What is Sober-Curious?
January 16, 2023 9:00 AM EST | 6 min read
Have you been wondering what the term sober-curious means?
A growing trend in the cultural-social-media space for the past several years, the sober curious movement is paradoxically popularizing the *un-coolness of alcohol.
It’s prompting many people to reevaluate how important alcohol consumption is and should be to their social experiences and daily lives.
Sober curiosity inspired a “dry” 2023 New Year’s Eve ball drop with Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper.
Since the sober curious movement has been gaining momentum over the last few years, especially in the United States, here are a few things you should know:
- What is sober-curious?
- How was the sober-curious movement started?
- Sober-curious-friendly drink options
What is sober-curious?
Dry January has been a popular trend for many years now.
It began in 2014 as an awareness campaign launched by Alcohol Change UK, a British campaign group and charitable organization founded with the purpose of decreasing alcohol’s detrimental effects.
As perhaps its best-known awareness program, Dry January has been gaining popularity ever since.
130,000 officially registered with the campaign in 2022, and countless others participated unofficially.
What Dry January is, exactly, is a designated month for people to abstain from alcohol while raising awareness about alcohol-related issues.
It comes at the perfect time when many want to “detox” and realign their health and well-being after the holidays.
For many, the designation helps maintain their New Year’s resolutions of taking better care of themselves, at least temporarily.
But, as many people experience New Year’s resolutions, they can be flimsy.
Resolutions are often hard to uphold for even a few weeks, let alone an entire year.
As helpful as Dry January is for many who want to purge the effects of excess holiday alcohol consumption, it’s easy to falter within the confines of the all-or-nothing approach.
Going sober-curious isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition.
The sober curious movement gives people another option that feels a little more “doable.”
It goes hand-in-hand with another trend that has been rising for quite some time: mindfulness.
At its core, sober curious means bringing more awareness to your alcohol consumption and working towards achieving a healthier relationship with alcohol.
Be more mindful of your drinking.
It might mean you abstain altogether if going sober feels necessary or desirable.
But it can also mean simply questioning yourself about your drinking habits, hence the “curious” part.
By getting curious about how you use alcohol – when you drink, how much you drink, etc. -you can identify any unhealthy habits associated with your drinking style.
Identifying drinking patterns that don’t serve you or are detrimental to your physical, mental, and emotional needs is the first step towards working to change those habits and develop a healthier lifestyle overall.
Going sober curious can improve many aspects of your life beyond your physical or mental health.
Consider how drinking less would affect your budget and help you save money.
It might also allow you to feel more excitement and joy in your life by experiencing things without the sensory-dulling effects of alcohol.
While the sober curious movement encourages a libation-free lifestyle, it allows people to choose how much alcohol to consume.
That aspect is a big draw for many people who are, in fact, curious about a life with less or no alcohol but still choose to drink now and then.
It’s an all-inclusive movement.
You don’t have to quit drinking cold turkey to be part of the club.
Where did the Sober Curious Movement Come From?
The trend of analyzing your relationship with alcohol and questioning the societal norms of drinking that we were all raised with comes from author Ruby Warrington.
She coined the term In her groundbreaking book, Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol.
According to Warrington, sober curiousness means:
to choose to question, or get curious about, every impulse, invitation, and expectation to drink, versus mindlessly going along with the dominant drinking culture.
In her book, she challenges readers to question, “How different would your life be if you stopped drinking on auto-pilot?”
For many, it’s a daunting thought, as alcohol has been tightly woven into the fabric of human’s daily lives for decades.
But maybe society is ready to change that.
Warrington’s insightful and thought-provoking book was published in 2018.
Other influential reads on sobriety and anti-auto-drinking by authors like Holly Whitaker and Catherine Gray are also worth the read.
Since then, internet searches on the topic have been continually trending up.
According to Google Trends, in the US, the search terms “non-alcoholic drink” and “non-alcoholic beer” hit all-time highs in 2022.
While searches for “sobriety” remained popular as well.
Thanks to Warrington and other influential sobriety authors, it appears humankind is ready, open, and wanting more of this re-examination of our relationship with alcohol and its impact.
A Surge In sober-curious Drink Options
Besides popular search data, the retail sector suggests that the sober curious movement is not slowing down.
For a long time, the only NA drink option for those practicing sobriety was club soda.
Perhaps with a twist.
There is a plethora of new non-alcoholic wines, liquors, and beers on the market.
More and more people search for alcohol-free drink options that still feel fun and frilly.
Katy Perry recently launched her line of French-inspired apéritifs, De Soi, with wine and bubbly-like spirits made with adaptogens and botanical ingredients.
Another popular emergence has been Daypack by Athletic Brewing Company, which specializes in brewing non-alcoholic beverages.
Their many varieties and flavors will replace the beer you crave after a long hike in the hills or while sitting around a campfire with friends.
Sober cafés have also begun popping up in major cities across the US, like New York and San Francisco.
These no-booze bars allow people a chance for social connection and a sense of community without the pressure to drink.
These cafes often have non-alcoholic drink options, natural relaxants like kava, and health-conscious choices like kombucha.
Curious? Give It A Try
If you have thought about trying sobriety before, it doesn’t hurt to get curious about what it might be like to cut back on alcohol or eliminate it altogether.
Many Millennials and Gen-Zers are trying it and seem to stick with it.
With all the new options for tasty NA beverages, there is no better time than now to give it a go.
Whether you alter your drinking habits a lot or a little (or not even at all), the sober curious movement has room for you.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
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