Millie Gooch

Millie Gooch (English Language and Literature 2009) is the founder of Sober Girl Society – the largest community for sober and sober-curious women around the world. They provide tips, resources and events for anyone who wants to drink less alcohol or give up entirely.

Millie Gooch stood smiling to the camera, as she leans against a pink wall.

Millie's story

After graduating, Millie worked in the media industry but found that years of partying and hangovers were taking a toll on her mental health. She decided to give up alcohol in February 2018 and seven months later started Sober Girl Society which now has 214K Instagram followers.

Millie has given talks at universities, workplaces and festivals about sobriety and in 2021, published The Sober Girl Society Handbook with Penguin Books UK. In 2023, alongside content creator Stephanie Elswood, Millie co-founded Dry Disco, an alcohol-free festival which aims to smash the stigma that sobriety is boring.

What led you to study at Sussex?

I fell in love with the campus! I looked at so many universities and just had a gut feeling when I went to Sussex. It’s beautiful!

After graduating you worked as a lifestyle journalist – what drew you to the industry?

I’d always wanted to work in a job where I could write, and I loved magazines. I worked in a bar in Brighton and when I’d get the night bus back to campus, I’d always pick up a copy of Look Magazine (now defunct) and just thought about how cool it would be to work for a magazine like that.

What made you decide that you wanted to have a break from alcohol?

I was really struggling with my mental health because of my drinking and knew that I had quite a problematic relationship with it. It became more obvious in my mid-twenties when my drinking was getting a little more dangerous.

What prompted you to start the Sober Girl Community?

I really wanted to find people I could chat to about sobriety because I didn’t know a single other sober person when I stopped drinking. So really, it started quite selfishly as a way for me to find friends!

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to cut down or go alcohol-free?

Absolutely make use of the resources. It’s such a great time to be re-evaluating your relationship with alcohol. There are books, podcasts, blogs etc. Dive into those as it can really help you reassess how or why you use alcohol.

If you’re struggling with your drinking – don’t hide it – it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

How do you stay on track with sobriety? Do you have any top tips?

A big one for me is checking in with the sober friends I’ve been lucky enough to make along the way. If I’m having a hard time, they really understand what I’m going through. Being honest with your friends and family is a big one, if you’re struggling with your drinking – don’t hide it – it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

What was the transition to working freelance like? Do you have advice for anyone looking to make this change?

Terrifying, but also super rewarding. My best advice would be to start making connections and get some work lined up whilst you’re still at your job so that the leap doesn’t feel too significant.

What does the future hold for Dry Disco?

We’d love to keep it going and we should be back this Summer – watch this space!

What would be the soundtrack to your time at Sussex?

Ironically – Rum and Red Ball by Beenie Man and Future Fambo. They used to play it in every club!

In your ‘Wholesome Fun’ series on TikTok you showcase fun things to do outside bars and clubs. Why is this important to you?

A lot of people’s biggest fear about quitting or cutting back on alcohol is that they won’t be able to have fun or enjoy life without it! Showcasing those things provides people with the evidence that there are tonnes of fun things to do without alcohol.

What advice would you give current students on how to approach events without alcohol?

  • Bring your favourite alcohol-free drink with you!
  • Tell people ahead of time you’re not drinking so you don’t have to deal with the questions at the event.
  • Practise saying no and your response for when people ask why you aren’t drinking.
  • Write a list of all the reasons you don’t want to drink tonight.
  • Book something early in the morning you’re looking forward to like a brunch or class, so you don’t cancel it!