What Does It Mean to Be Sober Curious?

Sober Curious Meaning — What Does It Mean to Be Sober Curious?

What Does It Mean to Be Sober Curious?

Not terribly long ago, when a bartender asked, “What’ll it be?” the answer was freighted with meaning.

You either picked your poison — beer, wine, or maybe a signature cocktail with an inside-joke name — or you ordered cranberry juice and got a knowing look.

The expression on the tapster’s face said, as loudly as if he’d shouted, “I get it — you’re on the wagon!” The why was implied: You’re either pregnant or learned the hard way that one drink fast-tracks you toward an all-night bender and head-throbbing morning-after regret.

These days, with many bars temporarily closed due to COVID restrictions or with outdoor-only service, those of us who do drink are doing it at home—and doing A LOT of it.

During a single week in March 2020, when we were first asked to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus, alcohol sales jumped 54% compared to the same week in 2019, and online sales soared to 262%, according to a Nielsen survey.

And according to a study published on JAMA Network Open, while everyone they looked at reported drinking more since the pandemic started, there was a 41% increase in heavy drinking in women, compared to the previous year.

But feeling gross after all this drinking—or simply wanting to focus on self-care because we're all so stressed and anxious—may lead more people call a halt, and join the ranks of the “sober curious,” to try a «Dry January.

» There's some evidence of this: While some folks are drinking more, makers of non-alcoholic beers and wines also report increased sales.

Says one maker of non-alcoholic cocktails: “There are more and more people who are , ‘I just decided during quarantine that I’m not going to drink anything because I want to keep my immunity strong.’”

What does it mean to be sober curious?

People who are sober curious wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves non-drinkers. More , they’re choosing to not drink, perhaps for a set period of time, to see what life is in our alcohol-everywhere culture minus the girls’ night Zoom margaritas, a reflexive bottle of red with dinner, or the boozy send-off when a co-worker is starting a new gig.

For the sober curious, a Dry January or a Sober October can lead to the decision to remain alcohol-free; others pick up drinking where they left off; others still drink, but more moderately going forward. One study found that Brits who abstained for a Dry January drank less in the six months afterward.

The biggest reason people pledge to forgo alcohol for a stretch is wanting to improve their health.

According to a study by Nielson, “[55%] of consumers said they abstained from alcohol at some point during 2018, with 50% citing health as the primary motivator.

” Millennials are way more ly to explore sobriety — 66% say they’re making efforts this year to reduce their alcohol consumption (the average for everyone over 21 is 47%.)

This is pretty intuitive. When you stop drinking, you “start to feel immediate physical benefits,” says Holly Whitaker, founder of Tempest, an online digital recovery program that helps people examine their relationship with alcohol and sustain long-term recovery.

Her book Quit a Woman, a feminist, feminine-centered way of approaching recovery, tells her own story about how she learned to construct a life she no longer wanted to drink her way through. “Alcohol is a depressant and it also increases anxiety, and it disrupts sleep,” she says.

“If you remove it, you’re going to feel an immediate impact.”

And despite confusing reports over the years about the heart health benefits of moderate drinking, it’s not super clear that there are any, and if there are, they’d be small and may not apply to everyone. The latest guidelines from the American Heart Association state that if you don't already drink moderately (defined as one a day for women), you shouldn't start.

Meanwhile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even one drink a day ups your risk of certain cancers (including breast cancer), and the more you drink, the higher your risk. Car crashes and the odds of winding up in a violent situation also go up the more you drink.

And drinking to excess, of course, is a glaring health risk. “Excessive drinking was responsible for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20-64 years,” the CDC found.

According to a report from the World Health Organization, “Alcohol is a causal factor in 60 types of diseases and injuries, and a component cause in 200 others.»

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The benefits of being sober curious:

Still, since drinking marks most every social occasion and is simply habitual for many of us, the impetus to call a deliberate moratorium might not occur to you. The sober curious approach is less about stopping because you absolutely must, and more about being, well, curious about what would happen if you did.

Dani Cirignano, a writer in San Francisco, counted herself among the sober curious when she decided to take September and October off from alcohol a couple of years ago. Cirignano wasn’t exactly alarmed by her drinking habits — she drank perhaps twice a week socially, to excess a couple of times a year, and never by herself.

“Nobody from the outside world looking in would have thought I had a quote-unquote problem with alcohol,” she says. “But internally I knew that something wasn’t quite right about it.” Her occasional drunken nights left her feeling hungover the next day and depressed for weeks after.

So she decided to see what would happen if she chose not to for a while.

What happened was, she says, “remarkable. I felt more full of joy than I ever had,” she says.

Cirignano also started to see more clearly how uncomfortable she could feel in social situations, how much she wanted to be d, and how drinking took the edge off of those feelings. “That first drink, when you feel silly and loose, was the best part.

But that didn’t last, and then I might feel tired or grumpy or kind of gross,” she recalls, pointing out that many people keep drinking to try and recapture that first-drink feeling.

But instead of letting one drink become two or three, Cirignano simply tolerated the awkwardness and, over time, learned what made her feel a sense of ease.

“When I took alcohol away and started to do the work of actually being okay, rather than to drink to try to feel okay, I was happier,” she says. It’s been two years, and Cirignano now facilitates sober and sober curious supportive meet-ups through Tempest called The Bridge Club.

When she started her two-month hiatus from alcohol, “I had no idea that that was going to be the last time I drank,” she says.

Exploring Mindful Drinking:

Rosamund Dean’s foray into sober curiosity led not to long-term sobriety — which was never her goal — but to drinking a lot less.

Dean, a magazine journalist and author of Mindful Drinking, says that while she overdid it, so did everyone she hung out with, and they all powered through hangovers on the reg.

“But it wasn’t affecting my life or my work — traditional markers you might associate with having an alcohol problem,” she says.

Then she became pregnant with her first baby, and resolved to stick with not drinking after the baby was born. “But it was incredible how quickly I slipped back into old habits.

I think I wanted to prove that I was the old me,” drinking with mom friends, and eventually having wine in bed after the baby was finally down for the night. “I really intended to drink less,” she says.

The same thing happened after baby number two — despite her best intentions, she was back to drinking more than she wanted to.

That’s when she realized she needed a plan. So she took a month off entirely, and became aware of when she was drinking on autopilot.

“The good thing about having a clean break for a period before you try and moderate your drinking is that you learn what your triggers are, which are different for everyone,” says Dean.

She noticed that it was easy for her not to drink at home, but she found sober socializing difficult at first. The upside was that she was more present with her friends, “I was more capable of really talking to someone,” she says.

Now Dean consciously chooses to have a drink a few nights a week, and plans for it, so she can enjoy a cool cocktail on a hot day. Not surprisingly, her net intake is way down.

“One thing that’s really worked for me is trying to think of it cake,” she says. “You don’t reject cake entirely — you’ll have it if it’s a friend’s birthday, but you don’t have it every day.

” And you don’t snarf the entire cake, either.

The list of benefits to drinking mindfully is long: she says she lost weight, has more money, has better skin, more energy and feels sharper at work.

But the best thing about mindful drinking, she says, is reclaiming her time. “Having a hangover kind of steals time from you,” she explains.

“And being drunk may feel fun in the moment, but you’re not really there to experience the moment fully.”

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Should you try being sober curious?

If you or someone you know has an unhealthy and abusive relationship with alcohol, you should seek professional help. Otherwise, since being sober curious is about developing awareness of how you drink, how it makes you feel, and where drinking fits into your life, most anyone could benefit, says Whitaker.

The point is to observe and learn from what you see. “Sober Curiosity is a great because it means that society at large is building a greater awareness around the harms of alcohol,” says Whitaker.

“But when exploring your relationship with sobriety, understand that for some the option to pick up sobriety and put it back down is not an option.”

Indeed, you may notice is that you really, really miss drinking. “A lot of people get concerned that if they try and they can’t stop drinking, that they are really, really sick,” says Whitaker.

“It’s just a sign that they have an attachment to alcohol that was beyond their awareness.

It doesn’t mean that they’re sick forever, but it does mean that they’re using something in a way that has a hold of them.”

Dean agrees. The worst thing you can do, if you drink more than you intend, “is to say, 'last night I got hammered, so I failed and I’m going to give up,'” she says. “You should always know you’re going to fall off the wagon — that’s part of the process, and you can look at it as a better way to be prepared for the future. It’s part of the learning.”

That’s why it’s critical to approach sober curiosity with a gentleness toward yourself — whatever you decide to do with the information you glean during your Dry January or week off or whatever. “It’s about understanding that all humans are doing the best that they can, and allowing ourselves grace and space to examine ourselves,” says Whitaker.

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Sober Curious Movement Meaning — How to Be Sober Curious

What Does It Mean to Be Sober Curious?

In the spring of 2018, 42-year-old Kim Banks found herself in a lonely place. Struggles with anxiety and depression interfered with life as a wife, mother of 5-year-old twin boys, and her work in public relations. Despite self-improvements daily exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep habits, Banks wasn’t happy.

“I was feeling lots of anxiety, depression, and irritability, even though I was trying to do all the right things,” she says.

In the back of her mind, Banks describes a nagging thought: Give up the alcohol.

“I was in a constant, daily argument with myself,” she says. At the root of was the question: Should I drink tonight?

Banks ended each workday with a few glasses of wine. On weekend nights out with her husband, she describes “going a little hard,” and leaving a wave of bad feelings for the next day.

“I knew I needed to eliminate alcohol, but it was the last thing I wanted to eliminate,” she says. “I really enjoyed wine, and I definitely bought into the idea alcohol enhances experiences,” she continues. “Tell me to give anything else up but the wine.”

Initially, Banks describes a curiosity around “taking a 30-day-break” from alcohol. She researched online for information about what impact alcohol has on the body. “I mainly searched for success stories from people who gave up drinking for 30 days or more,” she explains.

Her online searches turned up first-hand accounts of people herself, who hadn’t suffered major life-altering consequences from drinking, but saw their drinking as problematic all the same. Others identified as “alcoholic” but blended traditional 12-step recovery with other support among fellow “sober curious” followers.

Banks made the decision to go alcohol-free. «I was thinking, 'This isn’t making me happy anymore, but it’s ingrained in my daily habits,'» she says.

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Ruby Warrington’s 2018 book Sober Curious is something of a guidebook for this less-threatening, label-free, booze-less trend. The book describes Warrington’s “gray-area problem drinking.

” Uncomfortable with the label “alcoholic,” she developed a following of -minded non-drinkers via her book, podcasts, and social media.

Banks is one of many who either gave up drinking altogether or drink more mindfully.

Sober coach Rae Dylan lives in New York City and sees the trend up close. Cities New York City and Chicago are seeing a rise of sober-free bars and events. Instagram and pages devoted to alcohol-free living boast followers in the tens of thousands.

“I see it as part of what’s happening all around us,” says Dylan, who works with recovering addicts and alcoholics requiring protection from the press, nutritional guidance, mental health issues, medication, and detox. “People are more interested in a healthy lifestyle and part of not-drinking is part of this healthy culture which recognizes it’s not healthy the way Americans drink,” she adds.

In particular, the idea of not drinking in what some consider awkward social situations, a bar atmosphere, is encouraging, Dylan believes. “It’s a good thing; the movement gives younger people, who may feel pressure to drink or do drugs, another outlet,” she says.

“Instead of feeling pressure to drink,” Dylan continues, “the focus comes off labels ‘alcoholic’ and, instead, people focus on having a cool virgin mojito with maybe organic cane juice.”

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Banks admits her first steps into a sober lifestyle weren’t easy. Friends and family didn’t object, but they had difficulty supporting what they couldn’t understand.

“I was surrounded with casual drinkers who didn’t understand why someone would choose to give up alcohol without being an alcoholic,” she says. “I wasn’t a rock-bottom alcoholic, so it wasn’t a black-or-white issue for me.»

Instead, the issue, Warrington describes, was more of a gray area. “I was tired, my skin was breaking out and I had tried everything else,» she continues. «I knew in my heart what I needed to cut.»

Finding support from other non-drinkers meant turning to the internet and social media. At first, Banks was unaware she was part of the sober curious movement. Her first steps going wine-free centered on setting up an Instagram page to record an initial 30-day break from alcohol. “I would post things , ‘This is my second day without alcohol!’”

Today, Banks has nearly 6,500 Instagram followers celebrating her alcohol-free experiences. She credits this early support with her sober lifestyle today. “There were so many supportive people on Instagram,” Banks says. “I felt I had these online pen pals who really got what I was going through.”

She describes the connections as uplifting without shame. Followers celebrate her victories and help her navigate rough days. Plus, she knows she has 24-hour access to a community of support. If she and her husband go out for the evening, she’s only an Instagram away from others who are also abstaining from drinks on a weekend night.

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Living in Greenville, SC, Banks doesn’t have the luxury of countless, trendy sober bars to visit. But, time away from drinking has made it easier and less appealing to go backward. She says she focuses on the reality of drinking versus the fantasy.

During a recent family vacation, Banks said the idea of having a drink sounded tempting. She reminded herself, however, of the reality behind the “one drink,” which included, for her, ly more than one drink, a bad night’s sleep and heavy anxiety in the morning. “In the beginning it was so hard, but now I’ve had so many experiences under my belt, and I feel more confident,” she explains.

“I think through the drink,” she explains. “I admit to myself I have the urge, but I know the ‘idea’ is way better than any glass of wine.”

The days of pushing through moments of temptation are fewer and further between. If she needs support, she knows her Instagram followers are always nearby, along with other sober curious friends she’s made on the journey.

Her friends and family are still casual drinkers, but Banks has been abstaining from alcohol for the past year and a half, and has no intention of going back to her evening wine. “I love waking up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning without a hangover,” she says.

Enjoying sober experiences has left Banks feeling healthier, more focused, and more present for her husband and children. In addition, her family’s finances have improved without the steady purchase of wine. She says her husband is proud of her accomplishment, and her children are enjoying a more active family life with hiking and trips.

“There are so many physical and emotional benefits from intentionally taking a break from alcohol,” says Banks. “It opens a whole new world. I’m a better friend, wife, and mom,” she adds. For now, she remains alcohol-free, one day at a time.

Banks joins thousands of other people who've found guidance and support in Ruby Warrington's Sober Curious. If you're intrigued but still have questions, we spoke to the author to better understand the movement, what a sober curious lifestyle could look for you, and how it might (or might not) change your drinking habits.

Where did the sober curious movement come from?

Nearly a decade ago, Warrington coined the term “sober curious” to describe what she calls her own “uneasy relationship” with alcohol. “After many years of privately questioning my drinking, I began speaking openly about my conflicted feelings about alcohol in 2015,” Warrington says.

“At this point I realized that a lot of people felt the same way as me— they knew alcohol could be problematic for them, but didn't see themselves as alcoholics—but were either afraid to talk about it, or didn't have an outlet for an open discussion about the problems even 'normal' drinkers experience.”

A few years later, Warrington noticed the concept of sober curiosity gaining increasing traction in popular media, and decided to write her book, Sober Curious.

What does being sober curious entail?

Being sober curious does not mean ceasing all drinking. Instead, Warrington says, it’s more about “choosing to stop drinking on autopilot.

” Whereas the norm is not to question the relationships individuals and society have with alcohol, being sober curious means being more open to questioning the reasons behind our drinking habits.

Warrington asks things why is alcohol so socially acceptable? What feelings are we using alcohol to mask? How much more confident, awake, and aware are we when we are not drinking as often or as much? “When you get really honest with your answers to questions these, it makes less and less sense to keep drinking,” she says.

If I explore sober curiosity, does that mean I have a problem with drinking?

The short answer here is no, but Warrington suggests that most of society is ly “just a little bit addicted” to alcohol given the nature of the product and the effectiveness of its marketing.

“Our brains are biologically hardwired to form an attachment to alcohol,” Warrington points out.

Moreover, the fact that alcohol is one of the five most addictive substances, and given the marketing dollars behind the industry, Warrington posits that it’s hard not to become just a little bit addicted to booze. But this doesn’t mean that we all have a problem.

“For me, recognizing that it’s actually very 'normal' for drinking to become habitual helped to break down some of the stigma that surrounds the subject of alcoholism, in turn making it less shameful to begin questioning my relationship to alcohol” Warrington says.

How long do I have to be sober curious (or sober) to start feeling the difference?

Warrington suggests that for regular social drinkers (someone who drinks a couple nights a week, though not excessively), 100 days is the ideal amount of time to take a break from drinking to really feel the benefits.

“Dry January is a great start, but relatively easy to muscle through, whereas taking a longer break means you'll be confronted with more challenging Sober Firsts a first sober date, wedding, or vacation,” Warrington says.

But in getting through these seemingly alcohol-fueled situations, Warrington posits that we have more chances to understand that alcohol is not, in fact, a necessity. Moreover, she says, cutting down on drinking for a few months can highlight “how deeply ingrained your attachment to alcohol really is.”

Will sober curiosity lead me to stop drinking?

Warrington is careful to differentiate between being sober curious and being sober. While she describes sober curiosity as a lifestyle, she notes that it’s “less about a black and white approach, or abstinence being “good” and drinking being “bad.

” Instead, she says, “It's about being really honest with yourself about the role alcohol plays in your life, the overall impact that (even moderate) drinking has on your wellbeing, and from there working out for yourself if and when you actually want to engage with this substance.”

What challenges accompany being sober curious?

While being sober curious certainly has its benefits, Warrington is the first to admit that there can be some hurdles to overcome. “At first, I was concerned about how it would affect my relationship with my husband,” she says.

“We’d always had so much fun drinking together (even if the price we paid the morning after felt it was getting higher and higher the older we got), and, at first, I found myself wondering if me not drinking would drive a wedge between us.” Happily, Warrington’s fears were proven wrong.

That said, being sober curious may lead to some senses of FOMA, or Fear of Missing Alcohol, especially in social situations. But Warrington suggests fully embracing those moments to prove that having a great time is by no means contingent on booze.

How can I recreate the feeling of drinking without drinking?

“Life definitely isn’t boring without alcohol, but I have had to find new ways to socialize,” Warrington says. For her, yoga, meditation, sound baths, moon circles, and cacao ceremonies (yes, those are all real things) have filled the void.

But the rest of sober curiosity, these alternatives are all deeply personal, and there is no “right” answer. Given that judgment has no place in the sober curious movement, Warrington is by no means prescriptive about what other activities (alcoholic or otherwise) you should engage in.

After all, sober curiosity is a never-ending process.

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Источник: https://www.prevention.com/life/a28649123/sober-curious/

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