Being An Alcoholic In The Age of “New Sobriety”

Alicia Gilbert
7 min readJul 8, 2019

I recently read the somewhat controversial New York Times piece called “The New Sobriety” and my head started to spin a little. On the one hand, I love seeing people grab onto the idea that you don’t have to get shit-faced to have a good time.

That feels like progress.

I’m also a firm believer that for many people (hopefully), cutting WAY back on drinking is not only good, but a realistic way to take their life in a healthier direction.


I worry.

I worry about the impact this “trend” is having on people who cannot cut back. The folks for whom abstinence from alcohol is the only solution.

I worry because I was EXACTLY the kind of person who would’ve seen this article and said, “hell yah!”

Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

When I was an alcohol addicted mess, I hopped onto every moving health trend with comical consistency.

Green juice? You got it. Affirmations? For sure. Purchased A Course in Miracles and actually attempted to work through it? Definitely!

None of it made me better because it didn’t address the actual problem: I drank too much and didn’t know how to stop.

But I didn’t want to admit that. And in not wanting to admit that, I would’ve seen ‘The New Sobriety” where you could call yourself “sober” and still drink a little as right up my alley.

I get to be on trend AND still drink a little? SCORE!

When addiction collides with the sober curious…

Here’s how it would’ve gone.

I would vibe off the adrenaline of the latest bandwagon thing to do in NYC and go to one of these booze-free bars and graciously hand over $20 for an overly complicated fruit drink.

I’d probably join some online groups or follow whatever blogger was spear-heading the “sober curious” trend at the time. And I’d MAYBE do well for a week or two.

But then, on one of my “mindful drinking” expeditions, I’d get the bright idea to keep going. Because in my mind, I now had the problem solved.

I mean, look!



Alicia Gilbert

Alicia is the founder of Soberish, a website that focuses on recovery, mental health, and wellness. Read more at