“I once heard a sober alcoholic say that drinking never made him happy, but it made him feel like he was going to be happy in about fifteen minutes. That was exactly it, and I couldn’t understand why the happiness never came, couldn’t see the flaw in my thinking, couldn’t see that alcohol kept me trapped in a world of illusion, procrastination, paralysis.”
– Heather King, author of “Parched”
Is that why sobriety influencers (to give them their Instagram-title) have become so popular around social media’s inspirational meme galaxy of late?
“Illusion, procrastination, paralysis”?
Are we all suddenly in need of a few well-chosen, “infographicky-looking” words to wake us up and get us through the day (and evening), as opposed to heading straight for that bottle of white wine or six-pack of chilled beer waiting in the refrigerator for when we get home after another stressful day at work?
And what impact – real, proven impact – have sobriety influencers had among the real alcoholics among us? Those for whom drinking alcohol to excess is a part of daily living and survival? Those who are addicted to alcohol and the feeling it brings to them?
Just a couple of important questions that need to be considered when addressing the scale and impact, both good and bad, of the rise of sobriety influencers across the Instagram platform and beyond. Sadly, as informative as this article intends to be, you won’t find all the answers here.
Asking for an accurate answer to the last of these is a little like going to your nearest addiction treatment center, and requesting their proven record of successful outcomes for those who entered their facility looking for a cure to their addiction. “Three-quarters?” “Around 80%?” Those would be the kind of replies you were given. Ball-park. Inflated, most likely. Nothing confirmed.
Instagram – Home of The Meme
Instagram emerged onto the social media scene in October 2010, and was soon affiliated with Zuckerberg’s Facebook. It very quickly became the place to be seenfor people looking for overnight celebrity status or for product brands looking to become overnight marketing sensations. As its popularity grew, this way of branding an idea, a person, a product or a business became the norm, and those who did it successfully and/or professionally became known as social media influencers(or just plain influencers).
Social media influencers are those who have established a level of credibility in a specific industry, have access to a huge global audience, and can persuade others to act (or to buy) based solely on their recommendations. Influencers can be anyone – a blogger, a celebrity, an online entrepreneur, or a global brand. They are masters of “niche capitalization” – promoting and turning a highly specific field or product into good, hard cash.
Instagram’s success is based on this premise – it’s quick, it’s punchy, and it’s short in nature, a great tool to be used in attracting the click-happy social media user. Each message or meme or short video is an advert, a commercial break, looking to influence its audience. In fact, partnering with excellent influencers can open up never-before explored avenues for a business or a service.
Which brings us nicely around to the world of sobriety influencers. And maybe, just maybe, to a few of the answers to the questions posed earlier…
Who are The Sobriety Influencers?
Well, that “sobering” group of influencers certainly does not include one Cristiano Ronaldo, kind of handsome, Nike-partnering, multi-millionaire footballing megastar (not even remotely jealous), and acknowledged as having the biggest global social media following in 2019 – numero uno (as opposed to #7).
Ronaldo’s hugely successful Instagram posts are numerous and consistent – high quality, immaculately written content, with magazine-quality images. So, unsurprisingly, many people and businesses copy his influencing style and presentation, and sobriety influencers are no different.
“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out
of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment
as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.”
With around 25.5k followers, Laura McKowen raises awareness about the downside of the drinking culture through her writing and podcasting, with a focus on “the big questions of life through the lens of addiction recovery.” She is a renowned speaker at the myriad of retreats and workshops offered across the U.S.
Austin F. Cooper:@soberevolution
“Through working with others who had in their lives what I wanted in mine.”
With around 35.4k followers, Austin F. Cooper only launched his account in 2016, which is aimed at ending the stigma of addiction through positive messages and help. Describing himself as a Personal Development Coach & Social Media Influencer, he then began a career coaching others “towards living with an incredible and optimistic outlook on life.” He has also teamed up with recovery writer Anna David to work on a support group.
Holly Glenn Whitaker:@hipsobriety
“Sobriety isn’t just about quitting alcohol and drugs. It’s about getting
after your best life, and having everything you ever dreamed of.”
Holly Glenn Whitaker is a sobriety blogger, with a following of around 34k, and she manages a newsletter, a podcast, and an online “schooling program” for people in recovery from alcohol addiction. Her digital recovery platform, now known as Tempest(formerly, HIP Sobriety), is used to highlight her own self-directed recovery.
Are Sobriety Influencers Successful?
And so, we get to that question. Are sobriety influencers successful? Clearly, on a personal level, they are, because otherwise they simply wouldn’t do it and the likes of those listed above would move on to pastures (and niches) new. However, in terms of actual addiction recovery, they are only part of that process. In no way could they, as a service, do any of the following for the alcoholic who wants to quit drinking:
- Alcohol detoxification
- One-to-one professional addiction counseling
- Group addiction therapy and support
- 12-Step program or similar
- Medical services
Sobriety influencers are nothing more than that – influencers, which, in terms of dealing with substance addiction (drugs or alcohol), is of very limited scope. In other words, they can be no more beneficial than a friend at an AA meeting, or an extra person in a support group.
Undoubtedly, where they are successful, is their inclusion in your social media life, and, like that, they can only be a highly limited part of your addiction recovery (a little like watching an addict’s story of recovery on YouTube, for example). Sober social media cannot treat addiction.
Have sobriety influencers made an impact in your healthy lifestyle changes, or, more specifically, attributed to your recovery from alcoholism?Please, share your thoughts on sobriety influencers with a comment below to share with others. Thanks.
— Sponsored by Northpoint Washington
7416 212th St. S.W.
Edmonds, WA 98026
Open 24 hours