Around a year and a half ago, Sober Sammy started posting videos on TikTok.
He’d struggled with addiction throughout his early 20s. During that time, Sammy told In The Know he was “in and out” of rehab.
Then, in his mid 20s, he began the recovery journey that he now shares daily with his nearly 300,000 followers. It’s a decision that has had a large, noticeable impact on his life.
“[TikTok has] really helped me embrace who I was instead of being embarrassed,” Sammy said. “When I started posting on TikTok and that got me really comfortable with who I was.”
His page, @sobercomedy, is aptly named. Sammy’s videos are vulnerable and honest, but, they’re also extremely funny. One day, he’s cracking jokes about dating as a person in recovery and the next he’s using viral audios to share moments from his journey.
The wacky, comical tone behind many of Sammy’s videos is intentional. It came out of a stereotype Sammy admits he once believed about sobriety.
“I also started posting on TikTok about my recovery because I had my own preconceptions of what sober life was going to be like. I thought I was going to be boring. I didn’t think I would get comfortable in my own skin,” he told In The Know.
As Sammy has gotten more and more comfortable sharing online, those preconceptions have faded. Now, he’s able to use humor as a way to work through his own struggles — and to relate to others in similar situations.
“I’ve had my rough days,” he said. “But also I’ve gotten to experience a lot.”
Speaking with In The Know, Sammy shared the three big reasons he decided to post about his journey on TikTok — and how he hopes his experience can help others, too.
1. To get comfortable
When he started his recovery journey, Sammy had a hard time being comfortable with himself. He describes himself as “timid” and unsure of how his life might look as a person in recovery.
“I didn’t really know who this new ‘Sober Sammy’ person was,” he said.
Social media made a huge difference. By forcing himself to share online, Sammy was able to embrace the things that used to make him insecure.
That’s how the “sober comedy” started, he said. As he got more and more comfortable online, he started realizing he could actually make things better by reflecting on his past.
“It’s basically taking the insanity of what our lives once were and putting laughter in it,” Sammy said. “Like for me, that’s my coping mechanism. If I just stayed [looking back] on like what I did in my past, and I couldn’t laugh about it, then I would be very depressed, very guilty, shameful of my past.”
2. To show the ‘fun’ side of sobriety
At times, Sammy worried that his life in recovery would be limited.
“I didn’t think I could do anything without getting the drink or the drug,” he said.
But as time went on, he started to find his lifestyle a lot more freeing. Now, it’s a major ethos behind his page — showing just how much fun he has as a person in recovery.
“I get to do things that I wasn’t doing in my addiction,” he said. “The things I would tell myself when I was actively using saying like, ‘Oh, one day I’ll be able to travel here. One day I’ll be able to do this with my friends.’ So I just wanted to show that for people that were very apprehensive to make that leap, because it’s so much fun. The things I get to do today, I get to randomly drive to San Diego and jump off Sunset Cliffs, you know.”
“Fun” is its own category of videos on Sammy’s page. Plenty of his posts, even some of his most popular ones, feature nothing more than him just living life — enjoying himself.
“I know most people knew me [as] the one that’s always getting drunk and like doing crazy things,” Sammy said. “Now I’m still doing crazy things, but like, completely sober. And I think that’s an important thing to point out.”
3. To help build empathy
Another thing Sammy found when he started posting on TikTok was just how large the app’s recovery community is. There are countless hashtags, like #SoberLife or #Sobriety, that have hundreds of millions of views.
Now, his videos can be found at the top of those hashtag pages. It’s something he’s aware of as a creator. He knows recovery can be isolating, and he wants his viewers to know they’re not alone.
“It’s just a beautiful thing to know that there are people out there willing to help you along your journey,” he said.
Beyond the laughs and the fun, that’s the big thing Sammy wants people to get out of his videos — a support system.
“Like that’s honestly another reason why I was like, ‘Dude. Why not post about this stuff?'” Sammy said. “There are so many like human beings [on TikTok and] there’s going to be all these types of communities. And you know, it’s just like so cool to know that there are people who you can relate with.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder, call The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 1-800-662-4357 for resources, or find a treatment option near you through The National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers directory. Visit the American Addiction Centers website to learn more about the possible signs of substance use disorder.
If you liked this story, check out In The Know’s interview with activist Brandon Anthony, creator of the top-rated Reddit video series, Recovery Road.
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