Emma Jones, 40, works within the NHS as an Anatomical Pathology Technologist. She is also trained in aesthetics and is the owner of Cheshire Clinical Beauty.
Emma moved to Altrincham in 2006 and subsequently lived in Brighton before moving back to Altrincham two weeks ago.
Emma has a 17-year-old daughter who she has joint custody of.
Emma has struggled with alcohol since she was a teenager. “It was called normal to get drunk and not remember the evening.”
“I was a single mother back then and had previously been involved in a couple of very violently abusive relationships. I was depressed and had nothing to do so would drink my evenings away.”
Emma discusses how drinking affected her and her social anxiety. “Over the years through boredom and loneliness, my alcohol intake got progressively worse. I suffered massively from crippling social anxiety, and they gradually got worse because alcohol makes any form of anxiety worse.”
“I didn’t put the two together for years and carried on drinking my anxieties away whilst also feeding them. It made me suicidal, I wasn’t the best mother, the best version of myself that I so desperately wanted to be.
Thinking back now it hurts most because I can’t imagine ever being in that horrid cycle again but also know how easily it can pick you back up and sweep you away in its false sense of security.”
Emma recalls how she began to realise drinking was becoming a problem “My partner kept bringing up the amount I was drinking. We would argue, I wouldn’t remember the previous evenings. I would always have good intentions of not going overboard with the number of drinks but would always drink so much more than I needed or wanted.
It’s not a nice feeling knowing your partner, daughter and friends are disappointed in you. That people were losing their trust in me. That my relationship was about to end if I didn’t seriously consider my lifestyle and the impact it was having on my loved ones.”
Emma remembers how drinking affected her and the people in her life. “My drinking almost ruined the most important romantic relationship I’ve had to date, with my partner last year, it’s only through his understanding and love that we’ve survived as a couple.”
Luckily, Emma was able to find a therapist and has been in therapy for the past year “Through that and with the support of my partner and close friends I have overcome a lot of my struggles”
“My therapist is now discharging me, and I have my last session next week. I am completely happy with how therapy has helped me and the support of those around me, my daughter, my best friend and my partner have all helped in so many ways that I don’t think they realise.
I couldn’t have been here right now and feeling this good and positive without their care, support and understanding. Some people don’t have any support around them so was another reason for the groups, to give people a hand to grab onto if they’re struggling too.”
To connect with people who have been through similar experiences as Emma, she has set up a Facebook group and hopes to connect with others.
Through this they try to go out and do sober based activities, having a good time with each other without the need to drink alcohol and do activities solely based on drinking.
“I’m tired of everything seemingly revolving around alcohol, whether that be social events, birthdays, Christmas, bank holidays, social media is now full of it. It’s everywhere, and I feel sometimes like I’m trapped by it.
I wanted to create safe spaces for sober people to connect and plan things. Questions I get asked a lot at any events are – Why aren’t you drinking? Can’t you have just one? What’s wrong with you, just get drunk with us, you’ll be fine.”
Emma finds she gets bored in pubs watching people drink themselves into oblivion so by creating groups like these, where you don’t have to drink, Emma can help herself and others to support one another.
“Through fun activities and real human sober connection we create good feelings within us that last rather than hangovers and anxiety.”
When thinking about alcohol and whether people need it to have a good time, Emma believes it’s “there are so many different types of drinkers that that’s a difficult question. You get problem drinkers who NEED a drink to even think about enjoying themselves. You get the drinkers that can take it or leave it. The drinkers can have just one or two and leave it there. The binge drinkers that one is never enough for (me) The drinkers that can pace themselves and last all night with no issues, and memory loss. The messy drunk who is on the floor dribbling due to not being able to pace themselves. The drinkers that have one glass of wine with a meal and that’s it.”
I think the media plays a massive part in how we view alcohol. It romanticises alcohol consumption and gets problem drinkers playing right into the alcohol companies’ hands. It’s a tragedy. I don’t understand the government letting it get advertised the way it does when it costs the NHS millions. I see it every day in my line of work. I find it quite triggering at times to see people on an advert sipping my favourite tipple or on a movie or tv programme, but I realised I must be responsible for my triggers which is another reason I created the group. Sober people will only interact socially sober, so it was a no-brainer.
Emma’s Altrincham group currently has 350 members. With a hugely positive response, she has created one in Macclesfield and one in Salford. They have 80-100 members in each. Emma engages with all three groups and speaks privately to members who reach out to her regularly, “I believe even discussing sobriety and impacts it can have can change mindsets so I’m all for that.
To connect with these people that I’d never met and be so open with them. I will go forward with these people and be friends for life. I appreciate every one of the people that turned up or reached out or even commented on posts. It’s all positivity at the end of the day.”
The activities Emma likes to do range from hiking, crafts, wildlife watching, reading and learning or trying new things.
“Since starting my sober journey I have become curious about a lot more things and a lot more tolerable of things and people. I’ve also lost a lot of fear that I had around certain things so I’m now pushing myself out of certain comfort zones to try things.
I Want to try cold water dipping, kayaking, and river swimming. I’ve always had a fear of water, but I’m determined to do it this year.”
Doing activities like this, reaching out and connecting to people like herself has had such a positive effect on Emma, and reaching out has helped not just her but other mindsets.
“Talking and activities help massively because you’re not sitting and telling yourself things that aren’t true. A person struggling with alcohol issues will often sit there alone fighting urges to not drink when they know they don’t want it deep down.
If these people have no friends or outside support then they will continue in this cycle of self-loathing, guilt for giving in and having that first drink, loneliness, boredom, and continue down the path of self-destruction.”
Emma wants to help as many people as she can now, she knows how good it feels, and now she can be in control.
“I want to pass that on to as many people who will listen and that will benefit from it, anyone who is struggling, or just sober curious, doesn’t even have to be a non-drinker through problematic drinking. Some people are just sober and that’s excellent.
Everyone is welcome.”