It’s June of 2014 and my good friend and sober bro Chris Aguirre and I have just witnessed another good friend go out on a massive relapse and blow up his life. Again. For the second time in two years. For me, it was both harrowing and completely typical. The power of this disease and all that.
Chris, who doesn’t go to AA and thus doesn’t understand the mantra of “there is nothing you can do for an addict on a run until they are ready”, responded by inviting me and starting a recovery podcast, because he felt he had to do something, anything for those who still suffer.
Our friend Matt, the one who blew up his life, got sober and joined us within 6 months and we ended up doing 5 years of recovery podcasts with each other most Wednesday nights.
In 2014, there were a few OG’s online like Joe C and Anna David that had built something in digital recovery, but even then, for us, it felt like recovery was having a “Moment”. In fact we said this in most of the early episodes.
That moment can best be described as Recovering Out Loud. People with addiction problems were using the digital space to get sober publicly beyond just going to traditional places like AA. For years people in recovery kept that fact anonymous, for good reasons. There was a stigma attached to being sober. You obviously had done something wrong if you can’t drink normally. But finally, in 2014, with the exploding opiate crisis on top of a society awash in alcohol it seemed time to start talking very publicly about recovery.
And yet, that stigma was still prevalent. Most of my recovery life up to that point was having to explain to whatever crowd I was with why I didn’t drink alcohol. That stigma was forced upon you in almost every social situation by the incredibly sad choices of drinks you were offered.
During our first year on the cast, we met, were inspired by and inspired others in the digital recovery world. We started having guests each week, which in hindsight were a who’s who of the modern recovery movement in the US.
The March for addiction on Washington DC in October of 2015 was the place where many of us met for the first time and really felt the Progressive Recovery Culture happening. It was having a moment and we knew it was a real movement.
We started exploring what modern recovery and sobriety looked like:
We went to a Smart Meeting.
We went to a Refuge Meeting
We went to AA Founders Day (We sat at Dr. Bob’s Table!)
We went to the Atheists in Recovery Convention.
We were all over Dry January
We tried Seedlip
We tried Curious Elixors
We supported and had fun with it all.
We tried and questioned everything.
(One of the questions that started to piss me off was this: Why is it every bar, restaurant and social situation I go to believe it’s ok to have thousands of choices of alcohol drinks and 3 shitty choices of non alcoholic drinks? This never pissed me off for 25 years of not drinking. I, like every non-drinker, just took it for granted that I had the problem and deserved diet soda out of bar gun. But the more I started to look at this, the more I asked, why? This was a big reason behind WellBeing.)
On our journey we have seen Progressive Recovery Culture explode.
So this last weekend, The New York Times encapsulates this is more than a moment, more than a movement, it’s a societal change. And there’s a wave of ideas, bars, people, products, energy out there making it normal to not drink and/or drink mindfully. NPR Followed with something today! And our Hellraiser got a little blurb of shopping love from the NYT as well.
Has there ever been a better time to be sober?
It’s 5 years from starting this journey of recovering out loud if you will and when I step back and put things in perspective, it feels so natural that not drinking alcohol is as acceptable as drinking alcohol. It’s cool to be sober, which is a massive shift from most of my adult life.
I know for our part, we are going to continue to make great craft NA beer and support anything and everything that helps define a culture where not drinking is completely stigma free and dare we say totally normal social behavior!
Washington DC, October 2015, Unite to Face Addiction
From the Left
Chris Aguirre Founder Since Right Now
Holly Whitaker of Hip Sobriety
Laura Silverman of Sobriety Collective
Laura McKowen, Recovery Author
Matt Glarner, Co-host of Since Right Now
Others we love:
Tammi Salas, Kristi Coulter, Sarah Heppola, Matt Mendoza, DJ FM, Nancy Carr, Scott Stevens and so many more.