My decision to get sober unintentionally coincided with the dawn of the real-time Facebook-status boom. Everyone was posting about baby showers or what they were having for lunch. What seemed like overnight, every aspect of someone’s day could be found online where anyone could see or comment on it.
But I felt awkward and uncertain posting about my significant lifestyle change. I knew I was heading in the right direction, but it wasn’t something I wanted to make public knowledge immediately. I knew if I shared my sober status too soon my friends could persuade me that drinking wasn’t an issue—a widespread reaction from acquaintances when one decides to stop drinking.
I waited until I had a year of sobriety before I made my announcement on social media. This worked for me because it gave me time to get comfortable and confident with myself and my sobriety. Over the years, I’ve opened up about my personal experiences hoping to help others who have had similar struggles.
This begs the question: Does sharing your sober status on social media help or hinder one in recovery?
“Being open on social media has helped me to stay accountable for staying sober.” – Taylor Evans
Jes Valentine and Kate Zander, hosts of the podcast Seltzer Squad, felt the same empowerment about going public to a large audience. Seltzer Squad uncloaks the mysterious world of early sobriety. Although their conversation flows effortlessly, both hosts are quick to say it wasn’t always fun to reveal gritty, personal details, especially in the beginning. It can still feel vulnerable—yet, it’s liberating.
“I’m not that ‘out’ about being sober in my professional life, and for a long time, I wasn’t ‘out’ personally either.” Zander says, “But after I had a good amount of sober time behind me, I realized what a fucking superpower it is.”
She adds, “Now sobriety is something I love talking about… in the right space…having a sober podcast has helped both Jes and [me] be more accountable for our actions.” She adds that the community aspect has been incredibly helpful, too. Zander says that she gets “cheered on IRL”—a welcome and huge surprise after being secretly sober for so long.
Taylor Evans, a brave newcomer to sobriety, has also used her online presence to get that extra boost through sobriety. On Instagram account @byebyeliquor, Evans is open and honest about the challenges and triumphs of her recovery.
“Being open on social media has helped me to stay accountable for staying sober. If I was to come on here and not include my struggles and slip-ups, it wouldn’t be real,” she says. It’s led to incredible support, advice, and feedback from her followers. “It is hard to be vulnerable on social media. No one wants to be judged but I think being open and honest about your journey is so important.”
“After I had a good amount of sober time behind me, I realized what a fucking superpower it is.” – Kate Zander
There are admittedly some lumps to swallow, however—being honest isn’t ever totally easy.
Seltzer Squad’s Valentine says that, sure, there are haters whenever you’re trying to do positive work. “We have also had people get nasty about [our work] and are rooting for us to fail. I guess that’s just the nature of the beast, though”, she says. “At the end of the day, we are not trying to be role models. We are just sharing our stories. … You never know who could be listening and resonate with something you say which may help them in return.”
But before you get scared off, though, know that it’s very possible you’ll find more support than anything else.
“The only type of pressure I feel is a positive force to stay sober. I have had complete strangers show more compassion and concern for me than people I interact with in real life. I have had wonderful, caring people reach out to me in my hard times and offer encouragement,” Evans says.
“You never know who could be listening and resonate with something you say which may help them in return.” – Jes Valentine
Plus, there’s a good reason to put your truth out there. Blythe Landry, LCSW, MEd, says online support can be as helpful as a group, and also provide a sense of comfort from the privacy of an individual’s smartphone.
“Sharing publicly about new sober day counts might be similar to sharing in a formal recovery group about day counts. When someone is suffering or wanting to get sober, it is way more helpful to look to people with days or months sober as a way to get motivated to change than it is to look to someone who has long-term sobriety,” she says.
Recovery is incredibly personal—and it’s entirely okay if you just want to keep your journey to yourself. But if you do take the step of coming out online, whether through a podcast, social media, or anything else, you’ll likely find comfort to know that like minded people on social media do indeed exist. And they want to support you.
“When you can’t fathom a day sober, multiple years and decades can be a daunting turn-off,” Landry says. “[Coming out] may not only help the person sharing, but also the people out there who might otherwise not believe help is possible.”