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Humor in Sobriety: An Unexpected Aid in Recovery

Written by Eli Crofoot
Published on April 7, 2021

The journey to sobriety has never been an easy one. Committing to changing one’s own life for the better and eliminating dependencies that more often than not derail it requires a massive amount of mental fortitude, courage, and resilience – and one of the most important ways people manage to get through those challenges is by using humor. In our current social media-driven era, perhaps the single most prominent way of delivering humor is through memes (humorous images or videos that spread from person to person online), and as such a whole community has sprung out of people sharing their own feelings and experiences of addiction recovery through the form of memes. While the humor is often quite dark, that sense of honesty and ability to make light of an awful situation is what makes the jokes truly relatable to those in recovery, and the ability to laugh at yourself just a little through everything can be quite therapeutic thing.

In a recent New York Times article on the subject, author Ivy Knight interviews several people going through addiction recovery and their experiences with how memes have helped them through their struggles with sobriety, with one interviewee stating that “In AA we talk about finding a fellowship… that’s a big part of being a healthy person in general, having people around you that just get you. When I stumbled into the recovery meme community it was like, ‘These are my people.’” Instagram accounts such as @dankrecovery and @brutalrecovery have gained hundreds of thousands of followers by sharing their own experiences in the form of dark humor, so those going down a similar path to recovery can find something to relate to and commiserate with.

However, this online community around addiction recovery and using humor to help keep going doesn’t end with memes, nor did it start with them. YouTube channels centered around people who have recovered from addiction disorders sharing their stories and advice have gained massive followings, such as CG Kid, whose videos talking about his experiences with cocaine addiction with humor and levity have gained 30 million views over the course of his channel’s existence, and podcasts such as Dopey have gained dedicated followings by sharing darkly humorous stories and advice for over two-hundred episodes. 

Addiction recovery is one of the most difficult paths one can take in life, but for millions of people, it is a necessary one. Memes, videos, podcasts, and other forms of online self-expression have become an important outlet for support for many, and the true benefits of finding a community to relate to and strive to improve with can never be understated.


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