The sober experiences of Evi Hanssen
She had felt for some time that alcohol was not good for her. She was also curious if you really start to feel a lot better when you don't drink. She started with 500 days. It has now become 2 years and the sober days are still counting. So it's high time for a book. We asked singer/presenter/writer/all-rounder Evi Hanssen about her sober experiences.
You stopped drinking alcohol 2 years ago. What process preceded this? Or was it an overnight decision?
“I think both. I used to stop sometimes for a certain period of time. When I had to perform, I liked not to drink, for example. Prior to this stopping period, there was not one specific reason that made me decide not to drink anymore. However, my sailing trip -Evi sailed in 2019 for the Flemish TV program 'Over de Ocean' across the Atlantic Ocean, ed.- contributed to stop drinking alcohol. I am also very curious and wanted to know what that was like, not drinking.”
How long did you plan to stop drinking alcohol beforehand?
“I didn't intend to stop drinking alcohol forever. I also didn't have a problematic relationship with alcohol. In fact, alcohol was my friend. It was part of my life. It stood for fun. I found it especially exciting in the beginning, my alcohol break. I often had to say 'no'. Only then did I realize how often you are confronted with alcohol. How normal it is to drink alcohol. And that people expect an explanation when you indicate that you do not drink alcohol.”
|Eve in brief
Evi started her career as a backing singer on the Samson & Gert Christmas show. She is originally a jazz singer. In 2001 she made the switch to TMF Vlaanderen and since then she has become an indispensable part of the television, both in Belgium and in the Netherlands. She presented, among other things, 'Expedition Robinson' and '3 op reis'. She was also a table lady at 'De Wereld Draait Door'. Since October 2021, Evi has been part of the team of the radio program 'De Wild in the Afternoon' on NPO Radio 2. And her book was recently published: 'Since I no longer drink', in which she -with a dose of humor - made her first 500 describes days without alcohol.
How did those first sober days and weeks feel for you?
“The first few weeks I slept very restless. I was mostly tired. And that didn't bother me. I expected to feel fantastic in no time. But after 2 to 3 months, the big change came. Especially regarding my sleep. I suddenly slept wonderfully. While, when I was still drinking, I thought I had a sleeping problem. From that moment on I also felt physically strong, I started to move more, I experienced less stress, I ate more regularly and healthier, my ailments disappeared, I suffered less from mental dips, my mood became (even) better… the list of benefits is long."
Did you find it difficult to tell others that you no longer drink alcohol?
“Nobody around me reacted enthusiastically right away. My friend even joked, "I'll break up if you stop drinking." Not true, because we are now engaged. The first 3 months I actually had a good excuse. Corona was just in the game and I was rehearsing for the musical 'Mama Mia'. When everything was called off and the first 100 days were over, many of my friends thought 'it was nice, right?' When I indicated that I did not want to drink alcohol for at least a year, they thought that was a bit exaggerated.
Everyone in my area has now accepted it. Family, friends and acquaintances are also more open to it. But the discussion – 'why don't you drink', 'how long will that take' and 'have a drink anyway' – is still going on.”
'After nine months, the thought came to me, 'What if I never drink again?' And then the struggle really started. How do I organize my life then?'
What made you decide to write a book about it?
“Keeping a diary was something I've always done. Also during my alcohol stop. I wrote down everything about that alcohol stop, to force myself to dig deeper. 'Since I Stop Drinking' is an honest account of my personal dry journey. Because I didn't recognize myself in the 'hallelujah stories' that some people shared. Certainly not those first months. You can also read that on the first pages. I started out quite skeptical about my alcohol withdrawal. I had no idea then that I would not drink for more than a year. I submitted the first writings to my publisher and that's how it happened."
What do you hope readers get out of your book?
“First of all, I hope they find it relaxing to read. And it's good to realize how obvious alcohol is. And that we as a society only make it a problem if someone is addicted. As an alcoholic you can never drink again, but there are a lot of people who are in a gray area.”
Do you have any tips for our participants to make their alcohol break a success?
"Yes, I have tips."
-I did it all alone. But it's really much better to do it with someone or with a team.
-Find something else that gives you satisfaction and pleasure.
-Set up an evening in which you look for a good alternative. And then you can be critical!
-Don't be too hard on yourself. You don't have to stop drinking, and exercise more, and cut back on sugar, and….One thing at a time and the rest will follow when you're ready.
-My personal favorite of alternatives is NONA Drinks.
|NONA creates premium non-alcoholic Spirits as an alternative to the classic Gin and Spritz cocktail. Produced in Belgium and distilled from quality, natural ingredients.|
Since I don't drink anymore | Evi Hanssen | ISBN 978 946 396 27 35| Paperback | 256 pages | €22.99 | November 23, 2021
Have you become curious about Evi's book? 'Since I stopped drinking' is available at your local bookstore and can be ordered online at, for example bol.com.