Sober Curious Movement

Let’s admit it! As time goes on, our ability to drink alcohol diminishes. Nowadays, drinking alcohol can result in sleep issues, potential weight gain, and hangovers. Not worth it! Luckily the sober curious movement is here, and with that, sober bars, mocktails, and less social awareness of non-drinking alcohol.

What is the Sober-Curious Movement?

Sober Curious
Try non-alcoholic wines.

Imagine yourself at happy hour, talking and laughing with a nice cocktail in your hand—a picture-perfect social gathering.

Now, imagine that there is no alcohol in your drink or in any other drink served at the bar.

This is a reality for many going to “dry bars,” a new concept that gained momentum with the sober curious movement.

In recent years, dry bars are popping up in many major cities in the United States and other countries, and as the sober curious lifestyle expands, it is likely that dry bars will arrive at your city.

The sober curious movement’s global wellness trend goes along with other trends such as plant-based diets, functional foods, and mindfulness. 

Sober curiosity begins by asking yourself: is it a good idea for me to pick up this drink? Why is it expected for me to drink? Or how this drink is going to impact my wellbeing? In other words, it is about being mindful of drinking.

Sober curiosity is “the next logical step in the wellness revolution,” says journalist Ruby Warrington, author of the book sober curious. It is important to clarify that sober curiosity is about health rather than sobriety as a result of alcoholism.

What Being Sober Curious Means?

Sober curiosity means being more intentional about how, when, and why you drink. It is based on the idea that stopping drinking or drinking less will improve physical and financial health and improve relationships with others. For some, it means to stop drinking certain months a year, and for others, it means to stop drinking most of the time.

In other words, it is mindful drinking or being mindful about your alcohol consumption. It is not about improving alcohol dependence, solving alcohol addiction, or complete abstinence.

Dry January

A growing tradition for many, dry January is about not drinking the first month of the year. The campaign was started in 2013 by Alcohol Change UK and has spread worldwide since then.

One amazing resource the organization provides is an app for the participants to track how much money and calories they save, an incredible way to make users aware of how their drinking impacts them!

The information collected among 800 hundred Dry January participants was published in 2018, showing that participants saved money (88%), slept better (71%), and lost weight (58%).

Other benefits reported in similar studies included a reduction in diabetes risk, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and a reduction of cancer-related protein in the blood. 

Moreover, being alcohol-free for a month shows participants that it is possible to have fun and relax without drinking. Pair this discovery with the awareness of money savings, health benefits, and weight loss, and there is a reason to reduce how much alcohol is consumed.

Social media has been a big part of the movement bu creating a community around Dry January.

Sober September

While not the biggest month in the sober curious movement, sober September means to take a break from the summer drinking. Younger people embrace sober September as it usually means the end of lazy summer days and the beginning of a new school year.

Sober October

Healthline reports that the movement started in 2014 as a fundraising campaign for Macmillan cancer support, a charity that assists people living with cancer in the U.K. In the official fundraising challenge, the participants have the option to commit 14, 21, or 31 days. 

Similar to Dry January, the challenge has expanded worldwide. Many join the official challenge but many more just make their own challenge.

The Health Benefits of Not Drinking Alcohol

Better sleep, weight loss, more energy, improved concentration, more control over emotions, decreased anxiety, increased ability to fight disease, and better overall health are some of the benefits of being sober, even if it is just for one month.

How Does Alcohol Affect Sleep?

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While many feel that alcohol does help them sleep better, in reality, alcohol can disrupt sleep. This is especially true in the second part of the night as it reduces the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This part of sleep is important because it is restorative.

Blissful sleep is more likely to be obtained without alcohol.

According to the sleep foundation, once the REM sleep is disrupted, people who drink before bed often experience insomnia symptoms and are sleepy the next day. This leads to a higher intake of alcohol at night to help them sleep and caffeine during the day to keep them awake. Being sober for a month can help break this vicious cycle.

In addition, alcohol can worsen sleep apnea – a disorder characterized by difficulty breathing during the night.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Immune System?

Many experts believe that protecting your gut will protect him from many diseases. It seems like every day more research shows the benefits of a healthy gut. The problem? Well, she was right, and alcohol can damage the gut.

The GI is the first point of contact for alcohol as it passes through the body to be absorbed. One of the most significant immediate effects of alcohol is how it affects the structure and integrity of the GI tract. This, in turn, changes the gut barrier function, facilitating leakage of the microbes into the bloodstream. This can easily result in an infection that can affect the entire body.

Alcohol has also been associated with increased susceptibility to pneumonia. Not the best thing when we live in COVID times.

Alcohol and Fatigue

As we mentioned earlier, alcohol can interrupt sleep, and the energy levels the next day will decrease.

Alcohol’s sedative quality can make you feel drowsy or lethargic. Thus, drinking a glass of wine to “unwind” after work can rob you of the energy the rest of the night.

Alcohol and Anxiety

At first, the sedative effects of alcohol can lower anxiety. However, as the alcohol wears off, anxiety can return with more force. This happens as alcohol changes the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for maintaining anxiety under control.

Quit Drinking and Lose Weight

Calories in wine

We all know that alcohol can throw away weight loss efforts. To begin with, alcohol is high in calories.

Even drinking a glass of wine a day can add extra 50,000 calories a year. Calories from alcohol are usually on top of the normal calories for the day,

Furthermore, alcohol relaxes people’s inhibitions, potentially leading to overeating. Also, drinking at night can make it more difficult to wake up early the next morning to exercise. 

While I believe that an occasional drink fits into a healthy lifestyle, there are benefits to be mindful about alcohol intake and reducing or eliminating use.

Alcohol and Cancer Risk

According to the American Cancer Society, there is a strong scientific consensus that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of several types of cancer, including mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon and breast.

Alcohol consumption at any level can increase the risk of developing cancer even if it is only one drink per day.

What Sober Curious People Drink?

No drinking is easier than ever! There are hundreds of delicious mocktails and delicious alcohol-free drinks available. Honestly, mocktails can help the awareness of non-drinking in social situations and the social anxiety product of the dominant drinking culture of the generation of women who are now in their perimenopausal and menopausal years.

Awesome Mocktails

Mocktail

 More and more great recipes are becoming available online, more bars are adding mocktails to their menu, and manufacturers are creating great ready-to-go drinks. Here are some examples:

Nonalcoholic Beers

Personally not a favorite, non-alcoholic beer can be a substitute for drinking alcohol. However, it is all matter of taste, and it does not hurt for you to try. After all, trying new things is always a good thing.

More Non-Alcoholic Drink Substitutes

Beyond mocktails, the taste of some drinks can fill the void left by drinking alcohol. A personal favorite is a kombucha. The flavor is sharp and refreshing, and the heaviness can substitute the feeling of drinking alcohol. However, it is important to mention that it has traces of alcohol -approximately 0.5%. 

Ginger beer is another popular substitution and works great in mocktails. However, read the label to make sure it has only 0.5% of alcohol by volume (ABW), as some ginger beer -when sold in the alcohol aisles- can contain as much as 11%.

The 100% alcohol-free substitutes include sparkling or club soda, easily transformed into refreshing cocktails. Drinking a nice tea or sparkling water can also give the sensation of having a drink to sip while socializing with friends.

The Compromise to the Sober Curious? Lower Alcohol Drinks

Suddenly low alcoholic drinks are showing up everywhere. You might have seen your friends or family choosing a rose spritzer over a glass of wine, or you might have seen many products at the supermarket like hard seltzer.

What Is a Low Alcohol Drink?

While there is no industry definition of low alcohol by volume (ABV) drink, manufacturers, bars, and recipe makers come with drinks and cocktails that are lower than standards. The highest ABV drinks include sports like vodka, gin, or tequila, with a 45-55% ABV, whereas hard seltzer has between 4-7% percent.

Low-alcohol mix approximately up to 10 percent alcohol drink by volume (ABV, 20 proof). That is about half the strength of popular cocktails like martinis and margaritas. Some are even lighter. Usually, these cocktails use low-proof liqueurs, wine, beer, or a larger volume of nonalcoholic mixers like soda or juice.

Some examples:

Creating Your Own Recipes

While these drinks are lower in alcohol, they are full of flavor!

You might also find helpful this nice list of tasty non-alcoholic spirits. You will find that with the help of new products, you can create tasty mocktails or low alcohol cocktails that will keep the sober curious happy.

Tips to Be Successful

To begin, clearly identifying why you are choosing to drink less can make it much easier to reach your goal. In addition, removing temptations can also help, along with having alternatives easily available to you. For example, having the ingredients to make a mocktail or simply having sparkling water available can be helpful.

Next, get social support, bring your friends and family on board, especially the ones that live with you and your close friends! Instead of drinking to unwind, enjoy outdoor activities, or find a new hobby. Why not find amazing new mocktail recipes.

Sober Curious Conclusion

The sober curious approach can make drinking less or abstaining from drinking much easier! Whether you join the movement for health concerns or just out of curiosity, it can help you experience life in a different light.

Moreover, the beauty of this movement is that it has expanded the selection of nonalcoholic drinks, and has decreased the pressure of drinking during social events.

Take the challenge, join the movement and discover the physical and mental health benefits of a lower alcohol intake. I am not suggesting to give up drinking entirely but rather to see how a month free of alcohol feels.

Please, if you feel that drinking alcohol is taking over your life, seek professional help or join alcoholics anonymous. There is no shame is getting help if you need it.

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