It’s a phrase we see on social media with increasing popularity, but what does “sober curious” mean, and who does it appeal to? In short: sober curious relates to individuals who are questioning their relationship with alcohol, exploring what a life of sobriety would look and feel like without placing any labels on themselves or making long-term commitments to a life in recovery.
Who is sober curious?
Sober curiosity appeals to a range of people of all ages: gray-area drinkers; those who are experiencing the negative effects of alcohol but don’t yet meet a full diagnosis of alcohol use disorder, those who are fed up of waking up with a hangover, and those who take part in a Sober month campaigns, like Dry January and Sober October.
These campaigns, together with an increasing number of social media influencers who acknowledge that their lives are better without alcohol and drugs, are making the sober lifestyle trendy and appealing. Writers, bloggers, and influencers inspiring many to try sobriety include Sober Curious author Ruby Warrington, and people in long-term recovery Sober Senorita, Laura McKowen, and Holly Whitaker.
This trend hasn’t gone unnoticed by the drinks industry, either, making it even more appealing to take a break from drinking alcohol. We’ve seen a huge rise in sober drinks available — see our sober mocktails post — with manufacturers like Seedlip and Curious Elixirs offering consumers delicious drinks without alcohol. Sober nights, sober events like Sans Bar, and entirely dry venues are all on the rise. The market for alcohol-free drinks grew by 35 percent in the last three years, according to Mintel.
Because more people are going public with their curiosity about sobriety, that we are starting to see “sober” as synonymous with “cool.” And that’s a great thing: it makes more people question their relationship with alcohol, experience the benefits of not drinking more regularly, and be more mindful if they choose to return to drinking.
What are the benefits of being sober?
The rise in people sharing a sober lifestyle is a great thing! It makes the benefits of a sober lifestyle tangible:
- Improved sleep
- More energy
- Greater focus
- More money
- Able to get up early the next day without a hangover
- Improved skin
- Weight loss
- Improved blood pressure
Who doesn’t want those benefits?
Even with the rise of the sober curious movement, however, we have a long way to go before drinking is not an integral part of social culture. It can still feel unusual to abstain, especially as many social events involve alcohol: we use it to celebrate, commiserate, and everything in between. More concerning is that people use alcohol to cope with stress, as a coping strategy for traumatic events, and to self-medicate mental health disorders.
Many Americans drink above the recommended limits: one drink per day for women and two drinks for men. Anything above four drinks per day for women and five drinks per day for men is classed as binge drinking. When that drinking becomes problematic, it can lead to dependency and alcohol use disorder, a condition affecting 15.1 million Americans. Alcohol use disorder kills a staggering 88,000 Americans every year!
These deaths are preventable, and we can start by being more mindful of our relationship with alcohol. We encourage you to get sober curious.
Please note that we do not recommend stopping drinking entirely if you have been drinking heavily, or if you think you may be dependent on alcohol. Please contact us for assistance before making any changes if you think you may have a drinking problem .
Located in Portland, OR, Olivia Pennelle (Liv) is an experienced writer, journalist, and content strategist. She is the founder of the popular site Liv’s Recovery Kitchen, a site dedicated to providing the ingredients to live a fulfilling life in recovery. Liv also co-founded the podcast Breaking Free: Your Recovery. Your Way. Liv is passionate about challenging limiting mentalities and empowering others to direct their own lives, health, and recovery. You can find her articles across the web on podcasts and publications, including The Fix, Ravishly, Workit Health, Grok Nation, and STAT News.