‘Sober curious’ is a movement that involves exploring sobriety for physical and mental health benefits without completely abstaining from alcohol. This is best for people who want to cut back on their drinking and embrace a more mindful approach to consuming alcohol.
Who Can Benefit from the Sober Curious Movement?
Truthfully, anyone can benefit from reducing their alcohol intake. Drinking less alcohol can improve your mental state, help you to get better-quality sleep, lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, and more.
These benefits are especially effective when abstinence is coupled with self-care techniques, better nutrition, exercise, and other health-forward practices.
You don’t have to drink heavily or regularly to be sober curious. Whether you drink daily or once a week, you can benefit from going through a period of abstinence or moderation.
You might benefit from going sober if you:
- find it difficult to say no to a drink
- feel the need to drink any time you socialize
- drink more than you’d like to
- use alcohol to cope with stress
- want to overcome constant hangovers
- haven’t hit rock bottom, but don’t feel great about your alcohol consumption
- drink the same amount as your peers because it’s socially acceptable
- don’t feel dependent on alcohol, but don’t feel fully free from it either
The sober curious movement offers a new approach to sobriety that encourages people to explore their relationship with alcohol without cutting it out completely.
It’s a judgment-free practice that allows room for growth and failure, with an emphasis on moderation rather than complete abstinence.
Tips for Staying Sober
If you’re sober curious, you may be wondering how to get started. Here are a few ways you can be more mindful about your alcohol consumption.
Set A Duration
Some people try going sober for one week, two weeks, a month, or longer. Decide what time frame works best for you and stick to it.
If alcohol is currently a normal part of your daily or weekly routine, committing to a year of sobriety might be pretty difficult, but two weeks might be doable.
Pause and Reflect
During your time of abstinence, you might have a flood of thoughts, urges, and emotions come up. When you feel the urge to have a drink, pause and reflect.
Ask yourself: Why do I want a drink? What do I need at this moment? Is there something other than alcohol that may serve me better right now?
This is a key component of integrating mindfulness into your drinking habits. Pause to reflect on your motivation behind drinking and decide whether a drink is good for your mind and body.
Moderate Your Drinking
If abstinence is a big leap, start smaller by practicing moderate drinking. First, consider your current drinking habits. Then, find ways to reduce your intake in practical ways.
For example, if your friends go to happy hour every Friday and you don’t want to cut it out entirely, limit yourself to one drink.
What to Do if Sobriety Is Challenging
Staying sober is no easy task, especially for people who typically relax with alcohol, socialize with people who drink alcohol, and otherwise drink frequently.
Staying sober may be particularly challenging for people who have substance abuse issues. If you know you have a deeper issue with alcohol, abstinence might be more difficult.
If you’re struggling to stay sober for a set period of time and you find that your thoughts are consumed with getting your next drink, treatment might be the right option.
Therapy, rehab programs, and other alcohol treatment services can help you to address the issue in a safe, supportive environment with other people who care about your recovery.
No matter where you are in your relationship with alcohol, it’s important to seek outside support. Find support from loved ones, friends, recovery groups, or professionals who can help.
Sarah O’Brien is an Addiction Specialist with Ark Behavioral Health.