According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the term, “radical,” is defined as, “believing or expressing the belief that there should be great or extreme social or political change.” So what does being radically sober look like?
Drinking is the Norm
It’s no secret that drinking is considered a societal norm. People are almost expected to drink at social gatherings of all types like weddings, birthday parties, dinner parties, holiday parties, boat parties, and more.
When I was a kid, pizza was the main celebratory vice. I miss those days. Pizza never leads to hangovers, prison time, blackouts, mysterious injuries, brain damage, mood swings, failed relationships, sudden death, or any of the other unfortunate side effects of drinking.
Adults have it so twisted because so many people seem to think that they simply cannot have fun with others unless they are drunk or at least buzzed, but I remember those pizza parties, and they were fun too!
I have been sober for over 2 years, and I still attend social gatherings whenever I can, even if alcohol is present. Usually, I’m the only sober adult at these events, but I have more fun than I ever did drinking!
Some societal norms are as lame as they are popular. In a society that considers drinking to be normal, I am proud to be radically sober!
The fact that peer pressuring others to drink is considered as normal behavior infuriates me. Peer pressure is usually brushed off as funny or endearing, but it is actually deplorable and dangerous.
When I worked at a bar, a long time ago, I had to kick some guys out for trying to force their friend to drink more alcohol after he had already vomited several times and was struggling to breathe normally. The guy needed medical attention and had been cut off from the bar, and his buddies were basically trying to kill him saying things like, “Come on drink, wussy, it’s your birthday.”
In a tragic story published by the Chicago Tribune, a 16-year-old cheerleader, named Elizabeth Wakulich, was at a party where friends, “dared her to finish a quart of 107-proof Goldschlager, a cinnamon schnapps.” The girl fell asleep and never woke up, having died of alcohol poisoning.
No to Cold Turkey
When I quit drinking, I foolishly went cold turkey and suffered life-threatening withdrawals. After being sober for only 2 months, I was at a party when a drunk man offered me shots. I had to decline several times before he finally left me alone. For context, he wasn’t flirting or trying to get into my pants. The man was just behaving normally and genuinely thought he was being polite.
When I go to gatherings with family, I always hold up my water or juice for cheers, and it is common for others to pout and whine in a disappointed tone, “Aw, you’re not drinking?! Why not?!”
The last time I went to brunch with friends, a table of random strangers offered to buy us shots at 10 A.M. I had to decline several times before they stopped offering, and when the waitress came to refill my drink, she asked what I was having, and I said, “It’s just orange juice.” She scoffed, frowned, and said, “I thought something was wrong with your orange juice.”
Radical decisions from unique minds draw attention and make followers insecure about their own decisions. They want you to step back in line so that they can pretend everything is fine. The illusion is this; if everyone is doing it, then it must be O.K., despite the numerous negative consequences.
Flip the Script on Peer Pressure
In an article on my blog called, “How Rock Bottom Helped Me Get Sober,” I wrote about how people might react if I flipped the script on them by pressuring them not to drink.
Let’s imagine that I’m at a party or a restaurant, and I persistently ask strangers to stop drinking alcohol. When they decline the first 3 times, I ask them 3 more times to stop drinking while slapping them on the shoulder and laughing. Then I call them a “wuss,” and remind them that it is their birthday. Or, I guilt trip them into not drinking by telling them that it is my birthday.
In this imaginary scenario, I ask strangers things like, “What kind of weirdo drinks on vacation?” And, I say, “You work way too hard to drink,” “You deserve not to drink,” or, “You look like you could not use a drink.”
Now imagine how quickly I’d be asked to leave the party, restaurant, or wedding for my radically sober behavior.
We could even try making the scenario a little less confrontational, and see how that goes. Imagine if I offered to buy a bunch of strangers dessert at brunch. When they decline, I offer again and again. Once I see that I cannot force them to accept my gifts of cheesecake and tiramisu, I scoff, and say in a rude tone, “I thought there was something wrong with your salad.”
Wouldn’t it be strange if I behaved this way? So, why is peer pressuring strangers to drink alcohol considered to be socially acceptable behavior?!
In a world where it is considered normal to bully people into drinking, I’d rather be radically sober.
Cambridge Dictionary defines “renaissance,” as, “a new growth of activity or interest in something, especially art, literature, or music.” I like to use the word “renaissance,” somewhat loosely; as a beautiful term for “renewal.”
A “sober renaissance,” describes the collective societal interest in the radical decision to choose a healthy and happy lifestyle over self-destructive habits like drinking alcohol and doing drugs.
Lately, I am noticing more and more people choosing sobriety. Family, friends, social media influencers, and celebrities alike are all proudly sharing their recovery stories. Sober people are still the minority in a society that will likely be forever plagued with addiction, but it’s O.K. to be different. It’s cool to be radical. Without radical thinkers, positive societal change would never take root.
Be brave. Be inspiring. Blaze the trail. Be radical!