Friday, February 1, 2019

Interview with This Naked Mind's Annie Grace

I feel like I've always been a little bit behind the times when it comes to technology. It took me a while to make the switch from mini-discs (remember them anyone?!) to MP3, mainly because I just couldn't understand how you got all that music in that tiny little machine. I don't have a smart phone, and until last year I had never listened to a podcast and was still a little hazy on what they even were. 

My best friend is the one who introduced me to the magical world of podcasts, which happened to coincide with quitting smoking. All of a sudden I had a world of information at my fingertips, and the very first podcast I listened to was Russell Brand's Recovery Radio, a fantastic 6-part series where he talks to addicts in various stages of recovery about the struggles they face and the tools they use to stay sober. I've branched out to all sorts of subjects - feminism and comedy being my favourites, so The Guilty Feminist remains my top podcast and Mondays, when it is released, is now the best day of the week! - but a lot of the podcasts I listen to are about sobriety, addiction and recovery. Quite early on I discovered This Naked Mind, and knew straight away I had found a real gem. 

My favourite thing about This Naked Mind is the host, Annie Grace. She has a really down-to-earth relatable air about her. No disrespect to ol' mate Russell, but he's very much the celebrity junkie and not everyone can relate to the pressures of presenting an MTV show whilst also being a heroin addict. Annie, on the other hand, is a regular person, with a successful career in marketing, a young family...and before she quit, a two-bottle-of-wine-a-night drinking habit. I also love her approach to sobriety, which is one of curiosity, open-mindedness and lack of judgement. The podcast episodes are usually short, 10-20 minutes that directly answer listener questions, so they go right to the issues that people with alcohol dependency struggle with, and she gives a lot of interesting scientific research and information to explain just what is going on when you're drinking, and what changes when you quit. 

This Naked Mind - first-stop for all your recovery needs!

I've mentioned Annie's podcast a lot in my blog, I've used episodes as inspiration and I've found it incredibly helpful in my own sobriety journey. So I was beyond excited when she agreed to chat to me in an interview for my very own podcast! We talked about how her relationship with alcohol developed, relatively late, into a serious habit because of her corporate career - something I found really interesting. We discussed different methods for quitting drinking, including AA, moderation and focusing on harm reduction rather than abstinence, and how the advertising and marketing of alcohol is ruthless considering the health risks of drinking. A statistic I heard on Annie's podcast that shocked me to my core was that in the USA, alcohol is responsible for more deaths than illegal and legal drugs combined - including the current opioid epidemic and excluding any deaths caused by drink-driving. Yet it remains an ingrained part of our culture, is advertised during sports events and marketed to exhausted mums. Something ain't right with that. 

We also discussed her new project, The Alcohol Experiment, which is a new way to participate in sober months like Dry January. I think Annie's approach is the perfect alternative to existing schemes, which don't involve a lot of education or support - you can sign up for the experiment online, and be guided through the month with information on what's going on in your brain and body, which is something I found really helpful when I quit smoking - making sense of cravings, understanding withdrawals and mood swings made it easier to move past them. 

I had a great time chatting to Annie, and her podcast is a great resource for anyone who wants to make some changes in their lives regarding addiction. It doesn't have to be just alcohol, and it doesn't have to be just abstinence - it's relatable and useful for anyone. I hope you enjoy the interview!


If you can relate to what you've just read, let's continue the conversation! Sharing stories is one of our most powerful tools, so leave a comment below, check out the FREEDOM junkies' facebook page, or join our group.

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