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Just Who Are the Sober Curious?

Sober Curious 2

Just Who Are the Sober Curious?

In “Understanding the ‘Sober Curios’ Movement,” Nicole F. Roberts took to Forbes to explain a few things. And from the get, she wants to reiterate the differences between sobriety and simply being sober curious.

“Choosing sobriety means abstaining from alcohol,” writes Roberts. “Some people do this for health or religious reasons, others due to personal or family experiences with addiction. Some simply don’t enjoy drinking.”

On the other hand,” she continues, “being sober curious means reflecting on why, when and how you consume alcohol. It involves being curious about sobriety—usually for health and wellness reasons.”

Whether or not you consider the sober curious to be legion enough to constitute a movement as opposed to, say, a trend, is really dependant upon your own state of mind. Roberts insists that it is a movement.

The ‘sober curious’ movement is not just a fleeting trend. It’s a shift in the way people and generations are interacting with and thinking about alcohol use. The movement refers to individuals becoming more mindful of their alcohol consumption without necessarily committing to complete abstinence. It’s about questioning the role of alcohol in one’s life and exploring a healthier relationship with drinking.

Considering the JAMA Pediatrics study published in 2020 that i a nearly 10% rise in the number of college students refraining from alcohol use, well, it just might make for a movement after all.

Not that semantics really matters much. Especially when you’re concerned with things like mindfulness.

Sober Curious Identifiers

Here’s how Roberts delineates some of our sober curious friends.

1. Reduce Alcohol Intake: They might cut back on alcohol consumption or take breaks from drinking to see how it affects their overall well-being.

2. Practice Mindful Drinking: When they do drink, they do so consciously, focusing on quality rather than quantity. They might explore non-alcoholic or low-alcohol options and pay attention to the effects of alcohol on their body and mind.

3. Social and Health Reasons: Some are motivated by health and wellness goals, wanting to improve sleep, mental clarity or physical fitness by reducing alcohol consumption. Others are influenced by social reasons, avoiding the pressure or social expectation to drink.

4. Seek Community and Support: Many individuals engaging in the sober curious movement find support and community through social media, events and groups centered around mindful drinking, where they can share experiences and resources.

According to Roberts and Google Trends Data, the market is meeting the demand too. There was a significant increase in search interest for “non-alcoholic drink” and “non-alcoholic beer” in the U.S. in 2022. Additionally, the search term “sobriety” has remained popular for several years. This suggests that people who are cutting back on alcohol are actively seeking alternative beverages. It is expected that the market for non-alcoholic drinks will continue to grow as Americans increasingly demand more options. Analysts believe that these drinks will not completely replace alcoholic beverages, but rather provide alternatives for those who are curious about sobriety, offering more choices than just club soda.

Despite the growing trend though, the whole wild world hasn’t suddenly become immersed in sobriety. Not even close. “In fact,” writes Roberts, “much of our world centers around alcohol. As do many relationships. This means that communicating choices is important for those around you to support you and seek out new options, activities and opportunities.
There’s more, of course, much more. Including the many splendid health benefits to come from even being sober curious. Roberts dutifully covers those, and more. And delivers a solid assessment of “the movement.”

NY Times Top Reads for the Sober Seekers

Last September, The New York Times had wordslinger Hope Reese ask more than a dozen addiction experts, sobriety counselors, podcasters and people in recovery to share the books they found most helpful. Here are the Top 8.

1. We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life by Laura McKowen

Ms. McKowen, a podcaster who founded the community The Luckiest Club, sees sobriety “as being free,”  “The Weekend Sober” podcast host Kim Kearns said.

Straightforward, relatable and full of personal stories, Ms. McKowen writes about “how hard, lonely and scary early sobriety is,” said Casey McGuire Davidson, a sobriety coach and host of “The Hello Someday Podcast.”

“It’s something many women feel but don’t talk about,” she said.
2. Dry: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs

In “Dry,” Mr. Burroughs recounts dealing with alcoholism and recovery. Eric Reinach, who works in addiction treatment marketing, picked up the book months before he stopped drinking. He wanted to read an experience of sobriety that felt authentic, he said, “not simply a tale of everything improving with abstinence from alcohol.”

Now Mr. Reinach recommends it to anyone who might identify as a problem drinker “with the idea that they may relate to his story, and the sometimes-rocky path to getting sober.”

3. Stash: My Life in Hiding by Laura Cathcart Robbins

In “Stash,” Ms. Robbins offers a candid look at a Black woman grappling with addiction. She was married to a Hollywood director and writes openly about how glamor and privilege could not save her from her problems.

Black authors are largely absent from quit lit, and the treatment landscape is very white-centric, said Ryan Cain, executive director of Fund Recovery, a nonprofit that provides access to treatment programs. But stories like “Stash” can help reduce stigma around addiction, he said.

“Black women are treated differently in recovery,” said Emily Lynn Paulson, recovery coach and founder of the Sober Mom Squad. “The expectations on them are different.”

4. This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life by Annie Grace

In “This Naked Mind,” Ms. Grace explores the psychological, neurological and social forces that influenced her addiction, and reveals “the powerful marketing that goes into convincing us that drinking helps us to relax and connect and have more fun,” Ms. Davidson said.
“It’s one of those books you read that gives you such an inside look at alcohol and the industry,” she said.

“You can’t unsee it.”

5. The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray

During early sobriety, many people wonder if they can still have fun without alcohol, Mr. Cain said. Ms. Gray tackles this misconception by presenting tools that helped her through the first month of her recovery. She explores moments like crying uncontrollably, taking long baths, and learning to recognize her addictive voice, Ms. Davidson said.

Ms. Gray “helps you see that you’re not weak but strong for stopping drinking and going against the grain,” she said.

6. Alcoholics Anonymous by William G. Wilson (Bill W.)

“The Big Book” is the definitive book in the 12-step recovery program, outlining how 100 people in Alcoholics Anonymous quit drinking.

Published in 1939, however, it doesn’t resonate with everyone. The word “God,” for instance, might turn people off, Mr. Cain said. It’s also dated and really rigid, he said. Yet there’s a reason it’s one of the most popular books on alcoholism, with more than 30 million copies sold. And it has been translated into over 70 languages.
“Parts of it are stilted and sexist and stuck in a culture decades old,” said Elizabeth Vargas, member of the board of directors for the Partnership to End Addiction. “Yet parts of it stand the test of time.”

7. Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Deep Connection, and Limitless Presence Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol by Ruby Warrington

Much of what keeps people from getting sober — worries about social life, friendships and dating — is addressed in “Sober Curious.” Ms. Warrington also shares advice on getting through “firsts,” like the first wedding or holiday party you attend without drinking alcohol.
It’s “less black-and-white” than ‘The Big Book,’” Mr. Reinach said. “It reminds me of the many things I have gained from being sober.”

8. Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol by Holly Whitaker

“Quit Like a Woman,” became enormously popular when Chrissy Teigen posted on Instagram that it helped her quit drinking. It’s Ms. Whitaker’s personal story, interwoven with critiques of societal forces, like marketing, that keep women hooked on alcohol.

Ms. Whitaker is controversial in the recovery community, Ms. Davidson said. (The author published a critique of A.A. in 2019.) “People either love or hate” this book, she said, “and I absolutely love it.”

Healing Properties Thanks Hope Reese and the New York Times and Nicole F. Roberts and Forbes for providing such compelling ammunition. I trust you don’t mind we repurposed it for our own shoot. And remember, if you’re seeking some substance abuse help, give us a ring. We’ve been at this game since 2002, we’d be honored to help you too.

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