PopMusic: Sober

Published on April 18, 2013 by Larkin Callaghan

In P!nk’s song “Sober,” the artist details the outcome of a substance-saturated lifestyle. Alluding to late night-early morning binges, staying up till dawn, and admitting to blackouts that impact her relationships, she even laments that a relapse into the behavior would leave no one else to blame—a nod to the difficult individual struggles faced by those trying to make changes in their substance use despite knowing that their actions are having adverse affects in other areas of their life. “When it’s good then it’s good, it’s so good ’till it goes bad,” artfully displays the highs and excitements of the substance use, followed by the painful episodes of coming down. The video itself graphically depicts the physical ramifications of P!nk’s actions, as viewers watch her repeatedly get sick.

P!nk suggests that when she was abusing drugs, she was doing so because she was uncomfortable in her own skin: “I don’t want to be the girl that laughs the loudest/or the girl who never wants to be alone,” she sings. She later continues, “I don’t wanna be the girl that has to fill the silence/The quiet scares me ’cause it screams the truth,” highlighting the difficulty some users have facing the reality of their situation.

Feelings or fears of isolation and concerns about one’s public persona are only some of the many anxieties that may factor into substance abuse, and P!ink has been fairly open about her previously wild lifestyle. She noted that since starting a family a couple of years ago, her behavior has changed. “I’ve softened, and I think it’s perfect,” she told Pressparty in November. “It’s what I needed. I was hoping for a little edge loss.”


Read our introduction to the PopMusic series, The 2×2 Project’s compilation of some of the most iconic songs tackling topics of public health. Come back to see new songs posted every Thursday.

Edited by Jordan Lite. Additional research by Lauren Weisenfluh.

Larkin Callaghan
Larkin Callaghan received her doctoral and master’s degrees from the Health & Behavior Studies department at Columbia, with a program focus in public health education and specialization in women's and adolescent health. Her research interests include social and behavioral epidemiology, women’s and adolescent reproductive health, health policy, and gender disparities (including among transgender and gender non-conforming individuals) in disease and access to care. She previously worked as a United Nations correspondent covering global health issues in developing countries, and currently manages Stanford University's global health education and training programs in developing countries. Follow her @LarkinCallaghan.

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