Years Fueled by the Alcohol Taskmaster

Like most drinkers, I gave alcohol many jobs in my 35+ year drinking career. As a typical teen, I was the epitome of self-consciousness.

With constant worry about not fitting in, I discovered Alcohol's Job #1 was magic elixir that masked my insecurities and made all the “I’m not fill in the blank-noughs” disappear, at least in the moment. My Type A, people-pleasing personality kept me focused on doing what was expected – excelling in school and working part time jobs to earn money for college. I partied my way through it to keep from crumbling under the pressure. I was the life-of-the-party girl.

Alcohol’s Jobs #2: stress-reliever and #3: inhibition-lowerer were solidified in those years.

Senior year of college, I became a motherless daughter. My world collapsed when Mom died. Losing my role model and closest confident changed my life's trajectory. The grief was intolerable. Suddenly, I had a new job for alcohol, #4: pain masker. I drank through job losses, failed relationships, and various cities around the country, which I tried on as home, after losing my touchstone. Those were rough years. Alcohol served as a reliable distraction.

Partying spilled over into grad school and the early days of my professional career...nightly happy hours where shop talk with the guys happened, amidst the two, three or more cocktails. It's just what's done; it's just part of the culture. Alcohol's Job #5: drink to meet professional expectations and societal norms. Traveling regionally to communities during the week as budding planning consultants and building a cabin up north on the weekends with our buddies kept me and my husband working hard and playing hard in the years leading up to our marriage and kids. They were great years, but steep professional learning curves and small town good ole boy networks gave alcohol its Job #6: work-related-anxiety reliever.

Job #7: celebration-enhancer accompanied dinners out, family holidays, vacations, sporting events, concerts, camping trips, weddings, baby showers, essentially every activity we enjoyed. There were always reasons to drink in an alcohol-saturated society where group-think tells us it's odd not to, but the luster was wearing thin. Negative side effects had been outweighing the benefits for years, and the "why do you keep doing this?" noise in my head was getting louder and harder to ignore.

The Moderation Game

​Pregnancy pauses and a couple other periods of abstinence in my 30s and 40s gave me glimmers of an alcohol-free life, but raising three young kids (while caring for aging parents) necessitated the drink. Countless appointments, lunches to pack, games to chauffeur to, and sidelines to sit. Birthday parties, summer camps to register, the bottomless stack of forms to fill out, seasonally outgrown clothes to rotate, pack, and store for the next kid. Etc. Etc. Despite sometimes feeling misunderstood or underappreciated, there was no greater reward than holding a small child in my arms or hearing wee voices light up with a new discovery. Living life through the eyes of a child is simply magic. But, Utterly Exhausting.

Alcohol's Job #8 – simultaneously stimulating, and calming, the exhausted parent. I put my professional aspirations on hold to focus solely on the kids and "alleviate dual role stress."

Ha. Incessant worry about my eventual return to career after time away was another well-worn drinking trigger.

Living Life on Life's Terms -- Finding AFreeLife

By the time I picked up Annie Grace's book in 2019, I'd probably "quit drinking" 500+ times -- each time, another data point -- getting me closer to seeing that I could not only live without it, but perhaps, maybe, just maybe, I might enjoy life more without it?!?!!

Today, Joy does all those jobs.

Since becoming alcohol-free

and amidst the unprecedented pandemic, I returned to paid employment in the often intimidating tech-saturated business world, as my kids began leaving the nest. I have since started my own business without the ole work-related-anxiety reducer crutch. In that first AF/pandemic year, I was also honored to be one of the two sole caretakers of my ailing best friend through a terminal illness. I grieve her loss, and deeply feel her abundant love, every day. No pain masking.

I also celebrate the joys and challenges of parenting and marriage to the fullest extent.

I stimulate, and calm, my inner exhausted parent with new tools in my kit. Daily walks with our beloved pandemic pup, trips to the gym, a yoga practice, and healthy eating help maintain my empowered emotional state. My passion for the outdoors, and love of reading, travel and exploration has only grown stronger. And hobbies? I'm quilting?!! I haven't sewn since Mom taught me lifetimes ago. I'm accessing more creativity and patience – traits I used to struggle to muster.

And all that fear about socializing without alcohol? Hogwash.

In my several alcohol free trips around the sun, I have thoroughly enjoyed every alcohol free holiday, ritual, event and activity that used to "require alcohol." Social gatherings are just as fun, MORE FUN actually, as I'm fully present to enjoy every second and every word of conversation. Sure, I've lost touch with some folks, who in retrospect were just drinking buddies, but the friendships that are substantive and based in common values, respect, and shared interests have only grown stronger. My closest friends still drink. I choose not to. No judgement. Simple as that. And, drum roll, the big bonus that I never envisioned – I now have a whole community of new friends – alcohol free friends around the globe – who I never would have been blessed to know had I stayed stuck. What an unimaginable gift.


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Our short lifetime is a gift.

Living AFreeLife is the greatest gift I've ever given myself.

I wouldn't trade it for anything.

If I can do it, trust me, you can, and I guarantee it won't disappoint. If you're Interested in learning more about my coaching practice and exploring how we can work together to best help you explore your deeply held beliefs, find clarity, change your mindset and live AFreeLife, schedule a free one hour, no-strings attached first session.

I look forward to hearing from you.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s up with your business name AFreeLife?

At AFreeLife Coaching we help you explore becoming AF (Alcohol Free) to empower your most joyful Free Life. Unlike alcohol cessation programs focused solely on sobriety, our goal is to eliminate alcohol’s role in your life entirely – even any fixation on its absence – so you no longer wonder, worry, or even think about it. Once alcohol is small and irrelevant, you can explore all that’s possible and truly live AFreeLife.

What if I just want to moderate my drinking; do I have to go completely alcohol-free?

Emphatically no. Everyone is in a different place with their relationship with alcohol and the life they are pursuing. If your goal is to moderate, that’s fine. You’ll learn tools and have support for that as well. There is no judgment, and there are no rules.

Can I participate in coaching if I've tried to quit drinking before and failed?

Absolutely, and believe me, you are not alone! Most people who come to AFreeLife Coaching have tried a variety of approaches, returned to drinking, and are ready to try something new. You’ve come to the right place!

How is AFreeLife Coaching different from AA and other programs?

At AFreeLife, we use grace, compassion, and science to help you understand your subconscious beliefs about the supposed benefits of alcohol and its role in your life. Together, we explore why alcohol is no longer serving you. Unlike approaches that rely on labels and willpower and focus on behavior change, with AFreeLife Coaching you will lose the desire to drink because it no longer holds any benefit. 

What if I’m not actually ready to take a break?

That is perfect! In fact, we discourage clients from taking a break right away (unless they’re truly ready). We’ve found that rather than trying to convince your brain that it’s ready to do something it isn’t, it is advantageous to continue drinking during the first couple of months of coaching while learning about the science and your beliefs about alcohol’s benefits. Then, if you’re ready to try a break and explore how it feels, we encourage you to experiment with our guided 30-day Reset Program. 

What happens if I “slip up” and take a drink?

AFreeLife coaching programs are about learning and growing. You do not have to be perfect, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you drink. The is no judgement or shame at our table. Consider it more data. Stay curious, keep an open mind, and continue questioning what you know about alcohol. The purpose of coaching is to get you to feel better. There is no one prescribed journey, and it is almost never linear.

Can I get support between sessions or after completing a coaching program?

Every AFreeLife client has 24/7 access to Coach Joy via Voxer. If you need additional support or an extra nudge for accountability, simply send a text or voice message, and she’ll get back to you right away. Hourly coaching sessions are also available between sessions, and Coach Joy happily supports clients’ ongoing navigation of obstacles and pursuit of other goals after any coaching program has been completed.

Is AFreeLife Coaching limited only to alcohol, or do you help people with other habits?

Coach Joy’s degree in physiological psychology; certifications in affective liminal psychology, mindfulness, and Amrita meditation; as well as her personal AF journey since 2019 all contribute to her sobriety and wellness coaching specialization. However, she is not limited to this focus and has successfully helped dozens of clients explore other challenges, relationships, and aspects of themselves in pursuit of their best lives.

Is a Discovery Call just a sales call, in disguise?

Experience has proven that without connection, coaching falls short. So, before we decide if AFreeLife Coaching is right for you, we need to see if we connect. We’re confident we can help you change your relationship with alcohol and achieve your goals, but Joy’s personality and style are not for everyone. So, before we decide which of AFL coaching programs will work best, you need to decide if I’m the right coach. If not, we parts ways, and I’ll happily recommend a coach with whom you might better connect.

Coaching costs a lot; AA and other programs are free. Do you offer free coaching?

1:1 coaching is an important decision and not a small investment, but no client has yet to tell me it wasn’t worth every penny. Consider how much you would spend on alcohol over the next year, and then consider any secondary costs (everything from late night munchies to a job loss, divorce lawyer or anything in between). More importantly, what is it worth to find freedom, real freedom? We do offer several free guides to support your journey, regularly run promotions, and can structure payment options. Please just ask.



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Joy Stieglitz is a certified Sobriety and Wellness Coach who specializes in helping sandwich generation people change their relationship with alcohol to find true freedom and joy in their life. Alcohol Free since November 2019, Joy brings valuable insights into her practice. AFreeLife Coaching is a safe space where all are welcome to explore their desire for health, wellness, and personal growth regardless of where they are or want to go on their journey with alcohol, and regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or any other social construct.