Sober Curious: Trend, Movement or Other?

Ruby Warrington’s book, Sober Curious, has created a stir by asking a simple question: “Would life be better without alcohol?” Drawing on her experiences, expert interviews, and copious research, she found that lives would indeed be better without alcohol. It sounds like an obvious answer; however, with our nation’s history of alcohol consumption, the glorification of alcohol, and the seriousness of addiction, it’s really not so simple.

In a recent NPR article, “Not too long ago, a group of women in a bar who were not drinking alcohol would have seemed strange. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 86 percent of adults over 18 report having had an alcoholic drink or drinks at some point in their lifetime, and 56 percent say they’ve had alcohol in the past month.” So what does this say about our relationship with alcohol as a society? And why is it “strange” if we don’t want to drink socially, or at a bar, – or at all? It says it’s time for a deeper conversation and Americans are doing just that. In fact, abstaining from alcohol on a short-term or long-term basis is becoming more and more common – enter the sober curious.

Why Sober Curious?

According to a CNN report, “Society is paying more considerable attention to their mental health and wellness, and many Americans are explicitly looking to reduce their alcohol intake or just quit altogether. People of all ages are drinking less beer, while millennials are drinking less overall.” More and more “sober bars’ are popping up in major cities, providing ways for people who want to socialize at a cool bar-like venue, but without the pressure to drink alcohol. Entrepreneurs are catering to the “sober curious” by investing in non-alcoholic drinks and mocktails. Podcasts like Sobernation and Recovery Rocks are garnering major followers, and even “recovery bloggers” are making sobriety hip. So is this a trend, a serious movement, or something else?

Discussing sobriety, reducing drinking, quitting alcohol, or even contemplating the adverse health effects of alcohol is a good thing – period. Showing teens that you can have fun in this age of “instant gratification” without drinking is incredibly important and whatever tool works to make this happen, can only be positive. For those in sobriety, staying sober is not a hip trend – it saves lives. And many have expressed concern about sobriety being positioned as “trendy,” especially those who are in recovery. However, making it “okay” not to drink and providing more spaces for sober activities takes the pressure off for those who can’t drink or don’t want to. And for those in recovery, being able to discuss sobriety more openly will lessen the stigma and shame often surrounding alcohol abuse disorder – and this can only help in reducing the potential for relapse. Whether or not the term “sober curious” is here to stay or fades – the lasting effects of this movement will hopefully make a positive impact.

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