Dry January and Sober October challenges have encouraged people to abstain from alcohol for an entire month. However, as alcohol consumption rose during the pandemic more people began to evaluate their long-term alcohol relationship. Many decided to call this journey “sober curious.”
Alcohol consumption is a difficult topic because of the way it is portrayed in society and in the media. But when you really examine the impact of booze, there are no benefits at all.
Research shows that alcohol increases the risk of heart disease, liver damage, breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. But despite the significant impact on health, drinking is socially acceptable nearly 100% of the time. Alcohol is very much tied to celebrations.
Alcohol’s Effect on Your Body
Sober curiosity allows people to look at the role alcohol plays in their lives and consider whether it’s truly supportive or not. The phrase “sober curious” was coined by author Ruby Warrington, who published a book on the subject in 2018. Over the past 4 years, more and more people have examined at their alcohol consumption and decided the idea of mindful drinking might be a healthier way.
Sober curiosity encourages us to explore our generally accepted beliefs about drinking. The idea is to try to be more mindful about when and why we drink and how much and how often.
Over the past few years, the pandemic has allowed many to begin their sober, curious journeys. People exploring this idea have found that this process had led to an increased awareness of how alcohol makes them feel and the overall impact it has on their lives. Some people also end up feeling left out of the fun or like they are missing out on something.
What Are Some Alternatives to Alcohol During Dry January?
Sober Curiosity Versus Sobriety
Sober curiosity requires you to question your relationship with alcohol in its entirety. You’ll need to look at why you drink, how much you drink, and how it affects you. The answers to these questions vary from person to person. The information allows you to adjust your future behavior in regard to drinking. Some may choose to completely abstain from alcohol, while others may drink less frequently or in moderation when they do drink.
The sober curious movement allows people to be more conscious of their drinking habits and to decide for themselves how they want their relationship with alcohol to look.
Even if you decide to drink occasionally, being sober curious has some important health benefits. According to research, reduced alcohol consumption may improve your mood, sleep, decision-making, libido, digestive, and immune systems. Choosing to forgo drinking gives your body a chance to fully detox. Cutting back on how much you drink also means fewer toxins enter your body.
However, sober curiosity is not a solution for everyone, especially those suffering from alcoholism. Those exploring a sober curious life can have the occasional drink while those in sobriety can not. If giving up drinking completely or even reducing the amount you drink seems difficult, consider working with an addiction specialist or therapist to dig into the impact drinking has on your life.
Curious about how to practice being sober?
Before you jump right into a sober curious lifestyle, spend some time considering why you are drawn to it and what results you hope to experience. Are you looking to improve your mental health or do you want to see changes in your relationships that might be impacted by alcohol? Or maybe you are just curious about what it’s like to not drink when others are.
Regardless of your goals, there are ways to assist with your transition if you decide to practice being sober curious. For example, consider beginning an evening out with a glass of water with lemon instead of an alcoholic beverage. Mocktails and elixirs are also excellent alternatives for parties or relaxing at home. drinking sparkling water in a wine glass with cut fruit, or herbs like basil, and mint. Herbs can play an important role in a sober curious lifestyle.
Nonalcoholic beer, wine, and liquors are also options for those who want something that looks and tastes more like alcohol.
The Bottom Line
Short-term or not, sober curiosity can lead to more mindful drinking habits and even overall lifestyle changes. The sober curious movement doesn’t work for everyone. It’s absolutely OK to need extra support dealing with drinking habits.
If you find it difficult to avoid alcohol even when you’re giving it your all, a good next step might involve reaching out to a professional who specializes in recognizing and treating alcohol dependence. You can also try out a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or SMART Recovery.