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Feel Free: The New Sobriety

by Roger Porter

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday November 12, 2022

Feel Free: The New Sobriety

Even with the long tradition of socializing with friends, family and colleagues over a few beers or cocktails, sobriety seems to be having a moment. In recent years, a month-long event to kick booze to the curb and go at it without the "social lubricating" effects of alcohol has transformed into, some might say, a noble cause.

The challenge is to examine one's relationship with alcohol, improve overall health and consider activities that aren't centered around drinking. Even non-alcoholic beverages in the form of mocktails and zero alcohol beers that don't taste like sweat in a can have seen an uptick in sales. With consumer tastes shifting toward sobriety, or perhaps call it a break from the onslaught of crushing beer after beer, Feel Free, a shot-sized tonic made from all natural ingredients, is the alcohol alternative you've been looking for. Move over, Dry January and Sober October, Feel Free is the new sobriety.

If you haven't heard of Feel Free, it's a proprietary blend of Pacific Island plants (a concoction of kava, kratom, and other natural ingredients) that packs a feeling of euphoric punch. One swig of this elixir melts away the occasional stress and anxiety, and you are well on your way to a harmonious and productive day. And it's racing up the consumer beverage charts, outselling popular drinks like Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy in 7-Eleven stores across the country. But Feel Free's most enduring quality may be that it is completely alcohol free. Say goodbye to pesky hangovers, excessive empty calories and other negative side effects of consuming alcohol.

That Feel Free is the perfect alternative to alcohol and promotes feelings of social belonging and comfort is no coincidence. In fact, the drink's creator, J.W. Ross, discovered the idea in the wake of his own debilitating alcoholism and subsequent recovery. "I'm thankful for my sobriety," Ross tells me on a Zoom interview. "I stopped drinking 12 years ago and though I saw a vast improvement in my life, I still didn't have the happy life I wanted. I was a dry drunk, as they say."

A years-long search brought the Feel Free founder to Eastern medicines that use natural herbs and plants without the deleterious effects of fermentation found in alcohol. "Being the researcher that I am, I set out to find something to replace alcohol as a social lubricant without inebriation. I went into the market and everything I found that was legal didn't really do anything; everything I found that was illegal did too much."

After extensive experimentation, Ross zeroed in on the right mixture and Feel Free was born. "I use it on a daily basis and it works fantastic for me. I can go to work and drive a car and there are no physical or social issues like I had with alcohol."

The conversation turns poignant when I ask him to elaborate on what he means by the physical and social issues he experienced as a result of his alcohol use. "As someone who has lived through alcoholism, I can say that this [Feel Free] does not inebriate you. You're not going to get in a car crash and live with regret for the rest of your life. Or you won't wake up the next day and wish you hadn't said or did that."

I wrapped up my Zoom interview with Ross and continued to ponder this notion of sobriety. Perhaps there really is more to it than just cutting out hangovers, dubious decisions and empty calories. As with sober-themed months scattered throughout the calendar, Feel Free aims to reframe sobriety as a balance between introspection and a healthy mindset with living an active and social human experience. And even if it falls short of its lofty goals, the drink is still an alternative to alcohol that asks us to come face to face with sobriety, even if for just a month at a time.