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The revolution will not be sober: the problem with notions of “radical sobriety” & “intoxication culture”
i’m not ok with some of this article(*) but overall i think there’s some super important stuff here.
Since it’s specifically brought up here, i’ll mention that i feel neither “radical sobriety” nor this specific piece explore nearly enough for me the piece around drug and alcohol use or sobriety etc as it relates to accessibility (or ableism for that matter), despite spending time talking about it (a bit flimsy and way too cherry-picked for my liking). BUT: i think so-called “radical sobriety” discourse does the most damage by employing it the ways it does.
If you’re going to use access/ accessibility/ etc as a point in your discussions around sobriety or lack thereof, be prepared to deal with it all, not just the parts that you can stuff into a specific box, trimming off the uncomfortable edges. Accessibility cuts across many experiences. Disability movements have been talking about/ dealing with/ living with/ vilifying/ supporting/ everything between and beyond substance use for a really, really long time. We’ve been talking about notions of dependency v independence v interdependence (none of which are actually new ideas) related and unrelated to drug/alcohol use for a long time; we’ve been fighting to have space to medicate as we need to, with whatever we need to, fighting for basic access to those substances ranging from alcohol, various prescription and non-prescription drugs, etc; so much work has been done within disability movements around this stuff, and yet still vilification of drug and alcohol use continue for many of the reasons the article does talk about. The ongoing moralistic nonsense around this stuff doesn’t serve anyone but the very systems “radical” folks claim to be fighting.
Having a sober space/event does not automatically equal accessible, neither does having a non-sober space. Both experiences (and everything between and beyond, because this shit is rarely clearcut) are part of access/ibility. [A side example: i was harshly chastised when i used to go to AA for using Rescue Remedy for my anxiety, because for some its grape seed alcohol base meant i was apparently not actually sober, and that Rescue Remedy was some kind of thin-edge-of-the-wedge that would lead me back to drinking (it hasn’t). And i’ve been chastised by proponents of “radical sobriety” etc for using the prescription drugs i use for my disabilities because they feed “big pharma” (UGH), etc. How is this kind of stuff creating “accessible” spaces/ communities exactly?]
RAMP uses drug/alcohol use etc as an access point in accessibility audits, but not to name sober spaces as somehow inherently accessible. It’s so much more than that, and if you have an event/space which vilifies drug/alcohol users (or which imagines “drug” in one specific, demonized context), you are creating an inaccessible space, full stop. It’s one thing to have specific spaces that are sober (or not sober, or a combination) for specific reasons; it’s another to treat one another as though our personal choices or options around what we do/n’t put in our bodies are hard-wired to be inherently accessible or inaccessible, that one is better or somehow more moral or evolved (UGH) than the other, and that one is more “radical” than the other. i’ve been sober since 2002, and i still say without hesitation: fuck that bullshit.
* e.g. the flippant stating of there being “no harm to anyone else” in drug/alcohol use. i think the assumption that use automatically brings harm to others, i.e. that harm is inherent in use, that use in itself is harm, is the actual problem.
* e.g. The article says: “Radical sobriety’ people have named our experiences while high as “inauthentic”. This naming of others experiences employs a colonizing and paternalistic logic, and the same kind of moralism that leads to criminalization and pathologization. Notions of the “right” way to be and the “wrong” way to be are what drive practices of exclusion targeting people who actively use drugs.“ –but then at the start of this article they write “In our experience, drug use can facilitate authentic, compassionate, and emotionally bonded social relationships that are not possible otherwise [my emphasis]” — and i think that is a totally unnecessary bullshit generalization.