How TikTok Is Encouraging “Sober Curiosity”
With how popular drinking is nowadays, it can be hard to take a second to think about what life might be like without it. From going out to dinner with your friends to hanging around a family party, it seems like alcohol is almost everywhere. According to a study posted by the CDC in 2018, 45% of the U.S. population has about 3 drinks per week. Boersma P, Villarroel MA, Vahratian A., (2018). Heavy drinking among U.S. adults, 2018. NCHS Data Brief, no 374. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.Retrieved June 7, 2022, from … Continue reading
The number goes to show just how normalized alcohol consumption can be in our society, and sometimes sobriety can feel very far away for those who would benefit the most from abstaining. Luckily, with social media applications like TikTok, sobriety is starting to pique the interest of more and more users across the country. Here’s how TikTok is engaging the world of sober curiosity.
TikTok’s Wide Reach
TikTok is one of the most downloaded and widely used social media platforms in the world. With billions of users across the globe, content posted there can reach audiences almost anywhere. Right now, the sober hashtag on TikTok has already generated a couple billion views, making it an incredibly valuable resource for those who are already sober and those who are thinking about taking that initial step.
The hashtag is filled with stories, advice, ways to cope, and a variety of useful posts for those thinking about sobriety, whether it’s short-term or long-term. What makes TikTok so special is that anyone can create content and share it with a specific audience, simply using hashtags and sounds that are specific to your videos.
Trending: The Sober Curious Movement
Just like with other kinds of social media, TikTok is a place where many younger people go to find out what’s trending or what’s cool. They spend a great deal of time scrolling through new content and discovering new people to follow. Over the past few years, what’s known as “sober curiosity” has been growing in popularity, especially on TikTok.
The Sober Curious Movement refers to the growing interest people have shown in trying out sobriety, sometimes short-term, to see how it impacts their mental and physical health. While drinking in moderation doesn’t necessarily make you ill or ruin your health, long-term and heavy drinking can be dangerous in various ways. Many people find that drinking in moderation quickly leads to heavier consumption, and maybe even alcohol addiction.
The term “sober curious” simply encompasses anyone that feels interested in the idea of sobriety and possibly trying it for themselves. Whether you’re a heavy drinker and you want to see how you feel taking a bit of a break from alcohol or being sober is what you think will put you on the track to becoming permanently sober, you don’t need any specific reason to try it out.
The Benefits of TikTok and Finding Community
One of the great things about TikTok is that because there are so many different kinds of people on the platform, you can easily find yourself in a community of people with similar interests and beliefs as you. I’ve listed some of the benefits that come along with using TikTok as you think about sobriety.
Social media makes it much easier to feel connected, even during the times you might actually be alone. What’s amazing is that everyone has a different story that has led them to this same point we’re all reaching, together — talking about sobriety. In addition to that, the internet makes communication with others instant and easy.
TikTok opens that door for you, me, and others going through similar experiences so that we are all able to connect. And while there are negative effects of social media that have been documented, online platforms like what TikTok calls “SoberTok,” or “Sober TikTok,” are safe spaces that offer all different kinds of people the chance to think about their own relationships with alcohol.
Making the decision to try out sobriety or even to abstain completely can be intimidating and often difficult. Whether you know you’ve been drinking too much, or you genuinely want to see how it affects your health to be without alcohol, social media platforms like TikTok can make it easier to find support among others who are feeling and doing the same things.
Sobriety is a journey that not everyone can understand. It’s also a journey that no one should have to go through alone. Being able to find support in positive social relationships can help you greatly when finding sobriety. Lookatch, S. J., Wimberly, A. S. McKay, J. R. (2019). Effects of Social Support and 12-Step Involvement on Recovery among People in Continuing Care for Cocaine Dependence. Substance use misuse, 54 … Continue reading By finding a support system that believes in you and helps you through, you’ll be ready to achieve whatever your goals may be.
Learning From Others
Learning from other people on a similar journey is an amazing resource to hold close. As I’ve said before, it really is vital to find support in others who believe in you and your journey of healing. TikTok’s extensive collection of videos from different people around the world allows all of us to learn from each other.
No one is an expert on your individual healing and there is especially no expert on how every individual should best approach sobriety, which means that we can all learn something new from one another. Whether you’re looking for ways to cope or searching for ideas on how to get started in sobriety, learning from others in a similar position as you is a great way to start.
You’ve heard the phrase, “laughter is the best medicine,” and it’s absolutely true that humor can help people through difficult times. Louie, D., Brook, K., & Frates, E. (2016). The Laughter Prescription: A Tool for Lifestyle Medicine. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 10 (4), … Continue reading TikTok is well-known for being a social media platform heavily driven by comedic content. This has highlighted what feels like an entirely new aspect to the sober conversations that were taking place before. Now, creators can not only make content that emphasizes their own personality, but they’ve also been able to make light of situations that aren’t necessarily easy to deal with.
Whether you’re going sober short-term, or you’ve had a long journey to becoming sober now, the process of getting there is never simple. Being able to find humor in and laugh at some of the things you might have gone through or thought of is a great coping mechanism and a fun way to stay positive. Don’t forget to find little ways to laugh while you’re on your journey of recovery.
Gen Z and Sobriety
Many people are wondering if this trend in sober curiosity stems largely from Gen Z’s interest in being sober. Compared to older generations, Gen Z seems to be drinking much less alcohol overall. Jukka Törrönen, Filip Roumeliotis, Eva Samuelsson, Ludwig Kraus, Robin Room. (2019). Why are young people drinking less than earlier? Identifying and specifying social mechanisms with a pragmatist … Continue reading Because of this, it would make sense that the Sober Curious Movement’s rise in popularity is because so many people in the younger generations have a different view of being sober in the first place.
When examining the reasons people start drinking or doing drugs heavily, we’ve found that many of them started using a substance because their peers were doing the same—it was popular. If sobriety is branded as “trending” or “cool,” because of its positive implications, this might make it much more appealing to younger people in the same way alcohol use was popular in the older generations.
It’s almost like positive peer pressure — one friend’s interest in sober curiosity sparks another, ultimately having a positive impact on their life instead of a negative one. Karakos H. (2014). Positive Peer Support or Negative Peer Influence? The Role of Peers among Adolescents in Recovery High Schools. PJE. Peabody journal of education, 89 (2), … Continue reading What’s even better is that this isn’t just tied to Gen Z. Millennials and older generations who are interested in cutting back on drinking can find that they are far from alone.
The Takeaway: TikTok and Sober Curiosity
The rising popularity of the Sober Curious Movement is being embraced in a variety of ways around the country, especially on TikTok. Helping people take a step back and look at their relationship with alcohol can be difficult, but as the word continues to spread about the positive impacts of being sober, it can become much easier. Because of TikTok’s massive reach, and its ability to connect people around the world, the application has become a promising development in both the sober community and in public health overall.
Experienced Chief Executive Addiction Recovery and Mental Health Professional
Business professional in the Addiction Recovery and Mental Health industry for the past 26 years. Caring, compassionate and strongly motivated to make a difference in the organizations I am affiliated with and welfare of the population we serve. Currently focused on advocating, educating and developing projects leveraging evidence based, real time technology to support individuals in recovery.
|↑1||Boersma P, Villarroel MA, Vahratian A., (2018). Heavy drinking among U.S. adults, 2018. NCHS Data Brief, no 374. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.Retrieved June 7, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db374.htm#Definitions.|
|↑2||Lookatch, S. J., Wimberly, A. S. McKay, J. R. (2019). Effects of Social Support and 12-Step Involvement on Recovery among People in Continuing Care for Cocaine Dependence. Substance use misuse, 54 (13), 2144–2155. https://doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2019.1638406|
|↑3||Louie, D., Brook, K., & Frates, E. (2016). The Laughter Prescription: A Tool for Lifestyle Medicine. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 10 (4), 262–267.https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827614550279|
|↑4||Jukka Törrönen, Filip Roumeliotis, Eva Samuelsson, Ludwig Kraus, Robin Room. (2019). Why are young people drinking less than earlier? Identifying and specifying social mechanisms with a pragmatist approach. International Journal of Drug Policy 64, 13-20, ISSN 0955-3959. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2018.12.001|
|↑5||Karakos H. (2014). Positive Peer Support or Negative Peer Influence? The Role of Peers among Adolescents in Recovery High Schools. PJE. Peabody journal of education, 89 (2), 214–228.https://doi.org/10.1080/0161956X.2014.897094|