Are you captivated by the idea of exploring sobriety? It’s a trend gaining momentum that could reshape how you approach drinking, particularly during Sober October.

If you’ve observed the term ‘sober curious’ circulating on social media recently and find yourself uncertain about its meaning, you’re not alone. In the past few years, a burgeoning movement has emerged, with individuals opting to scale back their alcohol consumption or entirely forego it. In 2022, over 140,000 people took a hiatus from drinking during Dry January or Sober October, and the market for high-quality alcohol-free beverages has been steadily expanding.

But what precisely does it mean to be sober-curious, and how does it differ from mindful drinking or embracing teetotalism? We reached out to two experts to explore the benefits of adopting a more conscious approach to drinking and to understand what the experience entails.

What does it mean to be sober-curious?

Being sober-curious essentially entails contemplating drinking less, considering abstaining, or experimenting with occasional moderation or alternative drinking methods. Whether motivated by concerns for mental and physical health, lifestyle choices, overall well-being, financial considerations, or a mix of these factors, the concept revolves around assessing one’s relationship with alcohol. Gayle Macdonald, a sober coach and the founder of Sober Bliss, points out that starting as a sober curious is a more laid-back approach than immediately embracing complete teetotalism. It’s not about abruptly giving up alcohol forever, a prospect that can be daunting and laden with shame and guilt. Instead, it involves scrutinizing your relationship with alcohol and its role in your life.

Some individuals share their burgeoning curiosity on social media, contributing to the normalization of a more thoughtful approach to drinking. Laura Willoughby, founder of the world’s largest mindful drinking movement, Club Soda, underscores the significance of online connections, noting, “Engaging with others online fosters a sense of community and serves as a means to establish accountability for your change – it’s crucial to recognize that you are not alone.” Progressing from curiosity to lasting change may lead to becoming a mindful drinker or opting for complete sobriety.

Why are people sober-curious?

Drinking culture has undergone substantial shifts. Since 2005, younger individuals have reported a decline in alcohol consumption, with teetotalism on the rise among those aged 16-44. Willoughby attributes this change to a heightened awareness of how alcohol can impact mental health, coupled with the growing availability of non-alcoholic alternatives. With a better understanding of the effects and a plethora of substitute options, neglecting to consider one’s drinking habits may seem peculiar.

How do you explore sobriety curiosity?

Exploring sobriety curiosity involves contemplating drinking less and possibly integrating changes into your lifestyle to gauge the impact. Gayle Macdonald advises, “Don’t simply follow your usual routine out of habit. An initial step is to pose essential questions such as ‘do I genuinely need this glass of wine, or would I be better off not drinking tonight?’ Delving into deeper questions about what you genuinely need at that moment or why you’re reaching for a drink can reveal the underlying reasons behind your drinking.”

Practical approaches exist to delve into this curiosity, such as maintaining a journal to document any benefits experienced after choosing not to drink. Willoughby suggests identifying a favorite alcohol-free drink and practicing various techniques to ease the transition. Ultimately, the journey to sobriety is personal, emphasizing self-discovery and comprehending how alcohol influences your overall well-being.