talkhealth meets… Dru Jaeger from Club Soda

It’s time to rethink your drinking - and not in the traditional ‘Dry January’ way. Whether you want to moderate the amount you drink, reduce your bingeing, or cut ties completely - you should think about doing it mindfully. 

‘Becoming a mindful drinker starts with paying attention,’ explains Club Soda, a mindful drinking movement. ‘Being mindful about your drinking is all about deciding what is right for you today. You are in control.’ 

Dru Jaeger, Club Soda’s co-founder, recently hosted a webinar covering all the key tools you can use to drink mindfully. Before he went ‘on air’, Dru answered some of our questions so that you can learn more about what he does. 

*Watch the webinar - mindful drinking*


What’s Club Soda’s story? 

Club Soda was born from my co-founder, Laura Willoughby's, experience with quitting drinking.. At the time, she was frustrated by the lack of alcohol services that didn't meet her needs and she was determined to create something better. At that point, I'd spent just over a decade working as a researcher in healthcare policy, so I was attracted by the idea that there was a problem to solve. 

What do you do? 

Club Soda helps people live well by being more mindful about drinking. Three simple ideas sit at the core of what we do: change, choice and connection. We help people change through courses, workshops, events, articles and advice. We guide people towards better choices in low alcohol and alcohol-free drinks, including through our new alcohol-free Tasting Room in London. 

My work in Club Soda centres on helping people change their drinking. I run all our courses and regular online and real-world workshops.

Should people cut out drinking alcohol altogether? Or, is it down to the individual?

Some health conditions and medications don't mix well with alcohol, and you should always follow your doctor's advice about drinking. But, reducing your alcohol consumption is always going to be beneficial - whether you stop entirely or not.

There's good evidence from long-term studies that moderation works. If you're drinking heavily, abstinence isn't the only solution. Ultimately, it's about finding a sustainable approach to alcohol that works for you, whether that's drinking less or not at all.

Why is it important to 'taper' alcohol consumption instead of going 'cold turkey'?

Alcohol dependence can creep up on any of us. Especially if you drink every day, your body gets used to a certain level of alcohol in your system and tries to accommodate it. If you stop drinking suddenly, your brain and body can't change quickly enough to deal with alcohol's abrupt absence, and that's when withdrawal symptoms emerge.

Most withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant, like shaking, sweating and nausea. But some can be dangerous, and even fatal, if left untreated. Severe withdrawal symptoms like seizures, fits, hallucinations, confusion and loss of coordination are relatively rare, but if you experience any of these things when you stop drinking, you must seek urgent medical help.

Have general opinions around drinking changed over the last decade? 

Not drinking, especially in social situations, is definitely becoming more common and alcohol-free drinks are widely available now. Many supermarkets and pubs have increasingly good options for people who are drinking less or not at all. So if you decide to cut down or go alcohol-free for the long term, you're going to be in good company. Communities like Club Soda also exist to give you the support and encouragement you need.

That said, we can all do more to make not drinking easier for other people. If you go to the pub with family, friends or colleagues, choose venues with a good range of alcohol-free drinks, and don't make a fuss if someone decides not to drink alcohol. Remember that spending time together is much more important than what's in anyone's glass. And, nobody ever needs to justify why they're not drinking. 

Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.

Information written by the talkhealth team

Last revised: 11 January 2023
Next review: 11 January 2023