The dangers of drinking are hardly unknown, yet imbibing alcohol has long remained a legal and socially acceptable adult activity. Recently, however, the sober curious movement has started to gain steam.
What is the sober curious movement? Can it help to prevent underage drinking? Is it a form of addiction treatment that can help those dealing with AUD? Here’s what you need to know about the trend dedicated to reevaluating our relationship with alcohol.
Development of Alcohol Use Disorder
Drinking alcohol has long been seen as a fun and socially acceptable way for adults to relax, let loose, and generally enjoy themselves. This is despite the fact that over 14.5 million people age 12 and over in the U.S. are afflicted with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).1
Often referred to as alcoholism, AUD is “characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences,” and it could include alcohol dependence, abuse, or addiction.2
Beyond this serious misuse of alcohol, there are issues like binge drinking and drinking in general that could be problematic or become more serious over time.
The development of AUD may depend on any number of factors, such as:3
- Family history
- Mental health problems
- Past trauma
- Drinking at a young age
- Binge or extended drinking
- An environment that encourages drinking (social/cultural)
- and more
What is the Sober Curious Movement?
The term “sober curious” was coined by British writer Ruby Warrington, who published the book Sober Curious in 2018, followed by The Sober Curious Reset in 2020.4
These books explore our social relationship to alcohol as a means of feeling confident, connected, and joyful. They also ask (and answer) questions about what can happen when you become mindful of your drinking or stop drinking altogether.
Warrington encourages readers to take the time to question their own drinking and the reasons why they do it. She requests one also stop to consider the health and wellness benefits that can be gained by simply not drinking.
If you don’t know why you drink, you’ve noticed that you keep doing it despite hangovers and other consequences. Are you worried about binge drinking or other concerning habits? Then taking a step back to evaluate your relationship with alcohol is a good idea.
Even if you’re simply an occasional or social drinker who leads an otherwise healthy lifestyle with no signs or symptoms of potential abuse or addiction, it won’t hurt to be mindful of your actions. Consider why you might be participating in social rituals that you may not find particularly appealing.
The Impact of the Sober Curious Movement
There’s a common misconception that a person is either an alcoholic or they are not. But this black-and-white view of drinking and its effects is erroneously simplistic.
Problems with alcohol can exist on varying levels, ranging from mild to severe. They may be difficult for the average person to recognize. Drinking socially may not make you an alcoholic, per se, but if you hate waking up with a hangover and you continue to drink anyway, perhaps it’s time to start asking yourself why. Consider if it might be better to start saying no to alcohol.
The issue is that drinking alcohol is generally viewed as a fun and alluring activity. There’s also an assumption that people who “don’t drink” are either recovering alcoholics or, frankly, insufferable prudes.
The sober curious movement seeks to turn these common beliefs on their head by empowering people to explore their own relationship to alcohol. It’s important to make decisions that support their personal health and wellness goals. And remember, it’s possible to have fun without relying on alcohol.
The idea is spreading on social media, with influencers latching on and promoting a message of sober living.
Between 2010 and 2019, there’s been a steady decline in underage drinking (among those in the 12-20 age range).5 While the recent growth of the sober curious movement may or may not contribute to this trend, anything that causes minors -- and adults, for that matter -- to question their relationship with alcohol is a step in the right direction.
Reach Out for Help Today
It’s important to understand that AUD is a medical condition, one that may require medical help to treat. The sober curious movement is not an alternative to proper medical care, such as addiction treatment or addiction therapy. It could, however, be a great way for individuals to explore their own relationship to alcohol or perhaps start a conversation with loved ones regarding the use of alcohol.
If you’re seeking help for alcohol recovery, contact Spring Gardens Recovery today by giving us a call or visiting us online to learn more.
Sources: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics  https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/understanding-alcohol-use-disorder  https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20369243  http://www.rubywarrington.com/  https://www.responsibility.org/alcohol-statistics/underage-drinking-statistics
Samantha Nettleton, CCTP, CMHIMP is the Chief Operating Officer and Clinical Director for Spring Gardens Recovery. After completing and receiving her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Human Services (Concentrations in Mental Health & Addiction Counseling), she became licensed for the State of Florida as a Mental Health Counselor. She has also been a recovery coach since 2012. Samantha specializes in Trauma, Personality Disorders, Substance Abuse, Process Addictions, and Other Mental Health Disorders.