Creating a Sober Wingman with Duke Rumely

In this episode, we talk to Duke Rumely about his non-profit organization Sober AF Entertainment, creating sober support and why being sober doesn’t mean you have to feel like the weirdo in a social group setting.

July 5th, 2022

Episode Notes

Memorable Moments:

  • 3:07 You know, it’s ridiculous there’s no secondary culture. As far as, if you don’t want to drink or do drugs, you don’t need to feel like the weirdo. Plus, I’ve had this long term sobriety and just kind of knew, like, the first year sobriety is so hard and so awkward. But if you had a sober wingman to kind of show you how to have fun sober, it kind of takes away this self pity card that we’re all walking around with. Just that, you know, oh my god, I can have fun sober. 
  • 6:50 I think we’re like a little nudge, a little poke to people like, “hey, you can host your own sober support events.” Like, it’s okay. Just because you’re in recovery, [it] doesn’t mean you can’t put your hand up, [it] doesn’t mean you can’t like, protect your own community. 
  • 7:48 You know, there’s a community out there that to drink is to die. And how do we kind of help those people feel comfortable at these different events, because their life doesn’t have to be over. Just because you’re not drinking or doing drugs, you don’t have to be like, you’re the weirdo.
  • 10:38 We had a woman in long term recovery, who 25 years earlier, [at the] inaugural season, was asked to sing the national anthem at the Rockies. And she was so drunk, she couldn’t leave the house. So she was so embarrassed, she left Colorado. A year later, she gets sober. So now she’s 24 years sober, gets to come back to Colorado, sing the national anthem, and slay that dragon of that guilt and remorse that she had about it. And she got to tell that story at our sober tailgate beforehand.
  • 14:39 Then that one day came where the idea of life might be okay without alcohol. That’s as much as I could kind of give with this first little, like step zero. Like somehow you gotta get a buy in to that life might be okay without alcohol.
  • 17:05 It was this big thing in my head. And people don’t care. But it was the first time walking through that. And the second time you go through, it’s still awkward, but not as awkward. And the third time, it’s still awkward, but not as awkward and it just gets so much easier. But that first year, there’s so many new experiences. So I think that’s kind of why Sober AF is so important.
  • 19:47 I think we all need to give ourselves a little bit of a break, and just try to get back into whatever that groove was before. 
  • 20:50 I think we’re in an unprecedented time that we won’t realize how disruptive COVID was to the recovery community. So that being said, you’re still alive, you got a chance to kind of get back on whatever that beam was before.
  • 23:29 I think as a guy who’s 32 years sober, who goes back to meetings, I almost need to like, forget what I’ve learned before. Right? What worked in 1989 and the 90s, may not work in 22.  
  • 24:42 I think that is where we need to understand that’s what the generation wants. How do we support people virtually, if that’s kind of what the future is going to look like?

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This podcast is hosted by Allison Walsh and Dr. Angela Phillips. It is produced by Allison Walsh, Ashley Tate, and Nicole LaNeve. For more information or if you’re interested in being a guest on this podcast, please visit

Show Contributors

Duke Rumely

Duke Rumely is the Founder and Executive Director of Sober AF Entertainment, SAFE. This nonprofit creates and manages sober support events and sober sections at music festivals, concerts and sporting events. SAFE has hosted 100 events and had over 5,200 people join in person and another 44,000 join virtually on their Twitch Channel. Before SAFE, Duke founded National Recovery Skiathon. Duke worked on Wall Street for 20 years and then worked as a interventionist and community liaison for treatment centers for 10 years. Duke has a 20 year old son, Ben, and 24 year old daughter.