America’s booze-consuming culture is almost impossible to avoid.
There are after-work drinks, drinks at professional networking events, drinks at office parties, drinks at regular parties, drinks with friends, drinks with family, drinks on a date, drinks before dinner, after-dinner drinks, drinks __________ (fill in the blank).
There is now, however, a growing movement of “Sober Curious” people pushing back against society’s ever-present crutch, alcohol.
“The sober-curious are not necessarily alcoholics. They may not want to be teetotalers. But they want relief from the pressure to drink to excess. Social drinking is so often treated as an obligation, rather than a pleasurable choice,” writes CNN contributor Holly Thomas.
Google reported that searches for the phrase “Dry January,” a practice of abstaining from alcohol for the first month of the New Year, more than doubled from 2017 to 2019.
There are also the cold, hard market facts. Nationally, beer sales are down across all ages, and as a demographic, it’s widely reported that Millennials drink far less than older generations.
Trend-spotting entrepreneurs have taken to opening sober bars where customers consume alcohol-free “mocktails,” while alcohol-forward corporations are investing in non-alcoholic beverage ideas.
3 Reasons Why Sober Curious People are Drinking Less Alcohol
There are any number of reasons why a growing number of sober-curious folk are willing to put alcohol on the back burner, including some of the following:
1. Increased Energy and Productivity
It can take days for the body and mind to recover from a booze-fueled weekend, making the first few days of the already stressful workweek even less focused and more of a strain on personal self-esteem and mental health.
When we’re young – think college up to late twenties – it’s much easier to snap back the next day after a night out drinking.
But as we get older, the hangovers become more intense, and the drop in energy and mental clarity is clearly noticeable.
As we take on more responsibility at work or family obligations such as raising kids, we need all the focus we can muster. Drinking suddenly doesn’t fit in like it did being single with fewer obligations.
2. More Meaningful Social Interactions
It might seem strange, but once alcohol is removed from the mix, people are less likely to find themselves spending time and money in situations they’d rather not be.
In other words, less drinking time means more time spent on meaningful people and activities. This really becomes obvious for those with a new family and young children at play.
Ironically, millennials too have noticed relationships are stronger when they have a clear head and they enjoy a higher quality of life when more of their time is spent outside of a noisy bar or club.
3. Better Overall Health and Wellbeing
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
While there may be some health benefits from occasional or moderate drinking, especially red wine, long-term drinking or frequently drinking to excess can cause a number of health issues, including:
- Fatty Liver
- Increased risk of dementia
- Impaired memory
- Weight gain
- Heart attack or stroke
- Several types of cancer
“Drinking Less” and “Getting Sober” are Two Different Things
While sober curiosity is being billed as a new, healthy lifestyle, there are those warning people against calling sobriety a consumer trend.
“In truth, you don’t need to be addicted to alcohol in order to re-examine your relationship with alcohol. But ‘getting sober’ and ‘drinking less’ are two different things that require two different approaches,” writes Cory Steig, a Refinery29 contributor.
The fact is that not everyone can easily shed a dependency on alcohol just because they want to. People suffering from alcoholism are often unable to stop drinking despite the desire to quit. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease of the brain. It requires treatment, much like other chronic diseases such as asthma, some cancers, and diabetes.
For many in recovery from alcohol addiction, the journey to sobriety wasn’t necessarily a lighthearted change in habits but a struggle to stay alive.
That said, two things can exist at the same time. Drinking little to no alcohol is by far a healthier approach to living than excessive social drinking.
At the same time, those battling addiction who lack access to effective treatment and are struggling in the face of a serious disease should never be stigmatized. They should be helped.
For those who don’t necessarily have a problem with their drinking habits, cutting back or abstaining for even a short period can positively benefit health, productivity, and relationships. It might certainly help the bank account grow just a bit too.
Sober Curious Book
For those who are curious to learn more, there’s even a book about it and it’s available on Amazon – Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol.