A couple of weeks ago I decided that my relationship with alcohol wasn’t serving me. It wasn’t your cliché rock bottom; there were no DUI problems with the law or reckless binging. It was simply me, reflecting on what quarantine made me accustomed to and who I was turning into. It was a version of me that I didn’t particularly like. One that didn’t follow a schedule, missed deadlines out of anxiety, and only looked forward to Friday and Saturday nights. I wasn’t a fan of that version of myself so I decided that I needed a change.
When talking about drinking in the Latinx community, the image that comes to mind is a group of middle-aged men drinking Coronas. Latinas aren’t usually considered in those scenarios, and—probably because of that—we have fewer resources and information for sobriety and alcoholism. Latinas drink, it’s not a new concept. So if we drink, where are our resources to navigate and understand our relationship with alcohol?
I learned from a Nuyorican woman to mix Redbull and vodka and never sit down if you want to last the whole night at a salsa club. I’ve watched Latinas take shots with a straight face and outpace their male counterparts. I want to be clear, I didn’t intend to completely cut alcohol from my life, nor do I condemn the women that enjoy a cocktail or two with or without me. Every individual has their own personal relationship with the consumption of alcohol, therefore my path is not necessarily someone else’s. One is not better than the other. My concern and reasoning revolve around the fact that it is difficult to find spaces where sobriety and alcohol use or abuse is spoken about in BIPOC communities.
When I searched for resources what I found was an overwhelmingly white space. Alcoholics Anonymous and other sobriety groups revolve around a majority white and addictive relationship with alcohol. There are podcasts, books, and peer groups all led and frequented by white women and men. What I read and heard from these resources was almost diametrically opposed to my experience and relationship with substances. They missed the key aspect of community and social dynamics that permeates what it is to drink while Latina. They miss the nuances that encapsulate every other aspect of my life that directly affects how I navigate a sober or non-sober space. Luckily, in my search, I found two resources geared to the nuances of our existence.
As always, Black women lead the charge in the US for every other subgroup. I found two groups spearheaded by black women that bring to center the understanding that our identity has a huge impact on our sobriety and well being. One is the absolutely fantastic, Sober Black Girls Club. The Sober Black Girls Club was created by Khadi A. Olagoke, a Black Muslim woman that saw the lack of representation for Black Women in the sober community and wanted to do something about it. Although this group is specifically geared towards Black women, she still takes it one step further and corroborates with other BIPOC members and members of the LGBTQA+ community to create a support group experience for all. In that space, it doesn’t matter what your background is, you’re welcome to talk and seek the support of other individuals that are going through a similar journey.
The co-host to this fantastic group is another BIPOC friendly sober page called Served Up Sober. Served Up Sober is a Black woman-led sober support group focused on a holistic perspective to sobriety. The space is less about the generic 12 steps off AA and more about understanding the wholeness of your individuality that leads to your sobriety. The founder, Shari Hampton, not only focuses on BIPOC communities, but also hosts groups for members of the LGBTQA+ world. This group is inclusive and allows for people to feel heard—without the stigma of being labeled an addict or an alcoholic and with the added bonus of finding your individual path and a community invested in your wellbeing.
On my end, I have attended a couple of the meetings provided by both groups, am currently in therapy with a mental health professional and, most importantly, I chose candidness with the people in my life about this goal. Each step in the healing process has helped me understand what it means to be Latina and drink all the while making better decisions for my health. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully stop drinking but I do know that, because of spaces like Sober Black Girls Club, Served Up Sober, and the wonderful Latinx community that I’m a part of, I will learn and grow through my relationship with substances. Ultimately, that’s more than I could have asked for at the beginning of this journey.
Listening to ‘Chillin’’ by Tego Calderon & Don Omar while writing this.