How Jon conquered sobriety as a young male and father, working in a lively drinking culture.
I follow a lot of sober Instagram pages and one that stood out for me, for a number of reasons, was @Rad_Dad_ Jon. Not only for the super cool name, but for his content which covers not only his love of AF craft beers but also his passion for skating. If there’s one thing I’ve found that keeps me on track, it’s having a passion, something that you love, that overrides any urge to go back to your old ways and Jon has found his and is sharing it with us! Here Jon shares his story, tips on finding ways through the social pressures of giving up the grog and why he's glad he did.
Jon is a camera man/everything related to video content for Optus Sports. He lives in Sydney with his wife and two year old son Freddie and, at 34, working in Sports TV, it’s not hard to imagine the lifestyle he’s managed to turn his back on. Long hours, events, shift work and a young son are all reasonable reasons to crack open a few beers, but Jon decided to break the mould and take a year off the grog which has now become an ongoing lifestyle choice.
Did you have a point of no return with your drinking?
I didn’t each any real low point. However I’d been drinking for over 15 years, through Uni, and then into my career which involves lots of socialising. Last June I was covering a sports event for 30 days straight with shift work hours. Instead of writing myself off on my day/night off, I decided to stop drinking for the 30 days. As we entered July I was feeling so good I committed to Dry July, and then just kept on going. I read a few books and thought I’d see if I could go for a year. After 3 months my wife noticed I’d stopped complaining about the IBS, reflux and gut issues I’d suffered for years. I hadn’t really noticed myself but, once she mentioned it, I realised many of the foods ( spicy foods in particular) didn’t affect me negatively anymore. I’d done all the test for coeliac etc but now I realise it was the alcohol. The improvement in my gut health has been extremely motivating not to go back to drinking.
Did anyone or anything inspire you to quit?
I remember in the early days at Optus I met a guy who didn’t drink at all. He came to all the functions but he didn’t touch a drop, I found that amazing!. And then my brother-in-law quit for a while and I was so impressed by how he managed socially, especially in big family gatherings and I realised it was something I’d like to try. I re-engaged with social media through my Rad-Dad-Jon account and discovered this whole alcohol-free scene, especially in the 0% beer space. Seeing people still out and about socialising and enjoying drinking AF options was a real inspiration. I realised I didn’t have to be a hermit sitting at home alone, I could quit and still enjoy all the things I used to do when I was drinking.
What, if any, were the challenges you faced?
In the early days it was mostly how to tell other people I wasn’t drinking. There are certain people out there who pester you and question the point of what and why you’re doing it and I found that quite difficult. So, I decided to ‘stagger’ the delivery, starting by saying it was just Dry July and then that I was just going to try and keep going, kind of month by month.
I remember a big sports event just after Dry July. We were in a corporate box with drink flowing, this was my first real challenge. It was hard, but when I got home that night I thought, I can really do this and every event after that just got easier and easier.
What 3 pieces of advice would you offer to anyone thinking about quitting?
For me it was about learning ways of dealing with social pressure. And I have experienced a lot of it, with my gender, age and the business I’m in. I think you need to be very clear on why you’re doing it – be it health, family, personal choice and then really commit to that choice. It’s not easy but don’t let anyone pressure you away from your goal.
Secondly I think setting personal goals is really helpful. As an example; starting with 30 days and then reassessing as you go. I think it’s good to have manageable goals, you don’t need to necessarily say you’re quitting for good, just take it step by step.
Finally, it was really important for me to find an alternative outlet. I’ve enjoyed exploring the online 0% craft beer community and I love trying all the options out there. I’ve also dusted off my skateboard and do videos for insta as a bit of fun. You really need to back yourself, find an interest or hobby and go for it.
What are your SoberUpsides?
Number one is the health benefits I’ve noticed, particularly my gut health. I can enjoy foods I love without the issues I used to experience and try to mitigate with another beer! I also sleep a lot better and find I’m more present to my son. Those are the main ones.
Finally, as a 0% craft beer enthusiast, do you have any favourites you can share with us?
It’s a tough question, there are so many! My go-tos at the moment are SOBAH Pepper berry IPA. It was the first craft beer I came across. I love not only the taste but the company, brand and their ethos. SOBAH is also widely available where I live and it’s great to see a company with such strong community values being supported.
From overseas I’m a big fan of Lucky Saint, it’s a lager from Germany, a UK brand that is very similar to a VB.
These would be my top picks, but I have a long list, to be published as a post soon!
Big thanks to Jon, not only a craft beer connoisseur but a Rad Dad and living proof there’s a great life beyond the booze.
Follow Jon for his AF recommendations and skating achievements on @rad_dad_jon.
NEXT UP - The next Sober Session is with Andy and Jason from ETCH Sparkling where they share how they navigated their relationship through Jason's recovery.
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