After spending a lovely weekend with over 500 women at She Recovers LA, I left with a lot on my mind. One thing was that there are a ton of female sober influencers who support women from any and every stage of recovery. I couldn’t help but wonder, could men also benefit from having a community like this? Do they already? If they don’t – why not?!

In preparation for this episode, I did a little research and found this:

“Drinking per se and high-volume drinking were consistently more prevalent among men than among women, but lifetime abstention from alcohol was consistently more prevalent among women. Among respondents who had ever been drinkers, women in all age groups were consistently more likely to have stopped drinking than men were.”1

Interesting, right? Men drink more than women but (IMO) women tend to be more outspoken about their sobriety or recovery overall – especially on social media.

I couldn’t shake this idea off so I reached out to Austin Cooper, a sober Instagram influencer to ask him what he thought about all this. We also talked about his story as a sober dude and how he made the decision to be outspoken about his recovery.

Listen to our interview with Austin Cooper of Sober Evolution here:

On Coming Out Sober on Social Media

Before I ever got sober I had seen an old friend of mine become open about going into treatment and I really saw him turn his life around on Facebook and it was just so inspiring to me. I think sparked something within me that allowed me to make the decision to go to treatment.

I kind of made a little announcement on Facebook that I had just gotten out of rehab. I partly did that because I didn’t want the people that I knew to unknowingly pressure me to come out and drink. So I almost used it as a tool saying hey I’m sober I’m not drinking so do not invite me to come out for drinks. And that ended up working really well in my favor.

“I feared rejection and I think that was one of the biggest things that kind of made me apprehensive to become open about my recovery. I was just fearful of rejection.”

Austin Cooper Before and After Drinking
Austin, before and after drinking

On Becoming a Sober Influencer

I actually had been trying to come up with some ideas of how I could give back more because I was open on Facebook. A couple of people had reached out to me and I had almost mentored them in a way to help them start their recovery. And I was like that is the coolest thing in the world really just from a couple of posts.

People were really inspired and they wanted to reach out to me and I was able to get them help and guidance. Come 2016, I was like maybe I could form some sort of account where I can just talk about the tools and the mindsets that I had gained in my own recovery. Maybe it can help someone with their own [life].

On the Lack of Male Presence in the Online Sober Community

My first experience with a social media influencer in the recovery sphere was a male. But I didn’t really see a whole lot on Facebook and so when I got to Instagram not long after that, it was just all female influencers. I think there was one guy that I thought had a really cool account. He was putting out some really good words of wisdom and mindsets and things like that. But other than that it was you know I mean 99 percent female.

Austin with his girlfriend and number one influencer, Lara Frazier

On Why There Aren’t More Outspoken Sober Men

Men associate emotions with weakness which unfortunately is the deadliest thing in the addiction world. [It’s] completely necessary to be able to talk about what you’re going through, especially when it comes to drug or alcohol addiction.

Most of the people who unfortunately passed away due to addiction because they didn’t ask for help. And the people that end up surviving addiction are the people who do ask for help. It’s very much society’s view of what men and women should be. I think it’s the way that a lot of us men are raised as well. For me, my father never has shown emotion a day in his life. Neither did his father. Now, my mother, she’s very open about what she’s going through. Her emotions, her mental health, and everything as a nurturer.

On Sober Openness Online Vs. In The Rooms

When I was in [12 step] meetings, men were very open and vulnerable and willing to come way outside of their comfort zones. But in the real world, and I think on social media, it’s very rare for me to see any of that from men.

It’s been very rare for me knowing someone who’s a social media influencer who is in the 12 step program that doesn’t work for a treatment center. I think a lot of that has to do with some of the principals in the 12 step community about staying anonymous.

On Concerns About Being Open

I feared rejection and I think that was one of the biggest things that kind of made me apprehensive to become open about my recovery. I was just fearful of rejection. I think another one is I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get a job if employers found out that I had an addiction. I think my own stigmas towards recovery and addiction are what really made me apprehensive but you know what? I just said screw it and let’s just do it and let’s see what happens. I kind of weighed the pros and cons and the pros outweighed all of the cons. I knew I’d figure things out as I moved along and find the right kind of career path even if I had to make my own. That’s what I was willing to do.

Links and references:

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Lara Frazier – larafrazier.com
Aaron Barnes – sobercoaching.com
Ryan Hampton – Voices Project
Tom Leu – Recovery Collective Radio Show
Danielle – Doing It Sober
Kelly Fitzgerald Junco – Sober Senorita
Amanda Nelson – Writer of Patched Wangs

You can follow along with Austin’s Instagram for inspirational (and hilarious) sober motivation. He’s also got a ton going on on his website at sober-evolution.com.

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