Picture of a number of sobriety books laid out on a table.

Three Things I Hate About Sober Literature (a.k.a. Quit-Lit)

Why these books sometimes hurt more than help the alcohol-conscious movement.

Picture of a number of sobriety books laid out on a table.

We read to know we are not alone. — C.S. Lewis

Sometimes, I just hate quit-lit.

I don’t hate the sentiment behind it because I’ve been pushing a life of sobriety to anyone that will listen to me for over the past two years, so, by affiliation, I fall into this category.

But perhaps that’s part of the problem.

I feel that I push more of a sense of alcohol-consciousness than sobriety, meaning that I don’t think people should quit drinking because they have a problem with it per-say (even though they should if they do).

My writing is focused more on the casual, non-addicted user whose current life isn’t terrible because of alcohol but will only get better if they decide to cut back (if they can) or remove it forever.

Much like one’s life will be better if you exercise regularly, read more books, and practice gratitude.

However with quit lit, and sometimes the sober culture connected to it, there seems to be the insistence of presenting an image in which the person who decides to quit must be at or close to rock bottom to make the decision to do so.

You’ll read books by various authors, and they will tell the story about how they woke up somewhere not remembering how they got there or were given an ultimatum by their family to stop drinking or they could possibly no longer have a relationship with them.

I feel like these stories damage the alcohol-consciousness movement for a number of specific reasons.

They present the person as more of the problem than alcohol

I get it.

The stories are from these individual’s lives, so how can I be critical of their stories?

I’m not saying that these people shouldn’t share these. It’s their truth and they definitely help a number of people.

I just wish there were more books that shared stories of people who decided to quit drinking who DIDN’T hit rock bottom.

People who were thriving in life and not having any major issues with alcohol other than recognizing that they could not be the best version of themselves by allowing it in their lives.

In many of these stories, the protagonists only desires to stop drinking after having some major episode in which they do something they can’t quite remember and find themselves “ashamed.”

It’s usually either this or a family member gives them an ultimatum that they can no longer be in their lives or their kid’s lives if this behavior persist.

It makes it seems like it’s the person fault for allowing alcohol to take over their life so completely, not alcohol’s fault for being the toxic addictive substance that it is.

They suggest you must have a recognizable serious problem to consider quitting

Alcohol-consciousness is about recognizing that alcohol does not lead to a healthier and more fulfilled life in the long term.

It has nothing to do with your doctor telling you that you have to stop or you’ll die.

It has nothing to do with almost losing one’s job and perhaps family because of drinking too much.

It has to do with a conscientious decision that someone makes to do things that are more in line with long term health and happiness, much in the same way someone decides to not eat fried food or too much sugar.

The difference with alcohol is that, while you can just cut back on and moderate the fried food and sugar decision, alcohol is something that scientists now know can damage one’s long term intelligence with just about any amount.

In many of these stories, the author presents a dire image of how terrible their life was and that they had to make a life or death decision to continue drinking or not for the sake of their future.

It shouldn’t always have to be like that.

Most people won’t see themselves in the characters of the story

Now we come full circle to explain the major problem with the effectiveness of quit-lit.

Because many people won’t see themselves as having anywhere near the same type of issues or events happen in their lives as some of the authors, the thought of quitting drinking won’t register with them.

They never got a DUI? They’re good to keep to drinking.

They never blacked out or woke up somewhere and couldn’t remember what happened the night before? They’re good to keep to drinking.

They’ve never done anything embarrassing to them or their family that potentially would lead to an ultimatum? They’re good to keep drinking.

All of these things subtly make people feel better about themselves and automatically discount if they should consider giving up alcohol.

This ultimately prevents more people from looking at their drinking habits than probably should be.

And while I think that many quit lit books do a great job of helping those who’ve developed a serious problem with alcohol, I just wish there were more literature out there that helped people quit before this was the case…that would’ve helped the younger me WAY earlier than when I had to just figure it out myself.