On September 12, event producer extraordinaire April Wozny will be hosting a special event as part of Irisa’s Pretty Elevated Pop-Up: The New Clean.

After facing her own battles with alcoholism and addiction, Wozny is passionate about creating dialogue and community around sobriety that is inclusive, accessible, and relatable. Building sober confidence and energy is something she works on daily. Through the power of sharing experiences and stories, she hopes to empower her community to be confident in their sobriety or explore a sober-curious lifestyle. Since embarking on her own clean and sober journey, Wozny’s life has become abundant in more ways than she could have imagined.

Wozny has been sober since August 12, 2015, and will be opening up about her journey in an intimate and informal evening along with Casie Stewart and Yamikani Msosa. 

We caught up with her this week. 

SDTC: Why did you want to put on this event?

AW: Irisa, the cannabis company, has a pop-up at Stackt Market called #PrettyElevated. The Pretty Elevated collective is proud to host a series of educational workshops this summer focused on building community and supporting Canadian women entrepreneurs. When I was approached to host a panel, I thought this would be the perfect time and platform to talk about sobriety and sober curiosity! We decided to call it The New Clean. Looking at our relationship with alcohol and consumption is a hot topic these days, and sobriety/sober curiosity is a growing trend, which I am thrilled about! Statistically there is a decline in alcohol sales and a growing movement with alcohol-free bars, dance parties, spirits, etc. Slowly but surely, the sober community is publicly growing, which means we are getting closer to the stigma getting smaller and smaller. This event is important to me because I find a lot of people are *thinking* about sobriety but don’t know where to start. I’d like to be able to facilitate a conversation in a safe, inclusive, and relatable space where we talk about that sober life and how to get there. Really, I just want womxn to build that sober confidence and energy that’s within them and know that a fun, fulfilling life is waiting out there!

Not everyone on the panel identifies with experiencing an alcohol-use disorder. Why was this important to you?

Yes! Yamikana and I are sober; meanwhile, Casie is sober curious. It’s important to have a panel of varying degrees of sobriety to show that everyone’s path is differently their own. I’d like to preface by saying that you don’t need to identify as an alcoholic to be sober curious. You might be able to handle your own shit by having a drink here and there and simply not want to drink anymore. For me, I know that I can’t have “just one drink.”

What did your recovery look like in the first month, and what does it look like today?

HA! Like I said, everyone’s path is different, so what I went through in my first month of recovery doesn’t mean the same for you. But I am here to share my story in hopes that people feel like they can relate and know that they are not alone.

If I am to be fully transparent and honest, my first month was hell. It sucked. It was awful. It blew. I was a daily blackout drinker who fell on her knees sobbing each night because I could not stop drinking. You see, I started drinking at the age of 14. My alcoholism progressed throughout the years. I was soooo good at drinking. Too good, in fact. Alcohol became my best friend, my cloak, my smoke & mirrors. My boozy party-girl persona was large and in-charge, while in reality I was secretly in deep agonizing pain, stewing in my own shit with my demons by my side. I was 100% dependent on alcohol. So to take away my crutch that was alcohol—that left me in such a raw and vulnerable state. I didn’t know how to function without alcohol. I didn’t even know who I was. I was shell-shocked. Honestly, who was I without alcohol? I had depended on it for 16 years. I grew up with it.

But, I had an army of support because I realized that I was no longer alone. I had the help of an addictions counsellor, Alcoholics Anonymous, a psychiatrist, spiritual gurus, family and friends. I typically am a person who doesn’t ask for help. But because I was so fucked up, I really went full tilt with the support because I didn’t know my head from my ass and truly, I was desperate. I hit rock bottom and white flagged so hard I was screaming for help. I knew that I didn’t want to drink ever again and I knew I couldn’t do it on my own because had I been able to, I would have stopped. There is so much power in community and for that I am forever grateful. It was the people who helped show me the way to get sober.

Now looking back, that first month was one of the most critical times in my life, which, in hindsight, was so beautiful because that was the marker of my journey towards growth on all personal levels: mental, emotional, spiritual, you name it. Sure, the personal work can be tough, but you know what? I’m not nearly as fucked up as I was before. My anxiety has reduced significantly. I no longer want to die. I have been able to return to existing relationships or create new ones that are meaningful. I am fully present in all that I do. I feel, I see, I experience everything. What a gift! Before I was just floating through space like a chronically hungover zombie, and now I have a deeper sense of who I am, my purpose, and now am part of society. How refreshing! Holy shit—I am a functioning human being!

Some people think sobriety isn’t fun. What would you like to say about that?

HAHAHA! Ooooh…I would like to say a lot of things. Let me spin it this way: my life is abundant in more ways than I could have imagined. Everyone is going on about wanting to have experiences these days. You want an experience? Try it sober! Try being fully awake and present. I triple dog dare you. I actually have more fun now than when I was drinking (I’m talking all levels of drunk: little, medium, lots). I am aware of what conversations I’m having, I experience everything real-time, what I do is real and authentic. Being fully present is the best bang for your buck you’ll ever get. Nothing is wasted (literally and figuratively). Bonus: I don’t wake up with a hangover. Hot damn, it feels good to be in control.

What can people expect from the evening?

A community of people who are all there to explore what the meaning of sobriety and sober curiosity is, sober firsts (sober dating, sober sex and sober socializing) and what life looks like without alcohol! We will have a Q&A at the end, so be sure to bring all those burning questions.

What do you want to say to the womxn still struggling?

You are not alone. I know you may feel otherwise and that you are isolated, but you are not. There are other womxn out there who are more than willing to help you through your journey. Reach out, ask for their number and go for a coffee or bubble tea. There is zero shame in asking for help. We have all been there. Don’t forget there are doctors out there, too! Remember that it is about taking baby steps, not leaps and bounds. Take one baby step, take another two or three, and soon you’ll be walking. Look back and realize how far you’ve come! Go easy on yourself, and as the saying goes, take it one day at a time.