Pause for a moment to consider your relationship with alcohol. Do you struggle to stop at just one drink? Do you enjoy the feeling of being drunk? Or maybe you abstain altogether? Are you considering abstaining? What is sober curious?
Different people have different experiences and opinions when it comes to drinking. But one thing’s for sure: living in a country where alcohol consumption is so prevalent, it’s very hard to say no. Modern culture breeds a life fueled by the next drink. As more people are becoming aware of the truths of alcohol, some are curious about sobriety or abstaining. Is it a new cultural phenomenon where tides between binge drinking and mocktails collide?
Alcohol may be an everyday part of life in America. But a growing number of Americans are seeking a way to improve their relationship with this particular substance. More and more people are defining themselves as sober curious. But what is sober curious? And why is the movement gaining such momentum?
What Makes Alcohol So Appealing?
Alcohol is an interesting subject to address. Likely, there are just as many individuals in favor of drinking as there are opponents—especially in America. You’d be forgiven for assuming that most other countries have the same culture of drinking as we do, but that’s not actually the case:
- Internationally, 45% of men and women have never had an alcoholic drink.
- While in the US, that figure is closer to just 15%, according to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
Despite studies linking moderate alcohol consumption to heart health, picking up a glass of wine isn’t the answer to prolonged life. The health risks associated with alcohol consumption, like liver disease, outweigh the slight benefits—especially since those same benefits can be achieved through diet and exercise. Yet, people throughout the United States are still consuming a high level of alcohol.
Alcohol is socially acceptable in America. That’s to say that there’s no stigma attached to either men or women enjoying a beer or two, a vodka soda, or a spiked seltzer on occasion. To some degree, drinking on a daily basis is often considered a moment of relaxation, a way to ease stress and maintain balance in life. If this is true, why are there so many negative outcomes from excessive drinking?
- We see alcohol on TV, in movies, and commercials
- As young and impressionable adults, many of us see our peers and family members drinking alcohol
- There are many places we can buy alcohol and many occasions where we might consume it.
We also normalize drinking to excess. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, and any drinking by pregnant women or people younger than 21. For women, this means having four or more drinks on a single occasion, and for men, five total beverages. By those measurements, suffice it to say that many are overindulging with friends and family. Who hasn’t laughed or reminisced over stories of drunkenness and the world’s worst hangover?
What’s more, alcohol has been framed as both a catharsis and a celebration. We drink to enhance a party with friends or to take the edge off a stressful week.
This combination of factors leads many of us back to alcohol time and again. But however commonplace alcohol consumption is in the US, we can’t ignore its darker side.
Problems Caused By Alcohol Consumption
For the individual
Alcohol is undoubtedly bad for your long-term health. Some medical experts argue that any amount of alcohol — not just an excessive amount — causes damage to the body and brain.
Excessive alcohol use is particularly harmful. It can lead to illnesses including cancer, heart disease, depression, and liver disease.
By lowering your inhibitions and clouding your judgment, alcohol puts your short-term wellbeing at risk too. It can encourage you to engage in risky behavior.
Even light-to-moderate drinkers experience the negative physical and mental effects of a hangover when they’ve over-indulged the night before.
For families and loved ones
People can behave differently or unexpectedly to those around them when drinking alcohol. They may become argumentative, belligerent, or even aggressive. They may also engage in dangerous behavior that puts others at risk, such as driving while under the influence.
Even if a person isn’t addicted to alcohol, their drinking can strain relationships with those closest to them.
The economic cost of excessive alcohol consumption was almost a quarter trillion dollars in 2010. That’s the equivalent of $807 per person.
These costs result primarily from reduced productivity, health care costs, criminal justice procedures, and motor vehicle crashes.
What Is Sober Curious?
Now let’s take a look at the emerging trend of sober curiosity. What does it mean to be sober curious?
Sober curious individuals question our drinking culture and acknowledge the harm that alcohol can do. As a result, the sober curious think more intentionally about why, when, and how often they drink.
At times, it’s hard to recognize when alcohol becomes a problem. And they may not choose to give up alcohol entirely. Instead, they try to figure out how and if alcohol contributes to their overall sense of wellbeing.
Is Sober Curiosity Popular?
Research shows that each new generation is drinking less alcohol than before, with Gen Z teens and young adults drinking 20% less than millennials did at the same age.
There’s also increased interest in challenges like Dry January. As many as 15% of Americans planned to give up alcohol for January 2021.
And brands are catching on. With an increasing number of NOLO (no and low alcohol) products available, it’s getting easier to avoid alcohol while still enjoying social occasions with friends and family.
Benefits Of Staying Sober
By staying sober, or drinking less than they’d usually do, people are avoiding difficult situations associated with alcohol misuse. They get to experience a ton of benefits, too.
People who abstain from alcohol:
- Avoid any memory loss from alcohol, however minor
- Don’t put themselves in danger or behave out of character because they’ve had a few too many
- Don’t wake up the next day feeling sick, down, or anxious
- Improve their overall health
- May experience better memory recall, easier weight loss, and improved finances
- Often find ways to cope with stress and enjoy social occasions without using alcohol
- Don’t risk becoming reliant on or addicted to alcohol.
For the sober curious who decide to go long term, it’s a lifestyle choice that improves their overall health and wellness.
Explore Sober Curiosity with AspenRidge
Here at AspenRidge, we understand that people experience alcohol and substance misuse on a spectrum.
That’s why we employ a step-down approach, meaning our clients can enter into treatment at the level that’s right for them.
Whether you’re worried about alcohol addiction or just want to find a better balance with drinking, there’s a treatment plan at our premier substance and alcohol abuse treatment center to suit you. We offer both in-person and online programs that work around your schedule.
Why not explore your sober curiosity further by speaking to one of our expert team? They’re available 24/7 at (855) 281-5588.