Madisonians embrace a sober lifestyle with community & mocktails


Madison, Wisconsin (WMTV) – Wisconsin is best known for its drinking culture, but for many Madison citizens, the conversation around booze is beginning to shift.

One group that supports people trying to quit or cut back on drinking is New Fashioned Sobriety.

Nicole Peaslee, founding member of New Fashioned Sobriety, said:

Nearly four years ago, Peasley found himself at a crossroads with alcohol. “For several years I questioned my drinking. I felt like I was limiting myself,” Peasley said.

“I decided to quit drinking at 30 because I was imagining my life when I was 40 or 50. I didn’t like it. It made me really, really sad.”

new fashionable drinking

The Madison native created a private Instagram account that allows her to connect with other sober people online. “I wasn’t necessarily looking for something like a program, I was just looking for connection with other people,” Peasley explained. “I had to listen to other people and understand how they were doing themselves.”

The chill Instagram community linked her with two other chill women in the Madison area: Sarah Patnaudo and Jenny Peabody.

Founding members of New Fashioned Sobriety: (left to right) Nicole Peaslee Sarah Patnaude and Jenny Peabody(Nicole Peasley)

In January 2020, the trio decided to form New Fashioned Sobriety through their Instagram account. The concept was simple. Hang out with other sober people, share your stories when needed, and support each other.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit shortly after the group was created, so we hosted Hangouts via Zoom instead. This allowed us to reach people across the country, not just in Wisconsin.

As the spread of COVID-19 began to ease, the group was also able to host in-person meetups such as hikes, coffee shop visits and craft nights.

Members of New Fashioned Sobriety pose during a virtual meetup.
Members of New Fashioned Sobriety pose during a virtual meetup.(New Fashioned Sobriity (Instagram))

The account now has over 2,500 followers, and Peaslee hopes to host monthly meetups in the Madison area this year.

“For anyone thinking about it, or feeling desperately in need of a hand, I encourage you to reach out, because it’s a truly beautiful life that I highly recommend.

abstinence challenge

At Blind Shot Social Club on Madison’s east side, owner Michelle Duvall is shaking up the bar industry.

She has created what she claims is the largest mocktail menu in Wisconsin. “You can have fun and sophisticated beverages, but they don’t necessarily have to contain alcohol,” says Duvall.

When Duvall and her husband open a bar, restaurant and indoor golf simulation facility in 2021, she made sure there are options for non-drinkers other than water and soda.

Michelle Duvall, owner of Blind Shot Social Club, makes mocktails at a bar in East Madison.
Michelle Duvall, owner of Blind Shot Social Club, makes mocktails at a bar in East Madison.(Erin Sullivan of WMTV)

“You know that in the middle of 2021, the pandemic is still going on. All of a sudden, we’re seeing a lot of people coming forward with interest in non-alcoholic products,” says Duvall.

For Duvall, it’s a personal endeavor, and she herself has been sober for nearly nine years.

“Throughout bartending, going to college, all of that, I started drinking more or more than I needed to. By my late 20s, I was fine. I’ll continue at this pace. We stopped drinking together, but bartending, restaurants, that was my whole world. I was able to continue running my business.”

Blind Shot’s drink list features 13 non-alcoholic cocktails, and Duvall expects that to grow with demand.

“People are more interested in this. There are more local products being made, such as non-alcoholic beer from local breweries, non-alcoholic spirits from local distilleries. It just goes up.”

getting started

This change in drinking culture is encouraging to Dr. Elizabeth Salisbury Afsha of UW Health. “We hope to create a more inclusive environment for people trying to abstain from drinking, whether it’s because they have an alcohol use disorder or for broader health reasons, regardless of the cause,” Salisbury said. I am,” said Afshar.

Addiction experts add that despite this, most of Wisconsin is a heavy drinker and has high rates of alcohol use disorders in adults, especially among those between the ages of 21 and 35.

“Unfortunately, some people want to know the exact cut-off value, but the reality is that there is a 30-year-old patient who is hospitalized with liver failure and will die or die if he doesn’t get a new liver transplant. We also have a 30-year-old patient who is older with a similar drinking pattern and has liver problems, but probably not at the same level,” Salisbury-Afshar explained.

She said that for anyone considering quitting smoking, seeing a doctor is a great place to start. “Getting counseling to develop other skills and coping strategies for managing depression and anxiety may be the first step, but once you start working on it, It makes it much easier to use less alcohol.”

Dr. Elizabeth Salisbury-Afshar of UW Health is an addiction expert.
Dr. Elizabeth Salisbury-Afshar of UW Health is an addiction expert.(Erin Sullivan of WMTV)

In addition to improving mental health, abstinence has many physical health benefits, says Salisbury Afsha.

“We know that people with high blood pressure and diabetes are more likely to be under control if they stop drinking or abstain from drinking for a long period of time. I can better manage my sleep and I often feel that my sleep quality has improved significantly.”

She said that if someone finds they can’t cut back on drinking or find themselves constantly thinking about drinking, it’s a sign that they may need more professional help, such as counseling or hospital treatment.

“The diagnosis of alcohol use disorder, alcohol dependence, is really about the behaviors and symptoms that someone has, including wanting to drink all the time, using alcohol, and leading to negative consequences, even in intermittent drinkers.”

Dr. Salisbury Afsher added that trying to cool a turkey can be dangerous for someone who has used alcohol heavily for a long time. may require a controlled departure.

Encouragement from Erin

NBC15’s The Morning Show anchor and reporter Erin Sullivan also shared a personal connection to the story.

She’s been off alcohol for a year and a half, and during a discussion on The Morning Show, she offered words of encouragement to others looking to change their drinking habits.

NBC15’s Erin Sullivan talks about a year and a half sober as she previews her special report, “Rethinking Drinking,” which airs tonight on NBC15 News at 10pm.

click here Download the NBC15 News app or the NBC15 First Alert Weather app.



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