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Sobriety Through Social Media

When Paul Carr realized that drinking was killing him, he eschewed AA but selected an unlikely higher power.

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A Byliner Original. Photo via

By Hunter R. Slaton

03/12/12

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Out today from Byliner Originals—an e-reader-based publisher of original fiction and nonfiction—is a new recovery memoir by Paul Carr: Sober Is My New Drunk. It's incendiary for several reasons. One is that Carr, a humorist and tech blogger, disdains AA in his effort to get sober, even going claiming that the 12-step program “breeds an ‘it's not my fault’ mentality that refuses to accept that anyone can ever truly be cured of the 'disease' of alcoholism.” Another is that he chooses as his sort-of higher power something that can also be used to stalk ex-lovers and play Farmville: social media (Carr previously wrote about this strategy for The Fix). Amazingly, it seems to be working; at publication, Carr had 850 days booze-free. He writes:

When I decided to quit drinking, and when I realized that AA wasn’t for me, I knew I’d have to find a route to sobriety that was as public as possible. I knew that the only way I’d be able to reverse my reputation as a boozer would be to tell the whole world—or at least the part of the world I lived in—that I was quitting.

Fortunately, we live in a time when it’s easier than ever to share our secrets with friends and strangers alike. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter and blogging and video sharing and all that good stuff, a decision to give up drinking can easily be publicized for all to see. Which is precisely what I did. I fired up my laptop and wrote an open letter on my blog, explaining that I had a serious problem with alcohol and asking for the support of those around me.

Of course, I was lucky. I had a reasonably well-read blog and a few thousand Twitter followers. After writing my “The Trouble With Drink, The Trouble With Me” post, roughly 250,000 people clicked on the link to read it. That was a major incentive to stick to my promise.

But you don’t need anywhere near that kind of audience for public quitting to be effective. Posting on Facebook or Twitter for just your friends to see will have almost the same effect as posting on a blog. If you’re worried about your professional reputation if you “come out” as an addict, you might want to consider sending a group e-mail to a dozen or so people you trust. Believe me, word will get around. The key is for people you encounter on a day-to-day basis to be aware that you have a problem and are trying to fix it. Those people—not a group of well-meaning strangers in AA—are the ones who will be your greatest allies in quitting.

You can pick up the short-form recovery memoir on your iPad, Kindle or Nook for just $1.99.

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