Moms who are committed to their sobriety are superheroes to me. In my lifetime, my mother, who was addicted to cocaine, never lived a life of sobriety — and I never knew her as someone not addicted to drugs. We lived through a cycle of her getting clean and then relapsing. We lived through medical detoxes, halfway houses, and prison visits. Despite it, she never won her battle with staying clean.
But there are moms across the country who are committed to staying sober for themselves and their children, and not leaning on alcohol or other substances to get them through their day. And there are moms out there helping other moms stay clean, to remind us all that being sober is healthy and cool — and the best choice for families, and for surviving this pandemic. Five moms heard and saw the increased pressure to just have a drink, a call which added another kind of pressure to recovering moms. To help fight the urge to do so, to fight for their sobriety, an online community of moms in recovery was born: The Sober Mom Squad.
I spoke with founder Emily Paulson, and hosts Jessica Landon, Michelle Smith, Celeste Yvonne, and Jen Elizabeth: women with very different stories of recovery, who are connected not only because of their sobriety, but their desire to stay clean for their children and to be supports for other moms who want to stay sober, especially now during COVID-19.
When a person is addicted to a substance — whether it is a drug or alcohol — and they get clean, there is a 40-60% chance that they will relapse at least once before they can maintain sobriety. With the emotional rollercoaster we’ve come to know as COVID-19, the anxiety, fear, loneliness, and boredom coupled with isolation, and being at home stuck with family, it’s sort of the perfect storm to relapse. What if there was a virtual network that you could plug into, every single day if you needed to, to find a community of moms who want to maintain their sobriety? That’s exactly the call that Emily Paulson heard from moms across the country, moms who were stuck at home but still very committed to maintaining their sobriety.
Emily recalls what led her to create the Sober Mom Squad: she had women reaching out to her who were saying they thought they were social drinkers, but then being home they found themselves drinking more. Emily put herself on Instagram, and found more connections there. “We had a free meetup, we started having Zoom calls, and we started talking,” she says. “Our connection was that we were moms who wanted to get sober.” With over 1,500 Instagram followers, the Sober Mom Squad is providing a resource to moms right in their own homes, allowing them to remain connected to moms who want the same — to stay sober.
Today, the Sober Mom Squad has a $12 membership program that includes additional resources from suggested sobriety, parenting, and other podcasts, to special discounts on products and services. But the Sober Mom Squad gives moms hope, value, and courage for free. Every Wednesday, there’s a no-cost meeting for moms online who want to find support now.
When anyone — but especially a mom — wants help to stay clean, to push back the urge (and succeed) at not drinking, we should empathize and celebrate her. But social media is a beast. Jessica notes, “Definitely, the jokey alcohol memes have infiltrated the internet since COVID-19 started and it has dangerously helped women (mostly moms) justify the amount they’re drinking and implies that it’s okay to do to cope with kids.”
She goes on to say that the memes explicitly encourage functioning alcoholism, and can also trigger someone vulnerable and struggling or perpetuate an addiction someone is already dying from. “We need to see alcohol for what it is,” Jessica states, “a highly addictive and physically deleterious drug that kills more people annually than all other drugs combined.”
I hope we all know, as moms, that we are superheroes — even on the days we feel like our powers have dimmed slightly. In the span of what felt like overnight, life changed drastically for so many. Some of us went from moms who leave the house to go to work to being home all day with our kids. Others went from having the day to plan and manage accordingly before going to pick up the kids from school or their after-school care, to being with our kids and spouses all day, mandated to not go beyond the four walls in our own homes. Is it any wonder that the urge to drink is strong, and we are struggling? No one can be blamed for searching for ways to cope. But now more than ever, little eyes are firmly upon us.
Sober Mom Squad host and mom, Celeste, says, “I quit drinking when my oldest was three, but it amazes me how much they are watching what we do. Even at that young age, my son would ask me about my ‘mommy juice’ and it pained me to know the life I was leading wasn’t something I wished on anyone, especially my children. If I was going to lead by example, I knew I needed to make some big changes. And now, three years later, I am so glad I did.”
If there is one thing the Sober Mom Squad team wants you to know, it’s this: “If a mom is using and finding it hard to quit, please know that you are not alone! I believe the most important first step is having the courage to admit to yourself that the way you are living isn’t serving you anymore. Then reach out to other moms who are sober now and let us support and love you on your journey!” says Jen.
The COVID-19 mantra “we are all in this together” is one that these fierce and courageous mamas are living daily.
There are communities out there like the Sober Mom Squad, ready to help. “We will always be heroes in the eyes of our kids,” Emily shares. Let that continue to fuel your superpowers.