There's a shift happening around alcohol, with more and more people joining the ‘sober curious’ movement and rejecting the notion that nights out have to revolve around drinks. This is reflected by the growing number of celebrities and wellness influencers speaking about their alcohol free lifestyles and the growing choice of quality alcohol free alternatives that have become available in bars, restaurants and shops in recent years.
So is sober curiosity for you? If you are questioning your alcohol intake, or maybe you simply feel it’s time for a reset, this could be an ideal time for you to get on board with the movement. Let’s take a look.
Sober curiosity is all about choice. It’s about making conscious decisions around alcohol that work for you and it symbolises a move away from the all or nothing approach, where you feel pressure to justify your decision to not drink on a night out. We've all been there, where we fall back on excuses such as Sober October, Dry January or 'I'm driving' rather than having to explain why we simply don't want to drink alcohol. It’s about changing the narrative and making alcohol free nights out an accepted lifestyle choice, no questions asked.
Let’s be clear, being sober curious is not the same as total abstinence from alcohol, which implies a level of alcohol dependence or misuse. It’s not about choosing sobriety because you have a problem with alcohol, rather it’s a choice to drink less, or not at all, for the lifestyle benefits that brings. And it definitely doesn’t equate with 'being boring'. It’s knowing that you can have a glass of wine or two on a night out if you want to, but it’s also ok to opt for alcohol-free fizz instead, without making a big deal out of it.
It may sound obvious, but the knock on effect of being sober curious means that you will enjoy many health benefits. It’s a gentle, sensible approach to looking after yourself without adopting an all or nothing approach to your health and wellbeing. You will notice an improvement in your energy levels, you’ll sleep better and your skin will look better. Your mood and motivation will improve too. How many times have you worked hard to adopt healthier habits all week long, only to find that a night out drinking at the weekend sets you back?
Or maybe you suffer from ‘hangxiety’? It’s real, with around 12% of people experiencing feelings of anxiety when they wake up after a night out drinking. Replace those feelings with improved self esteem and more productivity in your life by embracing a sober curious lifestyle.
Andrea Nightingale, Substance Use Lead at the Health Improvement Commission shared her views with us on the health benefits of a sober curious lifestyle:
'It’s fantastic to hear that people are making this shift and assessing how they consume alcohol. It can greatly benefit your mental health to cut down, or to give up drinking alcohol.
Short term benefits include less chance of injury, no way of drinking and driving and not having that horrible feeling of worrying about what you may have said or done on your night out. Longer term benefits include some real changes to your overall health; you’ll reduce your risk-factors for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, learning & memory problems, and cancers.'
Many of us enjoy a few drinks on a night out, or the occasional glass of wine with dinner. And with the stresses of our modern world, a night out to let off steam or an extra gin and tonic at the end of a long week isn’t anything to worry about, right? As a general rule, no, but drinking is such a socially acceptable part of our culture, a way to unwind and have fun, that it can be difficult to recognise when it goes from drinking for pleasure to drinking habitually or drinking because you don’t know how to enjoy an evening without alcohol.
Joining the sober curious movement is a good way to hit the reset button on your drinking habits. If you find yourself struggling with the concept and you're looking for information and guidance to help you make an informed decision, take a look at How To Recognise If You're Drinking Too Much... And What You Can Do About It.
Andrea told us: 'Many people believe alcohol can make things better when we’re dealing with hard times, feeling anxious or are trying to cope with pain. However, this isn’t the case as alcohol is a depressant, meaning drinking can make us feel worse, not better.'
Gone are the days when choosing a soft drink meant your choices were limited to a coke or orange juice. There’s a huge selection of alternatives out there now. Mocktails are common in many of the bars and restaurants in town these days, and there's no compromise on flavour, or atmosphere... the disco lights in the ladies' in Balthazar will still be flashing if you have a virgin Mojito!
The range of alcohol free wine and beer is growing - and improving - all the time, as is the trend for non-alcoholic versions of favourites like a classic G&T. Soon we’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to quality non-alcoholic drinks on a night out. The drinks industry is catching on to the sober curious trend as more and more grown-up alcohol-free alternatives become available. 9 Drinks To Try If You're Sober Curious is a good place to look for inspiration.
If you’re concerned that you might be using alcohol to deal with stress in your life or would like help to take steps to become sober-curious, why not get in touch with In-dependence or AFC Guernsey if you are under 25.
If you have concerns about your mental wellbeing you can find support here.