By Mandy Parsons
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 140,000 people die every year from excessive alcohol use. In 2020, with the onset of COVID-19, those numbers rose 26%.
While alcohol-related deaths are climbing, there are positive developments on the horizon. Monthlong sobriety challenges like Sober October and Dry January are growing in popularity, as many young adults explore life without alcohol.
One such effort directed toward alcohol-free living is the sober curious movement, which is rapidly gaining momentum among the college-age crowd. So does this mean that drinking is going out of style?
What Is Sober Curious?
Someone who is sober curious chooses to cut back on or abstain from alcohol consumption for a set amount of time. This is often prompted by a desire to reevaluate your own drinking culture and the impact alcohol has on your life.
Sober curiosity is likely not just a passing trend, given the surge in young people who are seeking a healthier lifestyle. A study published by JAMA Pediatrics found that 28% of college students were abstinent from alcohol in 2018. Furthermore, alcohol abuse among young adults ages 18-22 decreased by about half since 2002.
Sober curiosity is often prompted by a desire to reevaluate your own drinking culture and the impact alcohol has on your life.
For many, sober curiosity starts with Sober October or Dry January and evolves from there. As one writer for Men’s Health explains, “I’ve attempted Dry January three years running. Meanwhile, beyond episodic fads, sobriety has morphed into a lifestyle ….”
That lifestyle, he elaborates, can include anything from hanging out at sober bars to listening to sobriety podcasts to consuming content marketed by so-called “sober gurus.”
The Sober Curious Movement
This growing interest in a sober lifestyle has fueled the sober curious movement, driving everything from sober curious educational programs, books, and drink-tracking apps to sober social clubs and sobriety influencers.
According to Forbes, the nonalcoholic drinks market has been gaining steam over the last year with celebrities like singer Katy Perry and actress Blake Lively signing on as spokespeople. Similarly, The Food Institute recognizes the growing demand for alcohol-free experiences, giving props to those bars whose focus is “music, social connection, and community in a zero-proof, inclusive environment.”
And the movement’s positive impact extends beyond alcohol consumption. For many, excessive drinking leads to other unhealthy habits including poor eating behaviors or substance abuse. The sober curious movement is inspiring a holistic mindfulness about your overall health.
Considering a Sober Curious Lifestyle?
If you are contemplating a sober curious lifestyle, consider the following benefits:
- Mental Wellness
Excess alcohol use has been linked to increased depression and anxiety. Yet even for someone who doesn’t abuse alcohol, periodic consumption can compromise your mood, mental performance, and personality.
- Physical Health
Alcohol, like any other drug, has many health ramifications. Immediate effects of alcohol usage can range from migraines or hangovers to bloating, poor complexion, and insomnia. Chronic drinking can result in more serious medical concerns like significant weight gain, liver dysfunction, and increased risk of some cancers.
- Sober Socializing
Many people choose to drink in social settings because it helps them to relax, fit in, or engage with others. However, socializing while under the influence is not ideal, especially when navigating romantic relationships. Compromised mental faculties can result in missed red flags and poor decisions. Additionally, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), among countless other sources, reports a link between alcoholism and abusive behavior in intimate relationships.
Alcoholic beverages can break the bank, especially if you tend to frequent bars and restaurants. Being sober curious saves money that can be invested in other outings or hobbies.
Making the Transition
If you decide to adopt a sober curious lifestyle, the first order of business is to examine your relationship with alcohol: When, why, and how much do you drink? Does it add value to your life? A few other helpful tips to consider:
- Have a plan
- Be mindful of how you choose to spend your time
- Seek out healthy social environments
- Surround yourself with supportive friends
- Explore new hobbies
- Acknowledge when you need help
If you decide to adopt a sober curious lifestyle, the first order of business is to examine your relationship with alcohol: When, why, and how much do you drink? Does it add value to your life?
Sobriety can be challenging, and you may uncover some unpleasant realities. If you find that you struggle to abstain from addiction and need professional help, treatment is available at Claudia Black Young Adult Center.
Our innovative program seeks to provide healing that restores hope and health to young adults who have lost focus and are unable to embrace their independence due to unresolved trauma, addiction, or other co-occurring issues. Please contact us to learn more. We are here and ready to help.