Shaun Palmer’s Story: From Survival to Revival and Beyond

Shaun Palmer defeated alcohol when the odds were stacked against him. Alcohol provided the anaesthetic he was looking for at a young age to numb and escape from the trauma of growing up with domestic violence and a father with a sever alcoholic use disorder in the family home. He quickly moved out and immersed himself in his new career in the hospitality industry and then later in the fly-in-fly-out mining industry where he found drinking was entrenched and revered. Following a family tragedy, Shaun miraculously turned his life around. His sheer focus and dedication to becoming sober is compelling. Shaun’s story may have started with heartbreak, but it now certainly speaks of revival and joy of the life he has created. He provides direct insight into a male’s experience of transforming from a big drinker into an alcohol-free man in Australian culture. It certainly wasn’t all plain sailing and he intentionally altered where and how he socialised in order to succeed on his sober mission but any losses have clearly been overshadowed by all the gains. Please tune in for this wonderful and informative episode.

Shaun Palmer is the founder and coach of Revive Sobriety Coaching and can be found at:

Lisa Greenberg’s Perfectly Imperfect Sobriety Story

Join us as we talk with the glorious perfectly imperfect Lisa Greenberg about her alcohol addiction and her path to sobriety and beyond.  As a highly sought-after speaker, fitness consultant, columnist and founder of SOBEROBICS, Lisa’s passion for inspiring, elevating and empowering women truly resonates. Her energy and enthusiasm for life is contagious. In this episode, Lisa is refreshingly honest and open about how dark her battle with alcohol got for her. We discuss the secrecy and dishonesty that often accompanies addiction including hiding bottles and lying to family and friends about the extent of her drinking; how Lisa believed that alcohol allowed her to be the party girl and that without it she “would have nothing else to add” and that “no one would want to talk to her” and how at rock bottom her self-loathing loomed so large that she chose to sleep on the concrete floor as she believed she no longer deserved her bed.  In recovery, Lisa learned to like the girl staring back at her in the mirror and embrace the fact that she no longer needs or wants to be the party girl. Her experience has propelled her into a life full of gratitude and service to others. This episode is essential listening for those of us who are seeking reminders as to why we are living or yearn to live an alcohol-free life and who are looking for some hope and inspiration to reach outwards, onwards and upwards.

All Things Intoxicated with Faye Lawrence

In this episode we talk to Faye Lawrence. Faye is founder of Untoxicated (Australia’s largest alcohol free social community). Faye is a Master Grey Area Drinking Coach and is also a TEDx Speaker! Faye discusses all things untoxicated and talks about Faye’s journey, kids, losing and gaining friends, finding your inner child, self forgiveness, sober dating and more! Join us for some conversation, some laughs and some inspiration.

Alcohol Use: Red Flags

Red flags

Alcohol temporarily masks feelings of anxiety, nerves and doubt but becomes problematic when you start using it to make you feel “normal” in stressful, traumatic and emotionally uncomfortable moments.  You’ll start believing that alcohol helps you feel better and when this happens the habit and belief is formed and this is reinforced over time.

5 Red Flags to consider

  • Are you regularly waking up at 3am after drinking the night before? Alcohol provides 20 minutes of relief but your brain then releases stress hormones (adrenalin and cortisol) to counteract the depressive effects to stimulate and maintain homeostasis. These hormones stay in your system much longer than dopamine.  Hello 3am wake-up! Feelings of unease, restlessness and anxiety last for days.
  • Self-medication: Your alcohol use can quickly escalate if you are using alcohol to self-medicate anxiety or depression. Plus alcohol exacerbates these symptoms. Drinking alcohol is like pouring fuel on anxiety and stress.
  • Moderation fails: Do you often fail to moderate your drinking? You go out to have two or three and end up having a lot more? It’s common and it’s not your fault. Alcohol is physically and emotionally addictive but perhaps it’s time to try differently not harder.
  • Are you no longer enjoying activities without alcohol? After years of drinking, alcohol lowers your normal dopamine release and increases your stress hormones even when you are not drinking. Frightening right? Alcohol takes away your ability to experience pleasure and joy in the small things. Think of those activities you used to enjoy, perhaps with your kids? This encourages you to drink more to feel “normal”.
  • General risks to be aware of: Did you start drinking quite young? Is there a “problem drinker” in your extended family? Did your drinking increase after a traumatic event? Do you find you charge up and get more energy during a night of heavy drinking while others fade away? Keep these factors in mind as these things elevate your risks of developing an alcohol use disorder.

The way out

We have so many more options now to help us drink less. Read a quit-lit book or listen to an alcohol-related podcast and learn what alcohol does to your brain and why you drink it. Join a 30-day online alcohol course designed to support you to drink less. In my experience the best ones are those that help you to reframe your beliefs around alcohol so you no longer desire it. Also, find a counsellor or coach with alcohol qualifications to get one-on-one support.

*Consult your doctor as soon as possible if you are worried you are physically addicted. About 10% of the drinking population falls into this category. Handy to know: there are medically-supervised options to confidentially detox safely at home under supervision.


Alcohol use can sneak up on you and you can find yourself stuck in an overwhelming drinking cycle. Alcohol is addictive and is marketed to appeal to your vulnerabilities to “help you” feel relaxed, confident and successful. It is not your fault but perhaps it’s time to turn the trajectory around. Drinking less will profoundly improve your life. There is support for you out there if this is something you would like to achieve.


Finding your voice to ditch the booze! 

Finding your voice to ditch the booze!

I was incredibly lucky to be part of a group listening to the very wise Ann Dowsett Johnston, the author of the amazing book Drink, this morning and we discussed how finding and expressing your voice can be so helpful in recovery.

Ann mentioned that she believes our bodies hear our voices and I believe this is so true.

Many people, particularly women, reach for alcohol to find their voice, to be heard and express their opinions.

I know I did. I am short, I have a quiet voice and was quite shy growing up but I had a lot to say. Alcohol made me louder, certainly less eloquent, but confident. This set up a pattern that lasted decades and formed beliefs that I needed something external to me to express myself.

Does this resonate with you? This feeling that you are not enough can be grounded in thoughts around whether you fit in, belong or have meaningful things to say that others want to listen to. It can start in childhood. Also, expressing our voice is integrally connected with discovering who we are, feeling comfortable in our own skin and developing into the adults we want to become.

Were you given an opportunity to express your opinion? Were you encouraged to debate topics and be heard?  You may come from a loud family and there may not have room for you to speak and be heard.  Or your voice may have been criticised, shouted down or ignored.

It can be really helpful in recovery to find meaningful ways of expressing yourself and do this as much as you can, including book clubs, connecting with friends, dancing to music, painting, writing.

Many use alcohol to find their voice but finding effective ways to use your voice can be instrumental in losing alcohol.

Isabella xo

Kids & Socialising: My very very basic tips

Kids & Socialising

My very very basic tips

After school yesterday, my 13-year-old mentioned that at drama practice a few girls had asked for his mobile number.  He said he couldn’t remember it (which was true). He was a little thrilled, a little scared and a little frustrated as he just wanted to be friends and now he felt it was a little awkward going to drama practice.

Anyway, I’m glad he mentioned it as it is nice to know where he is at and what is going on out there. I was also happy that he wanted a little guidance going forward.

On this front, I wasn’t very helpful. I just asked a few open questions and said that I was always here to help workshop a response he feels happy with if it happens again.

On the inside I was like, “oh, its happening… this social thing has hit a new level…!”

It was just another indicator that independence and all that that brings on the social front is calling loudly in our household.

I have created some very basic household rules with my kids around our expectations when they are socialising outside of school just to make sure we are all on the same page and I share them with parents who are keen to have the discussion with their kids about alcohol.

These are just a basic template that can be useful as starting point.  I list these in the full knowledge that everybody’s household is different and that my tips are not going to suit everyone.

I also know that these rules do not guarantee that there will be no bumps in the road (I’d be silly if I did!) but I do believe it is incredibly helpful in starting the socialising conversation and highlighting to both of you that this is teamwork.

These are my very very basic tips:

  1. Create the rules together:

Create your household rules (or your expectations with your kids around socialising) with your kids.  Pull out a notepad and pen or butchers’ paper and do it together.  It only needs to take 30 minutes but collaborate and include them in the creation of them so they know them and own them. It also opens the door for them to feel like they can always talk about socialising rules with you.  It creates mutual respect, trust and openness, the ingredients for good connection.  (PS – I would go in knowing what your rules are but be flexible to tailor it a little to include their suggestion).

  1. 3 short & simple rules:

Create 3 short and simple household rules.  Ours are:

  • We always need to know and be happy with the details of where you are going, who you are with, if parents are supervising and how you are getting home. Plus you need to be contactable (have your phone on!)
  • Socialising is important but it is also teamwork between us and you in terms of making sensible decisions and keeping us informed of the details
  • You can come to us with anything and tell us anything that happened when you are out and about and we will react calmly in the moment, check the facts and talk to you about our response. If there is a safety issue then of course we need to do what we believe we need to do.
  1. Be flexible with your rules as they get older:

Be flexible. Your rules for a 13 year old will be different for a 15 year old and so on.

Good luck out there in the socialising wilderness!

If you would like some additional tips on how to talk to your kids specifically about alcohol:


Teens & Alcohol with Paul Dillon

In this episode we talk with Paul Dillon of Drugs and Alcohol Research and Training Australia (DARTA) all about teens and alcohol.  Paul has been working in the area of drug and alcohol education for over 30 years both nationally and internationally and is also the author of ‘Teenagers, Alcohol and Drugs’ and host of the sensational 5-part pod series for parents called Doing Drugs With Paul Dillon.  Paul is also a legend in Bella’s household! We discuss what parents can do to reduce the risks associated alcohol when it comes to their teens, how to create household rules around alcohol that their teens will be more inclined to follow, whether it is wise facilitate undertake drinking in the family setting and a whole lot more.  This is a ripper of an episode and one that we invite all parents and carers of teens and (up and coming teens) to put on their pods-to-listen-to-list!

Kids & Alcohol – Good news: More kids are choosing not to drink

More Australian students between the age of 12 – 17 years old are choosing not to drink!*

1 in 3 students in this age bracket have never consumed alcohol.  This compares to 1 in 10 in 1999.

This is terrific news indeed! Non-drinking is increasingly becoming an option that more students are feeling comfortable to choose. Could alcohol be becoming “uncool”?! I hope so.

As a mum to 2 teenage boys I am excited by what these stats show and it is great news for those of this age that prefer to opt out of drinking.

This news also reinforces current recommendations  to parents to refrain from encouraging “safe drinking” of our teens in the family setting but rather to delay underage consumption as long as possible.  They may in fact be opting out and that is a great thing to support.

Those that do choose to drink however tend to do so in years 9 and 10 with a concerning number binge drinking at risky levels. (Also surveys are yet to be released around the impact that COVID had on this cohort.)

Preparing our kids for their inevitable exposure to alcohol is a good idea from as young as 10 years old and reading up on how to support our teens as they approach the year nine stage can help us parents feel that we are not battling this alone. It takes a village!

More information

For more information on how to talk to your kids about alcohol:



* Survey information viewed at

* Guerin & White (2017) ASSAD 2017 Statistics & Trends: Australian Secondary Students’ Use of Tobacco, Alcohol, Over-the-counter Drugs, and Illicit Substances

New Blog: Going Full Circle

Going Full Circle

The core reasons why you drink will be the core things you need to work on to break free.

Seems obvious right? Well, it is but it isn’t and it wasn’t for me until I was free from alcohol and reflecting on the whole nightmare of it all that was my early 40’s.  And it often all starts in childhood.

There are 4 themes that I can pin-point that were present in my life since my early teen years:

  1. lack of confidence
  2. need to find my tribe
  3. desire for my voice and opinion to be expressed, and
  4. a low simmering of mild anxiety,

all of which I drank alcohol to overcome.

I don’t think this is too uncommon. Everybody reaches for alcohol for one reason or other.

I had to tackle these 4 themes head-on in order to successfully become alcohol free.

What’s more unbeknown to me at the time, alcohol exacerbated these 4 things! It tricked me into believing I was not enough with it. It took away my ability to be wholly present and connect meaningfully. It made my voice loud and confused and it added fuel to my anxiety.

So insidious is alcohol’s addictive nature that it can make you think you need it for 101 different reasons that you don’t know of until you find yourself trying to untangle yourself from it.  Full circle!

Going full circle can sometimes mean going right back to where it all started – high school or university or where you were when alcohol became a constant crutch for you.

And slowly the untanglement begins and you can emerge stronger and happier than ever.

It’s worth it!

So what are your themes?

Next steps

If you would like some support to drink less, book in for a free 30-minute introductory call and let’s see if we are a good fit.  Book here.

Isabella xo

Dr Chris Davis, Clean Slate Clinic

Today Meg & Bella are incredibly lucky to be joined by Dr Chris Davis, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of The Clean Slate Clinic to discuss The Clinic’s innovative and highly acclaimed Telehealth program that supports Australians struggling with alcohol dependence to safely undergo alcohol detox from home.