Sisters In Sobriety

Welcome to another Q&A episode of "Sisters in Sobriety," where your host, Sonia, delves into the complex emotions and questions surrounding the journey to sobriety. Today's focus is on a common concern among individuals in recovery: the fear of replacing one addiction with another, such as substituting alcohol with excessive running, Netflix binge-watching, or indulging in ice cream.

  • Healthy vs. Unhealthy Activities: It's essential to evaluate new activities based on their impact on your life. Are they adding value, or are they becoming a new form of avoidance or compulsion?
  • Evaluating New Habits: Sonia provides actionable steps for assessing whether a new activity, like running, is beneficial or potentially problematic. Key considerations include examining your motivations, assessing the activity's impact on your life, ensuring balance, setting healthy boundaries, and seeking support when needed.
  • The Power of Choice and Change: The episode challenges the notion of "once an addict, always an addict," highlighting the importance of recognizing the human capacity for growth, change, and adaptation. Healthy coping mechanisms, when integrated mindfully, promote well-being and recovery.

This episode of "Sisters in Sobriety" offers a compassionate and thoughtful exploration of how individuals in recovery can navigate the process of replacing old habits with new, healthier ones. By emphasizing the importance of understanding one's motivations, seeking balance, and embracing a holistic approach to recovery, Sonia provides valuable guidance for anyone looking to build a more fulfilling and sober life.


What is Sisters In Sobriety?

You know that sinking feeling when you wake up with a hangover and think: “I’m never doing this again”? We’ve all been there. But what happens when you follow through? Sonia Kahlon and Kathleen Killen can tell you, because they did it! They went from sisters-in-law, to Sisters in Sobriety.

In this podcast, Sonia and Kathleen invite you into their world, as they navigate the ups and downs of sobriety, explore stories of personal growth and share their journey of wellness and recovery.

Get ready for some real, honest conversations about sobriety, addiction, and everything in between. Episodes will cover topics such as: reaching emotional sobriety, how to make the decision to get sober, adopting a more mindful lifestyle, socializing without alcohol, and much more.

Whether you’re sober-curious, seeking inspiration and self-care through sobriety, or embracing the alcohol-free lifestyle already… Tune in for a weekly dose of vulnerability, mutual support and much needed comic relief. Together, let’s celebrate the transformative power of sisterhood in substance recovery!

Kathleen Killen is a registered psychotherapist (qualifying) and certified coach based in Ontario, Canada. Her practice is centered on relational therapy and she specializes in couples and working with individuals who are navigating their personal relationships.

Having been through many life transitions herself, Kathleen has made it her mission to help others find the support and communication they need in their closest relationships. To find out more about Kathleen’s work, check out her website.

Sonia Kahlon is a recovery coach and former addict. She grappled with high-functioning alcohol use disorder throughout her life, before getting sober in 2016. Sonia is now the founder of EverBlume, a digital tool that offers a unique approach to alcohol recovery support.

Over the last five years, she has appeared on successful sobriety platforms, such as the Story Exchange, the Sobriety Diaries podcast and the Sober Curator, to tell her story of empowerment and addiction recovery, discuss health and midlife sobriety, and share how she is thriving without alcohol.

Her online platform EverBlume launched in February 2023, and was featured in Recovery Today Magazine and deemed an ‘essential sobriety resource’ by the FemTech Insider.
The company champions self-improvement and mindful sobriety, with support groups designed by and for women struggling with alcohol.

So how can EverBlume help you meet your sober community? By offering deeply personalized support. Members get matched based on their profiles and life experiences, and take part in small group sessions (max. 16 people). In your support group, you will meet like-minded women, discuss your experiences, and gain confidence, knowing you can rely on your peers in times of need.

Whether you identify as a binge drinker, someone who developed a habit during the Covid-19 pandemic, a high-functioning alcoholic, or an anxious person using alcohol to self-soothe… There is a support group for you!

Current EverBlume members have praised the company’s unique approach to alcohol detox. “No one is judging me for not being sure I want to be sober for the rest of my life” ; “I felt so heard and understood and today I woke up feeling empowered to make the change in my life”.

Feeling inspired? Learn more about the EverBlume sobriety community at, or simply listen to Sisters In Sobriety.

Your sobriety success story starts today, with Kathleen and Sonia. Just press play!

[00:00:00] Sonia: Hi sisters, and welcome to another Q and A episode where I'll answer our [00:01:00] questions from the listeners. So we got some great questions today about people who are worried they may be replacing their drinking with another activity. So this question is from Alice P. in Minnesota, and she writes, I feel like I may be just replacing drinking with running.

[00:01:19] Is this a problem? And this is a question that comes up a lot. And one I've even asked myself when it comes to Eating ice cream every day, binging Netflix, or having an after work mocktail. to me, addiction means you keep doing something even when it's hurting you and the people around you. It's when nothing, not even the risk of getting into legal trouble, getting sick, or causing pain to your loved ones can stop you from that behavior. In my case, no matter how much I regretted my actions from the night before, whether I was dealing with, uh, terrible hangover or [00:02:00] feeling embarrassed about something I said or I did, I could not stop drinking.

[00:02:05] And a big part of why I drank so much was to try to manage my anxiety. And I thought alcohol would make me feel less anxious, but it was actually doing the opposite. So I had to understand that the problem wasn't just my drinking, it was also how dealing with the anxiety that led me to drink in the first place.

[00:02:24] So getting out of this cycle meant facing both my addiction and the reasons behind it, which was scary, but that's what you need to do for real change. So realizing that alcohol wasn't a viable solution for my anxiety meant I had to find new, healthier ways to cope. And it isn't easy. It requires building a toolbox of strategies that I can turn to and that are constructive rather than destructive.

[00:02:52] I lean into physical exercise, which not only improves my physical health, but also provides a mental release [00:03:00] and a way to burn off some of that anxious energy that had previously driven me to drink. I also find support groups super helpful, so connecting with others who are navigating their own struggles with addiction and anxiety reminds me that I'm not alone.

[00:03:17] And these communities offer both understanding and support. and accountability and helped me stay committed to my journey towards health. I discovered that creative outlets also played a significant role in my recovery and the management of my anxiety. And they are powerful tools for expression and self reflection.

[00:03:38] So art, whether it's painting, drawing, or sculpting provides a tactile and immersive way to channel feelings into something tangible, helping me process emotions that were difficult to articulate in words. But reading and journaling also are vital components of my coping strategy, and reading definitely offers an [00:04:00] escape, but I would never call it unhealthy.

[00:04:03] And each new tool I add to my kit makes me a little stronger, a little more equipped to face life without relying on alcohol. And they don't just help me manage my anxiety, they transform how I deal with stress, how I relate to others, and how I view myself. So, I find it hard to think that anything in my toolkit is an addiction or a swap for drinking.

[00:04:27] The foundation of my journey of sobriety involves finding new ways to cope with different triggers, manage stress, and fill the time that was previously occupied by drinking. And so it's easy to feel like you're replacing drinking with something else, but ideally there are multiple things replacing alcohol, and hopefully most of them are healthy.

[00:04:49] Or at least not detrimental. Even the less healthy things I do, like watching a bunch of episodes on Netflix, or having ice cream after dinner, isn't [00:05:00] necessarily bad. These things can be totally okay and even good for us, as long as we're making the choice to do them because we enjoy them.

[00:05:08] And we're not letting them get in the way of our health or our daily responsibilities. So it's all about why we're doing it and how much control we have over it. for example, settling down for a few episodes and some ice cream can be a great way to chill out and give yourself a break, and these moments can make us happy and add a bit of fun to our day, but when we start using these activities to avoid dealing with bigger issues like feeling sad or stressed out all the time, Or when they start to take over our lives, like if we're watching TV all night, every night, not getting enough sleep, that's when we need to take a step back.

[00:05:48] The main point is there is no one size fits all answer to what makes a coping mechanism healthy or not. It really depends on how the activity fits into our [00:06:00] lives, or is it adding something good, or is it getting in the way of us living our best lives, and knowing the difference is key. So let's go over some ways that you can tell the difference.

[00:06:12] Here are some actionable steps to consider when evaluating a new activity that you're worried may be simply replacing your drinking So first, do you want to do it or do you have to do it? An often overlooked aspect of addiction is the transition from drinking because you want to, to drinking because you feel like you have to.

[00:06:35] In the throes of active addiction, The initial joy and relief that alcohol provided might fade away, replaced by a compulsive need. And this shift marks a profound change in the relationship with alcohol. It's no longer about getting enjoyment or relaxation, but it's about avoiding the mental and physical discomfort that [00:07:00] comes with not drinking.

[00:07:01] The substance that once seemed like a friend offering escape becomes more of a tyrant. The ritual of drinking loses the pleasure you may have initially felt and becomes a desperate attempt just to feel normal or get through the day. And this need over want is a stark indicator of an addiction where you're no longer in control of the use, but rather the use controls you.

[00:07:31] So are you getting genuine joy and satisfaction in your activity? Unlike the compulsive cycle of addiction where the act of drinking becomes a non negotiable need, healthy coping strategies offer a genuine fulfillment and choice. So engaging in photography, art, Reading, journaling, represents a deliberate decision to nurture your mental health and creativity.

[00:07:57] And you pursue these for the [00:08:00] inherent joy and growth they bring, not because of a pressing need to escape discomfort or feed a dependency.

[00:08:07] and this distinction is big. Where addiction demands you to adhere to something without relief, healthy coping mechanisms empower you and give you a sense of control and the ability to respond to life's changes. The more you engage in these healthy practices, the more you'll find a sense of peace, satisfaction, and a deepened understanding of yourself.

[00:08:34] Reflect on your motivations. So for Alice, take some time to think about why you've turned to running. Is it for the physical benefits, the mental clarity, or as a way to cope with stress? Understanding your motivations can help you determine if something is serving a positive role in your recovery, or it's becoming an unhealthy replacement.

[00:08:55] Assess your behavior. Evaluate how running is impacting your [00:09:00] life. Consider whether it's interfering with your responsibilities, relationships, or other aspects of your health. If running is becoming compulsive, or if you're using it to avoid dealing with emotions or situations, it might be worth reassessing its role in your life.

[00:09:17] Balance your activities, so make sure running is just one part of a well rounded routine. Incorporate other activities into your life, such as different forms of exercise, hobbies, socializing, and relaxation practices. This diversification can prevent any one activity becoming a new dependency. Set healthy boundaries.

[00:09:41] So create a balanced schedule that includes running, rest days and other activities. It's crucial to listen to your body and mind and allow yourself time to recover and engage in other supportive practices Seek support. Talk to your recovery coach or mental health professional about [00:10:00] your concerns.

[00:10:01] They can give you personalized advice and help you navigate these feelings. And sharing your experiences with peers in your recovery group could offer valuable insights and support. Given this set of criteria, I find it hard to find fault with Alice's running. I also take issue with the phrase, once an addict, always an addict, or I have an addictive personality because I feel like they can be self fulfilling prophecies.

[00:10:29] And they sort of suggest that there's an unchangeable destiny attached to addiction. But these quotes are broad and they're not accurate in so many cases. If we consider addiction as a complex Interplay of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors that predispose people to compulsively seek relief or pleasure from substances or behaviors.

[00:10:55] Then when you're discussing healthy coping mechanisms, like exercise, art, [00:11:00] meditation, community activities, then the idea of addiction can be misleading. These activities, when you integrate them into a balanced life in a mindful way, promote well being, resilience, and recovery. And they can really transform the narrative from one of perpetual addiction to one of growth and healing.

[00:11:22] And it proves that the labels of a perpetual addict or inherently addictive personality do not account for the human capacity for change and adaptation. But when applied to unhealthy coping mechanisms, substance abuse, compulsive gambling, or other harmful behaviors, these phrases can sometimes highlight.

[00:11:43] the enduring struggle that people face when they're managing addictive behaviors. But the difference is in the nature and the impact of the coping mechanism. Unhealthy coping mechanisms often offer a temporary escape, leading to a cycle [00:12:00] of dependency that reinforces the behavior. They can exacerbate underlying issues, leading to a deterioration of your mental, physical, and social health.

[00:12:11] And this contrast really underscores the importance of recognizing the power of choice and change in your life. It's crucial to understand that while certain predispositions to addiction may exist, but the journey of recovery really is about learning new healthy ways to cope with challenges and really reshaping the narrative from one of perpetual addiction to one of empowerment and self discovery.

[00:12:42] This journey involves recognizing the potential for change, seeking support, and embracing a holistic approach to recovery that nurtures all aspects of an individual's well being. [00:13:00]