A 22-YEAR-OLD Islander is striving to ‘create a community and open people’s minds’ to sobriety, after quitting alcohol almost 18 months ago.
Cleo Leather currently splits her time between living in Jersey with her family, studying film and television at the University of Bristol, and working on various creative projects across the UK.
She quit alcohol entirely at the beginning of last year, after noticing the detrimental impact that drinking was having on her physical and mental health, relationships with friends and family, and her job and finances.
Miss Leather is not alone in her decision give up alcohol at a young age, with the recently released Alcohol Profile 2022 showing that the number of 16 to 34-year-olds who are teetotal in Jersey had almost doubled between 2014 and 2022, from 8% to 15% of young people.
Using everything she has learned from the past 16 months of sobriety, Miss Leather runs an Instagram account called ‘Agent Agenda’, which provides tips for other young people who may be curious about being sober.
Miss Leather used to struggle with ‘really severe anxiety’ which was exacerbated whenever she drank alcohol, often leaving her ‘paralysed’ and unable to leave the house.
She explained that signing up for a charity fight night event at her university gave her the ‘final push’ to commit to being sober – initially only for a period of three months.
‘I didn’t have the self respect to go sober for myself back then,’ she said. ‘So signing up for the fight night gave me the final push I need to commit to it.’
After completing both the charity fight and three months of sobriety, Miss Leather realised that she ‘didn’t want to go back to that part of [her] life’.
She added that deciding to be sober while at university was ‘really hard’, as it was often seen as a period where people assumed that everyone wants to spend time drinking and getting drunk.
She said: ‘I used to be so scared to be around alcohol and would have nightmares about getting spiked, or about the bartender messing up my drink order.’
However, Miss Leather soon realised that she could enjoy nights out while being sober if she made sure that she had a ‘good group of people’ around her.
She added that none of her friendships had been affected by her decision to go sober.
‘I think my friends respect it because I take it so seriously,’ Miss Leather said. ‘It’s made my life infinitely better.’
Since talking openly about her journey in person and online, Miss Leather has been surprised by the huge amount of people who have approached her privately to voice similar struggles with alcohol and a desire to abstain from drinking.
This gave her the motivation to ‘create a community and open people’s minds’ to sobriety through her Agent Agenda account on Instagram.
Miss Leather said that she had noticed an increase in other young people giving up drinking, and explained that she believed this was down to ‘wellness coming into the limelight’.
She added that the social media platforms most commonly populated by the younger demographic, such as Tiktok, were the ones most heavily championing the wellness movement.
Miss Leather said that young people nowadays had a ‘healthier role model’ to look up to with the increasing curiosity around a sober lifestyle.
You can read more about Miss Leather’s sobriety journey on Instagram at @AgentAgenda.