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Updated on September 15, 2022

Sober Curiosity

What is Sober Curiosity?

Drinking is so ingrained in many cultures that it makes sobriety look ridiculous. People will only become sober if they’re already addicted to alcohol. 

But many people are now sober, even though they don’t have alcohol problems. They’re a part of an emerging trend known as the “sober curious” movement

While many people have been practicing a sober-curious lifestyle for years, the term was created by Ruby Warrington. She wrote the book “Sober Curious” in 2019. 

In a podcast interview, Warrington defined sober curiosity as:  

“...to literally question every impulse, every invitation, or every expectation to drink, whether it’s on your behalf or in the eyes of others, rather than just go along with the dominant drinking culture.”1 

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Sober Curiosity vs. Sobriety

Sober curiosity and sobriety are related. But these two terms still differ.

Being sober curious means deciding to stop drinking to see if it can bring positive changes in your life. You don’t have to be dealing with alcohol problems. You also may or may not permanently give up alcohol use.

Sobriety usually refers to complete abstinence of people under treatment for alcohol use disorder. For most of these people, sobriety is the only option to overcome their alcohol problems. 

The sober curious movement encourages a sober lifestyle. However, it also welcomes people who aren’t ready to quit drinking. 

How the ‘Sober Curious’ Movement Began

Sober curiosity is nothing new. 

There are already unofficial social events like Dry January and Sober October that challenge people to abstain from drinking. 

Millennials have made sobriety more acceptable in many societies that revolve around alcohol. This is why they’re often referred to as “generation sober.”2, 3

Many companies have also noticed changing behaviors. 

For example, some tech companies in Silicon Valley reevaluated their alcohol policies to accommodate sober employees. Several investors are also looking to capitalize on people’s preference not to drink.4, 5

Who is Ruby Warrington?

While many people have been sober curious for years, the term itself is credited to Ruby Warrington.

Warrington is a British journalist and author of the 2019 book titled Sober Curious. She’s also the founder of an event series called Club SODA (Sober Or Debating Abstinence).

In her early career years, Warrington enjoyed cocktails during industry events. While she wasn’t a heavy drinker, she started to question the role of alcohol in her life. 

Later, she decreased her drinking to the point of stopping. She was relieved to have no more hangovers, sleepless nights, or anxiety. She also sleeps better and has more self-confidence. 

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How to Live a Sober Curious Lifestyle

If you want to lead a sober curious life, there are some tips you can follow:

1. Create A Plan

With a plan in place, you’ll be prepared to face situations involving alcohol.

Consider alcohol-free socializing

If drinking alcohol has been a regular activity among you and your friends, it’s time to shake up the routine. Try other activities, like a hike, a movie night, or a picnic in the park.

Plan for inevitable invitations

It may feel awkward to say no to someone who offers you a drink or to hang out with your friends who drink alcohol. Think about these potential situations, then rehearse what you’ll say or do.

List down your reasons for being sober

It could be to improve your health, save money, or reevaluate your relationship with alcohol. You can always remind yourself why you wanted to try a sober lifestyle by writing down your reasons.  

2. Find Like-Minded People

If you decide to be sober, mingling with like-minded people will help you feel less alone. 

The sober curious movement has led to the proliferation of sober-focused events and groups. You may find sober curious people forming book clubs, attending meditation sessions, or partying in sober raves. 

These venues allow people to be sober while socializing without alcohol. 

3. Try Alcohol-Free Drinks

With non-alcoholic drinks, you can still socialize without the pressure and dangers of drinking. 

There are sober bars that offer mocktails, “shrub,” and non-alcoholic beers.

The sober curious movement has also pushed regular bars to change. Some bars now offer low-alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks for people who no longer want to drink heavily.2, 4, 5, 7

4. Sustain the Sober Curious Lifestyle 

You’ll have more free time than usual if you abstain from drinking. You can make the most out of your time by looking for activities to help you remain sober curious. 

For example, go to the gym, look for a new hobby, or return to an old one. 

5. Consider Moderation

If you’re unsure about quitting alcohol, but are interested in going sober, join a community-based moderation program. 

This can help you explore your relationship with alcohol while reducing the dangers of alcohol consumption. 

What are the Health Benefits? 

It’s a known fact that alcohol consumption leads to adverse health effects.7, 8, 9, 10

If you decide to lead a sober life, you lower your chances of developing alcohol-related conditions like: 

  • Hangovers
  • Sleeping problems
  • Memory problems
  • Anxiety, depression, other mental health issues
  • Weight gain
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Alcohol use disorder (AUD)

Aside from improving your health, being sober brings other benefits to your life. 

Sobriety can positively change your mood and behavior, which will reduce conflicts in your relationships. 

Without hangovers or sleeping troubles, you become more focused at work, with family, or at  school.

Without alcohol, you also lessen your chances of getting involved in alcohol-related injuries or violence.

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Summary

  • Sober curious people don’t have alcohol problems. They just decide to stop drinking for health reasons or reevaluate their relationship with alcohol. 
  • British journalist and author Ruby Warrington created the term “sober curious.” She wrote the 2019 book titled Sober Curious.
  • The sober curious movement led to the proliferation of sober-focused groups and events, like book clubs, meditation sessions, and non-alcoholic parties. 
  • Many bars now offer low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks for people who no longer want to drink heavily.
  • If you decide to go sober, you lower your chances of developing alcohol-related health conditions.
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Resources

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  1. Wilks, John. “Getting Sober Curious with Ruby Warrington – a Podcast Interview.Real Kombucha, 18 Feb., 2021.
  2. Mull, Amanda. “Millennials Are Sick of Drinking.The Atlantic, 2 Apr., 2019.
  3. Picheta, Rob. “UK millennials are drinking less alcohol, study finds.CNN Health, 10 Oct., 2018.
  4. O’Brien, Sara Ashley. “People are sick of drinking. Investors are betting on the ‘sober curious’.CNN Business, 10 Jun., 2019.
  5. Lucas, Amelia. “Fewer Americans are drinking alcohol—so bars and brewers are adapting.CNBC, 1 Jun., 2019. 
  6. Williams, Alex. “The New Sobriety.The New York Times, 15 Jun., 2019.
  7. Ungar, Laura, Kaiser Health News and Jayne O'Donnell. “Fun without alcohol? Sober bars offer social connections without peer pressure to drink.USA Today, 2 Jul., 2019. 
  8. Alcohol Facts and Statistics.National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Jun. 2021.
  9. Fulton, April and Allison Aubrey. “Breaking The Booze Habit, Even Briefly, Has Its Benefits.NPR, 23 Jun., 2019.
  10. Mehta, Gautam et al. “Short-term abstinence from alcohol and changes in cardiovascular risk factors, liver function tests and cancer-related growth factors: a prospective observational study.BMJ Open vol. 8,5 :e020673. 

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