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Quit Lit: Storytelling Just Got More Sober

Quit Lit

Quit Lit: Storytelling Just Got More Sober

We’re not kidding ourselves. We expect many men will be tempted to close this window the moment they see the phrase Quit Lit. After all, it takes but a nanosecond to source its origin, especially for those who think aloud. Quitting Quit Lit before you know the whole story though would be a mistake. Because while the subgenre may indeed be a sober byproduct of Chick Lit, its concerns transcend all genders.

In other words, those concerns concern you.

No, not “you too.” You. A rose is a rose, no matter how it smells. So is a drunk. And drunks all have the same problem.

It’s called drinking.

“At some point, it made sense to carry airline shots in my purse — just in case. Sometimes (especially when working on a deadline) I holed up in my apartment for days on end, drinking from morning until I passed out.”

That’s Holly Whitaker. Make that purse a backpack and one would never know those words came from a woman. They did though. In fact, they’re pulled from a book entitled Quit Like a Woman (The Dial Press).


“Life was too sharp, too painful, too real and too loud when I was sober. Drinking softened the edges and blurred the clarity.”

Sound like anyone you know? Yourself perhaps? Well, it isn’t. It’s Catherine Gray, culled from The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober.

How about this line?

“Giving up drinking felt like an incredible sacrifice, like the loss of a close friend.”

Nope. That wasn’t an eavesdrop either. It was Annie Grace. From a book called This Naked Mind.

All three of the above “memoir-cum-motivational guides” were keenly gone over by Leslie Alderman in The Washington Post. Had they not been, it’s unlikely this you’d be reading about it here. See, up until Alderman, we didn’t even know about Quit Lit. Now we’re hoping our knowledge will help save someone’s day.

And their life.

Quit Lit Has to Come from Somewhere

When Alderman isn’t offering advice via The Washington Post (or The New York Times), she’s working with adults and couples as a psychotherapist. And it was from her patients that she learned about Quit Lit. These patients “were starting to become concerned about the amount they drank,” she writes, and “are recognizing that alcohol is not their friend.”

Apparently, there’s enough Quit Lit to not only “acquire the quippy category label,” but to actually impact its target audience. As the CDC found — and as Alderman points out — the percentage of women who considered themselves heavy drinkers fell a fraction from 2019 to 2021. Considering the “70 percent increase in yearly alcohol-related emergency department visits” which preceded that reduction plus the fact that 2021 was Peak Covid and, well, you’ve got a very positive fraction.

It’s also a pretty clear indicator of Quit Lit’s origins. Someone had to put those titles atop the bestseller lists. And it’s quite likely said someone was among the raft of women who’d considered themselves heavy drinkers and ended up in emergency rooms.

Evidence of a Man

Quit Lit might be decidedly aimed at and driven by women, but there’s evidence its origin story also includes a man. A relatively famous man, in fact, at least among the cessation set.

That man’s name is Allen Carr. And both advice-expert Alderman and bestseller Whitaker were driven away from the bar by Carr’s Quit Drinking Without Willpower. Alderman said she read Carr’s book in “two quick sittings and resolved to have a Dry January [right then and there].” And we can’t think of a better testament to its effectiveness.

Then again the British-born Carr’s long-running Easyway method is reportedly the most successful stop-smoking program ever invented (though Wiki says it was modeled after the U.S. hospital-based Living Free Program for Smokers). Wiki also says it boasts a boatload of celebrity endorsers, including everyone’s favorite AA acolyte, Anthony Hopkins.

Woman, man or otherwise, Quit Lit doesn’t discriminate. How could it? The “author’s battle with the bottle” is common to everybody. So are “the ways in which society has duped us into thinking that alcohol is a cool way to deal with life’s ups and downs.”

We all know better.

It’s not all gender neutral

Quit Lit isn’t all gender neutral though. It can’t be. Because the ways in which alcohol effects women and men can differ greatly.

Studies indicate that women tend to drink to reduce anxiety, depression and other mood states, while men tend to drink to increase positive feelings, said Sherry McKee, a professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.

McKee’s “been studying gender differences in addiction for 25 years,” writes Alderman. So the professor should know.

So should George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Dr. Koob told Alderman that “the gap between men and women’s alcohol use has been narrowing on every metric,” and its been narrowing for the past half century. The good doctor also said “it takes less alcohol for women to suffer from alcohol induced liver inflammation, cardiovascular disease, memory blackouts, hangovers, and certain cancers, than men.” Then again, we all probably already suspected as much.

For anyone with any sliver of doubt though Alderman provides a link to someone else who should know. That is, a certain Aaron M. White, a Biological Psychologist (Neuroscientist) at the NIAAA. White’s findings on AUD and gender are as revealing as they are alarming. They’re also far too comprehensive to start citing here. The takeaway though is that so far as alcohol is concerned, women are rapidly catching up to men. And this isn’t a field where women want parity.

The Message of Quit Lit

Alderman says The Naked Mind “dispels the myths about alcohol — that you need it to be more confident, social, and fun; that it tastes great; that it helps us fit in — so we are no longer driven to drink by faulty assumption.” And that’s a great roundabout way to describe Quit LIt itself.

One of the most salient selling points is that these writers are seeking to flip the script for others just as they’ve done for themselves. Like Carr’s Easyway, which only employs graduates of the program, the Quit Lit contingent have all been there and done that. And it’s a whole lot easier to follow someone who’s worn your shoes.

What about you? Are you ready to follow someone to the sober side of life? Do you know someone who’s seeking a softer, easier way? It’s out there, you know. Quit Lit proves it. Healing Properties can prove it too. All you’ve got to do is give us a call.

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