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Now Trending-Sobriety, Many Paths Can Get You To Being A Better Person

Wired June 2022 pp60-64 “The End of Alcohol” by Virginia Hefferman “Glamorous influencers are blending science and superstition to help people ‘change their relationship to drinking’” “Did I miss out by getting sober the old-fashioned way?”

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Image from QZ.COM

“Later she realized that she drank because she couldn’t bear one electron of pain. Some alcoholics call this Queen Baby Syndrome.” Compared to newer treatments for alcoholism the old 12-step AA programs emphasized that these folks pinned to the drink were also said to have “an eccentric orientation to lying, cheating, stealing, boasting, and mean-spiritedness.

“Sobriety is a big thing these days.” But “the 21st century has been a boon to young abstainers who reject the word alcoholic, and to anyone who wants to quit drinking without becoming a sad sack or a prig.” In 2013, Dry January was launched in the UK and last January “nearly one in five American adults tried Dry January.” Dry January being “the challenge of refraining from drinking for 31 days…”

In recent years many books have covered the topic, the examples being given are; “My Unfurling”, “Her Best-Kept Secret”, “The Naked Mind”, “The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober”, “Mindful Drinking”, “Drink?”, “Sober Curious”, “Quit Like a Woman”. A channel not to be left out in covering getting sober are podcasts including; “Recovery Happy Hour” and “Edit Podcast.” The promise being that one “will break up with alcohol, emerge from the grip of anxiety…[to become]...happy, healthy, and even wealthy.” The old AA 12-step approach “guarantees none of these marvels.”

Is there hard data behind the getting sober trend?

A Gallup poll suggests from 2019 to 2021 American’s cut back from 65% drinking to 60% and from 4.0 drinks to 3.6 drinks.

Reportedly sober friendly bars have emerged in NYC, Denver, Miami, Austin and SF. Some offer no booze and others create extravagant mocktails that are essentially soft drinks laced with “sophistication-signifiers and wallet-declutterers like orgeat, tobacco syrup and chinotto orange.” Some are even branded by “Blake Lively”, “Bella Hadid” and “Katy Perry” and sold “in collectable, high-design containers.”

Worrying about losing market share “Big Alcohol seems well on its way to engendering a new market sector with Big Sobriety.” These concoctions in designer containers boost a price three-fold that of “a can of bud.” The influencers are staking out every imaginable niche and tying this all into “exercise, spirituality, prosperity, productivity and even conspiracy.” All this is clearly more sexy than the traditional AA 12-step program which “tend to scare away dates more than they spike libido.” And unlike AA’s 12-step some of these influencers are cashing in.

Besides just talking, some recommend taking “naltrexone, an opiate antagonist, …[that essentially stops alcohol from]...bringing pleasure to the brain, which reduces cravings.” The published data though is not impressive as it suggests the drug has a 78% success rate in reducing drinking to an alarming “10 drinks a week.”

Through the ages, being a drunk has been cast in every bad light often associated with it as a way to persuade one away from alcohol with the core theme being dishonesty. AA is deeply entrenched in this but in the end their promise is that “recovering alcoholics who make amends to people they’ve hurt can expect only a few vague dividends: a measure of peace, renewed interest in others, freedom from regrets.”

The new “sobriety flex” is someone bent on disputing the AA 12 step process and the author who quit at 41 states that “quitting with the use of opiate antagonists, hot yoga, and nonalcoholic tequila seems every bit as righteous as sweating it out in the rooms [of AA].” As the author sees it, becoming sober encapsulates the “hope…[of becoming]...a better person.” In AA rooms they “talk less about drinking than about yielding to other drivers, feeding a stranger’s parking meter, buying a sandwich for a panhandler.”


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