“Sobriety does not have a colour”: Black and Sober Podcast on navigating sobriety as an ethnic minority person

May 2024 | 10 minutes

Ricci and Alisha from the Black and Sober Podcast share their experiences of becoming alcohol-free and their mission to amplify black voices in sobriety resources.

Black and Sober - So, what is it? You may have heard the phrase “sober is the new black” a few times lately, but is this it? Well, let me introduce ourselves. We’re Ricci and Alisha, a married couple of six years, together for 16 years, living in London as we bring up our three boys.

“All throughout our relationship alcohol has been a thing- from celebrating buying our first flat together, to our boozy trip to Jamaica, to then welcoming our sons to the world and celebrating their christenings and birthdays…”

All throughout our relationship alcohol has been a thing- from celebrating buying our first flat together, to then welcoming our sons to the world and celebrating their christenings and birthdays (or as Alisha liked to say to justify boozing on our sons’ special occasions - it was her "BIRTH” day). Let’s not forget our annual visit to Notting Hill Carnival and our trip to Jamaica which we couldn’t do without a bottle of Wray and Nephew Jamaican rum! Then, later, being stuck indoors at weekends with kids asleep, and boozing in our kitchen to the early hours of some mornings together.

“It may seem like we have a very average working-class life, both always working to make ends meet to bring up our young family, but …we realised in spring 2023 that alcohol had us in a choke hold.”

It may seem like we have a very average working-class life, both always working to make ends meet to bring up our young family, but when we dug deeper, we realised in spring 2023 that alcohol had us in a choke hold.

The fun times soon became Sunday morning hangovers - rushing the five of us out to make our sons kick-off time on the football pitch, or even a church service we like to attend as a family - as we were of course still a "normal" functioning working family.

The struggle became real, and Ricci's drinking became daily, masking it through after work drinks he insisted he HAD to attend with colleagues, followed by arriving home with Alisha's favourite alcoholic beverage so she could join him (or, in reality, so she wouldn't nag him about drinking).

Alisha's drinking was more binge drinking at ‘Mummy’ lunches, dinners and drinks with friends and most often making a fool of herself (or worse - injuring herself thinking she can still do the splits as if she was 12 years old again!). The “fun times” were then followed by anxiety, regrets, sore heads, sickness, mood swings and doing anything to get rid of morning alcohol breath.

“…you can walk past pubs in central London or an airport bar at any time of day and they will always be buzzing with people drinking.”

Alcohol is a creeper, and you can very easily develop a habit with it that turns into a dependency without even realising it straight away, because it is so socially accepted. For example, you can walk past pubs in central London or an airport bar at any time of day and they will always be buzzing with people drinking. We would drink at the drop of a hat, whilst watching sports, to mark the end of the week, to relax after a hard day at work or tough day looking after children, to celebrate new life, to mark the death of a loved one – in fact, it can be hard to not find something to raise a glass to.

“Our children did not deserve the parents we had become…”

Our children did not deserve the parents we had become, leaning on alcohol at any given opportunity. Although, we do genuinely feel that they did not miss out on anything, they also deserved more than parents living off 60% of their full capacity due to alcohol.

“Alisha did not want history repeating itself as she grew up with an alcoholic parent and strived to break the cycle for the sake of their children.”

Something had to change. Alisha did not want history repeating itself as she grew up with an alcoholic parent and strived to break the cycle for the sake of their children.

So, spring 2023, we decided enough was enough and after a string of drunken nights and arguments, Ricci began to attend AA meetings and Alisha immersed herself into ‘quit lits’ and podcasts about sobriety.

" There was a sense of peace in our lives that we had never experienced before.”

The next few months were life changing; there were no sore heads or bad bellies, no nursing hangovers, or pointless drunken arguments. Our sleep improved – our bodies were finally resting and there was a sudden silence. There was a sense of peace in our lives that we had never experienced before. We took care of each other’s needs and started to really listen to one another.

"…we had to learn how to cope, relax and enjoy life without alcohol in all sorts of scenarios...”

The first 90 days weren’t all bliss, we had to learn how to cope, relax and enjoy life without alcohol in all sorts of scenarios – whether that was family celebrations, a concert, an all-inclusive holiday, work functions, or weddings. Alisha felt her emotions more and is still learning how to sit with them and look after her mental health in the best way. Ricci had a bit of a break from AA meetings but returned at the beginning of 2024, and now attends them weekly to help others and himself with that empty mental void he found he had. We still take each day at a time but are thoroughly enjoying it and we are very lucky that we have each other to bounce off and to try new things we have never done in our 16 years together!

“Sobriety does not have a colour, alcohol dependency affects all races, and we are happy to be here representing ours!”

One day in the early days of sobriety, Ricci asked Alisha if he could listen to some podcasts that she was listening to, but they struggled to find any voices from the UK black community, especially from black men.

So, we decided to take the plunge and publish our own podcast session together detailing our sobriety journey – “Black and Sober the Podcast”. We soon opened an Instagram page and had messages from people willing to share their sobriety journeys. The sober community has really helped and supported us, and we do love it here. We love that by sharing our journey to sobriety it is helping others, especially those from the black community.

There seems to be a stigma within the black community that you should not speak up if you are experiencing mental health issues which can lead to alcohol and drug dependencies. There are also less black people in treatment (less than 1%) despite having similar rates of use. On a personal level, alcoholism runs in Alisha’s family, sadly she lost a dearly loved uncle to alcohol abuse in 2019. So, we are Black and Sober - sobriety does not have a colour, alcohol dependency affects all races and we are happy to be here representing ours!

You can catch Ricci and Alisha on Instagram at @blacksoberpod. To listen to The Black and Sober Pod, check the show out on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube.

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