the creators of the Smirnoff Campaign, and released by bestmediainfo.com (emphasis added):
“The campaign has been crafted by JWT Mumbai. The agency conducted research that “clearly indicated that the target male is somewhat aware of Smirnoff but has had very little interaction with it, either from the desire or drinking perspective.”
“Incidentally, beer and whisky grab a 70 per cent lion’s share of the popular drinks among men in the Indian market, while vodka had a meagre 22 per cent share. Thus the brand existed positively among its target group but lacked in making any direct statement to him.
“The challenge for JWT was to make Smirnoff a part of the consumer’s consideration set and increase its equity among alcohol consumers.”
Commenting on the strategy behind the campaign, Dipika Narayan VP and Executive Business Director, JWT, said, “Our target is the male who has to constantly try and achieve a balance between ‘fitting in’ and ‘standing out’. He is in search of what we call a ‘unique social identity’, one that retains his originality without alienating him.”
She added further, “We knew that if as a brand we can help him achieve this balance and validate his right to choose, his individual identity will give him a sense of pride as well as make him readily accepted by his social universe.”
Thus, the strategy was to project Smirnoff as a brand that aims to provide a platform on which the individual can express himself.
Really, do you need alcohol to do that?
The campaign has been shot by renowned Dubai-based photographer Tejal Patni, who has captured the statement of ‘I Choose’ as one of self-expression and empowerment.
Thus, the messaging is that in order to live in this world you need to blend fitting in with standing out—and the best way to achieve this is by drinking vodka.
You may not buy into this messaging when you analyse the intent rationally away from the pull of alcohol, but many people subliminally absorb it—who doesn’t want to look and feel cool, stand apart but still be part of the ‘in’ set.
4.) Alcohol is magic and will liberate you
“Love wins. Share the love spirit,” urged Smirnoff in their limited edition Love Wins Campaign. Featuring shrink-wrapped rainbow-coloured bottles and same-sex and ethnically diverse couples from all walks of life, the marketing spin was all about celebrating diversity. Love comes in all shapes and forms, we’re told.
The myth they’d love you to adopt is that love comes in a bottle—a bottle of Smirnoff Vodka to be precise—certainly not a competitor’s product.
Again, alcohol-related problems such as domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, suicide, depression, anxiety, and near death.
Nope, no mention of Duff McKagan and the vodka addiction that nearly killed him—nor of Amy Winehouse who was found dead with vodka bottles beside her bed. None of these and other tragic stats are never even hinted at.
Unlike other known poisons and toxic products there are absolutely no health warnings at all.
Instead, we are led to believe that vodka-fuelled love wins—but then, hey, I guess when you’re drunk everyone looks better. Why didn’t they come straight out and label the campaign, “Smirnoff Wins” instead of “Love Wins”? Too obvious, yeah, that’ll be the reason.
Poignantly it was Amy Winehouse who so sadly sang, “love, is a loser’s game.”
Love vodka? Thanks, but no thanks—I won’t be increasing my consumption anytime soon.
5.) Alcohol is a sport
Alcohol consumption reduces athletic performance—and in many cases either threatens or completely derails promising careers.
One of the most enduring examples of alcohol advertising in sports is the 30-year partnership between the All Blacks and Lion-produced Steinlager.
The sponsorship of a wide range of sporting events and endorsements by sports stars wrongly imply that sports and alcohol are safely complementary activities.
Both adults, children and teens look up to sports stars as heroes. A large number of research findings have confirmed that alcohol advertising predicts drinking—particularly in adolescence.
Some of the worst boozers in sports have been publicly and professionally humiliated by their alcohol-fuelled brawls, sexual and violent assaults. Hardly inspiring role models. The better ones head to the confessional and openly share their battle with booze—people like former All-Black Norm Hewitt. Others partner up with spin-doctors to create the ultimate cover-up.
Fiji Bitter is one of the many beers manufactured by Paradise Beverages Limited, a subsidiary of Coca-Cola, and is one of Fiji’s most popular beers. Billboards all around the islands and at sporting events announce, “Fiji Bitter—The Sportsman’s beer.”
Other ads show highly regarded rugby players encouraging, “You Deserve It.”
We’re also told, Fiji Bitter, is the ‘real taste’ of Fiji…and you’ll love this—“Fiji’s iconic beer since 1957. Persistent beading creates a wonderful soft foaming head releasing the flavours of malt and hops with a long clean bitter aftertaste leaving you looking for one more.”
Of course they want you to look for one more. And one more. And one more after that.
Nobody mentions Fiji’s soaring alcohol abuse rates, and the harm this ‘wonderful,’ ‘clean’ beer creates. In 2017, a Fijian representative rugby player visiting New Zealand was jailed for three years and four months for attempted rape. He had been out with his team and was clearly intoxicated. Incarcerated from alcohol-related offences his flourishing rugby career is now at an end.
“P” Is for Person, Problem, and pain”
“You must begin by identifying the person you are trying to reach with your message, understanding the problem that you are solving for them, and the pain that problem causes,” writes Ray Edwards is his book, How to Write Copy That Sells: The Step-By-Step System for More Sales, to More Customers, More Often.
“The next step is to amplify the consequences of not solving the problem, and the aspirations they hold for the future. This is really the key to making sales.”
Society is overcrowded with people in pain—it’s why many take drugs and drink to excess. Booze marketers not only know this, but they are also out to exploit it.
Depressed? Drink and you will be happier. Ostracised? Vodka will fix it. Lonely? Fall in love with spirits. Stressed? Relax with a bucket of beer.
Ray Edwards is one of the good guys in advertising. As he writes in the introduction of his book,
“The information supplied in this book is extremely powerful. It gives you the ability to literally manipulate people’s thinking and actions. The ability to write good copy is one of the most powerful psychological tools of persuasion known to man,” Edwards says.
He then urges, “If you purchase this book, I hope you’ll make the commitment to using these powerful persuasion tools only for the ultimate good of your customers. Never use these techniques to manipulate or control people to act against their own best interest.”
Stop buying into their marketing messages. Instead, see their ads for the phoney, baloney they really are. Have fun analysing their ads and dissect truth from lies.
Be empowered. Don’t let the booze barons use their techniques to manipulate or control you to act against your own best interests.
Sometimes the marketing onslaught is so unrelenting, subtle and clever that this can seem like a full-time job. Be wary of what catches your eye—something we’ll examine after the next chapter.
Creative expression and communicating what you truly feel is one of our greatest joys and freedoms. It is a simple and effective way to inject more happiness into your life without needing alcohol. Creativity in its various guises is also a natural antidote to stress, anxiety and depression, which explains why art therapy is such a potent and popular tool.
Art therapy is a form of experiential therapy, an approach to recovery and healing that addresses emotional and spiritual needs through creative or physical activity. People don’t need to have a background in the arts or any artistic talent to participate. They need only to be open to experiencing and engaging actively to benefit.
I have trained in a technique called Interactive Drawing Therapy and have found it to be an incredible tool in my own life and in my sessions with others. The simplest of drawings, a line, a colour, a scrawled phrase or word can powerfully access parts of the psyche we often repress, bringing it to light. In an alchemical process, wounds are spun into gold.
When I first trained in Interactive Drawing Therapy the teacher asked for a volunteer. No hands were raised so he picked me. What harm could it do, I thought, being as skilled as I was at keeping a lid firmly on my feelings.
“Draw an animal,” he said.
Sure, I thought. Great. Harmless. I drew a giraffe.
“Put some colour on the page,” the teacher gently guided.
My giraffe became pink with green, purple and yellow spots. What fun I thought.
“Where is she?” the teacher asked. “Draw this on the page.”
I drew large grey and black rectangles, symbolising office blocks, cars belching smoke, and a road, not unlike Lambton Quay, in Wellington, New Zealand where I went to work in a job I hated every weekday.
“Put some words on the page,” the teacher whispered.
“She doesn’t want to stand out.”
And then it dawned on me, just as the words slipped onto the page. That giraffe was me. And the fact was I did stand out—naturally. I had always been different. And I had struggled unsuccessfully to belong.
“She can’t help but stand out,” my tutor affirmed. “It’s who she is.”
For me, this awareness was so new, so potent, so transformative, that I knew instantly there was work to do. I began to understand the deep social anxiety I had felt as a child and carried with me through adolescence—and with it the drinking to belong, to bolster the confidence I never felt, to hide the discomfort of living in my own skin.
I wonder, if you were an animal who would you be and why? Asking this question so directly, often yields substantially different, more rational, carefully considered choices, than those which arise through the techniques of tools like Interactive Drawing Therapy (IDT). The strength of IDT is its ability to access what is repressed, hidden and buried in the subconscious and bring it to light for healing.
Job stress, as we have discussed briefly, is a major reason many people over-drink. Again, drawing came to my rescue. I had become quite accomplished at pretending I loved my job—I couldn’t afford to admit the truth.
As I share in my book, Mid-Life Career Rescue The Call for Change, “I was a single mum, the only one able to support my young daughter and myself. I used to go home with a brave face, but inside I was tired and depressed. My self-esteem was so low I thought no one would hire me. I tried to go to work, grit my teeth and bear it.
I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. But that wasn’t what my boss wanted from me. “You could make a lot of money here,” he said. “You just need to be more selfish.” For a while, I tried to be someone else—motivated only by money, but every day my values were compromised, and the skills I loved weren’t used.
My job started making me ill. It got so bad I got shingles—a painful virus affecting the central nervous system. I felt trapped and unable to leave. My colleagues at work had similar experiences. It really was such a toxic workplace. Several people had heart attacks, and the amount of alcohol people consumed after work to numb the pain was staggering.
I needed a career rescue. In desperation, I agreed to see a career counsellor. During my first session, I was asked to draw a picture. I drew a grey bird in a black cage.
“The door is open, but she’s forgotten how to fly,” I told her.
This drawing brought tears to her eyes. Although I didn’t understand why at the time, I can see now that she felt my pain at feeling so caught and trapped by my situation.
Through our sessions and the structured exercises we completed together, I rebuilt my confidence and strengthened my awareness of my skills, and most importantly, I learned how to dream.
The work the career counsellor did with me was so important, so vital—saving me from despair. It led me to not just finding a job I loved, but later creating one that gave me a sense of purpose.
What she taught me literally gave me my life back. Happily, I can now serve others in this way too—as an author, qualified holistic therapist, counsellor, life and career coach, and a trainer of other coaches who also aspire to make a difference in other people’s lives.
If you’re reading this book and recognise yourself in my story, if job stress or a toxic workplace is causing you to overdrink, don’t wait too long for help. I promise that your happy place is out there—it may even mean employing yourself. Now, that’s ultimate freedom!
Therapy Can Be Fun—and Free!
Many addiction and rehab centres use art therapy as part of their therapeutic offering, and report that clients find engaging in creative arts highly satisfying and fun. It’s a playful way of relaxing and an enjoyable way to address some of the more complex aspects of rehab.
Creative activity provides a way to process some of the stressful emotions and anxieties that can emerge during treatment. After rehab, activities like painting, sculpting or drawing can be used throughout the individual’s life as a way to express feelings, explore creativity, and reduce stress.
Best of all, it’s a tool anyone can access, anywhere, at any time, and the effects are long-lasting. You can engage in creativity whenever you feel the need to escape the madness of this world.
But you don’t need to go to rehab or analyse how and why creativity works to understand its magic.
Art in all its guises heals and empowers. Have you ever wondered why silencing or controlling people’s creative expression is the first thing marauding tyrants and dictators silence or destroy?
Leonardo da Vinci, a great scientist once said, “Art is the queen of all sciences communicating to the world.” Art permeates the inner and outer worlds and elevates our soul.
My grandmother Molly was a naturally gifted and self-taught artist. Her escape, when she needed one, was painting flowers and landscapes in oil colours.
Molly also loved to play the piano, the accordion, and even the banjo and sing for others. Perhaps it was her Irish ancestry which unleashed the happy, confident entertainer. I can still hear her beautifully manicured nails tapping along the ivory keys of the piano. Art banished her heavy episodes of drinking—when she sang, painted, and created she never needed a drink.
I have a tiny painting of Molly’s in my shed, a small bunch of violets framed in a custom-made frame my grandfather made for her. Reg Fairweather (beautiful name) was a talented wood-turner and furniture maker. His was a hobby, a beautiful retreat he found great joy and personal expression in.
I wonder now, was that his way of escaping and coping when my grandmother’s drinking got out of control? Or was it Reg’s way of coping or distancing himself from his own pain? At the time of writing, I’ve only just learned that Reg’s mother, my great-grandmother, died not long after giving birth. It’s a trauma that had, until now, remained a secret.
“I write songs to deal with things I otherwise might not be able to,” a young woman once said about her budding music career, hobbies and dreams.
“For me to be happy is about pleasing only my heart and not worrying about what others think,” says Interior designer Olimpia Orsini about her magically surreal lair in her home away from home in Rome’s bohemian Campo Marzio.
“I love what a camera does,” says landscape photographer Alicia Taylor. “It opens up people to connect with you, it can take you on an amazing journey, and probably is the only time I feel I’ve got the guts to do something is when I’ve got the camera in my hands. I feel like it’s a key to the world.”
“Knitting saved my life,” the waitress at my local cafe told me recently. She told me how her hobby has provided the ultimate cure for her anxiety, and of the joy she finds in knitting for friends.
Without the anxiety of feeling different, author Isabel Allende, says she wouldn’t have been driven to create. “Writing, when all is said and done, is an attempt to understand one’s own circumstance and to clarify the confusion of existence, including insecurities that do not torment normal people, only chronic non-conformists.”
What do these people all have in common? They harness the power of creative expression to rise above the challenges of life.
Personally, I love to write paint, take photographs and have dabbled in a great deal many other things during my life—including making stained glass Tiffany-style lampshades, pottery, knitting, crocheting, and cross-stitching. You name it, I’ve tried it. They take me out of this world, out of my mind, into the realms of the divine. I find great comfort there.
“I love the chaos. I do everything I’m not meant to do. I used to drink like an animal, but now I use my art to express the chaos in my mind,” says Sir Antony Hopkins about the joy he finds in painting. “I used to take myself so seriously. I have an obsessive personality. I do everything fast. I want to do everything I can because time is running out”, he says. “I want to express colour. Maybe it’s reaching for some sort of divine.”
Don’t get caught up in the classical definitions of an artist when you think about creativity, you don’t have to be an artist, painter or sculptor to be creative. Expressing your thoughts or imagining what doesn’t yet exist and then bringing it into being lies at the heart of creative expression. You could harness the transformational power of creativity by:
• Imagining or dreaming what could be, for example, your life of sobriety
• Challenging the status quo, as I am in the writing of this book, or generating solutions and new ideas
• Designing new products or services, perhaps instead of drinking you will pour your heart and soul into creating something you are proud of
• Expressing thoughts and feelings, visually, that are too big or too difficult to put into words
• Or doing something else that helps you deal with life and creates joy in your heart.
One of the most liberating features of the creative process is that it triggers moments of vitality and connection.
“The arts address the idea of an aesthetic experience,” says Ken Robinson, an internationally recognised leader in the development of creativity.
“An aesthetic experience is one in which the senses are operating at their peak, when you are present in the current moment, when you are resonating with the excitement of this thing that you are experiencing, when you are fully alive.”
Being fully alive is part of the enchantment that creative expression holds. This transformational process connects you to your authentic self. But to free yourself you must act. As Shakespeare once said, “Joy’s soul lies in the doing.”
How can you harness the power of creativity in your own life?
In the next chapter, we’ll explore more deeply the transformational power of pepping up your peptides and changing the way you feel naturally.
Available in paperback, hardback, and eBook from all good bookstores, including:
Listen to my interview with Lori Massicot. Lori is the host of the podcast, To 50 & Beyond. Her podcast celebrates women in the middle of life and talks about topics that empower women to change what isn’t working in their lives and become better than ever over 40. It’s a passion and purpose we both share.
One of the main topics we both speak about is sobriety. “I love your book, Mind Your Drink,” Lori shared when she reached out to me. “Thank you for writing it.”
In this interview we discuss how to make an empowered career change, find your point of brilliance and lose the urge to drink
Indulge in a little art therapy and bring the thrill of painting, colour and a new hue to add a cool change to your life.
LEARN TO PAINT AMAZING ABSTRACTS: SUMMER LOVE THREE-DAY ART RETREAT February 17 to 19, 2023. Arriving Friday, February 17 and departing Sunday February 19. Details and enrol here (3 spots left)>>
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I am an artist, storyteller, intuitive guide, mentor and Reiki master. All my creations are infused with positive energy , inspiration, and light. I believe in magic and the power of beauty, joy, love, purpose, and creativity to transform your life. My greatest joy is helping your realize your dreams. That makes my soul sing!
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