Being 'Sober Curious' is not about giving up alcohol completely or forever


Being 'sober curious' doesn't necessarily mean you never have a drink, just that you look more deeply at alcohol's role in your life. — Photo: blackCAT/Getty Images/ETX DAily Up

Have you heard of the "sober curious" movement? The concept behind it encourages deeper reflection on our alcohol consumption, without necessarily opting for total abstinence. This approach invites us to look more deeply at our relationship with alcohol and its impact on our health.

After Dry January, or for some people, Damp January, now the idea of "Sober Curious" is coming up in conversations, whether as a next step from a reduction in drinking last month or not. The "Sober Curious" approach encourages a more intuitive and thoughtful approach to drinking.

Unlike abstinence, it encourages us to take a closer look at our drinking habits, without requiring us to stop drinking entirely. We can, for example, decide to drink, sensibly, for a special occasion or to taste a special wine. The idea is to make these moments rarer and more precious.

The term "Sober Curious" has been popularised by Ruby Warrington through her book Sober Curious: the blissful sleep, greater focus, limitless presence and deep connection awaiting us all on the other side of alcohol published in 2018.

Gayle Macdonald, sobriety coach and author behind Sober Bliss told Cosmopolitan UK that this type of approach is more flexible, offering a less abrupt transition to abstinence.

She says: "It's not about (immediately) giving up alcohol completely or forever, which can be quite scary or steeped in shame and guilt. It's more about looking at your relationship with alcohol and the role it plays in your life."

Deciding to drink less alcohol, or not to drink any at all has been trending in certain circles for several years and this idea has particularly won followers among younger generations.

According to a Gallup poll published in August 2023, 62% of American adults aged 18 to 35 say they drink alcohol, compared with 72% 20 years ago. While there are many reasons for this, the health benefits of abstinence figure prominently.

According to the World Health Organization, "harmful use of alcohol" is responsible for 3 million deaths worldwide each year, or 5.3% of all deaths. Several studies show a correlation between even moderate alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, liver disease, and sometimes mental health problems.

A 2023 study published in JAMA Network Open concluded that alcohol consumption, even in low or moderate quantities, is not associated with a reduced risk of mortality, nor with the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Quitting drinking, on the other hand, can have multiple benefits for everyday life, such as improved sleep, concentration, memory and the immune system. All of which helps to restore energy levels.

If you want to give the Sober Curious approach a try, Gayle Macdonald has some advice: "A first step is to ask important questions like 'do I really need this glass of wine or would I be better off not drinking tonight'? Asking deeper questions about what you really need at that moment, or why you're reaching for a drink, will help to uncover the reason behind your drinking."

She also suggests finding a non-alcoholic drink to use as an alternative. "Substituting an alcoholic drink for an alcohol-free one makes things a lot easier," she says. "And if you are not enjoying yourself, go home!" — AFP Relaxnews

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