How Health and Fitness are the New 'Sober' while the days of binge drinking dwindle

Recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol has gone through many era’s through the last century. Over the past decade, however, a few exciting things have happened. A shift from treatment for alcohol to an adoption of health, wellness, and fitness. A decline in college drinking and a rise in gym memberships. In addition, we are starting to see things like sober bars, sober gyms, sober nightclubs. Take Wildcrafters in Jacksonville, Florida for insta

nce. Looks like a bar, feels like a bar, drinks like an AA meeting with a hip crowd!


Why? Where is this all coming from? It's great that it is, but there are still a lot out there suffering. So, how can we draw on this movement and further impact a population that is still in dire need of help? In this article, I give a brief overview of the history of the views and treatment of addiction and how we have gotten to where we are today. I'll then close it up with a few words on my mission with my program Integrity Endurance and my Boca Raton-Palm Beach County, Florida based Coaching and personal training is contributing to the new movement of addiction (or not) in 2021.


The Dawning of Alcoholics Anonymous


Historically, treatment has always had a harrowing tone and ill fate attached. At First, came a punitive, social isolation approach and that spawned from religious abnegation and social castigation. Treatment came with great punishment and legislation. Then came the idea that it was a spiritual problem and at the same time a medicalization approach was dawning. The spiritual Groups took to prayer and moral-based lifestyle changes to address the problem. Other groups began seeing addiction as a disease with medical solutions. Neither of these groups thrived alone because some don’t connect as well with prayer and others can’t seem to grasp the notion of addiction being a biochemical process. So out of these roots came the Alcoholics Anonymous model, which modified the spiritual axiom while opening its doors to people who didn’t affiliate with a God at all but could stomach the medical approach. They still taught them to pray, just to a “God of our own understanding.” They applied the medicalization principles of disease by calling the ingestion, and subsequent aberrant behaviors, an allergy to alcohol and other mind-altering substances. Alcoholics Anonymous is by far the most prevalent and longstanding approach to drug and alcohol addiction. The principals seem to work so well that they are used to help people with sex addiction, eating addiction, shopaholics and so on and so on. There really is an AA for everything.


The privatization and institutionalization to AA and Rehab


A third variable that Alcoholics Anonymous tagged onto the addiction model has sociological flavor, and this helps us greatly in the present times. They saw that change is most likely to occur in a group context. This helped Alcoholics Anonymous spread like wildfire, but a downside came quickly when the medical field saw an opportunity. Unfortunately, it took a turn towards institutionalization in the 70’s and the construction of large rehab centers that taught and prescribed alcoholics anonymous through intensive therapy were erected. Good thing it wasn’t a complete paradigm shift because through the 80’s and 90’s we saw the emergence of wrap-around care enter the entire medical field.


Wrap-around care model saves the day...


The institutions that were federally funded to treat addiction were not immune to this shift, so they began offering wrap-around services out of necessity. The wrap-around services include involvement with family, community, housing, employment and legal help. As such, the addict was back in the community, speaking about his problem and helping other addicts get sober, the original sociological principle that seemed to make Alcoholics Anonymous so very successful in the first place.


Over the past two decades, the prevailing treatment approach has been a wrap-around service model. An addict follows this path: 1) inpatient rehab 2) comes out and lives in a sober house (AKA halfway house) while attending Outpatient rehab to help adaptation into society with legal, behavioral, relational help and 3) successfully maintains sobriety through ongoing meetings with AA or NA or some other micro-community addiction-based involvement.


Something new entirely!


Interestingly, although the wrap-around care model still exists and seems to be the default, between 2010-2020 we are seeing something new entirely and it’s very exciting! Instead of addiction as a deviation from the norm, a medical melody, or a spiritual inadequacy people are beginning to see it more as a societal, cultural, and personal burden. Our generation is literally moving towards abstinence as a form of health and sustainability for a better society in which we live. But, it's happening in little places not really seen by the naked eye


Three of those giants- pharmaceutical, alcohol, and tobacco are spending more than ever on advertising! They are fighting against this movement with all they have: money. Good thing we have something more: Community!