Sober Curious : A Movement For Change

The phrase sober curious has entered our popular vernacular and seems to be a growing trend. Month-long sobriety challenges like Dry January and Sober October are hardly new, but the sober curious movement seems to be gaining global traction. It was coined by Ruby Warrington in her book ‘Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol’. What began as the author questioning whether alcohol was having an adverse effect on her life, eventually became a book, a podcast, sober retreats, and essentially the foundation for what we now know as the sober curious movement.

Key Elements Of The Sober Curious Movement Include :

1. Mindful Drinking: Participants in the sober curious movement often engage in mindful drinking practices, which involve being more present and intentional when consuming alcohol. This can include savoring the taste, paying attention to how alcohol affects one’s body and mind, and making choices aligned with individual well-being.

2. Temporary Abstinence: Some individuals in the sober curious movement may choose to take breaks from alcohol as a way to reassess its role in their lives. This temporary abstinence, whether for a designated period or sporadically, allows people to gain clarity on their relationship with alcohol and assess its impact on their physical and mental health.

3. Exploration of Alternatives: Sober curious individuals often explore non-alcoholic alternatives and beverages. This can include a growing market of sophisticated and flavorful non-alcoholic drinks, creating social spaces where alcohol is not the primary focus.

4. Community Support: The sober curious movement emphasizes the importance of community and support. Many people find strength and encouragement by connecting with others who share similar goals or experiences, whether through online communities, local meet-ups, or support groups.

5. Wellness Focus: Participants often approach sobriety from a wellness perspective, recognizing the potential benefits for physical health, mental well-being, and overall life satisfaction.

6. Challenging Cultural Norms: The sober curious movement challenges societal norms around alcohol consumption, encouraging individuals to question the default assumption that drinking is a necessary or integral part of socializing and celebrating.

sober curious

Where complete sobriety is usually a lifestyle chosen due to an alcohol use disorder, sober curiosity is defined as having the option to choose not to drink – often for physical or mental health reasons. Unlike people who stay sober because of dependency, those that identify as sober curious don’t necessarily meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder or even intend to give up alcohol permanently. It involves questioning the reasons behind your desire to drink and taking stock of how alcohol affects your life.

Terms like “alcoholic” and “alcoholism” are wrought with stigma, which can be counterproductive for those assessing their relationship with alcohol. Often these labels prevent people from accessing help and marginalize those that would like to experiment with cutting down their intake or even quitting alcohol entirely. This is where the sober curious movement is more inclusive and relaxed than other polarizing labels. Even those that may not be ready to abstain entirely can find space for themselves to reassess whether they have conflicted feelings about alcohol without having to take on any labels or commitments.

Although alcohol has long been used as a social lubricant, the emerging trend of sober bars, substance free-zones at concerts and sober spots offer social connections without pressure to drink. This is just another indicator of how the sober movement is staking a claim in a culture that widely accepts alcohol as the only way to have fun, manage stress, celebrate, or cope with life challenges like a job loss or breakup. 

Even though alcohol may not be problematic for everyone, it can still be a problem and the idea that one has to hit “rock bottom” to make a serious lifestyle change is part of that problem. The sober curious movement recognizes this and is helping to destigmatize sobriety by normalizing the idea that there are better, healthier alternatives than those found at the bottom of a bottle.