Search & Replace S03E13: Karolina Rzadkowolska

Karolina Rzadkowolska shares her personal journey with alcohol and the struggles she faced in maintaining a healthy lifestyle while still drinking socially. Despite not experiencing extreme problems often associated with alcoholism, Karolina felt something was wrong and wanted a way out. She discovered the concept of Dry January, which permitted her to take a break from alcohol without having to explain herself. This experience led to a significant transformation in her physical and emotional health and the pursuit of her dreams. Karolina believes that choosing an alcohol-free lifestyle brings incredible gifts of confidence, self-love and creativity, propelling individuals toward their deeper desires and greater purpose in life. Listen to Karolina’s story on Search and Replace. 

More about today’s guest:

Explore these related stories:


[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialist at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode.  

[00:00:09] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if the cost of looking normal to your friends and family leads to a life filled with shame and regret? I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace. 

Karolina Rzadkowolska says her relationship with alcohol wasn’t terribly unusual, or even terrible.  

[00:00:35] Karolina Rzadkowolska: I kind of started drinking just like everyone else did. I started drinking in college. And really overdid it then, I definitely was partying way too hard then. But as I grew up into, you know, my mid to late twenties, I really kind of settled down and started adopting a healthier lifestyle and especially a more mindful lifestyle. 

And so what happened was I lived this huge dichotomy where Monday through Thursday, I lived the healthiest lifestyle. I went to yoga classes, I meditated, I drank green juices. But then every single weekend I would drink. And a lot of the drinking looked, what we would say normal, right? I would go out to sushi with my friends. I would go to a wedding. I would have a dinner party. I would have some wine and Netflix at home.  

And it didn’t really matter though. Every single weekend alcohol played that role, and every Monday I woke up just feeling like a shell of myself. I felt tired. I felt groggy. I felt ashamed. I felt regretful, and I felt like all the healthy progress I made through the week was just bulldozed over by the weekend. And I was starting at negatives, you know, five squares away. And so I found myself playing out this loop literally for years.  

[00:01:38] Joe Taylor Jr.: Karolina says that as she thought more about her drinking, it wasn’t resulting in the kinds of huge problems often described by alcoholics, but she still felt like something was wrong and she couldn’t see a way out. 

[00:01:51] Karolina Rzadkowolska: Over and over, week by week, the same thing happening over and over. And I desperately wanted some freedom and peace away from alcohol. Like, I knew that was the culprit. But I also didn’t really see a future where that was possible. Anytime I wanted to take a break, I looked at my social calendar and I was like, well, I got that happy hour on Friday. I have that networking event, I have that wedding. What am I supposed to do?  

And so I stayed stuck in the cycle for far too many years because I really thought I had this social expectation placed upon me to drink. And if I didn’t drink, then I thought that would mean something horribly wrong with me. Right? Something like I have to wear a label and I have to explain it to everyone that I have this huge problem. And, you know, I was really just too stubborn for that, too independent.  

[00:02:34] Joe Taylor Jr.: Despite that independent streak, Karolina still searched for a way that she could more easily change her relationship with alcohol without feeling like she was disrupting her relationships with friends. And that’s where she realized an emerging social trend could give her an easier way out.  

[00:02:51] Karolina Rzadkowolska: Finally, I heard about Dry January in 2018 and I decided to do it. And that was this huge light bulb moment for me where like I was like, oh, I could just take a break and I wouldn’t even have to explain it to people cuz it’s dry January. 

And that was like the permission I finally needed in order to grant myself time away from alcohol. And I have to say that Dry January experience was amazing. You know, I felt so, I was sleeping so deep. I was having such beautiful mornings. I was feeling so proud of myself, so much self-love and integrity. I was appreciating the little moments even more and falling in love with nature and having new ways of exploring fun, and I just really loved it.  

But February comes around and I still have this belief system in my brain that says, normal adults must drink. So therefore, if I wanna be a normal adult, I have to drink. 

And I drink a few times that February, and I just hated it. I notice myself more frustrated, more impatient, more grumpy after like a drink or two, like an hour or so later. And I’m just like, wait a minute, I thought I was drinking cuz it was fun and I enjoyed it. But none of this is actually happening. I’m actually feeling a lot worse because of it. 

[00:04:00] Joe Taylor Jr.: And that experience led to the start of Karolina’s break from alcohol.  

[00:04:05] Karolina Rzadkowolska: It’s been five years later, I’ve been alcohol-free ever since. And what really happened was this huge evolution in both my physical health, my emotional health, my spirituality, and my dreams really coming true.  

I recognize that a lot of the reasons why I was drinking was this like, TGIF, I can’t wait to get through this week fast enough so I can unwind during the weekend. 

And what was really going on was I was stuck in a cubicle in a nine to five and I was bored and stressed out, and I didn’t have that fulfillment in my every day. So alcohol, kind of, played the role of being the highlight of my week.  

And so as I took that break from alcohol and really redesigned my life to have that fulfillment every day. And, for me, that has been really a step of going for my bigger dreams of launching my company, becoming a coach, writing a book. So that now I literally live the life I’ve always wanted to live. 

I don’t need to wait for a drink on the weekend to be some kind of reward. I get to reward myself every day with the lifestyle that I have.  

[00:05:01] Joe Taylor Jr.: And Karolina says that a big part of that new lifestyle comes from an internal confidence that’s far less concerned about what her friends might think when she passes up a weekend cocktail. 

[00:05:12] Karolina Rzadkowolska: I do believe that when you decide to go alcohol free or take a break, that you are immediately rewarded with these incredible gifts.  

You take this confidence that you get from going alcohol free. And so you take the courage, the confidence, the self-love, the enthusiasm, the energy, your creativity and intuition goes up. You really are able to hear bigger messages from your soul.  

I really believe that the Universe is giving us those gifts for this bigger reason. The perfect set of gifts to then propel us to achieve our bigger dreams.  

I think the very act of just really living present through your day and not using alcohol to numb anything guides you, slowly but surely, towards your deeper desires, towards what you really want, and then gives you the courage and confidence to actually go for it. And, to me, that’s why I’m so passionate about this lifestyle. Right? And that’s literally the why behind everything I do is to reach that past version of me.  

First of all, I believe that it’s only the most intuitive, wise and bravest women who decide to reevaluate the role of alcohol in their lives. 

What if the Universe is actually giving you this challenge as one of your greatest opportunities? What if going through this is meant to be a transformation for you that is literally going to pave the way for you to unleash your greater purpose into this world? What if this is what you were meant to go through so that you can awaken to what you really want in your life, and then has the audacity to go for it? 

What I would really tell that past version of myself is that you’ve been chosen. Like, you have been chosen to play bigger in this world, to leave a legacy behind to really live the life you want.  

[00:06:42] Joe Taylor Jr.: That’s Karolina Rzadkowolska, author of the book Euphoric. We’ve got links to her work and more resources for sober curious folks in our show notes and on our website at 

Today’s episode was produced by Nicole Hubbard with help from the entire Podcast Taxi team. I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. 

[00:07:05] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production.  

Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns and Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work.  

Learn more about how top performing businesses eliminate barriers between customers and their goals at

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *