What Does It Mean To Be Sober Curious?

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The sober curious movement is a few years old and still going strong. Increasing numbers of people, particularly young people, are asking questions about their relationship with alcohol and calling sobriety the new happy hour.

What Does It Mean To Be Sober Curious?

You may have heard the term sober curious. What does it mean exactly? Does sober curious mean that you’re exploring a more sober lifestyle or going alcohol-free?

The answer is both. Sober curiosity allows you the freedom to ask questions about your relationship with alcohol and make changes, including abstaining from drinking or cutting back.

One person’s definition of sober curiosity may differ from the next. The primary goal is to re-evaluate your relationship with alcohol and find a balance that works for you; which, for many, includes abstinence.

The Sober Curious Movement

The sober curious movement was popularized through internet challenges like Dry January and Sober October.

Through the visibility of social media influencers and movement leaders like Ruby Warrington and the founder of Club Soda (one of the largest collectives of the sober curious) Laura Willoughby, many people are pursuing alternatives to alcohol like sober bars or events.

The movement encourages people to reflect on their alcohol consumption and consider a sober lifestyle, highlighting many of the physical and mental benefits.

These may include:

  • better sleep
  • weight loss
  • improved mental well-being
  • skin benefits
  • reduced cravings
  • lowered health risks

How Do You Become Curious About Being Sober?

Being sober curious means getting inquisitive about the underlying motivations behind consuming alcohol and how it may be affecting you mentally and physically.

You can become sober curious simply by giving yourself permission to question how you use alcohol rather than habitually responding to social cues or pressures that drive drinking culture.

A few ways to get curious about drinking habits:

  • Pausing before consuming: Before you have a drink, stop to consider what your motivation is and how you might feel after drinking.
  • Spending time journaling: Doing personal reflection with paper and pen — or jotting down thoughts in your notes app — can open up space for evaluation.
  • Opening up conversations: Consider discussing the topic with another person to talk about drinking in today’s culture, the shifts we might be seeing, the reasons why we drink, and personal changes you may wish to make.

Ponder The Deeper Significance Of Why You Drink

As a culture, we celebrate many occasions with alcohol. This includes weddings, birthdays, and business events; as well as holidays like New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day, or the Fourth of July.

When you decide to become sober curious, you might start by questioning how you use alcohol and whether or not you can engage in these celebrations without it.

First, you might ask yourself a few questions to get a baseline:

  • How do I feel after I’ve had multiple glasses of wine?
  • How many times have I consumed alcohol over the last seven days? Does this feel like a healthy balance?
  • How many events do I attend that involve alcohol?
  • Do I have sober-friendly hobbies and activities that I enjoy?
  • Can I enjoy social gatherings without consuming alcohol?
  • What would it be like to socialize without alcohol?

Next, you might probe deeper and ask:

  • Do I need to drink to have fun?
  • Do I feel social pressure to drink alcohol?
  • Am I drinking a certain amount to get a buzz?
  • Am I drinking to avoid negative emotions?
  • How does drinking affect me physically?
  • How does drinking affect me mentally?

Answers to these questions may illuminate some of the ways alcohol may be impacting you and guide you toward a path that best suits your own sober curious journey.

How Do You Know If You Have An Alcohol Problem?

What if you try to go sober, but end up drinking? The truth is, the sober curious movement is not about perfection.

Try to avoid casting harsh judgments on yourself if it proves difficult to remain sober. This can be a challenge for anyone who’s making an adjustment to their relationship with alcohol.

However, if you find that you’re struggling to avoid alcohol after several attempts at staying sober, it may be time to seek support.

A few signs you may have a drinking problem include:

  • experiencing withdrawal
  • having alcohol cravings
  • feeling anxiety or distress when you cannot drink
  • drinking more than intended
  • trying to abstain from alcohol unsuccessfully
  • thinking about drinking frequently
  • using alcohol to avoid negative feelings or problems

If you identify with some or many of the above signs, you may consider getting treatment for alcohol addiction.

An alcohol recovery program can involve inpatient or outpatient care designed to help you regain control over your mental and physical health without alcohol.

Treatment may include:

  • a medical detox program
  • behavioral therapy
  • group support
  • relapse prevention services
  • connections to sober living homes

Find Treatment Today

If you or a loved one are facing an alcohol use disorder, you can find treatment today. Call us to learn more about your treatment options and how to access them.


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