On June 20, 2021, when Mike Stoecker hit 15,000 followers on TikTok, he honored the milestone by drinking 23 cans of Busch Ice in three hours.
“I was taking advice from people on the TikTok live, giving comments. I was driving around, drunk, in my Dodge Charger,” he told In The Know of that night. He said the next morning his fiancé, Becky, asked him if he remembered what he did.
“I thought it was a run-of-the-mill ‘I’m sorry I got stupid last night,'” he said, but “she told me I was driving around. … I almost hit children.”
After getting out of bed, the couple went downstairs and dumped every last drop of alcohol down their kitchen sink. It has been over a year and Stoecker hasn’t had a drink since.
“There were a lot of catalysts on why I started recovery, but [that night] was absolutely the peak, or the rock bottom, however you want to look at it,” he explained. “I didn’t remember 8 out of 10 Tiktoks I posted, and that was on a daily basis [asking myself], ‘Oh what did I post last night?'”
Stoecker’s TikTok was initially made out of boredom. He called himself @thedrunkard and posted videos of himself shot-gunning beers.
“You make such a toxic relationship, where you can live without it, and it can’t live without you, which is quite literally a transition with alcohol,” he said of his addiction. “Your entire life you’ve been living with alcohol, living with this in your hand and that’s your comfort zone. Nobody likes leaving their comfort zone.”
Stoecker now has over 63,000 followers on the platform and changed his handle to @recoveringdrunkentiktok. His videos vary from serious conversations with commenters about what it’s like to be in recovery to more light-hearted videos, like a POV of waking up and remembering everything that happened the night before.
The ways Stoecker’s life has changed since becoming sober are eye-opening for him. About six months after quitting drinking, he started going to the gym. Even before working out, though, his physical appearance had changed. He found new activities to keep him occupied when he feels bored. He picked up video games again and plays regularly with his son.
“Nothing better in the world,” he captioned one video showing him and his son gaming.
“Has your son noticed a change in you since you’re sober now?” one commenter asked.
“He definitely has and he tells me often,” Stoecker replied.
TikTok, in a way, played a major role in Stoecker’s recovery. He describes it as the “catalyst” that made him decide to stop drinking and also credits it as being one of the biggest sources of support during the past year.
“Me talking into a screen, knowing other people are living the same situation is very helpful for me,” he said. “On my down days, I know that I can count on the TikTok community to help.”
Stoecker uses his daily posts on TikTok as a form of accountability too. His followers — those who support his recovery and those who are in similar situations — expect a video.
“I read every single comment. I may not be able to comment or respond back to everyone, but I do read every single one,” he added. “To everyone who has been supportive, and comments daily, or ones that even view the videos — thank you so much.”
More from In The Know: