#160 – Episode 160 – The Alcohol Lie with Ann Dowsett Johnston


Ann Dowsett Johnston’s book ‘Drink’ is the best ‘quit-lit’ book out there. Ann talks candidly about her personal struggle with alcoholism, how she dealt with her shame and found her true self in sobriety.

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about this episode

This is the quit-lit book all women must read.

Ann Dowsett Johnston is the bestselling author of Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol. When I connected with Ann recently, we instantly clicked. I love what she’s about and got her book immediately and I truly want to say I loved it.

I don’t read much quit-lit these days because I’m not in that place in my life anymore but for me, this one is a must-read. It’s very well written, extremely well researched, and very relatable as Ann weaves her story throughout it.

In this interview, we touch on lots of topics from Ann’s 12-year journey to sobriety to how alcohol is targeted at women, the misinformation and cost of drinking, and more.

About Ann Dowsett Johnston

Ann Dowsett Johnston is the bestselling author of Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol, named one of the top 10 books of 2013 by The Washington Post. An award-winning journalist with more than 30 years of experience, Ann is a prominent voice on the issue of women and risky drinking, winning many awards for her advocacy, including an honorary degree from Queen’s University. Now a psychotherapist working primarily with women, Ann also leads a dynamic memoir workshop called Writing Your Recovery, designed to help would-be writers mine the story within.

key highlights

Coming to terms with the fact that you have to stop drinking

“It was about a 12-year journey from me knowing that I had a bit of a problem to knowing that I was going to die if I didn’t quit.” – Ann Dowsett Johnston

Raising her son alone, while having very exciting and challenging jobs, Ann was juggling a lot. For her and so many people, she saw alcohol as “the modern woman’s steroid, enabling her to do the heavy lifting of a complex world.”

Like Ann, it’s very typical that people spend at least a decade trying to manage their alcohol problem. We spend a long time searching for the secret key that will unlock their ability to drink and have nothing bad happen and it takes us a while to accept that what we actually need to do is to quit.

It wasn’t until Ann ran out of options that she finally found sobriety that stuck. It started with a 12-step meeting where she says she was rescued by a beautiful woman who walked her through the beginning of getting truly sober.

She finally realized that to truly get sober, she had to unpack her life as she knew it – as a workaholic and an alcoholic – and put it back together bit by bit.


Don’t underestimate the deep impact of loneliness

“Loneliness eats you up inside and alcohol really feels like the solution to the pain of it and to connect with other people.” ​​- Veronica Valli

From the outside, moving to Montreal was a smart career choice. Ann was working in the senior ranks of a major university and doing well in her job.

The view from the inside was very different.

From day one, Ann knew she was in the wrong place. She was lonely and isolated, working around the clock. She had no off button.

Her life was all drinking and working. She drank to stay awake, she drank to go to sleep and at the end of the year, she actually outperformed her fiscal goals in her job.

But despite her career success, Ann was in a city where she didn’t belong, away from her fiance, in a job she had no business being in.

It was no coincidence that the worst years of her drinking coincided with the chilling isolation she experienced living in that city.

There’s nothing like loneliness and isolation to accelerate an alcohol problem.

resources mentioned

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