Dank Recovery Memes And The Healing Power Of Humor

By Victoria Kim 06/05/19

The memes inject humor into even the darkest subject matter—overdosing, rehab, heroin withdrawals, domestic abuse and more.

a popular Dank Recovery Meme
Photo via Instagram

In the age of social media, it’s easy to find communities of people who share even the most obscure common interest. This is especially true for people who hesitate to openly share that part of their life with just anyone. Like people who are living with, or are recovering from, addiction.

Dank Recovery Memes is just one example of a social media channel that has gained popularity through its humorous take on the experience of living with addiction. Created in 2015 by Timothy Kavanagh, its Facebook page (where it all began) now has more than 726,000 followers. It has a presence on Instagram as well.

As a heroin user in recovery himself, Kavanagh, 35, found a community of people online who craved the same humor when it came to their shared experience. “Through social media I found other people that were sober, had good recovery, but had the same kind of sense of humor,” Kavanagh told BuzzFeed News.

Kavanagh built his seven years of recovery around total abstinence. He won’t drink, smoke or use methadone because it will trigger a relapse. But he emphasizes that his recovery may not look like the next person's. It is unique to him.

The content posted on Dank Recovery Memes injects humor into even the darkest subject matter—overdosing, rehab, heroin withdrawals, domestic abuse and more.

“I had to reconcile the fact that I can have a really fucked-up sense of humor but not be a fucked-up human being,” Kavanagh told the Daily Dot last month. “I’m very awkward in a fun way. I’ll go out to eat and the waiter will say, ‘Can I get you a beer?’ And I’ll say, ‘I can’t. I’m allergic. I break out in track marks.’ The waiter will just look at me like oh my god…”

While plenty of his social media followers have reached out to Kavanagh to thank him for providing this space to relate to others, others don’t find his brand of humor particularly helpful, including experts interviewed by BuzzFeed News and the Daily Dot. But while they were reluctant to praise his efforts due to the graphic and “offensive” nature of his posts, they did acknowledge the importance of finding connection in recovery.

While the content on Dank Recovery Memes may be offensive to some, its greater purpose is to bring together a marginalized community through humor. And for “normies” who come across these memes, it’s a humanizing glimpse inside the world of people living with addiction.

“There are other people like me who are sober right now who don’t know you can be sober but still laugh,” said Kavanagh. "Being OK with your sense of humor and laughing at your past is a form of self-forgiveness. It helps remove the shame, stigma, and isolation that comes with addiction.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr