Black Joy

Your Dry January doesn’t have to be ashy | Black Joy – January 13 2023

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A few weeks ago, I discovered a fact about myself I wasn’t expecting: I can’t drink tequila anymore.

This would shock my 20-year-old self who threw back shots of Patrón every weekend for bachelorette parties, birthdays, promotions… [Insert any excuse to take shots here lol]. My best friends would tease me because it doesn’t take much to get me tipsy.

But when my boyfriend handed me a tequila cocktail during the holidays, I knew it was over for me and tequila. The drink didn’t taste like the tequila I used to have when me and my bestie stayed in the club. I almost spit it out. It tasted like that time we took way too many shots of Jose Cuervo for my 24th birthday. I swore to myself I would never get that drunk again (and I haven’t).

In fact, I didn’t serve any alcohol during my 30th birthday party last March because I was supporting a friend on their sobriety journey. I was cool with switching to mocktails, but the recipes I found were a little boring. I wanted something more than just Sprite and sherbet ice cream. I stuck with something simple and the party turned out just fine, but my friend in recovery deserves fancy drinks, too.

I grew up in a culture where people looked at you weird if you didn’t turn up during a party. I’m happy to see that culture is changing. More people are opening bars that don’t serve alcohol and Dry January is growing in popularity. In this week’s newsletter, we want to support y’all in your goals and dreams, whether that be abstaining from alcohol for a month or for good. Don’t forget to forward this email to your friends and fam before we pass you that bubbly – sans alcohol, obviously.

– Starr

Lookin’ like a mocktail type party

During Dry January, people challenge themselves to ditch alcohol for a month. It’s a common trend that started in the United Kingdom and is starting to gain some mileage in the U.S. Dry January participation increased by 32 percent in 2022 in America. Why? Some say it’s because Ms. Rona had us stressed out, isolated and reaching for the bottle to cope.

Whatever your reason for kicking your liquor habit, Our Black Joy reporter Danielle Buckingham wanted to make sure your Dry January doesn’t turn into a snooze fest. She chatted with multiple sober-friendly bartenders, including the award-winning Tiffanie “The Drinking Coach” Barriere.

“There’s so much room to have a just as lucrative Dry January as you did a boozy December, and just creating great flavors. You can actually replay everything you [made] during the holidays and do it [non-alcoholic]. There’s space for it because people are more understanding about not drinking and saving money, or just giving their body a break. . . But Dry January has always brought some drama [and pressure] around this time of year.”

Spice up your Dry January by checking out Dani’s story.

Finding support in recovery

Research shows Black Americans drink less alcohol than white Americans, but are more likely to die from alcohol-related illnesses. Race-related issues along with everyday stressors can trigger intense anxiety, making Black Americans more vulnerable to alcohol use disorder.

Changing your relationship with substance use is tough work. So we’re showing love and support for those navigating sobriety with this Therapy for Black Girls podcast. In this episode, Atlanta psychologist Dr. Joy Harden Bradford chats with Kristen Feemster, a licensed therapist and personal trainer in Charlotte, N.C., who has been sober for eight years.

Kristen remembers turning to alcohol as early as high school to medicate her imposter syndrome. Although she was a year-around athlete, Kristen said growing up in a mostly-white community made her feel like she “just naturally always felt like I needed to do more and be better and that good wasn’t good enough. And that I needed to keep striving and striving for perfection to make it, to feel good enough and to be acknowledged and appreciated.”

Whew! Who can relate to that? ✋🏿

Here are some of my favorite quotes from that episode, which you can listen to on Spotify. You can also listen to the playlist Daric L. Cottingham pulled together of podcasts and songs to help you reset your energy for the new year.

What should you do if you’re concerned about your relationship with alcohol?

Kristen: You can never get enough of just knowledge around alcoholism, addiction, just for your own understanding of what’s going on with you. Because I know so many people struggle with shame and feeling like an addiction is their fault and “I did this on myself and I should have had more control and discipline to figure this out on my own.” And so I think the more knowledge you can have about it, the more you can allow yourself to get the support and resources that you need to really overcome it.

Why are culturally-responsive recovery groups important?

Kristen: I’ve attended and have seen some recovery meetings that are specifically for BIPOC folks to attend and it creates a safer space to have these conversations around race and around everything that’s going on. And I remember, when I first got sober, I started going to in-person 12-step meetings and it was at the height of Donald Trump’s election, I mean it was really tense. And I’m in the Carolinas. So we’re down in the South and, you know, it’s just tense. And I remember feeling so isolated because there is an element of not talking about outside issues in those 12-step spaces. And I was like, I have no idea where to take this information and this weight that I feel and the frustration of just today. Like I don’t feel like I can talk about it and then also, I’m looking at people who don’t look like me, I don’t even know if it’s safe for me to even bring that up.

And so that was a pretty big deal the first couple of years. But I say that to say that now there are those spaces that are popping up where you can log on to a meeting and see nothing but beautiful brown women staring back at you – from all over the world even – to give you that support to say, “Yes, I see you. Yes, I hear you. And me too,” you know.

How can friends and family support someone through recovery?

Kristen: I think the most important part is to make sure that you’re a safe place. And I think that sometimes we want to express concern and, because it feels urgent to us, we come out with maybe a strong energy around it, making demands sometimes. You know, out of concern, but it’s not as gentle as it may need to be. And so I always say that how are you living your day to day life in relationship with that person to show that you’re a safe space for them to acknowledge something that’s so difficult?

Healing through community

If you’re interested in shifting your relationship with alcohol, here’s where you can find community and affirmations:

Thirsty for more? Tiffanie suggests you check out these bartenders:

Cheers to spreading Black Joy. See ya next time!

Jonece Starr Dunigan

Jonece Starr Dunigan |

Jonece Starr Dunigan (She/her/hers) is a journalist who gives the microphone to communities that are often ignored by mainstream media. Guided by empathy, her reporting centers the stories, movement work and voices of Black, brown and queer people. Her writing strives to amplify and empower readers instead of exploiting them of their traumas.

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