Why High Achieving Women Turn to Alcohol

Hi, I'm Heather, an award-winning sober life coach with five years of experience working with high-achieving women. I am also an Enneagram 3 Achiever. I have had the privilege to support executives in top leadership positions, recognized political figures, busy mothers, teachers, artists, doctors, and even a few celebrities or people in the public eye. For many high-achieving women, the pressure to maintain a demanding lifestyle can sometimes lead to unhealthy habits, including excessive drinking. 

High-achieving women often find themselves juggling multiple responsibilities, whether it be excelling in their careers, managing households, or pursuing personal passions. While ambition and dedication are commendable traits, they can also contribute to stress and a desire to unwind, often through the consumption of alcohol. Many of my clients use alcohol as a way to turn off their active brains, give themselves permission to stop working, dial down the pressure, and take a desperately needed break. Their glass of wine at the end of the day can be a signal to them (and others) that their work is done. For highly productive women, this might be the only way they know how to stop grinding, producing, and achieving. Many of the high-achieving women that I work with don’t know how to rest and relax on their own so they found a way to outsource it to alcohol. I can relate, as I did the same.


High achievers are often categorized as Enneagram Type 3’s. Type 3’s are characterized by their desire for success, admiration, and validation. There are a few reasons why giving up alcohol can be especially challenging.

  • Social Image: Type 3s are highly concerned with their image and how they are perceived by others. In social situations where alcohol is present, they might feel pressured to drink excessively to fit in or to maintain their image as someone who is outgoing and sociable. Most often, after a period of success, a slip happens in a social situation for Type 3’s. 
  • Escapism: Like any personality type, Type 3s might use alcohol as a means of escape from stress, pressure, or insecurities. The desire to succeed and achieve can sometimes lead to feelings of anxiety or self-doubt, and alcohol may temporarily alleviate these feelings.
  • Competitiveness: Type 3s are competitive by nature and may see drinking as an opportunity to showcase their skills or outperform others, leading to excessive consumption. I personally always tried to be the most well-liked person in the room, and I thought alcohol helped me shine.
  • Celebration: Type 3s often celebrate their successes and achievements, and alcohol may be a part of these celebrations. However, they might overindulge in alcohol during these occasions as a way to amplify their enjoyment and feel a sense of accomplishment.
  • Self-worth: Type 3s tend to tie their self-worth to their achievements and external validation. Excessive alcohol consumption might be a way for them to temporarily boost their confidence or feel more relaxed in social situations where they fear they might not measure up.
  • Avoidance of Failure: Type 3s have a fear of failure and can be perfectionistic in their pursuit of success. Alcohol might serve as a way for them to numb or avoid feelings of inadequacy or disappointment, especially if they perceive themselves as falling short of their goals.

Type 3s are wonderful coaching clients because they are highly self-aware and capable of recognizing potential pitfalls. They are open to self-development and addressing any underlying issues that may contribute to excessive drinking. They thrive by having witnesses to their success. 

Role of Sober Coaching:

Sober coaching offers personalized guidance and assistance in navigating a life without alcohol. 

Here are reasons high-achieving women may consider sober coaching:

  • Understanding Alcohol Consumption: by exploring the impact of alcohol on mental and physical well-being. 
  • Awareness: recognizing when social drinking transforms into a habit that may hinder personal growth. 
  • Gain insights: into making conscious choices about alcohol consumption. 
  • Accountability: A sober coach offers a safe and nonjudgmental space for women to explore their relationship with alcohol. A coach can hold individuals accountable for their choices and help them stay on track. High achievers and performers excel in the presence of a coach who gives them gold stars and praise. 
  • Skill Development: Sober coaches can assist in developing coping mechanisms and life skills to navigate challenges without resorting to alcohol. Type 3’s are typically eager learners and find quick success with coaching support. 
  • Emotional Support: High-achieving women often face unique pressures. Sober coaches offer emotional support, helping individuals address underlying issues contributing to alcohol consumption. Type 3’s do not like sharing any perceived weaknesses. Utilizing coaching and feeling a connection with a sober coach is often a rare opportunity for high-achieving women to let their guard down and receive support.
  • Stress relief: Type 3’s can hold themselves to impossibly high standards. Together, we work to find alternative ways to relax and calm the nervous system that is used to the seemingly immediate relief of alcohol. Clients benefit from learning from certified coaches trained in leading-edge brain research, like the the Certified Professional Recovery Coach from the International Association for Professional Recovery Coaches.

Sober Life Coaches empower clients to continue to excel in their endeavors while prioritizing their well-being. Remember, reaching out for help is a sign of strength, and the journey towards a balanced and fulfilling life is a commendable pursuit.

Listen to my many podcasts interviews about this, particularly Hello Someday with Casey Davidson.

Book your risk-free discovery call here.


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