The idea of being “sober curious” has taken social media by storm. Gen Z and Millennials are talking openly about trading alcohol-fueled nights out for mocktails with the girls…and we’re here for it.
What Does it Mean to be Sober Curious?
Being sober curious essentially means that you’re re-evaluating your relationship with alcohol. This could include considering the reasons why you drink, the ways in which alcohol affects you, and what life would be like without it.
Perhaps one of the most enticing aspects of sober curiosity is the inherent flexibility. The practice allows you to set your own guidelines. For example, cutting back on alcohol to you could be drinking only on the weekends. To someone else, maybe it means drinking exclusively during specific occasions.
Plus, being sober curious doesn’t come with the all or nothing mentality that full sobriety does. You have the ability to tell your friends you’re not drinking at their birthday party, but still sip on a glass of bubbly to celebrate your big promotion.
Basically, the ball is fully in your court, no questions asked.
Sober curiosity is different from giving up alcohol due to disease or dependency. Alcoholism is a separate matter that should be dealt with under more serious circumstances. If you think you might be struggling with alcoholism, we encourage you to check out a resource like NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator.
7 Ways to Explore Sobriety
Considering trying out sober curiosity? Here’s how to do it.
1. Find other friends who are sober or enjoy drinking in moderation.
It can be really challenging to stay sober and social if your friends are big drinkers. This isn’t to say you have to ditch these pals while exploring sober curiosity, but it’ll make the journey a lot easier if you have friends on the same page, so put yourself out there and make some new ones!
2. Track the moments when you’re craving alcohol to uncover why – then find another solution.
Most of us have found ourselves yearning for a glass of wine after a stressful day. Or itching for a boozy night with the gals after a rough breakup. There’s nothing inherently wrong with enjoying alcohol in these situations, but part of sober curiosity is to evaluate your triggers.
Take note each time you have a hankering for alcohol – are you stressed? Sad? Celebrating?
Then, find another way to accomplish a similar outcome to the one alcohol would provide. Need to reduce stress? Maybe you take a bubble bath, lay under a heated blanket, or snuggle with a furry friend.
3. Challenge yourself to not drink in situations where you typically would.
One way to test the sobriety waters is to try forgoing alcohol in the cases when you usually would. This might include:
- Passing up on the open bar at a wedding
- Trading cocktails for mocktails during happy hour
- Declining a glass of champagne during your office celebration with coworkers
- Not getting a glass of wine with dinner
- Swapping out drinks for a sober-friendly date
Alcohol is present during a surprising number of moments in our lives. Taking pause and experiencing those situations sans alcohol is a great experiment for those who are sober curious.
4. Rethink your environment.
It’s hard to toy with the idea of sobriety when the fridge is stocked with craft beer and white wine.
Either give that alcohol away to friends or hide it for later. Take it a step further and replace those drinks with fun, alcohol-free sips for those times you just want a tasty beverage. Our favorites are kombucha and Recess sparkling water.
5. Lean into alcohol-free hobbies.
Drinking fills up more time than we realize, between afternoons at the brewery and nights out with friends. Replace some of that time with hobbies that don’t involve an ounce of alcohol. There are plenty of fun things to do instead of drinking!
Not only will the new activities provide a distraction, but they’ll also give you an extra reason not to drink. It’s a lot easier to wake up on Saturday for a long bike ride without a hangover.
6. Practice intuitive drinking.
Like intuitive eating, intuitive drinking involves listening to your body and considering if an alcoholic beverage feels good at the present moment.
Sometimes, we drink simply because it’s right in front of us. Maybe you weren’t craving a beer before happy hour, but you have one just because your boss handed it to you. Or you take that shot of tequila because someone bought a round.
Start to get in touch with your body so you know when a cocktail actually sounds good versus when you’re drinking just for the sake of it.
7. Go on a drinking hiatus – and see if you miss it.
Dry January and Sober October provide lots of opportunity for this type of exploration, but not forgoing alcohol doesn’t have to be limited to these months.
Give yourself a chance to see how your body feels with alcohol fully removed from your system. At the end of the designated time period, consider whether you actually miss alcohol. Even if you do decide to continue drinking, you might learn a lot about when you genuinely like to drink, and when it was just habitual.