Drew Davis of Gem Life + Bar | Soberdelic Stories

A few weeks back, a group of sober-curious individuals gathered in Kansas City to participate in Dry Vibes⁠—an event billing itself as "a weekend of non-alcoholic alchemy to celebrate Dry January and the growing sober-curious movement." Drew Davis was one of the people behind this fantastic event, alongside the team at SipSteady.

We had the chance to catch up with Drew a few days after the event to talk about her journey with alcohol and the events that put her on the path she's on today.

What was your relationship with alcohol prior to making a change and why did you decide to make that change?

Alcohol has been a huge part of my life, but alcohol has never really served me. If I look back, I never really handled alcohol well. I made bad decisions. I put myself in bad situations and I used it to really numb out the traumatic and challenging parts of my life.

In April 2020, I had a really pivotal, life-threatening health scare. The doctor told me, “Drew, you can’t drink anymore, for at least a year, until your organs heal.” So I had to consciously make a decision every day to not drink. Yeah, it was kind of life-or-death, but it forced me to learn how to deal with my life without alcohol.

It took this very serious situation for me to really evaluate how alcohol was serving me, and I realized it no longer was; health-wise, mentally, or physically. I started asking myself why I drank. Why did I feel I needed alcohol? What things bring me joy without alcohol? I figured that out and started doing more of those things.

What did you hope to get out of altering your use of alcohol? 

I really wanted to be a happier version of myself, to connect mindfully with my family, and really just heal my body from within. My hope was that removing alcohol from my life would help me work through my traumas and feel my feelings. I started making a conscious effort to connect with people and really develop a community around me that was mindful, intentional, and wasn’t using alcohol as a social crutch.

Would you say that alcohol was effectively blocking you from pursuing some of those more meaningful deeper connections in your life?

Yeah, 100%.

What do you feel has changed since you cut alcohol out of your life and started to approach things differently?

I’d call what I have now an elevated lifestyle. I feel like my world is brighter. My light is no longer dimmed by alcohol. I have a better relationship with my husband and my children. I wake up every morning excited about the day and I see the small, meaningful things within each day; things that I wasn’t seeing before. My health has definitely changed for the better, all my health issues are slowly starting to disappear or at least getting better.

Do you ever feel pressure to drink from other people? If you do, what are those situations like?

I’ve had to learn to remove myself from situations where I feel triggered to drink. I find that having fun alternative beverages Psychedelic Water has helped me. I bring them to events, they help me feel included. They help me feel like a part of the party. Sometimes I do still feel triggered. When I do I just remove myself, exit stage left. I let the momentl pass and remind myself I don't really need to have a drink.

What kind of situations do you find to be triggering?

This past summer I went to like 17 weddings, and you know, after the ceremony, like an hour into the reception, there’s an open bar and everybody is drunk or on their way there. I find social gatherings are harder, even family events around the holidays where the whole family’s drinking and I'm not. Those situations can be triggering.

When you initially went sober did any people in your life have a hard time with it?

There was like a fifty-fifty split for me. My close friends and family were super on board and supportive. My husband and some of my close friends also stopped drinking to support me. They realized alcohol wasn’t really serving them either. The other 50% of people, folks I used to hang out with, go to happy hour with, that sort of thing⁠—our relationship just started dissipating. They stopped asking me to hang out and I realized that our friendship was built entirely on going out and drinking, and that really wasn’t providing substance to my life anymore.

When someone asks “why aren’t you drinking?” how do you answer that question in the moment?

I'm from Jersey, so maybe it's the Jersey Girl in me, but I'm very blunt. I usually just say “I don't drink anymore,” or “ I'm not drinking right now.” People will give pushback sometimes,  you know, people are like, “oh are you pregnant?” or “do you have a problem?” I’ll just tell them, “look, I just decided that it's not for me. It no longer serves me and I’m happier without it.” I'm very upfront about why I don't drink.

In addition to planning awesome sober events like Dry Vibes, Drew runs Gem Life + Bar, a booze-free bottle shop and bar in Pitman, New Jersey, dedicated to opening people up to the ever-growing array of great non-alcoholic beverages out there. You can find Psychedelic Water, as well as many other fantastic options, on their shelves.

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