Updated on February 6, 2024
5 min read

Sober Curiosity: A Healthier Relationship with Alcohol

Key Takeaways

What is Sober Curiosity?

The term “Sober-curious” was coined by Ruby Warrington in her 2019 book “Sober Curious.” Warrington is a British journalist and author who writes about sobriety and modern spirituality. 

She’s also the founder of an event series called Club SODA (Sober Or Debating Abstinence).

The focus of sober curiosity is to see how a person’s life can change without alcohol, physically or mentally. You could be lessening how much you drink or stop drinking for some time. 

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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Who is Sober Curiosity For?

Sober curious doesn’t mean you’re giving up drinking for good. It’s a way to explore your relationship with alcohol. 

Being sober curious just means you’re questioning how alcohol affects your life. There’s no long-term commitment or responsibility to stop drinking.

Sober curiosity helps you ask yourself some key questions like:

  • Why do you drink?
  • How do you feel when you drink?
  • What would happen when you stop drinking?

Some people choose to abstain from drinking entirely, while others decide to limit their drinks to one every so often. If the idea of lessening or quitting alcohol for your health is appealing, sober curiosity is for you.

Sober Curiosity is Not For

Being sober curious is not usually an option for people with:

  • Serious alcohol disorders
  • Alcoholism
  • Alcohol cravings 
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms 
  • Depression

Sober curiosity is not a permanent solution and is not intended to be. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol use disorder, seek professional help.

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What Are The Goals of Sober Curiosity?

The sober curious movement is about seeing how sobriety can affect your life. If you’re curious about sobriety and its benefits, sober curiosity is for you.

For some people, sobriety is the only option to overcome alcoholism. With sober curiosity, you don’t have to deal with alcohol problems.

It’s also a great option for people who may not want to give up alcohol permanently. Here are some of the goals of sober curiosity:

  • Questioning your alcohol use
  • Understanding your drinking habits
  • Thinking about your decision to drink on each occasion
  • Cutting back on alcohol
  • Taking a break from alcohol
  • Doing more activities sober
  • Socializing without drinking
  • Learning the benefits of sobriety
  • Wanting to live a healthier life

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, and 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, reducing conflicts in your relationships. 

You become more focused at work, family, or school without hangovers or sleeping troubles. Without alcohol, you can even lessen the chances of hurting yourself.

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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
  • Meditation sessions
  • Non-alcoholic parties

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.

How the ‘Sober Curious’ Movement Began

Sober curiosity is nothing new.

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

Millennials have made sobriety more acceptable in many societies. 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 to not drink.4, 5


  • 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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Updated on February 6, 2024
10 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
  1. Wilks, John. “Getting Sober Curious with Ruby Warrington – a Podcast Interview.” Real Kombucha, 2021.
  2. Mull, Amanda. “Millennials Are Sick of Drinking.” The Atlantic, 2019.
  3. Picheta, Rob. “UK millennials are drinking less alcohol, study finds.” CNN Health, 2018.
  4. O’Brien, Sara Ashley. “People are sick of drinking. Investors are betting on the ‘sober curious’.” CNN Business, 2019.
  5. Lucas, Amelia. “Fewer Americans are drinking alcohol—so bars and brewers are adapting.” CNBC, 2019.
  6. Williams, Alex. “The New Sobriety.” The New York Times, 2019.
  7. Ungar et al. “Fun without alcohol? Sober bars offer social connections without peer pressure to drink.” USA Today, 2019.
  8. Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2021.
  9. Fulton, April, and Aubrey, Allison. “Breaking The Booze Habit, Even Briefly, Has Its Benefits.” NPR, 2019.

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