I’ve been a sober woman and outspoken recovery advocate since I quit drinking in 2015. Though I’m Mexican, Jewish, and bisexual, the world sees me as a straight, white woman and I acknowledge my vast amount of privilege in that. I also acknowledge that my life could have taken a very different route if I had a more traditional Mexican last name due to the historic, systemic racism of the United States. A significant part of my recovery is waking up to the injustices of the world — the injustices that I couldn’t see or didn’t care to see, when active in my substance abuse.
The best way to wake up is to start with ourselves — to bring in other perspectives and consume diverse content. It’s hard to stay in our comfortable echo chambers when we actively seek out and learn about different life experiences.
Representation is also important. Addiction does not discriminate, and yet, recovery spaces — social media spaces included — are overwhelmingly white. It’s important for Black folks and other POC to see themselves in recovery and be represented in the recovery movement. Below, we’ve highlighted a handful of Black recovery advocates and pages to check out.
Bre Scullark does it all. She’s a Harlem native adn you might recognize her from a certain show: America’s Next Top Model. She was on cycle 5 of the runway hit. Scullark was part of the Liberation Prison Yoga‘s (LPY) teacher training staff for Trauma-informed Yoga. She’s also currently in charge of a yoga program for young women at Rikers Island and has been actively teaching incarcerated transgender women, women in protective custody, and incarcerated young adults for the past four years.
She also started and led a program for correctional officers at the Manhattan Detention Center, and created The Urban Peace Squad (UPS). The project brings donation-based yoga workshops to underserved communities. In the midst of it all, she’s been dedicated to her recovery and vocal about her experiences as a sober woman, sharing about sobriety in talks, through interviews, and on her social media channels.
Shari Hampton’s radiance will bring some holistic energy to your social media feed. If you’re lucky enough to live in San Diego, you can experience her vibe IRL through Served Up Sober, her company created for sober or sober curious women of color looking for healing and support. (Since the pandemic, she’s pivoted to online events). Shari’s also a speaker, coach, and blogger. She runs a Facebook group and support group for sober women of color.
Chris Marshall has been sober since February 2007. He is a writer, entrepreneur, and the founder of Sans Bar, a sober bar based in Austin, Texas that tours across the US hosting alcohol-free pop-up events. Prior to opening Sans Bar in 2017, Chris spent eight years working in residential and outpatient treatment centers as a substance abuse counselor.
He’s a mental health advocate who openly shares his experiences with generalized anxiety, depression, and self-harm. He’s recently taken to Instagram to share his beautiful poetry and prose. His powerful words speak to his experience as a Black man from the South who’s in recovery.
Jocellyn Harvey is a recovery advocate who’s passionate about decluttering. In fact, she wrote the book on it: Recovering the Home. She’s developed a 4-step process to help people feel grateful for what they have while becoming aware of what they no longer need. She also wrote this brilliant piece about what it’s like to be a Black woman in recovery. She’s now focused on the “what comes next” phase of sobriety. You know, what comes after you learn how to be and live sober. Her page is self-described as a space dedicated to, “Straight-forward and compassionate spirituality practices and mindset tips for your busy, modern life.”
Lazarus Letcher is an academic, musician, and a sober trans person who writes with grit and eloquence about the importance of making sobriety spaces inclusive for all. They are dedicated to their viola (and a host of other string instruments) and advocating for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC lives. From combating anti-blackness to recovery to playing beautiful music, Letcher does it all.
Africa is a London-based mindset coach that advocates for women’s sexuality. She started speaking about sobriety on Instagram on @africabrooke early on in her recovery journey, and also started The Cherry Revolution as a pro-femme/pro-Black/pro-sex/pro-sobriety movement and quickly built a following. She shares candid, confessional-style videos on Instagram that keep her followers feeling empowered. Check out her podcast, Beyond the Self, where she dives into difficult conversations about the human experience.
Jacen Zhu is a thriving example of myriad forms of recovery. He’s an HIV+ sex worker in recovery from meth addiction. He’s also the spokesperson for PrEP Squad, a campaign that’s dedicated to promoting sexual wellness for queer men. He was featured in this BuzzFeed story where he vulnerably shares personal experiences of how meth is often used as a weapon against queer men on color.
Khadi A. Olagoke is an NYC-based attorney who created Sober Black Girls Club because she saw a significant gap in the online sober space — a space that rarely featured black women. Raised in a strict, African Muslim family, alcohol was forbidden in her household. She was introduced to alcohol in college, which turned into 10-years of drinking until she ditched the bottle in 2018. She’s since launched her blog, an online store, and hosts events.
Like it says in her username, Connie McMillan is a Sobriety Queen! Connie was born and raised in Brooklyn, taking her first sip of alcohol at age 23. She’s now a published author of two sobriety books: Alcohol Fiend to Sobriety Queen, and 4-Must Know Things to Heal with Sobriety Successfully. Her podcast, Sober Sessions, is designed for Kings and Queens who want to put down the bottle and pick up their crowns.
Laura Cathcart Robbins is an LA-based writer and podcaster who speaks openly about many important aspects of recovery: sober sex, Ambien addiction, the cannabis convo, and much more. Her podcast, The Only One in the Room, features folks that have been othered within many kinds of spaces, including grief spaces, social hierarchies, and yes the traditional recovery space. Check out this poignant op-ed she penned for HuffPost about white women and anti-racism work.
June Allen is a UK-based sober woman bringing, “African centered self-love, sistahood, and sobriety,” to Instagram. With an education based in psychotherapy, over 10 years of sobriety to draw from, and a host of resources, she’s dedicated to teaching Black women how to love themselves fully and deeply. She’s created an online Sanctuary for Black women and also has a host of free resources, several of which speak directly to navigating sobriety has a Black woman.
Hailing from San Diego, Lindsey is all about self-care and healing as an integrated part of a sober lifestyle. She regularly shares about the importance of taking care of mental and emotional health. She even has this handy mantra video to calm your body and rejuvenate your mind. In her highlights, you’ll find a selection of non-alcoholic beverages, mantra prompts, and even a nice nighttime yoga sequence.
Created by Kirsten Walker, Sober Brown Girls Club is an Instagram page for sober and sober curious women of color to convene, discuss, and exchange ideas in a safe space. The internet is filled with great resources on recovery, she said, but she also noticed that it was severely lacking when it came to sobriety from the lens of a woman of color. On her website, she writes about recovery and her journey, provides resources, and has this important article on depression.
Cynthia the Brooklynite is the mind behind the Get Your Ish Together Instagram page. She’s also the host of the podcast by the same name. She approaches sobriety from the not-in-your-twenties-anymore perspective for those of us who were a little late to the sober party. On her page, she shares powerful quotes and personal musings about her sobriety journey. On her podcast, she covers everything from anger to relapse to boredom in sobriety. She literally covers it all. She’s bringing much-needed intersectionality and a powerful Black voice to the recovery world.
According to their website, the Hollywood and Vine Recovery center has been Dr. Gloria Montgomery in 1965. The center was started so that Black women and men would have a space to recover that was both safe and addressed the individual needs of the Black community. It has since expanded to the Latinx community as well. Hollywood and Vine takes a holistic approach to recovery, centering on healing the mind, body, and spirit with the Black and brown experience at the center.
Like I said earlier, this list is just a place to start. Don’t just follow the folks on this list, then go on about your day. If you really want to make anti-racist work part of your recovery program, you must get active. Read their content. Download their podcasts. Attend their events. Share their posts. Buy their books. Learning about (and actually caring about) diverse life experiences is empathy at it’s finest. And what’s recovery without intersectional empathy?
This list represents just a small portion of the sober Black people making sure sober Black experience is accessible (but let’s be real, we have a long way to go as a society).