We are biological sisters who aim to rejuvenate the sobriety community across the globe. Younger sister Tammie is a sixth-grade teacher in Wilmington, NC, and Nicole is an acupuncturist living in San Diego, CA. The purpose of this article is to inform readers and listeners about our podcast and outreach for sober and sober curious women. In addition, we have over 22k Instagram followers @the_sober_sisters, a website (sobersisters.com.Wordpress.com) a blog, and a Facebook page.
We started this podcast on 6/9/2020, and have put up 35 episodes as of today. We have had downloads from 45 countries in these 6 months since launching. The show is specially targeted to sober and sober curious women, and we are finding ourselves to be unlikely influencers in this community (we’re GenXers!). Our first episode has more than 500 downloads; most have around 300. We’re on all the major podcast platforms.
The Sober Sisters Social Club is a lifestyle podcast hosted by real life sisters who got sober 20 days apart in 2018 after DECADES of drinking. We chat about our experiences before and after putting down the bottle, and how we’re dealing with life today. We start the show with a greeting and quick intro, and announce the topic of the day (for example-“Drinking Like a Lady”). Then we say, “But first, let’s take you back,” and share a story from sometime in our past, usually from the 70s, 80s or 90s. Stories are usually hilarious, sometimes drinking related, sometimes not. We segue into chatting about the topic. We are getting an incredible response from the sober community.
Here’s why we want to get the show out to a broad audience:
1. The recovery community could use more support, with most in-person 12 step meetings cancelled indefinitely d/t COVID;
2. It’s helpful even to those who have someone in their lives suffering from addiction (so, everyone);
3. We need more women’s voices in addiction support. The AA program is based on a book written by white men, and the text has not changed in the 85+years since. Women are not adequately represented, and their experiences tend not to be just like men’s (this goes for a LOT of different subgroups in recovery-LGBTQIA; BIPOC; seniors; etc etc). It’s time to get some mainstream, timely, relevant women’s voices out there. To base outreach on encouragement and support, more than shame.
4. Related-there are plenty of obstacles to people going to 12-step programs to start with-the God issue; safety concerns; the stigma of donning a label like “alcoholic” or “addict”; the fear of people seeing them in meetings. Our outreach project aims to remove barriers, especially for women, who might not otherwise have any support.
5. Women’s problem alcohol use is sharply increasing. Female alcohol use disorder in the United States more than doubled from 2002 to 2013, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. It’s now known that female metabolism breaks down alcohol more slowly than the male counterpart. This means a woman who consumes the same of alcohol as a man will have a higher blood alcohol content, even if they both drink at the same rate and for the same period of time (they’re still looking at exactly why-size, muscle mass, hormones, etc). All of this can put women at higher risk for developing a drinking problem- they’re not biologically able to drink as much alcohol before it becomes a problem. Also, companies are targeting women for marketing alcohol. Mommy wine culture is dangerous to our society. We aim to deglamorize “wine o’clock.”
Here are 3 episodes we have produced:
1. Episode 21: Justifying Our Drinking (the Legendary Rager of ’93). We start with the intro, always with the same music (we get our music from Epidemic Sound). Nicole (big sis) introduces the topic- “Today, we’re going to talk about justifying our drinking. But first, let’s take you back.” Music transition-old school hip hop. Fade it out. Tammie (little sis): “OK, I’m going to take us back to ’93,” and lunches into a story of a keg party we threw at our parent’s house on the Eastern Shore (MD). We were 20 and 22 years old, and impulsively threw a huge party. Word got around fast, and we ended up with about 300 people at an enormous kegger. We’re funny, and also show what a mess we were then. Like at the end of the story, she says, “Now the next day…” and describes “tiptoeing over bodies, like a war zone.” And describes the wreckage. We then have a chat about how we can rationalize all day long, but when it comes down to it, the only choice we could make was abstinence. We then talk about how things got so much better after we quit. We always close with a plug for subscribing to the show, and finding us on social media, then end with another section of the “take you back” song, or another that fits the topic.
2. Episode 27: Drink Like a Lady (Not Like My Sister!). Intro. Nicole introduces the topic, then throws it to Tammie for Take You Back. Music transition (kind of 80s rock sound, like Springsteen). Tammie takes us back to 1991, her senior homecoming, and why she had to wear elbow length white gloves to cover her atrophied, pale, hairy arm that just got a cast off (after a drunken fall-but she saved the beer!). Did she proceed to drink like a lady at homecoming? She did not. The sisters chat about different times we tried to moderate and control our drinking, and how we always failed spectacularly. Close, end song.
3. Episode 19: Waking Up in Nashville (What We Lost in Sobriety). Intro. Tammie kicks off this show with a different feature we plan to do occasionally-we call it War Stories. Followers submit their drunken war stories to us, for use on the show. This is the second episode we started this way. Nicole reads a submission from a follower, who wrote in about being 22 and waking up in a hospital an hour away from her town. She found out from the police that her mangled car was spotted on a country road at 4am. When the police arrived, she was found with a broken neck and head lacerations. The story ends as almost all of them do… “you’d think that would be enough to get me sober, but I drank for years after that.” She’s sober now. We share our own related stories (like, Tammie was in an Annapolis bar and decided she and her buddy should immediately drive to Florida. When she woke in a dingy hotel room she asked at the desk where she was, and was told “Delaware.” So she drove north instead of south.) We talk about how what we lost since getting sober is things we never wanted to start with-low self esteem, shame etc). Close, end song.
What we bring to the table is relatability. We are attracting women to this lifestyle, rejecting mommy wine culture, and the proposition that an alcohol free life is a life of drudgery. Our motto is “Glide, Don’t Trudge.”
The 12 Step recovery program, based on AA’s “Big Book,” makes it very clear that while others may wish to help, the key to reaching an alcoholic is another alcoholic sharing their story. We’ve experienced this personally and know it to be true among our local AA recovery communities, where we are both active. The educational path is great, but addiction is slippery. A classic example is making endless promises to ourselves (and maybe others) to quit, KNOWING how destructive it has become… and somehow finding a way to rationalize drinking later that very same day. Hearing others openly and honestly share their stories is the key. Humor helps too.
We have seen a tremendous response to this outreach project; we literally get messages from women every single day telling us how much we are helping them-mostly through the podcast, instagram posts, and free private support groups (on zoom). There is a great need for this kind of support, and we’d like to reach a larger base.
Tammie and Nicole were born in South America in the early 1970’s. Their parents had served as Peace Corps Volunteers in Ecuador and moved to Peru, then Brazil. We got back to the states in 1975, eventually landing in Maryland for our dad’s work for a big Washington NGO. We lived in a typical middle-class suburb and had mostly ordinary childhoods, with some bizarre episodes mixed in. We both attended east coast colleges. We both got sober in April 2018.
Nicole Murray (big sis):
Nicole is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist and owns a community acupuncture clinic in San Diego, CA. She has a Master’s in Chinese Medicine and a BA in English. She previously worked in the nonprofit sector, both in development and program design and management. While in the nonprofit field, she worked across issues including domestic violence, homelessness, AIDS (in the 90s), the environment, youth, LGBTQIA, and progressive media. She is thrilled to be working on this passion project with her little sister. She lives for the annual summer family trip to NC, to flop on the beaches. And now she remembers what we do on vacation! Nicole lives with her two teens.
TAMMIE COX (little sis)
Tammie is a teacher in beautiful coastal North Carolina, where she lives with her teenage son. After college, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in El Salvador, after which she spent several years teaching in Bolivia before returning to the US to teach. She has taught every grade from K-6. Tammie has a BA in Anthropology, a BA in Elementary Education, and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction. She is very active in her local recovery community.