#188 – Episode 189 – BONUS: Changing the Alcohol Culture


In this special bonus episode, Veronica joins forces with long-time colleague Joe Schrank. They discuss how we need to change the alcohol culture by producing a TV show called Are You Sober Curious? To do this, they need your help. We’re asking our sober community to help crowdfund the pilot episode. Find out more info here: https://seedandspark.com/fund/are-you-sober-curious

Listen to the episode now:

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about this episode

As a culture, we’re so committed to the idea that alcohol is the best way to have fun and belong.

It’s time to shatter that belief system.

Joe Schrank and I are passionate about spreading the word about sobriety, shifting perceptions, and getting the word to as many people as possible as soon as possible.

People need to know that not drinking is a very viable option and lifestyle.

Joe Schrank is a clinical social worker, journalist, public speaker, and policy advocate with more than 20 years of experience as a social worker in the addiction and mental health space. He is a frequent contributor to Salon, the Daily Beast, and The Huffington Post and believes addiction is the health crisis of the modern age.

I’ve known Joe for around 15 years, and we’re working on an extraordinary and exciting project that we’d love for you to be involved with.

We want to change the conversation, and this is the next logical step to do that. There are so many wonderful podcasts, Instagram accounts, and books, but we still don’t have the TV show the world needs. The one that shows that drinking is harmful and that sobriety is fun, excitement, and freedom.

I want my kids to grow up in a world where not drinking is seen as just another acceptable dietary choice, like being a vegetarian or a vegan. I believe that the way we do that is through a TV show.

The project: Are you sober curious?

In the show, Joe and I will work with people who are questioning their relationship with alcohol. We’ll take them on a journey to shift their perception around their drinking, look at a cost/benefit of their drinking, and turn their perception of sobriety on its head. It will be a six to eight-week process where we will stop drinking, do some interventions, and work with them on some of the deeper issues around their drinking.


How you can help

The more people involved with this, the better our chances of success.

To get the show off the ground, we’re crowdfunding a campaign to hire a production team and film the pilot. We need this proof of concept to get in front of the right executive and get the show created. Once we hit our funding target of $29,000, we’ll start the search for a participant and shoot our pilot episode in Southern California. When the show gets picked up, our long-term goal is to make this an international show featuring people worldwide.

You can learn more about the project and our campaign here: https://seedandspark.com/fund/are-you-sober-curious

We would love your support whichever way you can – good vibrations go a long way.

If you’re considering a financial contribution, no amount is too small. If you can’t afford to contribute, please spread the word about our campaign, share it on social media, and tell people about it. There are also some giveaways associated with different contribution levels. If you’re in a position to contribute a larger amount, you can even have a credit on the pilot that we’re doing.

We’ve all poured so much into our drinking lives, we can now pour into our recovery lives. Recovery conversations at this macro, community level are a significant thing.

key highlights

Public consciousness

“It should be a bigger issue in Western culture and life than it is.” – Joe Schrank

Twenty years ago, when Joe and I got sober, the only stories you heard about drinking were the social drinkers who were fine (think hardboiled detectives and mothers sipping wine) or the rock-bottom, life-is-ruined alcoholic.

Now, with the rise of social media, people are more public about their sobriety than ever.

Even so, it’s still very underground when we pull back from our sober circles. With alcoholism impacting one in ten Americans, it’s clear that it’s a massive issue, yet it doesn’t get anywhere near the recognition of other conditions.

There’s still a massive amount of secrecy, shame, and denial surrounding the problem. We have a long way to go.


The moderation pipe dream

“Problem drinkers labor under the faulty belief system that alcohol is a benefit to their lives, and they just need to figure out how to manage it.” – Veronica Valli

Most of us, at some point in our drinking lives, believe there’s a secret formula to getting the benefits of alcohol without the drawbacks. We think everything will be fine if only we can unlock it.

Because of that, we spend far too long convinced that the only people who need to quit drinking are the people scraping rock bottom and that they’re doomed to suffer a dry life.

As sober people, the best thing we can do is to show others that sobriety is so much better than anything they’ve ever experienced and that none of their preconceptions are true.


Prevention and awareness are crucial

“If we say alcoholism is a disease, why are we not treating people like patients?” – Joe Schrank

We don’t wait to intervene in diabetes when the individual needs amputation. Why isn’t there a similar standard for alcoholism?

Far too often, people have to be in dire circumstances before they can address issues with alcohol. Instead, they should be encouraged to look at their problems and relationship with alcohol long before they reach a crisis point.

Joe is passionate about this, and one of his big missions is talking to college students about the relationships they’re forming with alcohol and how it will follow them throughout their lives.


Join the movement

We want to ask you to be part of this movement.

We know we can’t get rid of alcohol, but we want to live in a world where being alcohol-free is seen as a legitimate choice. We want to create a culture where people can find their escape route much earlier instead of spending years trying to manage what is, in reality, a miserable experience.

If you’re invested in that mission as much as we are, we would love to ask for your help to support Are You Sober Curious?, the project that Joe and I are working to get off the ground.


Community impact

Imagine the concept of not drinking being something that’s normalized and talked about everywhere. Imagine how different that would make things.

On Are You Sober Curious? Our participants won’t be rock-bottom stories. They’ll be people who don’t fit the criteria when other people look at them. They’ll show viewers a glimpse of the many people who look fine but internally are questioning their relationship with alcohol.

When people see that, they’ll see themselves in the participants, and we can start creating a national and global conversation about not drinking.

resources mentioned

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