Alcohol is embedded into our culture. You can find alcohol wherever you go. Most of the time you don’t even have to go looking for it, someone will offer you a drink. It can be hard to imagine a life without our “friend” alcohol, but more and more people are exploring what an alcohol-free life might look and feel like to them. This newer movement is called “Sober Curious” and it welcomes anyone who wants to try out sobriety. It’s like “Dry January” but for any time of the year, and for however long you choose. This means there’s no pressure to label yourself an alcoholic or commit to lifelong sobriety (which can be hard to imagine if alcohol has been a big part of your life).
Why would anyone want to become sober curious? There are many reasons! Some of the biggest benefits are related to physical and mental health, including increased energy, more balanced mood, improved relationships, clearer skin, better sleep, better liver function, and NO hangovers! Another benefit is saving money. Let’s say you spend $25 a week on alcohol, that adds up to $100 per month, which equals $1,300 per year!
Becoming sober curious can have other benefits for your overall emotional health too, here’s just a partial list:
- Increased confidence & self-esteem
- Reduced stress & anxiety
- Restored purpose / meaning to life
- Better overall emotional well-being & stability
- Improved memory
- Increased motivation
- Enhanced mental clarity
If you are curious about “sober curious”, you may be wondering how to start. Here’s some tips to help:
- Set a Timeframe & Start Date. Ask yourself when you would like to start and for how long. If a month is too long you can always start with a week or two.
- Make a “No” Plan. People may offer you a drink or ask what you would like so being prepared for an answer will help navigate the situation. A simple “No” is completely acceptable but if that does not feel right for you there are plenty of other responses to use.
- Find Hobbies That Don’t Include Alcohol. There are many hobbies out there that do not include alcohol! You can learn a new skill, explore nature, read a book, get active, and so much more.
- Find Support:
• Do you know anyone who is sober who you can hang out with?
• Would any of your friends be up for alcohol-free activities?
• Online Communities: sober reddit group, following sober influencers on social media, and other online sober support groups
• Sober Apps – There are several apps out there to help you stay off alcohol. One is simply called “I Am Sober”. This app sends you a reminder each day to make a pledge to not drink that day. At the end of the day it sends you a reminder to review your day. In this review you can click to say you completed your pledge, it then goes on to ask you to track your mood, activities and lastly gives you a place to leave any notes. The app also keeps track of the days, hours, and minutes since you last had a drink!
- Find a Replacement Drink. If you like drinking White Claws, try out an alcohol-free seltzer. If you are a cocktail person, maybe you can try out some new “mocktail” recipes. You don’t have to sip water while you’re out, get adventurous and try out a new drink. A drink that won’t give you a hangover!
- Take it a Day at a Time. The famous AA “one day at time” saying applies to the sober curious experimenters as well. It can be hard to commit to a certain time frame, but if you look at it a day at a time it may seem more manageable and less daunting.
If you’re working with a therapist or are considering it, becoming sober curious can be an effective tool in promoting positive therapeutic outcomes. Lifting that foggy, unfocused / unmotivated feeling that comes with alcohol use can help you think more clearly about your goals in life, and goals for therapy. And if it’s relevant, being sober curious will help with addressing any issues related to co-morbid mental health and alcohol use disorders, and getting a formal diagnosis to recover completely.
Regardless of your reasons for exploring the sober curious movement, it’s never a bad thing to be in control of your decisions and your behavior. Sober curious is a practical (and potentially powerful) tool that everyone can access for health and wellness. If you’re thinking that it might benefit you, you may be right. We encourage you to speak with your medical professional for their advice about getting started. And click here for tips on how to support those who choose not to drink, what to say (& not to say), and good replies if others ask why you’re not drinking.
The blog above was authored by Brittany Egan, MSW, LSW. IntraSpectrum Counseling is Chicago’s leading psychotherapy practice dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community, and we strive to provide the highest quality mental health care for multicultural, kink, polyamorous, and intersectional issues, including those related to alcohol use. For anyone needing affirming and validating support, please click here or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.