Sober curious is a term used to describe someone who wants to try sobriety without committing to it. In short, it’s an open-ended way of exploring sobriety without committing to it. Many people have tried not drinking and realized it wasn’t as straightforward as they anticipated.
Being sober hasn’t always been very popular. In fact, attempts to eliminate alcohol were found so ineffective that the attempt was abandoned (prohibition). Our culture, in many ways, revolves around alcohol – from sporting events and weddings to happy hours and networking events – most occasions are celebrated with alcohol.
Though alcohol may not be problematic for all, it can still be troublesome. You don’t need to become an alcoholic to make lifestyle changes. The sober curious movement recognizes that and is helping break the stigma that has long been associated with sobriety.
Today, being sober curious is becoming more and more popular. With occasions like “Dry January,” more people are looking into what a month-long break from alcohol could mean for them. For others, sober curiosity is a way to start actively making lifestyle changes that focus on their physical and mental health.
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The Basics of Sober Curiosity
Ruby Warrington, the author of the book Sober Curious, defines this term as “choosing to question, or be curious about every impulse, invitation, and expectation to drink, rather than mindlessly following the dominant drinking culture.”
Sober curious doesn’t mean you’re giving up drinking for good. Sober curiosity isn’t a competition, diet, religion, or cult – it’s a way to explore your relationship with alcohol. While it might seem like an extreme commitment, it’s much more flexible than you think.
Some people choose to abstain from drinking entirely, while others decide to limit their drinks to one every so often.
What Being Sober Curious is NOT
It’s a common misconception that those who like to keep their drinking habits in check are alcoholics, but this isn’t true. Sober curiosity is about learning more about alcohol, not reducing your intake.
As you’re exploring different ways to drink without getting drunk, remember that there is no shame in indulging in the occasional cocktail or glass of wine—it’s all about moderation and knowing yourself well enough to know when enough is enough so that it doesn’t become an issue for you.
Benefits of Being Sober Curious
You don’t have to be ready to give up alcohol altogether. You can try sober curiosity without giving up alcohol for good and still see what life is like without alcohol.
Nonetheless, quitting alcohol consumption can have immediate effects, including:
- Lower blood pressure
- Weight loss
- Better sleep
- Clearer skin
- Increased energy
After several months without alcohol, many people feel more confident and happy than ever. Others experience increased creativity as they focus their energy on other tasks besides drinking. Many people who practice sober curiosity also notice a positive financial aspect, as they’ve successfully cut down on alcohol-related expenses.
How to Practice a Sober Lifestyle
If you’re considering a sober curious lifestyle, consider these factors:
- Question your relationship with alcohol: take a moment to understand how your relationship with alcohol has changed over the years and where it stands today. Use this time to see how alcohol use impacts other areas in your life.
- Control your environment: at first, try to avoid places solely focused on alcohol, like a bar or a party. Try to focus on events where alcohol isn’t the main focus.
- Stay active: exercise helps release endorphins, the feel-good hormones in our bodies that can help you get through your first alcohol-free days. Exercise will boost your mood and decrease anxiety, which will help lower your cravings.
- Find a new hobby: you will be surprised how often you go somewhere just to drink. Find a new hobby that doesn’t revolve around alcohol. Maybe a new sport, dancing lessons, language class, or a new craft.
- Stay away from friends who drink: if you have friends with challenges controlling how much they drink, try to limit or eliminate interactions for a while. These individuals might make you feel pressured to drink, and they might not respect your decision to reduce or eliminate drinking.
- Practice urge surfing: even if you’re not an alcoholic, odds are you’ll experience some cravings from time to time. So, find a plan to recognize your urges and how to let them pass. Ultimately, you want to control the craving and see a healthier alternative. Eventually, most cravings will go away.
Before you go ahead and try being sober and curious, reach out to your support system and let them know your plans. You also want to get extra support from a counselor, a book on the subject, or AA meetings in your area. These support touchpoints will help you keep your course.