Despite what people might assume from Johnny Berry’s “Always Sober” hoodie, he likes to party.
“I was always the life of the party,” Berry said of life during and since high school. “Whenever I would go out with my friends and everybody else was drinking and smoking and stuff, I’m so crazy and outgoing that I didn’t need [drugs or alcohol] to have fun.”
The 22-year-old from Shirley wears the truth; he abstained from alcohol and drugs his entire life. He started his “Always Sober” clothing brand as a motivational and community-forging platform that prioritizes wellness through sobriety.
Berry, who was diagnosed with ADHD and considers himself in possession of an addictive personality, believes that should he dabble in such substances, that would be his end.
According to the American Addiction Centers, about 25 percent of adults receiving recovery services for alcohol or other substance abuse have ADHD. The centers’ website also states children who have ADHD are more likely to abuse alcohol in their teens compared to their peers without the disorder.
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Four years ago, Berry found a social media community formed at the intersection of ADHD and addiction. He began creating videos in which he shares his story and promotes sobriety, which he continues under his “Always Sober” handle.
While Jersey Jerry struggled with addiction, Berry never faced such a challenge, which he made apparent on the podcast, as he does in his own content.
“I’m very transparent, I always say in my videos I’m not here to teach anybody anything, I’ve never been on the other side,” Berry said “ I’m not saying ‘This is how you got to get sober’ or ‘You should do this,’ I’m just sharing my story. And if people can get inspiration from that, that’s great.”
Interacting with recovering addicts
Berry started his Always Sober business venture in 2019 after graduating from Suffolk County Community College, where he studied business.
From a young age, he had entrepreneurship on the brain. He previously sold sunglasses and t-shirts with motivational phrases such as “rule number one, don’t be number two.”
Over the past year, he dedicated more of his time and resources to the Always Sober brand. He said he also had interactions with parents of children with ADHD who are entering the age of substance experimentation.
More common, however, are his interactions with recovering addicts, some only days into their sobriety efforts.
“Was this conversation going to save this guy’s life?” Berry proposed, recalling one such recent run-in. “Maybe not. But that night I don’t think he was going to drink because that conversation we had was fresh. By just simply wearing out a hoodie, it could spark up a conversation that could maybe lead someone down a better path.”
‘You have to be the vibe’
Going forward, Berry hopes to bring his message of sobriety into schools as a motivational speaker. He envisions himself a 2022 updated version of the D.A.R.E. program of yesteryear.
He would never discourage partying, but he said he believes young people should build confidence by focusing on their passions, not give into liquid courage or other substances to feel accepted.
“My message is you don’t need it to have fun. I don’t judge anybody, but I know there’s young people out there that just try it to fit in,” he said.
“You just got to be yourself, even if you don’t know who yourself is,” he added. “Once you find out who you are, you’ll be more likely not to cave in. Once you believe in yourself so much, you don’t need anything else to impact your mind. You have to be the vibe.”