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Why are more people becoming sober curious?


Whether it’s post-work beers or a few mimosas at brunch, drinking is very much normalised within our society, writes Emma Thackray, co-founder of Altrincham drink brand Hip Pop. As many across the industry have opted to go alcohol-free for Sober October, she explains the rise in sober curiosity and what it means.

Alcohol is often portrayed as a means to relax, socialise with friends and just make a hard day that little bit easier. Although being a staple of British culture, there has been a growing campaign for sobriety with initiatives such as Sober October offering people the chance to take a step back from alcohol and really reflect on their relationship with drink.

Interestingly, more and more British people are welcoming this change and sober curiosity is growing as a result. reported in 2017, 20% of the population did not drink at all and overall consumption had fallen by around 16% since 2004. These numbers are expected to steadily increase, with many people opting to drink less or not at all, highlighting a shift towards a sober curious society.

What is sober curiosity?

Sober curiosity isn’t about going teetotal, in fact, sober curiosity is more about mindful drinking and questioning the relationship between alcohol and yourself. Alcohol can have detrimental effects on both mental and physical well-being, and the benefits of quitting or limiting alcohol include reducing the risk of cancers, cardiovascular and mental illnesses.

Sober curiosity is a great way for people to establish an honest and open dialogue with themselves and their relationship with alcohol. It allows them to question how alcohol makes them feel and whether the short-term benefits are worth the potential long-term health risks.

This movement is also intended to reduce the stigma surrounding non-drinking. Many people associate sobriety with a history of alcohol abuse. However, sober curiosity shows this isn’t the case, reinforcing that a person doesn’t necessarily have to be recovering from a difficult relationship with alcohol to go sober. It’s about promoting non-drinkers as a social norm, to create a social drinking environment which is inclusive for drinkers and non-drinkers.

Other benefits of sober curiosity?

Aside from the obvious health benefits, mindful drinking can have a number of other benefits in all aspects of life.

Less fatigue

One of the undiscussed effects of alcohol is its ability to fatigue the human body. Alcohol consumption can negatively affect sleep quality and cause chronic drowsiness, this is especially the case for persistent drinking. Minimising alcohol consumption can lessen instances of fatigue, giving a person more energy to do the things they love and even socialise more. 

Better social relationships

After a night of drinking, many people can experience a case of ‘beer fear’ which may leave them feeling anxious or even guilt-ridden when reflecting on their drink-fuelled interactions with other people. This can cause a person to become reclusive after these incidents and may also negatively impact social relationships as a result of drink-fuelled bad decisions.

Going sober to social events should not be seen as ‘boring’ and in fact, empowering, enabling people to enjoy a social night and leave confident in the knowledge that they didn’t do or say anything to trigger the ‘beer fear’.

Healthier drink alternatives

The mocktail industry is booming and there are plenty of alternative drinks that provide a refreshing feeling without containing alcohol and the unwanted side effects they contain. Kombucha is a great choice for those who look for a rejuvenating drink, packed with probiotics and antioxidants that are proven to provide added health benefits. Tasty, fun and good for you, these drinks are also a great way to socialise and feel energised, without the dreaded next-day hangover.

Save Money

Cocktails don’t come cheap! It’s no secret that alcohol is expensive, and the cost of your night out steadily racks up with the number of drinks you have. No matter how strict a budget, after a couple of drinks that £50 taxi becomes way more appealing than a cheap train ride home… not mention ongoing generosity at the bar.

All in all, sober curiosity removes the societal pressures to drink and can alleviate symptoms such as fatigue and depression which come with chronic drinking. Whether someone wants to simply limit their alcohol use or stop altogether, mindful drinking is a great thing to try out and with the market booming in its offer of tasty, alcohol alternatives, there is no better time to embrace sobriety.

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