On Alcohol – Redux: Sobriety Trending


The article linked above the photo is the first I’ve come across (and read repeatedly) in a long time that accurately and succinctly explains the difference between being sober and being SOBER. The latter (in caps) being connected to sobriety as a lifestyle and not just a temporal state of being. We’re talking sober as a life philosophy. We’re talking sober as an approach to the act of living. The definitions are slowly broadening to include not just people who’ve drowned themselves in alcohol to the point of decline, but those who’ve chosen sobriety as both non-religious and quasi-religious happiness hacks. They’re not quite the same, and the article does a really good job of at least laying that out. It makes sense. The author is an insider and not just a journalist. They’re not just researching and reporting. They’ve considered the other approaches and weighed them against personal experience in the 12-steps world, which from my own experience can have some troublesome quirks. It’s honest. It’s open. It’s about as objective as you’re going to get.

I’ve got my own curiosities about “sobriety trending.” I’ve lived for nearly four decades now in the world of marketing and branding and I’ve a decided bias against cute gimmicks. I harbor a deep distaste for dishonesty in marketing and advertising. I’ve also been following (if not so closely) the rise in the marketing of “alcohol alternatives,” in the soft drink world. Many of these are not entirely soft either. If they have any mood changers or mood enhancers involved, herbal or otherwise, they’re not quite soft drinks are they? But that’s my bias speaking… or maybe it’s not.

I’m not ready to continue my personal treatise on alcohol or intoxication culture. Yes, I do believe the latter is “a thing.” I will repeat here though that I’m not sure how we reached a point in our culture where the choice to not consume alcohol or other intoxicants is a thing. Where did we turn that sobriety by any definition is a thing? That’s really something to consider in these conversations about sobriety. The article does aptly mention that the problem with marketing sobriety is all the specious promises of benefits. The 12-steps model is pretty clear that the reward of sobriety is simply sobriety and that anything else you get is the result of hard work. AA for example is not promoted as a life hack. The happy, joyous and free they mention is really only loosely defined and I’ve even come to see it as a tongue-in-cheek statement about the relationship of sober life to the prior. The free you get is free to do more daily work.

These other sobers though… with the product and event marketing involved… I think they’re more likely to disappoint, but then again I do have a bias.

Anyway, it’s a good article. I’m archiving it here on purpose, so I can return to it without leaving a tab open on my screen.


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