Have you explored drinking alcohol after losing faith in Mormonism? Have you or a loved one struggled with alcohol abuse during or after your faith journey?

In this Mormon Stories Podcast episode my dear friend Brittany Holley opens up about her journey with alcohol use and abuse after a Mormon faith crisis.

Part 1 – Brittany shares her Mormon background:

Part 2 – Brittany shares how alcohol entered her life:

Part 3 – Brittany shares the impact alcohol has had on her life:

Part 1

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Part 2

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Part 3

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  1. Square Peg October 11, 2019 at 10:52 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for being willing to share your story! This is a much needed discussion. Can’t thank you enough!

    • Panhandle Rag October 11, 2019 at 12:11 pm - Reply

      I’m just beginning the first part. Brittany, were you in the Mt. Vernon Stake or the next one toward Bellingham? I am 74 years old and was in the Mt. Vernon Stake stake off and on from 1971 through 1993. My daughter, now 43, missed her last year from being a graduate of Friday Harbor High School as I was. My family and I moved there from California when I was 9 in 1954. I went to college at WSU and then moved back after converting to Mormonism in the early 70’s. I was the only person, though I was a non-Mormon, in my graduating class in high school who didn’t drink. I was always afraid I would become an alcoholic like my dad and all his brothers. So I never touched a drop.

      But to finance my college I began working on our very successful family fishing boat in Alaska, where drinking is a real way of life. My dad was on the boat my first 2 years and I can remember him, as our cook, filling beer bottles with water and dropping them over the side into the ocean so no one would know but all crew members knew he drank. But still no drinking for me, but as Brittany mentioned, it is a community and so by the time I was 20 I was into drinking and heavily, having passed out on small village docks. I even worked in a bar (They were saloons just like in the old west.). and being encouraged by the establishment to dry different cocktails, I became to love the taste of mixed drinks, but not beer. That taste would come after I got married. My wife still talks of those times when she was afraid I would become an alcoholic. More friends and more drinking in pizza parlors. I later learned that I would have been classed as a borderline alcoholic.

      Then I moved to Idaho and was thrilled because Coors beer was not found in Washington but one could buy it in the mountains west, In Idaho. From a previous experience in Washington, I asked for the missionaries and I threw my last 6-pack of Coors in the garbage, never to drink for 43 years, until I read “Passing the Heavenly Gift”, reading Mormon Think, and listening to Mormon Stories. Down the rabbit hole! After my last sacrament meeting, I quickly bought a 24-can case of Keystone Light Beer but it took me 6 years to finish that case. My wife and I have since tried wine but do not find it appealing. She occasionally drinks rum but is only slightly through the second fifth is over 7 years. I occasionally try a new beer but only with a meat meal. Bought a 6-pack of beer two weeks ago but haven’t touched it. Kind of like hard cider but here again rarely consume it.

      I understand the pull of drinking, having grown up with it, but of my time in the Church, staying more honest, adopting my daughter, and losing the desire to drink are the only good things I took from the Church. But being so long a member, I find it extremely difficult to find a community, drinkers or non-drinkers. Maybe if I ventured into a group of drinkers I would have Brittany’s problem. My wife and I know of no one in our situation in our region. There are inactives but didn’t stop for my reasons. We live 8 miles from a town of 700 but with 5 active tbm families within a half mile of us, I find it difficult for friendships, only criticism. Brittainy’s situation would be rough. I look forward to listening to all the podcasts.

  2. Kirsty Choffin October 11, 2019 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Loved your entire story! Thank you! ( I am also an L and D nurse) ( now NICU) It is so interesting to hear others paths! I also loved that you shared the story not blaming anyone, not shaming anyone, being so frank and honest , not making excuses, and speaking respectfully about the church.

  3. Tue Giac October 11, 2019 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    Thank you for doing this very important interview. After losing my faith I have leaned on the teachings of Buddhism to stay away from anything that would affect my ability to see things clearly. It takes courage to get through life with a straight head. Unfortunately our oldest daughter suffers from severe anxiety and has turned to alcohol for relief. Her alcoholism has been extremely stressful for our family, especially because she has a young daughter.

    Al-Anon support group has saved my sanity. I thank God for this support for families of addicts. It has also helped me to have a new relationship with my higher power. When I started going to Al-Anon two years ago, I was extremely angry at my daughter and even angrier at God. Fortunately Al-Anon has restored my faith in both .

    Thanks again for doing this important interview

  4. Will October 12, 2019 at 2:39 am - Reply

    Hi. I hate to be a downer, but many people with an alcohol abuse problem are at very high risk of relapse when they are just months into sobriety. And when they do relapse it can get progressively worse.

    I’m an ex-mo and this made AA very hard for me at times, but if you or your loved ones end up needing help please reach out and find some kind of meeting/support group.

    Not everyone can beat this alone. Anyone reading this who is struggling, it may take more than literature and a good attitude. If you think you need help, find a meeting or get treatment. You’ll be doing yourself a huge favor if you take action instead of procrastinating.


    • Panhandle Rag October 12, 2019 at 2:03 pm - Reply

      Some people on Facebook writing comments on how drinking isn’t bad for everyone! Be very cautious regarding drinking. My much older brother and wife drank a lot, being in the commercial fishing business. They, like Brittany, were part of continuous parties, but my brother died recently at the age of 90 and never became an alcoholic. My dad, on the other hand, at first drank with co-workers in a union and gradually began drinking in secret mostly and at home. Eventually my mom got tired of fighting over the issue and began drinking with him in her 70’s. I remember AA and Alonon and my dad telling people, “I am an alcoholic, “but it didn’t stop his drinking and he drank nearly to the day he died of cancer. In a way I guess maybe it’s good that I didn’t find a community. I may have gone down the road Brittany did. People should listen very carefully to Brittany’s story.

  5. Tracy Austin October 17, 2019 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    Wonderful podcast and highlights the dangers of alcoholism very well and shows that it can happen to anyone. My family has a history of alcohol misuse and it didn’t end well for a few. Glad you are on the road to recovery. You can do this. You’ve coped with a lot and you are a warrior. xx

    • Brittany Holley October 25, 2019 at 2:45 am - Reply

      Thank you so much Tracy. My hope wasn’t to instill fear in people but get them curious about their own use or curious about learning more to make a more informed decision for themselves. I am sorry that it did not end well for some of your family. Not many of us, if we have loads of non drinkers in the family, really see the potential for harm. People that do often abstain for that very reason.

  6. John October 21, 2019 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    As a TBM, I never learned anything about drinking and I disregarded anything taught in school because it didn’t seem to apply to me. One of the most helpful things I participated in as a new Exmo was an “alcohol education” class, wherein we learned CDC statistics, state laws, cautions, tolerances, alcohol content, etc. This class was taught by a trained bartender who also educated us on the major types of beer and spirits and customs such as buying, ordering, eating, metabolizing, regulating, arranging a designated driver, recognizing effects, etc. This helped me recognize red flags, helped me “catch up” on vital missing knowledge, but also kept me from being frightened by horror stories as the norm. Having been drinking for 5 short years now, I have never experienced a blackout or hangover and have never driven drunk or arrived at work intoxicated. Perhaps adding an interview with someone qualified to share this kind of information would be a balanced addition and be helpful– to those contemplating their first drink as well as to those who would like to understand the drinking culture from a distance.

    • Brittany Holley October 25, 2019 at 2:39 am - Reply

      Thank you for bringing up how important education can be. I think its awesome that you took the initiative and had the self awareness to learn more. At the end of the day knowledge is going to get you a lot farther on being up to speed on all the various things to know about alcohol. I would highly encourage people to do something similar. People will have a very personal decision to make and i think it is critical to evaluate the risk involved when even contemplating the use of a substance. Also the question of “Why” should be extensively evaluated. Not many people look at the why, nor do we tend to look at how much we allow culture to get the better of us and influence us in a direction that actually may not be one we would make if we really dug further in to the effects of alcohol on our health. Alcohol is a drug and it is addictive and has over time health consequences. Much of the influence we let sway our thinking comes from big alcohol, its marketing strategy etc. They want you in. they want the control, just as much as any other advertiser of product for consumer use. Any reputable study will say that no amount of alcohol is good for you. Many times I have seen studies go by claiming it is good for you, the antioxidants are the benefit of red wine etc… Look at the source. They want you to keep in. What they don’t tell you is the amount of risk involved. I would not call myself a chemically dependent person on alcohol, most people wont actually fall into that part of the spectrum. I would also tell people to look into the physiology of how it works on your body. I was very surprised by what I learned in my own research and journey. Tolerance is a thing. It builds slowly over time and is also dependent on how much you drink. It may be a good thing to ask an expert on the risks, studies etc of alcohol, have them come and lay it all out. the information is already out there, people should know about it and this is a great platform for introducing it to people contemplating this choice in their life: to drink or not to? People should fully investigate it. People who are drinking should try a 30 day challenge and see just how difficult or perhaps easy it is to give up. There is more than physical dependency, there is social dependency, emotional dependency and psychological dependency.

      Something I have observed to be interesting when it comes to alcohol, which is in fact poison to the body, is that we often these days, people are becoming super health conscious. We want organic, non GMO, we don’t want harmful pesticides or anything else harmful entering our body. We as a culture get upset when we hear of this stuff going on, yet we DON’T question a drink of flavored fuel. Its food for thought. I absolutely respect every persons choice to do as they like. My experience has taught me a lot about drinking and sobriety has taught be a lot as well. Researching it fully, from a scientific and health side have brought me to the conclusion as well that it is not for me and it had long term consequences on health and I am no longer willing to consume it. I hope people take my story and their own research as a guide along their path.

  7. Staci October 22, 2019 at 9:29 am - Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. I was hoping you could list he books and podcasts you mentioned throughout the podcast. I caught some of them but not all. Thanks. I’ve been diving into books like the untethered soul, bene brown and would love to add what has helped you on your more secular spiritual journey. Thanks!

    • Brittany Holley October 25, 2019 at 2:07 am - Reply

      Staci, Some of the Books I listed beyond The Untethered Soul and Brene Brown are
      1) “A New Earth” and “The Power Of Now” both by Eckhart Tolle
      2) “Loving What Is” By Byron Katie
      3) “The Tao Te Ching” By Lao Tzu (Stephen Mitchell translation)
      4) “The Seat of the Soul” by Gary Zukov
      5) “Shamless: A Sexual Revolution” By Nadia Bolz-Weber
      6) “Attachment” By Amir Levine, Rachel S. F. Heller

      Thank you for your comment!

  8. Cory Jorgensen November 20, 2019 at 10:22 am - Reply

    Thanks for this important interview. I have not experienced the pressure from ex-Mormons to drink, and am sorry to hear that this is a phenomenon. Drinking has to be one’s own decision after careful thought.

    As a side note: John, I am surprised you drink coffee (not judging, though)! This is the first I have heard you mention it on Mormon Stories.

  9. Melissa Jo Wixom-Fisk December 25, 2019 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    Hi sweet girl.
    This is your Aunt Melissa.
    I went through everything imaginable after leaving the Mormon church. I am so so proud of you for your transparency. My mom always loved me and supported me and never judged me. She was pressured to tell others differently. Know I am here for you no matter what. Ill tell you one thing, your grandpa is cheering you on all the way. He was amazing but he lost the addiction battle babe. He was and still is my number one. No judgement ever from me. I am here if you need me. I love who you are.

    • Brittany Holley March 9, 2020 at 12:44 pm - Reply

      Omg what a way to hear from you Aunt Melissa 💞. Thank you for reaching out! I really appreciate your words of encouragement. It means a lot to me. Sorry for such a late response, I had not checked in on this thread for a while. I would love to be in touch. brittholley@gmail.com

      • Melissa Jo Wixom-Fisk July 27, 2020 at 7:22 pm - Reply

        I just saw this….
        Call me or text. I dont do any social media. Kinda old school.
        Your Auntie Melissa!!

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