The 'Sober Curious' Movement Helps Us Be More Mindful Of Our Drinking Habits

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If you've found yourself curiously questioning the societal habit to center just about every gathering around alcohol, you aren't alone. From margarita Monday to thirsty Thursday, it's undeniably become deeply ingrained in our culture to relax with a drink in hand. And not to mention the normalization of terms like 'mommy wine culture' – the list really goes on and on.


While having a drink or two surely can feel nice in the moment, the after-effects, both short and long-term – definitely warrant some consideration. Many are finding themselves asking if drinking socially is actually all it's hyped up to be. When we consume alcohol regularly, it does come at a cost. We are putting our mood stability and quality of sleep at stake. And then there's the lingering anxiety that comes with a hangover. Let's examine what exactly the sober curious movement is all about and how it helps us be more mindful of our drinking habits.

Sober curious is about wellbeing

One of the defining traits of the sober curious movement is that it isn't a response to alcohol abuse, dependency, or addiction. Those who are sober curious may or may not plan to give up alcohol permanently, but they are taking a more conscious look at how the habit affects their overall wellbeing, productivity, and relationships. Mindfulness is the key here and some do indeed find that life is much fuller without the substance, which is classified as a central nervous system depressant (via Addiction Center).


So, where did this term originate? In 2018, Ruby Warrington published the book "Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol." In her work, she speaks to those who may have come to realize that the habitual drinking they've been partaking in is actually not that enjoyable and since casual drinking is so prevalent, a societal pace has emerged for those who are sober curious to understand they aren't alone.

The health benefits

While some of the potential benefits of lessening or eliminating alcohol from your life are apparent – no hangovers, more energy, better sleep, no worry about what you may have said or who you may have offended the night before – if you do choose to experiment with the sober curious movement, you'll likely discover some greater long term benefits too. Your liver will have a chance to heal and you'll curb your chances of developing alcoholic liver cirrhosis, an advanced type of liver disease connected to alcohol – which is being seen in younger and younger adults. Lower blood pressure and a lowered risk of cancer are also associated with the absence of alcohol (via Healthline).


The ability to maintain a healthy weight and lowered levels of depression are also experienced by those who give up alcohol for a time – or permanently. While experimenting with sobriety may be easier for some than others, the positive effects on the body, mind, and spirit cannot be denied.

The rise of non-alcoholic beverage options

It may be hard to gauge just how many people have joined the sober curious movement as it can be a private journey for some, but the numbers when it comes to non-alcoholic drink sales don't lie. Forbes reports that the sales of nonalcoholic or low-alcohol beverages surpassed $11 billion in market value in 2022. So, what does this look like in a glass? It could be nonalcoholic beer or wine, mocktails, herbal extract beverages, kombucha, and seltzers.


More and more bars and restaurants are offering nonalcoholic beverages that are just as creative and tasty as a cocktail. So, if you still want to join your buddies for happy hour or a show, there should be options for you when it comes time to order. The efforts to include those abstaining from alcohol and close the awkwardness gap between the drinkers and the non-drinkers are greatly appreciated by many and will hopefully normalize sobriety, no matter the individual reason.

Criticism of the movement

While the sober curious movement has brought a lot of joy and balance to those who don't struggle with substance dependence or abuse and simply want to live a healthier lifestyle, those who do face addiction are wary that the movement could undermine the very real struggle many face to stay sober. The alcohol consumption in our culture truly does need to be assessed, but dressing up sobriety as a wellness trend could have some pitfalls since those in recovery cannot be sober curious; they must remain sober.


The movement does have the potential to ease the stigma around not drinking, but it's also possible it could lead those with alcohol dependency into gray areas. "Co-opting the pretty parts of sobriety completely strips it of all meaning," Holly Glenn Whitaker, founder and CEO of Tempest, an online sobriety school, told Refinery29. It's also worth noting that in recent years there has been a decline in youth drinking as Gen Z exercises far more caution with alcohol than generations before them – and that is definitely worth celebrating (via BBC).

So, what do I do for fun instead?

If you do decide to experiment with sobriety, you may find yourself feeling a little displaced or confused at first. What to do with all this freed-up time and money? Finding others who are also sober curious is a wise move, but picking up a personal hobby or two is the next step for many on the journey. Yoga classes, tennis, poetry readings, crocheting, reading a new novel series, making art, renovating a room in the house, hiking – whatever it is that has sat on the back burner in your life can now step into the spotlight. You may even want to download an app to help you keep track of your sobriety. 


And venturing onto a sober path certainly doesn't have to mean your social life is dead. It'll most definitely shapeshift, but you'll find that there are probably many people who've been questioning the presence of alcohol in their lives just as you have and are also ready to experience the world in a fuller, more balanced way.