To kick off our inaugural newsletter, we have interviewed Sobar’s own Internship and Innovations Manager, Laura Ciccone. Laura is a local travel agent, and a mother to beautiful teenage twin girls. We sat her down and discussed her connection with Sobar, her journey in recovery, and what it means to have non-alcoholic beverage options.
While Laura seemingly has it all; her dream job, a loving family, and a cute dog, she has had her fair share of hardship. She struggled with addiction for many years before becoming sober through Alcoholics Anonymous, AA, and has been for thirty years. When asked about her recovery path, she stated, “there is nothing linear about recovery.”
Laura joined AA in her late twenties in her hometown of Chicago. During early recovery, she admitted there were many times when she would indulge, have doubts, and almost relapse. She remembers and shares the moment she dedicated herself to staying in recovery.
One night, she found herself alone at a concert. There was an overwhelming amount of drinking going on and she noticed a couple drinking champagne. She recalled having an intense feeling: “I could have a glass of champagne and no one would know.” The next decision she made was to flee the scene, running four miles in heels down Michigan Avenue to her apartment because she was afraid she was going to drink. She was twenty-eight.
It took Laura five years until she found it easier to stay sober. Laura attributes her decades of remaining sober to the community of people and support in AA. Having a sponsor, and the twelve steps have allowed her to “live her life on a more honest basis, one day at a time.”
Laura has been friends with Sobar’s founder, Beth Harbinson, for over ten years. She was introduced to Sobar at the Changemaker Challenge, where they were awarded funds to help launch their mission. According to Laura, Sobar immediately stood out to her: “I was very excited by someone creating non alcoholic drinks. I could finally have something other than water and soda to drink at social events.” However, she was working full-time as a travel agent and did not have enough time to dedicate to the non-profit. With the onset of the pandemic, she was able to finally join the team in the winter of 2020.
During our interview, I asked her about how the absence of alcohol changed her. Laura eagerly responded with a comical, but equally serious insight - “The removal of alcohol has given me a life.”
Since most events are focused on alcoholic options - beer, wine, and other drinks, having an equitable option means that “I can go to social events and participate like other people can. For example, I can go to the Music Festival in Old Ellicott City, knowing there will be delicious drinks that makes me feel like I can still be involved.”
At Sobar, we cater to everyone who cannot or chooses not to drink alcohol - those struggling, recovering, recovered, and those outside the addiction community. It is our mission to spread awareness and to be a resource for those who are struggling with addiction. As someone who is heavily involved in helping others during their journey, Laura reaches out to those who may be struggling, or newly recovered. “It's important to find the solution that works for you, whether it’s a program, or a support to help you through your worst times. I used to think I needed to be drunk to have fun, but getting through it all, I wish younger me knew that I can (and do) have so much more fun sober.”
A little bit about the writer.
Hi! My name is Jasmine Sonpar, I am a rising senior at Mount Hebron High School. I have a parent who is a recovered alcoholic. I grew up going to Alcoholic Anonymous meetings, hearing many in recovery share their story. I remember learning about the importance of choice, and how being in recovery is hard – especially in our society, which often equates drinking alcohol as being a core part of adult life.