The recovery community has been working on battling the stigma of addiction since I don’t know when. It wasn’t long ago that alcoholics and addicts were confined to smoky church basements in folding chairs and were committed to silence about their addictions. It wasn’t safe or comfortable to come out of the closet as a recovering alcoholic or addict. People were more likely to admit they suffered from mental illness or temporary insanity than admit they had alcoholism. The stigma is still present today, but thanks to recovery advocates and highly visible (read: famous) individuals in the sober community, the stigma is slowly melting away.
Not only that, we’ve entered a time where sobriety is cool.
When I was drinking I couldn’t think of something less cool than being sober. In fact, it was so foreign to me that I didn’t even know sober people existed (and I definitely didn’t think they were cool). But now I find myself a member of a club that is respected and even revered.
When I made the decision to get sober I told myself that I was going to make this look cool. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t be confined to a life of staying in on the weekends riddled with boredom and regret. I sought to prove to myself and others that sobriety was fun and exciting.
Looking at where we are today in the conversation about recovery, I think transforming sobriety into something cool has been a success, and I’m honored to be a part of it. I am just one of many strong and forward-thinking people in the recovery community who write blogs, share their recovery stories, host podcasts, work for addiction treatment centers or advocate for recovery rights. As a whole, we’ve done a great job of making people in recovery visible, showing that addiction affects everyone in some way and that we can all recover. There are sober events, conferences, yoga instructors and rallies. We’ve really made recovery a thing to be proud of and removed the shame.
But we still have a long way to go. Society can be slow on the uptake, but that doesn’t mean our work should go unnoticed. Here are six reasons why sobriety is definitely cool now.
1. Sober Celebrities
You can’t look through one issue of People Magazine without reading about a sober celebrity. They are everywhere. They walk among us like normal people—because they are! Sober celebrities like Dax Shepard came out as a member of the 12-step community on Ellen last year. Bradly Cooper hasn’t had a drink in years. Rob Lowe has been sober for 23 years. Kristin Davis identifies as a recovering alcoholic and Demi Lovato has openly shared about her battles with an eating disorder and drug addiction. These public figures are changing the sobriety game. Because they are role models and in the limelight, people who may be suffering alone in their addiction can see happy and successful lives in sobriety and believe it’s possible for them too.
2. There’s an Active Online Recovery Community
Forget church basements, there is an entire online world of recovery. How cool is that? When I started blogging, I didn’t know that I would become a “recovery blogger” but that’s what it transformed into and there are a ton of us out there now. Not only are there sites completely dedicated to the voices of recovery—like AfterParty Magazine, The Fix and Addiction Unscripted—there are online meetings on sites like In the Rooms and Smart Recovery. There are even recovery coaches you can connect with online and classes you can take (like Hip Sobriety School). You can literally get sober online. That is a sign of the times and proof positive that sobriety has taken the internet by storm.
3. Recovery Month is a Thing
Not only is the online recovery community a thing, Recovery Month is also a thing. Every September, we proudly celebrate National Recovery Month across the U.S. and Canada. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) invented Recovery Month 27 years ago to raise awareness about addiction and recovery and it has recently really gained popularity among the recovery community. It’s a way to support and promote recovery in local communities, encourage recovery related policies in government and show society that people can get well from the disease of addiction.
4. Presidential Candidates are Addressing Addiction
I don’t know if presidential candidates have always turned a blind eye to addiction, but they have historically concentrated on the substances that cause addiction rather than the human beings who are suffering. Instead of mass incarceration and demonizing those who use drugs, we’re finally in the age where candidates running for office seem to understand that addicts deserve and require medical treatment to get better. Many politicians understand that harm reduction must take place first so that recovery can happen. It’s exciting to see that at least one presidential candidate has extensive plans for combating the opioid epidemic and is recognizing that our country is better off providing support for sober people.
5. The Benefits of Sobriety are Well Documented
Those of us who are speaking out about our recovery have detailed the plentiful benefits of sobriety that go beyond decreased health risks. It’s commonplace for us to read honest stories in the pages of Cosmopolitan Magazine about getting sober young, or on uber-cool Buzzfeed about 10 Reasons Why Sobriety Is Actually Amazing. Sober people have learned we are not alone and we continue to come out of the woodwork. It also helps when facts are published about alcohol being the direct cause of seven different forms of cancer. We’re slowly but surely changing society’s view of the toxic drink that used to be everyone’s go-to stress reliever.
6. Personalizing Addiction and Recovery
Best of all, we’re humanizing sobriety. It’s not just some abstract concept we’ve heard about through friends of friends. We’re here, we’re sober and we’re proud. Like I’ve been saying for quite some time now, there is nothing more brave than living your truth. For many of us in recovery, that truth is moving through the world openly identifying ourselves as a sober person. Sobriety is cool and it’s about time society caught up with what we’ve known all along.