Are You ‘Sober Curious’? And What Does That Actually Mean?

Nonalcoholic drinks and mocktails are all the rage, especially among young people. Here's why — and how — you might try out sobriety and improve your well-being. All Sober’s Maeve O’Neill shares tips

July 27, 2022
Sober curious woman sitting on the beach with coffee

Near beer, mocktails, sober bars, nonalcoholic tequila? You may have heard of the “sober curious” movement, but the options for those who want to eliminate or sharply cut down on alcohol consumption have become dramatically more varied and intriguing in the past few years.

Sales of nonalcoholic beverages increased 33% in just one year between late 2020 and 2021, according to Nielsen. Other studies show that millennials and Gen Z are leading the way, with some recent surveys showing well more than half of this cohort engaging in alcohol use once a month or less.

The sober curious are not necessarily people with alcohol use disorder, nor are they committing to permanent abstinence: They simply want to reevaluate their relationship with alcohol and try living without much of it. But what are the health benefits of getting sober curious, both mental and physical? And how can you shift your lifestyle to take alcohol out of the equation? From PureWow:

Choosing to moderate or temporarily abstain from alcohol use might allow you to have a healthier relationship with alcohol. “Reexamining one’s alcohol consumption provides an opportunity to explore our relationship to why we drink, how you feel when you drink and what happens when we cut down or stop entirely,” Maeve O’Neill, EVP of addiction and recovery at All Sober, says. “By participating in a sober curious lifestyle, we make conscious decisions of what we choose to put into our bodies, our personal limits and under what circumstances we may choose to moderate or abstain from alcohol use.”

She continues, “The mental health or well-being benefits allow us time for self-reflection as to why we might feel pressure to drink in social or workplace settings, and to discover with confidence that alcohol as a social prop or stress reducer is not necessary. If we drink to reduce stress, we may be encouraged to develop alternative natural methods, be it meditation or exercise or deep breathing techniques, that achieve similar coping results.”

If you’re considering adopting a sober curious lifestyle, O’Neill says there are ways to make the leap as natural and successful as possible.

1) Question your relationship with alcohol.

“The first step of this journey is examining your personal relationship with alcohol. Think about the times, places and people you usually drink around, and examine why you were drinking and how it benefited you. Think about what is important to you and what you value in life and how alcohol influences them.”

2) Focus on supportive friends.

“Surround yourself with people who are respectful and supportive of your decision. If someone is constantly pressuring you to drink after you have declined and explained why, consider spending less time around them and more time with your friends who care about spending time with you and your wellness.”

3) Control the environment.

“Going sober curious doesn’t mean you will never have a drink again, but avoiding a wine tasting event or outing at a bar on a day you plan to not drink is a good idea. Start inviting friends to hang out at places that are not focused on alcohol, or going by yourself to places like parks, coffee shops, museums or bookstores.”

4) Find new hobbies.

“If some of your previous pastimes were focused on alcohol, it might be fun to find a new hobby. There are hundreds of different hobbies out there, but a good place to start could be finding a new sport, creating art, cooking, playing music or gaming.”

Read the full guide, including more eye-opening data and a brief history of the sober curious trend, at PureWow.

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