Sheffield website helps to lose the drink in party season

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The Christmas party season has arrived - but for some it is a time of dread rather than a reason to celebrate.

And Lucy Rocca, who lives in Fulwood and founded the website Soberistas, knows the feeling all too well.

“I used to dread Christmas parties at work because I knew I couldn’t control the amount of alcohol I drank,” she said.

“I never knew whether I was going to go a bit crazy. For some people this is the beginning of becoming sober, but some people aren’t so lucky and actually get fired from their jobs.”

Lucy has now published an ebook aimed at workers worried about their alcohol consumption during their staff Christmas party. The guide, written by Lucy and fellow Soberista Carrie Armstrong, is available free for managers to distribute among employees.

It contains tips to help partygoers enjoy their night without relying on alcohol to create the right atmosphere.

The ebook is the latest venture for Soberistas, which has just marked its third birthday. The website, set up after 40-year-old Lucy realised she had a drink problem, now has around 34,000 members from across the world.

“We had a strong gut feeling that a lot of people felt like I did - that they drank too much and needed help stopping,” said Lucy. “It just turned out that it was right. I suppose it’s good and bad, and indicative of the fact there are a lot of people behind closed doors with a drink problem.”

A ‘very homogenous’ demographic has emerged.

“We tend to appeal to 35-55 year old females, busy working mums who have been drinking for a long time.

“Gradually over the years it becomes more of a crutch and gradually it becomes less easy to laugh off embarrassing things that happen when they’re drunk. When it becomes less easy to joke about it you know you’ve crossed the line. The ebook is aimed at people who have crossed that line and who are concerned.”

Lucy said that, for her, it was necessary to ‘rewire her brain’ and reconsider her view of alcohol. “I found other outlets - running, writing, and various other activities that gave me a bit of a buzz.”

But the situation is made much more difficult when drink permeates ‘all aspects of life’, she observed. “If you go on dating websites the first thing people say is ‘Where shall we meet? Let’s go for a drink’.”

Soberistas is now involved in a research study with Southampton University, to gauge the site’s efficacy. Full results will be released in Spring, but Lucy said she is confident it will prove the website works.

“It definitely will, because there’s a very strong sense that people keep coming back and people use it because it helps them to stay sober. We’ll be very happy if it becomes a recognised source of help, somewhere a GP might suggest.”

n Visit to download the ebook.