In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we had a chat with the inspirational Lotta Dann, who has done huge things for helping people free themselves from the burden of alcohol. Lotta’s sober journey started a little over 10 years ago when she gave up drinking and started writing about it through her infamous blog “Mrs D is Going Without”. This soon gathered the attention and support of thousands of readers and in 2014 her best-selling memoir, telling the story of her recovery, was published.
Despite its success, Lotta felt her blog was limited in that she was getting tens of thousands of people coming to read and comment on her posts, but they couldn’t talk to each other! Fortunately, she found herself in a fateful meeting with someone from the addiction sector who saw merit in building an online community. She was then lucky enough to secure Government funding to build and run a community-based website, and so livingsober.org.nz was born.
Livingsober.org.nz is a social and highly connected online community where members can support one another through their sober journeys, as well as gain access to useful information and resources to help them along the way. The website, which is effectively “all-Lotta”, has gone from strength to strength and currently has over 12,000 members. It's free to join and members can be anonymous, so there are very few barriers to entry.
Since starting her blog, launching the website, and publishing her memoir “Mrs D is Going Without”, Lotta has written two more insightful books in the alcohol, addiction, and recovery space, “Mrs D is Going Within” and “The Wine O’clock Myth”. She writes authentically with raw honesty, sharing the full spectrum of emotions she experienced during her recovery while maintaining a fabulous sense of humour throughout. She’s also a woman, a mother, a wife, and among many other things a proudly self-proclaimed ‘housewife’ with a wealth of knowledge and experience to offer. We’re honoured to be chatting to her in celebration of IWD2022.
Here's what Lotta had to say
You’ve done, and you’re doing a whole lot of stuff! What would you say is your day job? Like, what do you say when someone asks, “what do you do”?
Your story is one that’s so relatable, you’ve shared your struggles in such an honest and open way, which I think is a huge part of why you’ve been able to have such an impact on so many people, especially women. So, given that we’re here chatting to raise awareness of International Women’s Day and this year’s theme #BreakTheBias, what connection do you see or make with this theme and women and alcohol?
If you had a magic wand, what is one thing you would change or try to change in relation to women and alcohol?
You’ve already done and doing so much in this space, but do you have anything else you’re working on to further support others in the addiction and alcohol space?
At the moment I’m really working on trying to do the best job I can for the members in the community at Living Sober, so that’s why I’ve started doing these video chats called 'Sobriety Chats', which is a new way of giving people inspiration where they can hear and see two people sitting there talking about sobriety. I am also studying to be a counsellor, I’ve got about three years of study ahead because I want to do it properly so I can safely help people with all the right registrations in place, and I’m writing a new book. Hopefully I can fit it all in!
What is something that surprised you about living an alcohol-free lifestyle? Something positive that you didn’t expect when giving up drinking?
What advice or tips would you give to women starting or considering taking a sober journey themselves?
Definitely connect with other people who are doing it because that is really helpful. Just give it time, go gently on yourself, focus on what the benefits are, reach out and connect with others, and just trust that you will get to a place where you don’t miss it as much.
Honestly, we’ve been so heavily conditioned to believe all sorts of things about the positive benefits of alcohol that are not true. If you can be rigorous about switching your thinking around, there’s lots of great books you can read and podcasts to listen to that will help.
Also fill up your social media feed with the right kind of people who are promoting sobriety or alcohol free living, and if you’ve got a friend or a company that’s posting really pro-alcohol content then mute them for a while. You don’t have to unfollow them, just mute them because it can be hard to see these things, especially if you’ve had a bad day or you’re tired or grumpy or whatever. Just take control of your social media feeds.
To finish with something light, what’s your current go to drink of choice?
I’m having a ginger beer right now! I do like the flavoured tonic waters, but also the distilled alcohol-free spirits, Ecology & Co and the like. I must say, I’m just so thrilled there are outfits like Clear Head Drinks that are there now, catering for people who want to do things a different way. It wasn’t around when I quit 10 years ago and it’s just great!
Lotta's latest book published in 2020, The Wine O'Clock Myth, uncovers the truth about women and alcohol. In her book, Lotta shines a light on the lies we're told through various forms of messaging about how alcohol enhances our lives, and as we've seen in this interview, it's simply not true! This book is a great read for anyone questioning their own drinking habits and wanting to understand more about how and why alcohol is so often being mindless over consumed.